Monday, February 04, 2013

First steps taken to build gigabit network in North Carolina

February 1, 2013

The Gig. U coalition of universities that is helping college towns across the U.S. get wired with super-fast broadband took a major step forward in its effort to bring gigabit speed broadband networks to more communities.
Google Fiber logo
On Friday, Gig. U announced that it has helped the North Carolina Next Generation Network, a group made up four universities -- North Carolina State, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Duke and Wake Forest -- and six communities, put together a request for proposals for a project that will bring a next-generation broadband network to a large region of North Carolina.
Through the RFP Gig. U and the N.C. Next Generation Network are hoping to entice both existing and new broadband providers to bid on building and running a network that will offer broadband download speeds of at least 1 Gbps. The deadline for the proposals is April 2. And if all goes well, the plan is to start offering service within 18 months.

The hope is that this regional high-speed network will bring many benefits to the community, including advances in telemedicine, distance learning, and new industries that will create new jobs.
Gig. U, which was started two years ago to bring together local communities, universities and broadband providers to build ultra-fast broadband networks, has already helped raise more than $200 million in private investment for these new networks. So far, Gig. U has helped jump-start two major projects with the help of an initiative called Gigabit Squared. In Seattle and Chicago, Gigabit Squared is spearheading projects with the University of Washington and University of Chicago, respectively, to bring super high-speed broadband to parts of these cities.
The effort in North Carolina will be the largest network project facilitated through Gig. U to date. It will cover at least four cities in the Triangle Park area of North Carolina including Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Winston Salem.
What's not to love about gigabit broadband?
There is no question that communities throughout the country want cutting-edge broadband service to give their cities and towns an edge both domestically as well as internationally. Policy makers in state houses as well as in Washington, D.C., agree that building next-generation broadband networks will help boost economic development. The Obama administration has talked up the importance of improving broadband infrastructure as has former President Bill Clinton in his recent public appearances to tech audiences.. And recently, the Federal Communications Commission's Chairman Julius Genachowski stated a goal of getting gigabit-speed broadband services in all 50 states by 2015.
"As a number of high-profile thought leaders have recently noted, the United States needs to step up our efforts in the global bandwidth race," Gig.U's executive director Blair Levin said in a statement."FCC Chairman Genachowski has challenged communities across the country to take steps to catalyze an upgrade to world-leading networks, a challenge we welcome. As we've seen with Gig.U and elsewhere, communities are willing partners in these endeavors, working to create favorable environments for potential investments."
Google has gotten a lot of press for its efforts to bring gigabit broadband to Kansas City. And the company is looking for other potential cities to build similar networks.
But so far only 42 communities across 14 states have ultra-high-speed broadband, according to a report cited by the FCC. Google's much publicized Kansas City project is one. Other efforts have been led by local municipalities that have pushed for gigabit broadband services. Cities such as Lafayette, La., and Chattanooga, Tenn., have been at the forefront of the municipal fiber movement.
The FCC says that the fiber network deployed to 170,000 homes in Chattanooga helped lure big companies like Volkswagen and Amazon to the community, which has created more than 3,700 new jobs over the past three years in Chattanooga.
Gigabit broadband doesn't come cheap.
So why aren't more of these networks popping up? The answer is cost. Building new infrastructure is expensive. Governments don't have the cash. And in many states where local municipalities have expressed interest in funding their own networks, politicians backed by incumbent broadband providers have passed laws prohibiting such government-backed investments. Competition between cable operators and telecom providers in broadband has helped improve networks in some areas of the country. But this competition is only strong in small pockets of the U.S. There are still many communities in the U.S. where demand for more advanced services is high, but little competition exists to force incumbent providers to invest in network upgrades.
Gig.U's Levin, who served as former FCC chairman Reed Hundt's chief staff in the 1990s and led the current FCC's effort to develop the National Broadband Plan in 2010, says this has to change.
"The economics for building a new fiber infrastructure are hard," he said. "But we're trying to help communities figure out ways to change the math."
Unlike other major capital-intensive projects that cities often invest in, such as new football stadiums, Levin said that local governments do not have to shell out their own money to build these networks. They also don't need to offer huge tax incentives. What they can do to make it more attractive for broadband service providers is help make building such networks less expensive.
For example, cities can reduce the cost of building new infrastructure by easing regulatory requirements and streamline inspections for construction. This can reduce construction time and save companies money. Cities can also help facilitate rights of way in areas where fiber and other infrastructure needs to be built. Communities can also allow service providers to gauge demand and build infrastructure in areas only where they know they will have customers.
Levin said that Google has employed many of these tactics in its Google Fiber project in Kansas City. For instance, Google is only building fiber in neighborhoods in Kansas City where a certain threshold of demand has been met. Residents who want the service must go on a Web site to sign up for service in advance. And Google only builds the network in neighborhoods where this threshold has been met.
This is very different from the traditional process of expanding and upgrading networks. For example, when Verizon Communications was building its Fios service it spent considerable money and time negotiating contracts with cities that required it to build its network to a certain percentage of the population without knowing ahead of time whether there would be demand for the service.
"If you don't have to build your network unless you know you will have a take-rate of 25 percent, you've greatly reduced your risk," Levin said. "Knowing ahead of time that you will have customers for a service that you are spending a lot of money to build is incredibly beneficial."
Levin believes that when communities can look for ways to reduce the cost of building infrastructure it makes it much more attractive to investors. But he concedes that it is still very early days for Gig. U and for the projects it is helping to bring to life.
"It's an experiment," he said. "What have we got to lose? The cost of bringing these universities and communities together to organize a plan for encouraging broadband deployments is very small. But the upside in terms of the innovation and economic development for these communities is huge."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Google Fiber

Google Fiber, the Internet search giant's super-fast Internet experiment in Kansas City, Mo., that operates at a speed 100 times faster than a typical broadband connection, could be coming to a city near you.
During Google's fourth-quarter earnings call, Google Chief Executive Larry Page and Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette made it clear Google Fiber is not a "hobby" for the company.
"It's been great to see the success there with the initial roll-out," Page said.
He cautioned: "We are still in the very early stages of it." But he emphasized: "We are excited about the possibilities there."
Pichette said Google Fiber installations are growing each week. "People just love the product," he said.
"It’s not a hobby," he added. "We really think we should be making a good business with this opportunity." "We are going to continue to look at the possibility of expanding."
For the time being, Pichette said Google is "debugging" the product and the experience for users.
But, he said, such super-fast Internet is "what people are dying to get everywhere."
Last month Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said Google was delivering 760 megabits per second to the customer, and taking 720 megabits a second from customers. He made the remarks during the New York Times Dealbook conference in New York.
Schmidt said Google is thinking about rolling out the service to other cities but did not specify which ones.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sprint confident of Clearwire bid, no need to best Dish -sources

By Nadia Damouni
Jan 9 (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp is under no pressure to raise its $2 billion offer for Clearwire Corp to beat a higher bid by Dish Network Corp as it holds several trump cards it can play to thwart its rival, three sources close to the matter said.
Clearwire, which owns valuable mobile spectrum that Dish, Sprint and Sprint's Japanese buyer Softbank Corp want badly, is duty-bound to consider Dish's $3.30 per share proposal that tops an agreed-upon $2.97 offer from Sprint.
Satellite TV company Dish's offer for the wireless company has invited speculation of a bidding war or at least a small sweetener from Sprint, with Clearwire shares closing up 7.2 percent on Wednesday at $3.13.
But Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. wireless operator and Clearwire's biggest shareholder owning just over 50 percent of the company, thinks it won't come to that, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are not public.
Dish's bid is subject to numerous conditions, not least of which is approval by Sprint.
Sprint has no intent of "agreeing to, waiving or permitting" any of the conditions laid out as part of Dish's proposal, one of the sources close to the matter said, affirming the carrier's public stance.
Amending a number of the agreements Sprint already has in place with Clearwire -- such as agreeing to nominate designated Dish directors to Clearwire's board -- would require material changes to Clearwire's corporate structure under Delaware Law, where the company is incorporated, a second source said.
With Sprint holding steadfast, those amendments would not get voted in, the source added.
"We believe our agreement to acquire Clearwire is superior to the highly conditional Dish proposal" Sprint spokesman Bill White said.
Softbank, which is awaiting regulatory approval for its $20 billion deal to buy a 70 percent stake in Sprint, has declined to comment on Dish's bid.
Also, under the terms of their agreement, Sprint can force a shareholder vote at a meeting in June even if Clearwire's special committee were to recommend Dish's offer and feels it would have the upper hand by dint of its large shareholding, the sources said.
To be sure, Sprint is carefully watching the outcome of Clearwire's current discussions with Dish, one of the sources said. Sprint has not opened discussions with Dish, they said.
Some analysts see Dish's bid -- as merely a power play, or payback for Sprint, with which it has locked horns in the past over regulatory approvals for spectrum acquisitions.
Others saw it as confirmation that Dish's Chairman Charlie Ergen, the billionaire media mogul who in 2011 swooped in to take over failed videostore chain Blockbuster, is serious about becoming a wireless provider.
Dish may have the support of Clearwire's second-biggest shareholder, Crest Financial Ltd, which owns an 8 percent stake and has said Sprint's offer for the roughly 50 percent of Clearwire it does not currently own, "grossly undervalues" the company.
The investor said it was looking forward to learning the detailed terms of Dish's offer.
Crest has sued Clearwire to block the Sprint deal in the Court of Chancery in Delaware and proceedings will begin on Thursday. (Additional reporting by Liana Baker, Sinead Carew and Rob Cyran; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Alden Bentley)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Verizon Looks to LTE Completion, Gigabit FiOS

IDG News Service (San Francisco Bureau) — After announcing its 4G LTE mobile network at CES two years ago and its FiOS fiber-based home broadband offering here in 2004, Verizon used a keynote address on Tuesday to pitch its progress on those and other projects.
Verizon Wireless will finish building out its LTE network by the middle of this year, six months ahead of schedule, said Lowell McAdam, a former chief of the wireless subsidiary who is now chairman and CEO of parent company Verizon Communications. Today, that network reaches more than 273 million U.S. residents -- 89 percent of the population, he said.
Meanwhile, the company has a platform in place to increase the speed of FiOS to 1G bps to homes, McAdam said. The company has more than 5 million FiOS customers now. A version of the service with 300M bps speed came out last year. Not to leave out enterprises, McAdam said Verizon would offer 100G bps speeds, which already connect most major U.S. cities, in its metro Ethernet networks to boost the speed companies can get.
McAdam highlighted notable uses of Verizon's networks and its cloud infrastructure, such as cellular connectivity for Golden-i, a headset that firefighters can use for augmented reality. Among other things, Golden-i can let them see through smoke with an infrared camera and view floor plans as they walk through a burning building, according to a video shown during the keynote.
But Golden-i was demonstrated at last year's CES. McAdam made it clear Verizon is looking for new ideas: He announced the Powerful Answers Award program, which will give a total of US$10 million in awards to whoever develops the best innovations for taking advantage of the company's mobile, video and cloud technologies.
The contest is intended to come up with promising new developments in health care, education and sustainability, which Verizon will help the winners bring to fruition, McAdam said. The top award will be $1 million and Verizon will start accepting submissions later this year.
Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Wi-Fi: Taking the Strain for Cellular

Three companies long involved in the Wi-Fi business are here to tell us why 802.11 can still take the strain for cellular even in an age of 4G.
Blazin' Wi-Fi
Towerstream Corp., which traditionally offers a WiMax-based last-mile service to business customers, wants to build up its carrier business, leasing Passpoint-ready Wi-Fi nodes to operators. CEO Jeff Thompson won't name the company's carrier customers thus far for Wi-Fi, but the company has two contracts with "national" carriers and a trial under way with a third.
For some time now, Towerstream executives have been of the belief that Wi-Fi and 3G and cellular would be deployed side-by-side. This was confirmed when they heard operator presentations at the WBA Wi-Fi Global Congress in November. "It's interesting now to see Wi-Fi in five-year business models when they're doing network planning," Thompson says.
Certainly for the major carriers, entire network architectures are going through a fundamental shift. Engineers at Sprint, for example, are getting surgical about small cells, using them to pump up data capacity to preserve scarce spectrum.
Wi-Fi has a crucial role to play in all of this change, according to Towerstream. "We're at the point now where Wi-Fi is not going away," Thompson says. The majority of a consumer's smartphone data usage is done via Wi-Fi and it's the one common technology on handsets that transcends HSPA+, LTE and other flavors of wireless, he notes.
In Thompson's eyes, Wi-Fi offload is not that different from what carriers have been doing for years. For a long time, they wanted to own the towers and rooftops but discovered it was more economical to let the tower companies do that. Granted, operators still need to do some of their own site acquisitions, but more often, they're looking at getting these types of services from someone else.
"The cheapest way to grow your revenue is to lower churn," Thompson notes, adding that the cheapest way to acquire spectrum is to use offload.
Alternative for roaming
In addition to making the most of licensed spectrum, Wi-Fi is one of the more economical ways to deliver international roaming, especially as the industry moves to LTE and needs to figure out how to make all those disparate frequencies talk to one another.
Boingo Wireless Inc., which manages more than 600,000 hot spots worldwide, has an agreement to supply global roaming for an unnamed U.S.-based Tier 1 carrier. Boingo expects to see the results of that deal reflected in its bottom line toward the end of 2013 and into 2014. It’s still in the early stages, but President and CEO David Hagan is hopeful that, along with Boingo’s agreement with the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), it will lead to more carrier deals in the future.
The purpose of the CCA agreement is two-fold, said Christian Gunning, vice president of corporate communications at Boingo. First, the carriers in CCA tend to be more spectrum constrained and therefore they can use the offload capabilities of the Wi-Fi network. Second, because their footprints are smaller than the Big 4 U.S. carriers, they’re spending a lot on roaming. Offloading onto Wi-Fi gives them an economical alternative.
Boingo’s relationship with operators goes beyond Wi-Fi, however, and that’s another reason company executives think they have a leg up. Boingo considers itself the second-largest distributed antenna systems (DAS) operator in the U.S., second only to Crown Castle International Corp.. Hagan has stated that he believes carrier Wi-Fi will be much more like the DAS business, where traffic moves back and forth without the consumer’s intervention.
Different strokes
In the same general category as Boingo is another company, iPass. But where Boingo’s offerings include a service direct to consumers, iPass has been focused on the enterprise and doesn’t target consumers, explains Steve Livingston, iPass's senior vice president of carrier development. It also doesn’t position its carrier services as something to use for Wi-Fi offload. Instead, the company sells a solution for operators to offer international roaming to their customers under a white-label arrangement.
The selling point of iPass for businesses is its ability to work out all the variations between networks, like authentication, and present a connection as a single seamless entity to its customers.
iPass expects to finish this year with between 15 and 20 roaming deals. None of them so far involves a U.S. carrier but according to the company it is early days yet.
“These are the early adopters around the world who are going to take a service to the market and we’ll see how disruptive they are,” Livingston said. “We’re in the first and second inning of a whole new market.”
— Monica Alleven , special to Light Reading

Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Telecom Predications

Excerpt from -

US of M&A
  • Clearwire will disappear from the US market. Sprint is keen to bolster its spectrum holdings to mount a proper attack on AT&T and Verizon, and in December launched a bid for the 49% of Clearwire it doesn’t already own. If it goes ahead, the Clearwire brand will disappear.
  • More consolidation will take place in the US. The T-Mobile USA/MetroPCS and Softbank/Sprint deals will receive regulatory approval next year, leaving other players looking for acquisitions of their own. Leap Wireless will find itself the target for one of the big players.

Patent predicament
  • Google will seek to acquire more patents. It learnt the hard way that Motorola Mobility’s patent portfolio lacks the weapons it needs to win the patent war. Its unlikely partnership with Apple to make a $500 million bid for Kodak’s imaging patents is an indication of the lengths it will go to.


Steve and Steve
  • Microsoft will consider making a move for Nokia. Admittedly, while an acquisition is not out of the question, provided the price is right, there are a number of potential obstacles that could prevent it. One way or another though, hardware will be higher on the agenda for Microsoft next year as its seeks to create a more integrated experience.

BRICs on the brink

  • China Mobile will regain some lost ground in the China 3G race. The world’s largest mobile operator signed up proportionately fewer 3G customers than rivals China Unicom and China Telecom in 2012, but the arrival of a TD-SCDMA iPhone in 1H 2013 will reverse that trend.
  • Network quality will come under scrutiny once again in Brazil as operators gear up to launch LTE.
  • India will be disappointed with its second attempt to auction off 1800-MHz spectrum. Despite the growth opportunities in the market, the newcomers who had their licences suspended at the start of 2012 had largely failed to establish themselves, leaving others wary of taking the plunge.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Convergence, Cost Savings & Cloud Push VoIP, SIP, MPLS Sales

The move away from legacy TDM technologies and toward IP-based communications (VoIP/SIP/MPLS) continues in earnest — both in the WAN and the LAN. Businesses are taking advantage of the IP infrastructure offered by carriers at the access and transport levels for converged voice and data communications between locations, data centers and their customers and suppliers. At the same time, they are bringing these synergies down to the desktop — and increasingly, mobile device — with the implementation of IP-based telephony systems. This migration will continue to present an opportunity for channel partners, especially as businesses move beyond VoIP to unified communications, video collaboration and cloud services.
Market Opportunity. The global VoIP services market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.1 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to a June 2012 report from research firm TechNavio. One of the drivers for this adoption is the increasing use of SIP, the firm found. Meanwhile, IP MPLS VPNs also are expected to record a 7.1 percent CAGR globally during the 2011-2015 period, fueled by video conferencing, TechNavio said in April 2012. Finally, Cisco Systems Inc. said in its 2012 Visual Networking Index that business IP traffic will grow at a CAGR of 22 percent from 2011 to 2016, due mostly to more video communications in the enterprise.