Tag Archives: mobile

The Role of FttH in the Development of 5G

As the roll out of FttH remains a slow process, it is no wonder that more and more people are looking towards mobile as a potential alternative.

Obviously, mobile communication has improved over recent years in providing excellent access to broadband; and it has also become more affordable. At the same time, there is the fabulous hype about 5G, and the PR and media machines of the vendors involved make you believe that this will become a real competitor to the slow moving FttH developments.

First of all, anybody who has started to use video-based media over mobile networks seriously — beyond Facebook, YouTube, etc. — will have noticed that you will very quickly run out of the download capacity that is included in your mobile phone package, and any serious video use over mobile networks will quickly run into hundreds of dollars per month.

Secondly, 5G as a viable commercial mass market alternative might be 10 and possibly even 15 years away.

For starters, there is still not a 5G standard, and this is essential for vendors to provide devices for mass markets in order to deliver an affordable device. Totally new handsets are needed to facilitate the multiple tiny antennas that are required in order for the device to operate over the high frequency necessary for 5G. No mass market will be achievable without a standard for such devices.

Secondly, 5G will require access to a fibre optic backbone in order to provide the affordable high-speed services that are talked about by the vendors and the mobile operators alike. Currently, in most western economies, not much more than 50% of mobile towers are currently linked to fibre optic networks — 5G could require a hundred-fold increase in mobile base stations and most of them need to be linked to a fibre optic network.

For the service to deliver the promised quality to the end-users, a fibre optic connection to the 5G base station is needed within 100 meters of where the actual 5G users are. Furthermore, as soon as one starts talking about offices, public buildings, cafes, etc. the reality is that the fibre network will need to be brought into these buildings in order to provide a reliable service. 5G has significant problems penetrating walls, foliage, water, even people (which from a spectrum perspective are seen as big bubbles of water). So in order to provide 5G services in these places multiple 5G antennas are needed within rooms to enable access to the mobile services.

When comparing wireless to fibre it is also important to note that, while wireless has a very limited capacity to carry lots of data over any distance (e.g., 100 metres for 5G), fibre can carry enormous amounts of data over tens of kilometres. So, from a network efficiency point of view fibre-based infrastructure will always win over wireless.

As we have said in many of our articles over the last decade, mobile infrastructure and fibre infrastructure are both essential. It is not a case of either/or. But in the end, mobile services will just provide local access linked to a fibre optic infrastructure. In other words, the majority of infrastructure needed to deliver 5G will be based on an FttH — or at least FttC (Fibre to the Curb) — infrastructure.

It is obvious that for these reasons it is impossible for the industry to deliver mass market 5G services within the short and even the medium term; so a 10-year horizon for such a level of 5G penetration is far more realistic.

Surely, in relation to mobile broadband being an alternative to FttH — as is the case at the moment — mobile broadband will increase its position at the bottom end of the market, for those people with very basic broadband access requirements. At the most, this might be sufficient for around 15% of the market.

However, at the same time, the overall content requirements for ‘bandwidth-sucking’ applications will continue in areas like entertainment, as well as in education, healthcare, business, smart cities, smart grids, smart buildings and so on.

FttH/FttC will potentially also benefit the development of 5G, depending on mobile operators being able to get affordable wholesale access to that network. It would be rather silly if the various mobile operators were also forced to bring their fibres to the curb in parallel with the fixed telcos in order to deliver 5G services.

So don’t expect a rapid development of 5G services for the mass market. 5G will most likely be installed in pockets where there is a clear business case (for a premium service) and where there is plenty of fibre available to provide a fast and reliable service.

On the other hand, 5G could also be a catalyst for the development of wholesale based FttH/FttC networks. But chances are that regulations to enable national wholesale based fibre optic networks will not be swiftly forthcoming; some of the mobile operators will not wait for that and will extend their own fibre backbones; if the latter is the case, the economic viability of fixed telco based FttH networks will even further diminish.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

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Internet for All Now: Legislation That Needs Your Support

California was recently reminded that rain can be very dangerous. In February, the nation’s tallest dam, the Oroville dam in northern California, became so overloaded with rain that over a 100,000 people had to evacuate their homes. Many of them ended up at the fairgrounds, a common place for rural communities to gather in times of disaster.

Many rural fairgrounds remain unconnected to broadband Internet services, which can make a dangerous situation worse. Especially during critical times, the public must be able to access resources and communicate with their loved ones through the Internet.

Now imagine: What if fairgrounds did have high-speed Internet access? It could be an untapped place for opportunity, acting as a job and economic generator for rural communities and serving as a connection to a 21st-century Internet-based economy. Making this shift and bridging the rural-urban divide in this way is just one projected benefit from the Internet for All Now Act (AB 1665).

A Legislative Solution

Even though the California Legislature pledged to help connect 98% of Californians to the Internet by 2017, the state has not been successful in rural communities. According to the 2016 Survey on Broadband Adoption in California, 16% of Californians lack access and 14% connect only through smartphones, which means that a staggering 30% lack home broadband and a computing device. Cost is reported as the biggest deterrent to access. See a map of each district’s broadband access in California: many rural areas remain underserved or unserved with broadband access. These maps find further evidence that, as the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reported in April 2017, only 47% of rural households have access to reliable broadband service.

In 2008, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Legislature established the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to correct this digital divide. It provided grants and loans for the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, as well as grants to public housing and regional associations to advance broadband deployment, access, and adoption. Funded through cent increases to the public’s phone bills, the fund supported 58 projects over the last nine years. However, this is the only source of government support for broadband, and the CASF is out of money, with 6 pending projects and more in the pipeline.

The Legislature is the only entity that can replenish the CASF, which is why the Internet for All Now Act is so critical. Otherwise, we will continue having a digital divide that reinforces economic insecurity amongst rural, disabled, and low-income communities.

Nuts and bolts of the bill

Proposed legislation, AB 1665 or the Internet For All Now Act, would expand the capacity of the government to bridge this divide. The Sf-Bay Area Chapter supports this legislation’s multi-faceted strategy, which would:

  • Fund infrastructure projects that provide broadband access to no less than 98% of California households by December 31, 2023.
  • Establish a new Broadband Adoption Account to assist low-income Californian households in getting online.
  • Require the CPUC to biennially report on CASF to the Legislature.
  • Require the CPUC to identify priority unserved and underserved areas and delineate the priority areas in the biennial reports.
  • Require the CPUC to consult regional consortia, stakeholders, and consumers regarding priority areas and cost-effective strategies to achieve the broadband access goal through public workshops conducted at least annually.

To learn more about the legislation, visit InternetForAllNow.org.

What You Can Do

If you’re a California resident, contact your legislator today and tell them you support AB 1665. A sample script:

“Hi, I’m a resident of [county] calling to support AB 1665, the Internet for All Now Act. I urge you to support this legislation in order to bridge California’s digital divide and ensure digital access and literacy for all.”

As the CEO and President of the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), Sunne Wright McPeak, said, “We call on the California Legislature to refund the California Advanced Services Fund and to pass the Internet For All Now Act to ensure digital access and literacy for all. High-speed Internet access is a 21st Century Civil Right.” It is needed more than ever.

This blog post was written by Jenna Spagnolo on behalf of the San Francisco-Bay Area Internet Society Chapter.

Written by Jenna Spagnolo

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Agriculture At High-Speed: Project Updates on Bridging California’s Rural/Urban Digital Divide

When farms are connected to the Internet, we all benefit. Agriculture that gains real-time information about plants, soil, atmosphere, and irrigation, dubbed “precision agriculture”, can save farmers 20-30% of their water consumption while increasing productivity by 20-70%, according to Valley Vision. The San Francisco-Bay Area Internet Society Chapter is pleased to announce that we have started phase one of our collaborative project, “Bridging California’s Rural/Urban Digital Divide with Mobile Broadband”, which will collect data on mobile broadband performance in Yolo County, California in order to inform state officials and public policy to better advocate for the expansion of rural broadband access.

Public Access for Broadband Testing in Yolo County, CA (Click to Enlarge)Phase One Has Begun: Project Updates

Working together with California State University (CSU) Geographical Information Center (GIC), Chico, and Valley Vision, we’ve introduced milestones, project team members, and phases for the project. Phase one focuses on maps, data research and collection. The project team is still approaching more farmers for their participation, but so far has identified about 150 sites to use for data collection. The red dots on the map identify the publicly accessible test locations in farm field areas. The cross-hatched areas are where we’re requesting access to privately owned land. Data collection will be completed by the end of March 2017.

An Innovative Way of Collecting Data

The research team is using a mobile app called CalSPEED, a professional-level, industry-standard testing tool, to measure the quality and speed of mobile data connection. This tool allows for flexibility, as it’s available for both iOS and Android devices, and accuracy. The test captures upload speed, download speed, message delay (latency), and message delay variation (jitter), and then provides an overall Mean Opinion Score (MOS) and video quality rating. With this two-phase test, we’ll be able to make statistical judgments about the quality of the mobile broadband connection. The results are uploaded to a public database maintained by California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to compare this broadband coverage with that in other parts of California.

Looking Forward

Once phase one is completed, the team will move towards the case study part of the project, during the low season after planting and before harvest. With these data-driven narratives, we will be able to better advocate for the response of public policy officials. The team is also working on securing opportunities to present the results of this study at conferences, as an academic report, and with other advocacy organizations.

Additionally, one of our partners on this project, Valley Vision, is conducting a pilot study to test the efficiency of different precision agriculture technologies. They are working with AgStart, a nonprofit agtech incubator, and Yolo County, CA, farmers to test cutting-edge technologies on three different types of crops. The synergy of this pilot study with our report will help further drive the efficiency and adoption of precision agriculture.

Learn More

To learn why Yolo County was chosen as the site of this project, and why we are so interested in bridging the urban/rural digital divide with precision agriculture, take a look at this blog post written after we secured funding from ISOC’s Beyond the Net program.

This blog post was written by Jenna Spagnolo on behalf of the San Francisco-Bay Area Internet Society Chapter.

Written by Jenna Spagnolo

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FCC Gives Approval to LTE-U Devices

Ericsson, Nokia get go-ahead for LTE-U base stations despite early fears they might interfere with Wi-Fi – Jon Gold reporting in Network World: “The Federal Communications Commission today approved two cellular base stations — one each from Ericsson and Nokia — to use LTE-U, marking the first official government thumbs-up for the controversial technology. … T-Mobile has already announced that it will be deploying LTE-U technology… Other major tech sector players, including Google, Comcast, and Microsoft, have expressed serious concerns that LTE-U doesn’t play as nicely with Wi-Fi as advertised.”

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NFV Orchestration Without Network Visibility: OS MANO Needs Operational Improvements

Open Source (OS) Management and Orchestrations (MANO) is a European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) initiative that aims to develop a Network Function Virtualization (NFV) MANO software stack, aligned with ETSI NFV. The main goal of MANO is to simplify the onboarding of virtual network components in telco cloud data centers. The initiative has gained impressive momentum among leading Communication Service Providers (CSPs) around the world as part of their NFV programs.

A major limitation of the initial MANO releases was that they only supported one data center. That of course is not acceptable for production NFV, because regulations alone require a distributed infrastructure to ensure service continuity. While there has been much debate as to why CSPs have been slow to roll out NFV into production, the limitations of the initial OS MANO releases have not come up that often.

In October 2016, the OS MANO community addressed the continuity issue with its new RELEASE ONE. More specifically, the latest version of the OS MANO allows the NFV infrastructure and, consequently, the Virtualized Network Functions (VNF) to be distributed across multiple sites. The new OS MANO functionalities making this possible include:

  • Multisite Support allowing a single OS MANO deployment to manage and orchestrate VNFs across multiple data centers.
  • Network Creation via Graphical User-Interface or automatically by a Service Orchestrator.
  • The ability to manage IP parameters such as security groups, IPv4 / IPv6 ranges, gateways, DNS, and other configurations for VNFs.

While these features enable centralized orchestration of highly available network fabrics that span across multiple data centers, the problem is that the OS MANO framework has no mechanism for managing these attributes properly. It is simply assumed that they will come from somewhere — either manually or magically appearing in the service orchestrator — which to me does not represent the level of rigor that is required when designing automated service architectures of tomorrow.

Since any workflow is only as efficient as its slowest phase, leaving undefined manual steps in the NFV orchestration process is likely to create multiple operational and scalability issues down the road. In the case of OS MANO RELEASE ONE, at least the following problems are easy to foresee:

  1. Agility. Automating the assignment of logical networks and IP parameters is mandatory to reap the full benefits of end-to-end service automation. Two possible approaches would be to either retrieve this information from a centralized network Configuration and Management Database (CMDB) by the Service Orchestrator, or alternatively by pushing the networks and IP parameters directly into their place. Either way, to ensure the integrity of the configured data and to automate this part of the workflow, the logical networks and IP parameters must be managed within a unified system.
  2. Manageability. As the NFV network fabrics span across multiple data centers, the CSPs running these environments need unified real-time visibility into all the tenant networks across all sites. As the multisite model in OS MANO assumes that each data center runs its own dedicated cloud stack for NFV-I, the unified visibility can only be achieved on a layer that sits atop the NFV-Is. Therefore, this is something that either OS MANO should do — or alternatively, there can be a separate layer for the authoritative management of all networks and IP parameters.
  3. Administrative Security. The problem with the current OS MANO framework is that it leaves the door open for engineers to manage the network assignments and IP parameters in any way they see fit. An ad hoc approach would typically involve a number of spreadsheets with configurations like security groups in them, which may be rather problematic from the security and regulation compliance perspective since it can easily lead to not having proper authorization and audit trail mechanisms in place.

In fairness to OS MANO, most CSPs still continue to mostly experiment with NFV. It is therefore likely that these operational issues are yet to surface in most telco cloud environments. That said, we have already seen these issues emerge at early NFV adopters, creating unnecessary bottlenecks when the NFV environment is handed over to operations. Therefore, my suggestion to the Open Source MANO community is to establish a best practice for addressing these issues before we reach a point at which they start slowing down the NFV production.

Written by Juha Holkkola, CEO of FusionLayer, Inc.

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