AT&T's "SDN-WAN" as the Network to Access & Deliver Cloud Services


For several years, we’ve wondered why there was so many alternative WANs used and proposed to access and deliver cloud computing and storage services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, etc.) for public, private, and hybrid clouds. The list includes: the public Internet (best effort), IP MPLS VPN, other types of IP VPNs, Carrier Ethernet for Private Cloud (MEF spec), dedicated private line to Cloud Service Provider (CSP) data center/platform/point of presence, etc.

AT&T is attempting to position its “SDN WANenhanced IP-MPLS VPN as the unified WAN solution for cloud services provided by its partners.  At IT Roadmap in San José, CA on Sept 17, 2014, Randall Davis announced that AT&T is partnering with several CSPs to use its enhanced IP-MPLS VPN WAN to enable end users to access a variety of cloud services. The impressive list of CSPs includes: Microsoft (Windows Azure), HP, IBM,, Box, and CSC. That bestows credibility and confidence in AT&T’s cloud networking approach.

Network Enabled Cloud Solutions via AT&T NetBond:

Mr. Davis stated that AT&T spends ~$20B per year on CAPEX/OPEX to maintain and improve its wireless and wire-line networks. Instead of discrete network functions and equipment associated with individual services running on disparate subnetworks, AT&T’s goal is to consolidate all services to be delivered to customers onto a software based, programmable, cloud like “SDN WAN” which uses their own intellectual property (see below).

AT&T's vision of a network enabled cloud. Image courtesy of AT&T.
AT&T’s vision of a network enabled cloud. Image courtesy of AT&T.

“The User Defined Network Cloud is AT&T’s vision for the network of the future,” Davis stated. “Our goal is to provide a set of services delivered from a single cloud-like network. AT&T is tapping into the latest technologies, open source projects and open network principles to make that happen,” he said.

“It’s a fundamental new way to build a smart “cloud-like network” that addresses the many concerns of end users about the network being the bottleneck in delivery of cloud services.” Indeed, barriers to moving enterprise workloads to the cloud often involve the WAN. For example, how can the network address cloud integration complexity, a warehouse of telecom circuits, security, reliability/availability, and compliance issues?

AT&Ts “network enabled cloud,” called NetBond, allows customers to extend their existing MPLS Virtual Private Network (VPN) to the CSPs platform for the delivery of business/ enterprise applications through fast and highly secure connectivity.  AT&T says they are driving the network enabled ecosystem and working with leading CSPs such as Microsoft,, HP, IBM, CSC and Equinix.

Positioned between the enterprise customer premises and the CSP’s platform/point of presence, AT&T’s NetBond provides a highly flexible and simple way for AT&T customers to utilize their enterprise VPNs to connect to a cloud computing or IT service environment in AT&T’s cloud partner ecosystem (which is growing).  This solution bypasses the public Internet entirely, thereby providing secure and seamless access to CSPs applications and data storage.

AT&Ts NetBond enables the end customer to integrate cloud services within its enterprise wide IP-MPLS VPN (from AT&T, of course).  It does so by extending its MPLS VPN to the CSPs compute/storage platform, thereby isolating traffic from other customer traffic, creating a private network connection. As a result, there’s no need for a separate IP VPN to/from the CSP.

The solution is designed around the following keys areas:

  1. Flexibility. Network bandwidth is optimized for your workloads and fully scalable
  2. Network Security and isolation. Intelligent routing directs traffic to logically separated customer environments on shared physical infrastructure.
  3. Availability and performance. The solution is built on a stable, robust and scalable technology platform resulting in up to 50% lower latency and up to 3X availability.
  4. Automation and control. The solution uses automation and a self-service portal to activate service changes in hours versus weeks.

NetBond permits both the network and cloud infrastructure to scale or contract in tandem and on-demand, rapidly accommodating workload changes. It seems to be well suited for customers who want to avoid exposure to the public Internet and risk of DDoS attacks, as well as, have a highly available and high-performance connection to their cloud resources. Davis said that “NetBond provides a scalable, highly secure, high performance, and integrated WAN solution” for access to the cloud.

Other benefits were identified:

  • Private IP address space avoids DDoS attacks
  • API controlled pre-integrated survivable network infrastructure
  • Elasticity with dynamic traffic bursting (above some pre-defined threshold)
  • AT&T sells baseline units of traffic capacity with most bursting covered
  • Bursting overages at the “95th percentile” incur an extra charge
  • Any to any instant on connectivity (zero provisioning time to reach CSP that’s partnered with AT&T)
  • Improved legacy application performance and increased throughput
  • Privacy from separation of data and control planes
  • Better availability due to simplicity of operations
  • Bursting capability eliminates gaps and gluts
  • Cost model aligns with cloud usage

AT&T NetBond Backgrounder:

AT&T’s website states: NetBond provides benefits of a private network with the flexibility of cloud. With NetBond, security, performance and control are no longer barriers to moving enterprise applications and data to the cloud.

“NetBond uses patented technology that uses Software Defined Network (SDN) capabilities, providing traffic routing flexibility and integration of VPN to cloud service providers. With AT&T NetBond, customers can expect up to 50% lower latency and up to 3x availability. In addition, network connectivity can be scaled up or down with the cloud resources resulting in bursting of up to 10 times your contracted commitment. From a security perspective, AT&T NetBond isolates traffic from the Internet and from other cloud traffic reducing exposure to risks and attacks such as DDoS.”

“AT&T VPN customers can create highly-secure, private and reliable connectivity to cloud services in minutes without additional infrastructure investments and long-term contract commitments. We also enable end to end integration with cloud service providers resulting in a common customer experience regardless of the cloud platform.”

“Because it can reduce over-provisioning, AT&T NetBond can result in savings of as much as 60% on networking costs compared to internet based alternatives. Also, customers experience true flexibility in that they only pay for what they have ordered and are able to change their billing plan at any time to reflect usage.”

For more on the technology used for AT&T’s IP MPLS VPN see this white paper:

What’s the Control Mechanism for NetBond?

AT&T uses its own version of SDN WAN with “APIs to expose control mechanisms used to order (provision) and manipulate network services.” AT&T’s SDN WAN is based on proprietary intellectual property the company refers to as “Intelligent Route Service Control Processor (IRSCP).” That technology is used to dynamically change the routing (end to end paths) in the network to respond to operational changes, new customers, more or less traffic, and to automatically recover from failed network nodes or links. Davis said that AT&T’s suppliers are using the company’s version of SDN WAN in “novel ways.” AT&T is also using open source software whenever possible, he said (we assume that to mean in their suppliers’ equipment and possibly in their network management/OSS software).

A quick web search indicates that AT&T has at least one patent on IRSCP. In 2006, AT&T Labs researchers published a paper titled, “Dynamic Connectivity Management with an Intelligent Route Service Control Point” in the Proceedings of the 2006 SIGCOMM Workshop on Internet Network Management.

Mobile Integration into Cloud Applications is Needed:

With more and more mobile apps on smart phones and tablets accessing cloud based applications, it’s essential to provide a wireless network that solves both security and performance problems. Randall hinted that AT&T’s NetBond may be extended to include wireless access in the near future. The following benefits of doing so were enumerated:

  • Faster time to market for new mobile apps
  • Access to easier solutions which can be quickly configured (no explanation provided)
  • Simpler compliance
  • Improved performance
  • Better security

Author’s Notes:

  1. Mr. Davis referred to “Project Gamma” as an early example of AT&T’s Domain 2.0 architecture. It was said to be an example of “User Defined Network Cloud (UDNC)” in that it virtualizes Ethernet connectivity and routing to automate services delivered to AT&T customers. [No reference was given or could be found for Project Gamma.]
  2. On Sept 17, 2014 (the date of Mr. Davis’ IT Roadmap-SJ presentation), Light Reading reported that AT&T will bring its User-Defined Network to Austin businesses by the end of this year.

“This is really focused on wireline services, specifically, we’re starting with Ethernet… I would expect that we’ll look at wireless too,” says Josh Goodell, VP of Network on Demand at AT&T.

Businesses with the Network on Demand Ethernet service will be able to change some network services and modify upload and download speeds via a self-service portal. This will mean that services will be changed almost instantaneously, “rather than the previous method of modifying, installing or replacing hardware to make network changes,” AT&T notes.


On Sept 18, 2014, AT&T and IBM announced a strategic partnership AT&T Teams with IBM Cloud to Extend Highly Secure Private Network to Clients.

AT&T NetBond services will be extended to IBM’s SoftLayer platform for stronger security and performance. This extension of the IBM and AT&T alliance will allow businesses to easily create hybrid-computing solutions. AT&T Virtual Private Network (VPN) customers can use AT&T NetBond to connect their IT infrastructure to IBM’s SoftLayer private network and cloud services. The service allows customers to benefit from highly secure connections with high reliability and performance as an alternative to relying on public Internet access.

“AT&T NetBond gives customers a broader range of options as they explore how to best leverage a hybrid cloud,” said Jim Comfort, general manager of IBM Cloud Services. “Customers can easily move workloads to and from SoftLayer as if it were part of their local area network. This added flexibility helps optimize workload performance while allowing customers to scale IT resources in a way that makes sense.”

“Businesses look to AT&T and IBM to deliver best in class solutions to meet their most demanding needs— especially when it comes to cloud,” said Jon Summers, senior vice president growth platforms, AT&T Business Solutions. “Together, we’re making the network as flexible as the cloud and giving enterprises confidence they can migrate their business systems to the cloud and still meet their security, scalability and performance requirements.”

End NOTE:  We will update this article if and when we receive a figure from AT&T that illustrates NetBond.  Stay tuned!


2013 IDC Directions Part III- Where Are We Headed with Software-Defined Networking (SDN)?


In the third article on the IDC Directions 2013 Conference (March 5th in Santa Clara, CA), we take a hard look at Software Defined Networking as presented by Rohit Mehra, IDC VP for Network Infrastructure.

Note: Please see 2013 IDC Directions Part I for an explanation of the “3rd Platform” and its critical importance to the IT industry and Part II on New Data Center Dynamics and Requirements


IDC firmly believes that the “3rd Platform” is the way forward and that the network is the vital link between cloud computing and mobility.  “The Cloud is evolving into a comprehensive, integrated application delivery model incorporating all four elements of the 3rd platform,” said Mr. Mehra.

  • Cloud Apps require network agility, flexibility and must support higher east-west traffic flows (between servers in a cloud resident data center).
  • Mobile access is crucial with the proliferation of mobile devices (e.g. smart phones and tablets) and continued exponential growth of mobile data traffic.
  • Variable end points and different traffic patterns must be supported.
  • Social networking is being integrated with other enterprise applications. This is resulting in increased volumes of cloud data exchanges with client devices and more server-to-server traffic flows.
  • Big Data/Analytics results in scale-out computing which needs scale-out networking. Greater application-to-network visibility will be required.

As a result of these strong 3rd platform trends, Mr. Mehra said, “Application access/delivery is dependent on the  cloud resident data center and enterprise network.  Both will need to become more dynamic and flexible with SDN.”

IDC asked IT managers: What was the main reason you needed to Re-Architect The Network to support Private Cloud? The top three reasons were:

  • We needed to ensure security between virtual servers
  • We needed more bandwidth to support the virtualized applications
  • The network became a bottleneck to new service provisioning

Rohit said that SDN could address those issues and was gaining traction in the data center.  “”SDN provides better alignment with the underlying applications, along with improved flexibility and command of the network,” he said.  Through SDN models, companies will likely find it easier to implement virtual cloud hosting environments, according to Rohit.

A recent IDC study SDN Shakes Up the Status Quo in Datacenter Networking projected that the SDN market will increase from $360 million in 2013 to $3.7 billion in 2016.

SDN Attributes include:

  • Architectural model that leads to network virtualization
  • Dynamic exchange between applications and the network
  • Delivering programmable interfaces to the network (e.g., OpenFlow, APIs)
  • Management abstraction of the topology
  • Separation of control and forwarding functions (implemented in different equipment)

Rohit stated that SDN was NOT another name for “Cloud-based Networking” and that they were each in functionally different domains:

  • Cloud-based Networking involves emerging network provisioning, configuration and management offerings that leverage cloud Computing and Storage capabilities.
  • It’s a “Network As A Service” model that can apply to routers, WLAN, Unified Communications, app delivery, etc.

Rohit expects network equipment and network management vendors to add these capabilities to their platforms in 2013.

Three Emerging SDN Deployment Models are envisioned by IDC:

1. Pure OpenFlow (more on the role of Open Flow later in this article)

  • Driven largely by being open and standards-based (by Open Networking Foundation or ONF)
  • Inhibited by fluidity of OpenFlow release schedule; limited support in existing switches

2. Overlays

  • Exemplified by Nicira/VMware’s Network Virtualization Platform (NVP), IBM’s DOVE, others
  • Some vendors that started out offering “pure OpenFlow” have adopted overlays (Big Switch Networks)

3. Hybrid (Overlay, OpenFlow, Other Protocols/APIs)

  • Put forward by established networking players such as Cisco and Juniper
  • Offer SDN controller, with support for distributed control plane for network programmability and virtualization, etc.
Image courtesy of IDC.
Image courtesy of IDC.

SDN vendors are offering SDN solutions from four different perspectives. Many of them solely target one of the four, while others offer a combination of the following:

  • SDN enabled switches, routers, and network equipment in the data/forwarding plane
  • Software tools and technologies that serve to provide virtualization and control (including vSwitches, controllers, gateways, overlay technologies)
  • Network services and applications that involve Layers 4-7, security, network analytics, etc
  • Professional service offerings around the SDN eco-system

SDN’s Place In The Datacenter-IDC sees two emerging approaches:

1. Some vendors will push SDN within the framework of converged infrastructure (servers, storage, network, management)

  • Appeals to enterprises looking for simplicity, ready integration, and “one throat to choke”
  • Vendors include HP, Dell, IBM, Cisco, Oracle and others

2. Some IT vendors will offer a software-defined data center, where physical hardware is virtualized, centrally managed, and treated as an abstracted resource that can by dynamically provisioned/configured.

  • Vendors include VMware, Microsoft, perhaps IBM
Image courtesy of IDC.
Image courtesy of IDC.

SDN Will Provide CapEx and OpEx Savings:


  • Better control and alignment of virtual and physical resources
  • Automated configuration, and management of physical network
  • Service agility and velocity


  • Move to software/virtual appliances running on x86 hardware can reduce expenditures on proprietary hardware appliances
  • Support for network virtualization improves utilization of server and switch hardware
  • Potentially cheaper hardware as SDN value chain matures (long-term, not today)

Role of OpenFlow as SDN Matures:

  • Initial OpenFlow interest and adoption from research community, cloud service providers (e.g., Google, Facebook) and select enterprise verticals- e.g., education
  • Led to successful launch of Open Networking Foundation (ONF)
  • Centralized control and programmability is the primary use case- but that may be its limitation
  • At a crossroads now- OpenFlow taking time to mature and develop, while alternate solutions are emerging
  • As the market for SDN matures, OpenFlow is likely to be one of the many tools and technologies (but not the ONLY protocol to be used between Control plane virtual switches/servers and Data forwarding equipment in the network)

SDN Challenges and Opportunities– For SDN Vendors and Customers:

  • Vendors will need to consider adding professional services to their SDN portfolio
  • The value chain will benefit from these services early within the market adoption cycle
  • Need for SDN certification and training programs to engage partner and customer constituencies and to reduce political friction associated with change
  • Education on use cases is critical to getting vendor message across, and for creating broader enthusiasm for change among customers
  • Customers must ensure that they have the right mix of skills to evaluate, select, deploy, and manage SDN
  • The battle to break down internal silos will intensify alignment of applications and networks means an alignment of teams that run them
Image courtesy of IDC.
Image courtesy of IDC.


1.SDN is rapidly gaining traction as a potentially disruptive technology transition, not seen for a long time in networking
2.SDN is riding the wave of a “Perfect Storm”, with many individual market and technology factors coming together:

  • Growth of Cloud Services/Applications
  • Focus on converged infrastructures (compute/storage/network)
  • Emergence of Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC)
  • Lessons learned (and benefits) from server virtualization

3.SDN brings us closer to application and network alignment with next-generation IT
4.Incumbent vendors will need to find the right fit between showing leadership in SDN innovation and balancing existing portfolio investments

Addendum: Software Defined Networks and Large-Scale Network Virtualization Combine to Drive Change in Telecom Networks

In a March 7th press release IDC wrote that SDN along with large-scale network virtualization are two emerging telecom industry technologies that will combine to drive a more software-centric and programmable telecom infrastructure and services ecosystem. These complementary and transformative technologies will have a sustained impact on today’s communication service providers and the way they do business.

“IDC believes that the rapid global growth of data and video traffic across all networks, the increasing use of public and private cloud services, and the desire from consumers and enterprises for faster, more agile service and application delivery are driving the telecom markets toward an inevitable era of network virtualization,” said Nav Chander, Research Manager, Telecom Services and Network Infrastructure, IDC.

“SDN and large-scale network virtualization will become a game shifter, providing important building blocks for delivering future enterprise and hybrid, private, and public cloud services.”  he added.  Additional findings from IDC’s research includes the following:

  • Time to service agility is a key driver for SDN concepts
  • Lowering OPEX spend is a bigger driver than lowering CAPEX for CSPs
  • Network Function Virtualization and SDN will emerge as key components of both operator service strategies and telecom networking vendor’s product strategies

The IDC study, Will New SDN and Network Virtualization Technology Impact Telecom Networks? (IDC #239399), examines the rapidly emerging software-defined network (SDN) market, the developments in large-scale network virtualization, and a new Network Functions Virtualization ecosystem, which are likely to have an impact on telecom equipment vendors’ and CSP customers’ plans for next-generation wireline and wireless network infrastructure.


IEEE ComSocSCV had the two leaders of the SDN movement talk at one of our technical meetings last year. Their presentations are posted in the 2012 meeting archive section of the chapter website:

Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012; 6:00pm-8:30pm
Title: Software Defined Networking (SDN) Explained — New Epoch or Passing Fad?
Speaker 1: Guru Parulkar, Executive Director of Open Networking Research Center
Subject: SDN: New Approach to Networking
Speaker 2: Dan Pitt, Executive Director at the Open Networking Foundation
Subject: The Open Networking Foundation

Telecom Death Spiral Continues with ZTE's Steep Profit Drop

Sluggish telecom operator infrastructure spending, mobile device price wars and roadblocks in several western markets have all combined to cause China’s ZTE to report an 85% drop in profits (year over year) in the latest quarter that ended in June. Net earnings for the first half dropped 68 per cent  to Rmb245m, in line with a warning issued last month. That’s the steepest drop in net profits since the Hong Kong listed company went public six years ago!

The drop follows a series of weak results announcements by other leading  telecom equipment vendors. Huawei, ZTE’s larger Chinese rival, reported a 22  per cent slide in first-half operating profits.  Alcatel-Lucent and NSN have been losing money and laying off employees for years, while LM Ericsson recently reported net income down 63 per cent to SKr1.2bn ($172m), compared with a year ago.

ZTE blamed delayed orders from telecom operators and foreign exchange losses  because of the euro crisis for the weak performance, but some analysts say the  company faces much broader problems. China’s three telecoms carriers spent only a third of their projected  full-year capital expenditure during the first half, according to BOCI Research. Analysts do not expect a significant increase before the end of the year that could translate into new orders for ZTE, especially since Chinese operators are  not expected to receive licences for fourth-generation mobile services until  2014.

These are not ZTE’s only woes. The company, alongside Huawei, is being  investigated in the EU for allegedly receiving unfair subsidies from the Chinese  government. In the US, it is under investigation by the Department of Commerce and the FBI for allegedly selling equipment to Iran in violation of trade  sanctions. But unlike privately owned Huawei, ZTE is  predominantly owned by Chinese state entities despite its Hong Kong stock  exchange listing.

“The authorities in both the US and the EU appear to protect their own  players in the industry,” said Mr Ku. “That will make it very challenging for  ZTE to make inroads in the US market, much like it has been for Huawei.”

According to excerpts of an affidavit posted online by The Smoking Gun website last month, Ashley Yablon, a Texas-based lawyer working for ZTE, told the FBI that company executives discussed lying to the US government and  destroying evidence. ZTE on Wednesday declined to comment on the investigations.  As a result of the probe, Jon Christensen, a former Republican Congressman, terminated his lobbying for ZTE last month. A group of US lawmakers has also  called for a Treasury investigation against the Chinese company.

And mobile phone sales aren’t contributing to the bottom line! ZTE is the world’s fourth-largest handset vendor by shipments, but the ultra-competitive and price sensitive handset/mobile device business is depressing its profit margins.

“We still expect only low single-digit growth in global telecom capex next  year, and everyone is competing by price, so things will continue to be tough  for the industry,” said Jones Ku, an analyst with Barclays Capital.

More info at:

From ZTE’s latest financial report:

Overview of the global telecommunications industry in the first half of 2012

Investment in equipment in the global telecommunications industry slackened during the first half of 2012. Regional differences remained as emerging markets such as Latin America, Middle East and Asia Pacific continued to enjoy faster investment growth. With the gradual phase-out of 2G networks and the further optimisation and upgrades of 3G networks, commercial deployment of 4G networks has commenced in many countries around the world. In the meantime, global broadband construction continued to be boosted by policy support for and financial commitments to the national broadband strategy in various countries. Smart terminals continued to account for an increasing share of the market, in line with growing popular demand for the product driven by the rapid development of Mobile Internet and the growing variety of mobile applications.

Operating results of the ZTE Group for the first half of 2012

During the first half of 2012, the Group achieved relatively fast growth in overall revenue courtesy to efforts to explore market niches and enhance its market position through initiatives in the perfection and innovation of product technologies, as competition in global telecommunications industry became more rational. Terminals remained on track for fast growth, while telecommunications software systems, services and other products sustained existing growth rates. Nevertheless, the Group’s net profit declined in comparison the same period last year, reflecting reduced investment income, exchange losses, postponement of network contract tenders of certain domestic carriers and lower gross profit margin. For the first six months of 2012, the Group reported operating revenue of RMB42.642 billion, representing a year-on-year growth of 15.21%. Net profit attributable to the shareholders of the parent company amounted to RMB245 million, decreasing by 68.17% as compared to the same period last year. Earnings per share amounted to RMB0.07 per share.

The international market

During the reporting period, the Group reported operating revenue of RMB21.757 billion from the international market, accounting for 51.02% of the Group’s overall operating revenue and representing a year-on-year growth of 6.20%. With a strong focus on populous nations and mainstream global carriers, the Group consolidated its market shares in emerging markets, while winning recognition in its work to enhance cooperation with mainstream global carriers on different products. As well as reinforcing its operation in current mainstream products, the Group was vigorously planning for new strategic niches.

Closing Comment:

It’s been over three years since the “great recession” officially ended (at least in the U.S.). And 12 long years since the dotcom/fiber optic networking bubbles burst. Yet the recovery in sales and earnings for telecom equipment companies are still extremely depressed with little if any growth (especially in bottom line/net earnings). Layoffs continue unabated at most of the large networking gear makers (Alcatel Lucent to layoff 5,000 more employees starting in September 2012).  

There are also few if any network equipment start-ups being funded and many of those that got seed money in the last few years are folding as they can’t obtain additional capital/investments.  Network infrastructure has become a dirty word for VCs and Angel investors who were badly burned by previous investments in that space 10 or 12 years ago (e.g. ultra long haul, photonic (all optical) switching, multi purpose provisioning platforms (AKA “God boxes”), metro optical & resilient packet rings, terabit routers, free space optics, WiMAX, and many, many more technologies that never were commercially successful.

It has certainly been a very long nuclear winter.  More like a decade of frozen tundra for telecom gear makers, component and most semiconductor companies exclusively focused on this still depressed market segment.

When will the recovery come?  I was asked that question during an IEEE Globecom 2002 Business Applications Session on Optical Networks. Almost 10 years later, there is no recovery in site. Does anyone have a guess when the telecom infrastructure industry will see sunny days again?



Viodi View – 04/04/12

Is there a recipe for creating a viral video? This question is often pondered at digital media conferences and responses typically suggest viral video success stems from ingredients that include authenticity, quality of production, timing, the message and entertainment value. These elements are critical, but what might be the most important element is out of a producer’s control; luck.

Telecom ’96 and Blowout Author Speaks

Byron Dorgan - MTA
Byron Dorgan - MTA

And last week we were lucky to run into former Senator Byron Dorgan and our interview scooped NewYork media as he gave us the skinny on his first novel, which deals with North Dakota, energy and eco-terrorism.   Dorgan had just given a keynote lunch address at the  Minnesota Telecom Association when we caught up with him.  In that speech, he compared the efforts to bring broadband to rural America with the wagon train of the 1800s, where the wagon train would not move ahead if it meant leaving someone behind.  Click here to read the rest of the post and view the video interview.

FCC’s Order – Delay and Uncertainty Abound

Brent Christensen of MTA
Brent Christensen of MTA

The industry has been, “shaken upside down”, because of the FCC’s order on USF and Intercarrier Compensation, so says Brent Christensen, president of MTA.  In this interview from last week’s MTA Annual Convention, Christensen explains that his organization and members are still trying to determine the impact of this order and how much it will cost end-consumers. Click here to read more and to view the video.

Not Going to Disrupt Our Customers by Roger Bindl

Not Going To Disrupt Our Customers - ACA
2012 ACA Summit

Frustration with retransmission consent echoed from the halls of the 2012 ACA Summit in Washington DC all the way to the MTA Annual Convention in Minneapolis.  As it turns out, we had interviewed a couple of MTA members at the ACA Summit, held in early March.  This video, edited by Roger Bindl, provides a variety of cogent soundbites from this very important conference for any rural telecommunications operator attempting to provide residential video and broadband services.  Click here to view the video.

Help Wanted: A National Clearinghouse for Smart Energy

Roy Perry of
Roy Perry of

A clearinghouse that brings third parties and the 2,000+ electric utilities together to create a national market for Demand Response (DR) is needed, according to Roy Perry of Perry, formerly of Cable Labs, has been a thought-leader in looking at how to achieve energy efficiency goals in cost-effective ways.  In this video interview, he calls for standard Application Programming Interfaces that allow third-parties to act on real-time data from utilities.  Click here to view.

Cisco to Boost Home-Networking Portfolio with ClearAccess Purchase by Alan Weissberger

Cisco Systems took steps to expand its service-provider business with the announcement that it will acquire ClearAccess, a provider of wholesale network-management solutions. According to Cisco, the purchase will bolster its Prime network-management-software portfolio with a suite of home-networking solutions.  This is part of a growing new market generically referred to as the “Connected Home,” which in this case  includes monitoring and managing bandwidth usage, parental controls, diagnostics and analytics. The ClearAccess system provides the ability to manage devices using the Broadband Forum’s TR-069 specification. Click here to read Weissberger’s analysis.

Key Messages from IDC Directions 2012 for “The Network” – Part 2 by Alan Weissberger

Part 1 of this article summarized the big picture view from IDC Directions 2012 as well as changes in enterprise IT and network infrastructure/ architecture.  Mobility and next generation mobile network architecture’s are examined in this piece.  Click here to read more.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • Installed Xfinity Xbox app– surprised there was no warning about possibility of exceeding bandwidth cap – granted, that would be loads of TV
  • Good explanation directed at consumers regarding retransmission consent rules and their impact.
  • This is a first (and probably last) – two Senators (one former) on the ViodiTV home page at the same time!

The Korner – Strong, Faster Than Before – The Video

Faster, Stronger than Before
Strong, Faster than Before

About two months ago, an impromptu video I shot at CES 2012 went somewhat viral.  The reason for its relative popularity was because Popular Science selected it to be part of their YouTube channel.  Why it was picked up by Popular Science remains a mystery.  Still, based on the number of YouTube “likes” versus “dislikes”, the message of the video must have overpowered the poor production values of this impromptu, one-man production.

And the accompanying article, title The Augmented Life or the $6M Man Becomes the $6K Man, was also well received by Viodi View readers.

So, knowing it would be on the television channel at the MTA Annual Convention, I felt inspired to put more effort than normal in the creation of a video explaining the context of my viral video.  It was fun to play with the green screen and superimpose my face on images of robots (the little butler-like devices carrying trays) and on an exoskeleton.  Whether the above video goes viral, remains to be seen, but it was fun to produce and it is always interesting to ponder the future that seems to finally be the present.  Click here to view the video, before it goes viral :-).

Key Messages from IDC Directions 2012 for "The Intelligent Network" – Part 1

At it’s annual Directions 2012 conference,  market research firm IDC strongly stated that IT is on the cusp of a “Third Platform” that will dominate the  landscape till 2020 and beyond.  That 3rd platform consists of some mash up of: cloud computing, mobile broadband, mobile services/devices/platforms- OSs/apps, social networks, and big data/analytics.  Many or all of those technologies will be integrated or combined to offer new types of services to both business and personal IT end users. IDC predicts a CAGR of 15% for Third Platform IT spending through 2010 with a cumulative growth rate  of 70.4% (2013-’20).

Courtesy of IDCScale, community and competency will determine the Third Platform winners, according to IDC Chief Analyst Frank Gens.  How does this Third Platform intersect with other related developments in the continuing evolution of the end-to-end network (including wireless and wireline) and service architectures?  For example, what type of network will interconnect business end users and Cloud Service Provider data centers?  What distinguishes an on premises Data Center (and local area network) from a Cloud resident Data Center (and local area network)?  How will those cloud data centers be interconnected?  Will a new premise network architecture be required?  How will mobile access to cloud services provide the necessary QoS/SLAs (especially latency) and ensure adequate security/privacy?

This author has tried to address many of these questions, especially concerning cloud networking, in previous articles. This article will focus exclusively on what IDC analysts had to say about the network.  We will focus on the converged premises network in part 1 and next generation mobile networks in part 2.  Those NexGen Mobile networks must be re-architected to solve the congestion dilemma caused by the expected capacity crunch from the explosive growth in mobile data traffic.  IDC (as well as this author) does not believe tiered pricing coupled with throttling heavy mobile data users will solve the wireless network capacity crunch.   Proposed solutions to the capacity crunch, including access network and backhaul, will be addressed in the second article on IDC Directions 2012.

Let us first examine the impact of Cloud Computing and evolution of the Data Center as per Matt Eastwood’s excellent presentation, “Cloud Proofing the Next-Gen Enterprise Infrastructure – Understanding Converged System Needs.” A recent IDC survey determined that enterprise IT spending is shifting.  They found that:

  • Enterprises see private clouds+ as their onramp to cloud computing  for the next 24 months (assume they don’t believe public clouds can deliver performance & security guarantees)
  • Automation and elasticity will become the new mantra
  • Pre-integrated modularity will become critical

+ Note: Private cloud can be either implemented on site or hosted off site by a 3rd party cloud service provider. Virtualization is the foundation platform for the Data Center:

  • VM [Virtual Machine] deployment will be robust but physical server growth will be conservative over next 5 years
  • VM densities will increase 25% from 2010 to 2015
  • Rapid rise in VMs and mobility is forcing customers to rethink infrastructure requirements

IDC believes that a converged Infrastructure is the foundation for cloud computing.  Companies are virtualizing servers, automating processes, converging technologies in the data center and adopting private clouds to facilitate “self service IT.” A Converged System was said to include the following pool of IT assets:

  • Compute
  • Storage
  • Network
  • Infrastructure Management

Author’s Note:  There may be separate networks for compute and storage, e.g. 1G/10G/40G Ethernet for interconnection of compute (data) servers and switches as well as switch to switch interconnection in the Data Center.  Fiber Channel used to interconnect Storage servers and switches.

IDC defines an Integrated System as a common pool of IT assets that includes:

  • Middleware, Database, Device Tools
  • Hardware and software assets tuned for service
  • BA, OLTP, DW, Business Intelligence, Collaborative Computing

Final thoughts from IDC analyst Matt Eastwood:

  • CIOs pay attention to time, money and people
  • Downturns drive inflections and change on recovery
  • Workloads are the critical pivot point for cloud and convergence decisions
  • Many political barriers remain in Washington, D.C.
  • User demographics change constantly

Cloud Delivery for the Mobile Enterprise- the increasing relevance of intelligent network infrastructures

Courtesy of IDC
Courtesy of IDC

IDC analyst Rohit Mehra* said that consumer mobile devices are already in the enterprise; and their use is growing.  This phenomenon is often referred to as BYoD or Bring Your own Device (to work).  IDC expects that 41% of devices used to access business applications in 2012 will be Employee-Owned Devices (vs. Company-Owned Devices)!  That’s up 10% from 2011.

While BYOD will proliferate, corporate owned mobile devices will grow as well, according to Mehra. In particular, media tablets are being used more and more to gain access and legitimacy for enterprise apps. The network’s role in enterprise IT infrastructure continues to grow as Network Intelligence becomes strategic to the business.  IDC forecasts a huge rise in connecting mobile applications to cloud services.  More than 83% of enterprise companies have already rolled out or plan to deploy mobile cloud based applications in the next 12-18 months, The Enterprise Network was positioned as a “Vital Link between Two Rising Tides:”

  1. Cloud, Converged Infrastructure and the Datacenter
  2. Mobile access and the mobile edge network (including the mobile packet core)

Obviously, application access and delivery is dependent on underlying network, which may not be robust or have the necessary performance for many cloud based services or applications (especially over a best effort, shared wireless or wireline network). IDC believes that video continues to be a challenge for the network.  Specific concerns are:

  • Bandwidth Limitations
  • Inconsistency of bandwidth available across organizations
  • Costs to upgrade
  • Video Performance
    • Brand image
    • Hinder success of IT investment
  • Security
    • Keeping enterprise video off the Internet
    • Keep access off-limits for users with undesirable or malicious intent
Courtesy of IDC
Courtesy of IDC

IDC believes the network is an integral part of IT Infrastructure.  Here’s a list of attributes needed for a converged, robust network that delivers applications and cloud based services:

  • Secure, reliable, predictable architecture for business applications
  • Enforce corporate policies and regulatory mandates
  • Intelligent delivery decisions on network traffic
  • Optimization, acceleration, security, visibility, load balancing
  • Shared services layer with unification of performance management
  • Consolidated and coordinated application delivery policies

Advent of Software Defined Networking (SDN) was seen as an emerging trend by Mr. Mehra:

  • Dynamic exchange between applications and the network
  • Delivering programmable interfaces to the network
  • Management abstraction of the topology
  • Separation of control and transport functions
  • Examples include OpenFlow, but Mr. Mehra cautioned, “OpenFlow, at its core, remains a Twitter topic,” meaning it’s not mainstream yet.

The IDC analyst believes that Cloud-based Networking is emerging and asked, “Will it cause disruption or evolution?”

  • Emerging network and services offering that leverages cloud-capabilities
  • “Network as a Service” model that can apply to routers, WLAN, UC, app delivery, etc.
  • Network provisioning, configuration, and management

IDC says here is what to look for in 2012 from the enterprise networking industry and network service providers:

  • Emerging vendors will leverage cloud to be disruptive
  • Incumbents will see the value and will make appropriate portfolio adjustments
  • Managed Service Providers will adapt and embrace the cloud and not compete with it

And here are Mr. Mehra’s final thoughts:

  • The intelligent economy requires intelligent IT Infrastructure, and that includes the network
  • The network is a vital link between mobility and the cloud
  • Network Intelligence will proliferate and become strategic
  • Will extend from apps to network silicon to management/provisioning
  • Flexibility and visibility is the key to the network supporting today’s and tomorrow’s applications
  • For networking vendors, application alignment can help increase the competitiveness of your portfolio


This author believes the IDC analysts are way too optimistic on cloud adoption.  Key unresolved cloud computing  issues include secuity, WAN performance, failure recovery and privacy.  Also, the mobile enterprise has no wireless QoS/SLAs and won’t have them for a long time.  Roaming may also be a problem for mobile workers wishing to access cloud services and applications.  And there are no accepted standards for Cloud Service APIs, User to Network Interface (UNI), Network to Network Interface (NNI), Cloud Service orchestration, and Federation/ Identiy Management.  Therefore, the big move to cloud will take longer than most pundits think.  However, this author agrees with IDC that  Private Cloud will be the “on ramp” for most large customers wishing to access any of the Cloud Services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, CaaS, etc).

*  Rohit Mehra is IDC’s Director of Enterprise Communications Infrastructure, and the lead analyst for enterprise switching, routing, wireless, voice and network management. He provides expert insight and analysis into industry and technology trends as they relate to enterprise networking and related areas of data, voice, wireless and security. In this capacity, he is responsible for market share and forecast reports as well as global go-to-market strategies. Mr. Mehra also assists clients with custom consulting and research, including user surveys and buyer case studies.   This author has heard Mr. Mehra speak several times and has a great deal of respect for his insights into enterprise network infrastructure.

Viodi View – 09/15/10

One benefit of social media networks is that they reduce the friction associated with the flow of information and presumably make commerce more efficient (not counting the time spent on the social media games). The downside and the concern I have is that I lose control over the data I post on the third-party sites. I may still own the data, but access to the data can be restricted or held hostage in a heartbeat. Read the Korner to see how one Viodi View friend used an old school social networking tool to serve as the catalyst for starting a new web site, based on a rather unheralded social media platform. 

Click here to learn more about FiberCloudCloud Hosted Software (Sponsored Video)

In this video, George Henny, co-CEO of FiberCloud, explains how FiberCloud helps independent telcos leverage their existing infrastructure and existing customer relationships to add new revenue streams to their service offering. FiberCloud provides cloud-hosted software for small businesses and is a private-label provider of these services for independent telcos. The FiberCloud approach requires no upfront capital investment, allows the local phone company to retain the customer relationship and can quickly be deployed to add further value to existing broadband services.  Click here to view.

Note, FiberCloud is a ViodiTV sponsor and was the executive producer of this video.

Still No Nationwide Public Safety Network- Why Not Use LTE To Build One? by Alan Weissberger

The NY TImes has called attention to the lack of a U.S. public safety network, nine years after 9/11 and despite $7 billion in federal grants and other spending over the last seven years to improve the ability of public safety departments to communicate with one another. The article states that many of the issues that helped shape the current dysfunctional public safety radio networks threaten the creation of a uniform standard for wireless broadband public safety communications – the emphasis of Washington policy makers and the FCC. For years, public safety communications has been done using a raft of incompatible networks. Will that change anytime soon?

Click here to read Alan's analysis and to join in the discussion.  

Fingerprinting – More than Just Piracy Detection

At the Set-Top Box 2010 conference, David Price, Vice President of Business Development for Harmonic, Inc., explained how YouTube integrated technology into Harmonic’s encoders to create audio and video fingerprints of legitimate content. YouTube then compares the fingerprint from the legitimate copy to user-uploaded files. If they match, then YouTube rejects the pirated upload. To date, fingerprinting has mostly been about fighting piracy.

Click here to read why it might be used for other things, such as dynamic ad insertion on multiple screens.  

Meet the New MVPD, Same as the Old MVPD

Jeremy Toeman provided a view through the "Way Back Machine" as he provided an overview of interactivity through the decades at today’s STB 2010 conference in San Jose. He brings the credibility as the founder and developer of middleware software to enable the connected home in the waning years of the twentieth century. He was Vice President of Sling Media and defined the product that became synonymous with the concept of place shifting. His latest venture Stage Two Consulting, Inc. is an out-source product marketing firm helping companies design and market high-tech products and services.

Click here to read some of Jeremy's thoughts and predictions.

2011 – A Big Year for 3D to the TV?

Goofy me in 3D glasses

2014- the year that Parks Associates predicts that 80% of the televisions sold will be 3D capable. According to Dr. Ajay Luthra of Motorola, Inc, 2011 will be a critical year in keeping the momentum going towards the widespread commercial deployment envisioned by Parks. I had a chance to catch up with Dr Luthra and Howard Postley of 3ality Digital at the Set-Top Box 2010 conference in San Jose.  

Click here to read their insight.

Verizon Invests in the Smart Home Through 4Home

The announcement of Verizon’s investment in 4Home is significant in that it shows the importance of smart grid and smart home type services as part of a Communications Services Provider's total offering. Embedded in the router, which eliminates the need for another box, the 4Home software adds the capability for the service provider to offer services such as home security, telehealth and smart energy management.  

Click here to watch a video interview with Jim Hunter of 4Home at the 2009 Parks Associates Connections Conference.  

Click here to watch an amusing video from Roger regarding an upcoming local content workshopThe Local Content Roundtable at MTA – Advertisement

Date: October 26, 8:30 to 11:45
Location: Nisswa, MN (in conjunction with the MTA Video Peer Group Convention)

Building upon Viodi’s Local Content Workshop series, the Local Content Roundtable will be a refresher of some of the latest ideas, tips and tools for producing low-cost, high-quality content. There will be plenty of ideas and examples as to how independent telcos can become better producers and facilitators of community content. Expect this to be a very interactive session.  

Click here to watch the video and learn how to register.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts

  • Cool development for our old friends at ETI Software Solutions, as their software is helping to power GCI's new billing subsidary.
  • Videotron launches 3G+ mobile services – Nexus 1 will be one of their offerings. I thought this phone was Manufacturer Discontinued.
  • Great video on rural point of view regarding the FCC's National Broadband Plan. Bravo, Hill Country! (Thanks Cullen!).
  • Lots of Hand-Waving at IBCPrimeSense and Softkinetic demonstrating gesture controlled TV remotes
  • Stuart McKechnie of Zoran– "Only 3% of the world is under the FCC’s jurisdiction" with regards to the prospects of an All Vid Box at STB2010

Click here to read more about the Woof FactorThe Korner – Using the Old Social Network to Create a New One

The subject line of the email from Alan Toman was simply, “Your Perspective.” The email explained that he was on a mission to speak to at least 100 people over the course of a couple of weeks, so he could directly ascertain the state of the economy, understand how various market segments were doing, where the prospects for growth were, etc. He didn’t want the filter of the media to cloud his perspective on these important topics. Our conversation that followed his email lasted for close to an hour and was quite enjoyable.

A few weeks later, I was pleasantly surprised to find another email from Alan summarizing the conversations he had. He had gathered and synthesized a wealth of information from people who are employed in many industries; from mobile, Internet and advertising to education, energy and finance; from entertainment, non-profit and software to VCs, IT and PR.

Click here to read how his learnings led to the Woof Factor.

Marketing Mecca and Business Panacea?

ImageI question the suggestion, that putting your business face on Facebook and tweeting away on Twitter, are truly the marketing meccas or business panaceas they’re made out to be. I’m hearing that argument more and more at conferences now days.

Last year I heard several speakers lecture to audiences on using Facebook, yet I couldn’t find any of those speakers on Facebook. Hmm, aren’t we all experts with the Internet! This year I’m hearing another group of people lecture on using Facebook and Twitter to market products, support customers, to manage, and to inform. People seem to believe these newly discovered sites (to them anyway) are the meeting place for all good things and magic elixir for curing all.

I have used Facebook for a couple years now and thought it had potential at first, but now I hide more and more "friends" because they write too much and what they post is junk. For a while, I found Facebook useful to keep up with business activities, but that got lost in comments about walking the dog or boating on the lake.

Despite the daily chatter of useless information, I see potential, but still question that potential as it is presented. I’m starting to get lost in scattered and poorly edited text, plus finding up to date information… Is the up to date information on their website, their blog, their Facebook, their Twitter, their answering machine, or where? I have seen examples of where it’s at none of the above. I guess it is difficult to manage communications when there are so many ways.

Twitter was great for getting the word out on Iran, but perhaps that was a unique case. I don’t use Twitter because I’m flooded with communications already and would probably drop tweeters like I am hiding Facebook friends. Perhaps we’re already over burdened with communications… we’ve got land lines, cell phones, email, text messages, instant messages, Facebook comments, Twitter tweets, Family Blogs, Business Blogs, and ugh, everyone prefers something different so communications is getting more frustrating. I’d really like to talk.

Perhaps Dan Rasmus, director of business insights at Microsoft, in the Aug 8, 2009 USA Today issue best describes an effect of this disconnected state… digital autism. Are we becoming disconnected from the live social and physical world? Read the article for an interesting perspective on getting too hooked on social networks: “Tweeting, texting render avid users ‘present yet absent’”.

Pump Is Primed for the Broadband Mobile Internet

Nomadic user experiences with WiFi sets the stage for mobile broadband access, but significant CAPEX will be required

The Nomadic Virtual Lifestyle

We have read quite a lot lately about nomadic workers and virtual offices.  Armed with notebook PCs and seeking WiFi hot spots, many employees are leaving their cubicles and using coffee shops, pool decks, and friends’ homes as their new “anywhere” offices. 

An article in today’s Washington Post truly captures this trend – Digital nomads ditch cubicles for diners and pool decks.   Marilyn Moysey, an employee of Ezenia who sells virtual collaboration software, often works at Panera Bread near her home in Alexandria, Va., even though she has an office in the "boondocks." Asked where her co-workers were, Ms. Moysey said, "I don’t know, because it doesn’t matter anymore."  Clearly, nomadic Internet access is becoming a way of life for many people – not only for business use, but for entertainment and education as well. 

The key takeaway from this phenomenon is that more and more people are using WiFi and (when affordable and available) 3G data cards to access the Internet.  AT&T and Verizon have accepted this fact – both are now offering free WiFi hotspots to premium wireline Internet customers along with 3G data cards for laptops (HSPDA and EVDO respectively).   

As a result, mobile broadband is expected to grow much faster than wireline broadband (even with FTTP/ FTTH solutions such as Verizon’s FiOS).

projeected mobile broadband growth

Projected Broadband Growth – courtesy of an AT&T presentation

A recent Cisco study is even more optimistic about mobile Internet traffic growth:

Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update

Here are a few of Cisco’s predictions:

  • Globally, mobile data traffic will double every year through 2013, increasing 66 times between 2008 and 2013. Mobile data traffic will grow at a CAGR of 131 percent between 2008 and 2013, reaching over 2 exabytes per month by 2013.
  • Mobile data traffic will grow from 1 petabyte per month to 1 exabyte per month in half the time it took fixed data traffic to do so. In the 7 years from 2005 to 2012, mobile data traffic will have increased a thousand-fold. The Internet grew from 1 petabyte per month to 1 exabyte per month in 14 years.
  • Almost 64 percent of the world’s mobile traffic will be video by 2013. Mobile video will grow at a CAGR of 150 percent between 2008 and 2013. Mobile video has the highest growth rate of any application category measured within the Cisco VNI Forecast at this time.

However, there are several reasons why the current mobile Internet solutions (WiFi and 3G) won’t scale to higher speeds and larger number of subscribers: 

  • WiFi hot spots are not available everywhere and often are not free, e.g. airports
  • A WiFi network collapses when many users send or receive heavy traffic loads, e.g. ppt presentations, videos, photos, etc.
  • 3G pricing is too high for the small amounts of bandwidth given to each user.
  • Low cost per bit is hard to achieve on a cellular network because its design was based on carrying TDM voice.  3G data is an overlay and a stop-gap solution for mobile carriers.
  • Cellular operators have imposed data caps on 3G data traffic. (Typical 3G data pricing is $60 per month with a data cap of 2G to 5G bytes transferred per month.  Additional data transferred is usually priced in 1G byte increments.)
  • 3G networks are already getting saturated from iPhone traffic, according to the CEO of AT&T.  Cellular network infrastructure (possibly augmented by femtocells) will need to be significantly upgraded to support the coming mobile data bandwidth explosion. 
  • Data rate needs will increase with time.  Many more people are expected to use smart phones and data cards for mobile broadband Internet access. Video will be the primary bandwidth driver, as it has been for the last several years since You Tube became popular.  Neither 3G or WiFi will be able to keep up with this increase in data (non-voice) traffic.

Many experts predict a minimum of 100% per year growth in mobile data, but that won’t be achievable without huge increases in CAPEX – both in the RAN and backhaul networks, including new network management and maintenance software.  What’s the solution for true mobile broadband Internet access-  Mobile WiMAX or LTE? 

We are not going to comment about the seemingly never-ending WiMAX vs LTE comparisons.  This is because WiMAX is available now and LTE is not and might not be for a long time (much longer than most think).


Our main theme here is that mobile traffic continues to grow exponentially and that growth is unsustainable.  There are a lot of variables and feedback loops that will impact the trajectory of mobile broadband traffic and subscriber growth.  Here’s one view:

Projected Traffic Growth

Projected Broadband Growth – courtesy of an AT&T presentation

Unless carriers significantly upgrade their network infrastructure they will have to resort to more data caps and blocking of high throughput traffic (e.g. AT&T currently blocks Sling box video on its 3G network).  That would lead to many dissatisfied users and the promise and potential of mobile broadband will not be realized.   

Pico-cells, more cell towers, self –organizing- networks (SONs), and other network topology tricks have been proposed to alleviate the mobile bandwidth crunch.  We don’t believe any of those will be cost effective (although we do like femto-cells as a way of getting traffic off cellular networks and onto the wireline broadband network at home or a small office).   

The bottom line:  mobile data growth will slow down much more than forecasts indicate, unless 4G- like technologies (Mobile WiMAX and LTE) are deployed in a very significant way.  If and when that happens is anyone’s guess.  So take the forecasts with a grain of salt and don’t bet the ranch on them. 


wireless growth image courtesy of AT&T

Viodi View – 07/01/2009

Summer is here and the living is easy; at least I think that is how the song goes. Actually, summer is here and somehow I missed spring cleaning. Loose ends seem to be everywhere; web sites that are almost updated and articles not quite finished. With all of the clutter, my mind becomes blurred with visions of the way I picture things were supposed to be and the reality of what they became.

3G-HSPA, Mobile Linux and Open Source are the Big Winners in Intel-Nokia Technology Partnership by Alan Weissberger

The Intel-Nokia announcement of their joint push to work together to create a new breed of Mobile Internet Devices based on various versions of Open Source Linux, reminds me that what you see in press releases is not always what ends up being reality. Of course, we see this all of the time in the technology industry, but Alan Weissberger and several of his informed readers point out previous Intel announcements in the mobile space that haven’t quite led up to the vision of what was suggested. Another major thing missing in this announcement is Microsoft.  Click here to read Weissberger’s sharp analysis as well as astute commentary from his readers.

Connections at ConnectionsKurt Scherf of Parks Associates summarizes the 2009 Connections Conference

The Parks Associates conferences are good events for providing a glimpse of what might be in the consumer electronics’ world. In our ongoing video coverage from last month’s Connections conference event, Kurt Scherf, Vice President of Research for Parks Associates discusses how devices in the home are becoming more web-like and the on-going challenges of connecting these broadband devices.  Click here to view the video.

Via Licensing video interviewLicensing Pools with Via Licensing

I.P. (Intellectual Property, that is) rights owned by multiple parties are often one of the reasons standards take so long to move from concept to commercial reality.  In this video interview, Jason Johnson, of Via Licensing, a subsidiary of Dolby Laboratories, explains their newly formed partnership with the IEEE.  This partnership promises the expeditious creation of licensing pools, allowing standards to be commercialized much sooner than traditional approaches.  The upshot of this effort should be even faster innovation by consumer electronic companies to bring us new gizmos and widgets.  Click here to view the video.

What’s New with Vegas 9 Provegas 9 video reviewed by Roger Bindl

Matthew Brohn, Product Manager of Sony Creative Software, discusses some of the strengths of Vegas Pro video editing, and what’s new with Vegas 9… things like small footprint, direct editing of AVCHD and XDCAM, plus new effects. The video includes screen captures of real-time editing in Vegas.  Click here to view Roger’s review of Vegas 9 Pro.

People on the Move:

Congratulations to Nsight/Cellcom and for the award they received from the Femtoforum for, “Significant progress or commercial launch by a small carrier .” They won this award for their, “deployment of the world’s first IMS-based, CDMA femtocell network for consumers and enterprises.”   Rob Riordan of Cellcom was in London last week to accept the award.

As follow up to an article I wrote last year when I announced that I was involved with a stealth start-up, this is the official announcement that the referenced company is ZillionTV.

The Korner –  Loose Ends EverywhereViodiTV Revealed - the Video

Roger and I are always so busy producing content that often times the packaging around the content is somewhat unfinished. It is sort of like the last bit of molding on the remodel that just never gets installed; most guests won’t notice it, but, to the owner, will view it as an eyesore. We have a great deal of unfinished business on the Viodi View and ViodiTV web site, which may or may not be obvious to the visitor.

Despite the packaging, it is the content that matters. Roger recently put together a video to tell the story of ViodiTV. Roger is normally ruthless at cutting out extra content, but he found it difficult in this case, as we have had the good fortune to interview some really cool people and report on some really interesting stories over the past several years. This video is really a commercial for Roger’s talents, but it also provides the story of ViodiTV and our attempts to tell the stories of the Independent Telcos and their communities.  Click here to view the video.

3G-HSPA, Mobile Linux and Open Source are the Big Winners in Intel-Nokia Technology Partnership

Intel referred to it as "this year’s most significant collaboration in our respective industries." The Intel-Nokia strategic partnership will "align and shape the next generation of mobile computing." But it was very difficult to extract any tangible take always from the press conference announcing the partnership. That’s because no specific products were identified and no time frames were given to see the results of this highly acclaimed collaboration.
To a large extent, the press conference was a lot of hand waving and gesturing, without providing anything of substance that we might expect from such an important strategic relationship. This is the third time in the last decade that Intel and Nokia have announced a partnership, with the previous two attempts not producing much if anything at all. So the industry might have a right to be skeptical this time. Nonetheless, it certainly sounded exciting. 
Anand Chandrasekher, Sr VP and GM of Intel’s Ultra Mobility Group stated, "The leaders in both computing and communications are coming together to accelerate innovation while driving exciting new revenue opportunities. Intel and Nokia are joining forces to announce a long term strategic relationship that will align and shape the next generation of mobile computing."
We are all aware that smart phones and intelligent hand held devices contain powerful processors and need mobile broadband capability to unleash "the tremendous power and potential to reshape our lives." With many different wireless communications options, most of us expect that "the future will bring even more ways to be connected- a future full of different possibilities." Yet that kind of talk dominated the prepared remarks of Intel and Nokia during the conference. 
Nokia told us more of what we already know: "The Internet continues to evolve and touch every aspect of our daily lives. Today, there are more Internet users (at 1.6B) than there are fixed phone lines (at 1.3B). There are over 64B web sites exist and more are added every day. And the Internet continues to grow in every aspect. New applications will drive the need for more powerful compute engines and faster (mobile) broadband wireless access, Consumers looking for mobile devices to do more, e.g. sensors, new apps, new materials, new device design and form factors (e.g. netbooks MIDs). We need to extend computing platforms, build on common open platforms and explore new architectures."
Anand told us that Intel would continue to "relentlessly focus on driving down the cost and power requirements (of new devices), while delivering continuing performance improvements." Should we have expected something different? We were also told more of the obvious, "Mobile devices require high bandwidth- mobile broadband communications and ubiquitous Internet connectivity at a reasonable cost. Users should expect a rich experience, any time, anywhere. New and exciting services across a range of devices, including new ones the companies will be defining together."
So what’s really new? There are three aspects of the partnership, which is not limited to just hardware and Research and Development:
  1. Intel and Nokia will collaborate on several open source initiatives, most importantly Mobile Linux. Nokia pointed out that "Hardware and software are decoupled these days. Mobile Linux is an important part of the new converged mobile computing world." We would expect Intel and Nokia joint software development to be centered on two open source projects:
  • Moblin, originally an Intel project but now run by the Linux Foundation.
  • Maemo, a Nokia implementation created for an Internet tablet.
  1. Intel is licensing 3G HSPA modem technology from Nokia, complementing its own WiFi and WiMAX silicon. (Note that two years ago, Intel licensed an HSPA module from Nokia for use in notebooks. This technology transfer is intended for Intel to offer HSPA silicon for mobile hand held devices).
  1. Intel and Nokia have entered into "a long term strategic partnership to develop a new class of mobile computing devices." Those future mobile computing devices will be based on Intel architecture defined chip sets and will "leverage each company’s expertise." 
And what about Mobile WiMAX? Don’t expect anything from the partnership. In response to a question on further WiMAX co-development, Anand replied, " This announcement has no effect on WiMAX one way or another. We are still committed to it. In this announcement, we are expanding our wireless portfolio to be able to implement Nokia’s 3G HSPA technology."
–>This implies that Intel will no longer debunk HSPA technology in favor of Mobile WiMAX and suggest that network operators leapfrog 3G and move to Mobile WiMAX instead.
When a questioner pointed out that Nokia now had licensed 3G-HSPA to five different companies, Intel and Nokia responded as follows.
Intel: "3G HSPA technology has been licensed to build into future mobile offerings. No comments on products or timing. Nokia and Intel’s vision is very similar- bringing communications and computing together. This is not an exclusive agreement."
Nokia: "3G HSPA is what’s on the market today (implying Mobile Wimax is NOT really on the market). Nokia is licensing its 3G-HSPA-modem technology as widely as possible within the industry.”
When asked if Intel had made any other inroads in the mobile phone business (which the company has tried to crack for years, but has not succeeded), Anand replied, "Intel is not public on any wins in the mobile phone arena except for LG." Then when asked what type of LG device would be forthcoming, Anand would not comment on the specific LG device that will have "Intel inside." 
Author’s Note:  This was surprising, considering that Intel had previously touted the LG MID (with Ericsson HSPA module) as the highlight of this year’s Barcelona MWC.


The stonewalling continued in response to other very reasonable questions about partnership deliverables:
Question from Bloomberg News: “There have been a lot of announcements about visions of the future. Intel has tried to get into the mobile communication business for a number of years, yet they have not succeeded. There’s still a degree of skepticism until we know when the first Intel powered mobile device will be out there. Can you tell us?”
Intel: "We will work together on strategic technology collaboration which spans three areas: Intel Architecture defined chip sets for future mobile computing devices, mobile and MIMO collaboration to deliver a very rich software environment for applications and user experience, Intel licensing of Nokia’s 3G HSPA technology   No products announcements at this time- not for today’s discussion."
Question: "Do you expect the Atom family (Intel’s lower power micro-processors) or x86 family to be embedded in future mobile computing devices?"
Intel: "No comment on brands or usage."
Nokia: "Premature to say how we will apply the technology at this stage."
How will the Mobile Computing Industry be affected as a result of this partnership?
  1. Could these mobile devices, with open source operating systems like mobile Linux, cause MSFT to lose its software domination of the computing world? Could this mean the end of Wintel dominance of the computing industry?   Mobile Linux- one of the three focus areas for Intel-Nokia partnership – is a direct competitor of MSFT’s Windows Mobile. As people increasingly use mobile computing devices to do things that would have required a PC a few years ago, MSFT is likely to lose ground.   Mobile computing devices, e.g. smart phones, MIDs, all-in-one gadgets, etc are already replacing a lot of things we do today on PCs. This trend will likely accelerate as mobile computing replaces desktop computing.  
  2. Does this announcement negatively impact Mobile WiMAX, which already has been severely criticized for the lack of mobile devices with native mode air interfaces? After all the Intel talk about WiMAX MIDs, we are still waiting for those devices to hit the market in a big way. Will "the Internet in your pocket," be based on 3G-HSPA, rather than Mobile WiMAX?
An anonymous Intel employee provided his read on the partnership:
"This announcement does not change any of Intel’s plans on WiMAX which are solid going forward. Intel has not been a major player in Smart Phones/MIDs and we want to get into that space with the Intel Atom® Processor so this one part of this strategy. Also most smart phones shipping today at least have 2G/2.5G and many also 3G. So this licensing deal help fill a gap in our wireless technology portfolio. 
It also allows us to provide WiMAX solutions to Nokia once more networks get deployed and they want their mobile devices to have WiMAX support as well. So by no means does this negatively affect our WiMAX strategy. It only opens new doors for us with a large customer like Nokia."
  1. When will the new mobile computing devices hit the market? They will need to come quickly, if they are to compete with all the new smart phones from Apple, RIM, and Palm. We hear there will also be MIDs coming soon from Samsung and various Taiwanese companies. Previous Intel – Nokia partnerships, e.g. HSPA modules for notebooks, have not been successful so the industry is skeptical that this one will succeed. We would expect to see Intel-Nokia mobile computing devices on the market in less than one year and perhaps as early as this Christmas.
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