What’s up with… IBM & Verizon, Qualcomm, TIM

  • Verizon taps IBM and Red Hat for its 5G Core cloud
  • Qualcomm unveils 5G Open RAN small cell and DU accelerator products
  • TIM unveils Italy’s first 5G Cloud Network

A key telco cloud deployment for Verizon, new products from Qualcomm and a 5G cloud in Italy lead the way in today’s news roundup.

Verizon has chosen IBM and its Red Hat subsidiary to help build and deploy an open hybrid cloud platform with automated operations and service orchestration as the foundation of its 5G core deployment. Working with Red Hat and IBM Global Business Services (GBS) to build its 5G core network services on Red Hat OpenShift, Verizon is evolving to an open, cloud-native, containerized webscale platform to make the best use of its 5G Core capabilities. The giant US operator is already taking a next-generation approach to its 5G radio access network by working with Samsung and Wind River on its virtualized RAN deployment. 

Separately, IBM is teaming up with Telefónica’s Tech division to develop hybrid cloud solutions for enterprise users that make use of the vendor’s AI and blockchain expertise.

And it doesn’t end there for the tech giant: It has also unveiled AI-enabled automation software for communication service providers in the form of IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation. According to IBM, operators currently lack the automation capabilities they need to deliver the services they want to take to market: Andrew Coward, General Manager of Software Defined Networking at IBM, is aiming to take operators closer to their goals of zero-touch service provisioning by automating telco from the core to the edge. 

Qualcomm has unveiled what it says is the world’s first 3GPP Release 16 5G Open RAN platform for small cells. The technology supports all commercial global mmWave and sub-6 GHz bands, including 41 GHz, and is designed, says the wireless chip giant, to “take powerful mmWave performance to more places, indoors and outdoors.”

The company has also launched a 5G distributed unit accelerator card. The Qualcomm 5G DU X100 is a PCIe inline accelerator card with concurrent Sub-6 GHz and mmWave baseband support. Qualcomm says it is designed to simplify 5G deployments by offering a turnkey solution for ease of deployment with Open RAN fronthaul and 5G NR layer 1 High processing. The card is designed to seamlessly plug into standard Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) servers to offload CPUs from latency-sensitive and compute-intensive 5G baseband functions such as demodulation, beamforming, channel coding, and Massive MIMO computation needed for high-capacity deployments. 

The wireless chip giant is also outlining the growing global support for mmWave deployments, of which, of course, it would like to see many more. “The global deployment of 5G mmWave is now inevitable. It is essential to achieve the full potential of 5G and those embracing 5G mmWave will find themselves with a competitive advantage,” stated Cristiano Amon, President and CEO-elect at Qualcomm.

TIM claims it’s creating the first ‘5G Cloud Network’ in Italy. The project will use TIM’s telco cloud infrastructure, Google Cloud solutions and Ericsson’s 5G Core network and automation technologies and is being managed by the operator’s in-house cloud unit Noovle. TIM says the network will be available close to companies’ premises, based on the customer’s specific requirements, in order to ensure the lowest latency possible. For further details, see this announcement.

Cloud native startup Totogi has unveiled its Charging System, a webscale real-time charging and plan-design engine for telcos. Totogi, which is being backed by public cloud evangelist TelcoDR with $100 million of funding, claims it has “achieved an industry-leading performance benchmark of handling 1 million transactions per second (TPS), with a commitment to doubling this figure every six months.”

Talking Terabit Turkey… Nokia has announced the completion of a trial with Vodafone Turkey which demonstrated successfully the first intercontinental 1Tbit/s (Terabit) network capacity clear-channel IP interface. The trial was part of the ongoing programmes of modernisation designed to ensure that Vodafone Turkey's IP architecture stays ahead of the game as Internet traffic capacity continue to evolve, grow and test the limits of operators’ networks. The experiment used Nokia’s 7950 XRS routers with Terabit interfaces powered by the company's FP4 chipset and demonstrated the practical ability to scale-up the capacity of Vodafone Turkey’s IP network to be able fully to support next generation applications and access technologies. Nokia’s FP4 terabit line card offers two 1Tbit/s ports and provided a 10x capacity increase in the test traffic run over Vodafone Turkey’s network. The Terabit IP links reduce operational complexity and costs by avoiding the need to distribute terabit flows on high capacity routes over multiple lower rate interfaces in link aggregation groups.

When the £31 billion UK merger of Virgin Media with O2 was announced at the beginning of this month, Virgin's Irish broadband and cable TV businesses were conspicuous by their absence from the list of assets of the now combined company. Now we know why. It's up for sale and might go for as much as €2 billion. Virgin Media Irish cable network passes slightly less than a million homes. Of the total of 948,000 domestic premises, 319,000 subscribe to Virgin's TV service, while 388,000 are signed-up to broadband access. A further 122,000 subscribe to the Virgin MVNO that piggyback's on Three's Irish network infrastructure. The sale is expected to go ahead soon. In of the UK, Virgin Media is now an integral part of Virgin Media O2, a 50/50 joint venture between Liberty Global and Telefónica of Spain. Earlier this year and in anticipation that the merger would get the nod from Britain's Competitions and Markets authority, the CEO of Liberty Global, Mike Fries said, "we will continue to evaluate the long-term future in markets like Ireland and Poland" - which were then the only remaining territories where Liberty Global did not have both broadband and mobile assets. He added. "It would be surprising to me if we ended 2021 without continued transformation even in those two markets, whatever that might look like." Well, it looks like infrastructure in Poland will be next to go under the hammer.​

HS2, England's second high-speed railway system is inviting comms companies to bid for the opportunity to provide third-party telecoms systems on Phases 1 and 2A of the greatly delayed and massively over-budget project. The contract is worth £81 million, a mere tinkling of small change being chucked into the bottomless bucket that is the most expensive vanity project the country has ever undertaken (to date anyway). Originally costed, back in 2009, at £37.5 billion, the latest estimates are that the first phase of the network between London and Birmingham will cost at least £106 billion. The distance between the two cities is about 100 miles, so the ludicrous cost per mile arithmetic is easy. The winning bidder will design, supply, install, test and commission three third-party systems: a 5G in-train mobile network for passenger use, an emergency services network and a data network that will connect HS2 line railway stations. (Clue: There aren't many of them). Delivery of the telecoms network will be a leisurely decade-long process because the line will not open until 2033 at the earliest. The government will entertain bids either from single companies or joint ventures and applications have to be in by August 10. A shortlist will be issues sometime next year and the contract itself will actually be awarded in 2023. When HS2 is actually running 250 mph trains from The Smoke to Brum and back, another company will be appointed to operate and maintain the comms systems. Fantabulosa!

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