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    Cisco debuts new Catalyst family of WAN edge platforms

    Cisco on Tuesday rolled out updates to its software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) portfolio, including the launch of new edge platforms that the company said represent the first enterprise routing platform of this caliber from Cisco in nearly a decade.

    Cisco said the platforms aim to meld SD-WAN with cloud security, providing better integration and more secure access to cloud applications. 
    According to Cisco, the new Catalyst 8000 Edge Platforms are built to manage cloud adoption, offering flexible options for secure connectivity and visibility to applications across cloud, data center and edge.
    Cisco said the Catalyst 8000 Edge family is foundational to its intent-based networking portfolio. The family includes the Catalyst 8500 Series Edge Platform, which Cisco said is designed for data center, colocation, and aggregation sites. The Catalyst 8300 Series Edge Platforms are meant to handle edge connectivity at branch sites, while the Catalyst 8000v Edge Software delivers all the same capabilities in software form.
    Cisco notes that it’s calling these devices “edge platforms” versus “routers” because the definition of a router has evolved over recent years to be more of a WAN edge device; providing connectivity from distributed locations to both data centers and the cloud, acting as more of an edge of the network. 
    Cisco also introduced Catalyst Cellular Gateways that support connecting remote sites via wireless WAN technologies. The networking giant said the gateways will pave the way for 5G connectivity in the branch office.
    “With the proliferation of applications, workloads and services becoming more distributed across the edge-cloud continuum, organizations are facing new realities at the WAN edge,” said JL Valente, VP of product management for Cisco’s Intent-Based Networking Group. “The Cisco Catalyst 8000 Edge Platforms bridge the WAN edge and the cloud edge, providing secure, high-performance connectivity for distributed users to any cloud while delivering IT visibility and business agility.”
    The Cisco Catalyst 8300 and 8500 models and Cisco Cellular Catalyst Gateways are available today, while the Cisco Catalyst 8000v is planned for availability in December. More

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    Google sits astride Australian smart speaker market: Telsyte

    Google is able to claim 61% of the Australian smart speaker market, analyst firm Telsyte said in a survey with 1,070 respondents.
    Telsyte said Google had a majority share of the 2.6 million households with a market speaker, followed by Amazon with 17% of the market, Apple with 4%, and other brands collectively accounting for 18% of the market.
    The survey said smart speakers were a gateway to other Internet of Things devices. Of the homes with a smart speaker, one-third have two or more.
    Overall, the Internet of Things (IoT) market grew 25% to almost AU$1.3 billion in 2019, with the fastest-growing categories being video doorbells and locks, smart outlets, smart garden devices, and smart cameras.
    The survey claimed 61% of Australian households had at least one smart home product as of the end of June 2020, with the average number of connected devices sitting at 18.9 as of 2019. That number is predicted to increase to almost 36 devices by 2024. Telsyte said it expects half of the prediction to be made up of IoT devices, while more traditional home items like smartphones, computers, tablets, and smart TVs would account for the rest.
    Last week, Byron Shire Council awarded a tender for smart water meter trial to WaterGroup. The trial will involve installing 400 meters over the next year that monitor potable water in eastern parts of Mullumbimby and bulk recycled water in Byron Bay.
    “This trial will allow Council to test the smart water meter technology for a potential Shire-wide rollout in the future,” Byron Shire Council Project Manager, Andrew Swan said.
    “The smart water meters will help us understand where our water is going and, similar to a burglar alarm, they’ll alert us to leaks that are essentially stealing water from our community’s natural resources.”
    The meters are connected using NB-IoT, and will be deployed in a shire that has voted for a moratorium on the deployment of 5G within the council area, with Four Corners reporting in August that locals have continued to stake out Mullumbimby’s single telecommunications tower each night to prevent its upgrade to 5G.
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    Adelaide 10Gbps network hits 1,000 buildings and deemed complete

    Image: Cisco
    The Ten Gigabit Adelaide network has been deemed complete after it hit its target of 1,000 buildings connected in the city.
    The project kicked off in 2018 and involved 82 kilometres of fibre cable, 26,000 spliced fibres, and eight 10G core sites. TPG was responsible for building the network.
    “The landmark project — the first of its kind in Australia — represents a significant strategic commitment by the City of Adelaide to provide our city businesses with world-class digital infrastructure that will help create jobs and boost our economy,” Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said.
    “The network is a great asset for local business — as hundreds have already discovered — and is a compelling factor to attract business from interstate or from around the globe.”
    TPG said it now has “several hundred organisations” on the network. The telco charges AU$440 a month for a symmetrical 1Gbps service on a 48-month contract, with customers able to jump to symmetrical 10Gbps for an extra AU$120 a month.
    By comparison, the highest speeds available on the NBN are 1Gbps down and 400Mbps up.  
    When seeking applications for connections to buildings, the City of Adelaide reached its 1,000 applications target within nine weeks.
    In August, the ACCC revealed NBN had 45,000 premises connected to its new Home plans, which offer speeds of 100/20, 250/25, and 500-1,000/50Mbps.
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    NSW government inks AU$328m internet upgrade deal with Telstra

    The New South Wales government has partnered with Telstra to deliver internet upgrades to more than 2,000 public schools across the state.
    Expected to cost AU$328 million, the project is expected to see more than 5,200 km of fibre be rolled out, which the government boasted would increase internet speeds by more than 10-fold.
    Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the upgrade would deliver faster, more reliable internet access to enable more reliable video conferencing and quicker downloads.
    “This upgrade will bypass existing network constraints meaning all our schools will be on a high-speed connection in the next 18 months, three years ahead of schedule,” she said.
    The project will also give students access to new immersive learning opportunities, Mitchell added.
    This deal will extend the long-running partnership that has existed between the NSW government and Telstra.
    “We know that digital inclusion, particularly for students, is a lead indicator for future employment opportunities,” Telstra enterprise group executive Michael Ebeid said.
    “That’s why we’re thrilled to be working with the NSW Department of Education to ensure all students, regardless of where they live, will have access to the amazing learning opportunities that quality, high-speed connectivity brings.”
    Back in April, Telstra also partnered with the Victorian government to provide an additional 21,000 internet dongles to students as part of efforts to provide internet access for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    It followed the Victorian government announcing it would provide 4,000 SIM cards and 1,000 SIM-enabled dongle devices to students who did not have access to digital technologies.

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    Juniper acquires 128 Technology for $450 million as it builds out its AI

    Juniper Networks said it will acquire 128 Technology for $450 million in a move that will give it more artificial intelligence-based features through its networking portfolio.
    The company said it will it will acquire 128 Technology with cash and assumption of equity awards. Juniper said 128 Technology issued retention focused restricted stock units that’ll be assumed by Juniper.
    Juniper has been beefing up its AI expertise and portfolio via acquisitions. In 2019, Juniper bought Mist Systems for $405 million. Since the purchase of Mist, Juniper has been adding AI networking tools for its portfolio and analytics.
    The 128 Technology deal is expected to close in Juniper’s fiscal fourth quarter and to add slightly to fiscal 2021 revenue, but dilutive to non-GAAP earnings. 128 Technology will reside in Juniper’s AI Driven Enterprise business unit. 128 Technology as 120 employees, more than 300 customers and about $120 million in annual revenue.
    According to Juniper, the plan is to combine 128 Technology’s Session Smart networking with its campus and branch portfolio and its Mist AI platform. The two companies will aim to use AI to optimize the network and user experiences for voice, 5G and collaboration.

    128 Technology’s platform bases networking decisions on real-time user sessions and business policies instead of static systems. Juniper will integrate 128 Technology with its WAN Assurance software with plans to offer AIOps, anomaly detection, security and self-driving networks.   More

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    FreedomFI: Do-it-yourself open-source 5G networking

    Anyone can run their own Wi-Fi network. Cellular networks have been another matter entirely, until now. With Facebook’s Magma open-source distributed mobile packet software project, FreedomFi enables anyone to build low cost, private, long-range, reliable, and secure 4G LTE and 5G networks. This is done using its its beta FreedomFi Gateway hardware and software package. 

    Historically, building a cellular network requires a lot of proprietary hardware from incumbent network equipment manufacturers. This has made it much too expensive for individuals or companies to set up even a small scale cellular network. With the rise of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), it’s become orders of magnitude cheaper to build your own cellular network.   FreedomFi Gateway is the next logical step in this networking journey. It’s a commodity, x86 network appliance that offers a straightforward, highly affordable path for anyone to build their own Private LTE or 5G network using open-source software and small cell radios. The beta edition of the FreedomFi Gateway is available on the company website to open-source project sponsors for as little as $300. 
    The FreedomFi Gateway puts the core functions of a 4G/5G network at the network’s edge. Inside the FreedomFi Gateway are the core functions needed to provide network connectivity and policy enforcement for end devices. For example, the 4G FreedomFi gateway runs the Mobility Management Entity (MME), Serving Gateway (SGW), and Packet Data Network Gateway (PGW). The FreedomFi Gateway supports the standard LTE and 5G southbound interfaces to commercial radios allowing customers to mix and match radios and avoid getting locked into a single vendor proprietary solution. Other services like the Home Subscriber Server (HSS) data are housed in the cloud orchestrator.
    Besides the Gateway, you’ll need the core, a radio, spectrum access, and SIM cards. Depending on the package selected, FreedomFi can provide some or all of the needed components.
    For the cell core and radio, FreedomFi recommends the Baicells Nova-436q or the Accelleran E1000 for using the CBRS band 48 spectrum. In addition, Airspan and Blinq Networks also provide CBRS products.
    To get the spectrum access you’ll need you can work with an FCC-approved Spectrum Access System (SAS) provider such as Amdocs, CommScope, Federated Wireless, or Google, or Sony. For FreedomFi customers and Magma project sponsors, FreedomFi includes access to the CBRS spectrum band as part of the package. Finally, for SIM cards, FreedomFi recommends SmartJac.
    Put it all together, and for a complete, operational 4G LTE or 5G cellular network to call your own, FreedomFi estimates it will cost you about $5,000. This network will work with almost all smartphones made in the last two years. 
    To be certain a given phone will work with your CBRS network, go to to check if a device supports it. Simply go to the site, plug in the device model, and click on the “expand” button in the Network row to see the supported bands. CBRS is usually listed as Band 48. It’s sometimes listed under a “TDD LTE” subsection.  “The 5G small cell market will be growing at 40% per year for the next 5-7 years and we’ll see a lot of competition and innovation,” said Joey Padden, FreedomFi co-founder and CTO. “The last thing you want to do is tie the destiny of your entire cellular network to the roadmap of a single radio vendor. FreedomFi Gateway makes it possible to build your Private LTE or 5G network on your terms, remaining vendor-agnostic and staying in control of the roadmap for your network architecture.”    “The biggest benefit of 5G is not faster speed, but efficiencies unlocked through software-centric architecture. Coupled with open source and cloud-native design principles, software-driven 5G networks will have an order-of-magnitude lower OPEX [Operating expenses],” said Boris Renski, FreedomFi’s co-founder and CEO. He continued, “5G is also a completely new, software-centric architecture for the network core that is much more efficient and cheaper to maintain and that is the part of 5G that we believe will result in more profound, long term benefits to the users in the form of more cost-efficient connectivity.”
    Renski concluded, “Ultimately, it is not about streaming videos faster and doing VR in select hotspots, but about connecting the next billion people in emerging geographies or matching private 5G economics to that of Wi-Fi for the enterprise use cases.”  FreedomFi offers a couple of options to get started with open-source private cellular through their website. All proceeds will be reinvested towards building up the Magma’s project open-source software code. Sponsors contributing $300 towards the project will receive a beta FreedomFi gateway and limited, free access to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) shared spectrum in the 3.5 GHz “innovation band.” 
    Despite the name “good-buddy,” CBRS  has nothing to do with the CB radio service used by amateurs and truckers for two-way voice communications. CB lives on in the United States in the 27MHz band.
    Those contributing at $1,000 dollars will get support with a “network up” guarantee, offering FreedomFi guidance over a series of Zoom sessions. The company guarantees they won’t give up until you get a connection.
    FreedomFi will be demonstrating an end-to-end private cellular network deployment during their upcoming keynote at the Open Infrastructure Summit and publishing step-by-step instructions on the company blog. 
    This isn’t just a hopeful idea being launched on a wing and a prayer. WiConnect Wireless is already working with it. “We operate hundreds of towers, providing fixed wireless access in rural areas of Wisconsin,” said Dave Bagett, WiConnect’s president. “We were always keen on expanding our LTE internet service, but weary of lock-in issues associated with using a proprietary network core. We are now partnering with FreedomFi to expand our LTE network using open source and are excited to start rolling out the service to our customers.”  Related Stories: More

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    Comcast Business partners with Aruba on new VPN service for remote workers

    Comcast said Monday that it’s partnering with HPE’s Aruba for the launch of a new virtual private network (VPN) service that aims to provide remote workers with a secure connection to their corporate network. The companies said the Comcast Business Teleworker VPN is meant to help enterprises adapt to an expanding remote workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The service functions as a centrally managed remote access VPN that allows remote employees to connect to primary business systems, applications and files. The network runs on an independent internet connection that does not interfere or compete with at-home bandwidth, the companies said.
    The VPN is powered by the Aruba edge services platform (ESP). When combined with Comcast’s Managed VPN Aggregator service at a business location, enterprises can connect home-based devices, such as laptops, desktops, VoIP phones, and printers, to the corporate network.
    “Though the number of people working partially or fully remote has been on the rise for years now, the pandemic has truly sent this trend into hyperdrive,” said Christian Nascimento, VP of product management for Comcast Business. “Comcast Business Teleworker VPN enables enterprises to reimagine the work from home experience for both employer and employee alike, all while maintaining the security, performance and management they enjoy in-office.”
    Business services are among the fastest growing segments within the Comcast cable unit. Comcast Business offers ethernet, Internet, Wi-Fi, voice, TV and managed enterprise services. The company has stepped up its focus on the work-from-home market since the start of the pandemic. In June, Comcast launched Comcast Business At Home, an in-home, enterprise-grade offering separate from the residential network for employees working remote. 
    The service allows businesses to provide and manage a dedicated internet connection for their remote employees, with additional tools for mobility and security. Comcast said the At Home service is ideally suited for service-oriented industries such as legal, accounting, advertising, healthcare, and insurance.
    As for Aruba, the HPE subsidiary posits that demand for connectivity services will continue to rise with the ongoing remote work trend and influx of IoT devices on enterprise networks.  More

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    Elon Musk's SpaceX: 60 more Starlink internet satellites launch ahead of public beta

    SpaceX on Sunday launched another Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 more Starlink satellites to be deployed in low Earth orbit. 
    The latest Falcon 9 launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida comes just two weeks after the last batch of 60 Starlink satellites and now brings SpaceX’s Starlink constellation to 788 as the company gears up for a public beta of the satellite broadband service. It was the 13th Starlink launch.  


    “As our Starlink network is still in its early stages, the Starlink team continues to test the system, collecting latency data and performing speed tests of the service,” SpaceX said in a statement.  
    SpaceX notes that the team also recently installed Starlink terminals on the Administrative Center building and at 20 private homes on the Hoh Tribe Reservation, located in a remote area of western Washington State.

    Falcon 9 launches 60 Starlink satellites – one step closer to providing high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable
    — SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 18, 2020

    Washington state military’s emergency-management unit began using seven Starlink end-user terminals in early August as part of its response to rebuild fire-ravaged parts of the state. Washington’s first responders deployed the terminals to residents in Malden, Washington. 
    Last week SpaceX was confirmed to have qualified to bid for the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which is making up to $16bn available to ISPs to deliver broadband to underserved and unserved parts of America. 
    Depending on the outcome, the funding could help SpaceX reduce the cost of its end-user terminals, which, according to Musk, remain its biggest challenge .   
    Besides homes in remote villages, Musk has suggested the dishes could be deployed on trains and this week confirmed they could be used on trucks.  
    The company’s public beta of the satellite broadband service will be first made available in northern parts of the US and possibly southern Canada.  
    Musk has previously said SpaceX would need about 800 satellites to provide moderate coverage of North America. 
    SpaceX recently revealed internet performance tests demonstrating download speeds of between 102Mbps to 103Mbps, upload speeds of about 40.5Mbps, and a latency of 18 milliseconds to 19 milliseconds. 
    Starlink user speed tests posted to TestMy.Net show an average download speed of 37.04Mbps, with a top speed of 91.04Mbps. 
    More on Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Starlink and internet-beaming satellites More