More stories

  • in

    Private 5G is coming soon to a business near you

    Increasing connectivity and communication demands are paving the way for private 5G, a cloud-era wireless technology designed for the enterprise and highly adaptable to changes. Many organizations are already implementing or thinking about implementing private 5G because the network and the data can better be controlled by the enterprise. It can also be restricted to a certain location, providing coverage both indoors or outdoors in places such as manufacturing plants and ports.

    On top of that, private 5G allows organizations to control and customize their security settings, policies, and other aspects of wireless communications.A new study recently published by Economist Impact in partnership with NTT surveyed organizations around the world and uncovered that more than half of them plan to deploy a private 5G network within the next six to 24 months. The survey included 216 C-level and senior IT decision-makers from organizations with a revenue of $250 mil. to more than $1 billion. The respondents came from various industries in Germany, Japan, the UK, and the U.S., and they included automotive and manufacturing, energy, health care, pharma, retail, and logistics.According to the study, organizations are broadly adopting next-gen connectivity and communications technologies, including private 5G. 94% of the respondents are implementing upgrades that include Wi-Fi 6, 4G, or 5G. Nearly a quarter (24%) are piloting private 5G networks, while 6% have at least one operational private 5G network. Among those with one operational private 5G network, the largest group is from the U.S. (9.3%) followed by Germany (7%), although Germany leads (33%) when it comes to piloting private 5G networks. Energy and transportation lead the way for installing private 5G Private 5G interest is especially high in industrial settings to support smart manufacturing use cases such as robots and self-driving machines. Energy (39%) and transport (33%) are the two industries more likely to be piloting 5G networks. Transport companies (41%) are most likely to have already built a private 5G network. Within the automotive and manufacturing industries, 25% of companies reported having a private 5G pilot and 5& have an operational network. In health care and pharma, 18% of companies are piloting a private 5G network and 5% have an operational network.These industries make sense as network reliability is critical to business operations. Even the smallest hiccup in the wireless network can cost millions of dollars, which is why the verticals listed above have historically stayed away from Wi-Fi, which can be flaky at times. I’m sure everyone reading this has experienced a Wi-Fi network that appears to be working fine and then suddenly stops working and then just as quickly starts again. This is fine in a carpeted office but not on a manufacturing floor. Security is top driver Not surprisingly, security is a key driver for private 5G adoption. 69% of the respondents said network security was not being addressed by their current connectivity and communications platforms, making it a top concern for organizations across countries and industries. For 75% of health care and pharma organizations, security is the biggest pain point, given the sensitive nature of the data. Other key pain points cited by the respondents were control of data (48%), coverage and speed (43%), and the response time of their current service provider (40%). 

    Security is the reason why most organizations are exploring solutions beyond Wi-Fi. 87% of the respondents believe Wi-Fi networks don’t provide a sufficient level of security for the enterprise. In fact, most (86%) of the respondents believe private 5G is a substitute for Wi-Fi. That’s because private 5G networks offer several advantages to compliance-driven organizations for customizing security and data protection. The other benefits of implementing private 5G cited by the respondents are improved data privacy (83%), faster connection speeds with lower latency (81%), and increased network reliability for connectivity and communications (80%). Although private 5G adoption seems to be speeding up, it’s still in the early stages for most organizations. Implementing private 5G is either in the short- to medium-term plans for organizations that have yet to pilot or implement such networks. Globally, only 3% of companies plan to deploy private 5G within six months, while 15% plan to implement within 12 months, and 19% within 18 months.Building out private 5G infrastructure comes with some technical challenges that organizations shared in the study. For 44% of the respondents, a major barrier is integrating 5G with legacy systems and networks. Complexity around the infrastructure needed to deploy 5G (37%) and employees lacking technical skills to manage 5G networks (30%) are the other barriers to private 5G adoption. Managed services as a viable option for deployment For this reason, many organizations prefer to outsource their private 5G deployments. 38% of organizations choose to outsource to a managed service provider with service-level agreements; meanwhile, one-third of organizations would rather have a hybrid or shared private network approach, where they lease the network from a mobile operator. When it comes to engaging with private 5G suppliers, organizations are most likely to request system integration services (63%), post-deployment network management (62%), and network design and planning (54%).The study’s findings show adopting private 5G networks is strongly supported by senior leadership across the globe. Looking ahead, 94% of the respondents agree that 5G will become an important part of their operations. More than 90% envision private 5G becoming a standard in their industry within the next five years — a view that is shared across all sectors. It will also be the catalyst for enabling digital transformation in the enterprise.It’s important to understand the positioning of 5G versus Wi-Fi. Some industry watchers have predicted that 5G would eat away at Wi-Fi, but that’s certainly not the case. I believe the two to be highly complementary with Wi-Fi continuing to be the wireless standard of choice for general use cases and 5G when guaranteed, reliable connectivity is needed. A proof point of this comes from this Deloitte study that found that 98% of businesses will use both technologies within three years. More

  • in

    Comcast reveals prototype 10G modem for home broadband use

    Comcast revealed that it has successfully tested a new prototype DOCSIS 4.0 modem that is designed to bring 10G technology into customers’ homes for the first time.

    According to the broadband provider, the new unit has achieved symmetrical download and upload speeds in excess of 4 gigabits per second (Gbps) thanks to its “Full Duplex DOCSIS 4.0 system-on-chip (SoC).” While these figures were collected in a laboratory environment, Comcast claims the new model is capable of even faster data transmission rates in the future, as the company continues to chase the eponymous 10Gbps potential transfer rates promised by 10G networks. The cable company’s product reveal is just the latest stop on the long road it has been on to make 10G technology viable for consumer broadband. Previous milestones have included testing 10G connections over a virtualized cable modem termination system (vCMTS) using the same DOCSIS 4.0 technology found in the new modem and an earlier test of a 10G SoC, which used Network Function Virtualization (NFV) technology and Comcast’s live residential network to reach a more modest 1.25Gbps. The use of its existing nationwide network is a major goal for Comcast, which touted the fact that DOCSIS 4.0 can allow 10G transmissions via its existing cable infrastructure, with only the modem at endpoints in user homes likely needing to be replaced in most markets. Comcast clearly sees 10G technology as the future of its home broadband offerings, noting that even 4Gbps can be exceeded “as developers refine technology at every level of the 10G architecture.”For comparison, the company’s residential broadband plans currently top out in most areas with its Gigabit tier, which offers 1Gbps to 1.2Gbps download speeds, with some select regions gaining access to its Gigabit Pro service, which rises to 2Gbps. However, these speedy plans currently only support much, much slower upload rates of just 35Mbps. Comcast was previously called out for hiding this fact by Ars Technica, which noted how difficult it is to find an actual upload rate across the company’s various sign-up pages. While download rates tend to be far more important for the average consumer than upload rates, Comcast’s relatively slow upload speeds are something fiber broadband companies have kept as an advantage over it. Many fiber-based plans from companies like Verizon and Google already offer symmetrical rates that reach or come close to 1Gbps both up and down. In addition to the faster download speeds, the symmetrical transfer rates promised by this new modem may be just as important for customers that Comcast has never previously been able to capture with its existing, slower uploads. 

    The company did not provide any timeframe for this technology to reach the general public.

    Networking More

  • in

    Predictions: Apple products that will be discontinued in 2022

    Every year, Apple discontinues a swathe of products, and 2022 will be no exception.This is a normal process for tech companies, so knowing ahead of time helps for two reasons: you can avoid buying products that will discontinued, and you will be aware if your own devices are headed for end-of-life.See also: Don’t waste your money on these Apple products: January 2022 editionA good way to predict what will be discontinued in 2022 is to look at what was discontinued in 2021. Here’s a list of 2021’s discontinued tech:iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro MaxApple Watch Series 6iPhone XRiPad 8th-geniPad mini 5th-gen21.5-inch iMaciMac ProHomePodApple TV 4K 1st-genBeats EP/Solo Pro/Powerbeats 3Some of these were to be expected to make room for new generations (iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watch). It’s logical, but some of the others were interesting — especially the HomePod, 21.5-inch iMac, and the iMac Pro. These point to a shift of priorities at Apple.So, what should we expect Apple to discontinue in 2022?

    Here are my predictions:iPhones 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max, and 12: These will be superseded by new iPhones in September.Apple Watch Series 7: Will be superseded by a new Apple Watch.iPhone SE: At almost two years old, this is heading towards the end of the line.iPad Air 4th-gen: By September 2022, this will be two years old and ripe for dropping.iMac 27-inch: This will get the M1 Apple Silicon treatment.Mac Pro: This will also get the M1 Apple Silicon treatment.AirPods Pro: Released in October 2019, these have had a good run; I’m expecting an updated version to land this year.iPod touch 7th-gen: Released in May 2019, this thing is now a complete dinosaur. I fully expect Apple to kill the iPod touch once the current one is discontinued, as it’s hard to see it being a viable product now.As usual, it looks like it’s going to be a big year for Apple updates. Stay tuned. More

  • in

    Huawei expects 2022 challenges amidst tech politics, deglobalisation

    Huawei Technologies warns that it will see “serious challenges” in 2022, amidst an uncertain business environment, “politicisation of technology”, and further “deglobalisation”. It also reveals plans to streamline decision-making processes in its local offices next year, giving these outfits more autonomy. The Chinese tech vendor is expecting to close the year with 634 billion yuan ($99.45 billion) in revenue, a 28.88% dip from 891.4 billion yuan in 2020. Its carrier business had stayed “stable” and its enterprise unit saw growth, said Huawei’s rotating chairman Guo Ping, in his new year message Friday to employees. He added that digital transformation in global economies had become a major growth engine and there were new opportunities in green and low-carbon technologies, but warned of uncertainties in the year ahead, 

    “An unpredictable business environment, the politicisation of technology, and a growing deglobalisation movement all present serious challenges,” Guo said. “Against this backdrop, we need to stick to our strategy and respond rationally to external forces that are beyond our control.”He noted that Huawei would push ahead with its focus on infrastructure and smart devices, and look to respond more quickly to customer needs with shorter “management chains”.  This meant creating “integrated teams” and “domain-specific subsidiaries”, he said. Specifically, Huawei in 2022 would look to streamline its business decision-making processes by giving more autonomy to local offices. This would see these outfits assuming the authority to make certain decisions previously held by its Shenzhen headquarters. Further tweaks to its organisational structures could see business integration across its local offices worldwide. Huawei has business operations in more than 170 markets, including 14 offices in the Asia-Pacific region outside of China. 

    The main objective of its organisation-wide transformation efforts was to enhance operational efficiencies and customer service delivery, Guo said. Elaborating on its product development plans, he noted that Huawei’s software offerings would revolve around EulerOS while its device portfolio would be driven by HarmonyOS. “These two ecosystems will adhere to an open source strategy, allowing all software developers to use them, contribute to them, and benefit from them,” he said. “We will continue to build and contribute to online developer communities as well as brick-and-mortar innovation centres.”He added that Huawei would increase its investment in HarmonyOS and EulerOS, but gave no details on what these entailed. EulerOS is pitched as Huawei’s infrastructure platform that supports both on-premises and cloud computing services. It runs on Huawei’s version of Linux OS. HarmonyOS currently supports more than 220 million Huawei devices and there are more than 100 million devices developed by third-party vendors that currently run on HarmonyOS, according to Huawei. More investment also would be poured into its digital power business, according to Guo. Set up as a business unit in June 2021, Huawei Digital Power Technologies aims to digitalise traditional energy and build products that integrate digital and power electronics capabilities.He also pointed to growth potential in the automotive industry, where he aimed for Huawei to be a “preferred provider” of new components in intelligent vehicles. The Chinese vendor this year would spend $1 billion in research and development (R&D) for intelligent automotive components.US President Joe Biden last month passed a legislation that banned companies such as Huawei and ZTE from getting approval for network equipment licences in the US. The Secure Equipment Act of 2021 would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt new rules stating it would no longer review or approve any authorisation applications for networking equipment that posed national security threats.The FCC in 2020 labelled Huawei and ZTE as national security threats, pointing to both companies’ close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military.Huawei previously called out the US government’s move to restrict semiconductor exports as another attempt to stem foreign competition. The Chinese vendor had been added to the US government’s Entity List, prohibiting US companies from transferring goods to companies on the list unless they had procured a licence from the US government. The move prompted Huawei to increase its research and development investment by 30% as well as invest in reengineering its products, Guo then said. This had led to redesigns of more than 1,800 boards and rewrites of some 16 million lines of its software codes, with the company looking towards alternative sources for many of its materials.The trade and export bans had led to sluggish earnings in recent years, including dips in profits and smartphone sales, as well as disruptions to Huawei’s supply chain, prompting the vendor to diversify its product focus and chip suppliers.RELATED COVERAGE More

  • in

    Here's how 2022 will bring us faster internet

    When I started networking, 300 bits per second (BPS) was the best you could do from home and our brand new 802.3 Ethernet gave us a big 10 Megabits per second (MBPS) at the office. I wanted more. Today, with cable gigabit to my home office and 2 Gigabit per second (GBPS) in my office. I still want more. Everyone wants faster, better networking. In 2022, we’ll get what we want. 

    First, 5G is finally going to actually make a difference. To date, most of what we’ve been getting is 5G hype. You see 5G has three major different network approaches. Only one of these — millimeter-wave (mmWave) — can give you gigabit speeds. But, and it’s a big but, mmWave, which Verizon calls 5G Ultra-Wideband, has a range that’s better measured in feet instead of yards and it can be blocked by ordinary window glass. In short, you can forget about getting gigabit speeds for all practical purposes.  So, why is Verizon advertising it has 5G everywhere? Because it offers another 5G approach: Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). Verizon 5G DSS performance is the same as you’ve already been getting from Verizon 4G LTE. In short, it’s a pure advertising gimmick with no real speed advantage. DSS does, however, deliver much better latency than 4G LTE. As more and more 4G phones are replaced with 5G models, DSS-based 5G will start delivering more speed. It will never be gigabit speeds, but it will be better than old-style 4G.However, 4G is also getting a speed boost. Verizon is using a new frequency range, Citizen Band Radio Service (CBRS)–which has nothing to do with the CB radio of truckers and Burt Reynolds movies–can increase 4G speeds up to 800 Megabits per second (Mbps). So, don’t be in too much of a hurry to move to 5G. 4G may work better for you in 2022.Another 5G technology, mid-band, is another story. This one, which today is mostly deployed by T-Mobile, has an average speed of 162 Mbps. Now that doesn’t sound fast, but that’s only because you’ve been drinking 5G marketing kool-aid. It’s the fastest average 5G internet in the US today. The real reason why T-Mobile’s mid-band 5G matters isn’t so much its speed as its range. Instead of feet or yards, it has a range in miles. This makes it ideal for bringing broadband to users who don’t live in cities. If you live in the country, T-Mobile is probably your best choice for your smartphone, office, and home. With 41% 5G coverage of the country, T-Mobile out-distances its 5G rivals.  

    Another big advance is that while some of us are lucky enough to live in places with fast broadband, many of us are still stuck with DSL or even–shudder–dial-up internet connections, things are finally changing for the better. Jessica Rosenworcel, a net neutrality proponent, is now the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair. What’s even more important is that Congress passed President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This act included more than $65 billion to build out broadband networks and make broadband more affordable. How this will be spent depends on each state, but the bottom line is it will end up paying to get broadband deployed to places that have never dreamed of seeing real internet speed.Some of that money will be spent on broadband that doesn’t need new, expensive cable buildouts. Instead, it will go to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites such as SpaceX’s Starlink. Starlink is finally moving from beta to production. While Starlink isn’t as fast as the top cable or fiber networks, it’s still much faster than most rural users have ever seen. For all the buzz Starlink has generated, keep two things in mind. First, Starlink terminal production has gone much slower than originally planned. For example, I’ve been on the waitlist for nine months now and I was recently told I can’t expect to see my unit until some time in the summer of 2022. If you were to order one today, you can expect to wait until the end of 2022 or early 2023. Ouch!Another problem is that because of the demand, Starlink’s average download speed has declined from 97.23 Mbps during Q2 2021 to 87.25 Mbps in Q3 2021. That’s still a lot faster than what my friends and family currently get back in Calhoun County WV and other rural areas, but it’s still a disturbing trend.Finally, if you’re still using 3G, and I know some of you are, get ready for your old phones to stop working. All the major cell companies are turning off their 3G services. AT&T is shutting down its 3G services in February 2022; T-Mobile flips the switch on March 31, 2022; and Verizon will hold off the longest and pull the plug in December 2022.All-in-all, next year should see most of us get faster internet no matter where we live or what services we use. We’ll still want more, of course, we always do, but 2022 will still be a good one for internet users.Related Stories:

    ZDNet Recommends More

  • in

    Avaya shows evolution to cloud at Engage user conference

    This week the International Avaya User Group (IAUG) is holding its annual user event, Engage, in Orlando, Florida. I attended the event and found it interesting for a couple of reasons: The first is that it returned to an in-person format after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, so it was nice to see the enthusiasm from an audience that seemed to be excited about seeing colleagues again. Second and more importantly, it was the first Engage held post-Avaya’s transition to a cloud company. 

    The transformation of Avaya has been well underway for several years. It had evolved its business model to subscription-based, cut a deal with RingCentral for a cloud communications solution, and built a communications platform as a service (CPaaS) platform. Last year the company launched its cloud contact center product and most recently announced its Experience Builders program to build an ecosystem of “experience creators” that use Avaya’s platform.The proof of its success in this transition was highlighted in the keynote delivered by Avaya’s CEO, Jim Chirico. He reported that the company has had six consecutive quarters of accelerating growth, and all of its cloud-related metrics are up. The biggest measure of its cloud growth is the annual recurring revenue (ARR), which was up 180% from 2020 to 2021. However, while numbers certainly tell one story, more meaningful to me is customer use cases to highlight success.What is interesting about Avaya is that its definition of cloud bucks the trend of most of the cloud communications industry. The majority of communications vendors use the term “cloud” as a euphemism for “UCaaS” (unified communications as a service) or “CCaaS” (contact center as a service), and while these are indeed cloud offerings, there is more to cloud than public cloud — cloud can also mean private and hybrid clouds. It’s this ability to deliver a cloud in any format (public, private, or hybrid) that makes Avaya unique because it doesn’t force any customer into a particular deployment model. At the event, I caught up with the following customers that were using the different flavors of Avaya’s cloud.Skybridge Americas is a business process outsourcer (BPO) that supports contact center-heavy verticals, such as financial services and retail. The company had been on a hosted platform for several years and is in the process of migrating to Avaya’s OneCloud Private Cloud for Contact Center. The organization has about 1,000 total agents and moved to a cloud model so it could rapidly scale up and down as needed due to seasonality in its customers’ businesses. I asked why Skybridge chose to go private cloud, and CIO Bryant Richardson told me: “We wanted control over updates and wanted to ensure we are able to manage the environment ourselves.” The customers I work with consider control is one of the most common reasons businesses choose private cloud over public. Engagent Health is a BPO with a speciality in healthcare payers. It provides a variety of services, such as commission payments, CRM, agent onboarding, and others. The company chose Avaya’s OneCloud CCaaS solution, which is the public cloud version of its contact center technology. I met with Austin Ifedirah, founder and managing partner, and asked why they chose a SaaS model for its approximately 600 agents, and he told me it was a matter of economics. Given that the company is only a couple of years old, the public cloud model allowed him to start with very little upfront cost and then cost-effectively ramp up as needed. He did tell me that he chose Avaya because its strong brand in the contact center would help him attract customers. “Everyone knows Avaya in contact centers, and when I’m talking to healthcare executives, they don’t question the quality or reliability of the product,” Ifedirah said. He also said he believes the use of the public cloud was transitional and thought it would be more cost-effective to use the private cloud when they got to about 6,000 agents. Avaya having both public and private would make the transition easier, he said. Liberty Mutual is the sixth-largest global property and casualty insurer in the U.S. and ranks 71 on the Fortune 100 list of the largest American companies. The company currently has about 11,000 agents that run on an Avaya hybrid cloud. I won’t get into the technical details regarding the hybrid architecture; the more important point is why Liberty Mutual chose to go hybrid. Josh Hoium, Director of Engineering and Global Network Communications, told me: “We have a mix of legacy and new systems all around the globe, so we had to go hybrid. We use public cloud where we can and then keep on-prem what we need to control.” One of the interesting aspects of the deployment is Liberty Mutual’s use of Twilio Flex. The “roll your own” CCaaS model was hyped a couple of years ago and viewed as a killer to companies like Avaya. Hoium told me, while they use Twilio, it’s been marginalized to a handful of countries where they are just trying to keep the costs down because it’s a “dirt-cheap deployment model” and does not offer the best experience. Where voice quality and experiences matter, the Avaya cloud is used. 

    Avaya’s unique capabilities in offering UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS in various configurations is due to its new Media Procession Core (MPC), which creates a hub-and-spoke model between the services by offering a single set of channels into the platform, regardless of use case. This enables Avaya to deliver services such as voice or video as part of the contact center, in a meeting tool, or even APIs in any cloud configuration. To date, much of the hype around cloud communications had been around public cloud, and that makes sense because early adopters were smaller companies — many of whom had no contact center. Looking ahead, as more large enterprises plan to move UC and CC to the cloud, the definition of what constitutes a true SaaS offer has evolved. Whether an organization deploys in a public cloud, a dedicated instance, or a hybrid approach, the benefits of the solution, not where it’s operated, will be crucial. With very few providers having the capacity to offer all flavors of cloud, Avaya’s ability to deliver to the customer’s needs is something they should continue to amplify. While it’s fair to say Avaya was a latecomer to cloud communications, the company has done a nice job of building a platform, OneCloud, that can deliver a cloud any way the customer wants. More

  • in

    Telstra fined AU$2.5 million in part for not making 50,000 phone numbers silent

    Telstra has paid a AU$2.5 million fine levelled at it by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) after the regulator found what it described as large-sale privacy and safety breaches. The first was Telstra failing to mark a customer’s phone number as silent in the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) 50,000 times, which allowed them to be published in phone directories. The second was Belong failed to update IPND data on its customers on more than 65,000 occasions. Australian telcos are required to upload a customer’s phone number, name, address, and whether the number is silent to the IPND. The IPND can also be used by Triple Zero, emergency services, and law enforcement. “When people request a silent number it is often for very important privacy and safety reasons, and we know that the publication of their details can have serious consequences,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said. “The provision of these critical services can be hampered and lives put in danger if data is missing, wrong or out of date. It is alarming that Telstra could get this so wrong on such a large scale.” O’Loughlin said although Telstra self-reported the violations, ACMA chose to level the fine due to the telco failing to update IPND data in 2019. Alongside Telstra, other telcos that were handed a remedial direction at the time included Optus, Vodafone, AAPT, Agile, Chime Communications, PowerTel, Primus Telecommunications, Symbio Networks, and TransACT.

    In May, ACMA issued Lycamobile with a AU$604,800 infringement notice after it failed to pass on emergency info on 246,000 lines. Two days later, ACMA issued formal notices to Telstra, Optus, and Aldi Mobile for not verifying new customer information. Medion Mobile, which powers Aldi Mobile and is owned by Lenovo, was caught out on 53 occasions, Telstra was found to have breached its obligations 52 times, and Optus was pinged for one violation. Related Coverage More

  • in

    AWS misfires once more, just days after a massive failure

    At approximately 10:26 AM US Eastern time, Amazon Web Services (AWS) started having serious network problems. According to reports on the Outages mailing list, the central mailing list for ISP and network operators to report and track major internet problems, AWS-hosted services started to go “wonky” this morning. 

    Numerous AWS-based business services, such as Duo, the two-factor authentication endpoint security service; Zoom, the video-conferencing platform; and Slack, the messaging service, were affected. Entertainment services, including Hulu, Xbox Live, and Halo, also went down. DownDetector also showed AWS having a failure surge this morning. Since then AWS reported that the problem was with internet connectivity in the US-West-1 and 2 Regions. “We have resolved the issue affecting Internet connectivity to the US-WEST-1 Region. Connectivity within the region was not affected by this event. The issue has been resolved and the service is operating normally.”Outage administrators are still reporting that “it looks to have stabilized somewhat but still seeing some unusual errors.” Hang in there, folks. It looks like the AWS trouble isn’t done messing us over yet.  More