Category Archives: Broadband

Updates from McKinsey

Purpose for asset owners: Climbing a taller mountain
In the wake of the pandemic, the world’s long-term investors are reexamining their purpose.
By By Duncan Kauffman, Bryce Klempner, and Bruce Simpson – The world’s pension funds, sovereign-wealth funds, and endowments are no strangers to purpose—they intentionally strive to create positive societal impact. After all, they have long been using purpose as a not-so-secret weapon to attract talent while competing with higher-paying private-sector investment managers. As one chief talent officer of a major asset owner put it, “We can’t compete with Wall Street head-to-head on compensation, but we can emphasize the mission of the work we do: helping millions of our fellow citizens save for their retirements. That’s pretty meaningful.” Nevertheless, amid the pandemic, many institutions are redefining, or simply sharpening, their emphasis on purpose, with promising implications for their constituents and the societies in which they operate.

Experienced climbers

For asset owners, purpose begins with their mandate, one that many owners have taken great care to define. The mandate informs all strategic choices an asset owner makes, so many CEOs and chief investment officers (CIOs) are careful to align their top teams and board. For example, the website for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan states, “Our name captures our purpose: to secure the future for Ontario’s teachers.” The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority describes its purpose as “. . . to secure and maintain the future welfare of the Emirate.” And the Yale Investments Office “seeks to provide high inflation-adjusted returns to support the current and future needs of the university.

These purpose statements typically share a common concept: asset owners commit to investing the capital they have been entrusted to preserve, by enhancing the long-term purchasing power of their beneficiaries. This purpose is noble; it is focused on helping others—and, in many cases, doing so on a large scale, for millions of beneficiaries or even an entire nation. It aims to help others by enhancing their autonomy. And it is typically cast as helping to orient institutions toward the long term—a horizon in which all stakeholders’ interests tend to converge. The power of these three dimensions of purpose has afforded asset owners comfort (and perhaps competitive advantage) in their distinctive purpose vis-à-vis other investment firms and financial institutions.

Many asset-owner executives may thus feel justifiably proud of their progress on organizational purpose. Yet increasingly, partly impelled by the global health crisis and partly by other societal forces, several asset owners are mulling an even taller mountain: using their capital, capabilities, and influence to contribute to the economic and social recovery of the communities in which they operate, so that they can deliver positive social impact beyond what they currently achieve.

Why do more?

Like many industries with a noble purpose, asset owners have a long history of harnessing some of the advantages that come from a strong shared sense of purpose—in talent (recruitment, retention, motivation, productivity), external engagement (policy and regulatory freedom), and risk management (in their own organizations and portfolios). Yet there are three reasons why asset owners are increasingly seeking to do more. more>

From an industrial renaissance to an economy of value

By Francisco Jaime Quesado – While having to endure the ongoing era of a global pandemic, we are facing the prospect of an effective industrial renaissance that can change the way our economy works

In the new global economy, in which industry is becoming more important, companies have a new challenge – to redefine its value chain and to integrate the existing global networks with new ideas, new solutions and new proposals of competence. This industrial renaissance will be a contract of trust in this new agenda of change and a new effective vision for the future as it should mobilize those that have a set of effective value creations in the economy.

A post-pandemic industrial renaissance is the point of contact between those that believe in the power of people to create new solutions to more complex problems that are arising in society and those that want innovation and creativity to be the platform for the creation of value in a globally competitive economy. This ‘renaissance’ is, in essence, the confirmation of a process of integration of people into society – an individual’s contribution must be a commitment to the organization of society and its main elements.

The next stage in the process of rebirth must apply to the most critical factors of competence and trust, which includes a focus on innovation and the sharing of positive dynamics. We need society to have a new challenge. Society must be able to be the real platform of a more entrepreneurial society that is centered on new areas of knowledge and sectors of value.

In a modern and active society, the keyword is ‘co-creation’, which is used to promote a dynamic and active creation process that involves each citizen in the next big challenge for society. more>

Updates from ITU

GPS and garbage trucks: Mapping digital divides in U.S. cities
By Sarah Wray – Addressing the digital divide has become a top priority for cities around the world as COVID-19 has forced study, work and socializing online.

City leaders are increasingly recognizing the opportunity that remote work and technology can offer their citizens and local economy – as long as the right infrastructure is in place.

During a digital roundtable in a series organized by consulting company Ignite Cities and advocacy group the National League of Cities (NLC), Adrian Perkins, Mayor of Shreveport, and Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, Mayor of National City, detailed how closing the digital divide means not only getting residents connected but also helping them upskill for a changing job market. Perkins said:

“If our low-income communities don’t have access to reliable internet, you are cutting them off in so many ways,” including opportunities for remote work, high-paying jobs and educational tools.

He noted that mayors must work alongside the private sector and foster partnerships to close the divide but that leveraging public assets is also key.

“[Telecom companies] are private corporations and they have pushed for their bottom lines and people that could most afford [connectivity],” Perkins added.

“If you are a mayor that hasn’t started to yet work on the public side, on the public fibre that’s available and pushing your public agenda when it comes to bridging the digital divide, you are behind the power curve.” more>

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Updates from Ciena

Network Edge: Enterprises are ready for a more comprehensive approach – but can telcos deliver?
Over the last few years, enterprises have begun embracing more automation and virtualization in the wide area network (WAN), says Ciena’s Artur Kwiatkowski. As their IT architectures migrate towards (multi) cloud centricity, their network environment – and especially the network edge – must evolve to be more flexible and increasingly self-configurable by the end user. To accelerate this evolution, enterprises across many industries are deploying virtual network functions such as virtual routers, firewalls, and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN). For many of them, that last application has been the starting point towards a virtualized network environment.
Was SD-WAN overhyped?
By Artur Kwiatkowski – Originally, part of its promise was about commercials: it offered a more attractive cost structure for the enterprise WAN. This was to result from increased reliance on cheap underlying network transport technologies (e.g. dedicated internet access services rather than MPLS). What has proved more transformational, however – especially in European markets where price deltas for underlay services were not that great in the first place – is the increased control that enterprises gain with SD-WAN bundles over the performance of their networks, and the ability to decouple the overlay (management and policy) function from the underlay (transport) function.

Very quickly, SD-WAN became a hyped (possibly even over-hyped) concept, and vast majority of communications service providers (CSPs) active in the B2B space scrambled to pull together an SD-WAN market offering. In many cases, these boiled down to a managed service delivered by the SD-WAN providers / equipment vendors themselves, and then white-labelled by the telco as they were resold to the enterprise end user.

It also soon transpired that SD-WAN was not a one-size-fits-all application. As a result, majority of larger CSPs today have multiple SD-WAN solutions in their product catalogue, aimed at various market segments, from small businesses to global enterprises. This is not a problem in itself, but many of them end up siloed and isolated in the context of the wider service portfolio. They also often rely on manual processes for operational aspects such as service turn-up. The resulting image of CSPs is that of a bevy of swans swimming upstream – looking distinguished and graceful above the waterline, all the while peddling frantically underneath where no one can see, just to keep moving forward.

Change seems to be on the horizon, however. more>

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The Texas Power Grid Failure Is a Climate Change Cautionary Tale

By Justin Worland – For scientists, the havoc wreaked by the extreme winter weather that hit Texas in mid-February dropping several inches of snow and leaving millions without power did not come as a surprise. Ten years ago, in 2011, energy regulators warned the state’s electric-grid operators that they were ill-prepared for an unprecedented winter storm. And for decades before that, climate scientists had cautioned that a warming planet would cause climate chaos, raising the average global temperature while driving unusual weather events like this one. For Texas, it was always just a matter of time.

Despite these warnings, the state was unprepared—which Texans realized as soon as the storm swept in. Equipment froze at power plants, leaving about half of the state’s electricity-generating capacity offline. Natural gas wells iced over, slowing the fuel supply that heats homes. Millions were left without electricity, at least one city turned off its water supply, and Harris County, where Houston is located, reported hundreds of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning as Texans turned on their own generators to warm up. “This shows a disastrous level of underpreparation,” says Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University in Houston, speaking to TIME shortly after he had lost water pressure. “We knew this weather event was coming … What went wrong?”

The catastrophe can be linked to a string of planning failures that didn’t take that threat seriously. Much of the electricity infrastructure in Texas wasn’t hardened-think of insulation and other protections that allow it to function in extreme winter weather. Several power plants remained offline for scheduled maintenance, ignoring weather forecasters’ warnings of the fast-approaching storm. And the storm disrupted the supply of fuel needed to run other such plants.

The cascade of failures in Texas signals what is perhaps the greatest challenge ahead in this climate-changed world: accepting that business as usual isn’t working. Across the planet, humans have built civilization to withstand the vagaries of a 20th century climate. The extreme weather events of the 21st century will look nothing like those that came before—and hundreds of years of past preparation will not suffice. “The future is not going to be like the past,” says Melissa Finucane, a co-director of the Rand Climate Resilience Center. “If we could just plan a little better, we could anticipate some of these problems.” more>

Updates from Ciena

For years we’ve been hearing that 2020 would be the year that 5G networks would begin to be deployed. Well, it’s finally here, and MNOs are indeed starting to roll out 5G services. But beyond new phones and RAN technology, it’s going to be those that embrace automation who will ultimately drive faster transitions to 5G. To that end, Blue Planet has unveiled new capabilities for 5G automation.
By Kailem Anderson – As we watched the standard come together, 5G set some lofty expectations in terms of performance gains that 5G networks will deliver to users over 4G. These included things like 10 to 100 times faster speeds, 1000 times the bandwidth, support for 10 to 100 times more devices, 99.999% availability, and latency as low as 1 millisecond.

This vastly improved speed, capacity and latency opens up all kinds of new use cases for mobile network operators (MNOs). The increase in users and use cases also means the number of network services connections required of 5G networks is unprecedented and, more importantly, the speed at which these services need to be created and managed, typically in a multi-vendor environment, is significantly faster than what today’s OSS, NMS, and manual processes can handle. This velocity and volume will affect the entire network lifecycle, including planning, designing and deploying services, and day-to-day operations. Automation will play a critical role in helping operators meet these challenges to speed the delivery of 5G networks and derive new revenues.

Finally, with 5G still being an emerging technology, the standards associated with it too are evolving. In order to adhere to the emerging 5G standards, MNOs need a cloud-native 5G solution that is designed and developed based on openness and works in a multi-vendor network with no vendor lock in.

As 5G scales, automation will, in turn, increasingly rely on AI and ML (machine learning) to fully automate some operational processes, including predicting situations like a network fault before it occurs and taking corrective actions before it impacts customers, or understanding when specific network resources are near capacity and scaling them up to meet the growing requirements of the services that rely on them. Of course, this type of AI-assisted operations is a topic I’ve been discussing for quite some time.

The promises of 5G, automation and AI are great, but the path to get there is filled with many technical hurdles. Here on the Blue Planet team, we’ve been working hard to deliver an intelligent 5G automation solution that helps MNOs lessen the bumps. more>

Updates from Ciena

Cable operators – the move to edge compute
Almost 60% of cable executives surveyed by Broadband Success Partners said improved customer experience or enablement of new revenue streams is the most important driver at their company for moving to edge compute. Learn more about the research in this Q&A.
Ciena – The cable industry is deploying Distributed Access Architectures (DAA) and extending fiber closer to the customer as we move toward 10G. Does this mean the cable industry is well positioned for edge compute – moving compute and storage closer to the edge? What are the drivers, use cases, challenges, and investment areas as we evaluate moving to edge compute? These are some of the questions Broadband Success Partners discussed recently with executives at cable operators in North America.

We had an opportunity to further discuss the drivers, challenges, technology enablers and investment areas with David Strauss, Principal at Broadband Success Partners, and Fernando Villarruel, Chief Architect, MSO Practice at Ciena.

What insights did you get from cable executives regarding drivers to move to edge compute?

David: We asked executives in network engineering and business services what the top drivers are to move to edge compute – almost 60% noted either improved customer experience (29%) or enablement of new revenue streams (also 29%) as the most important driver at their company. For tier 1 operators the financial factors, new revenues and cost savings, were deemed most important. For tier 2 operators customer experience and scalability were identified as most important. Network engineering executives value all the drivers somewhat equally, while business services executives place a premium on customer experience and new revenues.

The reasons why these executives chose the driver they did are varied – ranging from “an improved customer experience due to lower latency for gaming and video optimization” to “choosing something that’s scalable is key so as to not augment later.” more>

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Updates from Ciena

Adaptive Learning is the Future of Education. Are Education Networks Ready?
Educators are increasingly leaning on EdTech and Adaptive Learning tools that personalize and improve the student learning experience. Ciena’s Daniele Loffreda details the critical role the network plays in making these disruptive new learning tools a reality.
By Daniele Loffreda – As teachers and administrators strive to improve student performance and graduation rates, they’re increasingly leveraging new Educational Technology (EdTech) to deliver a higher quality learning experience. Digital applications such as streaming video, mixed-reality, gamification, and online global collaboration enable a “learning beyond the classroom walls” environment.

However, educators are quickly realizing that even with EdTech innovations, the traditional “one-size-fits-all” approach to education fails to make the grade. Student populations are increasingly diverse in terms of culture, location, economic background, and learning styles. Educators are increasingly aware that not everyone can absorb the lesson plan in the same way, and that teaching needs to be more personalized to the individual student. To provide more personalized learning experience to students, while ensuring adherence to government performance standards, educators are turning to Adaptive Learning systems.

Adaptive Learning uses computer artificial intelligence algorithms that adjust the educational content to the student’s learning style and pace. Based upon a student’s reaction to content, algorithms detect patterns and respond in real-time with prompts, revisions, and interventions based upon the student’s unique needs and abilities. Combining Adaptive Learning platforms with predictive analytics and other EdTech applications helps to transform the learning experience for both the student and the teacher. more>

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Updates ITU

Beyond 5G: What’s next for IMT?
ITU – The ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) has recently published Recommendation ITU-R M.2150 titled ‘Detailed specifications of the radio interfaces of IMT-2020’.

Following the evaluation of various radio technology candidates for IMT-2020 at the end of last year, the newly published Recommendation represents a set of terrestrial radio interface specifications which have been combined into a single document.

The development and approval of this international mobile technology (IMT) standard will support several use cases that leverage the advantages of 5G.

For instance, it will contribute, amongst many other things, to accelerating the response time of autonomous vehicles and enable new and more realistic augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences.

Understanding the IMT process

A solid grasp of the IMT process is key to understand the significance of the latest 5G developments at ITU. The process consists of 4 main phases:

1. “ITU-R Vision” and definitions
2. Minimum requirements and evaluation criteria
3. Invitation for proposals, evaluation, and consensus building
4. Specification, approval, and implementation

Note: The results of these procedural steps are documented in ITU-R Recommendations and ITU-R Reports. more>

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Updates from Ciena

Why you need the highest level of trust in your encryption solution
In Europe, full certification from BSI is one of the top security accreditations you can get, and Ciena’s optical encryption solutions have achieved it; just one more reason why Ciena is the ideal partner to help you protect your in-flight data and streamline your compliance strategy, be it to the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or any other data regulation. Jürgen Hatheier, CTO EMEA at Ciena, explains why.
By Jürgen Hatheier – Several recent headlines about large GDPR-related financial penalties for data breach violations, continue to spark massive investments in security compliance initiatives across all industries. However, these programs are sometimes limited to protecting data held within the organization – with little or no consideration for ‘in-flight’ data traveling between locations across the Wide Area Network (WAN).

This is no longer adequate, as large amounts of data are transported over high-capacity wavelengths across fiber optic networks and cybercriminals are exploiting any potential gaps within an organization’s security strategy. It’s not uncommon, for example, for hackers to use ‘wiretap’ devices to steal data as it travels over optical fiber connections.

The frequent lack of physical security makes this kind of attack relatively easy, allowing hackers to access fiber and install wiretaps in cabinets in the street, under man-hole covers, and in other easy-to-breach locations. These wiretaps can also be left in place for long periods of time without being detected, leading to large quantities of data being stolen, with no indication when breaches even started.

The only way to prevent the theft of data using wiretaps is to encrypt ‘in-flight’ data as it travels over WAN connections. The ability to do this effectively has now become a key requirement in tender processes for network rollouts, and is critical for protecting customers and their data in the GDPR era. more>

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