Posted by: aviatnetworks | September 13, 2014

Heavy Reading Finds Growth for MNOs in Enterprise Services

Heavy-Reading-logoRecently, telecom research firm Heavy Reading conducted a survey of mobile network operators (MNOs) from the around the world exclusively for Aviat Networks. The goal of the survey was simple: determine the sentiment of MNOs to provide fixed wireless services to enterprise customers.

Now that the growth rate of individual wireless subscribers has leveled off in many nations with mobile penetration rates near and even exceeding 100 percent, MNOs have begun to look very seriously at alternate sources of revenue growth. And one of those alternatives is fixed wireless enterprise services, which according to Heavy Reading, MNOs rank as a co-strategic priority along with their core subscriber business.

Infographic of Heavy Reading Aviat Networks survey results of Mobile Networks Operators indicates they will offer fixed wireless enterprise services for revenue growth.

MNO Enterprise Services survey results infographic. Click to enlarge.

Enterprise services are all very well and good but how does an MNO deliver them? The answer is not as complex as you may imagine but somewhat more difficult in reality. While MNOs have robust infrastructure based on rock-solid microwave backhaul technology to the cell sites at the edges of their networks in the majority of cases, they do not have an easily deployable method of supporting fixed wireless services to enterprises. One such way would be via Layer 3. In the survey, Heavy Reading found that a supermajority, or 70 percent, of MNOs believe that Layer 3 (L3) capability from the cell site is “critical” or “very important” to enable new service delivery.

However, L3 capabilities are not the end of the story. Layer 3 services are packet-based and require IP/MPLS routing functionality in order to operate. Accordingly, the MNOs surveyed by Heavy Reading reflect this outlook by an overwhelming 75 percent stating that IP/MPLS is “critical” or “very important” for offering fixed wireless services to enterprises. In addition, 75 percent of MNOs also believe it is “critical” or “very important” that existing cell site equipment be made capable of delivering these fixed wireless enterprise services. The existing cell site equipment is quite capable of delivering Layer 2 (L2) fixed wireless services, but help is needed to go the next step up to L3.

“Whilst L2 can be used to deliver business services, our survey results suggests that most mobile operators are very interested in the additional benefits of L3 including MPLS,” says Patrick Donegan, senior analyst, Heavy Reading. “They also tend to value very highly the ability to deliver those business services from existing equipment at their cell sites.”

Donegan goes on to elaborate further in the complete survey results where he reveals more eye-opening insights. To find out these and more click here.

Posted by: aviatnetworks | August 7, 2014

We Put the Spotlight on Voice Over LTE (VoLTE)

As one of the most anticipated network technologies, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) has been discussed by operators for years. The expectation was that deployments would start in 2013, but roll-outs in North America were delayed.

VoLTE Logo

Logo courtesy of YTD2525 Blog

Operators have faced a series of issues that include poor voice quality and long call establishment times. Once these problems are solved, it is expected that VoLTE will allow operators to provide  voice and data services using an integrated packet network. As the problems described show, the implementation of VoLTE presents challenges for the entire LTE ecosystem including microwave backhaul.

We have produced a white paper to describe some of the VoLTE requirements that must be met in order to overcome these technical challenges, which must encompass a flexible microwave backhaul as a key factor for a successful transition to all-packet voice and video VoLTE  networks. A brief introduction to VoLTE is presented and then different VoLTE backhaul requirements are described with possible solutions.

Click here to download a white paper on this subject titled “VoLTE and the IP/MPLS Cell Site Evolution”.

Posted by: aviatnetworks | June 25, 2014

FIPS: What is it? Why is it Important?


FIPS 140-2 Level 2 validation is important to protect microwave radio payload and management traffic from interception and hacking. Photo credit: Stephen Little / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

FIPS stands for Federal Information Processing Standards, a set of computer security standards established by the US federal Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The goal of FIPS is to create a uniform level of security for all federal agencies in order to protect sensitive but unclassified information—a large portion of the electronic data not considered secret or higher.

Of most interest to microwave backhaul users are two particular FIPS standards, FIPS 197 and FIPS 140-2. FIPS 197 is straightforward enough: it provides the definition of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which is the basis of so much of the security industry. Many security products from IT vendors are validated FIPS 197 through an organization within NIST called the Cryptographic Module Validation Program (CMVP) that reviews and verifies the testing results of independent labs that put participating company’s cryptographic modules through their paces.

It still begs the question, “Why is FIPS important?” The answer is simple. Rather than take your telecom vendor’s word that its products are secure and will properly protect your payload and network management traffic, FIPS is an assurance backed by the full faith of the United States government that FIPS-validated security solutions defend your electronic information thoroughly within the context of how the solutions were designed and manufactured.

However, not all FIPS validations are created equal. FIPS 140-2 that sets the standard for the Security Requirements for Cryptographic Modules has different levels of validation. For example, a cryptographic module that is validated FIPS 140-2 Level 1 provides that basic level of security by encrypting data going through it to the level of protection provided by AES. However, a cryptographic module that is validated to FIPS 140-2 Level 2 not only provides AES electronic encryption but also physical security of the device itself. This means that a FIPS 140-2 Level 2 validated cryptographic module cannot be tampered with unless the seals on the solution housing are broken in which circumstance the so-called cryptographic officer will know immediately information security has been compromised and she can the take action at once to remediate any data breach.

FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic modules are required by law for all US federal agencies that handle sensitive but unclassified information. And other industry verticals are making FIPS 140-2 Level 2 a nonnegotiable item for their backhaul security including financials, healthcare industry, legal services, mobile operators and public safety.

Face it: We live in a more and more insecure world. Whether you are a common carrier, a first responder agency or a multi-site hospital system, your customers have been hyper-sensitized about security and expect you do to everything possible to protect theirs. If you don’t have FIPS-validated security on your backhaul now, they may force it on you later. Get ahead of the curve and look into implementing FIPS solutions today.

For more information on FIPS, download the Aviat Networks primer on FIPS.

Posted by: aviatnetworks | June 16, 2014

Positively Sold on MPLS at the Cell Site

MPLS at the cell site via microwave routers will positively supercharge service revenues for mobile operators. Photo credit: <a href="">Thomas Gehrke</a> / <a href="">Foter</a> / <a href="">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)</a>

MPLS at the cell site via microwave routers will positively supercharge service revenues for mobile operators. Photo credit: Thomas Gehrke / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Mobile industry enthusiasts have been warned at length about the proliferation of LTE devices forcing backhaul to become markedly different than it is today, especially in terms of capacity delivery. Other challenges for the service provider include rising cost of capital, increasing network complexity and the ability to gracefully accommodate future technology shifts such as SDN, NFV and SON—Software-Defined Networking, Network Function Virtualization, Self-Optimizing Networks. A Layer 3 IP/MPLS topology has addressed many of these goals so far in the aggregation and at the service provider edge of the network. MPLS, Multiprotocol Label Switching, in particular, has offered converged service delivery, fast failure recovery and advanced Quality of Service.

So what’s next? The fundamental transformation needed next is at the cell site, which is evolving from its basic role of housing a base station to the new reality of enhanced service delivery hub. Why is this important? It’s simple: MPLS allows operators to offer enhanced revenue-generating services while simultaneously enriching the consumer experience and feeding an entire mobile ecosystem.

Battling rising costs by monetizing new services
The day of reckoning for operators is predicted to come with the confluence of rising costs and shrinking ARPUs, leading to unsustainable losses. Additional revenue sources are the key to profitability, provided they could be enabled swiftly and seamlessly. Fortunately, MPLS is available as a steppingstone to new services. As high capacity and scale infiltrate the end-to-end network, the traditional macro site can be considered the new point-of-presence for revenue generation. MPLS-enabled services include Layer 3 VPNs (L3VPN), Layer 2 VPNs (L2VPN) and Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS). L3 VPNs are attractive to customers (e.g. enterprises, government) who want to leverage the service provider’s technical expertise to ensure efficient site-to-site routing. L2 VPNs are attractive to customers who want complete control of their own routing. Finally, VPLS makes the service provider’s network look like a single Ethernet switch from the customer’s viewpoint, effectively making their WAN look just like their local campus.

For the mobile provider, the backhaul topology changes have already started to take shape, with Small Cell as one example of how cell sites will evolve, essentially becoming aggregation nodes as small cells (i.e., cloud RAN, IP, wifi) are added to network. This leads to a tangled web of complexity in a modern, heterogeneous network.

Technology flexibility to alleviate network complexity
To date, MPLS-enabled routers are the only proven solution to cost effectively converge multi-service interfaces onto a single low cost IP transport platform. The multitude of devices at the cell site includes legacy interfaces such as TDM, ATM and even Frame Relay. With its ability to decouple protocols from their physical transport medium, MPLS provides a single converged transport solution for all access technologies. As MPLS is generally deployed in core networks, adding it in the access is just an extension of the existing network transport architecture.

Beyond multiprotocol capability, the current hype of SDN, NFV and SON ushers in new challenges that are intended to optimize, virtualize and control the network—albeit with a significant operational learning curve. The capabilities of MPLS align with each of these goals, when they come. MPLS enables vendors to offer solutions that simplify management and protocols, provides fast adaptation for new services and eases the burden on personnel for general network turnup and maintenance—including tasks such as new base station provisioning, debugging, troubleshooting and performance monitoring

Benefits of IP/MPLS at the cell site
The benefits of IP/MPLS at the cell site are numerous, especially for LTE and LTE-A deployments. When compared to flat Carrier Ethernet networks, routers can scale to vast numbers of nodes. MPLS enables a scalable X2 network design. (X2 is the LTE interface used for Handover, Load Management, Mobility Optimization, Network Optimization and LTE-Advanced CoMP eNodeB coordination.) With eNodeBs on different subnets, routing is required between Layer 2 domains for a complete X2 solution.

MPLS-Traffic Engineering (MPLS-TE) provides operators with capability to steer traffic across backhaul networks, thereby increasing overall capacity and lowering latency for latency sensitive traffic flows—this is an important requirement for LTE-Advanced. MPLS-TE can increase backhaul capacity by 50 percent when compared to L2 networks.

How to Add IP/MPLS to the cell site
Introduction of IP/MPLS into the access network can be easily accomplished with networking platforms such as the Aviat CTR microwave router. The CTR 8540 is the industry’s first purpose-built microwave router—a unique concept that merges the functionality of an indoor microwave radio and a cell site router into an integrated solution, simplifying IP/MPLS deployments and creating a better performing network. The Aviat CTR helps operators avoid the investment of expensive standalone routers, translating to overall fewer boxes to buy, deploy and maintain. See more information on Aviat’s IP/MPLS solutions.

Louis Scialabba
Senior Manager of Marketing
Aviat Networks

Posted by: aviatnetworks | May 5, 2014

Balloons & Drones for Internet Access? Seriously?!

Remote/Rural Communications don’t Need Loopy Ideas to get Online

There has been much talk in recent months and now some business transactions by leading technology companies to implement exotic schemes to get remote and/or rural communities onto the Internet. These schemes involve high altitude balloons and drones. Seriously? Give us a break! Of all the loopy ideas we’ve heard lately, these have to be some of the most far out.

Google using Titan drones to get rural communities on the Internet is just loopy. Photo credit: singlesoliloquy / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Google using Titan drones to get rural communities on the Internet is just loopy. Photo credit: singlesoliloquy / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Beyond generating a lot of publicity for “original” thinking, we really have to be skeptical about the efficacy of such ludicrous proposals. Besides the hard-to-calculate cost of these schemes, they are likely to be highly unreliable, as it’s notoriously difficult to keep either a balloon or a drone geostationary in the stratosphere with all its turbulent airflow. Not to mention the ever-present likelihood of mechanical failure, wing icing, leaks and other factors leading to crash landings. And what about fuel? Or batteries? Can solar power alone keep these contraptions airborne for up to three years? And then what?

Plain ol’ microwave radio
In these situations, all that’s needed is a traditional, reliable microwave radio link. Rather than spend gargantuan wads of their shareholders’ cold, hard cash on pie-in-the-sky Internet boondoggles, Facebook, Google and these other titans of Silicon Valley should come down to earth and look at quick and practical methods for extending Internet connectivity to the Unconnected.

For example, consider the position that Stuart Little, Aviat Networks’ director of solutions marketing, stakes out in April’s issue of “Land Mobile” magazine. He points out that microwave radio technology has been reliably and cost effectively spanning long distances—sometimes over inhospitable geography like deserts or jungles—for decades to connect outposts of humanity to the outside world.

Advantages of microwave radio
Microwave radio has the advantages of high bandwidth and speed to deployment going for it when servicing rural communities. Aviat long-haul microwave radios can accommodate up to 3.7Gbps bandwidth. And it’s very cost effective and can be deployed in a matter of weeks, in some cases.

The other regularly used long-distance backhaul option, fiber-optic technology, has high-capacity bandwidth, but neither cost effectiveness nor speed to deployment for rural communities. Outside of dense urban corridors where high-density populations defray the overall capital expenditure on a per capita basis, fiber is very cost prohibitive. And to trench fiber over an extended distance can take many months.

In testimony before the United States Federal Communications Commission in 2009, representatives of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), estimated that it could cost $70,000 per mile to deploy a fiber network solution to rural communities. And they are citing just a vanilla example of pulling fiber in a trench in dirt alongside a road. If you add in core electronics for the network you pile on millions of dollars more per site serviced to terminate the network.

For more extreme environments such as in Alaska, a more recent estimate places the cost of deploying fiber at $100,000 per mile. In contrast, for the most sparsely populated parts of Alaska, microwave radio could be deployed at a cost of less than $30,000 per mile. This estimate assumes a tower every 25 miles to host microwave equipment to relay the signal onto the next tower in the network.

By its own admission, the Alaska Broadband Task Force says that 25 miles between radio towers is a conservative assumption. In Aviat Networks’ experience, 40 miles between towers for long distance microwave backhaul can be more typical. And in the most extreme cases, Aviat has been able to implement microwave links of more than 100 miles. The point is that the longer the microwave link the less equipment that is involved, which drives down the cost per mile.

So Facebook and Google, save your billions. Thinking crazy can make you loads in social media and Internet search. But when it comes to building a way-out-there network, you’ll just be tossing your money out a window.

C’mon, Zuck! C’mon, Larry! If you need help with this, give us a call. Or like our Facebook page.

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