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New speakers from Ovum, ACCC and iPass announced for Melbourne Congress

CommsDay is pleased to announce three more top additions to its speaker line-up for October’s Melbourne Congress.

The CEO of the world’s largest Wi-Fi operator, iPass, will give an exclusive presentation to delegates on the first day. Gary Griffiths runs an operator which through partnerships offers an incredible 60 million hotspots in 120 countries including over one million in Oceania. Griffiths will share the global iPass “software as a service” story with delegates.

Meanwhile, in a year of intense activity by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in the telecom arena the official at the coalface of it all will present to CommsDay on the same day. Michael Cosgrave is the executive general manager, infrastructure regulation division of the ACCC and has a 21 year involvement and inside perspective on where regulation and the market is heading.

Also, recent Ovum returnee David Kennedy will kick off proceedings on the second day. The Asia Pacific research analyst rejoined Ovum recently after a two year break. Previously he was with Ovum for ten years, the Department of Communications for six years and advised former Coalition senator Richard Alston for four years before that.

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Casa, C-Cor target Australian opportunities in NBN, competitor fixed & wireless

US-headquartered broadband infrastructure provider Casa Systems is targeting opportunities with NBN and other major telco players in Australia, focused particularly on small cells and distributed, multi-access tech architecture, via its local partnership with C-Cor. Casa CEO Jerry Guo spoke exclusively to CommsDay on a visit to Australia along with C-Cor MD John Goddard.

As revealed by CommsDay, Melbourne-based telco equipment supplier C-Cor officially announced its ANZ-exclusive alliance with Casa in January this year after splitting with previous vendor partner Arris – one of NBN’s HFC suppliers and a direct rival to Casa. For Guo, ever-increasing and “insatiable” demand for bandwidth in Australia plus a trend towards fixed-mobile network convergence make the local market an interesting proposition.

“When we look at broadband infrastructure, we see three segments. We see the cable side of broadband infrastructure [such as] cable modems and CMTS converged cable access platforms; we see telco broadband infrastructure, optical and DSLAM; and the third segment is mobile. And we see that all three are actually converging,” he said.

“We as a company are providing solutions in all three segments and especially for the convergence of all broadband infrastructure, HFC, optical, and mobile networks. We are playing in cable infrastructure and optical routing infrastructure as well as small cells, picocells and 5G cells going forward [plus] the packet core side: the core networks which aggregate and control all the access networks.”

Casa and C-Cor believe there could still be opportunities in the NBN HFC supply chain, particularly with the forthcoming upgrade to DOCSIS 3.1, a technology in which Casa positions itself as a market leader. But they are particularly focused on the possibility of helping NBN expand its fixed wireless network via small cell deployment at the network edge.

“In fixed wireless infrastructure, there are opportunities with a company like NBN; it’s got that fixed wireless mandate, it can’t go mobile, but it does hold 2.3GHz [spectrum] and 3.4-3.7GHz as well. Clearly, there are opportunities there for it to… transform that fixed wireless network into a small-cell fixed wireless network,” said Goddard.  

“Part of that driver for that expansion [would be] the fact that their core customers, [such as] Telstra and Optus and Vodafone I guess, are currently expanding their mobile networks and their fixed mobile networks into small cell structures, particularly Telstra… we could see a situation where the other operators are competing against NBN for customers with a mobile infrastructure.”

However, the two companies are not restricting their overtures to NBN; they are also talking to other local fixed and wireless players, some of which are potential competitors to the national network.
“The opportunities we see in general [with] fixed broadband operators, not necessarily NBN specifically,” said Guo, “are that when they push the node closer, fibre deeper, we [can] basically build a hardware platform – a digital node – which can act as an HFC node, which can act as a 5G cell –”
“– but can also host DSL, can also host optics –” put in Goddard
“– so for some business services or new builds, they could put an optical line terminal in that digital node to provide optical service. It’s really about HFC, optical, as well as 5G or 4.5G cells going forwards,” finished the Casa CEO. “We can [also] help the mobile operators to extend their coverage or provide densification of their network by putting the cells into areas that macrocells do not cover well. So it’s both a fixed wireless opportunity as well as a mobile wireless opportunity.”

Guo’s trip to Australia has provided him and Goddard with the opportunity to engage in person with a range of potential customers. “We’re talking to all the big guys, the major players; all the major telcos, and the Tier 2s,” noted Goddard. “We’ve got a leading provider of ultra-broadband technology [in Casa], and the local supplier – us – with the feet on the ground, the local knowledge, the understanding of the deployment methods and methodologies [with] the capacity to customise product if required for localisation.”

Petroc Wilton

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Fifield convenes industry CEOs, regulators to “knock heads together” on NBN issues

Communications minister Mitch Fifield has convened an emergency industry roundtable in Canberra on Monday afternoon to hammer out an action plan for resolving customer migration and consumer issues around the NBN.

Invitations for the roundtable were only issued earlier this week. Telstra CEO Andy Penn, Vocus CEO Geoff Horth, Optus CEO Allen Lew and TPG COO Craig Levy are expected to attend, along with Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton and representatives of NBN, the Australian Communications and Media Authority and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. A source said the roundtable appeared to be designed to “knock some heads together”.

The roundtable comes following weeks of damaging media publicity about issues with NBN connection hassles and low speeds as a result of under-provisioning of bandwidth by retail service providers. Members of parliament and talkback radio hosts are also anecdotally reporting record amounts of correspondence from disgruntled broadband users about the NBN.

NBN CEO Bill Morrow has admitted that the firm’s own sampling shows that 15% of NBN customers are dissatisfied, while an Essential poll of over 1,800 voters released this week showed that just 18% thought the government was doing a “good job” implementing the NBN versus 46% who thought it was doing a “poor job.” In fact, of 12 issues sampled, the NBN was ranked the second worst for the government, just above high power prices.

NBN’s connection and activation issues were exacerbated in June as record numbers were added to the network. In the 5 weeks to 29 June – one day before the financial year end – NBN made 447,064 premises ready for service and 155,345 premises activated. Since the beginning of July that rollout pace has notably fallen off in favour of activations, presumably as NBN takes stock and seeks to resolve its backlog of issues. In the six weeks since the financial year began, NBN made 331,652 premises ready for service and 253,159 activated.

The Monday meeting is scheduled to take place across two and a half hours that afternoon.

NEW CORPORATE PLAN: NBN releases its new four year corporate plan on Thursday August 31. Speaking with business commentator Alan Kohler yesterday, NBN CEO Bill Morrow said that by adding 2021 to its forecasts, observers would get a better sense of its ARPU and cost forecasts.

“I think we only right now reveal kind of a four year view, we’re going to introduce on the 31st of August the new four year plan that will add in the 2021 year that had not necessarily been public in the past,” Morrow said.

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Radisys targets Australian market, aims to compete or partner with entrenched vendors

CommsDay can reveal that US telco supplier Radisys is going after a foothold with major carriers in the Australian market, its particular business model setting it on course to both compete against and cooperate with entrenched vendors such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.

Founded in 1987, Radisys has been focused on selling solutions into the fixed and mobile telco industry for a large part of its history – initially supplying compute and switching hardware for everything from basestations to gateways, then adding software elements such as media processing and access protocols, and also bringing in managed services. Until recently, the firm sold only to telecom suppliers and original equipment manufacturers. However, when current CEO Brian Bronson took on his role five years ago, Radisys began selling direct to large carriers as well; early beachhead wins included Verizon and LTE cellco Reliance Jio in India.

“We’re a disruptor [that] doesn’t have legacy baggage… if [carriers] want to replace a traditional hardware vendor, if they want to decompose a particular network element, if they want to embrace open source principles such as central office re-architected as a datacentre, or open source radio access network, we have all those capabilities,” Bronson told CommsDay, adding that trends such as open source and virtualised networking had opened fresh opportunities for newer, disruptive players. And while Radisys’ shift into direct carrier sales has meant a certain amount of ‘co-opetition’ with its vendor clients, he said there was sufficient business available with large telcos to make it work – particularly with those same carriers now moving away from the older paradigm of total vendor lock-in, even while still maintaining strong relationships with established suppliers.

“The best example I can provide is Nokia, which was by far and away our largest customer for over a decade; we shipped them, at one point, over $150 million of hardware-centric products that went into gateways, switches, basestation controllers. We then [told] them ‘we’re getting out of that business… but we will continue to supply our media processing software’… and a little later on, we started to compete with them with our telecom open compute rack,” he said. “What you’re finding in the ecosystem is this ‘coopetition’; one minute you’ll be a foe, one minute you’ll be a supplier, one minute you’ll be a partner… Nokia’s still a key channel partner for us [as is] ZTE in China… but in general, because of the way the economic model is changing, we’re largely going direct with operators.”

COMING TO AUSTRALIA: Now, Radisys is aiming to expand into Australia as part of a broader focus on specific geographies.

“We are in active dialogue with large carriers in Australia and the region,” said Bronson, adding that New Zealand and the Pacific Islands would be a natural area for expansion down the track.

Bronson has already brought in Angus Stuart-Adams (right) as country director for ANZ and the Pacific Islands, under Ruchir Srivastava as APAC VP, and Radisys is also working with Australian networking and IT distribution company Newgen. “Our next step will be hiring a systems engineer [to] go along with Angus, but really leaning on Newgen, that’s a local presence here,” he said. “Further [along], we’ll be looking to put onsite engineers in these operators as well – [although] not all of them would be Australian residents, but would be onsite, living here and helping disrupt.”

The CEO added that locally dominant vendors like Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei “would be the competitors/partners that we’d be cooperating with! It’s not always about competition; it’s about how we rewire the network for 5G, and to embrace open-source principles… the reality is we’ll be working with them to help the operators disrupt, with the concept being not just to displace them but to get the operators in a better position to get what they want.”

“Around the globe, you’ve got these incumbent vendors and telcos do want to remove some vendor lock-in; at the same time, they’re trusted partners and there’s a lot of risk in upsetting the network if you do too much. Radisys [presents] a perfect, low-profile way to have your cake and eat it too.”

Radisys is listed on the US NASDAQ and posted consolidated revenue of US$212 million in its most recent full-year results.

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