April/May 2012 • Published by Decisive • A CommsDay publication
The new biggest telco on the block Behind 2012’s biggest buzz tech: the hetnet Australia’s NewSat takes place at global table Bring Your Own Device The IPv4 squeeze
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5 ZTE bulks up IRP clout, Reneys’ Internet incident portal 6 BT’s vertical cloud strategy
EDITOR: Tony Chan at Tony@commsdaymail.com GROUP EDITOR: Petroc Wilton FOUNDER: Grahame Lynch
Cover Story 8 The biggest new telco in the world Features 15 Hetnets: an idea whose time has come? 20 NewSat flying high 23 BYOD: a juggling act 27 The IPv4 challenge
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FIRST ZTE bulks up IPR clout When the topic of intellectual property rights in the telecoms industry – or, in fact, any industry – comes up, Chinese companies or brands are rarely included in the conversation. And when their names do come up, it is often at the wrong end of the discussion – coupled with insinuations, if not outright accusations, of infringement or abuse. While those accusations have been gradually ebbing away over the past decade, with Huawei and ZTE equipment now found in the majority of telecoms networks – and their ability to conduct state-of -the-art R&D now accepted globally – their portfolios of IPRs are even today seldom mentioned as their strong suit. But with IPRs now becoming a hotly contested area in the global telecoms space, underscored by recent high profile deals involving Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Nokia, and others, it is no wonder that both Chinese vendors are paying increased attention to their position in IPRs. “IPR is a very important part of ZTE’s business strategy. The telecommunications industry relies highly on technology, so any innovation is very important for companies in this field,” said Wang Haibo, ZTE’s director of Intellectual Property and vice director of Law Department. “In the telecoms industry, when new players challenge old players, IPR is more and more used as a leverage for competitiveness,
so it is obvious that IPRs will play an important part in ZTE’s success globally going forward.” PORTFOLIO: A sure sign that ZTE is taking IPRs seriously is evidenced in the firm’s most recent results announcement, which dedicated a whole section to its patent portfolio. According to the latest ZTE results, the company led the industry last year in PCT (Property Cooperation Treaty) filings, per data from the World Intellectual Property Organisation – submitting a total of 2,826 patent applications. That brings ZTE’s patent portfolio to some 40,000 including applications, about 10,000 of which are international patents, Wang said. Huawei is no slouch either, claiming a portfolio of over 30,000 patents with over 17,000 granted, of which some 3,000 are applicable outside China. Huawei claims to hold the leading position in essential LTE patent applications. To put those figures into perspective, Google’s US$12.5 billion purchase of Motorola’s handset business has largely attributed to the search giant’s desire to acquire about 17,000 approved – and a further 7,500 filed – patents. Earlier, a consortium including Apple, Microsoft, and RIM paid US$4.5 billion for 6,000 Nortel patents. Obviously, the significance of the patents will differ, with the Motorola and Nortel portfolios no doubt consisting of many essential components to today’s mobile technologies. On the other hand, it is abundantly clear that both ZTE and Huawei are gearing up for any IPR challenges going forward.
“It can be anticipated that ZTE will face more and more IPR challenges from the other players,” Wang said. “ZTE is fully aware of this situation, and we are well prepared for it. It is our hope to build an amicable competitive environment through our IPR in the international market.” FRAMEWORK: At the same time, ZTE’s attitude towards IPRs goes beyond just wanting a shield to offset potential claims by competitors. According to Wang, ZTE is now building a business around its patents, with a dedicated unit not only responsible for managing the portfolio, but also for monetising it. “Our strategy is to establish a framework for our global patent portfolio,” he said. “And then we will coordinate our efforts and try to find ways to commercialise the portfolio.” So far, ZTE has secured “dozens” of cross licensing agreements involving both domestic and international companies, Wang said – though he declined to disclose actual numbers. “ZTE’s IPR are well recognised by our peers, and over the past few years, there have been more and more deals for our IPR. Of course, we will have an open licensing model for our industry partners. However, if we encountered any intentional infringement of our IPR, we will fight back fiercely.”
Renesys’ Internet incident portal Internet monitoring and intelligence firm Renesys has launched a new web-based portal that shows specific inci-
dents on the internet as they happen. The Internet Events Bulletin now shows any network impact in real time using Renesys’ global network of sensors, which continuously monitors, collects, analyses, and correlates internet routing data. “While we generally take internet connectivity for granted, it is currently impaired right now in many places around the world,” the firm said. “The Renesys Internet Events Bulletin can be used to track interesting connectivity failures and to understand the current state of the Internet.” “Every day there are events and outages around the world that impact the availability, reliability, and stability of the internet that largely go unreported,” added sales director Bob Fletcher. “Despite continuing advances in Web, network, and application monitoring tools, the internet has been a huge blindspot. Enterprises, governments, and even network service providers, had no way to monitor for business critical incidents beyond their own networks.” The service is currently being offered on a complimentary basis, and details ‘national’ level events. Items are posted on the bulletin board-style site on an as-ithappens basis. The information is offered from the service is succinct, and restricted to the number of networks impacted or restored, the carriers that are involved on the route, and the time of outage.
BT unveils vertical cloud strategy BT is looking to expand its stated focus on key industries to the next level by introducing cloud-based platforms that
create common solutions sets for four vertical segments: global banking and financials, government and health, consumer packaged goods, and global commerce. “It’s not something where we’ve just put these sales people in these units and called them verticals. We are actually going to go very deep to enable us to not only to get the knowledge for these customers, and what their challenges are, but also to build and invest into these vertical markets and create propositions that are going to help our customers meet their challenges,” BT Global Services global commerce president Bas Burger told CommsDay. “In doing so, in the last 12 months, we
“We are helping our customers to collaborate with the outside world by means of using a cloud service” spent a lot of time really developing the expertise of our customers. It took us a lot of time and effort, and research and people, to truly get behind the issues that our customers have and then translate them into challenges that we can potentially help them with.” On one level, BT has developed solutions aimed at specific industry challenges, said Burger, whose Global Commerce unit encompasses manufacturing, logistics, and pharmaceuticals. “One of the challenges in the pharmaceutical sector is that they need to comply to very strict regulation across the global – this is actually something that is increasing in size because different countries are increasing the regulation and compliance requirements for drug companies in general,”
he said. “For a telco provider, this means that you have to provide networks and services in such a way that is compliant to regulations. It’s a lot of paper work, a lot of process issues, a lot of keeping to very strict rules and processes.” To help address these challenges, BT has set up a global ‘Compliancy Centre of Excellence’ for the sector, staffed by experts – some of whom have joined BT from global pharmaceutical firms that have outsourced their networks to the company – who now develop networking solutions for the entire sector to meet those compliance requirements. INDUSTRY CLOUD: But BT is not stopping there. According to Burger, in addition to industry specific solutions, BT has also identified the need for collaborative tools within each industry. Sticking with the pharmaceutical industry, Burger explained that “a big challenge for pharmaceutical companies today is the fact that some of their patents are running out… so they need to develop new pipelines for new types of drugs. This requires them to do research and development in a more efficient way than they did in the past, and technology can help them with it.” “One of the things that we are doing is building an environment in which we are helping our customers to collaborate with the outside world better, by means of using a cloud service… to leverage alternative providers as well as their own software providers in the cloud, to do critical trials, development and workflow kind of stuff, which will allow them to do R&D much quicker, engage critical resources around the globe more efficiently.”
The new biggest telco in the world Tata Communications is, by no means, an everyday name in the immensity that is the global telecoms landscape. Outside of Asia, unless you are involved in several highly specialised segments of the telecoms market such as global capacity, IP transit, or wholesale voice, there’s good chance you have already overlooked the Indian player. Yet, over the course of the last decade, Tata Communications has quietly built scale from a foundation of a couple of key acquisitions. As the operator of 25% of the world’s lit subsea cable capacity, and carrying an industry-leading 45 billion wholesale voice minutes this year, Tata Communications is now asserting itself not only as an emerging market player but as a serious global challenger to the telecoms old guard. Tony Chan looks at where the operator came from, and where CEO Vinod Kumar plans to take the firm.
CENE: the Armani Hotel in Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa. “I’m not wearing an Armani suit,” says Vinod Kumar casually as he opened the proceedings at the Tata Communications Global Media and Analyst Summit, held last month. “It’s something else.” No doubt the quip, highlighting the irony of not wearing the designer label in an establishment where almost everything else held the Armani brand, held no deeper meaning; something to soften the mood and kick off the day’s packed schedule. But as Kumar, the managing director and CEO of Tata Communications, launched into his presentation on the operator’s strategy for the coming year, it was hard not to see similarities between the particular juxtaposition of his attire with the setting, and the market position of the company he leads. The fact is that Tata Communications is not like other tele-
coms operators. While there is little doubt that Tata Communications is a global operator, it is an entirely different animal than the likes of AT&T and BT, or even Telstra and PCCW. But that is not to say it is at a disadvantage to its peers. In fact, it is precisely what makes it different that defines its value proposition in the market place, and perhaps will chart its future going forward. What makes Tata Communications stand out is the fact that its home market – a factor that will define a large portion of the operator’s international strategy – is India. Being based in an emerging market, and not yet a top tier economy like the US, or Europe, or Japan, can be construed as a kind of shortcoming. For starters, Tata can’t rely on a constant stream of local multinationals seeking to go overseas to fund its international expansion, or at least not until recently. On the other hand, it has found its raison d’être in emerging markets. Driven by faltering economies in the west, Tata has decided to focus on serving the emerging market communications needs of global companies seeking what appears to be the only growth around. And the opportunities come not only from established western companies seeking entry into developed markets but, increasingly, emerging market companies seeking to expand beyond their own borders. “What is really relevant for us is the growth of emerging market companies. The discussion up until now has really been on the growth in emerging markets from global companies,” Kumar said. “However, as we’ve seen over the last two years in India, China, Brazil, there are emerging market companies who are truly going global. Already, we have over 100 companies in the Fortune 500 who come from emerging markets. This number, as recently as 1995, was 20. We expect this trend will continue, led by China, and followed by the other
markets. This aspect is particularly important and central to our strategy.” Tata doesn’t have to look far for validation of its strategy. In fact, it only has to gaze over to its parent, the Tata Group, whose activities span across IT services, natural resources, and automotive. As Tata Group companies expand outside India, they serve as natural customers for Tata Communications.
and managed services – are spread out across four continents, in Hong Kong, New Jersey, London, and Montreal. Perhaps more importantly, Tata’s size affords it the luxury of being that much more nimble in reacting to market trends, or developing new products. At the same time, any shortcomings it might have in terms of revenue or employees are quickly overshadowed by its huge assets base.
START UP Compared to its global peers Tata is by no means an established player, being only a little over a decade old. While it can trace its roots back to India’s incumbent international carrier VSNL, Tata Communications only came into being in the early 2000s, when the Tata Group decided to make several acquisitions and consolidate them into a global carrier.
FOUNDATIONS Two strategic acquisitions Tata made back in the early 2000s, which gave the company a chunk of global subsea infrastructure from Tyco Global Networks and one of the biggest voice and signalling transport businesses at the time from Teleglobe, now provide two solid foundation stones to build its business. On one end of the spectrum, it operates one of the latest fibre optic subsea cable systems, which gives it a lower cost base to develop services and address the wholesale service provider market. On the other, it now owns the biggest share of one of the oldest service segments in telecoms – voice. Interestingly, both deals came about at a time when global carriers were abandoning investment in those areas. As the world marvelled at the miracle of IP, no one was interested in owning the fibre, especially following the dotcom bust. Fewer still saw any future in voice, which was supposed to turn all-IP and become free. The result is an operator that now finds itself in the enviable position of owning one of the largest, if not the largest, pieces of subsea infrastructure in the marketplace, as well as a voice business that generates a good chunk of change to cover its ongoing operating expenditure. In actual numbers, Tata now owns 63,000 kilometres of subsea cable and operates some 25% of the entire world’s lit subsea capacity. When combined with as-
“Between leasing infrastructure, and building it on your own – yes, there is a capital investment required [for building] but the efficiency can be almost one to fifty” As such, Tata is more like a start up than a legacy telco – more Zara than Armani – particularly when compared to someone like AT&T. Its revenue of US$2.56 billion in 2011 comes nowhere near the US$124 billion that AT&T took the year earlier, and its 7,000 or so employees constitute less than 3% of AT&T’s workforce of 250,000. Yet Tata Communications is no less a global company. The half a dozen or so senior executives in attendance at the Dubai event hailed from all corners of the globe. While Kumar is based in Singapore, his senior staff members responsible for entire business functions – including the heads of global carriers business, network services, enterprise sales, product engineering, voice
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sets in consortium cables, Tata’s network infrastructure now stretches 360,000km, 5,000km longer than the distance from the Earth to the Moon. In terms of voice, Tata is now the undisputed leader in wholesale voice transport, projecting over 45 billion minutes this year. In this way, Tata Communications is a lot like Kumar’s suit on the day: no less tailored than an Armani ensemble, but cut from a different material. Tata – as an emerging market-based global subsea network owner and major voice wholesaler – defies most conventional definitions of a global carrier, but still has managed to carve out a market position that few can match. INFRASTRUCTURE OWNERSHIP The selection of Dubai for the company’s third global media and analyst conference was by no means an arbitrary choice. The city was host to the official commercial launch of Tata’s latest infrastructure venture, the TGN-Gulf cable: a project that connects the Persian Gulf with high capacity links to its global infrastructure. TGN-Gulf, like similar projects that Tata has embarked upon in Asia and between Asia and Europe, represents the answer to what Kumar calls an existential question for his business – build or lease? “For the last five years, we have invested about US$4 billion in building largely data centres, access networks, and submarine cable networks, and expanding our global presence... we invest in infrastructure for fundamental reasons, because we believe in it and will do so going forward as well,” he said. “What are the economics of the build? We find that when we build infrastructure, the economics are compelling. Between leasing infrastructure, and building it on your own – yes, there is a capital investment required [for building] but the efficiency can be almost one to fifty. The other thing is that
Tata’s Genius Wong
when you build a cable system or build a data centre, the infrastructure element remains with you for 15-20 years – in some cases, even longer than that. So the inside of a data centre might change, but the data centre itself
“The cost of fibre now enables content providers to do much more with their property, things that they won’t think of before because they just can afford it over satellite” largely remains the same. Power efficiency and so on improves, but these investments will yield over a long period of time.” That philosophy led to the landmark announcement of a wholly owned Tata fibre that circumnavigates the entire world. Leveraging its TGN cables across the Pacific, Atlantic, intraAsia, India to Singapore, and India to France, as well as terrestrial systems in North America and Europe, Tata can now offer connectivity going both east and west anywhere along that path. The obvious benefit of a round-the-world fibre ring is the added route diversity that it brings to the table, since it effectively allows network designers to avoid potential bottlenecks such as the earthquake hot zones in
the Luzon Strait off the coast of Taiwan, or choke points near the Suez Canal in the Middle East. On the other hand, the added latency of going the other way around the world would make it a last resort for most traffic and applications, rather than a restoration path of choice. Still, while its practical application might not be immediately apparent, its symbolism should be. End-to-end ownership not only allows for greater quality assurance and better customer experience, but also improves the operational efficiency of the network, allowing Tata to scale up and down capacity dynamically, Kumar pointed out. And Tata global carrier solutions president Byron Clatterbuck added that ownership also improves the cost structure of the entire business. “There’s a lot you can do when you own the network. You don’t have to go to a consortium to make changes to the network, so you can add or take out capacity a lot more efficiently and quickly,” he said. “Also, the size and scale of our network means that we get tremendous economy of scale. We can upgrade parts of it to technologies like 40G or 100G, and then redeploy some of the old cards to different parts of the network that don’t need the higher capacities. There’s a lot of flexibility that you get when you actually own the network that
you wouldn’t get if you were leasing capacity.” SERVICES DEVELOPMENT If the global fibre ring is symbolic of Tata’s attitude towards infrastructure, then the way it views service development is best represented by another milestone announcement – a technology partnership with the organisation behind Formula 1. Under the scope of the deal, Tata became the official connectivity provider for all the Formula 1 races, and the official web hosting and content delivery network provider for Formula1.com. The deal goes far beyond simply supplying a network to another enterprise user. What the deal means is actually the supply of 20 networks with the capacity to support broadband services, to 20 different locations around the world, for essentially a weekend at a time. That means putting up a network at each race site for a weekend and then taking that capacity down afterwards, said Tata SVP for global network services Genius Wong. And all that is possible only because Tata owns the underlying network and can control the cost. “For us, because we run the submarine cable system, we have the flexibility to do that. You just can’t do it if you are leasing that capacity from someone else,” said Wong. The flexibility that ownership affords it, as well as the willingness to tackle complex service challenges, now permeates throughout Tata’s service portfolio. Leveraging the underlying infrastructure, Tata has embarked on a path to develop different network platforms that target specific industries. One platform, dubbed the Video Connect network, now targets media transport, broadcast, and distribution on a per event, per hour, per usage basis. “This network already connects to 200 media hotspots around the world, including 60 cities and five major teleports. Any broadcaster can now go to
Tata’s Byron Cla erbuck
our booking centre and reserve capacity on this network,” Wong said. The model turns the traditional telecoms model on its head. Instead of provisioning a network and setting up the connectivity only as customers de-
“A converged IP network that supports both public and private IP networks gives you the worst cost structure” mand it, Tata has turned up a live network in anticipation that customers will need it. So why should this kind of service appeal to potential customers? First, it allows events owners to distribute their content to a much wider sphere of consumers without having to rely on expensive satellite capacity. Secondly, the cost of fibre now allows content providers to dramatically enrich their content, like adding multiple camera views of the same scene, full high definition broadcast and, yes, 3D. “The cost of fibre now enables content providers to do much more with their property, things that they won’t think of before because they just can afford it over satellite,” Wong said. “This allows them to further monetise their content, as well as gives them access to our content distribution platform.”
And it doesn’t stop there. Wong and her team have already added specific applications to the platform, including media industry-specific capabilities such as real-time ad insertion, cloud-based editing and storage, and media search through the development of a meta-data database. DEDICATED NETWORKS That is just one network platform that Tata Communications is building on top of its submarine cable infrastructure. The operator has similar initiatives for a series of other networks. There is a low latency network featuring dedicated equipment and specific routes; there is also a next generation Ethernet platform using Provider Backbone Bridge, as well as a high capacity Ethernet over SDH network that offers 10GE connectivity over DWDM. “All these are dedicated networks that are designed to achieve specific results,” Wong said. The obvious example is the low latency network, which will target the financial industry. Then there is the Ethernet over SDH, which is geared for ultra high capacity requirements from the likes of data centres. It seems counterintuitive for a carrier to build and operate so many different network platforms, but Wong argues that dedicated networks actually offer better cost structures for carriers in
the long run. “Everybody talks about converged networks, but converged networks are completely different things when it comes to enterprises or carriers,” she said, pointing to the often mentioned concept of a single IP network support all types of traffic. “When we talked about an IP network, we are talking about hundreds of Gigabits, whereas an enterprise uses at maximum, what 10G? The two things are completely different,” Wong said. “A converged IP network that supports both public and private IP networks gives you the worst cost structure. That’s why we run a totally separate IP network from our enterprise VPN IP network.” VIDEO AND MOBILE Indeed, Tata now operates dedicated networks for a range of applications. Most notable is probably its business video network, which supports its Global Meeting Exchange. Like the Video Connect network, Global Meeting Exchange has connected up both private and public Telepresence rooms, including interconnection deals with at least two other global carriers for facilitating inter-carrier video sessions. While AT&T has more telepresence rooms as a whole because it serves many more rooms in the US, Tata Communications is probably the number two in terms of the number of telepresence points on its network, and is certainly one of the leaders in terms of global coverage with its public rooms in hotels, business centres, and third party in-country carrier partners like the Philippines’ PLDT. Tata doesn’t break out its performance for the telepresence business, but there is little doubt it is building critical mass in the
sector, and signing up support not only among its telco partners but also companies in other industries, such as hospitality and business travel. Now the operator wants to do the same in the mobile broadband space, with an initiative to evolve its GRX platform into IPXs to support the growth of the expected surge of mobile IP traffic. Similar to its strategy with other network platforms, Tata will now look to leverage its global platform to create value propositions for mobile operators, such as allowing them to manage and control the flow of IP traffic into their networks, better support data roaming, and interconnect with other IP networks to seek out applications and services that help monetise their customer base. ENTERPRISES Going forward, Tata aims to leverage its experience in developing complex solutions on a global basis, as well as its strength in emerging markets, to attract large enterprises to its network. “Over the last couple of years, we have enhanced this with the concept of the cloud, whether that be infrastructure, applications, or other forms of services. All of these are being cloudwashed, or cloud-based,” Kumar said. “Essentially, businesses are demanding services that are available anytime, anywhere, and on a pay as you go basis. Everybody wants to make their cost more variable and cloud is a very important technology shift. More importantly, it is a shift in commercial models for IP infrastructure and IP services. The same concept can now be extended to the network services that we offer as well. That’s the other central theme of our strategy that goes into the new world.”
So where does Kumar see Tata Communications a year from now? “Further strengthening of our positioning in the wholesale space, and the service provider segment, where our integrated strategy of multiple services and also now our mobile broadband enablement will get increased recognition – that’s definitely one thing that we will be focused on,” he said. “The second thing is, in the large enterprise space, outside India. I think the market will signal that, in the next 12 months, Tata has arrived.” Whether that strategy will pay off in the next year, or any time soon after that, remains to be seen. Obviously an investmentheavy strategy, and a dependence on emerging markets, have their risks. While the forecast today is bright for emerging market economies, any number of developments – political instability, natural disasters, war, terrorism – can impact the outlook. Yet Tata Communications has certainly done its homework. Through its impressive network asset base, its leadership in key aspects of the telecoms business, the operator has show that it can tackle complex technical challenges and is willing to adopt new business models, such as its payas-you-go video infrastructure. All the pieces seem to be falling into place for Tata. And once it asserts its place amongst its peers, its capabilities will be hard to match. So while the brand on the suit might be different, it will likely fit just as snugly. And if the suit fits, who’s going to find a reason not to wear it? That should be reason enough for established global players to be looking over their shoulder, if they are not doing so already.
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Hetnets: an idea whose time has come? Heterogeneous cellular networks, or hetnets, were a hot topic at this year’s Mobile World Congress; an idea whose time has arguably come, as mobile operators around the world grapple with the relentless growth of mobile data on their networks. Petroc Wilton reports
ooking around at many mobile carriers, the current wave of excitement around hetnets will ultimately translate more into an iterative refinement of existing strategies than a revolutionary change – and, given persistent capex pressures, into making sure they back the right access technologies to mesh with existing cellular networks. The fundamental idea of the hetnet in context of the mobile
network – integrating multiple radio access technologies and different types of base station into a single, seamless network construct – has been around for several years. It’s difficult to pin down precisely when the idea of cellular hetnets started to gain currency, but there’s certainly been a growing volume of scientific and academic papers published on the subject since late 2010. What’s drawing attention
to the concept, without question, is the mobile data onslaught. Cisco’s latest Visual Network Index, published in February this year, tracked a 2.3-fold increase in global mobile data traffic – the fourth year in a row that mobile data has more than doubled. And the firm forecast an 18-fold increase between 2011 and 2016, as factors like the runaway popularity of tablet devices, the enduring appeal of the smartphone and
the advent of LTE all play their part. The fundamental challenge facing operators is how to engineer their networks to cope. Nokia Siemens Networks’ radio systems performance fellow Harri Holma breaks down the solution into three elements. “We want to have ten times more efficiency, ten times more spectrum and ten times more base stations,” he says. Holma is targeting around 1GHz total spectrum for mobile broadband, which he believes will eventually be just about achievable using a mix of TDD and FDD -LTE; he also suggests that “[with] new technologies like coordinated multipoint transmission, interference cancellation… by 2020, the efficiency could be more than 10 times what we have today in HSPA networks.” But spectrum is fundamentally a finite, expensive and hotly contested resource; and even with LTE, spectral efficiency improvements will have a limit. That leaves more base stations. Håkan Eriksson, Ericsson Australia CEO and until recently the firm’s global CTO, puts it rather less optimistically: “There’s not ten times more spectrum, and there will not be a 5G coming around that is ten times more efficient in modulation. So the only way to go is really towards smaller cells.” While it’s clearly not practical to erect endless new macro cell sites, smaller cells can be located fairly inconspicuously around high-population areas assuming backhaul is available, usually without the planning permission processes needed for larger sites. Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio cube, for example, is about the size of a fist and was designed with exactly this in mind. Indeed, NSN’s Holma notes that operators are already adopting strategies to blend smaller cells into their networks. “One is the co-channel deployment of outdoor microcells, picocells, and that is happening in some of the dense areas; it is happening in
Europe, it’s happening also in Asia,” he says. “Another solution is indoor femtocells; that’s also co -channel deployment. Wireless LAN or Wi-Fi offloading is a solution also.” One company that’s been deploying microcells for a while now in the APAC region is Telstra; in fact, as executive director for wireless networks and access technologies Mike Wright explains, it’s been doing so in Australia for around a decade. “If you look at what we’ve been doing since the early nineties in the inner cities, in Sydney and Melbourne in particular… where traffic’s really dense, one of the ways of adding capacity to the network
“By 2020, the efficiency could be more than 10 times what we have today in HSPA networks.” is to build small cells close to the users,” he says. “In the street corners of most of our big cities, you’ll actually see antennas on the lighting poles. And they’re designed to absorb dense traffic.” The main difference with the hetnets being discussed today is the integration of the macro and micro cells, says Wright– a function of architecture and a smarter network control layer. “The only issue with [microcells] is that, if you have conventional cells – what we call macro cells – over the top, you get areas around the edge of the cell coverage where you get interference. So ultimately, while they can be big advantage for capacity, you start fighting the network itself as the interference levels rise,” he says. “What hetnets aim to do is make the small cells work in harmony with the bigger cells over the top to manage that interference… and as a result, you can get an enormous amount of capacity out of a fixed amount of spectrum. If they are treated as part of the network and their interference is managed, you get a net
significant improvement in capacity.” Beyond small cells, though, there’s some debate around which other access technologies can or should be built into a hetnet. Ruckus Wireless, with its line of SmartCell products, is aiming to help operators integrate Wi-Fi and cellular networks as well as providing wireless backhaul for combined base stations; CEO Selina Lo believes that WiFi has a key part to play in the hetnet landscape. “Our view is that Wi-Fi is definitely a part of that heterogeneous network, because when you’re talking about mobile data you’re not just talking about outdoors; you’re also talking about indoor coverage,” she says, also pointing out that users themselves are starting to actively seek out Wi-Fi access and coverage. “The fixed network, more and more, is becoming the backhaul for mobile; if you look at LTE, I don’t care how efficient the technology is going to be, there is limited spectrum,” she says. “But also, very soon, I think if operators don’t offer a Wi-Fi service as part of their overall bundle, they are not going to be as competitive.” Ericsson, for its part, recently purchased Wi-Fi company BelAir, and Håkan Eriksson certainly sees a role for Wi-Fi in the hetnet landscape. “Wi-Fi exists, it’s very pervasive, it’s everywhere, so it’s a smart thing to use it,” he says. “However, it’s difficult to build a business where you charge people money for Wi-Fi because you can never guarantee the service when you don’t own the spectrum... so you always have to have your own spectrum to rely on when you’re offering a service that you charge for. In that context, it’s a combination of Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Some people call it Wi-Fi offload; I think it’s now beginning to be called Wi-Fi complement.” “Especially when you build all these picocell basestations, you would have to invest in backhaul
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out to all these picos,” he adds. “Once you’ve invested in all the backhaul, and once you’ve invested in these picos, why not put the Wi-Fi CPE in as well so you can use the free spectrum?” Wright, meanwhile, suggests that Wi-Fi is a complement to the hetnet, rather than strictly a component element. “It depends on your view of the world as to whether you argue that Wi-Fi offload is [part of a] hetnet; it’s very difficult to integrate Wi-Fi into a macro network,” he says. “If you’ve got users in the vicinity of a closed environment where you could manage Wi-Fi interference, you might also take advantage of Wi-Fi spectrum. I wouldn’t say it was a direct hetnet technique, but it’s probably a complementary approach.” “We continue to look at Wi-Fi and certainly we recognise that Wi-Fi is used extensively, now, particularly in the home… we also see a role for Wi-Fi in dense places of high traffic. But one of the things about a place like Australia, though, is that Wi-Fi has a very high frequency and very low power. So it’s not a technology that I could roll across the Nullarbor Plains.” And what of femtocells? Holma and Lo both namecheck femto as potentially a part of a hetnet deployment, but Eriksson is unconvinced; he acknowledges that femto can boost poor inbuilding voice coverage, but doesn’t see much potential for it to help operators tackle the data deluge. “I think the world is beginning to wake up to the fact that femto is not a good solution,” he says. “Every home that can be a target for femto must have fixed broadband; and every home that has fixed broadband has Wi-Fi. Every device that generates all this data – smartphones and so
on – has Wi-Fi. So all the data is already going on Wi-Fi, because people go to Wi-Fi when they get home because they don’t want to consume all their [mobile] data. So femto will do nothing.” Wright also highlights some issues for femto. “There’re really two ways you can deploy a femtocells network. You can take frequency out of your network; that way it’ll be reasonably clean, and you don’t have to manage interference. Most of the drivers we’ve seen for femtocells around the world have been compensating for poor in-building coverage,” he says. “But if you take that frequency out of the network – and spectrum is expensive and
“Every home that can be a target for femto must have fixed broadband; and every home that has fixed broadband has Wi-Fi.” rare – the analysis we did suggested we’d need to see enormous penetration of femtocells before you could start to break even with taking that spectrum out of the network.” “The alternative – and I think this is the approach that a lot of implementations have used – is to run on the same frequency as your network. But because it’s not part of the network and not integrated, around the edge of the coverage of the femtocells you get areas of interference. So you’ve got to manage that… our view is that a significant penetration of them would ultimately, in effect, [undermine] any benefit you got by turning up interference on the network.” Still, in the longer term, Wright does see a possible future for femto. “As you go to a more sophisticated, standards-based approach where you can make small cells part of the network, you
then have the ability to manage that interference, and you can get a net benefit,” he says. “And that’s where we would see it evolving. [The standards] are still largely emerging… you’ve got to go through the process of locking the standards down, getting the vendors to develop the software, getting the silicon in the chips and the devices… this is a process that will definitely get started, in my view, relatively soon, but will probably mature over a couple of years.” Ultimately, though – regardless of how the standards play out, and of what technologies ultimately end up in hetnets around the world – Wright warns that hetnets are not a single solution to the mobile data boom. “As with any new technology, the industry does have a tendency to rush to that side of the ship and think that’s the only answer. What we would point out is that it’s only one of many answers,” he says. “Our view of the world is yes, we already use microcells and we’ll definitely have a strategy in the future as hetnets mature, it’ll be an evolution of our current strategy – but we’re also quite determined to make sure we get the absolute most out of the towers we operate, as well… [with] the latest technology, re-use of spectrum and use of LTE,” “Because while hetnets will give you more capacity, you need to look at the other side of the coin; as well as putting [the cell] out there you need electricity to it, you need backhaul from it, and you need to look at the net cost of your network. People talk about hetnets with hundreds of thousands of cells, and that’s certainly possible. But you need to look at the business model, as to how do you manage that. And then, when they’re 5-8 years old and need to be upgraded, you’ve got to look at the lifecycle costs.”
Every connection is a new opportunityâ„˘
NewSat flying high NewSat's bold gamble to become a major player in the satellite sector looks like taking off. By Geoff Long
aining entry to the exclusive club that is the satellite operator market is not for the meek. The price to play is in the billions and the risk of failure is equally high. The fact that a relatively small Australian company is on the cusp of joining the club speaks volumes for the tenacity of those behind the venture. The story is even more remarkable given the firm's origins. Before the dot-com crash, NewSat was known as Multiemedia and offered various internet and e-commerce services. It was founded by current CEO Adrian Ballintine and Paul Allen, who notably started Microsoft with Bill Gates. Multiemedia didn't enjoy any Microsoft-like success, however. On the contrary, it racked up a string of losses and ended up a regular in the media thanks to a number of court cases rather than on the strength of its business success. Australian TV personality Steve Vizard once sat on the company's board, but had a very public falling out with the company after dumping over $1 million worth of shares just weeks after being appointed to a lucrative director's position. Another director from that time, Clinton Starr, was successfully prosecuted by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission for not disclosing his trading in the company's shares. Throughout the turmoil, how-
ever, one part of the company's business continued to flourish: the provision of satellite services. While Multiemedia's NewSat division was modest in scale to begin with, it became a key focus for the company in the second half of 2005 when Multiemedia did a deal to acquire the Australian arm of New Skies Satellites for A$13 million. That became NewSat Networks and provided the core of the company – including the two teleport facilities in Perth and Adelaide – that exists today. It changed its name to NewSat on September 1, 2006. While the decision to focus solely on satellite communications was a turning point for the company, the brave move to launch its own satellites into space will be the defining achievement for NewSat – should it come to pass. And so far, all the signs suggest it will. But again, the backstory is nothing if not interesting. HELP FROM CYPRUS One of the key questions that industry watchers had asked of the company is where it would get the orbital slots needed to launch a satellite. That it was able to do a deal with an intermediary company to get slots allocated to the Government of Cyprus seemed to surprise a number of people, given that those orbital slots are a fairly rare commodity. Or as Ballintine likes to say, it now has eight “dress circle” slots that will
WHO: ASX-listed NewSat Limited WHAT: Jabiru-1, a proposed all Ka-band satellite being built by Lockheed Mar!n in the US. The 5,900-kilogram Jabiru-1 is expected to have a capacity of 7.6GHz distributed among 50 transponders feeding 24 spot beams. WHERE: Jabiru-1 will be launched by Arianespace from its facility in French Guiana. WHEN: Launch date has been scheduled for Q4 of 2014.
allow it to launch multiple satellites in future. And the intermediary, Cyprus-based AP Kypros Satellite, is now a shareholder in the company. In an interview with CommsDay, Ballintine claimed one of the reasons his company got the slots was because it was willing to use rather than horde them, providing a revenue stream to Cyprus in the process. “The other space companies in the world were shocked when we picked those slots up because they wanted them, I mean everyone wanted them. They were a jewel for everyone to get and we managed to get them,” he noted. “And I think one of the reasons we managed to get them is because the Republic of Cyprus actually believed that we would utilise them and go and deploy satellites in them faster than oth-
er people, and because they are receiving a trailing revenue on satellites that we launch.” While the Cyprus government has been a notably ally for the company, NewSat's relationship with the Australian government has been less fruitful. In particular Ballintine has been outspoken about the lack of discussion regarding a potential role in the satellite portion of the government's national broadband network. NBN Co, the company charged with rolling out the network, has decided to launch its own satellites – at a cost of around $2 billion. It argued that none of the satellites currently available or in planning could have met its needs, something that Ballintine is at pains to refute. “Our view has been very simple: could we have easily bunked the Australian community on the back of one of our satellites – of course, it would have been a piece of cake. And would it have cost a fraction of that cost? Of course it would have cost a fraction of that cost,” Ballintine claimed. “We have perfect orbital slots for this country and we've great space knowledge, great teleports. It's simply disappointing that we weren't consulted, because we've got something to say.” Another government sector player that has had no qualms working with NewSat is the US military, which uses its services in the Middle East. NewSat's Adelaide teleport is one of only a few US Military Accredited Global Access Points, which means it is able to meet the stringent security criteria required for US military operations. And according to Ballintine, it is these relationships it hopes to foster to bring new government and military contracts to its Jabiru-1 satellite when it is launched. “It's like anything, if you do things well then you'll get a bit more. We've built a great reputation and these teleports… the US military rate them in the top five facilities in the world. And one
day when we pitch for these Australian military contracts they'll be bound to consider us as you would expect. Though I hope the man from NBN doesn't end up running the Australian military, because he won't answer my calls,” Ballintine said. In terms of actual business for Jabiru-1, NewSat has already raised close to US$600 million in pre-launch contracts, which is seen as the minimum necessary to secure financing for the project. Its most recent win was with Malaysia's MEASAT, which has signed a 15-year US$180 million contract for capacity on Jabiru-1.
“We've built a great reputation and these teleports… the US military rate them in the top five Sfacilities in the world.” NEXT MILESTONE With the pre-launch contracts in place, Ballintine is confident that NewSat will be able to raise the debt financing it needs from either or both of the US Export Import bank or the French government equivalent COFUS. The estimated funding needed to launch Jabiru-1 is around US$415 million. Already contracts have been signed with Lockheed Martin to build the Kaband satellite and with Arianespace for the launch in late 2014 – both key levers in obtaining the necessary finance, according to Ballintine, who is hopeful of announcing the deal in April or May. “You don't want to be pre-emptive but, simply, we're creating – for example by choosing Lockheed Martin – something like 750 jobs at the Lockheed Martin factory. And Arianespace, there'll be another 600-700 jobs created there… the export authorities are there to protect and grow jobs and they've done a fantastic job of doing that in their respective countries. So we have correct rights for the orbital slots, we
have enough customers to service the principal of the debt. I'm not going to say it's rubber stamping, but if you meet the criteria you'll get the approvals. And we're very confident of getting the approvals shortly,” he said. And in the event that the export banks don't provide financing, Ballintine is confident that a ‘plan B’ will fund the venture. “Frankly, there's plenty of money in the world for space projects, there's plenty of people used to funding it. Not everyone uses COFUS and EXIM, we use [them] because it's very good interest rate money. But I was with some Asian friends recently who are keen investors in this company and they would be delighted to step up to the plate if we needed to do that,” he explained. THE FUTURE Time will tell if NewSat gets its Jabiru satellite off the ground, but assuming it does we can expect to hear quite a bit more from this small Aussie space startup. According to Ballintine, the company plans to make full use of its orbital slots, and he expects that Jabiru-1 will create the necessary momentum. “The aim of this company is to aggressively fill these other slots and we have made it quite clear that Jabiru 3, 4, and 5 are well advanced in the planning stages. Once we announce the finalisation in April or May of the funding we'll move straight into Jabiru 3 and Jabiru 4. So I would be very surprised if 3, 4 and 5 weren't formally announced this year with plans associated with exactly where the beams are pointing and who the customers are,” said Ballintine. “You can't stop this company now: we've got the slots, we're well-respected, we're building customers all the time, we've got a great pipeline, we're highly respected in the space world and we're filling a need that is a very obvious need.” Rocket science never sounded so simple!
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BYOD: A juggling act There are plenty of pros and cons to the Bring Your Own Device trend in enterprises but as David Edwards reports the phenomenon is here to stay
ndustry CIOs see it as the key to unleashing productivity, but it keeps the finance team up all night fretting over costs. Then there’s corporate network security to consider, along with the legal implications of losing control of company data. And that’s bring-your-own-device in a nutshell: an emerging industry trend peppered with pros and cons. As capable of unleashing vital business benefits as it is likely to put your entire corporate network at risk of a security breach – depending on who you listen to. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that a BYOD policy can do more than simply offer capex savings to budget-conscious organisations. For example, a new VMware study has found that BYOD has the potential to create a more highly motivated workforce – and in turn unleash productivity. VMware’s ‘New Way of the World’ study surveyed more than 2,000 employees from multinational companies across 10 Asia-Pacific countries. It found that 38% of respondents thought their day-to-day efficiency was negatively impacted by “strict corporate IT policies” and that they were consequently less productive at solving work and business problems.
In addition, 71% of APJ respondents said they were spending more time working outside of the office than before, and felt they’d achieve more at work if allowed to use their own devices and apps. However, the country breakdown of the study makes for interesting reading. Not unexpectedly, South Korean respondents recorded the highest incidence of BYOD (96%), with Thailand (90%) and Hong Kong (89%) close behind. Australia, in contrast, languished at ninth on the list – with 56% of respondents currently using their own device at work. But while other countries said that BYOD, once implemented, was unleashing improved work efficiency, only 40% of Australian respondents felt the same way – the lowest result of the 10 countries polled. This last figure could be because Australian organisations are not providing enough technical support for BYOD employees, with some 79% of Australian respondents maintaining this was the case. So are organisations truly ready – or even willing – to embrace this model?
lcatel-Lucent ANZ enterprise MD Mark Buckley says that many of the cus-
tomers he deals with still have their heads in the sand on BYOD. “They don’t want to accept any of this new stuff and they use security and risk of intellectual property as their main reason why. You look at that and it’s restricting the ability of their company to collaborate and harness the people; however, they’ve taken a stand and they’ll probably continue for a number of years,” he says. “Then there’s others who are starting to look at what they could do; they’re looking at policies they have to put in place… they’re good to work with because they’re doing it where it makes sense versus the guys that have gone ‘yee-ha, let’s go’ – they might stumble on the consequences later and it may have a real financial impact to them.” ShoreTel is one company looking to cash in on this emerging BYOD trend. Regional director for Australasia Jamie Romanin says that while the firm’s UC IP telephony solution is currently driving 75% of core revenues today, ShoreTel is increasingly looking to mobility following its 2010 acquisition of Agito Networks. “Mobility is the most emerging solution that we have. Literally every single CIO at any enterprise organisation I talk
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to, they want to talk about mobility; they’re defining a strategy around BYOD and how to leverage mobile applications within their own business,” he says. “Surprisingly, a lot of those CIOs have timeframes of 12-24 months that they want to have something implemented and running within their business. We’ve got leading edge technology as far as our mobile applications are concerned, and we’re getting some really good traction.” BYOD certainly has the potential to have an impact on corporate network bandwidth, with the new iPad just one of many data-intensive consumer devices now flowing into the workplace. And employers appear, at least, to be aware of this. A new Brocade survey of 120 IT decision makers found that that 23% were extremely concerned, 69% somewhat concerned and 28% not concerned about the impact of mobile devices on corporate network bandwidth. Brocade ANZ regional manager Graham Schultz says that while many businesses are aware of what a BYOD policy can do to their network, that doesn’t mean they’re prepared for it.
While progress has definitely been made, generally most organisations are still struggling to keep pace and deal with this proliferation of devices and the additional demands it places on the network infrastructure,” he says. “[But] customers accept that the trend towards user control is inevitable, and they are working hard to ensure that company assets are protected, while providing the necessary flexibility and demands of the user.” Buckley says that many employers are simply trying to sate
what is an enormous consumerisation demand. “And a lot of that’s coming from the senior people who come in and say ‘make my iPad work’. It’s making IT teams actually do something – which is great, because consumerisation provides a lot of innovation – but they’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t blow out costs or put at risk the security of their systems.” Security is certainly a key concern in context of the BYOD trend. A global study on mobility risks sponsored by Websense and conducted by the Ponemon institute polled more than more than
“The trend towards user control is inevitable, and they are working hard to ensure that company assets are protected, while providing the necessary flexibility and demands of the user.” 4,600 IT and IT security practitioners in twelve countries; 51% of respondent organisations said they’d experienced data loss resulting from employee use of unsecured mobile devices. In Australia alone, where smartphones enjoy a particular high penetration, 79% of the 300 respondents said their organisations allowed the use of personal devices to connect to corporate email, 72% permitted access to business apps and 66% permitted access to personal webmail. But 61% said that their organization had experienced an increase in malware infections as a result of personally owned mobile devices used in the workplace – and 56% said that more confidential data has been lost as a result of these devices.
“85% of organisations recognise that there is an increased level of risk, but only a third actually said they’d got an appropriate security policy in place… the adoption of the technology is [being lagged by] implementation of the appropriate policy,” commented Websense regional sales director Gerry Tucker. “You have to control the device, you have to have things like passport management and the ability to wipe it, etc,” But fundamentally, from a business perspective, it’s about controlling the data – where it goes, how it goes there.” Schultz, meanwhile, points to Network Access Control solutions, which he says can help manage this. “In addition there are many security solutions – e.g. McAfee – to provide deeper levels of control over what the iPad user can access based on certain profiles that can be established,” he adds. But while the network challenges can be overcome, AlcatelLucent ANZ MD Mark Buckley says that many of the customers he deals with are ultimately just not ready for BYOD. “We still see customers who are banning any device not given out by themselves and a lot that have been resisting; and those who have just gone ‘it’s inevitable, so I’m doing it’,” he explains. “There’s the technology part – but also the costs of what that means to having to update or upgrade infrastructure or look at what the carrier costs will be and then providing the benefit for mobility.” It appears that BYOD is in its very essence a juggling act. But businesses can look forward to enjoying a host of productivity benefits – as long as they understand the likely technological and financial outcomes.
The IPv4 challenge The world is rapidly running out of IPv4 addresses and the industry is struggling to find a business case for the transition to IPv6. There are no easy solutions, and intermediate proposals to extend the life of IPv4 are proving highly problematic. Tony Chan explores the technical and commercial challenges of IPv4 exhaustion and IPv6 migration.
ifficult as it is to imagine that the internet has limits, that is exactly the implication of the approaching exhaustion of IPv4 addresses. Starting with the Asia Pacific, the world is projected to run out of IPv4 address spaces as early as 2015. As of a year ago the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, the body responsible for the allocation of IP addresses, announced that it was down to its last /8, or around 16.7 million addresses. Any future application for new addresses will be treated under what APNIC calls the “Final Stage,” consisting of the final /8 policy. What addresses remain will now be meted out in small blocks to the internet community solely for the purpose of migrating to IPv6. This doesn’t mean the internet will stop working, said APNIC chief scientist Geoff Huston, but it does limit any future growth if a transition to IPv6 doesn’t happen. The internet community is now between a rock and a hard place, because it needs to go to IPv6 but can’t justify the cost. “There’s no doubt that a lot of service providers who deal in the mass market have looked at the deployment of v6, and by and
large, with a few exceptions, have come to the conclusion that – at least up to the present point in time – it represented cost without justifying benefits, so they haven’t done anything. Most providers… with a few notable exceptions, in the mass market have done very little about v6,” Huston said. “Now commercially, it might be a fine thing and a fine judgement because their margins are razor slim and quite frankly expenditure, if it doesn’t generate revenue, is a hard thing to justify. The industry itself is kind of wrapped up around the axle of trying to figure out the economics of this, and right now, no one
– with a few notable exceptions – has really found the case to lead the access market yet. So that’s why deployment numbers for v6 worldwide, including China, are extremely low at this point in time.” NO EASY SOLUTION So what happens now? There are no easy solutions, and it might already be too late, according to Skeeve Stevens, CEO of Australian systems integrator and network management firm eintellego. The fact is that for IPv6 to work, it needs to be supported by all the pieces of the internet: the content, the networks, the mo-
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dems, and end-users. “Services (websites, etc) have to move to IPv6 – there are more and more sites/services coming onto IPv6 daily, but it will take years for it to be complete,” Stevens said. “ISP networks have to go to IPv6; this is happening slowly, and costs money that businesses won’t be able to recover from users directly. Modem vendors have to upgrade and release new devices that support IPv6 – but there are still rather few on the market.” Finally, individual end-users will need to upgrade their consumer premise equipment. “The biggest problem is that 99.5% of the routers that users have at home cannot do native IPv6,” said Stevens. “This is a chicken and egg situation. Users aren’t asking for it, as right now it does not materially affect them. Service providers aren’t doing it because there is no business case that they understand... [but] service providers have to invest in their future and build IPv6 capable networks and solutions... and then figure out how to get their customers to upgrade their modems.” Huston cast the issue as a blame game. “There’s a massive amount of finger pointing. The access providers blame the vendors of consumer premise equipment, the modem manufacturers, saying: ‘Well, we’ll do something when those guys do something, there’s little point in us rolling out v6 if your brand X modem on the other end of the DSL line is completely ignorant of v6, so we are wasting our time’,” he said. “The CPE vendors go ‘our margins are razor-thin too and we are not going to tool up in doing a whole new software in our equipment unless there are orders out there, and quite frankly, unless access do something on v6, if we jump early then we are wasting our money’.” Perhaps the worst part is that those arguments seem to be right on the money, at least according to empirical data from ISPs who
have done the migration to IPv6 – such as Australian ISP Internode. “Even [for] Internode, who has rolled out v6 in its entire base – from our measurements, we see that around 4% of their users prefer to use v6. Not 100%, not 50%, but 4%, so only 4% of them have consumer premise equipment that does v6,” Huston said. “For Internode, the problem is not in the access network, the access network actually has it; the problem for them is in the modem.”
“Users aren’t asking for it, as right now it does not materially affect them. Service providers aren’t doing it because there is no business case that they understand”
CONSEQUENCES If ISPs don’t migrate to IPv6, the problem is not that they won’t be able to support their existing customers, but that they won’t able to grow. Without going to IPv6, ISP won’t be able to add new users or services to their networks. More importantly, Huston argues that technical solutions that promise to extend the life of IPv4 simply do not work, or not well enough to support increasingly sophisticated services now being introduced online. “If you don’t do v6, and you want to keep on growing your network, then the alternative is also pretty horrible,” he said. “We try to use terms like CarrierGrade Network Address Translators, and [hope that] somehow putting the word Carrier Grade fixes up all the well known problems that NAT has; it doesn’t. You deploy one of these devices, and quite frankly, anything more than simple 1-to-1 sessions don’t work anymore. Yes, you can create a really restricted, quite dumb, internet, but that is all
that it does.” Any ISPs relying on CGNs to extend the life of their IPv4 pool will effectively find themselves at a competitive disadvantage to anyone else who has gone IPv6. “At some point there are going to be many people selling snake oil, promising to make things better, selling dodgy solutions that many will buy into and end up in a mess and go bust,” warns Stevens. EVIL NATS Perhaps the most talked about solution to deal with the exhaustion of IPv4 address are NATs, but these are simply “evil and very broken,” according to Stevens. “CGN/LSN (Carrier Grade NAT/Large Scale NAT) aka NAT444, is like your NAT (really called NAT44) at home, but a solution where you are NAT'd at home, and then again in your service provider network…one of the bad things about NAT is that it was rolled out without being a standard, so there are many broken implementations of it out there,” he said. “At the time it got popular, NAT essentially broke many different applications because there is no end-to-end connectivity. For example: there are 10 users on a network, and the NAT device (router, gateway, etc) presents a single IP to the Internet. So it has to keep track of what it is talking to from inside to outside and vice versa. For some applications this is easy, but for others it is hard. Most applications have had to be designed to deal with NAT. This is nearly always solved by the ‘inside’ PC, constantly talking out to the internet to see if anything wants to talk to it so that it can create a channel to come back in.” What NATs do is introduce a blockage into the data path, he pointed out. “One of the issues of NAT is the amount of translations that need to be ‘tracked’ on the device. With the advent of faster operating systems, web2.0, etc the
amount is growing rapidly. Home devices can cope, but you add thousands of home users to a CGN router and ... a mess is what happens,” Stevens said. “In order for NAT to work, the device doing the NATing has to hack each and every packet of data being sent and received. It must inspect into the packet headers and change the source or destination address (and port number). The primary effect of this is that network hosts behind NAT must initiate all communication. That is; inbound communication attempts are not possible because there is no way for a host outside of the local network to know the inside address of the hosts.” Some applications will continue to work with CGNs, but others will break, in the sense that the service quality will degrade significantly, or stop altogether. “There are 'stateless' applications on the internet that will not break because of NAT444, such as web browsing, email, FTP download for small files, BitTorrent download, Skype video and voice calls, instant messaging, Facebook and Twitter, chat and so on,” Stevens said. “What will break however are FTP downloads for large files, BitTorrent seeding (upload), online gaming, video streaming (Hulu, Netflix, Slingcatcher, etc.), webcam, remote viewing, tunnelling (6to4, Teredo, Etc.), VPN & Encryption (IPSec, SSL), VoIP (Limited ALG/SIP support), any custom applications with the IP embedded.” That’s a lot of applications to ask users to give up if ISPs want to keep them as customers. LAW ENFORCEMENT At the same time, the anonymity that CGNs offer users because their IP address is hidden behind the NAT also presents a huge challenge for reasons for regulatory compliance in some markets. “The entire issue is also a massive problem for law enforcement agencies as they will see a single
IP address with potentially thousands of other connections behind them, and in turn which have potentially many thousands of people behind the next layer. This will make life difficult for tracking criminals down,” Stevens explained. “NAT444 will barely work, much less the service providers being able to track all the translations to see who did what where to be able to assist the LEAs. Because the LEAs will have difficulty, they will insist the SPs do something, which they will have trouble with.... there are a lot of implications.”
“It is almost as if we equipped all the televisions with digital signal processing – so a mammoth amount of work has been done” One of those implications is that CGNs might not be allowed at all in some markets, such as India, where the government mandates that ISPs be able to monitor users on its network. SUCCESSES That’s not to say that the entire industry has done nothing towards IPv6. In fact, Huston points out that much of the internet is now IPv6-enabled, just not the entire ecosystem. “There are some amazing success stories so far. Between Microsoft and Apple, almost every single computer out there that has a reasonable operating system has a working v6 stack in it. It is almost as if we equipped all the televisions with digital signal processing – so a mammoth amount of work has been done,” he said. “And when we look at the transit networks – basically, the undersea and continental networks – a fair few of those have v6 on their cards and actually doing the work, so again, full marks.” At the same time, the people behind some of the internet’s
most popular destination are now moving quickly to IPv6-enabled content and services. In June, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Akamai, and others, will turn on IPv6 live as part of World IPv6 Launch Day, something the companies first did a year ago on a trial basis. This time, however, the sites will turn it on and leave it on. “The content folks have largely figured out, and Google certainly has been a good example, that open end-to-end networks are so much better for complex content. And they look at CGNs, and a world of constrained v4, and see their business model being threatened. Of course, a lot of content folks, the smarter folks, have figured it out and are pushing extremely hard to get the world to IPv6. World IPv6 Launch Day is very much along those lines, it is to tell other content folk that ‘not only is it perfectly ok to turn on v6, it’s actually ok to turn it on and leave it on the web server’,” Huston said. “They use to say at the ISPs that ‘there’s no content on v6, we can turn it on, but it’s pointless.’ I think the content folks have gotten sick and tired of that reasoning, and are saying, ‘ok, we are going to turn it on, we’re not the problem.’ Microsoft and Apple have already said ‘we’ve turned it on, we’re not the problem’.” But there is only so much content providers and PC makers can do. If an ISP doesn’t migrate to IPv6, content providers will still suffer, since their services won’t go through. Akamai’s Service Line manager Minoo Thind offers one example. Because Akamai’s content delivery network platform runs inside its ISP partners’ networks, it relies on the ISP to supply its equipment with an IP address. If an ISP has exhausted its pool of IP addresses, then it makes it impossible for Akamai to deploy its servers in that network. While Thind stops short of saying that Akamai will discrimi-
nate against ISPs on this basis, there is no solution that will work if there are no new addresses for its equipment. “There’s no way we can deploy our platform if they don’t have any more addresses,” Thind said. TUNNELLING The challenge for the industry goes beyond just rolling out IPv6, because IPv4 won’t go away. Even though World IPv6 Launch Day will bring more than half of the internet content out there to IPv6, there will still be a lot of content and services out there that works perfectly fine today on IPv4, and which users might still want to connect to. But trying to figure out which protocol to use when seeking connections is no simple task. While most end-user computers now support both IPv4 and IPv6, selecting between them is one of the key challenges. “Networks work because everyone works on the same protocol set. Using v6 and trying to talk to folks is a pretty lonely experience – there are only a few things using v6, so turning it on doesn’t mean you can turn off v4, and we are stuck running this dual protocol world,” Huston said. “The first idea that folks had was ‘I’ll equip my machine with both protocols’ and ‘I’m really in favour of a quick transition, I’ll equip my machine with a rule set that says ‘if I’m given a choice, if the machine I’m dialling to also has v4 and v6, I’m going to prefer to use v6, so the machine would try to be quite aggressive in using v6.’ Sounds good, but that’s been a disaster.” According to Huston, the initial technique developed to bridge IPv6 and IPv4 – autotunnelling – just doesn’t work. “Actually Microsoft did this, they equipped Microsoft machines with a technique called autotunnelling. So even if you are sitting in a v4 network, you can wrap up your v6 packets in v4 and send them on their merry
way. And with a little bit of help – basically, the kindness of strangers out there – some strange person that you’ve never seen, would unwrap the v4 wrapper, expose the v6 packet, and ‘presto’ you have v6 connectivity – this technique is called 6to4,” he said. “Now the problem with that particular approach is that it doesn’t use either of the protocols TCP or UDP. It uses another protocol, Protocol Number 41, which is route encapsulation. An awful lot of folks, about one in five, have a piece of consumer equipment at the edge of their network, possible in their CPE, that regards anything other than TCP or UDP as evil and [decides that it] should be blocked. “So what we find is that a lot of these folks, they’ve sort of got a machine that wants to do v6, it sends out a Protocol 41 packet… they actually get a response generated, the incoming packet whizzes back to the user and the local firewall goes, ‘no, no, no, you use Protocol 41.’ The problem is that the user doesn’t get to experience
“There is no clear path ahead. Tragically, this billion-dollar industry is playing chicken” the fall back to v4 for somewhere between 20-75 seconds. If you went to a webpage and had to wait for 75 seconds for something to appear, I’ll bet you that you’d think something was broken.” There are still a lot of older machines out there, so the risk of breakage and poor performance remains very real, Huston added. TRAGIC The underlying problem is that the size and scale of the internet, together with all the elements in the network and technology, make it extremely difficult to predict how connections will behave. As such, it is very difficult to assert what the internet will look
like in a couple of year’s time. “There is no clear path ahead. Tragically, this billion-dollar industry is playing chicken. To be brutally honest, it is not clear whether the industry, for all kinds of reasons, [might] simply go CGNs, and will live to regret it. It would be – personally – really good if they didn’t, but none of us can say with surety what is going to happen. It’s just too difficult to model the various pushes and pulls in economics and technology that surround this issue,” Huston said. “We evolved… and content has evolved, it’s Google and Amazon, and Yahoo, and so on and so forth – all these independent players have their own agenda, and frighteningly, it is not the same agenda. So to try and predict how it pans out, at this point in time, is, I think, impossible. And that admission, for an industry this size and value, that the next five years are extremely cloudy, is a very painful admission to make.” Will networks break? “I don’t think we are going to see massive network outages… it just doesn’t happen like that,” he said. “We had a network working in the 1980s and it was a pretty weird network, and it wasn’t the seamless, clean connectivity that we enjoy today... we are incredibly inventive folk and even if we manage to break the clarity of the internet, we will boggle up some crap, and it will sort of look a bit like the old internet, and some bits will get lost.”