Sprint Rallies with New Wireline Business Services Developments

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • Wireline revenue erosion aside, Sprint continues to invest and keep its wireline services portfolio fresh.
  • Sprint returns to transport with Ethernet Wave, but there is little room to differentiate in this highly competitive space.

For many years now, Sprint has been meeting its challenges in wireless while facing ongoing struggles in its wireline business services.  As a wireless provider, Sprint has household name brand recognition.  Fewer people know the company as a still-major national and global provider of an array of business services.  In wireline, the provider has focused on retaining existing customers with high-quality service instead of investing heavily to recruit new clients.  Sprint has shown very high customer satisfaction for its business wireline services.  However, factors such as falling prices, discontinued legacy services and natural attrition have taken their toll: For H1 2013, for example, Sprint’s net wireline revenues were down 10% year-over-year from H1 2012; wireless now represents about 90% of Sprint’s revenues and profits. Read more of this post

Yuletide Blog: 2012 in Review and Can We Expect More of the Same in 2013?

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Making the Internet and private data networks faster is still going to be a top priority in 2013
  • Security remains of paramount importance for any data service
  • Data centre and computing infrastructure become more tightly integrated and embedded with network infrastructure in 2013

Looking back at what happened in 2012, the highlights of the year within the enterprise network and IT service industry include consolidation such as the acquisition of Cable&Wireless Worldwide by Vodafone, the march towards fatter pipes with 100G launches, and progress on the part of carriers to become cloud-based IT providers and cloud service aggregators. Network security remains very high on the agenda, with two providers reporting daily attacks and hacking at major events, namely BT during the Olympics and Interoute supporting UEFA in the Euro 2012 event. However the most impactful initiatives are in the building of new generations of cloud-ready data centres as an intrinsic part of the network to fuel the desire of service providers to claim a stake in the cloud IT service market. Read more of this post

Migrating to Cloud Services: A Wholesale Switchover or a Step-by-Step Approach?

Summary Bullets:

  • SOHO and SMB users have the opportunity to migrate to cloud services in a single move.
  • Joel Stradling

    Larger enterprises and MNCs tend to adopt more slowly, virtualizing one IT system at a time.

How to make the switch from owning premises-based infrastructure to having all IT hosted in a cloud environment is a tricky question for IT managers to consider.  There are so many ‘cloud’ flavours out there, such as public and private clouds, hybrid VPNs and hybrid cloud solutions.  Whether it happened by intent or by some coincidence, the multi-service converged access rollout by carriers investing in NGN has paved the way for smaller companies to place all of their ICT needs, should they so desire, into the cloud in one quick-fix move.  The capability of running voice, data and video over an Ethernet or IP interface at the customer premises has been around for a while, but telcos have realized that, once the multiservice access is in place, the customer can then be presented with a wide range of cloud add-ons, including all the ‘as-a-service’ possibilities: software, communications, storage, security, cloud computing and so on.  A SOHO or SME has fewer applications to run in most cases; thus, the market is seeing more prospects within this segment entirely embracing cloud services, and at reasonable price points, where infrastructure can be shared and non-critical traffic can run on the public Internet. Read more of this post

Dead or Alive? Copper Loops Merit Major New Platform Upgrade Investments

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • Counter to those who declare copper networks obsolete, platforms taking advantage of existing copper plant are drawing healthy new investment.
  • Both incumbents and competitive carriers are deploying platforms that wring faster speeds out of existing copper plant.

The telecom industry hasn’t talked up copper networking for years: Twisted-pair wire just doesn’t have the allure of fiber or wireless. But even with projects such as Verizon FiOS having run for many years, removing all copper from access networks has proved too expensive and difficult to be a feasible goal. Fiber steadily finds its way into access networks, but carriers – both incumbents and their facilities-based competitors – are also continuing to stretch existing copper plant in new ways. Just since the beginning of November, there has been a flurry of new industry activity: Read more of this post

WAN Optimization: Limited to International Networks or Also Suited to Local In-Country Networks?

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Provider-managed WAN optimization is less likely to be used in the U.S. market due to the widespread availability of cost-effective bandwidth across major towns and cities.
  • A number of pan-European and UK carriers report take-up of managed WAN optimization in domestic-only networks.

WAN optimization can be a costly component and there is always going to be a tradeoff between throwing bandwidth at a problem versus implementing some sort of WAN optimization.  The other question IT managers face is whether to buy and drop in WAN optimization on their own in a DIY setup or to contract a service provider, but this is a topic for a future discussion.  Current Analysis has noticed a difference between the way UK and U.S. service providers respond to the question.  In the U.S., national operators are ambivalent about deploying their own managed WAN optimization services, because there is not much customer demand.  WAN optimization CPE and provider-managed services are expensive, and it is more logical for customers to purchase more capacity, rather than to try to manage capacity more granularly.  There are some provider WAN optimization services run out of Internet data centers, and some enterprises will buy and drop in their own CPE to triage their worst application behavior.  In contrast, BT and Colt report customers that subscribe to their domestic UK WAN optimization implementations. Read more of this post

The Gradual Rollout of IP eXchange and Its Potential Implications on the Enterprise

J. Stradling

J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • The main idea behind IPX is end-to-end QoS for both mobile and fixed IP traffic.  Mobile data and video are about to go on a bungee jump driven by handset and LTE evolution, and IPX is designed to ensure that improved qualities can be delivered on new offerings.
  • At the moment, a handful of global wholesale providers offer early-stage IPX, and many more are expected to follow suit.

Thus far, IPX has provided real benefits on single-provider platforms to deliver HD voice and premium VoIP.  Companies such as BT Wholesale, KPN/iBasis, DT ICSS, TI Sparkle, France Telecom Orange, A1 Telekom Austria, TeliaSonera International Carrier and Tata Communications are all examples of IPX providers with full commercial products available.  We are likely to see more such bilateral agreements in the short term.  Carriers report that mobile voice calls last longer when the voice quality is better.  To put some numbers on this and get some idea of how much longer: BT Wholesale cites around 10% longer call times, whilst TI Sparkle reports increases approaching 40%.  Business clients might surmise that this potentially leads to raised corporate efficiency in closing deals, as both parties can actually hear what the other is talking about, as well as for solving technical issues and so on. Read more of this post

What Does Carrier Ethernet 2.0 Mean for the Enterprise?

J. Stradling

J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • MEF CE 2.0 service provider certification is not yet available on end-to-end Ethernet services.
  • There are compelling benefits arising from CE 2.0, but it will take time before these reach corporate users.

Carrier Ethernet (CE) 2.0 was unveiled by Bob Metcalfe (the inventor of Ethernet) and the MEF during February of this year, and it is designed to provide industry-wide benefits – to service providers, equipment manufacturers, and end users of Ethernet services, both business and residential.  So, how does CE 2.0 relate to the real-life requirements of corporate data networks?  In other words, if you are an IT manager looking after the enterprise data WAN, should you really care about CE 2.0? Read more of this post

Does It Still Matter Who Owns Infrastructure as the Industry Migrates Towards Intelligent Networks?

J. Stradling

J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • The intelligent network should adapt to varying demands and self-heal at failure points, regardless of who owns the infrastructure.
  • IT managers need to seek carriers that know how to offer intelligent networking over multiple off-net partner networks.

Neither the Vanco model nor establishing a world super-carrier, as in the large telco merger attempts exemplified by KPN-Qwest around 2000/2001, really worked.  Vanco did succeed at closing a respectable list of MNC clients, but the company was ultimately acquired by Reliance Globalcom.  The VNO model continues to work in niche segments, but we have always argued that there are advantages in running traffic and applications across wholly owned networks.  KCOM in the UK, for example, is filling the niche successfully based on a small degree of MPLS PoPs and then relying on a large national partner (BT Wholesale) for infrastructure, which allows KCOM to concentrate on marketing and customer service.  It should be noted that KCOM is a UK supplier; it does not play in the global market place for multinational accounts!  It is an indefatigable truth that a service provider which owns the network can offer better control and healthier service margins.  One can also argue that owning the network will result in more concrete SLAs.  However, in a large-scale and geographically widespread global data WAN implementation, there is no single carrier that can provide all on-net connectivity. Read more of this post

Charter Quietly Gets Down to Business with Fiber, Ethernet and SIP Trunking

B. Washburn

B. Washburn

Summary Bullets:        

  • In 2011, Charter Business added business capability, including long-haul services, EoHFC, and SIP trunking.
  • The cable industry bears watching as it moves up-market to grow business services revenue fast.

It is a misnomer that cable companies don’t “get it” when it comes to the opportunity for them to serve SMBs, enterprises, and wholesale partners.  Optimum Lightpath has a portfolio as complex as any telecom provider; Cox Business has built up a lot of resident telecom intelligence; Time Warner Cable Business Class and Comcast Business have pockets of resources that are very astute in delivering enterprise-class services.  The cable industry’s investments to build mid-market and enterprise-sized services have also been coming along, as all the major providers have bet big on switched metro Ethernet and, more recently, added ISDN PRI voice support. Read more of this post

Has the 99.999% Availability SLA Gone the Way of the Dodo?

J. Stradling

J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Traditional network SLA metrics do not take into account changing IT needs.
  • Is your network vendor willing to extend service guarantees to application availability?

There are many ways of looking at network service level agreements (SLAs).  For telecom providers and certain clients, they can be a mere commercial agreement whereby network downtime will be compensated.  In other cases (for example, when downtime can prove very costly or even disastrous to a business), the enterprise customer will need to pay for extra resiliency in the form of five-nines availability or even 100% availability based on 1+1 back-up and/or a 3G wireless broadband data link.  Traditional data WAN SLAs still contain the standard metrics, such as jitter, roundtrip delay, latency, availability and MTTR, and this is a good thing overall for making sure the carrier is accountable for the networks. However, IT managers should also be exploring SLAs all the way to applications running on the desktop. Read more of this post