Free Wireless Week Whitepaper: Wireless Infrastructure
An Advantage Business Media White Paper October 2013 • Q&A with Bill D’Agostino, General Manager of FirstNet • Q&A: Seeking Virtualization AT&T Shifts Gears from Hardware to Software • Expediting Carrier Evolution • TCO, the Forgotten Factor: How to Ensure Microwave Costs Do Not Sink Your Network Page 2 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure Q&A with Bill D’Agostino, General Manager of FirstNet By Ben Munson, Associate Editor, Wireless Week FirstNet and its mission to provide first responders with a fast, reliable na- tionwide network recently found an experienced leader to help in advanc- ing that goal. In April, FirstNet hired Bill D’Agostino as its general manag- er. D’Agostino comes to FirstNet with more than three decades of telecom experience, having held executive positions at Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS. Ahead of his keynote address Oct. 9 at the Wireless Infrastructure Show, Wireless Week got D’Agostino’s answers on some questions about the challenges that lie ahead for FirstNet and what’s being done to ensure the program’s success. Wireless Week: What specific issues for first responders will FirstNet address? Bill D’Agostino: FirstNet will deliver high-speed data communications to the nation’s first responders. We will ensure interoperability, security, priority access (including pre-emption), along with access to unique applications and information important to public safe- ty. We will deliver these capabilities on the worldwide standard LTE platform. FirstNet will launch with data only services, integrated with LMR. Over time, when the technology and public safety are ready, we plan to add non-mission critical voice and eventually mission critical voice. For too long our nation’s first responders have been hampered by a patchwork quilt of voice communications systems, making it difficult to communicate during emergencies. We saw that on 9/11. For data communications, public safety has to rely on commercial wireless networks that were never designed for the kind of reliability police, firefighters and paramedics need and that do not provide priority access for public safety during emergencies. These issues put our first responders and our communities at risk. After 9/11, the public safety community spent years on Capitol Hill explaining the severity of these issues. Congress responded to their impassioned plea and made good on the last out- standing recommendation of the 9/11 Commission by creating FirstNet. In 2012, Congress passed legislation establishing FirstNet and charged it with building and overseeing a nationwide interoperable wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. FirstNet will deliver on this commitment to public safety. WW: Going truly nationwide with this network must be extremely challenging. Where has First- Net succeeded in this vision so far and what challenges lie ahead? D’Agostino: FirstNet recently celebrated its one year anniversary, and in this short period of time we’ve made big strides in this historic task of building a nationwide broadband network. We start- ed from scratch – no employees, no business plan, and no administrative processes. During this start-up phase, members of the Board took on operational roles, and we’ve relied on employees from NTIA and consultants to help us while we work to build our organization. Bill D’Agostino General Manager FirstNet Page 3 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure We are now transitioning to a new phase. I was hired by the FirstNet Board in April as General Manager, and I’ve been hard at work building the senior management team. Hiring the bright- est and best talent is a top priority of mine over the next year. We’ve also been hard at work laying the groundwork for building this network. In July, FirstNet released 10 requests for information (RFIs) as part of our extensive market research to deter- mine the most appropriate network design approach. Once we analyze the responses to the RFIs, we will develop and issue Requests for Proposal (RFPs). The Board on August 13 approved a $194 million budget for FY ’14 in support of management’s plans and priorities. The budget sets the course for us to continue building the foundational elements of the organization and network infrastructure. We will also identify the ultimate structure for public/private partnerships that are essential for FirstNet to achieve and sustain our mission. The budget covers six key initiatives that establish fundamentals for FirstNet as an organization: building the organization’s foundation, network partnerships, mandates, early movers, portable hotspots and devices. We face a myriad of challenges. Let me highlight a few. First we must continue to earn the trust of public safety. We need to expand our outreach efforts with the states, territories, local gov- ernments and tribes so that we begin to understand the specific and unique requirements of each state with regard to building state plans. These plans will ultimately be delivered to each governor as the basis for joining the FirstNet system. Additionally, we will be working to cap- ture the key learnings from our recent RFI’s. We will use these learnings to refine requirements in upcoming RFP’s. Finally, another of our challenges will be building public/private partner- ships and unlocking the inherent value in any excess capacity on our network. WW: How much of the project could possibly be funded by the incentive auctions next year? D’Agostino: The law establishing FirstNet says that it will be funded by up to $7 billion from spectrum auction proceeds. WW: How dependent is FirstNet on proceeds from the incentive auctions? D’Agostino: We know that $7 billion is not enough to build a nationwide network from scratch. That’s why FirstNet will develop a network partnership strategy to cost-effectively accelerate the FirstNet buildout. FirstNet plans to add its equipment, its brand of hardening and pub- lic-safety-grade functionality to create a new network dedicated to public safety. In 2014, First- Net plans to explore potential partnerships and how to leverage existing systems to cost-effec- tively accelerate the nationwide FirstNet network. Every option is on the table. Page 4 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure WW: Why has it taken this long to realize an interoperable network for first responders? D’Agostino: Past attempts to improve interoperability were fragmented, yielding disparate proprietary and customized networks. FirstNet will be a single, nationwide platform which will help to ensure interoperability. FirstNet is based on an entirely new approach – LTE technology, nationwide governance, clear “beachfront property” spectrum, public-private partnerships and participation by every level of government. WW: Do you think the scale of recent disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy have added urgency to the effort? D’Agostino: Absolutely. Every time there is a major national disaster, it focuses attention on the urgent need for our first responders to have the best tools possible to help save lives. These storms also highlighted the need for a resilient and reliable network architecture. We are mov- ing as expeditiously as we can to get this network built, but it’s important that we get it right. That’s why we’ll leave no stone unturned in the effort to gather input from states and local communities as well as the vendor community on the best way to build this network. As an ex- ample we recently visited Oklahoma and had a very valuable exchange of information with the public safety leaders who were directly engaged in the series of recent tornados in their state. WW: What entities will need to be part of the process in order to get this deployment done right? Will major wireless carriers be involved? D’Agostino: There is no doubt that all the traditional entities that support equipment, hardware, software, network design, construction, implementation and operation of wireless networks will be engaged in one form or another with the FirstNet build. Our unique challenges around funding and public/private partnerships will likely create opportunities for creative ways of working with us. I would say it this way – all the major wireless carriers will have the opportu- nity to be involved. Some may choose to play, some may not. I also believe there will be many non- traditional players that will see the value in FirstNet’s excess capacity. These companies, large and small, will help create a market that will sustain our nationwide network. Page 5 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure Q&A: Seeking Virtualization AT&T Shifts Gears from Hardware to Software By Andrew Berg, Senior Editor, Wireless Week AT&T quietly announced Domain 2.0 late last month. While it didn’t garner a lot of attention, the move represents perhaps the most significant shift in strategy for the carrier since it announced its plans for an LTE rollout. Wireless Week recently spoke with Tim Harden, president of supply chain and fleet operations for AT&T, about what the virtualization of the network means for not only the network itself but end users as well. Wireless Week: Can you give an overview of Domain 2.0 and what it really means for the trajectory of AT&T’s network strategy? Tim Harden: This is the next generation of what we’ve been doing with the whole supply base. If you think about what we did in 1.0 it was really about accelerating the timelines between when we could get a product through ideation into the marketplace and actually start generating revenue from that and do that with a subset of suppliers who had an opporunity in the domains that they were in to really have large hunting grounds. We wanted them to be able to come to us with their ideas about how to move the needle on value and performance, without having to go through a RFP process to do it. We learned a lot with 1.0 that allowed us to cut that timeline in half, and as we looked at what was happening in the marketplace and in the network and the backbone-where the data traffic was going and where we expected it to go in the next 5 years-it became very evident to us that in order for us to simplify the network and scale it much more rapidly, we were going to have to chagne the approach. That’s really what 2.0 is-a change in approach that will allow us to simplify and move into the marketplace much more quickly. With that, we’re carrying through the idea of trying to get to the market place quicker. The objective here is to cut that timeline in half yet again and hopefully get within 6 months for the majority of products we bring to market, and 100 percent within 12 months. And given that its software oriented certainly it of- fers us the ability to update and transform the network much more quickly than we are able to do today where we have to touch every single hardware element and go through that process. Certainly this is a major inflection point for us where we’re starting to push the envelope of the network. WW: I’m guessing this kind of shift will necessitate new suppliers? Harden: Yes. It would actually expand from eight to nine domains. The nine domains are not the same as what the 1.0 domains are. There’s only a couple that will actually carry through. The majority of the domains in 2.0 are brand new areas and they’re all for the most part software oriented in the areas that they’re focused on. Tim Harden President of Supply Chain and Fleet Operations, AT&T Page 6 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure WW: And when will you be announcing these new vendors? Harden: We’ll start announcing the vendors we’ll be working with in the fourth quarter and that will carry through to the first part of ‘14. I think that gives you a good indication of the types of players we’ll be dealing with. I can tell you now that we expect there will be a lot of new entrants and soft- ware oriented entities. So, it’ll have a pretty good mix of participants this time around. WW: Will end users notice a difference as you switch to this new 2.0 strategy? Harden: I think it will have an impact across the board. We recently announced that we’re opening up a bunch of network APIs, and clearly we’ve brought that concept of an open network and you’ll continue to see more APIs exposed. So, I think you’ll see more developers and enterprise custom- ers tie directly in and create their own capabilities. That’s one aspect. From a consumer perspectve, we also think you’ll see new products and services that will benefit them as well. This is certainly a companion strategy to our VIP initiative that creates the base for an all-IP, all wireless infrastructure that now gives the customer the choice of how they want to obtain their services, and it also gives them that equal plane, where they can take those services across the wireline or wireless. While this is going on, we’re also virtualizing our IT shop and the cloud-based services associated with that, so we’re on the same journey there as well. WW: As the other carriers move further along, do you forsee them following suit with this kind of software-heavy approach? Harden: I think eventually. I think we’re seeing it in spots around the world. We’re seeing carriers doing different parts of this. AT&T chose to do this as an integrated strategy across the whole and do this from an organzation perspective and not just a corporate perspective. We really want to drive this initiative as a way to modernize the network towards the way the marketplace is now de- manding that we operate. So, I think you’ll see others quickly follow. You already saw pieces of this, I think Cisco announced their definition of this and stated a couple carriers that they were working with. I can tell you that we’ve had discussions with all of our 1.0 vendors and all of them stated that these types of separation of software and hardware are on their roadmaps. The question will be can they get there fast enough for what we need to be able to do. WW: So where do those tens of thousands of small cells fit into this picture? Harden: It gives us addtional coverage and capacity and you’ll start to see the network scale. You’re going to need to create dense capablities in the network to be able create capacity going forward and small cells fit nicely into that going forward. We really see small cells as part of not just our strategy but all carriers’ strategies going forward. WW: To clairfy, this won’t change AT&T 2014-15 CapEx forecast? Harden: That’s correct. Over time, we expect that this will have a bias towards less captial require- ments. But that’s an unknown at this point. Page 7 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure Expediting Carrier Evolution Joe McGarvey, Director of Strategic Marketing, Genband We tend to think of progress as a gradual, measured process. The truth, though, is that the pace of evolution almost always vacillates between barely perceptible and breakneck. It took the human species nearly three million years to graduate from poking things with sharp rocks to poking things with iron-tipped spears. Yet, the gap between the Iron Age and the Atomic Age was a brisk 3,000 flips through the calendar. The evolution of the telecommunications network is no exception. Its history, at least to this point, though, has been comprised of a series of gradual transformations. Each major evolutionary step, whether the transition from manual to automated, analog to digital or even TDM to IP, has progressed at a fairly steady rate. That’s about to change. Steady as she goes just isn’t going to cut it going forward. For the first time in their long his- tories, telecommunication network operators face serious threats to their dominant position in the communications ecosystem. The telecom customer base is no longer captive. Billions of end users can now turn to non-telecom entities for voice, video, messaging and other forms of communications services – much of it for free or with the tiny inconvenience of a commercial. With this Internet-fueled competitive threat rapidly intensifying, network operators have little recourse but to pick up the pace of evolving their networks. For now the barbarians are largely at the gate. But how long before the gates give way and will they match the agility and inven- tiveness of Web-based competitors unencumbered by 100-year-old service delivery networks constructed with specialized hardware and largely designed to deliver a handful of services. The bottom line: If telecom operators are to remain viable as communications service provid- ers they require networks that are much easier to build and operate, as well as much more agile than the current ones. Accordingly, the current phase of network evolution is focused on the transition away from purpose-built, proprietary appliances, which contribute to an untamable and unmanageable hodgepodge, toward a datacenter-like infrastructure of generic-processing resources config- urable on the fly to host functions distilled into pure software. If the telecom network of the future sounds a lot like the giant datacenters constructed over the past decade or so by current Internet titans, it’s not by accident. It is that infrastructure profile that will deliver to telcos the cost savings (both capital and operational) and agility they require to deliver the same diversi- ty of services as Internet rivals and the same ability to introduce revisions and new features on the fly. Joe McGarvey Page 8 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure The good news is that operators understand these issues and are working in concert to ac- celerate the evolution of their networks. In October 2012, a dozen or so of the most influential operators in the industry issued a call to action in the form of an introductory white paper – Network Functions Virtualization – spelling out the need for a transition from specialized hardware to a software-only environment. That work was recently followed up by the IETF, which revved up the NFV standardization process in earnest this summer. Also, in the operators’ favor, they are able to tap into existing industry activity and momen- tum. Recognizing the need for an architectural upgrade several years ago, GENBAND, for ex- ample, started down a path of hardware/software separation, with the goal of delivering rich telecommunications functionality that is portable to nearly all environments, whether real or virtual. Also hastening the evolution of telecom networks is the applicability of architectures and technologies that have already been established in enterprise and datacenter environ- ments, such as SDN and cloud. Both, along with NFV, will play critical roles in this transition. Accelerating the hardware-to-software transformation of their networks is a monumental undertaking but it alone will not ensure the future viability of telecommunications operators as communications service providers. Operators also need to expand their reach into new opportunities, leveraging the last miles of their networks and emerging technologies, such as WebRTC, to bring new and industry-specific services to the enterprise community. To com- plete the alliteration, evolution and expansion will mean little without a new commitment to excelling, specifically in the realm of the end user experience. Nobody manages the flow of communications better than telecom operators, putting them in the pole position to provide the anywhere, any device, context-aware communications that will be the benchmark of the not-too-distant future. Evolve, expand and excel is the simple formula for ensuring the telecom future is bright and prosperous FTTA + POWER in 1 System = Big Savings Designed for remote radio appli- cations, the Talley FTTA + Power system featuring Conec’s harsh environment connectors and Fi- berSource's fiber + power distri- bution box, results in the quickest installation time, lowest total cost, and reduced repair and mainte- nance costs. Page 9 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure TCO, the Forgotten Factor: How to Ensure Microwave Costs Do Not Sink Your Network By Gary Croke, Director, Marketing, Aviat Networks We all know that with LTE, backhaul capacity requirements are on the rise. We also know that microwave more than meets the backhaul capacity needs of LTE. And with all that in mind for the discussion of microwave capacity, there is a strong temptation for network operators to lose sight of the overall telecom landscape when searching for a new microwave solution. Despite the drive for evermore capacity, total cost of ownership (TCO) remains the most important consideration for microwave radio selec- tion. In fact, as evidenced in Figure 1, cost-related issues represent the top two criteria for microwave manufacturer selection. Despite the realization that cost is key, there is little understanding or agreement about the details behind this. In other words, what are the contributors to TCO? And what are the best strategies for reducing them? Let’s take a look. Gary Croke Figure 1. Microwave Manufacturer Selection Criteria (source: Infonetics’ 2012 Microwave Strategies and Vendor Leadership Survery Report) Page 10 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure Contributors to Microwave TCO: Show me the Tower! TCO models vary greatly depending on the market and geography (for discussion purposes we will assume a North American mobile operator). The model would be very different for private markets, utilities, public safety and others who own their own towers. There are a number of key contributors to microwave TCO (see Figure 2) including, microwave equipment (e.g., antennas, waveguides, all other hardware), design (inclusive of FCC fees for licensing and coordination), site development (which includes application fees and structur- al studies) and tower leasing. Over 10 years, the largest component of TCO is tower leasing, which includes leasing indoor and outdoor tower space. Tower leases are very complicated and highly variable based on a number of factors: tower loca- tion, tower space available, changes and additions to the contract and more. Typical costs range in the order of US$200 per site plus US$100 per antenna-foot for each site—which for a three- foot antenna can result in US$12,000 per link (i.e., $6000/end) per year just for tower leasing. Looking at TCO of microwave backhaul over 10 years, the largest component cost continues to be for towers. As the largest cost component, any effort to reduce microwave TCO has to take tower leasing under serious analysis for ways to reduce its cost. Anecdotally, this goes against the conventional wisdom in the wireless industry, with its emphasis on initial CapEx as the most important determinant, when choosing a microwave backhaul solution. Focusing on initial CapEx of microwave equipment when making a purchase decision can be the wrong way to look at backhaul solutions, given that it is such a small percentage of the total cost. Units can vary by a few hundred dollars more or less in initial cost. Perhaps it is more appropriate to spend marginally more on microwave solutions with specific features, software licenses and capabili- ties that allow mobile network operators to lower OpEx at the end of the process. That is why the TCO model is important to examine over the life of the solution to determine the most cost-effective alter- native overall. And there are technology approaches that make it possible to lower ongoing OpEx. Page 11 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure Strategies for Reducing TCO There are several technology-based approaches to reducing ongoing OPEX, which represents largest TCO factor for microwave backhaul. High System Gain Radios System gain is the single biggest factor in enabling the smallest possible antenna to be used (which is the largest factor in TCO reduction). A radio with high system gain does not require large size antennas to achieve the desired system reliability. Not only are smaller antennas less costly but also tower wind loading is reduced, resulting in savings on costly tower strength- ening. Plus, most tower leases are tied to the size of the antennas—bigger antennas equate to higher lease charges. Therefore, using smaller antennas will result in lower monthly lease charges. Lastly, maximum system gain enables longer paths. Longer paths allow for fewer sites and lower outlay for equipment. High system gain is the surest way to achieve the lowest TCO—even if you have to pay more CapEx upfront to get it! Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM) A proven technology with more than 2000 licensed and coordinated links in the United States, ACM varies coding and modulation of the radio based on path conditions. ACM can be used to design links using smaller antennas while achieving capacity requirements, thus drastically reducing total cost. The effect alone of using ACM instead of fixed modulation can save up to $4800 per link per year. Diverse Network Topologies Instead of each link having “five-nines” availability (99.999 percent uptime) the network design provides five-nines via Carrier Ethernet ring protection, protected VLANs or MPLS fast reroute, allowing for lower level availability on each hop and smaller, less costly antennas. Intelligent ring designs can reduce TCO by as much as 50 percent versus traditional hub-and-spoke de- signs for the same number of sites. All-Indoor Radios: An Often Overlooked Low TCO Solution Page 12 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure Despite its higher initial cost, all-indoor microwave radio actually offers the lowest TCO for a high-capacity LTE backhaul solution. This may surprise those who have not gone through an LTE deployment, but based on our experience deploying LTE backhaul for some of the world’s largest LTE networks, all-indoor radios are actually the best microwave architecture for the job. With new advances in LTE technology, the need for capacity will only grow over time. This means that microwave radios providing LTE backhaul will have to be upgraded as time passes. And the most proven way to expand backhaul capacity for microwave radios lies in adding radio channels because it represents real usable bandwidth independent of packet size, traffic mix and the RF propagation environment. Although, all-indoor radios are more expensive initially in terms of CapEx, they are less costly to expand and are easier to service because all their electronics are accessible from ground level, negating cost-prohibitive tower climbs. For example, indoor radios usually need a waveguide (which can be expensive) to carry the RF signal from the radio to the antenna, but they are less costly to upgrade, as only one tower climb is required to install the waveguide and antenna on the tower. To add more radio channels in the future, the cabinet at ground level is simply accessed and the needed RF units are installed. On the other hand, when additional RF units are added to an all-outdoor radio configuration, a tower climb is required for each upgrade. Tower climbs can cost up to as much as US$10,000 per climb! Not to mention, out- door radios may need to have their antennas swapped out for larger ones (and extra CapEx and higher lease costs) due to extra losses incurred when radio channels are combined on the tower—remember larger antennas equal larger tower lease costs. These additional tower climbs to upgrade all-outdoor radio capacity are important to note because LTE network planners do not really know how much bandwidth they will need in the future. Operators may deploy one radio channel today at 150 Mbps and need to add another 150 Mbps in six months. What these planners really want is a “futureproof” LTE system. They get that with all-indoor radios because multiple radio channels can be run over the same wave- guide and antenna without incurring extra losses. TCO is most of the story Every mobile operator needs to control costs in their networks, including in the backhaul net- work. It is generally known that microwave radio presents the most cost-efficient alternative for mobile backhaul among microwave, fiber and even copper technologies. What may not be as well known among operators is which cost metric gives them the best insight into the money they outlay. In our discussion, we’ve seen how Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) gives the best insight into microwave-related expenditures. We’ve seen how tower leases consume the high- est percentage of microwave backhaul costs. And tower leasing costs are directly related to the size of antenna put on the tower—the smaller the antenna, the lower the tower leasing costs. There are several strategies to utilize the smallest possible antenna for a given microwave backhaul link, therefore, generating the lowest TCO. These strategies include high system gain, Adaptive Coding and Modulation, diverse network topologies and all-indoor radio architecture. Of all these, all-indoor radios are the most overlooked of microwave backhaul solutions—es- pecially for North America. Other radio architectures—all-outdoor and split-mount—will have Page 13 | eReport: Wireless Infrastructure their applications, but all-indoor microwave radios represent the lowest overall TCO for North America mobile operators, particularly for LTE. FTTA Fiber Handling & Cleaning October 23rd 2-3PM-EDT Register to learn how to handle fiber optic cable, test it and how to clean it to ensure your deploy- ment is optimized. The recording will be distributed afterwards to those registered so sign up even if you cannot make it. Register Here...