Sunday, February 28, 2010

ITU: 9.5% of World Population has Mobile Broadband Subscriptions

In its latest report "Measuring the Information Society 2010" (executive summary - here), the ITU publishes some interesting facts on the proliferation of internet and broadband services.

According to the ITU, by the end of 2009:
  • 26% of world population (1.7B people) were using the Internet
  • Internet penetration in developed countries reached 64%
  • Internet penetration at developing countries reached only 18%
  • There were an estimated 640M mobile and 490M fixed broadband  subscriptions.

Friday, February 26, 2010

FCC: Public Safety over Broadband Wireless Will Cost $16B

While the FCC pushes for Net-Neutrality (sometimes being described as "all traffic treated equally") it seems that they found at least one application that does require special treatment - public safety.

In his speech yesterday, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski was addressing the strategy for public safety broadband use, as part of the future of broadband strategic plan (transcript).

The plan includes "Provides for reserve capacity and needed redundancy and reliability through roaming and priority access on commercial broadband networks."

To do that, FCC recommends that "The Plan will recommend that Congress consider significant public funding -- $12-16 billion over 10 years -- for the creation of an approximately $6 billion federal grant program to help support network construction and additional funding for the operation and evolution of the broadband network." since "The private sector simply is not going to build a nationwide, state-of-the-art, interoperable broadband network for public safety on its own dime."

Public safety should be a good exception to the Net-Neutrality guidelines. When your Toyota accelerates without control, you want the fastest response to your distress signal, not waiting for the kid in the next building completing his 5GB video download.

Maybe the private sector will build such a network, give (and get paid) for the prioritized access by the government - if it will be allowed to offer the same service to other users ?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ofcom (UK):Help Us Test Broadband Speed Claims

Ofcom (the UK communications regulator) is looking for volunteers (here) in order to extend its ISP performance tracking research program for the next two years. The program tracks the real picture of UK internet speeds.

Last year results, based on 60 millions readings (!), are here.  The main finding, in the nationwide level was that the average broadband speed in the UK in April 2009 was 4.1 Mbit/s, compares to an average ‘up to’ headline speed of 7.1 Mbit/s - so the term used by ISPs "up-to" has a good reason to be there! Recent announcements from UK ISPs are even more ambitious (see Virgin Media plans 100Mb broadband).

This is of course a world-wide phenomena, and not unique to the UK. Using such research data, customers may compare the performance of the different ISPs and chose the one providing them the best price/performance (not necessarily by how well they are getting close to the advertized speed).

Ofcom uses SamKnows for the monitoring solution. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

PCWorld : “AT&T’s 3G network is now the top performer in our 13-city tests”

PCWorld published the results comparing download an upload speeds in 13 major US cities. AT&T ranked first, with an average download speed of 1.4 mbps.

Checkout the report – here.

See how the two giants fight:

US Telco ask FCC not to Reclassify Broadband Services

Verizon, AT&T, TWC and Qwest, supported by the NCTA, CTIA, USTA, TIA and ITTA sent an open letter (here) to Julius Genachowski, FCC chairman asking not to classify broadband service as a “telecommunications service” (i.e. forcing Net Neutrality) as this "would be a profound mistake with harmful and lasting consequences for consumers and our economy". 

The main arguments are:
  1. The Commission’s Bipartisan Treatment Of Internet Access As A Title I Information Service Has Produced Huge Benefits For American Consumers
  2. There Is No Factual Or Legal Basis For Classifying Broadband Internet Access Service As A Title II Telecommunications Service
  3. Classifying Internet Access As A Title II Telecommunications Service Would Have Negative Consequences Across The Entire Internet Ecosystem

Net Neutrality for Dummies: Will the FCC control the Internet?

Nothing to add here !

Market Research Data: "U.S. Government will Spend $7.2B on DPI"

Market Research Data analysis of DPI for the US government market (here), concludes that  “The U.S. Government Deep Packet Inspection market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 36% from 2010 to around US$ 1.8 Billion by 2015. The market will see a few good years of explosive growth in all segments before going flat”

My blog covers DPI as a technology and a fundamental tool for broadband traffic management. Market Research Data recent research refers mainly to the security needs of the US government – and defines: “Deep Packet Inspection is the only currently available technology capable to provide security of IP traffic at ever growing rates that has inherent traffic management capabilities”.

These two ways to use DPI (traffic management and security) are complementary and many companies offer an integrated product (like the DPI pure players, Allot Communications and Sandvine).

More analysis of the U.S. government IP security challenges:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rysavy Research on Mobile Internet : “There simply is not enough network capacity to address the emerging demand”

Rysavy research published a research document covering the growing demand for mobile internet services, and the ability of the cellular networks to provide the demand.
The chart on the right shows the problem very clearly.

Their main conclusion is that beyond expanding the network capacity (like adding cells) there should be also “more efficient use of spectrum. It is imperative that mobile applications consume only the amount of bandwidth they really need.”

The research (here) shows a number of ways to help MNOs to cope with the increasing demand. Some of which (like TCP/IP optimization)that have been seen as obsolete technologies, get to shine again.

Click the following video clip to illustrate the problem:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

LightReading on the Mobile Data Flood

After seeing the recent statements on the increase of data usage (see - AT&T,  Zain) , I think it worth while watching this Lightreading video (here). It presents views from a number of vendors (so obviously represents the desire to sell).

Companies featured (most are in the policy management space) – Redknee, Bridgewater Systems, Mavenir, Volantis, Aricent and Aircom international.

The most common word repeating among the different speakers is “Optimize”. Optimization sounds like a positive term that will create a better world, but is the heart of the Network Neutrality debate.

Is this why we have no operator here ?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Verizon likes Skype ; Vodafone doesn’t like Google

Two different approaches to the operator – content relations presented today at MWC 2010:

  • As expected, Verizon Wireless announced a partnership with Skype (press release here). "The two companies have created an exclusive, easy-to-use Skype mobile offering for 3G smartphones"
  • Vittorio Colao, Vodafone's CEO, attacked Google (and Yahoo) for their dominance in search and advertizing. Mr. Colao also referred to VoIP and said – “"If Vodafone had a VoIP service, we shouldn't be able to give that better quality of service on our network than a VoIP from a third party. But if a customer gets better service because he is willing to pay more, the same condition should be available to anyone else willing to pay more." – see coverage here
As far as Network Neutrality is concerned - it seems the two sides are getting closer to agreement.

Zain Kuwait – 500% Increase in Mobile Data in 6 Months

Statements on the growth of mobile data usage continue. After AT&T (“Overall, wireless data traffic on the AT&T network has grown more than 5,000% over the past three years” - here ) we see now it is a world-wide phenomena, this time from Kuwait.

In an interview to (here), Zain Kuwait's CEO, Mr. Khalid Al-Hajeri says:
  •  “Mobile broadband usage among Zain Kuwait's subscribers rocketed by 500% during the second half of last year
  • "Whether they are $10 average revenue per user (ARPU) or $100 ARPU, they all want to have the internet “.

Juniper Traffic Direct Announcement

As indicated last week, Juniper announced a new traffic control s/w module, named Traffic Direct. The formal announcement published just before MWC 2010 opening day (here).

A Juniper sponsored IDC research paper (“Mobile Networks at the Tipping Point : The Data Explosion and Next Generation Network Challenge”) does not add much to the press release:

.. As IDC conversations with MNOs have confirmed, the majority of content responsible for the explosion in data traffic is web based and therefore does not actually require transit through the service complex. Offloading this traffic would substantially decrease the amount of capex and opex as much of the expansion would be obviated. Offloading also means that the data traffic would not be subjected to the latency that is introduced in the service complex. Thus, it also creates the added benefit of an improved quality of experience

Does Juniper's Traffic Direct include DPI? Traffic shaping? it not, this seems a bit trivial solution!

Monday, February 15, 2010

AT&T CTO: Traffic has Grown 5,000% in 3 Years

In an interview to the GSMA show daily, AT&T’s CTO John Donovan explained the challenges AT&T is facing in view of the growing usage of mobile data.

Some interesting quotes (full interview - here):

  • “Smartphones like the iPhone driving up to 10 times the amount of usage of other devices on average”
  • 40% of our customer base uses a smartphone today”
  • “Overall, wireless data traffic on the AT&T network has grown more than 5,000% over the past three years”
  • “The key to addressing this is backhaul .. this equipment challenge is an industry-wide issue.”
  • “We’re also adding roughly 2,000 new cell sites to the network this year”
  • “we are deploying thousands of new high-speed backhaul connections”
  • “Eventually, there needs to be a model that addresses the limited spectrum issue and supports continued growth in mobile broadband usage, innovation and investment”

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Verizon to Put Skype on its Mobile Phones (?)

A week ago we heard FT saying they “we don’t believe in VoIP over mobile” (here) and now Verizon is speculated to add Skype to its mobile phone.

A joint press conference is planned for next week at the MWC in Barcelona, with John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Verizon Wireless and Josh Silverman, chief executive officer, Skype.

So Verizon is willing to give up voice minutes in order to gain some edge in mobile data services? Are we getting closer to resolve the Network Neutrality conflicts? 
If you going to attend MWC, here are the conference details

Friday, February 12, 2010

DPI – Recent Product Announcements, New Player

Some recent product announcements in the DPI/traffic control space:

The DPI Market – Vendor Landscape

As the DPI market grows (see "The DPI Story – Introduction") and matures we can start to map the vendors in this space. The segmentation below is based on the ”DPI focus” level of each segment (I am using a scale of 1-10) – ranging from “fully focused pure players” to the Global NEPs (Network Equipment Providers) having a DPI feature on some products. Not all vendors are listed in each segment.

For this review, DPI is defined as the network equipment used for traffic control on public networks using DPI primarily to identify traffic and match it with a bandwidth allocation policy (see more here). This is the most common use of DPI today, deployed to handle traffic congestion and reduce bandwidth costs. In some cases, the vendor’s DPI offering is derived from an OEM or partnership agreement.

The analysis does not refer to other uses of DPI, such as charging functions (to be found mainly in GGSN offering), behavior analysis and other content based services.


DPI Focus

Pure Players
10Sandvine, Allot Communications, Procera Networks
DPI as a main offering8Arbor networks (Ellacoya)
Mobile Gateways6Most vendors in this space have partnership/s with a DPI
vendor/s, as DPI based traffic management became a major requirements in this space
NEP with a DPI product5Cisco (SCE/P-Cube), Juniper, Huawei
NEP with DPI as a feature2Ericsson (Redback), Cisco (Startent), Alcatel-Lucent

The 3 pure players are public companies. We can look at their published results for 2009 to try to evaluate the size of the DPI market. Note that not all revenues of these companies come from the ISP/Carrier markets, as they sell traffic control solutions to the enterprise and education markets as well.

2009 Revenues (US$)
Sandvine (TSX:SVC)
·  Fiscal year end on November
·  Reports in CAD$, conversion done at US$0.95
Allot Communications (NASDAQ:ALLT)
Procera Networks (AMEX: PKT)
Based on published Q1-Q3 results ($10.8M) and reported preliminary Q4 results of $9.1-9.5M

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Google - a New ISP or ... ?

Google announced yesterday its initiative to provide network services, this time with 1Gbps access speed.

At this point it is limited to “in a small number of trial locations across the United States” as “We've urged the FCC to look at new and creative ways to get there in its National Broadband Plan – and today we're announcing an experiment of our own.” (Full message here).

So – is this a real move to the network service domain – or just another move to promote Network Neutrality ?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cisco Mobile Internet Forecast

Cisco presented today its VNI (Visual Networking Index) study for mobile internet traffic growth, for 2009 -2014. They predict a CAGR of 108% and having 5 billion wireless consumer devices on the Net by 2014.

Net Neutrality Escalation – Telefonica Considers Charging Google

We continue to see the real issues behind Network Neutrality. Is the carrier a dumb pipe – or should it enjoy some of the revenues, in return for building and maintaining the network? 

Back in 2005, AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre famously told BusinessWeek, "What they [Google, Vonage, and others] would like to do is to use my pipes free. But I ain't going to let them do that…Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?"

Now it’s Telefonica “ .. President Cesar Alierta said companies like Google use a lot of network bandwidth for free, something which was good for them but not for Telefonica” . More here.

Mobile Traffic Management – Cisco and Juniper Upgrade Solutions

As if the indications we saw so far for the exponential growth in mobile data traffic were not enough (see the recent Allot MobileTrends report), we got the final proof – the switching giants will not leave this space to small-medium size players – so it must be a big space ..

  • Cisco made its move a while ago by acquiring Starnet, for $2.9B. The router giant acquired a router company .. ! Today, Cisco (or, “Starent, now part of Cisco”) is hosting a webinar on “How You Can Supercharge the Mobile Internet - what's next will help you enable new services, reduce costs, and transform business.”).
  • Juniper is expected to unveil new software , Juniper Traffic Direct , “which, used together with its MX 3D routers, can help mobile carriers reduce network congestion and infrastructure costs
Lots of excitement for the upcoming World Mobile Congress 2010 next week!

Where is Network Neutrality with all this?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Worldwide Mobile Data Usage has Increased by 72% (According to Allot)

Allot Communications published today its MobileTrends report, covering the trends for the 2nd half of 2009.

This is Allot’s 2nd report which is based on anonymous data collected from leading mobile operators worldwide with a combined user base of more than 180 million subscribers.

Allot's key findings are (from Allot press release, issued today):
  • Worldwide mobile data bandwidth usage has increased significantly by approximately 72% during the second half of 2009.
  • Over-the-top applications such as YouTube and Skype are driving this continued momentum in mobile broadband growth.
  • APAC leads the growth with 86%; EMEA posted 70% growth and the Americas 59%.
  • Video is validated as a mainstream medium and demonstrates that it is the single most influential factor driving the need for increased mobile network capacity. However, with P2P remaining the biggest cause of cell congestion in the top 5% of cells, mobile broadband networks are still facing the same challenges as fixed networks – growing bandwidth demands, congestion, as well as finding ways to enhance the user experience and to lessen the negative impact of a few subscribers on the network.
  • HTTP streaming continues to be the fastest growing application with a 99% increase; its global mobile broadband share grew by 50% between Q2 and Q4, 2009.
  • YouTube accounted for 10% of global bandwidth during Q3 and Q4, 2009
  • FaceBook experienced tremendous growth of 180% during the second half of 2009
  • Skype is the undisputed VoIP traffic market leader, accounting for 77% of the global VoIP bandwidth; VoIP and IM applications have increased significantly by almost 47%
  • HTTP downloads grew by 73%, and have become a feasible alternative for massive file sharing.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The FCC Warns: Apple’s iPad may cause Network Congestion

The FCC Broadband Blog has a post on Apple’s iPad influence on the demand for wireless data bandwidth.

With the iPad pointing to even greater demand for mobile broadband on the horizon, we must ensure that network congestion doesn’t choke off a service that consumers clearly find so appealing or frustrate mobile broadband’s ability to keep us competitive in the global broadband economy.

AT&T, Apple's service partner, will provide the 3G data service to iPad owners in the US. The service plans' details were already announced, including an unlimited plan for $30/Month.

Will AT&T be able to accommodate the extra load ? Just a month ago, AT&T stopped selling iPhones to NYC area residents with no proper explanation. On September 2009, a NYT article said “Customers Angered as iPhones Overload AT&T”

Does the FCC expect AT&T to upgrade its network in 60 days to meet the new demand?

If not - Will it allow the operator to deploy a more intelligent architecture to manage its broadband service?
Will such architecture be considered by the FCC as “reasonable network management”?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

France Telecom VP on Google Voice (OTT VoIP)

Mr Georges Penalver, Senior Executive VP FRANCE TELECOM ORANGE, strategic marketing and Orange Labs was interviewed by the Israeli paper Calcalist (in Hebrew - here).

Question: “How France Telecom will handle competitive services, such as Google Voice ?"

Mr. Penalver: “ Regarding VoIP calls outside home – this is a tough question, as it is more an economic question rather than a technological issue. VoIP services are actually free to the subscribers, but they load the cellular network with internet traffic. This brings a question – who will pay for this traffic and maintaining its quality? At the end of the day, VoIP services destroy value as they do not pay for the infrastructure they use – and this is the reason we do not believe in such services. This is like getting a luxury car for free, with no roads to use it with."

This is the core of the Network Neutrality debate !

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Network Neutrality – A Presidential Introduction

As I mentioned earlier, in the “DPI story” posts, the Network Neutrality imitative (Made in USA) has a major influence on Broadband Traffic Management. It is a clear fight between the giants of our Internet economy, although disguised many times under novel ideas of freedom of consumers to chose, the job market and some nostalgia to the way the internet was managed 20 years ago, before it became a commercial service.

I will cover this debate in future posts, but let start be giving the stage to President Obama that summarizes it just 87 seconds (during an interview to Youtube made on Feb 1st, 2010 ; Note that Youtube has also its interest in this debate).

The DPI Story – Part III – The Business Case for Bandwidth Management

In my previous post I described how broadband bandwidth management solutions started, and how DPI became their core technology, mainly due to the extensive use of P2P file sharing applications by millions of broadband subscribers.

The main reason for ISPs and carriers to use bandwidth management was, and still is, to maximize the return on their infrastructure investments. While it is very clear that limiting the use of bandwidth hungry applications delays the need to invest in expanding the network infrastructure, there are additional business reasons to use bandwidth management, leading to the sophisticated solutions offered and used today.
  • Accommodate more subscribers on a given infrastructure – especially in some environments where bandwidth resources are physically limited (like wireless/cellular networks)
  • Increase subscribers' loyalty, by better meeting their QoE expectations. Bandwidth management may help with that by prioritizing applications that are sensitive to network delays – VoIP, video streaming (avoiding the “buffering” phenomena) or even web browsing
  • Reduce help-desk costs, resulting from the increased subscribers' satisfaction
  • Prioritize certain services and applications that generate additional revenues to the provider – such as a VoIP or Video conferencing service paid by the minute or content distribution agreements. In other words, the business idea here is to increase the ARPU (Average Revenue per User)
  • De-prioritize other applications, competing with the provider's own services. In many cases, this relates to OTT (Over The Top) applications.
As can be seen by this list, some of the benefits of bandwidth management are very reasonable and actually overcome some flaws in the design of the TCP/IP architecture. It does make sense that real-time applications will have priority over file transfers. However, as we go down the list we can see that carriers may use bandwidth management to discriminate competitive services. The debate around these issues is known (as least in the US) as Network Neutrality – and deserves its own post.

To generalize the above, we can see that bandwidth management control can operate in a number of planes (or dimensions):

PlaneUseBusiness Case

Reduce the use of bandwidth hungry applications (reduce congestion) Delay infrastructure investment
Prioritize sensitive application (control QoE)Increase subscriber loyalty
Service (i.e. the provider of the application) Prioritize “preferred” services, such as the provider’s VoIP serviceIncrease ARPU
De-prioritize competitive servicesIncrease ARPU
SubscriberOffer personal service plans (tiered services), such as “platinum” or “gamer” serviceIncrease ARPU

Bandwidth management solution will also allow combining the above planes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The DPI Story – Part II – DPI for Traffic/Bandwidth Management

In my previous post I listed some of the solutions associated with DPI. Nevertheless, the most common use of DPI today is for traffic (or bandwidth) management, in public networks – usually serving residential subscribers.

The roots for these solutions take us back to the ‘90s, when enterprise class products for traffic management appeared. Used to be called QoS (Quality of Service), and later Wan Optimization solutions, these products allowed IT mangers to control how their Wan connections will behave.

Typically, Wan links (either private, VPN or Internet) were slow – just few Mbps – and overloaded during business hours. IT mangers wanted a simple way to tell the network which applications are critical, prioritize or guarantee their performance while slowing down other applications. The payback (ROI) was very quick – as bandwidth was expensive and the demand for bandwidth was always on the rise.

Around the turn of the century, broadband services became widely available to consumers at home and replaced the slow dialup connections. At the same time, new services started to emerge – and one of the most appealing service was music sharing/downloading (Napster was the first). Regardless of the question of the legality of copyrighted content sharing – these music downloads (and uploads) generated unprecedented load on ISPs uplinks and last-mile connections. It was quickly became clear that without control, any upgrade to the network will be 100% loaded, as more subscribers will just download and share more content.

Since enterprise Wan Optimization solutions were available, they found their way to the ISP market. They were required to do what they had done for enterprise networks – prioritize critical traffic (for example Web browsing) to provide the subscribers a good QoE (Quality of Experience) and slow-down other types of traffic (music download, later known as P2P applications), to avoid network upgrades (links and infrastructure). And so they did, and the ROI was great.

The early adaptors were usually smaller ISPs, serving a relatively small number of subscribers or operators in regions were bandwidth was extremely expensive or not available. P2P applications were still simple to detect, and the main need was for a simple-to-use appliance rather than the sophisticated DPI solution we see today. Enterprise class products were “good enough” to help these early adaptors.

During 10 years of deployment of bandwidth management solutions in ISP netwroks, the market has gone through a number of changes, resulting in with today’s solutions:
  • P2P file-sharing applications became very popular, and are used to download and upload music, video and other large files. During the years, the P2P applications (Emule, BitTorrent and others – collectively described as “bandwidth hungry” applications) consumed 60-70% of the internet capacity.
  • Detecting the bandwidth hungry applications became a major engineering challenge, as their creators found many ways to avoid control. A number of techniques had to be developed to identify these applications – creating the core of DPI.
  • The network capacity has grown in 3 orders of magnitude. DPI solutions today support throughput of 10s of Gbps vs. few 10s of Mbps
  • New applications, such as real-time voice and video-streaming appeared creating high expectations for QoE by the subscribers
  • Traffic management solutions are expected to be integrated with other network elements and services, such as subscriber management systems, policy management servers and others services elements. All together they should create a cost-effective and well-managed solution solving the service provider business needs.
As a result of the above trends and changes, Wan Optimization and DPI products and solutions are no longer the same. While the basic core technology may look the same, the differences are significant enough to expect separate product lines (and in most cases, vendors) for each market.

More on DPI for bandwidth management on the next post.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The DPI Story – Part I – What is DPI?

The Internet and its underline architecture, TCP/IP (now celebrating its 40 anniversary), was simple yet very naïve. Nobody envisioned the way the Internet is used today – its popularity, the applications built on it and above all the multi-dimensions business it represents.

TCP/IP is simple. It has a simple packet structure, and has a definition for an application (or service) that can be easily detected by looking as a certain offset in the packet header (the TCP or UDP “port”). A registration process was created to ensure that every application (such as email or file transfer) will use a unique port (a “well-known port” – see PORT NUMBERS) . Indeed simple. As a result, the network elements (routers) used to build the Internet can process enormous amounts of data (or PPS - packets per second). They are not required to show any exceptional intelligence, and may concentrate on their main job - moving packets.

However, there is no way to ensure that everybody is fully conforming to the architecture as designed. There is no enforcement authority or embedded technology making sure that everybody uses the designated ports – and this loophole created the need to look deeper into the packet in order to identify the real application or the content communicated between the two sides.

Of course, when someone is hiding something, he probably has a good reason to do so. It may be illegal, abusing or taking advantage of someone else’s assets and investments. DPI was created to help owners of network and service providers to better control their network and resources.

The first vendors to use the term (just 3-4 years ago) created a solution that helps service providers and carriers understand and control traffic on their network. While DPI technology itself was only one of the components of the solution (used to identify applications by looking beyond the TCP port information) it gave the solution its name. It is very common now to see ISPs, fixed, mobile and cable operators publishing tenders for DPI. The other components of this kind of DPI solution include traffic policies enforcement, traffic shaping and throttling, reporting and more.

Why “this kind of DPI”?

Because there are many other solutions and technologies, all looking deeper into the packet. Many use the term DPI to describe their technology, creating some confusing in the market.

Some other examples for DPI are:
  • Stopping illegal traffic, such as child abuse content or transfer of copyrighted material (for example using P2P – Peer to Peer – applications)
  • Security solutions, stopping malware such as viruses, worms and Trojan horses
  • User behavior monitoring, analyzing what subscribers are doing for marketing or targeted advertising
DPI is many things, not all are accepted well by the different players – the network operators, the ISPs, the content providers, the regulation authorities and of course the subscribers – being businesses or consumers of broadband services.