Verizon-logo-big-1 Verizon Offers Zero-rated Streaming Video through Go90, following T-Mobile’s  Binge On

 9 February 2016 | By M8trix Communications

Last week, Verizon updated its Go90 app to allow its postpaid users to stream content through the  app on its LTE network without being charged additional data charges. The move signals Verizon’s deepening involvement with sponsored content. Additional Go90 activity such as downloading, clipping, browsing and sharing content will still incur data charges.

Verizon has launched FreeBee Data 360 to deliver the zero-rated video. The program permits content providers to deliver all or some of their content through an app or mobile site without impacting on the monthly data allotments of users. Consumers are largely likely to appreciate the option for free video.

However, Verizon has already been attacked on net neutrality grounds for preferential treatment of wealthy content companies at the cost of smaller provides who can’t afford to sponsor their data. It’s a particularly dangerous move for Verizon because of its acquisition of AOL, which has made it a media company in its own right because AOL owns the Huffington Post, Engadget, and other media outlets.

Last fall, Verizon launched Go90 in order to deliver ad-supported video to users across mobile networks. The app has reportedly notched 2.7 million downloads so far. It will have been tested yesterday as a result of Verizon’s deal with the NFL to be the exclusive mobile provider for live games. Super Bowl 50 was available on the NFL’s mobile app, but only for the carrier’s 112 million wireless customers. Verizon started warming up its audience through exclusively streaming a series of concerts at the Regency Ballroom in downtown San Francisco on Go90 Live.

T-Mobile was the first U.S. carrier to gain traction among U.S. customers by offering zero-rated streaming video through its Binge On services. The carrier recently said that users on qualifying data plans were watching over twice as much video than they were prior to the launch of Binge On. Users have to date streamed 34 petabytes of video without sustaining additional data charges.

T-Mobile has also attracted criticism for the data policies it implements with Binge On. The carrier downgrades the video quality in order to ease stress on its network, and slows network data speeds for all video consumed by Binge On users, not just from the content providers that are in the program.

Verizon’s Deidre Hart was quick to point out that its zero-rated video was not downgraded at all, unlike video for T-Mobile’s Binge On. “FreeBee Data 360 does not change the speed or the quality of the content sponsored,” Hart said. “It merely transfers the billing from a consumer to a sponsor.”

Back in December, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, called on T-Mobile and AT&T to explain their policies for zero-rated data. Concerns around net neutrality are bound to increase in 2016 as carriers continue to experiment with zero-rated data. AT&T has explored sponsored data for over a year and may itself launch a zero-rated video service later this year.

Screen shot 2016-02-09 at 09.33.27  AT&T’s G.fast plans could boost Adtran’s revenues, says Cowen and Company

 9 February 2016 | By M8trix Communications

Adtran, one of the telco’s key broadband infrastructure suppliers, could gain an opportunity to  boost revenue as a result of AT&T’s plan to use G.fast as a way to extend broadband services to where it can’t construct a business case to bring fiber directly into a home. Analysts at Cowen & Company said recently in a research note that carriers rolling out broadband into more rural areas as a result of G.fast and the FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF-II) will drive new revenue streams for the vendor.

Cowen and Company said, “Our Market Perform rating is driven by ADTN’s market position which we believe is turning a corner, driven by an increasing product mix of next generation DSL solutions; an improving gross margin outlook driven by U.S. CAF_II funded rollouts. In addition to CAF-II funded projects, we view AT&T’s G.Fast project as driving incremental revenue growth opportunity.”

AlAT&T has not provided many specific details yet about G.fast, but it’s clear that the service provider has set an assertive FTTH build out path intending to reach over 11 million homes as a result of an agreement with the FCC that allowed approval of AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV, which was approved earlier this year.

Cowen and Company says that Adtran could gain “significant revenue opportunity” from its relationship with AT&T, and AT&T could leverage Adtran for its continuing network buildouts. Adtran’s super fast technology, G.fast, allows service providers to deliver significantly higher broadband speeds, which AT&T hopes will drive demand for its service network.

In its fourth quarter earnings call, Tom Stanton, CEO of Adtran, said it “exited the year securing a major award by a Tier 1 carrier here in the U.S. for G.fast.”

Several telcos are interested in Adtran’s G.fast gear. The vendor has been involved in trials with Deutsche Telekom and BT.

Last month, BT confirmed that it was testing Adtran’s 500GB fiber-to-the-distribution point (FTTdp) platform as part of its G.fast trial at its multiple premises in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, UK. The trial in Huntingdon also sees the company testing similar equipment from Huawei and the subsidiary of Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent.

G.fast has been a central priority for BT, and its trial in Huntingdon is only one of numerous tests it is conducting of the emerging technology. It is holding similar G.fast trials in Hethersett, Norfolk and Gosforth in northeast England. If the trials have a positive outcome, BT’s Openreach division has said it will press forwards with plans to deploy the technology this year and next alongside its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) services and fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC).

G.fast is an exciting proposition for telcos like BT and AT&T is a technology that can notionally deliver up to 1 Gbps speeds on very short copper loops, meaning that existing copper can be leveraged to deliver higher speed services in areas where a business case can’t be made to build out a FTTP network.

Screen shot 2016-02-09 at 09.35.12Level 3 says Opportunities around Dark Fiber are on the Rise, but only Part of the Service Set

 9 February 2016 | By M8trix Communications

Level 3’s overall wholesale business revenues are gradually declining each quarter, however, the  global network company, sees a bright spot in the dark fiber business, a company executive recently told investors.

During the Citi 2015 Global Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference, Level 3’s CFO, Sunit Patel, told audiences that while the company is seeing decline in the broader wholesale business, it is also seeing continuous demand for dark fiber and network infrastructure from a range of carrier and content companies.

“Within that story it’s a mixed bag: There is the underlying theme of bandwidth demand growth that everyone has to deal with–even if it’s a deflationary revenue stream, they still have to deal with bandwidth demand,” Patel said. “Some of that does manifest itself in the need for more metro infrastructure that companies like us and Zayo are a beneficiary of, whether it’s connecting to cell towers or going from mobile switching centers, or long haul networks.”

Last week during the fourth quarter earnings call, Jeff Storey, Level 3 CEO, said that dark fiber and other services like wavelengths are applied to fit the customer’s optimal needs.

Storey explained, “We have customers and applications for those customers where dark fiber is an appropriate solution”. He added, “If you want to tie two locally located data centers together, dark fiber is a good solution for that and if you want to tie two data centers across the country our 100G wavelength service is the best solution for that.” He said, “we look at that the overall comprehensive portfolio and recognize that our customers have a variety of different networking challenges they’re trying to solve so we match our technologies and our solutions to their networking needs.”

Storey clarified that Level 3 Communications sees dark fiber as a growth engine in the transport and fiber section of its core network services (CNS) business, but not the best or only solution as some content providers and wireless operators suggest.

However, the service provider did report that transport and fiber revenue within its CNS unit was $590 million with dark fiber making up 6 percent of CNS revenue.

In addition to dark fiber, Level 3 has been making investments to augment its security and CDN capabilities; for instance, the service provider initiated a new tool called dedicated denial of service (DDoS) Mitigation Service, which assists enterprises with safeguarding their critical data and systems.

“There are other areas we have made investments that we’ll talk about in the future like security services and that’s something we’ll be able to talk about more tangibly later in the year or next year, but in general the demand drivers for bandwidth continue to expand,” said Chief Financial Officer Sunit Patel.

Screen shot 2016-02-09 at 09.38.24  Level 3, Zayo and Others could Benefit from Sprint’s Thirst for Dark Fiber-based Small Cell Backhaul

 9 February 2016 | By M8trix Communications

During its latest fourth quarter earnings call, Sprint said it will use a combination of dark fiber and 2.5 GHz spectrum for small cell backhaul – the position could possibly benefit several competitive wireline carriers who have assertively built out fiber networks anticipating the emerging trend in small cell backhaul.

The majority of the dark fiber backhaul activity so far has emerged from Verizon, which deploys it in small cell markets. However, the new opportunity will attract a range of new players to the scene: dark fiber-centric players (Cross River Fiber , SummitIG and Wilcon), tower providers (American Tower and Crown Castle), in addition to traditional competitors (Level 3, Southern Light, Tower Cloud, and UPN). Dark fiber is attractive for these providers because it provides a long-term revenue stream as a result of its agreements stretching multiple years.

While Sprint is currently a more expensive solution than Verizon and it has not yet announced any of its partners, the telco has made clear that it sees dark fiber as a method to control bandwidth allocations. Unlike a lit service in which an operator must request a provision of bandwidth from their wireline provider partner, dark fiber allows Sprint to make its own upgrades.

Sprint could also decrease backhaul costs it characteristically pays to the ILECs for special access circuits by working in conjunction with competitive providers. The carrier recently said it pays over $1 billion a year for these circuits. Sprint plan to add 70,000 small cells to its network, which will be placed across the U.S., meaning that various competitive providers could theoretically compete for Sprint’s dark fiber business.

Offering fiber is only one part of the small cell backhaul equation. Various service providers are offering, or are developing, turnkey small cell services. The turnkey services, which have developed into Small Cells as a Service (SCaaS), incorporate permitting, installation, site acquisition and network management. Still, none of their approaches are identical.

In November 2015, for instance, cable operator Cox launched a small cell service. Cox offers wireless customers three outdoor alternatives for small cell: ground cabinet, pole mount and strand mount, as well as providing essential power from its existing HFC network. The service provider will work with local and national partners for turnkey services.

Zayo also recently reported it had connected 1200 small cell sites to its fiber network. Zayo CEO, Dan Caruso, said he sees opportunity for dark fiber increasing in four main categories: fiber to the cell sites, dark fiber to cell tower sites, small cell and emerging C-Ran opportunities.

While Sprint is only in the planning stages of its strategy for small cell backhaul, its extensive network plans will give competitors the opportunity to compete on a wide-ranging project. Being able to offer a combination of dark fiber and turnkey solutions will give wireline operators a necessary long-term revenue stream.

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