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Cisco and the Evolution of the Service Provider Network

On February 18, Cisco announced the evolution of service provider (SP) networks. It is probably a good idea to step back, just a little, and explain how Cisco sees the challenges ahead and how we intend to continue to provide our mobile service provider customers with the strongest portfolio of solutions in the industry. That’s the reason I am writing this blog post. In it, I hope to share with you some of our learnings from the past year and also, explain a little bit about the rationale for our announcement.

We are virtualizing our entire SP portfolio. The year 2013 is one where the concept of “Network Function Virtualization” (NfV) caught the industry by storm. In NfV, virtualized network functions are software appliances executing on virtual machines delivered in a telco cloud environment. In a nutshell, NfV is attractive to our customers because it allows them to clearly delineate the respective values of software, hardware and professional services for total solution integration. Practices based on data center techniques promise to reduce the cost of operating the network and simplify work processes through the agility we are seeing today in the cloud environment. And none of this evolution will compromise the ability of service providers to deploy multi-vendor solutions though it is fair to state, procurement practices will need to re-align to this brave new world. For example, rather than procure integrated network functions to be assembled into a network, service providers may have to separate out  layers Read More »

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Small Cell Industry Firsts with Multimode and Small Cell SON

In June, I described how Cisco was closing the small cell loop with the rapid integration of both the Ubiquisys and Intucell teams into the Cisco family.

Today I’m pleased to make three announcements that demonstrate the concrete results of all these bright minds coming together:

  1. Cisco has added LTE capability to our Universal Small Cell portfolio.  This includes an industry first – a multimode small cell that provides 3G, 4G and carrier-grade Wi-Fi in a single access point – the USC 7734.  This is in direct response to requests we’re getting from both our Service Provider and Enterprise customers to integrate robust and secure Wi-Fi with 3G and 4G licensed small cell technology to accommodate connectivity and coverage to a wide family of mobile devices.
  2. And another industry first – Read More »

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Expanding the Quantum Software Suite

A year ago we introduced the Cisco Quantum Software suite based on an architectural construct of an automated, closed loop – linking network, analytics and policy – to help Mobile Operators better optimize and monetize their network investments.  We announced the network abstraction, analytics, policy and self-optimizing network (SON) platforms. At the Mobile World Congress 2014, we are expanding the software suite in several ways:

Cisco Quantum SON for Small Cells

We’re taking the industry’s most deployed and proven SON solution for multi-vendor, multi-technology macro radio and extending that to multi-vendor Small Cells. This is an industry first.

As the industry evolves, Small cells – 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi – will far outnumber macro base stations and are quickly becoming a requirement for broad coverage and capacity at the lowest cost per bit. But some of these benefits are wasted if small cells are not seamlessly coordinated with the rest of the radio network.
By supporting small cells, Cisco Quantum SON now enables true heterogeneous access and seamless experience. And being multi-vendor, operators can include their existing small cell investments, unifying the entire radio network into a single intelligent entity.

In fact, Read More »

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Virtualization Technology for the Real World, Today

A few years ago at Mobile World Congress (well more than a few, perhaps…), I was speaking with the CTO of a top tier Mobile Operator about a newly emerging technology called IMS.  It seemed that every vendor was promising how IMS was going to change the world.  This very wise CTO stated that he needs to see a tangible benefit or value from a new technology to be interested.  “I will only buy a new technology if you can show me how it can (a) do something I cannot do today, or (b) improve the way I am doing something today.  I will not buy technology for the sake of technology.”  This simple axiom is a great lens to look through as one views all new technologies – and that is certainly the case for the current industry discussion around Virtualization – or more accurately from Cisco’s perspective on the topic, Virtualization and Orchestration.

But instead of joining in with the multitudes talking about the wonders of the technology, arguing around technical specs or nomenclature, the lesson from the CTO instead guides me to talk about what it can do for the service provider business.

That’s why our announcement today of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform has a decidedly business bent.  Yes, it is a Read More »

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The Low Rumble of the 4K Resolution Revolution

It hasn’t been all that long since HD-quality video gained widespread acceptance as an industry standard. Yet a new resolution standard is capturing the attention of the broadcast world. It’s known as 4K (or Ultra High Definition – UHD), and it offers viewers four times the picture resolution of standard HD. At CES 2014, one of the hot trends among TV set manufacturers, along with sets that curve and flex, was a 4K display. It’s the new standard for TVs, and while it currently has a price point that keeps it firmly high-end, the story sounds familiar: 4K TV sets will only get cheaper to manufacture, consumer demand will grow, and broadcasters will need to adapt.

So is change inevitable? Actually, no.

For 4K to truly develop into an industry standard, it will require several players in the video value chain to row in the same direction at the same time. This could certainly happen, but by no means is this assured. For instance, 4K TVs need content filmed in 4K. Will this become a new standard? Perhaps, but this would require significant and costly changes for an industry that only recently embraced the HD standard.

Even if Read More »

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