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In yet another sign of a re-shuffling of the deck among cable equipment vendors, Vecima Networks announced an agreement to acquire the Nokia DOCSIS DAA and EPON/DPoE product portfolio. The agreement comes on the heels of ATX Networks’ acquisition of Cisco’s cable amplifier business and continues the trend we have seen of larger equipment vendors divesting business units to smaller companies focused squarely on global cable operators.

For the original Gainspeed team, this also marks their second transaction, after Nokia acquired the start-up back in 2016 with the hope of extending market share gains made in the routing segment to cable access networks. Likely, the return to a smaller, exclusively cable-focused business will pay dividends for the group that was—and remains—at the forefront of remote MACPHY and flexible MAC architectures.

Meanwhile, for Nokia, this puts an end to the pursuit of DOCSIS access business, though the company is likely to continue selling its own GPON and XGS-PON platforms into the cable vertical, as some operators have expressed an interest in these options, as opposed to deploying 10G EPON or DPoE (DOCSIS Provisioning over EPON).

Though the Nokia/Gainspeed combination had netted some customer wins and trials, there was obvious concern about just how long it would take for the business unit to generate meaningful and sustained revenue. As we have noted before, 2019 was a difficult year for cable access equipment vendors, with total revenue dropping 36% from the year before. A glut of DOCSIS channel capacity, the lack of significant competitive threats, and indecision around DAA technologies and timing all contributed to the spending slowdown in 2019.

2020 isn’t expected to fare much better, with operators focused in the short-term on expanding capacity via existing CCAP platforms and node splits. Some new DAA projects have been shelved for the time being, though R-PHY deployments at Comcast, Cox, and others will continue. The uncertainty around when cable operators would return to their DAA projects, combined with general uncertainty around the macroeconomic environment, were likely the reasons behind Nokia’s divestment.

Vecima’s Gain

For Vecima, the acquisition of Nokia’s cable unit fills a few key product gaps. The company was already finding success with its Entra R-PHY node, having deployed with ANsome North American operators and interoperating with MAC cores from Harmonic, Cisco, and ARRIS. But the company did not have an R-MACPHY solution in its portfolio, though the company had been extremely active in the standards working groups for both R-MACPHY and FMA. It’s likely the company was working on an R-MACPHY solution in-house. Either way, the addition of the Gainspeed platforms certainly accelerates the general availability of a proven platform. That availability is critical for potential large customers such as Charter, J:COM, and Australia’s NBN, which are known to favor R-MACPHY as their DAA solution of choice.

Beyond R-MACPHY, the acquisition also gives Vecima a revenue stream from Nokia’s 10G EPON and DPoE deployments. Comcast, Charter, BrightHouse, J:COM, and others have all deployed this platform, either in a standard OLT form factor or as a hardened, remote OLT in a node. With Charter’s recent announcement that it would apply for RDOF (Rural Digital Opportunity Fund) grants, likely to expand its serving areas in rural areas of Nebraska, Utah, Iowa, and other states, there is a strong possibility that it will expand using the 10G EPON platform from either Vecima or Adtran, the only other vendor supporting complete DPoE OLT platforms and ongoing development.

With the addition of the Gainspeed platforms, Vecima can now offer customers a range of access technology options and architectures which, for operators such as Charter and J:COM, is critical as they look to redesign their access network architectures.

Vecima Brings IP Video Expertise to the Table

One of the recognized challenges for both DAA options is how to handle legacy, QAM-based video. Although major cable operators continue to lose multichannel video subscribers, there remains a significant installed base of subscribers who will maintain their subscriptions and will expect to receive service without interruption.

To maximize the signal quality and bandwidth improvements delivered by DAA, operators will deploy video platforms that allow them to convert existing QAM-based video to IP for transport purposes between the headend or hub site and optical nodes. Gainspeed had developed a video engine for specifically this purpose. But Vecima has already been guiding operators through the QAM-to-IP conversion process via its Entra Video QAM Manager and Legacy QAM Adapter products. The Entra video products have been designed to support RPDs and RMDs from multiple vendors, giving operators a way to onboard new nodes and shelves without having to be concerned that legacy video service would be disrupted. These products will be critical for potential customers as they look to deploy either R-PHY or R-MACPHY architectures.

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During an online event last week, Huawei and a select group of 20 chipset, module, and terminal suppliers formally introduced the 4G/5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) Technology Forum 2020. The group’s mission is to help service providers adopt and deploy fixed wireless access by ensuring interoperability, sharing business case successes, and providing best practices for deploying and managing fixed wireless services and subscribers.

Although FWA has been a viable technology option for decades, the proliferation of 4G networks and rapid growth of 5G networks makes it an even more promising tool to connect rural, underserved, and emerging markets where copper and fiber infrastructure has never existed. Already, according to the GSA, over 400 mobile operators and WISPs (Wireless ISPs) globally deliver some type of 4G FWA service, while over 35 5G operators have launched FWA service. Additionally, more national broadband plans or broadband expansion efforts include FWA as an important complement to fiber buildouts, especially for rural and underserved areas.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, broadband access is an absolutely critical service, as much of the world continues to work and educate from home. Being connected with a service that can deliver videoconferencing and other high bandwidth applications consistently is just as important. As we have seen in some countries, including Italy, the zero-touch provisioning afforded by FWA can help to deliver broadband connectivity quickly and safely.

FWA Technology Options Abound

One of the primary goals of the newly-created FWA Technology Forum is to help service providers sift through the myriad technology options in front of them to help put together services that match their available spectrum bands, serving areas, data consumption, and subscriber growth expectations.

To be successful and reliable, FWA demand higher throughput and higher spectral efficiency, as well as dedicated QoS and subscriber/device management. To meet those demands, equipment vendors and component suppliers are integrating MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output), carrier aggregation TDD and FDD spectrum, as well as QoS, subscriber, and service provisioning software tools.

The antenna and spectral efficiency tools, including MIMO, beamforming, and carrier aggregation are critical components of both the FWA access networks and CPE to ensure subscribers get as much sustained throughput as possible.

Vendors have shown that providing massive MIMO throughout the RAN (Radio Access Network) can deliver a 3x-5x capacity gain for operators. Coupling this with CPE that can support 4×4 MIMO can also increase an individual user’s throughput by 1.5x-2x.

Chipset and module suppliers are accommodating the various technology options by delivering multi-mode reference designs that support 5G, 4G, and 3G spectrum bands, as well as supporting both standalone and non-standalone 5G architectures in the sub-6GHz band. These chips also deliver 2×2 MIMO in the uplink and 4×4 MIMO in the downlink, with roadmaps to increase the MIMO capabilities in the near future.

Besides, these integrated chipsets also support WiFi 6. The combination of FWA for broadband access to the home, using WiFi 6 to distribute the signal within the home is an ideal combination for operators. Both technologies support very high bandwidth and high concurrency rates, while also delivering the low latency and low power consumption required in today’s homes that are heavy consumers of videoconferencing, online gaming, and cloud VR services, but also have a growing number of IoT sensors and devices that require features such as TWT (Target Wake Time) to preserve their battery life.

Finally, these chipsets and the CPE in which they are integrated can include AI and machine learning capabilities to help them anticipate network or signal quality issues, anticipate increases in consumption based on time of day or user profiles, and even help subscribers identify the best location for the terminal to optimize the FWA signal from the network. These capabilities are critical in helping service providers reduce their operational costs, while also delivering on the promise of zero-touch installation and provisioning. They are also critical in giving service providers the flexibility to provide both indoor and outdoor CPE, depending on their subscriber’s geographic location and dwelling type.

The FWA Technology Forum hopes to streamline the interoperability process and provide a template for FWA providers based on their requirements, matching all the technology options available to their budgets and ROI expectations. Part of the Forum’s efforts is the creation of a catalog of vendor members and their products to make it easier for service providers to piece together FWA solutions based specifically on their needs.

FWA Delivers New Business and Revenue Models

With a wide range of new technology options comes the opportunity for FWA to deliver multiple business cases and help service providers expand their revenue-generating opportunities. First and foremost, FWA is the easiest and most cost-effective method for providing basic broadband access to rural and underserved areas, as well as those areas where fixed infrastructure never existed. From there, service providers can use some of the technologies listed above to deliver broadband on par with today’s DOCSIS and higher-end DSL offerings. Finally, as service providers deploy 5G networks, they can use FWA to deliver services and experiences similar to today’s fiber networks.

Combining the bandwidth and range improvements with emerging edge computing and virtualization efforts also enable FWA providers to move into areas beyond residential broadband into small-to-medium enterprise connectivity, telemedicine, industrial control, remote education and work, and full-fledged VR. Again, the FWA Technology Forum aims to be helpful to service providers here as they work with their vendor partners to deliver FWA services today with an eye to future service revenue growth. The 4G/5G FWA Technology Forum members plan to expand collaboration with service providers by sharing successful business cases of operators, the equipment and architectures they used to deliver multiple types of FWA, and how technology evolutions will give service providers a healthy roadmap for the growth of subscribers, overall connectivity, and revenue.

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Dell'Oro Broadband Access and Home Networking 5-Year Forecast ReportGlobal Headwinds in 2020 Give Way to 2021 Expansion

Global spending on broadband access equipment and CPE is expected to drop 7% in 2020, dipping to $11.4 B, before increasing 5% in 2021. Our forecast from January 2020 anticipated a 5% decline in total revenue in 2020.

More interestingly, we have increased our five-year CAGR (2019-2024) from -2% from our January forecast to -0.9%. This improvement might seem counterintuitive, given the worldwide impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic and its resulting orders to stay at home for work and education, have shown the world just how critical adequate broadband access is to the global economy. As a result, global initiatives to expand and improve broadband access are either underway or will be shortly. Nearly all service providers have said that they have reached their planned capacity utilization rates for the entire year in the first half of 2020. Thus, they will need to expand this capacity to maintain comfortable operating levels. However, operators will do so judiciously, as subscriber growth might be short-lived and the pressure to preserve to capital, or to ensure capital is balanced in the midst of expanding RAN investments, becomes fundamentally more important than overall expansion.

PON Equipment Spending Expected to Remain Solid

Our five-year CAGR for PON equipment has been increased from 0% to just under 1%. China, which has historically accounted for anywhere from 65-80% of total PON spending, has peaked in terms of total ONT units consumed on an annual basis. The Chinese FTTH market has matured, with broadband penetration in the country reportedly nearing 80%. Though subscriber growth is slowing, there is still a tremendous installed base of subscribers that will continue to require new ONTs. This is especially the case beginning this year, when all three major operators begin purchasing 10 G units, based on either 10G EPON or the asymmetric XG-PON1 technologies. The 10 G upgrade cycle in China for ONTs will be extended over a longer period of time than the initial 1G EPON and 2.5 G GPON rollouts, as individual systems announce gigabit city initiatives.

Although China’s ONT volumes are coming down from the peak years of 2017 and 2018, additional growth is expected from the rest of the world—particularly North America and Western Europe. In North America, the FCC’s $20B RDOF (Rural Digital Opportunity Fund) program will help transition a significant number of rural areas to fiber. In Western Europe, major operators including Orange, DT, BT OpenReach, and Proximus are all expanding their fiber rollouts and even moving quickly to XGS-PON for symmetric 10 G services.

Finally, in Asia, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia, along with a 10 G upgrade cycle in Japan and South Korea should also help sustain the market.

After 2019-2020 Trough, Cable Equipment Spending Expected to Rebound

The glut of DOCSIS channel capacity that helped push down cable equipment revenue in 2019 has actually been beneficial to operators this year as they have been able to address significant increases in both upstream and downstream traffic during the pandemic with minimal increases in spending. In most cases, cable operators have used the software tools available as part of DOCSIS 3.1 to ensure adequate bandwidth for all subscribers. In other cases, operators have purchased additional DOCSIS licenses as part of accelerated node split programs to address systems with the greatest need.

But all those investments in existing CCAP platforms have resulted in postponements of strategic DAA projects, for the time being. We have no doubt these projects will resume, but it won’t likely be until the latter part of this year or 2021 before they do.

Regardless, after two years of under-investing in infrastructure, the overall cable infrastructure market will see a steady increase in revenue throughout our forecast period, as mid- and high-split projects in North America and Western Europe, designed to increase upstream capacity, are accelerated.

To get a copy of  the Broadband Access July 2020 5-Year Forecast Report, please email us at

About the Broadband Access 5-Year Forecast Report:

The Dell’Oro Group Broadband Access 5-Year Forecast Report provides a complete overview of the Broadband Access market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, average selling prices, and port/unit shipments for Cable, DSL, and PON equipment. Covered equipment includes Converged Cable Access Platforms (CCAP), Distributed Access Architectures (DAA), DSL Access Multiplexers ([DSLAMs] by technology ADSL/ADSL2+, G.SHDSL, VDSL, VDSL Profile 35b, G.FAST), PON Optical Line Terminals (OLTs), Customer Premises Equipment ([CPE] for Cable, DSL, and PON), along with SOHO WLAN Equipment, including Mesh Routers.

Related video to the Broadband Access Forecast:

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Two weeks ago, the Dell’Oro Group and Huawei jointly hosted a webinar focused on how the integration of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning into home broadband devices can help service providers globally deliver more powerful, customized broadband services to their subscribers. I had the opportunity to provide some market statistics and overall trends in the areas of home networking, while my co-presenters from Huawei and Russia’s Rostelecom, provide more insight into the technical requirements as well as new business opportunities these technologies can deliver.

A major part of recent and ongoing upgrades to home networking devices has been the integration of centralized, cloud-based management, along with machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities to more efficiently understand home networking requirements and consumption and optimize services within the home to ensure consistent user experience.

At the same time as machine learning and cloud-based management of CPE are being introduced, Wi-Fi 6 is quickly being integrated into the next generation of home gateways and routers to improve physical layer throughput for the gigabit age. With a focus on providing a theoretical maximum of 10 Gbps of throughput, one of the primary goals of Wi-Fi 6 is to ensure that a customer’s Wi-Fi network will not impede the delivery of high-bandwidth, latency-sensitive services such as cloud gaming, 8k video, and cloud VR services.

This combination of machine learning, AI, and Wi-Fi 6 is giving service providers a toolset they’ve never had before to not only improve how they deliver Wi-Fi services to home broadband subscribers but also how they can tailor and customize their broadband and Wi-Fi offerings to each user, based on their consumption requirements. The net result is a powerful new revolution in-home Wi-Fi.

Using AI to Reduce Latency and Increase Revenue

One of the areas where the combination of machine learning, AI, and Wi-Fi 6 is most effective is in reducing latency throughout home Wi-Fi networks, thereby enabling high-value services such as cloud gaming and cloud VR services.

The reduction in latency allows service providers to tailor their broadband service offerings to specific customer types, especially those who are willing to pay for premium performance for applications such as cloud gaming, which is very sensitive to the impacts of latency.

These same operators are also delivering constant improvements to the performance of their gaming service through the use of machine learning. As bandwidth consumption ebbs and flows throughout the day or during specific hours of the day, the operator can re-route the high priority traffic automatically and dynamically. This can occur both within their own network and also within the home, where less-congested Wi-Fi channels can be quickly identified and used to deliver the latency-sensitive traffic.

Rostelecom has introduced a cloud gaming service in conjunction with gaming platform providers throughout Russia. The service takes advantage of network enhancements Rostelecom has made to offer a premium broadband service tier specifically for online gamers. The service offers near-symmetric speeds and reduced latency to give online gamers an edge over their competitors. Rostelecom expects to take the principle of customized bandwidth tiers to other applications, potentially addressing subscribers who work from home exclusively and need additional throughput and reductions in latency to support HD videoconferencing, for example.

This is but one of the very early examples of AI and machine learning changing the business model of home broadband in positive ways for service providers. We are already seeing operators offer parental controls, device, and user profile controls, as well as new service tiers, tailored specifically to how subscribers actually use bandwidth. Ultimately, just providing a pipe and reliable connectivity won’t be enough for broadband subscribers. Instead, they’ll be asking providers for personalized bandwidth and services. Those services require more intelligence in the home, as well as throughout the access network. Those services will also require end-to-end automation and provisioning so that they can be turned on and off instantly. The integration of AI and machine learning capabilities from the home all the way into the access network will be key enablers of those services going forward.

Click here to watch the on-demand webinar – AI Reshapes Home Networks Experience (pre-registration is required)

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We just finished our first Data Center Capex July 2020 5-year Forecast Report. Below are some highlights from the report. If you need to access the full report, please contact us at

Data center capex, which includes capex for servers and other data center infrastructure equipment, is forecasted to grow at a 6% CAGR to just over $200 B over the next five years. Growth is forecasted to be mixed depending on the customer segment. The Cloud, which already accounts for more than 60% of the worldwide data center capex, will continue to gain momentum over Enterprise/On-premise data center deployments. Edge data centers deployed over Telco networks could emerge in the longer-term horizon.

Capex on servers, which generally accounts for nearly half of the data center capex, may be influenced by the following factors:

    • Change in server unit demand from Cloud capacity and digestion cycles.
    • Market volatility of commodity pricing of components such as memory.
    • Server refresh cycles, which could prompt the replacement of aged servers and drive new deployments, could impact server architecture and pricing.

Servers also drive the demand for auxiliary data center infrastructure equipment such as networking switches, storage systems, and facilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to profoundly disrupt global demand for data center infrastructure equipment in 2020. Impacted vertical industries, especially brick-and-mortar retail, travel, hospitality, and small and medium enterprises, have seen a pull-back in IT spending as they wait for the business climate to stabilize. As enterprises seek to conserve capital, Public Cloud, which offers a flexible and consumption-based infrastructure, could help meet the growing demands of remote work and distance learning. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing recession may have the long-lasting effect of accelerating the permanent migration of certain industries and workloads to the Cloud.

Market and Technology Trends to Watch Out For

  • The Top 4 U.S. Cloud service providers—Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft—are positioned to continue their momentum of expansion over the next five years. Servers will continue to be consolidated in fewer mega Cloud data centers that could potentially provide greater capacity than the same number of servers spread out across thousands of Enterprise data centers.
  • The Top 4 U.S. Cloud service providers have been prolonging the useful life of servers in an effort to lower server depreciation expense while maintaining high efficiencies and reliability of their server fleet.
  • The Intel server processor refresh cycles have historically influenced IT spending. While the major Cloud service providers typically ramp server capacity outside of the processor refresh cycle, the upcoming Intel 10 nm Whitley server platform refresh due later this year could generate an uplift on server spending. Viable alternatives to Intel processors, AMD EPYC and ARM, for server and storage system applications are starting to materialize in certain markets.
  • Various open-source organizations have come together to share and standardize best practices in the design of efficient, scalable, and sustainable data center infrastructure. The Open Compute Project (OCP), in particular, has introduced various technological innovations in the areas of server and server connectivity, rack architecture, and networking switches, which could shape the future development of data center infrastructure.

To learn more about the COVID-19 impact on Data Center Infrastructure and Server spending, please click here to watch my latest video.

About the Data Center Capex 5 Year Forecast Report

Dell’Oro Group’s Data Center Capex 5-Year Forecast Report details the data center infrastructure capital expenditures of each of the ten largest Cloud service providers, as well as the Rest-of-Cloud, Telco, and Enterprise customer segments. Allocation of the data center infrastructure capex for servers, storage systems, and other auxiliary data center equipment is provided. The report also discusses the market and technology trends that can shape the forecast. Highlights from the Server and Storage System Report (now discontinued) was transitioned to this report. Click here to learn more about the report or contact us ( for the full report.


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