LABOR UPS NBN DISCORD, SLAMS ‘RIDICULOUS’ CLAIM

The political football that is the NBN took another pummelling this week with Labor shadow ministers Michelle Rowland and Jim Chalmers taking aim at the government over claims NBN was exceeding targets, labelling them ‘ridiculous’.

In a joint statement, Rowland who is Shadow Minister for Communications, and Chalmers – Shadow Minister for Finance – said the claim that NBN Co was exceeding targets was ‘ridiculous’ and ‘disrespects the intelligence of the Australian public’.

The pair also took potshots at Mitch Fifield and Mathias Cormann saying: “If Mitch Fifield and Mathias Cormann were not sufficiently deluded in backing Peter Dutton for PM, they today made the ridiculous claim that NBN Co was continuing to exceed its targets!”

The outburst follows comments from Fifield and Cormann, in their respective roles as Minister of Communications and Minister of Finance, that NBN was showing strong performance and growth in activations and revenue, with its half yearly results ‘confirm[ing]  the company is exceeding its connection and financial targets’.

Labor’s claims are based on targets set in NBN’s first corporate plan, back in 2017, rather than later plans, with Rowland and Chalmers saying ‘It appears the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government is hoping no one notices their NBN ‘targets’ get changed every year because the previous targets have been missed.”

Rowland and Chalmers say NBN is failing to meet the 2017 targets across revenue, ARPU, activations, HFC activations and HFC ready for service.

FY19 revenue, the pair say, was due to reach $3.7 billion, with the company’s $1.3 billion half year result suggesting it may not meet that target.

NBN’s half year report shows 4.6 million premises with an active service over the NBN network and 8.1 million premises ready to connect – up 38 percent on the same time last year.

Rowland and Chalmers also delved back into 2013’s NBN Election policy, noting a coalition promise of a rollout cost of $29.5 billion, while the project’s current forecast is for $50.9 billion in rollout cost. The 2013 NBN Election policy also put completion at 2016, a date that has since been pushed out to 2020.

Meanwhile, Fifield and Cormann, in their joint statement following the release of NBN’s half yearly results, claimed the figures confirmed the company’s ‘solid performance across all metrics and provides further evidence of the benefits of the coalition’s faster, more affordable NBN rollout’

In the six months to 31 December, NBN’s revenue was up 46 percent year on year, to $1.3 billion, supported by an uplift in ARPU to $45.

NETWORK OPERATORS MUST LEVERAGE EDGE COMPUTING TO ENSURE 5G SUCCESS: GLOBALDATA

Immersive virtual reality (VR), self-driving cars and remote controlled robots are just some of the things telecommunications service providers expect future 5G mobile networks to make possible, according to GlobalData.

However, the analyst firm added that most large service providers agree that higher bandwidth 5G networks will, by themselves, be insufficient to support these emerging applications.

It said recent initiatives by large service providers, including Verizon, AT&T and Deutsche Telekom, illustrate the importance that is being attributed to edge computing as an essential component for unlocking the benefits of 5G.

“Edge computing involves the deployment of computer power, data storage and management closer to the end users of digital content and applications,” said GlobalData principal analyst Chris Drake. “This allows the associated data to be processed, analyzed and acted on locally, instead of being transmitted over long distance networks to be processed at central data centers.”

“The benefits of handling data and running applications locally include cost-savings, based on a massive reduction in the amount of bandwidth that’s required to transport data across long distance networks for processing. Benefits also include the higher performance that’s achieved by running applications closer to end users.”

“At the end of January 2019, Verizon announced that it had successfully tested edge computing technology on a live 5G network at its testbed in Houston, Texas. According to Verizon, the use of edge computing within its Houston 5G network resulted in a 50% fall in latency, or the lag-time, associated with sending that data for processing by computer servers.

“Nevertheless, plenty of challenges lie ahead for 5G and edge computing, including the need to develop viable business models around the new technologies, and a host of security concerns created by emerging 5G and edge computing use cases, whose distributed architectures will include many more locations at which security breaches can occur. These and other concerns mean that, for many, new 5G applications may be slow to materialize,” said Drake.

BEAM INKS 6th IRIDIUM GO DEAL AS NEW SATELLITE CONSTELLATION COMES ONLINE

Australia’s Beam Communications has signed a new deal with Iridium which will see the ASX-listed company providing a further 5,000 portable voice and data satellite devices for the Iridium network.

Beam has already delivered 35,000 of the Iridium Go units – which provide the global connectivity to enable smartphones to be used for global voice calling, text messaging and other services – for Iridium over the past five years.

The deal, the sixth order for Beam for the devices, comes as Iridium completes its Next satellite constellation upgrade – a US$3 billion project comprising 75 satellites, 667 in the operational constellation and nine serving as on-orbit spares.

The final two satellites required to complete the Iridium Next satellite constellation refresh – which replaced 66 low earth orbit satellites – were activated earlier this month.

Iridium says the upgraded constellation enables new services such as unprecedented global aircraft tracking and surveillance and the Certus broadband service, launched in January. The upgraded network is also fully compatible with the original satellite constellation’s services.

Beam says it expects further orders in the wake of the Next upgrade. Delivery of the units from the latest order is expected to be completed by the end of the first half of FY2020, with Beam noting the product life cycle is significantly longer than other communication devices, due to its rugged design and ongoing creation of custom apps, including ones for weather, mail and maritime charting.

The ASX-listed company says the deal bolsters it’s pipeline with the company on track to return to sustained profitability in the current financial year.

In a letter to shareholders, Michael Capocchi, Beam Communications chief executive, says there has been strong ongoing demand for the Iridium Go offering, which Beam designed for Iridium in 2014.

“Fresh demand for the unit is largely driven by a growing list of apps designed for Iridium Go, including messaging, weather, email and chat and also some new developments for internet of things and machine to machine applications.

Bryan Hartin, Iridium executive vice president of sales and marketing, says “Completion of Iridium Next has assured our customers that the reliable and critical lifelines that Iridium provides will continue uninterrupted, as we remain the only communications company of any type with real-time, truly global coverage,” Hartin says.