Telecom Times editor steps down

Telecom Times has ceased publishing.

There are tentative plans for a subscription newsletter Digital Health Monitor, which I intend to also include access to some kind of Telecom Digest as well as the publication The Parkinsonian.

For more information, please contact me on



NBN Co claims doubling of average Australian broadband download speed since 2014

A new report by economic analytics firm AlphaBet which NBN Co says offers a more accurate reading of a nation’s broadband speed ranking, has found that the average Australian broadband download speed has more than doubled over the last five years as the national broadband network rollout picked up pace.

During his keynote address at Informa Tech’s Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, NBN Co CEO Stephen Rue lambasted some online ranking tools, including that of Ookla, which had previously ranked Australia below Thailand, Panama, Paraguay, “where almost half of households in those countries don’t have access to broadband.”

Rue said AlphaBeta – to which the national network builder “has turned” for a more accurate reading of a nation’s broadband speed ranking – had developed its own ranking system taking into account key factors such as availability, population, and geography. 

jj“This model differs from on-line tests in two fundamental ways,” he said. “First, this model uses government validated, subscription speed data, as well as data from the OECD to consistently represent broadband availability to all broadband users within each country – and so just accounting for particular speed-test website.”

“And second, it accounts for the vast differences in broadband availability across countries,” said Rue, adding that by these measures AlphaBeta found the average Australian broadband download speed had increased from 16 megabits per second in 2014 to 37 megabytes per second in 2019.

Rue said by taking these factors of speed and availability into account, Australia’s average broadband speed actually ranked 17th out of 37 major economies. “We’re ahead of comparable nations such as Germany, France, and China, and a far cry from Ookla’s suggested world ranking of 59th,” he added.

Rue told Telecom Times on the sidelines of the #bbwf summit that any credible comparison methodology would consider the percentage of the population that actually has access to that network.

“I think that when you do that, that’s important to put countries in context with each other – comparing countries of a particular size is important as well. So that we can actually see what you’ve created, and how that network stands up against international comparison,” he said.

“Importantly, the research forecasts that Australia will continue to climb these ranks, and after completion of the NBN rollout, when more than 50 percent of our network will be capable of delivering gigabit speeds, Australia’s rank could rise to 13th amongst comparable countries,” Rue continued.

In addition to the vexed issue of average broadband speed rankings, Rue also touched on NBN Co’s brief in terms of the network’s accessibility and affordability. “This role that NBN plays in helping to uphold the nation’s social contract that no matter where you live, you’re entitled to access critical services, have job opportunities, and connect with loved ones is a commitment that we’re proud of and we take very seriously'” he said.

“I believe accessibility is a crucial factor in determining the success or otherwise of broadband networks. And key to providing accessibility, is affordability, because if consumers cannot afford, or are unwilling to pay for highspeed broadband, then nations will miss out on the benefits of rolling out this critical infrastructure,” Rue said.

He added that in Australia there had been a clear correlation between the rollout of the network and the cost of telecommunication services declining in real terms.

“Earlier this year we commissioned AlphaBeta again for another piece of research to compare retail pricing, in real terms, and found that in that study of 4,600 broadband plans across 22 countries, Australia was the 7th most affordable market,” he said.

According to Rue, that report also found that since 2000, while Australia’s cost of living increased by 63%, telecommunication prices fell by 6%.

“We’ve seen a steep fall in telecommunication prices, particularly in the last five years since the rollout of NBN gathered pace, and compared against the 224% increase in electricity prices, and 134% percent increase in the price of healthcare,” he said.

Rue said that the approach he favoured would ideally combine the needs of the individuals with the needs of the nation. “To meet those needs, you need to strike a balance between speed, access, and affordability. We passionately care about achieving this balance, because better access to affordable, high-speed broadband, is what powers the benefits that NBN can deliver to each individual, each business, each industry, in Australia.”

Rue said in NBN connected areas, the rate of growth in digital economy jobs is outpacing the national average by a factor of five, and that the number of self-employed women in these regions had been growing at a rate of 20 times faster than the NBN non-connected areas.

“In fact, it’s estimated that there could be up to 93,000 additional self-employed people by 2021, thanks to NBN,” he said, adding “NBN is also helping to grow more businesses, estimated at up to 80,000 more businessesby 2021.”

“It’s helping a new generation of entrepreneurs launch new services and new businesses. And in terms of fulfilling a promise made when NBN was first introduced, I’m pleased to say that we provide specific products and services offerings for businesses of all sizes, from your start-up to your enterprise business,’ Rue said.

Rue said this was already delivering economic and community benefits in terms of increasing choice and competition in the market, as well as ensuring that business customers get the support they need to run and to grow. “This is essential as we’re assisting those who choose to start their own business to create jobs, which is the backbone of our economy.”

TRue said these socio-economic benefits were set to increase in coming decades as the full potential of a completed NBN is unleashed on our nation.

“Although we know too well the challenges of rolling out universal highspeed connectivity to a nation, we also know that the socio-economic returns it enables are worth it.


Richard van der Draay was in Amsterdam as a guest of Informa Tech

Mellanox propels NVMe/TCP and RoCE fabrics to new heights

Copy of Copy of Copy of BREAKING NEWS (3)

SUNNYVALE, CA. and YOKNEAM, ISRAEL – October 15, 2019 – Mellanox Technologies, Ltd. (NASDAQ: MLNX), a leading supplier of high-performance, end-to-end smart interconnect solutions for data center servers and storage systems, today announced acceleration of NVMe/TCP at speeds up to 200Gb/s. The entire portfolio of shipping ConnectX adapters supports NVMe-oF over both TCP and RoCE, and the newly-introduced ConnectX-6 Dx and BlueField-2 products also secure NVMe-oF connections over IPsec and TLS using hardware-accelerated encryption and decryption. These Mellanox solutions empower cloud, telco and enterprise data-centers to deploy highly-efficient, NVMe flash storage platforms using both TCP/IP and RoCE.

 The growing demands for web-scale, dynamic storage have led hyperscale cloud titans to adopt networked NVMe storage technologies to support their need for composable infrastructure with incredible velocity and agility. Providing fully automated, on-demand and simple access to storage resources, composable storage architectures replace the traditional, siloed infrastructure model and benefit data centers of all sizes. Central to this approach is the provisioning of disaggregated, scale-out NVMe storage media that utilizes a high-throughput, low latency network interconnect for accelerating compute access to software-defined storage.

Mellanox, the leader in high-performance networking, offers a complete portfolio comprising ConnectX SmartNICs and BlueField IPUs. The innovative portfolio delivers cutting-edge NVMe-oF capabilities over both TCP and RDMA transports, enabling superior performance, higher return on investment, and lower total cost-of-ownership than other network adapters. The now-shipping ConnectX-6 Dx and upcoming BlueField-2 IPU support hardware cryptographic acceleration of IPSec and TLS for both RoCE and TCP, making them the world’s fastest and most secure NVMe-oF SmartNICs.

 The new NVMe/TCP storage acceleration enables customers to deploy NVMe storage today in existing TCP/IP network environments, allowing businesses to enjoy a smooth transition path from legacy storage solutions to modern storage platforms. Recent benchmarks demonstrate ConnectX adapters deliver up to full-line rate performance using the NVMe/TCP protocol. In addition, ConnectX and BlueField deliver NVMe-oF hardware accelerators for storage target and initiator functions over RoCE networks, providing unparalleled performance and CPU efficiency. ConnectX SmartNICs and BlueField IPUs are ideal for any NVMe-oF storage solution, allowing businesses to select their network of choice, achieve massive scale, eliminate any vendor lock-in, and secure data-in-motion as well as data-at-rest.

 “As NVMe storage gains momentum in the industry, Mellanox Ethernet SmartNICs accelerate NVMe access across any network, demonstrating technology leadership in the space”, said Dror Goldenberg, senior vice president, software architecture, at Mellanox Technologies. “Our NVMe/TCP and NVMe-oF RoCE acceleration technologies enable our customers to benefit from the economical and operational advantages of composable and disaggregated storage architecture, in a flexible and future-proof design.”

“We use Mellanox ConnectX NICs to deliver excellent performance from the Pavilion Hyperparallel Flash Array, over either TCP or RoCE, or both simultaneously,” said VR Satish, CTO of Pavilion Data. “We’ve shown that NVMe over TCP offers much better performance than iSCSI, and NVMe over Fabrics using RoCE delivers even faster performance, with average NVMe-oF latencies from 40-50% lower than using NVMe over TCP.”

“Excelero is proud to support RoCE and TCP networking with our NVMesh and NVMedge Software stacks” said Yaniv Romem, CTO & Co-Founder at Excelero. “Our distributed NVMe flash solution supports amazingly fast and efficient storage performance on nearly any network fabric. But for the best possible NVMe-oF throughput and latency, we recommend Mellanox ConnectX adapters with Mellanox Spectrum switches.”

Mellanox ConnectX SmartNICs have been widely adopted by and are available in the market through various compute and storage OEM vendors globally. Moreover, ConnectX SmartNICs are supported by enterprise-class operating-system providers and virtualization software stacks, including VMware ESXi, Microsoft Windows Server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems, and more. Compared to competing solutions, ConnectX provides improved power and a cost-efficient ASIC solution with a broad set of innovative hardware accelerators and software-defined capabilities.

Humble text kingpin for trusted customer comms: Soprano Design

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By Richard Favero, Soprano Design Founder and Executive Chairman

We’re communicating with each other more than ever before. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram have become king for keeping connected replacing traditional mail but for me, text messaging still reigns supreme.

It has been nearly 27 years since the first text message was sent and the way we connect and interact with each other was changed forever more. In many ways, the text message is like a digital post-it note. It works best when the message is kept short and to the point. It’s also arguably one of the most efficient ways for businesses to communicate with their customers, employees and suppliers.

It’s also why, in the United States alone, more than nine trillion SMS messages are sent each year and the number continues to grow. Over the ten years up until 2017, the volume sent each month has increased by nearly 8,000 percent. That’s a pretty enviable growth rate for any platform.

So, what’s driving this growth? Aside from most of us being on our mobiles almost constantly, it’s also effective with 90 percent of messages read within three minutes of receipt. Also, you’re seven times more likely to respond to a text compared to an email. Our mobile number has become an essential part of our identity which is why so many businesses, government organisations, finance companies and health care providers are investing and utilising our mobile-based technology to connect with people.

It’s also why earlier this month we launched Soprano Connect, new digital interactive channels designed specifically to keep pace with customer demand for increased interoperability and two-way interactivity between enterprise and social messaging platforms. Our early adopter customers and telco partners in the United States, Europe, Asia Pacific and Australia are now trialing it across WhatsApp and Rich Communications Services (RCS) ahead of our global launch in a few weeks.

The need for stronger customer relationships was the original catalyst for our creation of a trusted mobile interaction system back in 1994. Twentyfive years later it remains king alongside ensuring the right person receives the right information at the right time with our software. Our software makes trusted mobile interactions easy, adaptable, secure and low risk. It is a great promise to offer and we’re now on track to achieve our strongest year to date with our global messaging volumes set to exceed seven billion in 2020 – nearly 40% year-on-year volume growth since 2018.

Removing barriers for distribution and risks around delivery means clients can focus fully on messaging content. The process is simple too we integrate their data with our messaging solution, creating a seamless experience for the end receiver.

And while we’re delivering the information, for all intents and purposes, it is on behalf of a person’s bank, heath care provider, a government agency or a favourite retailer providing confidence and greater engagement between the two parties.

What next for the text?

Looking to the next 10 years, we’ll no doubt see further changes in technology. And while the fundamental need for communication will stay the same, the way we go about delivering that information will change, smartphones are not going anywhere. We will see only more mobile interactions which we’re focused on harnessing. We’re continuing to grow the number of text messages we send for our customers, improving their communication with clients, maintaining privacy and enhancing our solutions to keep pace with technology opportunities and keep messaging efficient, effective and relevant.

The team at Soprano gets a real thrill out of the size and scale of the problems we solve on behalf of our clients. We are continually constructing solutions based on our customer needs such as better interoperability between clients and their customers. Even if that delivery is based around the humble text.

Richard Favero is Founder and Executive Chairman of Soprano Design, a global software design firm that delivers trusted mobile interactions via its cloud-based mobile communication platform.

‘5G is not a mobile technology; it’s a convergent tech’ says ETNO’s Lise Fuhr

5G should be regarded as a convergent technology first and foremost rather than merely a mobile capability, according to Lise Fuhr, Director General at the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association.

Addressing a global gathering of telecom professionals at Informa Tech’s Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, Fuhr said for the most part European telcos considered 5G to be a “mix of fixed networks, it’s a mix of mobile technology” – but did highlight the need for an overhaul of the typical operators’ business model in the face of the imminent 5G rollout.

“And I think it’s, first and foremost, also about putting intelligence into networks,’ Fuhr added. “5G and broadband are changing our lives, so these are really important for Europe; and they’re important for the European competition, for years to come.  That’s why I think the political environment is important for what we do and how we see connectivity here in Europe.”

Fuhr also emphasised the need for operators and stakeholders to clearly chart the challenges as well as the drivers involved with the actual delivery of 5G. “If we are to deliver broadband to all of Europe, and also to actually meet the gigabyte society targets set by the Commission, we need to look into what the challenges are [and] we need to look into the enablers.”

In addition, she advocated a three-pronged 5G strategy for Europe-based operators looking to capitalise on opportunities as part of the rollout, detailing an approach that included more than developing perspectives on investment and policy or regulation.

“And that is, our business models are changing,” Fuhr explained. “We also need to look into how 5G is changing the way we actually have our business models.”

“We are, with 5G, creating a platform for connectivity. We are going to be able to deliver more tailored services to the end users, but also to the industry,” Fuhr said, adding that the traditional siloed outlook on the part of some Europe-focused telcos had been rendered obsolete.

“In Europe we see 5G mostly as an industrial network, and as an industrial business space, and that’s why we need to refocus on how we work. Because now we’re not only telcos; now we need to reach out to other industries,” she said.

Referring to the automotive industry, where connected and automated cars are poised to become important offerings, Fuhr argued that specifical industries will require tailored networks.  “They know that they need a specific network to fulfil their requirements, and actually to deliver on automated cars,” she said, noting also that companies like Bosch and Siemens for instance will have varying needs in terms of what possibilities 5G can provide.

“They will need to have networks that are tailored to their industrial manufacturing” said Fuhr. “And that’s why we, as an industry, need to look into how we combine our forces. How we actually work together. Because if we don’t create a relationship, and include these stakeholders in what we do, they might lose trust in us.”

Raising the spectre of some disenchanted stakeholders potentially approaching regulators to apply for spectrum licences to enable them to devise their own mobile networks, Fuhr warned, “And then we’re in another ballgame than we are today. Because we need to be the one delivering on the infrastructure. I think we’re best placed to do so, and we’re experts in it.”

“But, in doing so, we need to accommodate the requirements. We need to accommodate what the consumers, what the industries, want from us,” she said.


Richard van der Draay was in Amsterdam as a guest of Informa Tech

NBN Co chief champions ongoing customer experience focus as rollout nears completion

Stephen Rue, chief executive officer at NBN Co, the company rolling out the Australian national broadband network took some time out during Informa Tech’s Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam to review some recent developments of the rollout as it gathers pace in the final stages.

Having just used his #bbwf keynote to unveil a new international broadband speed report commissioned by NBN Co, Rue was eager to emphasize the importance of maintaining an ongoing company focus on customer service – particularly as the project’s benefits to retail service providers become more apparent as the project nears completion.

TELECOM TIMES: Thank you for your time. To what extent do you feel the wholesale remit of the NBN project was always going to present some issues and invite closer scrutiny? Looking back, can you nominate some key decisions, approaches or moments when strategic focal points were selected, which ideally could have been managed differently?

STEPHEN RUE: I have to be honest with you. I look forward, I don’t look back. I think the important thing for me is that NBN is here. We will have completed the large-scale rollout by June next year and for me, what’s important now –  having built a network across the whole nation – is we do a few things.

We look at customer experience, at how we and the retailers together, and also how we and the retailers working with regulators, can ensure we get a great experience for people.

Increasingly, we will see people use services like teleHealth to educate their children and to connect more with people. It means being able to live and work in regional and rural Australia and set up a business and stay in Australia [while] being able to sell products across the whole nation. So customer experience is important.

Then it’s also about helping uplift the digital capability of the nation through ensuring we help people utilise that asset. For example, we have a team called NBN Local. Its remit is to go and meet with stakeholders like the National Farmers Federation, and small businesses like aged care facilities, and assist them in helping the community through the broadband services they use.

Thirdly, it’s about getting to a cash flow positive position. That’s important so that we can continue to invest back into NBN, meaning that as technology moves and as consumer needs move, we can move with them.

TELECOM TIMES: Actually, I have a keen interest in the new area of digital Health, teleHealth or whatever it may end up being called, i.e. the interplay between tech/telco and health/well-being – a promising niche increasingly coming to the fore.

More specifically, I feel we could use more awareness around how tech and connectivity can have a far reaching, beneficial impact on the lives of those facing severe health issues. Is this an area NBN Co and its enterprise partners and endusers may want to focus on more as the rollout gathers pace in the completion phase?Is this an area NBN Co and its enterprise partners and endusers might want to focus on more, perhaps as a strategic focal lever to tweak as the rollout picks up pace in the haseIs this an area the NBN may be focusing on more as a strategic focal point that may be tweaked as the rollout gathers pace in the end phase??

STEPHEN RUEAs an organisation, we are very focused on what we call digital literacy and ensuring that we assist, as best as we can, organisations’ understanding of what their digital needs are and seeing how we can offer solutions to them.

And when I think about teleHealth, I also think about people I visited recently at the Royal Flying Doctors, and their ability to be able to access health services, whether they be psychological health services, or medical doctors from a distance as they meet their patients further out in rural and remote Australia.

TELECOM TIMES: In terms of the NBN as part of the nation’s move into the digital era, what is your expectation of the value of this opportunity to the Australian economy when we look at the next decade?

STEPHEN RUEWe did research a couple of years ago that indicated that the benefits of NBN on its rollout to the economy would be around about 10 billion dollars a year.

The investment in business is clearly important to enable entrepreneurs to be successful but also to ensure that there are jobs being created and that indeed those jobs are not just in the capital cities. 

We’re very focused on the Australian economy in various ways [such as] investing in regional and rural Australia – so the economies in [those areas] remain vibrant by looking at things like agriculture and tourism. 

We’re also very focused on providing services to small businesses. We introduced a series of new products last year directed toward business. We have invested in what we call a Business Operations Centre, whereby we provide additional services to some businesses in terms of assisting with connections of the system, when obviously there is a fault on the network.

TELECOM TIMES: In regard to the AlphaBeta speed check report launched here at Broadband World Forum, in your view which elements should be present within any comparison methodology that might warrant a claim of being truly even-handed, if not entirely independent?

STEPHEN RUE: I think in terms of the report today, what’s important is that when you compare speeds and capabilities between nations that you do a few things. That you use data that’s reliable and that you use large sample sizes, and you look at the percentage of the population that actually has access to that network.

And I think that when you do that, it’s important to put countries in context with each other – comparing countries of a particular size is important as well. So that we can actually see what you’ve created, and how that network stands up against international comparison.

TELECOM TIMES: Listening to KPN CTDO Babak Fouladi keynote, it occurred to me that the whole false dichotomy of there being a choice in emphasis between 5G and the business case for a vast deployment of ubiquitous fast fibre – such as the one in which we’ve been revelling in Australia – didn’t appear to feature as a hot topic of debate in the European market.

Do you think it’s too late in the game for Australia to understand that a future proof digital economy will need to ensure both elements are underpinned to an advanced level?

STEPHEN RUE: I think they serve different needs, and I think people in their homes will continue to consume a large amount of data, with ongoing exponential growth of video [and] increasingly people working from home. And you will see an ongoing growth in data which will need a great fixed line network. 

But equally, we will see, over time, the mobile operators upgrade to 5G and I think that will also provide different benefits for the consumerMy view is: 5G and fixed broadband networks are both important. 5G will, I’ve got no doubt, provide great benefits to the Australian economy. 

I think they’re both important and they’ll live beside each other. And the reason I say that is, when you look at the growth on our network of the amount of data that’s being consumed, it continues to grow exponentially.

There’s no doubt that we’ll be getting to a point in time in the next decade when, for example, it will be more than a terabyte of data [that is] consumed on fixed-line networksThat actually means that the fixed line network is very important. But equally, 5G will be important for the benefits that they will provide to the internet-of-things and to businesses.

In terms of our own NBN business, we’ll look to deploy 5G on some of our fixed wireless networks. But obviously, the mobile players will look at how the 5G network is built out throughout Australia.

Richard van der Draay  was in Amsterdam as a guest of Informa Tech

UN broadband commision calls for urgent action to boost global connectivity

A UN-backed report on global broadband access has uncovered an urgent need to improve global connectivity, with traditional strategies failing to enable the remaining half of the global population to get online.

According to the State of Broadband 2019: Broadband as Foundation for Sustainable Development report – which was issued by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development – global growth in the percentage of households connected to the internet is slowing, rising only slightly to 54.8% from 53.1% last year.

In addition, it found that in low-income countries, household internet adoption had improved by a mere 0.8% on average.

Data on individuals using the internet also indicated slowing global growth in 2018, as well as a slowing growth in developing countries, which are home to the vast majority of the estimated 3.7 billion still unconnected.

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development was established in 2010 by ITU and UNESCO with the aim of boosting the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda, and expanding broadband access in every country as key to accelerating progress towards national and international development targets.

Led by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Carlos Slim Helù of Mexico, it is co-chaired by ITU’s Secretary-General Houlin Zhao and UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. 

“Today, the main factor preventing people in developing countries from using mobile internet is not affordability but poor literacy and digital skills,” said Azoulay [pictured]. “Gender inequality in digital technology is even more alarming. Women are less likely to have internet access than men, and this gap is widening. The 2019 UNESCO publication ‘I’d Blush If I Could’, produced under the auspices of the EQUALS Global Partnership, illustrated that women are now four times less likely than men to be digitally literate, and represent just 6% of software developers.”

The report authors called for a new set of collaborative strategies to drive the concept of ‘meaningful universal connectivity’ through greater emphasis on resource sharing and a more holistic approach that treats broadband as a basic public utility and vital enabler of global development.

They argued that the notion of ‘meaningful universal connectivity’ also includes broadband that is available, accessible, relevant and affordable, as well as safe, trusted, user-empowering and leading to positive impact.

In addition, the report authors urged policymakers to ensure the concept to underpin their new digital strategies, as governments seek to find new ways to finance network rollouts, aimed at reaching unconnected populations.

Mobile broadband continues to dominate

The State of Broadband 2019 reports that while almost one billion new mobile subscribers have been added in the five years since 2013 (4.2% average annual growth), the speed of growth in mobile connections is also slowing, particularly at the bottom of the pyramid. Mobile network coverage improved much more slowly in low-income countries, with a mere 22% improvement in 4G coverage in the past five years, compared with a 66% increase in lower-middle-income countries.

In 2018, 4G overtook 2G to become the leading mobile technology across the world, with 3.4 billion connections, accounting for 44% of the total. 4G will soon become the dominant mobile technology, surpassing half of all global mobile connections in 2019, and expected to peak at 62% of all mobile connections by 2023.

Data show that of the 730 million people expected to subscribe to mobile services for the first time over the next seven years, half will come from Asia Pacific, and just under a quarter from Sub-Saharan Africa.

New strategies to connect the unconnected

The State of Broadband 2019 takes a nuanced look at the nature of broadband connections globally, observing that a false dichotomy between ‘connected’ vs. ‘unconnected’ can hide grave disparities in access and present an inaccurate picture of the realities on the ground in many countries.

It notes, that while a connection speed of 256kbps is counted as ‘broadband’ for statistical purposes, users connecting at such speeds cannot enjoy a full online experience comparable to that of users accessing the net over the 100Mbps-or-better connections now considered ‘standard’ in the world’s wealthier nations.

The report notes that individuals who are online may not fit into neat binary statistical categories (‘users’ vs. ‘non-users’). Instead, people are adopting a wide range of ways interacting with, and benefiting from, the internet.

There is also growing recognition of the potential downsides and risks of technology adoption, particularly for more vulnerable populations including women and children, who may become victims of cyberstalking, online aggression and hate speech, or internet-enabled child abuse, exploitation, or bullying.


Richard van der Draay is in Amsterdam as a guest of Informa Tech.