BT promoted its role within the Facebook-led Telecom Infra Project (TIP) by hosting an event to launch its TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centre (TEAC, BTwatch, #284).

  • Opening of the TEAC shows BT embracing a more dynamic approach to identifying disruptive technology, recognising the convergence of telecoms and IT.
  • Startups in the fields of IoT, open networking, and quantum security selected as winners of the six-month innovation search.

The TEAC launch event, at BT Tower, London, in late-September 2017, featured a judging panel to select two to four inaugural startups from six finalists drawn from a competition opened in spring 2017. While the judging could not be described as rigorous or akin to a Dragon’s Den-style grilling, the pitches were interesting both in themselves and as a cohort. Each candidate had been put forward by a BT executive, and was subject to varying degrees of probing or encouragement from the BT-dominated panel charged with the selection decision. All candidates were given a strict ten minutes for their ‘pitch’ and a flexible five minutes for judges’ questions.

The judges were:

  • Axel Clauberg: TIP Chairman. Also Vice-President for Transport & IP, Deutsche Telekom (DT).
  • Mansoor Hanif: Director of Converged Networks, BT.
  • Leland Lai: TIP Executive Director.
  • Yael Maguire: Vice-President for Connectivity, Facebook.
  • Adrian Smith: Network Architect, BT.
  • Josie Smith: Chief IT Architect, BT.
  • Tim Whitley: Managing Director, Research and Innovation, BT.

The startups were varied in scale and maturity, with some pitches fairly slick and assured, and others awkward, but presentational performance did not appear a decisive factor.

Interestingly, all three winners are domestic (and the others not), and thus potentially more manageable in terms of proximity as well as immediate scale and ambition (the others were more obviously angled for hyper-growth). This could be seen as best meeting specific BT and UK TEAC requirements, rather than TIP’s more grandiose global ambition.

Other recurring threads were earlier UK and European public funding, involvement of the University of Bristol, and drones.

Finalists and winners (more details in full report)

1.) Aparna Systems (California, USA)

  • Pitch: Integrated, converged ‘cloud in a [white] box’. Presented as “Workload Agile Open Software” for telcos, enterprises and cloud service providers.

2.) KETS Quantum (winner; Bristol, UK)

  • Pitch: Integrated optical hardware for quantum-secured communication. Offering ‘post-quantum’ encrypted securing of critical infrastructure command and control, e.g. for networks and drones.

3.) Apstra (California, USA)

  • Pitch: “Intent-based networking” to deliver “business agility with autonomous infrastructure”. Move beyond “the operating model of 20 years ago…”

4.) imVision Technologies (Ramat Gam, Israel)

  • Service-aware network anomaly detection. Utilising artificial intelligence to meet challenge of driving down network costs while maintaining customer experience and security.

5.) Zeetta Networks (winner; Bristol, UK)

  • Pitch: NetOS: “an open networking platform for smarter networks”. Addressing pain points of operational complexity (and cost), innovating new services, high capex and vendor lock‑in.

6.) Unmanned Life (U-life, winner; London, UK)

  • Pitch: Autonomy-as-a-service.
  • Showcased around drones.

Facebook front-runs with aspirational vision for telecoms transformation…

Aside from the judging, the day included keynote sessions with Howard Watson, Chief Executive of BT Technology, Service & Operations (TSO), and Maguire, as well as a panel featuring Clauberg; Hanif; Min-Sik Jun, Network Infrastructure Sourcing at Facebook; and Matt Penneycard, Head of investment fund Downing Ventures. Clauberg and Jun were previously colleagues at Cisco.

Facebook’s Maguire presented Facebook’s vision for TIP as a force for good, to “connect the last billion”, including its contributions to the Open Cellular and Voyager reference designs, network planning innovation, and support for TEACs. He emphasised that “connectivity starts with fibre”, as well focusing on Facebook’s Terragraph Millimetre Wave (mmWave) mesh network project, which is set to use street furniture to provide blanket Wi-Fi coverage in urban areas. Reinforced subsequently by Penneycard, Maguire positioned TEACS as ‘reversing the spiral’, whereby telco infrastructure innovation has stagnated because of an absence of startups that have been deterred by a funding drought caused by the sector’s long, expensive, and complex development cycles.

Somewhat extreme and self-serving, this picture ignores a reality where startups are not rare, telcos are already significant venture investors (and working to lessen the risk of carelessly squashing startups), and telco and IT are rapidly converging around programmable networks. More accurately, telco is just not sexy at the infrastructure level, and it remains to be seen whether TIP and TEACs will help change this.

… BT more pragmatic, but showing signs of change in a digital world

Watson’s presentation lacked the polish and visuals of Maguire, but was engaging in its own way, suggesting possible steps by BT towards adopting the savvier approach of US and other peers to exploit public utterances as agenda-defining whole-of-business pitches, rather than isolated (and too often contradictory) daytrips.

He highlighted the challenge of meeting video-led data demand growing at 50% annually, and related ‘scale programmes’, as well as the TSO angle that BT is the UK’s technology champion. Tying into TIP, he observed that large-scale telcos and vendors simply do not have all the answers. This view was later echoed by Hanif who said he always looked first to established suppliers, but could then find himself obliged to look elsewhere (for example, with rural access solutions, where startups are already being courted; BTwatch, #276, and #287). Similarly, DT’s Clauberg said the German telco was still driving innovation with existing suppliers, but that this had slowed, with the industry struggling to compete for new talent.

BT to big vendors: ‘you snooze, you lose’

When asked by BTwatch what message to give ‘monolith’ incumbent vendors regarding TIP, he answered obliquely, “if you’re asleep for too long, you risk missing out”.

Challenges highlighted for BT include keeping pace with customers, capital intensity, pushing content to the network edge, new generations of technology (e.g. 5G), and giving sufficient attention to new economic models.

Watson also referenced BT’s technology Scout network, which is seeking out new technologies and has presence heavily weighted towards Silicon Valley (but also covering the UK, Europe, Israel, and elsewhere).

Local government endorsement brings day to a low-energy close

The day ended in BT Tower’s revolving restaurant, with the winners announcement and a lacklustre speech by Theo Blackwell, the new Chief Digital Officer for the Mayor of London.

Around 50 attended the event, with the group encompassing TIP participants (including Orange; SK Telecom was a no-show due to travel disruption), academic partners (Cambridge, Strathclyde, and others), as well as industry analysts. Unsurprisingly, BT’s Martlesham Labs was well represented, including specialists and Scouts. The day was hosted by Darren Lewis, Principal Innovation Consultant at BT.

TIP backgrounder

  • While promoting openness and collaboration, TIP has no incompatibility with commerce, and is positioned at the nexus of information technology and telecom network convergence and virtualisation.
  • TIP is the younger sibling of Facebook’s Open Compute Project (OCP), with an added gloss of altruism centred on enabling connection of the global broadband-unconnected. Current projects prioritise access and backhaul, with BT/EE notably active with OpenCellular and vRAN (BTwatch, #274, #276, #278, and #287) and Deutsche Telekom (which sponsors a TEAC in Germany; Deutsche Telekomwatch, #53, #55, and #66) with mmWave. Vodafone is playing a lead role with vRAN (Vodafonewatch, #157). EE was involved with TIP from its outset.
  • As with the OCP, TIP has a subtext of disruption and transformation. There is a suspicion that the internet giant is transfixing incumbents with the irresistible lures of ‘web-scale’ and web speed. Possibly wide-eyed, telcos appear particularly drawn to the prospect of ‘better, faster, cheaper’ (DT’s Clauberg pointed to “community-based R&D”). For suppliers, this presents both opportunity and threat, dependent on perspective, and for telcos there is the question of whether unbundling of telecom networks is an inherent concern for their own long-term futures.
  • There are currently four TEACs, with the others hosted by Orange in France and SK Telecom in South Korea. In an interesting recent hire, Facebook added an ex-diplomat, June Shin McCarthy, to the small TIP staff, specifically to nurture the TEAC ecosystem. TIP claims to have corralled £140m in funding available to telecom infrastructure startups, with venture capital participants represented at BT’s event by Downing Ventures.
  • TIP has impressive membership, but standout absentees include some of the largest players, notably Amazon, Apple, Ericsson, Google, Huawei Technologies, Qualcomm, VMware (Dell EMC), in addition to the US telcos.

Image: © BTwatch.

Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE BRIEF

GROUP

BT Q1 FY17-18 Results

Q1 FY17-18: BT in the midst of an awkward phase [p6]

  • Table: BT Group, financial highlights, Q1 FY17-18
  • Petter parting shots point towards focus on marketing over innovation
  • Lowth emerging as a catalyst for change
  • BT meets 80% carbon reduction target four years early
  • Divisional round-up
  • Table: BT Group, performance by unit, Q1 FY17-18 (adjusted)
  • BT Fleet to adopt low-carbon vehicles
  • Research and development

DELL EMC backing BT SDN drive [p10]

  • McRae to the fore, as BT plays with the boxes
  • BT follows AT&T lead
  • BT picks up new £28m BDUK contract

Ericsson and BT consider slicing economics [p12]

  • Superfast Cornwall sticks with BT
  • Research backs up existing BT and Ericsson collaboration
  • Assumptions at the centre of core of model
  • BT edges forward with pension scheme overhaul as unions push back

BT signs up for Nokia Bell 5G platform project [p15]

  • Moody’s warns on cash drain risk

Telecom Infra Project

Welcome interlopers: BT’s TEAC launch event [p16]

  • Table: BT TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centre UK launch event finalists and winners, September 2017
  • Facebook front-runs with aspirational vision for telecoms transformation…
  • … BT more pragmatic, but showing signs of change in a digital world
  • BT to big vendors: ‘you snooze, you lose’
  • Local government endorsement brings day to a low-energy close

Patterson under pressure

Regulatory

BT puts a price on providing 10Mbps universal broadband [p21]

  • Not money for nothing – Ofcom considers USC impact on WLA cost
  • Ofcom concession may help satisfy BT’s investment fair-bet demands
  • Ross opportunity to reset relationship

Dark fibre buried as BT wins CAT appeal [p23]

  • Three failings that prompted CAT to reverse Ofcom decision
  • Openreach willing to share toys on its terms
  • Table: People movement highlights
  • Questions left unanswered by CAT, as Ofcom returns to the drawing board

Suppliers

Brite:Bill to provide ‘interactive’ bills for BT [p25]

  • BT deal accelerates Brite:Bill’s already rapid growth

CONSUMER/EE

Management update

Allera takes the helm of consumer brands [p28]

  • Allera: a man for the millennials
  • Petter departs after turning down Strategy role
  • Rising Lowth influence could spark rights rethink

Legal and regulatory

EE takes Ofcom to court on 5G auction [p30]

  • Three UK acts as consumer champion, EE claims self-defence
  • Ofcom blames operators, but may need to reflect on its own actions
  • O2 attempts to find a third way…

Network

EE plunders more 1800MHz spectrum for 4G [p33]

Products and services

EE exclusive launch partner for new Apple smartwatch [p35]

  • Teething problems
  • Enhanced voice launch also trumpeted…
  • … but network fault crashes standard call capabilities

BT transforms contact centres with NICE WFM solutions

BUSINESS AND PUBLIC SECTOR

Public sector contracts

BT’s NHS comeback keeps building [p38]

GLOBAL SERVICES

  • BT: Security Leader — IDC

Data centres

BT to host Telefónica data centre gear [p40]

Dynamic Network Services

Nuage upbeat on BT as Agile Connect debuts [p41]

  • Dedicated hardware provided, but being phased out
  • Cobalt joins BT Radianz Cloud
  • Nuage powering BT agility

Bandwidth-on-demand added to IP Connect [p44]

  • Tried and tested in the oil industry

Partners

Hitachi Vantara links with BT for IoT [p45]

Products and services

BT builds PaaS with BearingPoint [p46]

  • BearingPoint research and consulting supports BT evolution
    Security

Ixia secures BT reseller agreement [p47]

BT confirms opening of new cybersecurity hub in Sydney [p48]

  • Sydney driving Assure Cyber development

OPENREACH

Networks

BT ramps up G.fast pilot scheme on way to million mark [p50]

  • Rollout winds up as signs of demand build G.fast: losing control of the narrative

ADTRAN flags BT interest in future generation G.fast [p52]

CityFibre momentum builds further

NetComm confirms BT power trials [p53]

Partners

Openreach and Vodafone flirt with fibre partnership [p54]

  • Sky getting in on the act
  • GTS’s G.fast rival tech secures Openreach compliance
  • BT SIN 498
  • Vodafone may be forgetting past relationship woes…
  • … and both sides may be looking for attention elsewhere
  • Openreach may like Vodafone as a ‘friend’ for regulatory squabbles
  • Not all sweetness and light between peers

FURTHER READING

INDEX

Index

A

Accenture 40
ADTRAN 52, 53
ADVA Optical Networking 17
Advertising Standards Authority 28
Airbus 17
Amazon 19, 29
Amdocs 25
Aparna Systems 17
Apple 19, 28, 35, 36
iPhone 35, 36
Apstra 17
Arbor Networks 48
ASSIA 52
AT&T 11, 40
Autonomy 17
Avanti 13
Avanti Communications 13

B

BearingPoint 46
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 18
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) 12, 13
Broadcom 11, 52
BT Group 6, 7, 8, 11, 15, 16, 21, 23, 25, 28, 31, 36, 47, 52, 54, 55
BT Business & Public Sector 8, 38, 46
– BT Centre 18
– BT Consumer 7, 8, 29, 38
BT Cloud 46
– – BT TV 18
– – BT Wi-Fi 7
– – Plusnet 28
BT Global Services 8, 24, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 45, 46, 48
BT Assure 45, 48
– – BT Compute 46
– – BT Connect 41
– – BT Italia 6, 24
– – BT Radianz 24, 42
– – BT Security 40, 47, 48
– – One Connect Limited 38
– – Spain 24
BT Technology, Service and Operations
Adastral Park 10, 14
BT Tower 16, 19
– BT Wholesale & Ventures 8, 17, 45, 53
BT Fleet 10
– – BT Media & Broadcast 18
– – BT Redcare 24
– – Superfast Cornwall 13
Directors
du Plessis, Jan 6, 21
– – Rake, Sir Michael 22
EE 6, 7, 8, 19, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 55
Emergency Services Network 29
Executives
Allera, Marc 6, 28, 35, 36
– – Alvarez, Luis 24
– – Burger, Bas 24
– – Cochrane, Chris 48
– – Dunne, Niall 10
– – Hanif, Mansoor 16
– – Hughes, Mark 48
– – Lowth, Simon 7, 22, 28, 29
– – McRae, Neil 11
– – Patterson, Gavin 21, 22, 29, 57
– – Ryder, Paul 46
– – Selley, Clive 56
– – Smith Adrian 16
– – Smith, Josie 16
– – Watson, Howard 18
– – Whitley, Tim 16
Ex-executives
Petter, John 6, 28, 29
– – Shah, Ameet 18
Openreach 6, 7, 8, 12, 22, 23, 24, 49, 50, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57

C

Ciena 11
Cisco Systems, Inc. 11, 17, 18, 41, 47, 48, 55
CityFibre 23, 24, 28, 53, 54
CK Hutchison 30
Three Group
Three UK 30, 31
Communications Workers Union 15
Competition Appeal Tribunal 8, 23, 55
Cornwall Council 13
Cornwall Development Company 13
CSL 24

D

Darktrace 17, 47
Dell EMC 10, 11, 17, 19
Deloitte 40
Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS, UK)
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) 12
Deutsche Telekom 6, 16, 19, 48
Digital Britain 12, 13
DMSL 50

E

ECI 55
Ecopetrol 44
Entanet 53
Ericsson 12, 13, 14, 17, 19
European Union 8, 15, 17
European Regional Development Fund 12, 13

F

Facebook 11, 16, 18, 19, 29, 55
OpenCellular 19
– Open Compute Project 19
Football Association
Premier League 29

G

General Electric Co. (GE)
NBC Universal
National Broadcasting Company (NBC)
CNBC 18
Gigaclear 28, 53, 54
Google 17, 19

H

High Court 15
Hitachi 45
Hitachi Data Systems 45
– Pentaho 45
House of Lords 54
Huawei Technologies 14, 17, 19, 52, 55
Hyperoptic 28

I

IBM 40
imVision Technologies 17
Infonova 46
Intel 17, 47, 52
Intel Security 47, 48
IP Trade 24

J

Juniper Networks 11, 48

K

KETS Quantum 17
Kingston Communications (KCOM) 23, 53
KPMG 48

L

Lancashire County Council 38
Liberty Global 56
Virgin Media 8, 56
LinkedIn 24, 28, 48

M

Macquarie 21
Megahertz 18
Methanex 44

N

National Health Service (NHS, UK) 38
N3 38
NetComm Wireless 53
Nimans 29
Nissan Motor Company 10
Nokia 15, 17, 41, 42, 52
Nuage Networks 11, 41, 42
NTT 17

O

Ofcom 6, 7, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 30, 31, 32, 54, 56, 57
Strategic Review of the Telecoms Sector 21
– USO 22
– White, Sharon 32
Orange 6, 15, 17, 19, 48

Q

Qualcomm 19, 31, 33

R

Renault 10

S

Sasol 44
SK Telecom 19
Sony 33
SSE plc 23, 50
Strategic Review of the Digital Communications Market 21
Symantec 47, 48

T

TalkTalk Telecom Group 23
Technicolor 55
Technology
2G 33
– 4K (Ultra HD TV) 35
– Blockchain 42
– Broadband 12, 13, 19, 21, 22, 23, 28, 31, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 57
– DSL 55
– Ethernet 10, 17, 23, 53
– Fibre 7, 8, 12, 13, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57
Dark fibre 23
– – Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) 21, 22, 50, 57
Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) 6, 12, 13, 50, 54, 57
– G.fast 50, 52, 53, 55
– HD 18, 36
– Internet of Things 45
– IP 10, 16, 24, 36, 44, 55
– LLU 22
– LTE 33, 35, 36
– LTE-Advanced 33
– M2M 24, 45
– MPLS 38, 41
– Next-generation networks (NGN) 54
– OTT 29
– Quantum key distribution 17
– R&D 19, 48, 56
– Unified Communications 24, 40
– Unified Communications as a service (UCaaS) 40
– VDSL 21, 55
– VDSL2 55
– Vectoring 52
– Wi-Fi 17, 18, 29, 31, 35, 36, 52
Telecom Infra Project 16, 55
OpenCellular 19
– TEAC 16, 19
Telefónica 29, 32, 35, 40, 56
O2 UK 30, 32
ThreatConnect 47
Toshiba 17
Twitter 28, 36

U

UEFA 29
Champions League 29
United Nations 8
Unmanned Life 17

V

Verizon Communications 40
VMware 11, 17, 19
Vodafone 17, 19, 29, 35, 54, 55, 56, 57
UK 29, 35, 54, 56, 57

Z

Zeetta Networks 17
Zscaler 48

About

About BTwatch

Report: #289
Published: October 2017
Next report: November 2017
For more information visit: BTwatch