10 Oct 2014

AfricaCom Awards 2014 - Shortlist Announced!

10 October 2014

The digital industry’s most anticipated Awards event will take place on 12th November 2014 at The Waterfront Lookout, Cape Town.  Celebrating and acknowledging leaders in digital technology, ICT, Telecommunications and Media across Africa, attract a growing number of entries each year.

In 2014, 161 entries were received.  “The overall quality of the entries this year surpassed expectation,” commented Adam Thompson, Research Manager, Informa Telecoms & Media.  “The innovation taking place in the digital ecosystem across the entire continent is heartening and also world class.  Many are leaders in their fields and pioneers of new technology and services answering the needs of emerging markets that more traditional markets can and should take note of:

The shortlisted contenders or the various categories in 2014 are:

Best App for Africa
Orange – Libon
Orange – Orange Self-care Application: My Orange
Kirusa – InstaVoice
Bharti Airtel- Internet.org App
Spice – Mziiki

Best Connectivity Solutions for Africa
Orange – My Social WiFi
Liquid Telecom – 100Mbps FTTH Service
Breeze Micro and World Telecom Labs – New Inter-city VoIP Routes in Nigeria from Breeze Micro and World Telecom Labs
WIOCC – Connecting Somalia – closing the final link
Sky Vision – SkyVision Hybrid Satellite and Terrestrial network solutions

Best Cost Efficiency Solutions For Africa
TKM Maestro - TKM Cost Efficiency Solution
Nomanini – Nomanini payments platform
Digital Route – Mediation Zone
Afrigis – Voting Station Monitor USSD Solution
Huawei – Africa’s 1st SDN Innovation
Opera Software – Opera Web Pass
Fairwaves – Mobile network which you can build yourself

Best Device for Africa
Solarway - Solar Powered Mobile Phone Charging Station
Solarway – Solar Kiosk
Equatel – Equatel SIM Payphone
Nomanini - Nomanini payments platform
Bharti Airtel – Airtel Red

Best Marketing Campaign
MTN – MTN Corporate Campaign
OgilvyOne Africa /Airtel Zambia – Go For It : Be Whatever, Do Whatever
Orange – Emergency Credit Campaign
Orange – Orange Football Club Campaign
Huawei – MTN’s Mandela Birthday‘ 67 Minutes
Onlime – Marketing Campaign – Rebrand
Millicom Tanzania TIGO – Free Facebook in Swahili
Bharti Airtel – Mr Money Campaign

Best Mobile Money Solution
Orange – Mobile Travel Tickets
Orange – Mobile Pensions
Mobile Pensions – PocketMoni Mobile Money Service
Bharti Airtel – Airtel Money
Mahindra Comviva – Mahindra Comviva mobiquity Connect

Best Network Improvement
Ericsson - Unitel Angola, Smile Nigeria, TiGO Senegal
World Telecoms Lab – Nigeria’s new interconnect exchange carriers and World Telecom Labs’ 2nd Generation VoIP Switches
WIOCC – Extending WIOCC’s Pan-African Network into Somalia
Tigo Rwanda – Tigo Voice and Data Mobile Services
Bharti Airtel – Nigeria Data Service Improvement
Liquid Telecom – Upgrading and improving the fibre network of Liquid Telecom Kenya

Best Pan African Initiative
PCCW Global – High-Quality Calling with Direct Routing in Africa
Orange – Pan-African Partnering Play Store
Liquid Telecom – East Africa Fibre Ring
Airtel Africa and IBM – Business Intelligence Solution (based on Cognos, DB2, Websphere, AIX and IBM Blade Center)

Breakthrough LTE Development
PCCW Global - Global LTE Roaming for African Mobile Subscribers
Ericsson – LTE Market Impact
Ericsson – Breakthrough LTE Development – Unitel
Orange – LTE for fix
Huawei – Innovative LTE Rollout
Smile Communications – SmileON and Data Management
Telkom – LTE
Surfline – Deployment of 4G LTE network in Ghana

Changing Lives Awards 
Afrigis - Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC)
Orange – Digital School Project
WIOCC – Closing the final link – connecting Somalia
afb Mauritius Ltd – Mobile Consume and Businesses Unsecured Credit
TXT Ghana – JOB 1917
Bharti Airtel – Ebola Initiative
Sky Vision – Ghana Crossover Academy
Telekom – TNM Moyo Cover

Excellence in Customer Experience Management
Procera – RAN Perspectives
OgilvyOne Africa /Airtel Ghana – Uncle MB | Sorting data drama
SafariCom – Customer Care support for M-PESA product – the leading mobile money transfer service in the world
Orange – ’100% Successful Calls’ Suites of services
Bharti Airtel – Airtel Premier

Most Innovative Service 
Huawei – Huawei’s Digital Music Service for MTN
Millicom Tanzania TIGO – Tigo Pesa – International Mobile Money Transfer
Econet Renewable Energy Systems – Titan – Home Power Station
Opera Software – Opera Web Pass
Orange – Facebook Partnerships
Kifiya Financial Technologies – Digital Finance and Payment Service

VSAT Innovation for Africa
Afrique Telecom – Full VNO OSS/BSS for VSAT Industry and Customers
Liquid Telecom – Shared MPLS Satellite service
EMC – Fully managed VSAT services
Sky Vision – Sky Vision Active Series

The esteemed AfricaCom Awards returns to the spectacular Waterfront LookOut in Granger Bay, Cape Town. If you would like to book your seat or table at this year's Awards, please click here.

9 Oct 2014

NFV and SDN Reloaded : Get started Telcos!

 By Sadiq Malik, Telco Strategist

According to Deutche Telecom CEO communication networks are facing a lack of scalable and sustainable architecture to meet the challenges ahead in terms of data traffic increases, video uploads and downloads, and enhanced M2M communication. But employing software-defined networking (SDN) techniques could help mobile carriers overcome those hurdles and attract new data-centric revenue streams.In a nutshell, SDN delaminates the data and control planes of the network and NFV virtualizes the functional elements of the network—routers, switches, firewalls—and expresses these functions as programs that run on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) IT hardware. While they are distinct technologies, the two work together in concert to turn the network into an infinitely programmable dynamic mesh, versus a hardware-based static map. Where SDN is the network admin gone virtual; NFV is the gear gone virtual.

Today’s mobile networks are limited and built upon a best-effort design, but that means they have latency issues and cannot dedicate high bandwidth to a particular user on the fly. Network virtualisation highlights the transformational path that operators are willing to take to counter the stress that financial pressures are putting on profitability while effectively and efficiently monetising data growth and reducing vendor lock-in. This trend clearly shows that, in order to be sustainable in the near-future, operators networks will require the right amount of mobility, ultra high-speed networks, cloud computing, big data analytics and security.

Research into NFV performed by leading analysts firms confirms the development of NFV and reveals major market potential. In November, Mind Commerce estimated that the NFV market in 2014 will be worth $203 million, and will grow at 46 percent annually until 2019, when it reaches $1.3 billion. The research firm states that the chief domains targeted by early NFV deployments will be IMS services and the EPC. Last August ABI Research predicted a similar growth curve, with a potential $6 billion market for virtual networking by 2018. A new study from ReportsnReports.com forecasts that the NFV, SDN and wireless network infrastructure market will reach $5 billion by the turn of the decade, driven by rising global wireless capital expenditures and growing demand for high-speed mobile broadband. Wireless carriers will play a critical role in the SDN value chain, and that carriers will initially focus on southbound APIs and switch fabric, SDN and virtualization that will enable IMS optimization and realization of investment, and that by 2016 carriers will focus more on northbound APIs and create full development environments.

Network virtualisation allows operators to simulate network resources through SDN and NFV technologies that decouple, run and optimise different functions of the network.The industry is evolving from proprietary equipment networks to IT-based data centre networks that employ technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualisation (NFV), cloud-computing and big data analytics to provide a variety of converged services to consumers. NFV is highly complementary to SDN. Network functions can be virtualised and deployed without an SDN being required and vice-versa. According to ETSI, early NFV deployments are already getting underway and are expected to accelerate during 2014-15.Software-defined networking (SDN) and Network Functions Visualization (NFV) will drive changes in data security investment, according to a new report from Infonetics Research. Their Data Center Security Products report noted a shift in how organizations protect digital properties, including a 44 percent rise in the sale of purpose-built virtual security appliances. They anticipate a fairly significant revenue transition from hardware appliances to virtual appliances and purpose-built security solutions that interface directly with hypervisors, with SDN controllers via APIs, or orchestration platforms.

Rather surprisingly, communications service providers (CSPs) themselves, not vendors, are driving the development of network virtualization technologies. The potential to dramatically accelerate new service delivery, lower operating costs, and eliminate vendor lock-in has CSPs salivating and network equipment vendors scrambling. Vendors who sell proprietary network gear don’t exactly welcome the thought of their intellectual property being replaced by standardized software running on commodity hardware. This has pushed the timeline for SDN and NFV further out, and prompted more than a few analysts to pull the hype card.The virtualization of service and control functions in the core network has been a first step in using cloud computing technology in the telco domain. However, for a full telco cloud implementation, virtualization needs to be complemented with a complete cloud platform and management system. This must include classical network management for legacy systems, plus virtualized network function, cloud orchestration and application management to achieve the full benefits of automated provisioning and elastic scaling of the network.

Driven by the promise of total cost of ownership reduction, wireless carriers are aggressively jumping on the NFV and SDN bandwagon, targeting integration across a multitude of areas including radio access network, mobile core, OSS/BSS, backhaul, and CPE/home environment.Telecom Italia has been among the tier 1 telcos driving the move to NFV. Along with AT&T, BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica and Verizon, the company a couple years ago pushed network functions virtualization into the spotlight by creating an ETSI group to explore the technology. The key goals of the NFV Working Group are to reduce equipment costs and power consumption, improve time to market, enable the availability of multiple applications on a single network appliance with the multi-version and multi-tenancy capabilities, and encourage a more dynamic ecosystem through the development and use of software-only solutions.

Telefonica’s UNICA platform is initially focused on virtualising signaling-related functions, including IMS (IP multimedia sub-system, DNS (domain name system), SMSC (short message service centre) and OCS (online charging system). The second phase will look at virtualising functions that carry traffic such as the core packet network. Telefonica’s NFV programme is notably designed to “source different functions to different suppliers” and avoid vendor lock-ins. The company wants to design a virtualised network architecture that allows vendor interoperability.Telefonica’s NFV programme is notably designed to “source different functions to different suppliers” and avoid vendor lock-ins. The company has designed a virtualised network architecture that allows vendor interoperability in order to enable a multi-vendor environment from day one.

Meanwhile AT&T, has introduced its vision for the company’s network of the future: the ‘User- Defined Network Cloud.’ AT&T claims their the cloud-based architecture is “a global first at this scale.” The operator also announced the group of vendors that will work on implementing this strategy. The carrier expects its revamped architecture will accelerate time-to-market for technologically advanced products and services. Integrated through AT&T’s wide-area network (WAN) and using NFV and SDN, the architecture is expected to simplify and scale AT&T’s network by separating hardware and software functionality, separating network control plane and forwarding planes, and improving functionality management in the software layer.This move to software-based telco environments will not only help incumbent providers become more agile and adapt to market trends and subscriber demands more effectively, but will open up the market to new players who may not have had such deep pockets needed to develop proprietary hardware. It will allow new carriers to quickly scale and compete, as they won’t have to load up on costly central office equipment to get started.

Telco Strategist Sadiq Malik will be speaking on day 2 of AfricaCom 2014 in the SDN & Network Virtualization stream. If you haven't got your AfricaCom ticket yet, register for FREE here: http://bit.ly/AfricaCom2014  

Source: http://maliksadiq13.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/nfv-and-sdn-reloaded-get-started-telcos/

7 Oct 2014

AfricaCom 2014 Exhibitor PeerApp Offers a Glimpse at the Future of Digital Africa

By Geoffrey Shimanyula, Sales Director, Africa

As over 9,000 people congregate for AfricaCom 2014, we’ll have a chance to glimpse at the future of Digital Africa. Statistics on the growth of digital services in Africa are impressive. According to Telegeography, Africa boasts:

•    Almost 10 million broadband subscribers 
•    Since 2005, the greatest wireless growth rate of any global region (currently at 10%)
•    A CAGR of over 50% between 2010 and 2014 for Internet bandwidth and Internet traffic

Clearly, it’s a dynamic market.  As we’ve seen in other geographies, as Internet content consumption grows driven by increased bandwidth, appetite and devices, operators face challenges in delivering Internet content – especially video – in a way that is both cost-effective and meets customer expectations. 

PeerApp helps 80 operators in Africa and 450 globally to speed Internet content delivery across their networks to their subscribers.  Read on for a customer story. 

We hope to see you at AfricaCom 2014 – please come by our Stand #C9 and say hello, or better yet, drop me a note to arrange a meeting with me or one of my colleagues:  gshimanyula@peerapp.com

African Mobile Operator uses Transparent Caching to Cut Transit Costs and Boost QoE

One customer in particular is leveraging opportunities to reduce costs and improve effectiveness of their networks.  This customer wanted to reduce their bandwidth requirements in order to lower costs and improve Quality of Experience (QoE) for their subscribers.   With PeerApp’s UltraBand transparent caching solution, popular Internet content is held within the local part of the customer’s network, closer to the end subscribers. This allows that content to be served locally, without requiring access of the broader Internet, saving on transit costs. This also brings faster download speeds to subscribers for a better user experience.

In addition to the above objectives, the system needed to be able to handle current traffic and also be able to scale with growth. Support for a variety of methods of connecting with the network was also important.

Since deployment, the customer has seen the following quality improvements:

1)    Reduction in needed Internet bandwidth of > 25%
2)    Average bandwidth savings > 30%
3)    Cache productivity > 40%
4)    Download speed on tested files decreased from 30 seconds to 1 second!

With PeerApp, this African operator is realizing the benefits and cost savings of transparent caching, and their subscribers are thrilled with the much improved download speeds.