Re: The horse has bolted...years ago
Thanks :-) The TB comparison is absolutely spot on.
87 posts • joined 31 Jul 2007
In my original post: "Does Huawei represent a security threat? Absolutely. In the same way that any other vendor does. Maybe a bit more, given their track record of ethical fluidity."
But I hear you - Cisco has backdoors for the NSA. Two differences:
First, Western vendors are excluded (usually by subsidy of Huawei/ZTE or by government mandate in RFPs) from Chinese infrastructure - especially banking and military. So there is no reciprocal vulnerability in China.
Second, Cisco may once have had a monopoly on router tech, but that time has passed. There is a technological and economic alternative to every Cisco product. That is not the case with Huawei in 5G. There are very few Western networks these days that are overwhelmingly dependent on Cisco. And if they find themselves uncomfortable with that dependence they can change it within one technology procurement cycle.
Yours is a totally understandable viewpoint. Check out my post above "The horse has bolted long ago" and see what you think.
I agree with you...4G was just as insecure as 5G because Huawei is a major 4G supplier. I think the step to 5G is showing that, in some cases, they are the ONLY supplier that is viable economically.
Another way to think about this political decision is that it would have been heavily influenced by BT saying to the government "you can't ban Huawei...we literally have no choice...we've gone too far down that road to turn back now".
Basically we are seeing the end result of almost two decades of Huawei's growing strength, telcos choosing to abandon their national suppliers, and governments ignoring the long term security implication of losing their national telecoms suppliers. At the time each decision could be positioned as "reasonable and consistent with free markets".
Whatever you think about modern US extremism in all its forms, they have taken decisive action to try to prevent Chinese infiltration into their secure infrastructure. Chinese vendors will not be selected for long haul US routes or for international subsea connections. This allows the US to build secure military interconnects over these core networks. All the traffic in and out of these core networks is encrypted, so technically it can pass over non-secure access equipment. However, encryption is only one aspect of security. In WW1 and WW2 Britain was a pioneer in something called "signals intelligence" - where you do not need to decrypt a message for it to have military value. You look at who is talking to whom and how often. These days we would call this Big Data Analytics. So the US approach is "secure" in one sense, but vulnerable in another. Thanks to BT's dependence on Huawei the UK can't even try to be secure because it would break BT's financial model.
On the other hand - we get cheap phones, hurrah!
Except intelligence agencies have analysed the android code in those Huawei phones and they found about 25% of it is doing stuff they don't understand. They're not saying it's doing bad stuff...just that it shouldn't normally be there and they can't figure out what it's doing.
All of this is circumstantial and "what if" conspiracy theories. Except one thing we know for sure - with so much of the UK's infrastructure based on Huawei gear the Chinese do have a remote control "kill switch" for UK's internet. It's something that could only be used once, but it would be more effective than nuclear weapons if it ever came to a real war.
So one of the problems in discussions like this are because people link Event X to Outcome Y sort of thing - whereas they need to look at larger numbers of events and trends over much longer timescales. I’m sure somebody knows the proper terminology for it, but I see it really as “Group of both related and unrelated stuff happens over time, and years later you realise you’re in the shit, and the Chinese are the only ones with paddles”.
Event: In the early 2000s Huawei and ZTE received tens of billions of $$$ in “loans” (which they never had to pay back) from the Chinese national development fund. The idea was to go out and win in international markets.
Event: The Chinese government pumps billions more $$$ to fund infrastructure projects (like roads, airports, sports stadia, etc.) in Africa (and other developing regions). “Coincidentally” Huawei and ZTE are awarded huge comms projects in those same countries.
Event: Huawei is implicated in the African Union security breach (well documented - just Google it).
Event(s): Time and again Huawei is found to be directly copying Western designs in routers, optical transmission and softswitch design. Suits are settled out of court – like the one against Cisco where their source code was directly implemented on Huawei routers and they even kept Cisco splash screens and code comments! Note that Huawei no longer has to copy Western designs – in many areas they don't need to because they are well ahead. Mobile tech was the first of these areas, but they are catching up, level with, or ahead of Western companies in other areas too.
Event: Some years ago I attended a lecture by Stella Rimington, former head of MI5, during her book tour. In the Q&A after I asked her if she thought BT’s total dependence on a Chinese vendor represented a security threat. She paused for several seconds before answering “yes”…then giving a much longer answer about how GCHQ was there to make sure national comms infrastructure is secure.
Outcome: In the mid to late 00’s Huawei and ZTE are always the low bidders in major telecoms projects across Europe - clearly at "below cost" prices. They start gaining ground in all of the PTTs, and BT in particular develops a massive dependency on Huawei – not just for equipment, but also for teams of engineers who actually run the network for BT. By the time 5G strolls along BT is so hooked on Huawei there is no economic alternative.
Outcome: In the BT 21CN initial award, Marconi received none of the business. Arguably they had good solutions in at least two part of 21CN – the softswitch (which was awarded to Ericsson who totally screwed it up to the point where the NGN project to replace System X had to be abandoned, despite this being the “economic driver” for 21CN in the first place!!), and the DSLAMs. Huawei won the DSLAMs (which never worked with either the Ericsson or Sonus softswitches) and the optical core. They built on that over time.
Outcome: Matt Bross, former CTO of BT and one of the driving forces behind 21CN (and presumably the choice of Huawei as supplier), leaves BT some years later and joins Huawei as a CTO. I suspect I’d better not add my opinion to that fact.
Outcome: Just in case you think I’m picking on BT, TalkTalk buys DSLAMs (these ones actually work with Sonus softswitches), home routers, set top boxes and anything else they can get from Huawei. They buy them because they work, and they’re cheap.
Outcome: Nortel, Marconi, Alcatel, Lucent and other smaller “national” telecoms vendors go belly up. You can argue that AlcaLu sort of still exists as a loss-making colostomy bag on the side of Nokia, but they are no longer the technology power houses they used to be. The clever people in those companies who used to drive innovation and standards in those “national” telecoms vendors find senior posts in…Huawei. Check out any standards group and you’ll see Huawei employees driving all sorts of innovation.
Does Huawei represent a security threat? Absolutely. In the same way that any other vendor does. Maybe a bit more, given their track record of ethical fluidity.
But I totally agree this is really about a long running trade war, and the Chinese are winning.
Let's just clarify this.
They don't have INTERNET access, but they are networked. They are connected to something called the DCN (data comms network). These days a DCN is an air-gapped IP network using private addressing. On most comms gear there is a designated DCN port. Inside the device the DCN port must be entirely (ie. no electrical circuit connection) separated from any internet traffic that might flow through the device. A Cisco or Juniper router that provides internet connection, for example, will also have a DCN port - but that port must be totally "air gapped" from the traffic ports in the device.
The DCN is a separate IP network run by the service provider and it has no internet access at all - because that is one of the main things that prevents it from being hacked.
It's particularly important that Management Systems do not have Internet connections - unless you want them nuked by a DDoS attack.
You can still manage SW updates etc. centrally, and you don't need to send engineers out with memory sticks and craft terminals unless something goes horribly wrong.
Sorry - I was trying to expand on the post but it timed out...
Hi. Yes, I think I'm pretty much correct on the dates.
As you say Marconi "blew up" in 2001. But all that happened then was that everyone realised that Marconi's debts far outweighed the value of the company. The terms of those debts meant that, as long as the company could make the payments the creditors could not ask for their money back.
So Marconi staggered on, rapidly down-sizing as it went along, and desperately hoping for 21CN business as the last hope.
In 2005 BT announced the 21CN suppliers and Marconi was not on the list. Soon after the shock announcement Ericsson acquired Marconi's Networks division (which they never really did anything with), and Telent (not Telus...my error) kept the rest - which included the incredibly lucrative System X rights.
Interestingly the day Marconi was formed in 1999 (from GEC and other bits and pieces) there were 55,000 employees worldwide.
The scale of business failure and financial mismanagement are quite staggering.
Hi. Yes, I'm correct on the dates.
Marconi's financial issues began, as you say, in July 2001 - although the origins of them go back much further.
But the company soldiered on until about 2005, which is when Ericsson bought some of it and the rest ended up as Telent (not Telus as I said...sorry).
The first round of 21CN suppliers were announced in 2003. Marconi wasn't among them, and that triggered the final death spiral.
As somebody pointed out, Marconi was a historically badly run company that basically built products for BT and wondered why nobody else wanted them.
But as a result they had designed their MSANs and the softswitch explicitly to support BT's migration to an NGN as part of 21CN.
As we know, BT decided to go with Huawei MSANs and an Ericsson softswitch - which locked Marconi out of 21CN and they basically imploded and died. Marconi simply couldn't come down to the prices Huawei was offering BT. As a private company you can't really blame BT for taking the lowest bid, but in hindsight it really did come back to haunt them.
The Ericsson softswitch just wasn't ready and so Ericsson had change horses and tried to deploy the Sonus softswitch instead - and that was already proven and working over Huawei MSANs in the TalkTalk network.
Imagine Ericsson's surprise when it didn't work in the BT network. What nobody realised is that Huawei had delivered a "cost reduced" MSAN to BT that was missing some of the features that were present in the version they delivered to TalkTalk. Note that BT also had Fujitsu MSANs in the network, which I think worked fine with Sonus, but you kind of have to have your NGN everywhere to be practical, and there are 5,500 telephone exchanges in the UK.
21CN was originally funded on the basis that BT would quickly gain savings by migrating the obsolescent System X switches (which were superbly reliable, but by about 2005 many of the spares were end of life).
That was in about 2005 (maybe a little earlier), with the migration to an NGN supposed to be complete by 2008...and today, ten years later we still have System X running in the BT network. Telus (the remnants of Marconi in the UK) are raking in money today keeping System X going years past its retirement date. Good on them for milking BT's stupidity!
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Don't get me wrong - Marconi (sadly) was a doomed company sooner or later, but if BT had chosen the Marconi MSAN and softswitch solution BT would have had their NGN, and 21CN would have achieved its REAL business objectives (not the ones that BT execs has to retro-fit onto the facts later).
A few years ago I attended a lecture by Stella Rimington, the former DG of MI5. In the Q&A I asked her if she felt that BT deploying Chinese equipment, operated by Chinese engineers might pose a security risk to the UK. After a long pause she smiled and said "yes". Then she gave a longer answer about the role of GCHQ in securing the national comms infrastructure.
Just track the "jobs for the boys". Former Ofcom people ending up in Huawei, former BT CTOs ending up in Huawei with no work required, but a handsome salary. BT people moving to Ofcom or Huawei as a retirement strategy. You scratch my back...I'll scratch yours. Same thing happened with people in other companies (like Lucent, for example). So it's not just the Chinese vendors!
A free market is a really, really good thing. Maybe we should have one?
Until a few years ago I was also under the impression that, once bottled, high alcohol spirits do not change. But I think the reality is that they do *develop*....whether you would classify that as "aging" is a different thing. With all of those complex chemicals in the bottle it's inevitable that something's going to happen.
I think this review by Ralfy on YouTube covers the topic, but as I'm on a train at the moment I haven't had a chance to listen to it to make sure it's the right one.
This is only one opnion, of course. And I'm not sure how you would establish any kind of sensible control. Even if Ralfy had tasted the same bottle many years ago would the difference in flavour be as a result of the development, or because his own taste buds have changed over the years, or even because his memory of that original tasting might be uncertain. If this is the example I'm thinking of it's a bottle that was sent to him by a channel subscriber, so he didn't even taste the original sample.
Perhaps if you were to cryogenically freeze some whisky to try to prevent chemical change it might offer a good control against a "room temperature" sample. I'm sure there's a PhD topic in there somewhere - and all you have to do is include the term "Global Warming" in the funding request and you're sure to get approval.
(Note, before your finger hits the down vote button I would like to point out that I am not an AGW or Climate Change denier, but it's common knowledge that research funding priorities tend to go with fashions).
As the headline suggests the method used here is pretty exotic, it's true.
But if the application is Data Centre Interconnect (DCI) then there are far easier ways to do this.
The DCI market generally needs reach of less than 150km, because it involves interconnecting a distributed "metro" data centre (one where the operator has leased buildings in different parts of a metro area and needs to interconnect them as though they were one big building). The big ICPs like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Softlayer do this all the time. And they have a limitless demand for capacity...seriously...check out some of their keynote presentations.
There's commercially shipping technology that can put over 27Tb/s on existing fibre (not this multi-core stuff, which is still experimental). This commercial technology uses the C-Band. By simply extending it to the L-Band you can double the capacity to a little more than these boffins achieved. And L-Band is easy-peasy. We've known how to do it for almost 20 years, but people have tended to stick to C-Band because it's the sweet spot. Next gen technology could increase the Baud rate, or the modulaiton order, and easily double or maybe quadruple the capacity. Check out this blog wot I wrote on two post deadline ECOC papers that use actual fibre that exists today. One talks about higher Baud rates, and the other 1024QAM modulation with a technique called Constellation Shaping.
But if people really do need the capacity L-Band is there. And so is the O-Band, E-Band and S-Band (in most modern fibre...older fiber may have some water peaks in their attenuation chart).
Since the reach is so short we don't need in-line amplification on these links, and so all of these wavelengths are potentially "open for business" in the DCI market. And the key point is that you don't need exotic new fibre. This is good old SMF, LEAF, or whatever you've got in the ground today. And generaslly speaking there's shedloads of fibre around is you need it.
So I'm pretty scepitcal of the multi-core and photonic bandgap fibre experiments. Maybe one day...but there's so much capacity still to come in existing fibre (as long as you don't need to go a long way), we're OK thanks.
By the way...we don't make fibre, so I've no axe to grind there. If people do get this multi-core fibre to work (and can make enough of it, and can build an entire connector and splicing ecosystem to support it, and are willing to pay to lay it in the ground) then I'm sure DWDM vendors will happily use it.
That would have to be a pre-FEC error rate they're quoting.
Modern (commercially available) SD-FEC algorithms can deliver over 11dB of net coding gain at 100Gb/s data rates per wavelength, so 2x10-3 is not a great starting point, but it's certainly not disastrous.
Next gen SD-FEC might be able to pull in another dB or so of NCG, but we're talking about extremely high overhead FEC here (maybe 50% of the bits transmitted are actually FEC overhead).
Yes, dBs are tricky to get your head around, but they make the sums for fibre budget calculations a lot easier. For example, a 3dB loss is about 50%. Equally a 3dB gain in an amplifier is doubling of the power.
Fibre losses (attenuation) vary by wavelength, and they are incredibly low in the C and L-Band regions (about 1530nm to 1625nm). The total attenuation is of the order of 0.17dB/km at 1550nm. Even so, amplification sites are needed in long haul terrestrial networks every 80km or so, and every 50km in subsea cables. Digital regeneration can be much less frequent (fortunately, because it's hugely expensive) - anywhere from several hundred km (for simple systems) to over 10,000km (for a top of the range subsea implementation).
The losses originate from several sources, and this chart gives a good summary.
One comment about these academic announcements. They are really interesting from a purely intellectual point of view, but like a concept car at a motor show, they may never actually reach commercial availability. Even if they do make it that far, it could be five to ten years before it comes to pass.
There can be several reasons for this delay, but in the case of multi-mode operation I should point out that the millions of km of long haul fiber that's already installed in the ground, and under the oceans is single mode fibre. The techniques described in this article will not apply to this existing fibre, and service providers will do pretty much anything to avoid deploying new fibre when there's tons of unlit fibre already in the ground.
OK, we absolutely need rules. This guy is an irresponsible idiot in so many ways, and people were definitely in danger as a result of his actions.
The drone he flew is a DJI Phantom of some kind, and as a Phantom owner myself I would not like to be hit by one dropping from a hundred feet or so. The flying weight is 1.2kg.
As somebody already pointed out, there's a lot to go wrong on these (and zero redundancy) so, even if you are flying responsibly, it will drop out of the sky like a brick if (or rather when) something fails.
Thanks to guys like this there will now be an over-reaction by the establishment (and the media). Pretty soon UAV pilots will need to be licensed, registered and insured.
This kind of official certification would be a good thing if the certification was simple and cheap to obtain, and I'd do it in a heartbeat if it meant I got discounted liability insurance, for example. But my guess is that the bureaucrats will make it complex, time-consuming and expensive, and as a result many people will continue to fly their quads "illegally".
Alcatel's biggest mistake was buying Lucent, which resulted in a massive loss of total value for the combined company, and has saddled it with debts that are almost overwhelming.
The jewel in the crown is the IP division, under Basil Alwen. These former Timetra platforms are pretty good boxes, and there's been some good R&D on them to keep them competitive.
The problem is that the IP division has had to accept Alcatel's old Optical Division in the reorg. ALU Optical is losing money big time, and the loss-making optical revenues are bigger than the emerging IP division. Optical transport is a very competitive market (half a dozen competitors in Long Haul, and maybe ten competitors in Metro). And there's virtually no differentiation in their optical product, so difficult to see how they could hope to boost margins.
The article refers to Alcatel wanting to spin out the submarine business next year. In fact this (loss making) division has been for sale for about three years - most recently with Alcatel trying to get the French government to take a stake, or to buy the whole thing. Unless it's radically trimmed down and costs taken out of the business I doubt that anyone would want it.
The transformational act that ALU could pull out of its hat would be to monetize the Bell Labs patent portfolio. For some reason ALU management has repeatedly failed to exploit this option, and it's not clear why. It could yield billions of dollars in revenue, and could clear the debts at a single stroke.
I'm not an expert on this, but weren't the original Bombes designed (and at least two built) by Polish cryptanalysts, and gifted to the Allies (at that time Britain and France) after Poland was invaded?
I'm sure Turing and his colleagues significantly developed the design, but it seems a little bit unfair not to give credit to the people who designed and built the original models.
Likewise the Americans developed the design still further with valves and other electronic components to replace the electro-mechanical elements..
I say good luck to the guy if he can rip them off for that kind of money.
He's got a devil of a job on his hands though.
He could make an immediate impact by just telling all of his underlings "hey - why don't we just listen to what our customers are saying this time?".
Of course it would take a lot more than just "listening".
I've owned both Apple and Samsung tablets and found they both have great build quality.
As somebody who's getting on a bit I think a 12" form factor has some merits in terms of a replacement for laptops. It's easy to add an external keyboard and mouse for text-intensive work, and then you can just take it away and read the Sunday paper with a decent text size. These prices are a bit steep though.
Hopefully if Samsung proves the value of this form factor we'll get the usual Android competition mechanism happening to drive down prices in a year or so.
And if the form factor fails maybe they'll be selling them off cheaply (like HP and Blackberry had to - both were bargains at the time if you could get one).
Our IT department have just sent me a replacement laptop with Windows 8.1 on it.
I assumed I'd be OK with 8.1 because I read that Microsoft was supposed to put the Start menu back. That turned out to be bullshit.
I powered the thing on and literally sat there clicking things for about five minutes before something recognizable happened. To make matters worse this is a Lenovo X1 Carbon laptop, and it has a touch screen. What the fuck would I want a touchscreen on a laptop for? The lid doesn't even fold right back so I can use it as a tablet (if I was stupid enough to want to put greasy fingerprints on my laptop screen).
As soon as I could figure out how to download and install Classic Shell that's exactly what I did, and slowly but surely the machine became useable once I figured out how to disable the TIFKAM features.
The thing that cheeses me off is that this is a nice laptop...but it's crippled by this terrible operating system, and our IT department made the decision to move to Windows 8 without consulting the user base, and without providing us with training. And because they went for the touchscreen version, the screen is all "fuzzy".
Windows 7 seems to be really stable and useable. Why the heck would they dump 8.1 onto us?
To come back to the question asked in the title of the article...bloody hell yes, our IT department is too tough on users!
Actually it was a glide bomb guidance idea in WW2. Project Pigeon:
I saw this in a documentary a few years ago and apparently it was working pretty well.
It was revived as Project Orcon in '48, but that was cancelled in '53 because electronic guidance systems were starting to work reasonably well, and were more practical than using "wetware".
...the massive financial support the Bank of China gives to Huawei and ZTE.
Whenever I've mentioned that on these boards in the past people have retorted with the fact that Western governments have historically done the same thing.
But most of the examples people here have given are in the defence sector - which I agree is a corrupt cesspool of which we should be deeply ashamed. And any examples in the telecoms sector are dwarfed by the $32 Billion that the Chinese Bank gave Huawei to "win international business".
Having said I'm not worried about security...I look at my TalkTalk broadband service, with it's Huawei YouView box (which keeps freezing), which won't work unless I use the Huawei router (which has the shitiest WiFi signal I've ever experienced), and connects to the Huawei DSLAM in the local exchange. Gosh - that's a lot of dependence on one vendor.
BT is even worse. They literally could not run their national network without the army of Huawei engineers (most of them Chinese nationals) in Adastral Park.
>>So Cisco have never had a bank loan? Is that what your saying?
No, mate. That's not what I'm saying. If Cisco took out a bank loan they would one day have to repay it, would have to pay interest, and the debt would appear on their balance sheet. None of these things is true with the "loan" to Huawei.
>> You mean like the Export Credit Guarantee Scheme ?
No, mate. The ECGS is a UK concept, and the UK no longer has a major telecoms manufacturer. Huawei took care of that already. (Actually to be fair Marconi was already dying, but BT's decision on 21CN to give Huawei 2 of the 5 slices of the network business was pretty much the last nail in the coffin).
Also, notwithstanding the fact that ECGS can be fiddled, the guarantee is only supposed to last 12 months. I don't know how common it is for the customer to "pay back nothing".
@Don Jefe 11:56
>> Like how Boeing and Airbus arrange preferential financing through their home goverments to get their planes sold?
No, mate. I'm talking about telecoms, not aviation. I appreciate it could all be bundled under "exports", but we're discussing network security here, as well as trade ethics. Boeing and Airbus are wrong to be using subsidies, just like Huawei is wrong to be using government subsidies.
I'm not trying to claim that Western companies are whiter than white here - goodness knows there've been some appalling breaches of ethics in the past. But surely this is the kind of thing we're trying to stamp out.
The other thing think I would say is that China is doing this on a huge scale. For goodness' sake - they built a flipping motorway in
I'm not saying that we need to stop them doing business in N.America and Europe - just that they have to play by the same rules of profit and loss as everybody else.
To me it looks like there are three distinct "charges" being levelled at Chinese companies like Huawei by the West.
I don't think the reporting of these separate issues has really made the differentiation very clear, and I think that's important because if we're comparing similar "espionage" by Western companies then the distinction is key.
1. "Espionage". This is a grey scale really, ranging from the extreme end, where we could accuse Huawei of tapping into "vital Twitter updates from Jordan or the latest winner of the Apprentice" through to the point that General Hayden made, that Huawei will have passed on detailed designs for national network infrastructure (eg. BT, TalkTalk) which could help the Chinese military conduct cyber attacks. The guy was actually making some sense until he brought God into it!
Do I believe it? I'm inclined to believe the lesser charges, but I doubt that Huawei is actively enabling tapping (other than that required by its customers).
Is the West equally guilty? Yes in terms of back doors, and national intercept initiatives like PRISM. But in the West it's getting harder to figure out where government ends and commercial tapping begins. In China I get the sense that it's still 100% government driven.
2. "Patent infringement".
Do I believe it? Yes. Huawei and other Chinese companies have a well documented record of patent violation, and the entire national culture needs to deal with better protection for intellectual property.
Is the West equally guilty? Not these days. Maybe in the past, but if anything we've moved too far the other way with Apple's trigger-happy lawyers being a prime example.
3. "Unfair competition". Basically where Chinese companies use government loans to undercut Western competition and drive them out of business.
Do I believe it? Yes. The National Bank of China gave Huawei and ZTE over $30B to do exactly that. Marconi, Nortel, Lucent and NSN have already "bit the dust" as a direct or contributory result of Chinese unfair trading practice.
Is the West equally guilty? Not really in the telecoms world. In the defence business it's a different (and very shameful) story.
So bottom line...instead of finding "reds under the beds" (or in our DSLAMs) we should be tackling the government funding of, and corruption by Chinese companies that is widespread, and eminently provable.
Just my 2 cents.
...it was in a lab.
The reason is that this test was made with a new kind of optical fibre called "large effective area fibre". BTW - this is not the same as LEAF (where the "A" stands for "Aperture"). Here is an example for this new type of fibre,
The key point is that this is not the fiber that is already under our oceans, so the Alcatel test isn't indicative of the kind of bandwidth boost that can be achieved in real submarine networks (which the headline suggested). Nevertheless it's an amazing achievement and points the way for the next generation of submarine cables.
...maybe the Huawei gear is insecure. I'm not really in a position to judge that.
What I know for 100% certain is that Huawei and ZTE have been selling gear at massive discounts to UK and mainland European, African, Indian, and South American service providers for years. They used loans from the Bank of China to allow them to do this.
This kind of dumping was the last nail in Marconi's coffin. I agree with AC: Posted Friday 7th June 2013 07:16 GMT that they were already dying on their feet because of incompetence, but the 21CN thing really did kill them off.
You could make similar arguments about Nortel (bankrupt, and now dragging Ciena down with the debt mountain), NSN (bankrupt and now owned by bean counters), Lucent (on the verge of bankruptcy and now dragging Alcatel down with their debt mountain).
One by one, companies are being driven out of business by subsidized pricing by Huawei and ZTE. When the customers no longer have a choice, that's when the prices will be jacked up.
One thing the Chinese (and Japanese) are good at doing is "playing the long game".
Re: real time HDR video.
I'm not a camera engineer, so this is just my guessing, but if you have a triple CCD video camera (which used to be expensive, but is a feature that's now available on high end consumer cameras), why can't you set each CCD to a different exposue value and capture the HDR info that way? No need for half-silvered mirrors and such.
I know that the three different CCDs were actually designed to capture the different primary colors, but with the flick of a firmware switch couldn't they operate in an HDR capture mode?
Ben inherited the collosal train wreck that was Lucent. Before Alcatel bought them Alcatel was doing OK. I'm not saying everything was perfect - they had a huge French pension liability. But Lucent was just a boat anchor that had paid tens of billions in useless company acquisitions and was losing money. They paid $23B just for Ascend - and there was never a second generation product that came out of that purchase. The scale of their stupidity is awesome!
Verwaayen is "one of the boys" who keeps bouncing from Lucent to BT then to ALU. Contracts always seem to follow, so he obviously has good contacts. But trying to rescue ALU is a losing battle.
The IP products that Alcatel got from buying Timetra are good. It's about the only decent acquisition I can think of.
Alcatel is trying to sell their submarine optical business right now. Next up will be the terrestrial optical business. Both used to be jewels in the crown (the sub business is still #1 in the world, but losing money).
They are also supposed to be "monetizing" their patent portfolio, but why on Earth haven't they been doing that years ago?
How is it that ALU shareholders allow management to maintain this level of incompetence? There are tens of thousands of employees and former employees who are expecting pensions from this company. What's going to happen to them?
As others have pointed out, this isn't Nokia...it's the jont venture created in 2006 between Siemens Communications and Nokia's Network Business Group.
They are deeply in debt, with falling sales and are making a loss.
Late last year they announced they were selling NSN's Optical Division to Marlin Equity Partners. This was a distressed sale because the optical business unit had been on the market for over two years and there were no takers. Th terms of the acquisition wre not disclosed - that's how little money NSN made from the sale. One of the problems is that, thanks to the former Siemens unit, there are huge pension liabilities that make an aquisition of NSN Optical unattractive. My guess is that Marlin will strip away the liability of those German employees with big pension entitlements by changing their contracts. Once they've stripped away the liabilities then they might be able to unload the company to Juniper (who have a technology partnership with NSN). While this is happening the development of the NSN Optical products is stagnant, which means that by the time they are bought the products will be obsolete.
The next asset to be sold will be the Carrier Ethernet division (maunlt former Atrica Networks). As a US aquisition there aren't the same liabilities as for the optical division.
But once these two assets are sold then the cupboard is looking pretty bare for any kind of growth business. There are the service teams, which should be profitable on their own. But services is a diminishing business when the manufacturing portion dies out.
IMHO NSN in the current economic climate is a dead man walking - rather like Alcatel Lucent.
>>"One of the best ways to cut down networks’ power consumption is to get rid of the power-hungry electronics that does most of the heavy lifting."
It's not quite as simple as that. Service speeds tend to be a lot lower than backbone data rates (especially as DWDM moves towards coherent super-channels). So you *can* build all-optical networks, and they may appear to have a lower CapEx and power consumption, but they will be inefficiently filled unless you can do electronic grooming of services in the core network. There are several mathematical studies of this if anyone's interested.
>>"Optical communications is based on the 1530 nm wavelength band – the entire ITU frequency grid for DWDM systems (G.694.1) fits between 1530 nm and 1625 nm – a tiny amount of the near infrared (the vertical red line on the graph above)."
No. Let me see if I can rewrite this to keep it both accurate and concise.
Optical communications is based on a range of near infrared wavebands, including the C-Band (1530-1565nm), and the L-Band (1565-1625nm) - both of which are used for DWDM long haul optical transmission. Other wavebands (O, E, S Bands) are used, along with the C and L bands, in Coarse WDM transmission.
>>We don’t use visible wavelengths, because the ubiquitous Erbium-doped optical amplifier, cheap and everywhere, works at the 1530 nm band.
We don't use visible light because the attenuation of silica-based fibers at those wavelengths is way too high - whether you have workable amplifiers or not. Multimode, lower data rate LAN systems make use of red LEDs, but only for very short reach applications.
You are correct that EDFAs work best in the C-Band - in fact they "define" the C-Band. EDFAs can also be made to operate in the L-Band (but they are different EDFAs). Because of the energy levels in the Erbium atom, EDFAs do not work in the O, E and S Bands.
Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers (SOAs) work in all of these bands, but there is a long-held perception that SOAs are not suitable for WDM operation. EDFAs are defintely better - but the fact is that optical attenuation outside of the C and L Bands are generally too high for high data rate, long haul transmission.
...but Huawei and ZTE both use low cost pricing options.
There was a multi-million dollar optical network in Eastern Europe earlier this year that was decided on an electronic auction. Basically all the bidders drop their prices until there is only one left.
The "normal" companies all dropped out when it dropped to their floor prices, leaving Huawei and ZTE competing with each other.
Huwaei bid one cent (I think the auction was priced in US Dollars or Euros), and ZTE went crazy trying to enter a zero bid - but the system kept saying it was an error.
ZTE legally challenged the Huawei win because they said they would have bid lower if the system would have allowed it. In fact they would have bid a negative number if the system would allow it.
Why do these companies do this crazy stuff? Three reasons:
- Several years ago the bank of China gave billions of dollars in loans for Huawei and ZTE to "Go out and win international business". http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-25/huawei-counts-on-30-billion-china-credit-to-open-doors-in-brazil-mexico.html
- Huawei and ZTE are trying to obtain dominant market positions becaus they think in the long term - whereas US companies think 90 days at a time. They are prepared to take short term losses in order to make long term gains.
- Once a customer is locked into a Huawei or ZTE network they often find that long term costs are prohibitive. These include expensive service contracts and higher prices on capital equipment after the frame contract has expired. By then it's too late and the decision-makers in the customer don't dare to say anything because they will look really stupid. In the case of BT and Matt Bross it was even better - he went from being the guy at BT who awarded Huawei the 21CN contract to being a CTO at Huawei itself. Nothing unethical there, surely!
So trade barriers are a bad idea. But allowing Chinese companies to dump products in this way is an even worse idea.
Alcatel is paying the price partly because they have chosen to take on Huawei and ZTE in their sweet-spot markets - especially mobile (for Huawei) and local loop (for Huawei and ZTE). Low margin, high volume markets are perfect for heavily subsidised businesses.
I agree with McBeese - 1200x800 is a very nice resolution on a 7 inch tablet.
At least Asus understand a tablet has to have a card slot! The Nexus is nice, but with no SD card slot it's useless to me. If I wanted a closed tablet where everything had to go to and from it by WiFi I'd use my iPad!
I recently purchased an Ainol Novo7 Fire, and it's a thing of beauty - especially for 109 quid (plus five quid for recorded delivery)! The days of cheap Chinese tablets being badly made seem to be over. Build quality is excellent, and it's just about perfect for watching films on a plane. The one feature everyone misses is an integrated stand. Didn't Archos have that feature?
The other thing that I suppose I'll never have is a properly fitting case. That's the good thing about buying a "branded" tablet - you'll get some custom after-market accessories.
Never realized before how good 7" of Ainol could be.
I absolutely agree that it's in Huawei's best interest to "take care" of people who may have smiled kindly on them in the past. People who were in influential positions when multi-billion pound deals were decided.
Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that nothing was "promised" ahead of time. By employing a former senior executive at a service provider, in a position where he has to do little or no work, for a salary that most of us would dream of, Huawei makes it easier for influential decision makers in future customers to "smile kindly" on Huawei.
I'm also aware that this is exactly the kind of thing that UK and US companies did for decades.
Senior executives usually have a "non-compete" clause in their contracts, and that's one reason they tend to receive huge payouts if they leave their positions (regardless of the reason). But as far as I can tell they do not seem to have a clause that prevents them working for a company that they may have been able to "do a favor" for in their previous position. By the way, it's not just Bross and BT. Look at Ben Verwaayen. Lucent to BT then back to Alcatel-Lucent. In that period Lucent was, and continues to be a major supplier to BT.
And what about ex-BT Retail CTO Stratis Scleparis moving to Phorm? Just after he'd got BT to agree to deploy the technology?
I suppose the question is, do we really want corruption to be an acceptable business practice? I mean...there are laws against it, just like there were "laws" against a lot of stuff the banks did in the past few decades or so.
I get the impression that UK and US equipment companies are keenly aware of the boundaries these days. They are no more or less "moral" than Chinese companies - they're just more afraid of being caught :-)
BT doesn't seem to be bothered about either being caught, or being perceived to be enganged in dubious relationships.
Went to Ad Astral Park last year and the number of Chinese faces in the cafeteria was astonishing. I realize that's a racist thing to say - but it prompted me to ask my BT host about it, and she said "basically the entire network operations are now outsourced to the Chinese while the software is outsourced to Indians."
Personally I think it's vital that countries like China, India, Pakistan and Brazil are given every opportunity to grow their economies. Apart from the humanitarian aspect (ie. it's the right thing to do to help them improve their quality of life) it also means Britain has prosperous markets into which we can sell our goods (Jaguar, which is owned by an Indian company, had a record year in exporting cars to China, for example).
But it's a bit scary to see so much of what used to be high tech innovation being outsourced. BT's decision to exclude Marconi from 21CN resulted in the loss of thousands of British jobs. Ironically because BT bought a cut down MSAN from Huawei (the box that goes in the telephone exchange) it meant that the planned moved to a VoIP Next Gen Network had to be cancelled. So the UK still has crappy old circuit-switched voice in use by our national operator.
And don't even get me started on the fact that the man who was driving the 21CN project while at BT (Matt Bross) now works for Huawei as their CTO.
Nothing suspicious or unethical there, eh?
I was talking to a chap while on a plane last year who is a producer of hard core porn movies, and when I told him I worked for an internet equipment company he explained to me that for the porn industry the internet is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it's a great route to market, but on the other hand it's a great way for porn pirates to distribute their goods. In his opinion the ability to easily acquire "free porn" (most of which is pirated) was "killing his industry".
He said a lot of otherwise honest people, who can pay, and would probably prefer to pay for porn actually pirate it so they can remain anonymous.
I suspect that this filter would tend to block "legal porn", as opposed to "pirated porn", and the stigma of opting in so that one could receive "legal porn" would probably be yet another nail in the industry's coffin.
I'm not saying that the porn industry is a good thing or a bad thing. But under our current legal system (and the legal systems of most "free" countries) pornography is legal. So as long as he stays within the law's definitions (which is increasingly difficult to do) he has a right to conduct his business on the internet.
Note that I do not classify illegal content, such as child abuse imagery as pornography (despite most journalists trivializing this topic with the label "kiddy porn"). It is illegal content, full stop. And there are no circumstances where it should be tolerated online.
So if I'm reading this correctly Crucial has used some older, slower components to build a low cost drive - but then slapped a retail price on it that's not low at all? I've seen SATA3 256G drives of various makes in the 115 pound range recently.
Moving to an SSD was the best decision I ever made for my desktop machine. But I have a few older laptops that would definitely benefit from a sub-100 quid, 256GB SATA2 SSD.
Hopefully demand for this model will be sluggish, and will result in rapid price erosion; at which point I would be happy to buy it.
One quick question. A while back I saw a hybrid disc - with spinning platters but a small SSD to act as a "huge cache". It was from ebuyer, I think, but I can't remember the details. It struck me as a great compromise because it delivered (I think) 500GB of storage, but performance that would be about the same as a SATA2 drive like this.
Oddly I haven't really seen it advertised since, and I'm wondering why.
I completely agree...mergers just don't seem to work.
IMHO...mergers and acquisitions are only made to line management's pockets.
One chain of financial despair I will add to your examples.
1993, Wellflleet merge with Synoptics (both were healthy companies at the time) to form Bay Networks - which at the time of the acquisition had bigger revenues than Cisco. The merger was a disaster from the point of view of market share, but then Bay was sold to Nortel a few years later (1998). Nortel was buying anything and everything at the time...they blew billions on those acquisitions ($9.1B on Bay). Then of course Nortel went bankrupt in 2009, and managed to unload the equipment division onto Ciena. And today Ciena is maybe a billion dollars in debt, losing market share to Huawei, and not generating enough income to pay down that debt. They are technically not bankrupt because they are able to keep up the payments on the loans, but if Ciena was a European company they would be obliged to either file for bankruptcy or show a plan of how they were going to recapitalize the company.
There is no logical reason why Alcatel bought Lucent. Lucent was in terminal decline at the time, but Alcatel was actually doing OK. The only reason I can fathom is that the management teams of both companies received huge bonuses for their "visionary" acquisition.
>>>"But as a long time "Apple skeptic" I think they have very cleverly.." lied and cheated and colluded with publishers to fix the price of eBooks.
Errr...no they haven't. Apple does not "fix the price" of eBooks. As an author you can choose to give your book away for free (see the example I gave - EO Wilson "Life on Earth"). Or to charge anything you like up to $15.
Oh - perhaps you mean they fix the maximum price of eBooks at $15?
Gosh - as a consumer I would think that's a good thing.
Since you're obviously a fellow Apple-hater who has glanced at news headlines without reading the story, you may be referring to the exclusivity clause in the iBook Author publishing agreement. This is as follows:
- You get to use the authoring environment free of charge. This authoring environment is way better than anything that exists in the PC/Linux/Android world. The resulting iBooks are so slick that there is no equivalent technology on the horizon for an Android tablet (I wish there were).
- If you choose to give away your book for free then you can distribute it however you like (ie. not through the IBook Store).
- If you choose to give your book away for free then you can use the facilities of the iBook store, and Apple will not charge you a dime for doing that. It would cost you a fortune to market a free iBook in anything like the same way if you tried to do it yourself.
- If you choose to charge for your book you must distribute it through the iBook store - you are not allowed to use other distribution mechanisms. This is the point that many people jump on - but that's because they don't understand the publishing world. When you sign any publishing contract you are bound to that publisher exclusively (for that book), unless they release you. Apple is not doing anything different or sneaky here. In fact they only take 30% of your book cost, which is less than half of the normal cut. The author ends up with far more of the final sales price using Apple's mechanism.
Anyway - Apple doesn't need me to defend it - they're doing rather nicely with their hundred billion dollar cash pile. I'm sure they do a lot of things that annoy people, but the iBook agreement is not a lie (or "Omitted Truth"), and is actually a great deal for the authors.
I bought a MacBook Pro a couple of years ago, hoping to have the "Apple Experience". Nothing much happened. It was amusing to play with it for a while, but then I had to get on with some real work so I installed Parallels and Win7 (which worked astonishingly well). Realized after a couple of months it was just silly to be using such an expensive machine to run Windows. I literally never ran anything in OSX any more, so I gave the MacBook Pro to my daughter and went back to a proper computer (one with a docking station - a stupid and incomprehensible omission from the MacBooks IMHO).
Then Apple released their "enhanced eBooks" for the iPad. The most famous of these (and it's free) is EO Wilson's "Life on Earth". It's astonishingly good in terms of the ability to integrate rich media seamlessly.
When I discovered that Apple was giving away the authoring package for free (iBook Author), it caused me to actually buy an iPad 2 (no point in paying a hundred quid more for the retina display), and "borrow" the MacBook Pro back from my daughter. Note that if you're developing these iBook you need the iPad for testing the book.
I now love a lot of things about the iPad (it works so smoothly compared to my Android ICS tablet). I hate iTunes and the pain in the ass way that you get content on and off the iPad.
But as a long time "Apple skeptic" I think they have very cleverly created a new application (enhanced ebooks), along with the development environment so that anyone can put together a very sexy looking, multimedia text book.
If I can be persuaded to like Apple then anyone can :-)
...as long as I don't have to sit through commercials.
I suppose the existence of Tivo and other PVRs makes commercials more tolerable, but the fact that the BBC can craft their programs without having to work on a five minute timescale (as US TV programs have to), I think is one reason the quality of everything on the Beeb is higher.
I like the idea of the Beeb becoming an international media giant, but I suspect in doing so it would become as rubbish as Sky, ITV and the myriad other mediocre content providers out there.
Sitting on a Market 1 exchange - wondering if this fiber will ever get outside the city centres.
I can't blame the company - they're not a charity.
Does anyone know the detail of this rollout? Will Cityfibre be obliged to include a certain percentage of rural homes in the rollout as condition of whatever authority awards them permission to do this?
It's not a lot, but at least it would be a move in the right direction.
One other question. If Cityfibre goes bust, where does this leave the users?
I agree with AndrueC - the focus is all wrong. We need:
- Better last mile speeds fo everyone - not just the lucky "majority".
- Better backhaul capacity, so if I can clock at 6Mbps then that's what I should expect as throughput in a speed test.
- Less asymmetry. I have a 17:1 ratio between my downstream and upstream clock speeds. I work from home and it would be great to do decent quality video conferencing. I can receive the VC picture, but can't send it back (some would say that's a good thing).
- All Market 1 exchanges (like mine) should have an obligatory 21CN date by the end of, say, 2012. I could get about 18Mb/s downstream if the exchange was upgraded to ADSL2+. They'd have to turn up the backhaul speed at the same time, obviously.
I have huge sympathy with Brian Morrison's plight of cable damage. The threshold for getting it repaired sounds like BS to me!
I've had a pair of ANC7's (not 7b's) since about 2006 and after using them for frequent long haul travel I have to say they're brilliant - everything the reviewer points out.
I remember when I bought them that the original review said they are "Bose quality without the price tag" and I would have to agree.
If you want to buy these beauties you would be well advised to shop on Amazon.com. I found them for $99 new. At that sort of price (plus shipping and the risk of duty) I would suggest they genuinely are the best in the world.
Unless you are a lady, in which case you are a...lady. Have a pint!
But I see that Will Godfrey is now completely missing the point. I knew it was a mistake to quote Wikipedia!
Will...please put aside the actual meaning of TLA (as you point out - you consider semantics to be a matter for popular vote). Forget that people don't give a crap about the documented meaning of words these days. Blimey - I hope you don't write mission critical code for a living!
In the article the author pointed to a reference that said TLA stands for "Three Letter Acronym". He was referring to GCN, which is not an acronym, it is an abbreviation.
Ironically if he had pointed to the Wikipeia entry instead of the PCMag entry he would have been fine because Wikipedia allows both expansions of the abbreviation TLA (which is, by the way consistent with the OED definition of TLA).
Flippin' heck! It was only supposed to be a mildly pedantic comment in the first place! Now it's turning into Vogon Poetry!
It doesn't matter what the expansion of TLA is - although I have to question the logic of your remark...
"The dictionaries may have corrected that oversight but it doesn't make them right in terms of their popular usage, and the usage I have seen and heard for the past 20 years contradicts your assertion."
...that's just silly talk. But if you're doing modern English GCSEs I can imagine how you came to that conclusion.
My original point, which appears to have completely passed you by, is that the author of the aritcle ( Rik Myslewski) indicated that GCN is a TLA (see the bottom the first page of the article).
But since the link that Rik used points to a definition of TLA as "Three Letter Acronym" - then GCN is not an acronym, it's an abbreviation.
@ByeLaw101 - what on Earth are you on about? How can you "pronounce" GCN? Are you Polish? They're the only people I know that seem to be able to pronounce words without vowels.
LOL - you may not like Wikipedia - that's irrelevant.
My point is that the author of the article, and PCMag.com (and apparently you and AC) do not understand the difference between an abbreviation and an acronym. They are not synonyms.
Here is a link you can use... www.dictionary.com
Like I said - I'm in pedant mode, but TLA is not a TLA by your definition.
Since I couldn't understand most of the rest of the article I dropped into Pedant Mode.
I know the Reg writers don't have time for things like correct spelling, grammar or semantics; but when you give links to definitions like TLA could you please use a correct (or more correct) definition?
In this case the Wikipedia definition allows for the fact that in most instances of TLA, the "A" stands for abbreviation, not acronym as PCMag seems to think.
GCN is a three letter abbreviation, not a three letter acronym.
Morena Baccarin...good suggestion. Totally hot in SG-1.
But I suspect they're lookng for a big name actress.
Actually - if Morena Baccarin had got it, they would have been obliged to choose a great outfit. The danger of a big name actress is that they might wimp out, like the Halle Berry Catwoman.
...it was the appalling outfit she wore.
Michelle Pfeiffer's outfit (by the way - she is 52 this year!) was amazing. Berry's outfit was crap, and a major disappointment.
Both ladies are beautiful, and personally I thnk that Berry has even more of a feline sensuality about her.
Catwoman has to wear a catsuit, it's blindingly obvious. Anne Hathaway has the body to carry it off without doubt. Let's hope the costume designer for the new movie is sufficiently perverted to "get it".
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