5G: The Rundown for Broadband Providers

By now, you are most likely used to seeing “4G” in the top corner of your smartphone’s screen. 4G, the fourth generation of mobile internet technology, changed the way we use our phones forever. The apps that have been created for 4G are smart and incredible; we never could have imagined the capabilities they have. However, 4G has been around for several years now, and it is nearly time for something newer, stronger, and faster.

5G is a next generation mobile internet technology that promises to deliver faster download speeds, better connections, and wider coverage. 5G offers three major upgrades to its predecessor, 4G: minimal delay (low latency), long battery life, and high speeds. 4G downloads can reach 50 megabits per second, while 5G is able to operate at speeds that are 100 times faster (some sources say 1,000 times faster). No one knows what new companies and services 5G will inspire, just as no one could predict the amazing applications of 4G, such as Lyft and Snapchat.

The Race to 5G

The first 5G-ready smartphones won’t arrive until next year. This year’s efforts will be a mix of portable hotspots and fixed wireless—that is, using cellular networks to offer an alternative to wires for home broadband. The four major US carriers all plan to offer 5G mobile service in the first half of 2019, but they’re all taking a different approach.

AT&T is offering 5G-powered mobile hotspots in a dozen cities this year. Verizon plans 5G services in at least 5 cities this year (not for mobile phones, but for fixed wireless). Sprint is working on rolling out smartphone service in 9 US cities, and they are hoping to take advantage of some unique airwaves they own. Finally, T-Mobile plans to offer 5G smartphone service next year to customers in four major cities. By 2021, T-Mobile plans to provide speeds in excess of 100Mbit/s to two-thirds of the US population.

All of these companies are racing against each other as well as racing against other countries. Right now, there is a three-way game among the United States, China, and South Korea to get 5G networks up and running first. It seems that the U.S. will be first with 5G in a few places, but China will be first to bring 5G to everybody. The U.K. should certainly not be ignored either; Vodafone recently conducted a live holographic call using 5G. In addition to trying to be first, there is a fight over who will provide the technology to power the networks. The U.S. has security concerns about China and will not allow Huawei to provide gear to major US telecom firms.

Timeline

Gartner, Inc. developed a tool called the Hype Cycle to help understand how particular technologies are regarded in terms of the reality of expectations as compared to how the technology is used over time. The hype cycle consists of five phases: the technology trigger, the peak of inflated expectations, the trough of disillusionment, the slope of enlightenment, and the plateau of productivity. 5G, according to Qualcomm Director of Product Marketing Sherif Hanna, is slightly past peak hype and we are on the way to the trough of disillusionment.

Hanna explained that there is some backlash due to the extreme hype around 5G. Some people are almost having an allergic reaction to it, saying 5G is all hype and no substance whatsoever. Hanna disagrees, but the critics make a valid point. 5G has not been substantiated yet, but everyone—including the government—is already so invested. The real question here is this: what is the timeline for 5G between where we are and the slope of enlightenment?

Although the four major carriers plan to offer 5G mobile service in the first half of next year, it will be a long time before 5G coverage is ubiquitous. By mid-2019, Sprint is promising always-connected 5G PCs on its network. By 2020-21, 5G will be delivering Internet of Things upgrades, supporting connected cars and other IoT devices. Deployment on cell towers has already begun. Deployment in urban areas is in the works. Application adoption will come last, most likely in a few years. While 5G will be impressive, it is far away from being available to consumers and we should keep that in perspective.

5G and Broadband Providers

According to analysts for Light Reading, 5G is soon to become the “largest existential threat” to broadband providers. Speedy fixed 5G services are going to take money from cable broadband. For example, T-Mobile plans to capture 10 million broadband subs by 2024, largely targeting cable’s footprint. Cable companies have historically refrained from competing against each other, so many US cities have just one provider. Comcast and Charter together provide broadband service to 68 million Americans. 5G will threaten their market share.

5G and IoT

4G helped launch the app revolution, and 5G will carry the torch. It will not only enrich experiences for existing applications but also enable new Internet of Things (IoT) use cases. 5G will mean faster data on phones but will also pave the way for billions of connected IoT devices. Applications built on underlying technologies such as augmented reality, VR, and AI will benefit from massive data pipes and ultra-low latency.

It is important to note that there are security concerns with the plethora of IoT devices that will run on 5G. There are already existing security concerns with current IoT devices because their creators favor low prices over strong security, making them easy picking for hackers. Today people secure these devices by buying additional products to monitor home-network traffic, but with 5G, many more devices will bypass that network and connect directly to the Internet. The issue isn’t one hacked IoT device, but the millions of controllable hijacked devices.

In many ways, 5G will make life easier and more convenient. One major benefit of 5G networks will be the use of delivery drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). People will be able to place their online orders from their mobile devices, pay less for shipping, and acquire their goods quickly, securely, and for a low cost. Drones already exist, but 5G will help coordinate large fleets of them, allowing them to fly safely and automatically avoid collisions with high buildings and other UAVs.

If you’re picturing the drones flying through a city, you are correct. There will still be limited access to rural areas due to limited 5G offerings. Many people are claiming that 5G will help close the Digital Divide in America. However, rural areas that currently have subpar broadband will most likely continue down that path. It simply costs too much in the eyes of the companies pushing 5G to build out all of this fiber infrastructure needed for 5G in rural America. Today approximately 24% of rural Americans are on the wrong side of the digital divide, and it will likely be a very long time before this is remedied.

5G’s First Adopters

5G’s first adopters will undoubtedly be heavy industries and not consumer brands. They will use 5G for its Internet of Things applications. Oil fields, for example, plan to use the technology to boost their collection of data from sensors. Industrial automation will benefit the most, at least in the beginning. Consumer applications, which will come later, will drive the majority of the bandwidth with video and gaming.

Mobile browsing is great these days, but surfing the web without a Wi-Fi connection leaves much to be desired. For example, it’s really hard to play Fortnite Mobile using a data plan. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr explained how 5G will essentially eliminate the need to be connected to Wi-Fi. This shift has massive ramifications for information accessibility, telecoms, telehealth, and, of course, mobile gaming. Carr went on to say, “They should be branding it as 5G, The Fortnite Network.” Certain Fortnite updates have been over 1GB and could take hours to download on 4G. At 10 Gbps, these updates could be downloaded in a minute and a half. 5G gives users the speed of wired, fiber-optic internet connections, minus the cords.

Gaming may not be your thing, but some form of streaming video probably is. Netflix streaming will be like never before, and you will have access to extremely high quality video conferencing. Surgeons could even operate remotely over the internet. 5G will make all of our devices smarter, but can it make our cities smarter too?

 Experts say that 5G networks will jumpstart the smart cities movement, which is aimed at making cities more sustainable and efficient. The vision for 5G is to enable cities to combine data and devices to reduce traffic, energy, improve communications, protect neighborhoods, and save time and money.

However, “5G and smart cities can only become a reality for all Americans if there is enough fiber infrastructure to support them,” wrote Lisa Youngers, CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association. This is true. In order to get the 5G, your devices still have to connect to a wired network; when they connect to the cell tower, the tower is connected to a landline network. The little antenna might be broadcasting, but when the signal comes back there’s a wire behind it.

5G is not comprised of a standalone new technology. Its disruptive nature comes from its ability to aggregate the power of new and existing networks, mobile, fixed, and wireless to create flexibility. Nearly all of the communication through 5G will still travel fiber in the ground or underwater. Only the very last part of the connection—from the handset to the tower—will be wireless. 4G and 5G cannot exist without the fiber that empowers them. Are you building services to support the towers that support 5G? You must in order to meet the demand of underlying connectivity for 5G. Ronin can help you plan, build, and run these services. Give us a call today at (303)-678-1844 or email us at hello@roninpbr.com.

 

DDoS Perspectives: A Network Operator’s Point of View

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. DDoS attacks have been gaining popularity over the last few years, but they are more of a concern in 2018 than ever before. According Corero Network Security, the frequency of DDoS attacks has risen by 40% year over year from 2017 to 2018. Whether you’re building a new network or upgrading your network to offer gigabit Internet access or fiber network based services, its important to understand your strategy for DDoS.

            While the frequency of DDoS attacks is increasing, the duration of attacks is decreasing. DDoS attacks have become shorter but more powerful and more persistent. A study found that 77% of DDoS attacks on organizations today last 10 minutes or less. Short duration attacks mean that many organizations don’t even realize they are being attacked. Because of this, they are not mitigating the attack or the damage it causes on their network. This causes service availability and quality issues, spikes in customer service calls and complaints, and brand and revenue erosion, among other major issues.

DDoS attacks are becoming harder to mitigate, with more than 15 employees typically involved in diffusing the threat when an attack strikes.

          The impact of the shorter but more powerful DDoS attacks is nothing to shrug at; criminals recently exploited the Memcached amplification attack vector, grabbing headlines, and made everyone realize that Terabit-scale attacks are now a reality. Adding to the complexity, we are finding that DDoS attacks are often used by attackers as a precursor or smokescreen for data breach activity. Hackers take advantage of distracted IT teams and degraded network security defenses to exploit other vulnerabilities for financial gain.

           The majority of participants in the aforementioned study cited the proliferation of unsecured Internet of Things (IoT) devices as the top reason for concern about DDoS attacks. Attacks that leverage IoT devices are extremely popular and effective. IoT devices are quickly brought to the market at the lowest cost possible, and securing them is often an afterthought. Typically, a consumer plugs in an IoT device and never contemplates the security aspect or the fact that it could be used as a player in a major DDoS attack.

            Even worse than the use of IoT botnets for attacks is the use of public cloud services, which is seeing a huge increase this year. According to data accrued by DDoS mitigation firm Link11, the numbers of attackers that rely on public cloud services soared during the 12 months to June 2018. During this time, 25% of attacks in Europe were run off public cloud servers, which is a 25% rise year over year. The increased interest from DDoS perpetrators in using public cloud is due to the greater amounts of bandwidth it offers, meaning the volume of traffic generated by public cloud-based botnets is far higher than what could be achieved by hackers compromising IoT devices.

            Attackers use the public cloud for the same reasons a lot of enterprises use it. The services provide flexible, on-demand capacity and resources, and can be provisioned in just a few minutes. Link11 said it is often fruitless to try to block traffic from Amazon, Microsoft, and other public cloud providers if they are already using public cloud services in-house.

DDoS attacks are costing enterprises up to $40,000 USD per incident.

        You may be asking yourself what exactly DDoS attacks do in terms of damage. Attacks are costing enterprises up to over $40,000 per attack in lost business and productivity plus mitigation costs. This is an insane figure, but survey respondents cite loss of revenue as only the fourth most damaging effect of DDoS attacks. The majority of respondents cite the loss of customer trust and confidence as the most damaging effect on business. Even if you fix the damage of the DDoS attack on your network, consumers may never trust your services again. Beyond the loss of customer trust, respondents cited the risk of intellectual theft and the threats of malware infection as the most damaging effects on business arising from DDoS attacks.

Even if you fix the damage of the DDoS attack on your network, consumers may never trust your services again.

            This research polled more than 300 security professionals worldwide from a range of industries including financial services, cloud, government, online gaming, and media sectors. 69% of the responding organizations claim to experience between 20 and 50 DDoS attack attempts per month. Another concerning detail is that having faced one attack, a fifth of organizations will be targeted again within 24 hours. DDoS attacks are a constant threat.

            Almost anyone can conduct DDoS attacks. Everyone, from countries to online gamers, is using DDoS attacks. For example, DDoS attacks have become the new geopolitical tool for nation-states and political activists. These are big, premeditated attacks used to send a message or take down a website in opposition to someone’s viewpoint. On a smaller scale, the rage-fueled DDoS attacks on gamers by other gamers are a good example of a spur-of-the-moment, emotional attacks enabled by the availability of DDoS-as-a-Service (DaaS).

            DaaS platforms enable virtually anyone to launch a cyberattack with relative anonymity, and they are relatively cheap. This April, Webstresser.org—one of the largest DaaS providers in existence, which allowed criminals to buy the ability to launch attacks on businesses and was responsible for millions of DDoS attacks around the globe—was taken down in a major international investigation. However, their competitors are still around and conducting attacks at a rapid rate.

            DaaS platforms are fully functional web applications that allow registered customers to manage their balance and plan their DDoS attack budget. Some developers even offer bonus points for each attack conducted using their service. Essentially, cybercriminals have their own loyalty and customer service programs. As of March 2017, a DDoS attack lasting 10,800 seconds would cost the client $60, or approximately $20 per hour. Newer figures show DDoS attacks for even less money; TrendMicro Research found that $150 could buy a weeklong DDoS attack on the black market. This low price point means virtually anyone can launch a network-crippling DDoS attack if they know where to look.

            Your network may not be supporting nation-states, but it is definitely full of gamers. Games like Fortnite require big bandwidth and are becoming extremely popular. Over 125 million people have played Fortnite since it launched in July 2017. The world of eSports is also exploding; the eSports market is expected to generate close to 1.5 billion USD in revenue by 2020. If your network is full of DDoS related issues, these valuable customers will undoubtedly leave you behind.

So how can you prevent these attacks on your network? First, organizations using public cloud services should analyze in detail the communication between public cloud services and their own network, and monitor for malicious or unwanted traffic. Ongoing analysis of data traffic, using machine-learning techniques, enables legitimate traffic to be profiled and fingerprinted, so that any changes can be detected quickly and reliably. The malicious traffic can then be filtered out in a granular manner before it can impact on the organization’s business. Furthermore, automation is a good option.

88% of service providers already use intelligent DDoS mitigation solutions as part of their strategy. Firewalls and intrusion prevention systems that come with some built-in DDoS mitigation are not sufficient; organizations should also consider some of the on-premises, in-cloud, and hybrid DDoS mitigation options currently available.

Map of DDoS attacks happening in real time

Simulated DDoS attack platform

The Cost of Launching a DDoS attack

Average DDoS attack is 5 times stronger this year compared to last year

 

Ronin Technology Advisors

We believe that networks are about creating value for the company, the investors, the customers, and the community. At Ronin, we bring to bear decades of experience designing, building, and operating broadband infrastructure. We are enablers of network infrastructure and services, and our team is fluent in technology and business. Working with Ronin means engaging authentic career product developers, project managers, engineers, technology strategists, and sales executives who not only love networks, but also have built their entire careers on them. Looking to see how to incorporate DDoS into your network strategy? Give us a call 303.678.1844 or drop us a note at hello@roninpbr.com and let’s start talking.

Digital Transformation: The Secret For Service Providers

Digital Transformation matters because larger service providers are already making the shift. They have significant capital and will be able to provide a full suite of services to your customers and make your business relevant. New technologies such as 5G and SDWAN will enable providers to reach customers within your service area. These providers have complete wireless and wireline offerings: Internet, voice, video, and wireless—all integrated and working together seamlessly.

Digital transformation isn’t just about investing capital into software platforms and automation., but it’s also about enabling human capital. Here’s a checklist of things to consider:

Work smarter, not harder
– For new requests, do you have a standard offering or is it all ICB?
– How are you measuring your sales, marketing, and support?
– Do you use a CRM like salesforce? How many groups within the company use it?
Focus on the customer
– Do you differentiate your business and residential brands? If so, how? (support, services, pricing?)
– Do you have different service offerings for different types of customers?
– Have you created different marketing messages or branding for customer types?
Innovate
– When was the last time you rolled out a new product? (changing pricing doesn’t count)
– What services are you developing in the coming year?
– What new markets can you expand into?

Some additional links on Digital Transformation:
Examples of companies that are succeeding at Digital Transformation
Digital transformation doesn’t break the bank

Are you looking for help in your business? Give us a shout 303.678.1844 or drop us a note hello@roninpbr.com

5G is coming. Is your network prepared?

The race to 5G is on. 5G is the fifth generation of technology which promises to greatly enhance speed, coverage, and responsiveness of wireless networks. 5G promises to be 10 to 100 times faster than its 4G predecessor. AT&T and Verizon plan to have just started rolling out their networks by the end of this year, and T-Mobile is looking to start their rollout in 2019.

 Companies like Intel, Qualcomm, and Samsung can start mass-producing the chips that will power faster cellular connections in phones. Beyond phones, companies are partnering up to create 5G laptops. By the end of next year you will be able to buy a laptop that comes with a 5G cellular connection, thanks to collaboration between Intel, Microsoft, Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

So how will #5G impact your business? Good question, here are a few things to consider:
• Are you able to offer services to provide connectivity to cell towers and small cell?
• How does your small business package stack up? When companies roll out 5G to small businesses, they will have an offering that includes everything you offer today plus wireless, and it will be seamless.
• It’s imperative you develop a service offering so you can compete in this space. If you just offer the same services you’ve always offered, you’re going to fall behind and lose customers and market share.

Not just speed: 7 incredible things you can do with 5G

Do you need help preparing your network for 5G? Ronin is here to help with just that. Give us a call at (303)-678-1844 or email us at hello@roninpbr.com.

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The Rundown on DDoS Attacks

A combination of factors is driving the trend of DDoS attacks, including the emergence of IoT and mobile botnets, the easy availability of for-fire services in criminal marketplaces, and an increase in criminal actors seeking to monetize DDoS attacks. Here are the basics you need to know about DDoS:

1. DDoS attacks are growing in popularity. There were 7.5 million attacks in 2017. Kaspersky Lab estimated that 33% of organizations faced a DDoS attack last year from just 17% in 2016.

2. IoT devices can be used in DDoS attacks. Attacks that leveraged IoT devices were favored heavily by cybercriminals in the last year. These attacks have been effective, and the proportion of enterprises experiencing revenue loss due to DDoS nearly doubled in 2017.

3. DDoS attacks have become shorter, more powerful, and more persistent. They are no longer just a way to disrupt a victim’s services—they are being used to extort money, or as a distraction to hide other malicious activity and as a tool to hurt competitors

4. You can conduct a DDoS attack if you can pay. There are web services that are fully functional web applications that allow registered customers to manage their balance and plan their DDoS attack budget. A common occurrence we see is with online gamers. Some developers even offer bonus points for each attack conducted using their service. Essentially, cybercriminals have their own loyalty and customer service programs. As of March 2017, a DDoS attack lasting 10,800 seconds will cost the client $60, or approximately $20 per hour.

5. Automation is the first line of defense. 88% of service providers already use intelligent DDoS mitigation solutions as part of their strategy. Firewalls and intrusion prevention systems that come with some built-in DDoS mitigation are not sufficient; organizations should also consider some of the on-premises, in-cloud, and hybrid DDoS mitigation options currently available.

When DDoS attacks happen, service providers are left to pick up the pieces, which can and often does cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. If you’re a service provider, contact us today (303-678-1844 or hello@roninpbr.com) about how we can help you with DDoS protection.

Map of DDoS Attacks Happening in Real Time

Simulated DDoS Attack Platform

DDoS Attacks Using IoT Devices on the Rise

DDoS Attacks Evolve, Remain a Potent Threat

The Cost of Launching a DDoS Attack

4 Reasons you need to be offering UCaaS

We’re projecting that the market for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) in the US will be worth $88B by 2021. Whether you have a network today or are considering building one, this is a service you need to seriously consider. Here’s why:

  1. There is a demand for the service today: If you’re not offering UCaaS today, it’s likely that your customers are already buying it from providers such as RingCentral and 8X8. These companies are able to offer the services over your internet connections and it’s revenue you’re missing out on.
  2. Customers want to buy local: After high-speed internet access, unified communications is the service most in demand, especially in rural areas. We’ve surveyed and spoken to over 20,000 IT decision makers and this is the service they are looking to buy and would prefer to buy locally from a company invested in their community.
  3. It’s sticky revenue: A recent article from NoJitter notes that there is “infinitesimal churn” with Unified Communications. Customers like the connectivity features, the professional upgrade it gives their business, and the costs. Not to mention it’s also a hassle to change. It can easily be bundled with high-speed internet access.
  4. 5G is on the horizon: Mobile carriers will absolutely look to offer a full suite of connectivity options targeted to business. Local network providers will only be able to compete if they offer services like #UCaaS. The time to start is now.

 

Need help getting this service off the ground? Give us a call (303)-678-1844 or email us hello@roninpbr.com and let’s start talking.

The Importance of Broadband and Telehealth

The FCC’s Connect2Health Task Force recently released an interactive map of the country which maps broadband and health across the states. The data is revealing and shows how reliable broadband impacts healthcare through things like telehealth, which is on the rise. Telehealth applications are a major driver for broadband adoption. It’s mentioned and as point of discussion in the CVS / Aetna merger talks as well as a key reason for municipal broadband.

To be effective, it’s important to dig further into the details on what it will take to implement these telehealth services. For patients using the applications at home, there must be a secure service that allows residents to do so. Most likely, this would require HD voice and video conferencing, which means there should be a minimum of 50Mbps or more—this is 2x the speed of the minimum FCC requirement for broadband.

 Regional health clinics and hospitals need a secure, high capacity service that can connect them to larger healthcare systems and headquarters as well as their patients. In order to do this, they need a broadband speed of 100Mbps or more.

 Finally, the broadband and services must be reliable which means the end user (patient or healthcare provider) needs a consistent user experience with clearly defined SLA’s.

 This is where Ronin Technology Advisors can help. Give us a call today (303-678-1844) and let’s discuss how we can help you develop and deliver the services your communities need.

How to lose subscribers but beat earnings estimates in 3 steps

Recently Comcast exceeded their earnings estimates while losing a record number of video subscribers.  Why is this important?  They’ve got a plan and roadmap on how they look at the services they’re delivering and the services their customers are looking for. 

  1. Move away from low value services – Whether it’s traditional cable TV, regular home phone service, or sub 25Mbps internet access, in today’s market consumers are looking for value.   
  2. Identify your high value services.  These are the services that delight customers – more speed, greater capacity, and new features, and ultimately the customer has more capabilities. For Comcast, their high value service is broadband. 
  3. Diversify with complimentary services.  Broadband isn’t just internet access, it is an enabler of higher margin services such as ethernet WAN, unified communications, and SDWAN.   

Some questions to think about: 

  • Are you seeing a decline in margin and/or subscribers? 
  • Are you looking to add value to your current services? 
  • Are your business services different than your residential services?  
  • Want to know how to get more margin out of your existing network? 

Give us a call at 303.678.1844 or drop us a note hello@roninpbr.com. We’d love to hear about your business and how we can help.   

The MDU market is a $8.3B opportunity. Is your service offering ready?

Multiple-Dwelling Units (MDUs) such as apartment buildings and condos can help you add thousands of customers. They present the perfect opportunity for providers because MDU inhabitants make up over 18% of potential subscribers. 80% of MDU residents rate fast broadband internet as being more important than in-unit washers and dryers, and their habits are largely digital.

Cord cutting, disconnecting from cable/satellite to pursue solely streaming options, is growing at an exponential rate. As of 2016, half of US consumers subscribe to a paid streaming video service, and 1 in 7 Americans is a cord cutter. With over 130 available streaming services, streaming video must be part of your service set.

Working from home or telecommuting is on the rise as well. As of June 2017, 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time. Additionally, regular work-at-home among the non self-employed population has grown by 115% since 2005, nearly 10x faster than the rest of the workforce.

You need a connectivity service that is geared towards this cord cutting, working from home market. The service set should include UCaaS and high speed internet. Furthermore, you should be looking for value added services to layer onto the connection, such as desktop as a service, office 365, security, and storage.

Are you looking for help developing and launching services to go after this market? Give us a call 304.678.1844 or drop us a note hello@roninpbr.com