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Finley Engineering, Inc. announces the election of Ben Humphrey, Vice President to the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors for the company. Humphrey was voted into his new position during Finley’s recent Annual Board Meeting and following the acceptance of former Board Chair, Ken Knuth’s retirement announcement at the Finley Engineering Annual Shareholder Meeting in March. 

Humphrey comes to the chairman position as a veteran Finley leader with just under 40 years in the company. “We look forward to Ben’s leadership as we deploy key strategies to impact the direction and growth of Finley Engineering over the next several years,” said CEO Mike Boehne.

Retiring Chair Knuth, who will retain a board position, has been active in Finley for over 40 years and was Chairman of the Board for the past 28 years. “Ken’s experience and entrepreneurial leadership has helped guide our Board through key acquisitions, significant industry changes, economically challenging times and visionary development of our company,” said Boehne.  “On behalf of all of Finley Engineering and the Board of Directors, I wish to extend the deepest thanks to Ken for his passion, dedication and time spent leading Finley.” 

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ADSL equipment has been popular among broadband service providers, but VDSL now has the momentum. Ongoing growth in GPON and vector-capable VDSL helped fuel strong growth in fixed broadband equipment spending in 2013, according to preliminary analysis of data included in a new report from Infonetics Research.

“2013 ended up being a strong year for fixed broadband spending, driven by the continued growth of GPON and vectoring-capable VDSL gear. Competition, over-the-top (OTT) and multiscreen video, and national broadband goals remain the primary drivers for fixed broadband investment,” Infonetics' principal analyst for broadband access and pay-TV Jeff Heynen was quoted in a press release

Highlights from Infonetics' 4Q and 2013, “PON, FTTH, and DSL Aggregation Equipment and Subscribers” report include:

  • Globally, sales of broadband aggregation equipment (DSL, PON, and Ethernet FTTH) grew 4.6% sequentially in 4Q13, to $1.95 billion
  • For the full year 2013, worldwide broadband aggregation equipment revenue totaled $6.96 billion, a 1.6% increase over 2012
  • VDSL shipments surpassed ADSL for the first time in 2013 and now make up over half of all DSL ports shipped, though this was not enough to lift overall DSL aggregation market on a year-over-year basis
  • The top 3 overall broadband aggregation revenue leaders are once again Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, and ZTE

 

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Tagged in: Broadband DSL
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Telecommunications is at the core of putting together a new generation of smart electricity, water and gas distribution networks. Aiming to spur the design, building and adoption of hybrid smart grid networks that support both wireless radio-frequency (RF) and wired powerline communications, the HomePlug Alliance and Wi-SUN Alliance recently announced the establishment of a partnership agreement.

The HomePlug-Wi-SUN partnership will see the two industry associations collaborate “to share requirements and specifications for Media Access Control (MAC) and transport profiles to facilitate interoperability of Internet Protocol (IP)-based smart grid applications,” according to a joint press release

HomePlug's Netricity certification program promotes the adoption of the new IEEE 1901.2 powerline communications standard, and is targeted for outside-the-home, smart grid networks,” commented Rob Ranck, the industry association's president. “HomePlug is excited to collaborate with Wi-SUN to help the industry create a more complete connectivity solution for utility customers.”

Originating in Japan, Wi-SUN is expanding overseas, including across Asia and in Europe as well as across the Pacific in the U.S. For use in energy management and smart-utility network applications, NEC and Toshiba completed testing of a smart meter communications module according to Wi-SUN's recently launched global certification program.

 

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Tagged in: Smartgrid Wireless
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The Missouri Telecommunications Industry Association (MTIA) recently appointed Finley Engineering’s Operations Manager Andy Heins to their Board of Directors. The MTIA created this seat represent associate members and Heins is the first to hold the position.

The MTIA is a state-wide professional association that operates as a forum for discussion and cooperation among all companies on issues affecting Missouri’s telecommunications industry.

“We are pleased that the MTIA recognizes the value Andy Heins will bring to their Board of Directors,” said Finley Engineering CEO Michael Boehne. “Andy’s respected insight in the areas of telephone company operations, FTTH network design and operation, industry revenue practices, and industry regulation will benefit the organization and the industry.”

Heins serves as Operations Manager of the Finley’s Missouri Broadband division headquartered in Lamar, MO. Heins is a veteran of the telecommunications industry and began his career at Finley in early 2009.  Prior to joining Finley, Heins was the General Manager of Alma Communications Company in Missouri.  While with Alma, Heins assumed various management and operations roles, and in 2006 deployed the first 100% Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network in the state of Missouri.

For over 60 years, Finley Engineering has been a leader in the design, engineering and construction of broadband, communications and electrical power systems. Finley has over 300 employees located in ten offices throughout the U.S. and is a multi-disciplined organization offering professional, engineering, project management, surveying, mapping, environmental and right-of-way services to the telecommunications, cable television, fiber optics, electric power transmission and distribution, gas pipeline, and related industries

For more information about Finley or any of its services, please visit fecinc.com or contact Barbara Ostrander at b.ostrander@fecinc.com. For more information on the MTIA visit www.mtia.org

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The latest broadband networking technology involves light bulbs and it’s known as Li-Fi. U.K. scientists report a new breakthrough in Li-Fi, the transmission of data using light spectrum, achieving transmission speeds as high as 10 Gb/s, over 250 times faster than “superfast” broadband. The feat was achieved by researchers working as the Ultra Parallel Visible Light Communications Project, a joint venture between the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Strathclyde.

Earlier this year, researchers at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute in Germany used Li-Fi to transfer data at 3 Gb/s, the previous record. Researchers in China this month claimed to have used Li-Fi to transfer data at 150 Mb/s, though the results have been questioned due to insufficient proof, according to a report from The Independent.

It's envisioned that existing LED light bulbs could be converted to transmit Li-Fi signals with just a single microchip, holding out the promise of simple, effective ubiquity. The technology could also avoid the problem of radio signals interfering with electronic circuitry.

There are hurdles, however, The Independent's James Vincent notes. Li-Fi bulbs would need to be turned on to transmit data, and line-of-sight would have to exist between transmitter and receiver.

Addressing the former, scientists say the intensity of light from LED bulbs could be dimmed to the point where it wasn't visible to humans yet still functional. While direct line-of-sight poses a greater hurdle to widespread use, it would also enhance the security of Internet connections, as hackers wouldn't be able to tap into transmissions without being within sight of the transmitter.

 

 

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Tagged in: Broadband
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Telehealth is one of the more promising broadband applications on the horizon for Finley clients. We’ve touched on past developments regarding this opportunity and news from the FCC puts it in even more focus. 

The FCC is marshaling its resources and establishing a new Commission Task Force – CONNECT2HEALTHFCC . To lead the effort, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has appointed Michelle Ellison as task force chair. LINK:

According to an FCC press release, the “CONNECT2HEALTHFCC Task Force will consider ways to accelerate the adoption of health care technologies by leveraging broadband and other next-gen communications services.”

Joining in the effort, Chairwoman Ellison will work with closely with FCC leaders, the Director of Health Care Initiatives and chiefs of the Wireline and Wireless Bureaus, and Office of Engineering and Technology in particular, the FCC explains.

 “The Commission’s top priority must be to make networks work for everyone. Broadband itself is not the goal – it’s what broadband enables. We must leverage all available technologies to ensure that advanced health care solutions are readily accessible to all Americans, from rural and remote areas to underserved inner cities,” Chairman Wheeler was quoted as saying.

Ms. Ellison has been serving as chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau since 2009. During her term, the FCC “took consistent and aggressive action to enforce the Communications Act and the Commission's rules,” the FCC notes. That included issuing more than $300 million in proposed penalties and settlements and taking nearly enforcement actions, including a precedent-setting $25 million settlement, the largest in FCC history, on so-called “mystery fees” – “unauthorized data charges billed to millions of consumers.”

 

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Tagged in: Broadband telemedicine
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Many Finley clients are looking to the smart home as a source of business and revenue growth. Apparently for good reason. Global smart home services revenues are projected to increase from $33 billion in 2013 to reach $71 billion by 2018, according to a new report from Juniper Research. Nearly 80% of that will come from entertainment services, according to Juniper's “Smart Home Ecosystems & the Internet of Things.” 

The rapid rise of high-profile OTT (Over-the-Top) content providers such as Neflix, LOVEFiLM and Amazon Instant Video, has spurred demand, as has mass adoption of connected TVs, according to Juniper's new whitepaper.

“While the smart TV market is just beginning to take hold, the Set-Top Box and the console remain popular options for users to connect their TVs to the Internet and access both subscription services as well as pay-per-view, download-to-own and rentals,” the market research firm states.

The advent of 4K video services, along with an “array of 'Internet of Things' smart home devices” will put carrier networks under ever greater strain, which means that network operators have to make the transition from legacy IPv4 and CGNAT in order to remain viable players in the marketplace and meet consumers' expectations,” Juniper asserts in a press release.

Other key report findings include:

  • Industry collaboration between stakeholders is crucial to realizing the potential of the ‘Internet of Things’; no single stakeholder is likely to be able to dominate thanks to the number of verticals within the home.
  • Security and Control elements of the Smart Home will reveal a service provider opportunity approaching $12 billion by 2018 as automation elements are added to service propositions.

 

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With the volume of data traffic on a steep upward trajectory, finding new, innovative ways to better manage and transport data is a priority for network operators worldwide. Software-defined networking (SDN), which was once focused on the data center, is now a part of the broader network. Holding out the promise of lower capital and operating expenditures, SDN has emerged as a focal point for telecom and Internet service providers and the network equipment manufacturers who serve them, leading to a growing ecosystem.

Describing SDN as “the single most important development in networking for a decade,” Heavy Reading Components Insider analyst and report author Simon Stanley investigates the emergence of an SDN ecosystem comprised of software, silicon devices and hardware platforms.

Key findings of Heavy Reading Components Insider's, “Switching Technology & Components for SDN,” include:

  • 1.28-1.44 Tbit/s switch devices with SDN support are available from multiple vendors
  • Low latency and high bandwidth switch devices are at the center of SDN-based networks
  • OpenFlow, VxLAN, NVGRE and EVB are now supported by latest Ethernet switch devices
  • Multiple vendors now enable SDN capable network operating systems
  • Embedded SDN software supports a mix of virtual and physical switches

"SDN will allow service providers to deploy a flexible network that is implemented on standard server and switch hardware significantly reducing the capital cost," Stanley added. "The challenge for the industry is not only developing these next-generation switch devices but also ensuring they interoperate with the rest of the SDN infrastructure."

 

 

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Tagged in: Networking SDN
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Finley Engineering is pleased to announce the opening of our Overland Park office location in the greater Kansas City area.

Having worked with a number of energy and communications organizations near and around Kansas City, we are poised to be more accessible with this additional location and prepared for continued growth as we add clients and professional staff. The Overland Park location is one of ten Finley Engineering locations. 

“We’re excited to become part of the greater Kansas City community,” said Phil Carroll, Vice President of Finley’s Energy Business based in Missouri. “This new office, as well as the addition of engineering staff to our team, augments our ability to serve clients with its central location.”

We recently hosted client visits to our new location in celebration of its expansion. The office is located at 9120 West 135th Street in suite #203 in Overland Park, KS.

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Tagged in: Energy
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We hear more and more insight these days regarding how OTT video is impacting Finley clients, both from a broadband traffic perspective and from a competitive threat for IPTV. That’s why this development at Northwestern University caught our eye. Searching for a replacement to discontinued traditional cable service, the Midwestern university is providing some 1,600 students free Hulu Plus accounts to stream movies and TV shows instead.

Students living in eight on-campus residence halls with updated wireless systems now have free Hulu Plus access as part of the pilot program. The pilot program is scheduled to run until March 31, according to a news post on The Daily Northwestern

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Tagged in: OTT Video
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Demonstrating the impact that smartphones have had on our industry and our society, annual global smartphone shipments reached 1 billion for the first time in 2013, according to the latest IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. According to IDC , smartphone vendors shipped a total 1,004.2 million smartphones, up 38.4% from 725.3 million units in 2012.

Smartphones accounted for 55.1% of all mobile phone shipments in 2013, up from 41.7% in 2012, with vendors shipping a total 1,821.8 million mobile phones worldwide, 4.8% more than they did in 2012.

Fourth quarter 2013 smartphone shipments totaled 284.4 million units worldwide, up 24.2% from 229.0 million in 4Q 2012. Overall, 488.4 million mobile phones were shipped worldwide in 4Q 2013, up 0.9% from 4Q 2012. That's 2.8% lower than a recent IDC forecast.

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The FCC issued an Order on Friday January 31st, 2014 outlining Experiments regarding IP Transition and Rural Broadband. You may be interested in submitting a non-binding Expression of Interest (EOI). We have provided a brief summary below and would be happy to forward more detailed information if you’d like to contact us.

The deadline for electronic submission of Expressions of Interest for the Next Generation Network Experiments in Rural America is March 7, 2014. 

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We’re pleased to offer our latest free whitepaper - Extending the Life of Copper Based Broadband. Copper based broadband continues to be the dominant broadband access technology across the globe. Broadband service providers who rely on copper loops for broadband access have options to improve broadband performance and extend their life. Despite its throughput limitations, considerable research and development is taking place to improve DSL performance.

Copper based broadband carriers are compelled to understand these developments to ensure they can keep pace with customer demand. Learn more by downloading our complimentary whitepaper.

This whitepaper will discuss:

  • The importance of copper plant
  • How much bandwidth is enough?
  • Copper based broadband advancements including pair bonding, vectoring, Phantom pairs, and G.fast
  • Best practices for improving DSL performance
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The continued growth of mobile broadband creates tremendous value for subscribers and growing headaches for service providers. Maintaining an acceptable mobile broadband experience amid all this growth is no trivial task. The ITU-T is aiming to address this issue latest recommendations on ensuring Quality-of-Service (QoS) for IP-based telecoms networks.

“Ensuring Quality of Service (QoS) in today’s IP-based, communications ecosystem is a complex challenge, and even more so for fast-growing emerging economies experiencing a surge in demand for services and consequent network performance concerns,” ITU-T explains on the ITU Newslog.

Summarizing QoS basics from the user's perspective, “ITU-T E.804 defines QoS parameters and their computation for popular services, for example e-mail, video streaming and voice in mobile networks. It also describes the measurement procedures needed to perform the measurements of QoS parameters.”

ITU-T E.804 also defines the minimum requirements for mobile network QoS measurement equipment. This is accomplished “in such a way that the values and trigger points needed to compute the QoS parameter can be measured following the procedures defined.” The requirements also specify typical measurement profiles necessary for benchmarking different mobile networks within and outside national boundaries.

 

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Tagged in: Broadband Wireless
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As important as Ethernet has been as a technology and as a business opportunity, its impact will only continue to grow as the ongoing IP transition continues. Finley clients are increasingly relying on Ethernet services for revenue growth in an IP and broadband dominated marketplace, so it’s important to take note of Ethernet developments like the one recently outlined by the IEEE, which announced the launch of three new standards-development and a new Industry Connection initiative.

“Work is underway to amend the base [Ethernet] standard in multiple ways so that it is more useful in emerging application areas, and the new Industry Connections activity will engage global industry in discussion of the next-generation (NG) Ethernet Passive Optical Network (NG-EPON),” the international industry association elaborated in a press release.

Aiming to foster use of Ethernet networks in new audio/video, automotive, industrial automation and transportation applications (aircraft, railway and heavy traffic), IEEE P802.3br “Draft Standard for Ethernet Amendment Specification and Management Parameters for Interspersing Express Traffic” is envisaged as having cost-effective low-latency and best-efforts traffic stream convergence capabilities on the same physical connections. Such functionality requires multiple networks with parallel links at present. More information on the development of the new IEEE P802.3br standard is available at http://standards.ieee.org/develop/project/802.3br.html .

A second new standard development project aims to boost Power of Ethernet (PoE) capabilities. Prospective applications for IEEE P802.3bt “Draft Standard for Ethernet Amendment: Physical Layer and Management Parameters for DTE Power via MDI over 4-Pair” include pan/tilt/zoom security cameras, IP videophones, kiosks, point-of-sale (PoS) terminals, thin clients, multi-radio wireless nodes and access points, laptop computers, RFID readers and building management. More information regarding IEEE P802.3bt's development is available at: http://standards.ieee.org/develop/project/802.3bt.html 

IEEE P802.3bu “Draft Standard for Ethernet Amendment: Physical Layer and Management Parameters for 1-Pair Power over Data Lines,” the third of IEEE's new Ethernet standard-development projects, aims to provide power on a single-pair data interface would eliminate the need for separate power wiring for emerging Ethernet applications in areas including automotive, transportation and industrial automation. More information is available at http://standards.ieee.org/develop/project/802.3bu.html. 

With the 802.3 Industry Connections NG-EPON Ad Hoc initiative, IEEE is looking to bring industry participants together to “explore the market potential and technology options for an NG-EPON operating at data rates beyond 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps).”

Noting that EPON is deployed widely and used by equipment vendors and network operators for residential and commercial subscriber access to data, voice and video services, as well as mobile backhaul, IEEE says that equipment vendors and network operators, particularly in Asia, North and South America, “are interested in exploring the technologies available for the next generation of EPON.” More information about IEEE's NG-EPON Industry Connections Ad Hoc initiative is available at: http://www.ieee802.org/3/ad_hoc/ngepon/index.html .

 

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It is anticipated the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote at its January Open Meeting on January 30th, to enable rural utilities, in addition to certified eligible telecommunication carriers (ETC) to bring the benefits of fast, reliable and affordable broadband connections to your communities with support from the Connect America Fund (CAF). It appears that the FCC will be allocating funding from Connect America Funds to fund a program to expand rural broadband. Here is some additional guidance:

  • These funds are expected to be allocated to both Eligible Telecommunication Carriers (ETCs) as well as other types such as rural utilities and municipalities.
  • Expressions of Interest (EOL) need to be filed to signal a desire to participate. Filing an EOI is non-binding.
  • It is anticipated that the funding level committed by the FCC to this Broadband Initiative will be directly related to the level of interest measured by the number of EOL’s received.

What does this mean for you? Opening up the funds takes away a barrier of entry to building a broadband network in your rural service area.

Finley Engineering has years of experience working with the FCC CAF program and if you are even slightly curious, we encourage you to call us so we can have a conversation about the process and offer our expertise to make the process fast, painless and accurate for you.

 

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TR-069 is a proven Broadband Forum protocol for service provider efficiency by allowing service providers to remotely diagnose service issues within a customer’s network. Sigma Designs recently announced they will incorporate TR-069 into their G.hn System-on-a-Chip (SoC) CG5200 family of chipsets.

G.hn is an emerging home networking standard, which is replacing HomePNA, a common standard used by telcos and IPTV providers for in-home content distribution. Based on the Broadband Forum's TR-069 remote management of end-user devices application layer specification and Friendly Technologies' TR-069 Access Control Server (ACS), Sigma's TR-069 SoC provides remote management and diagnostics that they hope will translate into “far fewer support calls and maintenance costs,” for service providers, according to a company press release. “While broadband speeds are critical to any service provider’s success, ensuring an outstanding customer experience is just as important,” Sigma Design's vice president and general manager, home connectivity business unit Gabi Hilevitz said in a press release.

“With integrated support for TR-069 in its chipsets, Sigma is helping its service provider customers deliver to their subscribers the best possible user experience along with the highest performance offered by G.hn.

The new SoC' key features include:

• PHY rate up to 1 Gbps per medium (coax, phone, power)

• Whole home coverage utilizing all existing wires, including those through thick walls and multiple floors

• G.hn MIMO/SISO over power line extending coverage, rates, and best immunity to interferences

• Smooth and seamless migration from Home PNA to G.hn over coax

• Customer self-install

• Embedded IP Stack for TR-069 remote management and diagnostics

• Optimization for IPTV and Multicast systems for video and audio traffic

• Guaranteed reliable performance and user experience

• Compliance with ITU-T G.hn standards (G.9960/1/2/3/4)

Home networking and the distribution of IP enabled content has become a critical aspect of our client’s business. G.hn and TR-069 are important technologies to consider in this regard.

 

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View the recording of our newest webinar:

Extending the Life of Copper Based Broadband

Watch the on-demand recording

 

Finley Engineering in conjunction with Telecompetitor hosted a FREE webinar on December 9th; Extending the Life of Copper Based Broadband.  Click the link above to view this video on demand.

What will you learn:

- The proper context for copper in the future of broadband

- More insight into the technologies behind copper extension of life including repeaters, bonding, vectoring, and DSL Phantom Mode

- Migration path for broadband that includes both fiber and copper

Visit us at www.fecinc.com/broadband for more information on Finley Broadband Services. Or contact us at 417-682-5531.

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Wearable technology is emerging as a significant new category of consumer electronics, with more than half (52%) of consumers surveyed by Accenture saying they would be interested in purchasing wearable devices , such as fitness monitors that track physical activity and monitor personal health. Other emerging wearable tech categories include Google Glass and smart watches.

Of the 6,000 consumers in surveyed across the world and they expressed interest in buying smart watches (46%), and smart, Internet-connected eyeglasses (42%), according to an Accenture press release. Phablets, which fall between smartphones and tablets in feature set and screen size (5-7”), was another new category of mobile devices that consumers expressed interest in. Respondents indicated strong plans to purchase already well established mobile consumer electronics – smartphones, HDTVs, laptops and tablets – as well.

“In the past year wearable technologies have emerged as the next big consumer electronics market category, particularly for health and wellness,” Accenture's global managing director of Electronics and High-Tech industry group Mattias Lewren.

“To capitalize on this growth opportunity, consumer electronics companies should consider investing in wearable product innovation and industrial design, and building ecosystems that connect wearables to the broader array of interactive digital networks. Every consumer is a digital consumer, and the keen interest in wearable technology provides further evidence of that.”

Survey respondents expressed much stronger intentions to purchase multi- as opposed to single-function consumer electronics over the next year. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said they plan to purchase a smartphone and 40% a PC.

More than half those plan to buy a smartphone said they would prefer to buy a phablet. Forty-one percent indicated they plan to buy an HDTV and 38% a laptop. By contrast, 25% said they plan to buy home game consoles, 23% GPS navigation units, and 22% ebook readers.

These buying trends indicate continuing interest and momentum in connected devices, driving additional demand for bandwidth. They may also represent revenue and growth opportunities for Finley clients in the form of additional device sales and support opportunities.

 

 

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Tagged in: Broadband Devices
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Telehealth or telemedicine which combines broadband/telecom with the delivery of healthcare and wellness is a promising technology  for Finley clients and their customers. There is significant activity and momentum, as confirmed by a recent Consumer Electronics Association report, the folks behind the huge tech tradeshow CES confirmed. An aging, health-conscious U.S. population and advances in digital technology will propel personal health and wellness product sales and services revenues 142% higher over the next five years, according to CEA.

Produced in conjunction with market research company Parks Associates, CEA forecasts a long lasting explosion in the number of personal health and wellness products on the market. Over 40 million will be available commercially this year, and that number will grow to reach more than 70 million by 2018, according to CEA's, “The Connected Health and Wellness Market.”

“The current sea change in healthcare is resulting in far more consumer-centric products and services,” CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro elaborated in a press release. “Design innovations, advancing technology and the widespread adoption of mobile devices mean consumer-centric care is now possible in ways we never imagined. Continued innovation promises to increase personalization, reduce costs and provide novel new solutions to our healthcare challenges.”

CEA expects product sales and software and service revenues to be growth leaders, producing over $3.3 billion in revenue this year and over $8 billion by 2018.

Twenty-nine percent of mobile phone users with health problems said they would try “an easy-to-use device to track their condition and progress towards their goals,” according to the report. Twenty-seven percent of mobile phone users said they would “like a personalized plan to help guide them through their journey to better health.”

“Current healthcare reform is driving demand for innovative products and services that people can manage themselves,” Shapiro continued. “Consumer electronics companies are paying close attention to the rise of a young, dynamic market for connected health and wellness devices. As a result, these products allow healthcare providers to engage with their patients more effectively and help consumers better self-manage their own care needs.”

Rural broadband carriers should follow these developments closely. There are consumer, business, and wholesale opportunities that will result from the growth of telemedicine and connected health.

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