A Report on Two Reports

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A Report on Two Reports

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  March 17, 2014

Two communications leaders, Metaswitch and Verizon (News - Alert), around press time released reports that I think are worthy of note.

The Metaswitch report covers the company’s view of its customers’ challenges, key industry trends, and how Metaswitch is addressing them. It also talks a lot about the company’s high expectations for network functions virtualization.

The Verizon report discusses law enforcement requests for customer information. This is an effort by the company to demonstrate transparency after the company and other prominent communications providers were part of the high-profile Edward Snowden/PRISM story that shined a light on the fact that they were sharing with the National Security Agency (News - Alert) metadata about people’s phone calls.

Let’s review in more detail the Metaswitch report first. In it, the company mentions the competitive marketplace in which its service provider customers now exist and says that those companies risk being reduce to dumb pipe (my words) providers if they can’t innovate quickly enough. Right now they cannot innovate quickly enough, says Metaswitch, but network functions virtualization – “a movement towards consolidating many network equipment types onto industry standard high-volume servers, significantly reducing network costs and improving flexibility” – can enable them to do so.

“The importance of NFV cannot be overstated, as service providers are looking at ways to replace dedicated, proprietary network appliances with software applications that run on commercial-off-the- shelf server and switching hardware to create more flexible and cost-efficient networks,” writes Metaswitch.

“NFV has far-reaching effects in communications networks because it is applicable to any data plane processing and control plane function in all mobile and fixed networks,” Metaswitch explains. “While justifiable in its own right, NFV will likely be complemented by, and in some cases depend on, changes in network architectures that follow the software defined network model, in turn leading to a more agile programmable, ‘network as a service.”” ?

To move on that opportunity, Metaswitch says, it will leverage its strength on the software front; provide its existing customers a migration path to these new solutions; broaden its focus to address both voice and other applications – and package those solutions to help customers generate revenue; embrace the cloud, open source, and DevOps methodologies so Metaswitch and its customers can work with and benefit from the third-party software developer community; and make sure its cloud platforms are mobile-friendly.

OK, now let’s take a look at Verizon and it’s so-called Transparency Report, which is available online and will be updated twice a year.

In Verizon’s public policy blog, Randal Milch, executive vice president of public policy and general counsel at the service provider, wrote that the company last year saw more law enforcement requests for information – especially related to its wireless customers – than it did the previous year. The report provides the total number of law enforcement demands (320,000 in the U.S. in 2013), and breaks out and discusses the nature of the different types of demands. For example, 70,665 were court orders, 161,184 were subpoenas, and 36,696 were warrants. It also identifies the number of requests (85,116) for which law enforcement had certified that there is an emergency involving the danger of death or serious physical injury.

“To date, the United States government has limited what we can report regarding requests in national security matters: thus, like all other companies to issue transparency reports, at this point, we are not permitted at this time to report information about FISA orders,” writes Milch. “We have obtained permission, however, to report – within a range – the number of National Security Letters we received in 2013.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi