Jola Cloud Solutions' Blog

Adrian Sunderland

Adrian founded Griffin Information Systems in 1992 and has held multiple roles including Chief Technical Officer and Managing Director of Allurian (the development arm of the business) until 2012 when the company was sold. Adrian started Griffin as a software house and the business evolved into a regional system integrator, the UK’s first Internet service provider and an award-winning channel Internet service provider with over 100 employees. Adrian is one of the leading technical experts and visionaries in the communications industry. Apart from regular columns in industry publications he has addressed many industry conferences and events. Adrian designed and built Griffin’s first IP network and has been responsible for numerous technology refreshes and upgrades.
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Recent Posts

Powerful hardware

Posted by Adrian Sunderland on 13-Sep-2023 14:48:00

We are seeing significant demand for single devices that support Gigabit Ethernet and 5G or for 5G devices that can sit alongside Gigabit Ethernet routers.  Internet connectivity is now mission critical to virtually all businesses whether they are SMEs, mid-sized or the largest of enterprise or public sector.  For the channel, these devices need to be robust, reliable and manageable out of the box.  At Jola, every single device that we supply includes unique software that we’ve developed in-house to make the device provisioning zero-touch and to enhance the remote support that the reseller can provide.  Supplying hardware isn’t just a case of shifting a box anymore, now the reseller needs to make sure it will work perfectly with the customer’s particular mix of connectivity as well as any wide-area network-specific requirements such as SD-WAN or VPN connectivity to other locations.  

Benefits

The latest generation of equipment is significantly more powerful than what’s gone before.  Two years ago, using the best external antennas, a typical cellular router, even from a premium brand, would struggle to perform much beyond 40Mbit/s.  The constraint was both the device itself but also the cellular service available.  In a recent test, our entry-level 5G router, inside a building, using its own internal antennas delivered 490Mbit/s.

The other major benefit of the new equipment is the cost savings.  Our average leased line customer has 100Mbit/s of bandwidth but our average FTTP customer has 300Mbit/s available to them.  On average our 5G customers achieve speeds of 276Mbit/s (using the Three UK network).  FTTP is around 80% cheaper than a leased line and 5G is around 97% cheaper than a leased line!

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Topics: 5G

Data and analytics

Posted by Adrian Sunderland on 05-Jul-2023 18:01:41

Social Housing

Jola supplies MSPs with mobile data solutions to monitor and control the usage of gas and electric systems in social housing. Usage is monitored to try and create efficiencies and move towards a carbon-neutral goal. The challenge their customers have is one of affordability. Hardware costs are high as is deployment countrywide with single network coverage issues.

Hardware

End-users expect always-on 24/7/365 internet connectivity and reliable hardware to be able to monitor usage in near real-time. They don’t want to be paying over the odds for data usage and would prefer to pay monthly for hardware.

Partners can work with end-user businesses to meet the unique connectivity requirements of their customers, helping to test and roll out solutions which exactly meet their needs.

Trends

In the upcoming year, businesses are expected to focus on several trends in the analytics space. Automated analytics is set to increase allowing businesses to quickly analyse data and to generate insights without manual analysis. Machine learning algorithms are predicted to be used more widely to help with decision-making. There will be a greater emphasis on data security. Real-time analytics will be a major focus and there will be a shift towards hybrid cloud analytics as businesses look to gain competitive advantage and retain security over their data.

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Topics: mobile data

UC and Collaboration

Posted by Adrian Sunderland on 15-Mar-2023 17:19:23

It is clear that Covid has changed the workplace forever and beneficiaries have been the UC and collaboration solutions such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and WebEx.  In most workplaces, the option didn’t exist to regularly work remotely and as a result, companies didn’t necessarily provide UC and collaboration tools required.  Covid changed all that and remote working became mandatory for most of us.  At first, we used the tools to simply have multi-person video calls, but quickly started sharing screens and in many cases moved to mass participation web conferences. 

In the past, it was the PBX or hosted PBX providers that were providing UC add-ons to their basic service sometimes at a significant premium.  Now it is the collaboration vendors that, with the addition of PSTN calling, are now displacing the PBX and/or hosted PBX.  It is now relatively easy to port a UK PSTN number to an MS Teams user and use that single client (desktop and mobile) to be able to interact using the rich Teams experience or make and receive traditional voice calls as required.

At the moment the UC collaboration experience is all based on two dimensions video and screen sharing.  However, we already see our SIMs being used in Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications in specialist industries with purpose-built tools and devices.  However companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Google are investing heavily in AR and VR for both consumers and businesses.  This combined with the widespread availability of 5G makes me think it won’t be too far away before the UC and Collaboration tools that we use every day start to open up AR and VR for widespread B2B use.

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Topics: Cloud

The UK rollout of 5G and full fibre technologies

Posted by Adrian Sunderland on 08-Mar-2023 13:54:06

How is the UK progressing with the rollout of 5G and full fibre technologies?

All 4 major UK networks are well underway with their 5G rollouts. Three and EE are ahead in terms of numbers of cities compared with Vodafone and O2, however the reality is that most major cities now have 5G which accounts for over 50% of the population.  The expectation being set by the operators is that it will take a further 5 years to reach 90% of the population.  Achieving this will involve turning off the 3G networks to re-use that spectrum to support 5G.  The last 10% may well require technology or an approach that has not yet been used in UK mobile networks such as using 5G satellite constellations to provide infill.

Biggest opportunities

The performance offered by 5G can be better than the performance offered by the fixed line broadband service available in many locations.  The channel are bound to have customers with poor broadband performance and 5G could well be the answer, especially when combined with a high performance 5G router and external antenna.

5G provides high performance Internet access in locations where there is no fixed line connectivity at all.  This means locations where solutions such as hosted voice, collaboration, IP CCTV could never have been supplied are now accessible for the first time.

5G requires new devices to take full advantage of the increased performance.  A fact often overlooked is that all the UK networks support LTE-Advanced or 4G+ with a much larger footprint than their 5G networks and yet the vast majority of 4G routers on the market today don’t take advantage of the extra performance.  In some cases a good quality LTE-Advanced or 5G router would provide up to 4 times the performance on 4G compared to using a device that doesn’t support LTE-Advanced.  In many cases where you’re deploying 4G in a fixed location we would recommend installing a 5G router because it will provide much better 4G performance and will be ready for 5G when the coverage reaches that location.

Biggest challenges

One of the biggest challenges is that a customers existing equipment may not be ready for the latest 5G or full fibre technologies. This means that there is a potentially significant capital expenditure required.

To address this problem, we launched our Device as a Service offering.  Good quality, high performance 5G devices are expensive, potentially three or four times the price of the equivalent 4G device.  Our channel told us that this was an obstacle to 5G adoption.  So now we offer all our devices on an Op-Ex model so that the channel partner and the customer don’t have any hefty upfront costs that might put them off taking advantage of 5G.

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Topics: 5G

5G for the channel

Posted by Adrian Sunderland on 07-Dec-2022 18:06:12

All 4 major UK networks are well underway with their 5G rollouts. Three and EE are ahead in terms of numbers of cities compared with Vodafone and O2, however the reality is that most major cities now have 5G which accounts for over 50% of the population. The expectation being set by the operators is that it will take a further 5 years to reach 90% of the population. Achieving this will involve turning off the 3G networks to re-use that spectrum to support 5G.  The last 10% may well require technology or an approach that has not thus far been used in UK mobile networks such as using 5G satellite constellations to provide infill.

Opportunities for the channel

5G has opened many opportunities for the channel. The performance offered by 5G can be better than the performance offered by the fixed line broadband service available in many locations.  The channel are bound to have customers with poor broadband performance and 5G could well be the answer, especially when combined with a high performance 5G router and external antenna.

5G provides high performance Internet access in locations where there is no fixed line connectivity at all.  This means locations where solutions such as hosted voice, collaboration, IP CCTV could never have been supplied are now accessible for the first time.

5G requires new devices to take full advantage of the increased performance.  A fact often overlooked is that all the UK networks support LTE-Advanced or 4G+ with a much larger footprint than their 5G networks and yet the vast majority of 4G routers on the market today don’t take advantage of the extra performance.  In some cases a good quality LTE-Advanced or 5G router would provide up to 4 times the performance on 4G compared to using a device that doesn’t support LTE-Advanced.  In many cases where you’re deploying 4G in a fixed location we would recommend installing a 5G router because it will provide much better 4G performance and will be ready for 5G when the coverage reaches that location.

Jola launched our Device as a Service offering to solve a problem that has been caused by 5G. Good quality, high performance 5G devices are expensive, potentially three or four times the price of the equivalent 4G device. Our channel told us that this was an obstacle to 5G adoption. So now we offer all our devices on an OpEX model so that then channel partner and the customer don’t have any hefty upfront costs that might put them off taking advantage of 5G.

2G/3G Sunsetting

The 5G rollout is leading to the 3G networks being switched off over the next 3 years. This is a huge opportunity because there are millions of devices that are 3G only and don’t support 4G. This means that when the 3G network is switched off suddenly payment terminals, tablets, kiosks, digital signage displays and many more devices will just stop working! 

This means that you have the opportunity to generate revenue from the hardware swap-out but also this is a great time to speak to your customers about swapping out your customers mobile data SIMs.  Many organisation did deals years ago with MNOs (particularly the M2M / IoT divisions of the MNOs) that the channel could replace via an aggregator like Jola, saving your customers significant money and making a healthy margin at the same time.

5G in the future 

Today 5G is being delivered using the same frequencies as 4G and typically delivers average speeds of around 150Mb/s and over 500Mb/s in perfect conditions. However, to unlock the true potential of 5G and deliver multi gigabit ultra-low latency performance then the operators need to start using the spectrum in the millimetre-wave (26Ghz – 40Ghz) bands and this will require regulatory change and significantly higher investment.  When this happens I think 5G can really deliver on the promise of any application anywhere and it’s not inconceivable that fixed line access is no-longer essential for many businesses and use-cases.

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Topics: 5G

APIs

Posted by Adrian Sunderland on 16-Nov-2022 19:13:52

It is very common for the channel to use APIs for both availability checking and for provisioning tasks such as setting up new services.  With fixed line broadband and leased line services then availability checking is usually a key first step for a reseller to collect a lead.  So, they may have a postcode checker box on their website that collects some information about the customer’s location before using an API to provide a list of services that are available all without any human intervention required on the part of the reseller.

I don’t think it’s an accident that Jola’s largest resellers transact almost exclusively using APIs.  Whilst we have arguably the most feature rich mobile connectivity management portal in the form of Mobile Manager, for many resellers they want to pull all that functionality into their own portals.  We decided right in the beginning that anything we develop into our portals should also be available via an API and that strategy has paid off.  Resellers can now perform the full lifecycle management of a mobile SIM card via an API including the initial provisioning, the in-life management and usage monitoring through to changing the tariff on a SIM card or even cancelling it at the end of it’s useful life.

If a reseller makes the move to using APIs then I think it’s important to think about consistency.  So decide which workflows you’re going to automate via APIs and ideally always use that workflow rather than sometimes using the API and sometimes using a GUI.  The reason is that it’s likely that your API workflow will be keeping data in sync between your internal systems and your suppliers’ systems.  So, if you don’t use that workflow consistently you can end up with a situation where your internal systems are out of sync that can lead to billing issues or confusion when it comes to providing support for that service.

I think API usage will be become even more widespread.  The massive adoption of the hyperscale clouds such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure is providing really powerful, easy to use and well documented API gateways that simplify the process of interacting with all kinds of different APIs.

Open APIs are in their infancy and I don’t think there’s a great example of their adoption within the channel today.  However the promise is clearly exciting and potentially could lead to the channel add a new layer of stickiness to some otherwise commoditised services.  For example, your mobile phone SIM card could have a set of open APIs that gave access to things like SMS history, call logs, data usage information.  Then an App developer could use those APIs to provide really in depth management capabilities into an easy to use App available from the App store.  Now, if your SIM supported those Open APIs but your competitor didn’t and your user valued the capabilities delivered by that third-party App then it’s unlikely they’d switch SIM provider to somebody that doesn’t have that capability.

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Topics: jola

IoT and the Channel

Posted by Adrian Sunderland on 03-Nov-2022 16:24:44

A few years ago IoT was driving transformational change in certain market sectors such as utilities and transport.  The return on investment was so rapid that if you didn’t invest in IoT you were vulnerable to competitors who were already benefiting from efficiencies being gained from their investment in IoT.  Today you would struggle to find a water supplier that isn’t monitoring their distribution networks in real-time or a transport company that isn’t tracking and monitoring their fleet in real-time.  In fact, in these industries, they’re probably on their second or third generation of solutions.  

Today every market sector has a problem that can be solved by IoT.  A few years ago companies would seek out an IoT specialist or perhaps the IoT division of a mobile operator for help.  Today, IoT is mainstream and companies are turning to their trusted IT service provider or telecoms service provider for advice.

IoT sits adjacent to so many other services that resellers may find it relatively easy to fill gaps in their portfolio.  For example, somebody that is already selling traditional mobile could find adding IoT connectivity a natural extension and if you’ve already got businesses that trust you to supply, support and bill their mobile handset SIMs then you’re halfway there.  You may be providing public cloud consultancy or services.  Over 80% of IoT projects are built using one or more services in the public cloud and so there’s a great opportunity to develop an IoT business using tools and technologies that you already know.

IoT opportunities don’t just come because you add an IoT product or service to your portfolio.  You already have customers with huge IoT opportunities but you just don’t know it yet.  At Jola, we have a process called the Mobile-Data Revenue Generator™ (The MRG™) that helps resellers identify opportunities in their existing base and helps develop the necessary products, services and skills to be successful in winning those opportunities.

3G Sunsetting 

The sunsetting of 3G and indeed 2G has huge implications for the IoT market.  There are millions of devices out there that only support 3G that need to be replaced.  There are millions of SIMs that only support 3G, even if they’re in devices that are capable of connecting to 4G.  So there in many cases, the starting point should be an audit of your customers' use of IoT and M2M connectivity and devices.  Some major sectors are payment processing terminals, vehicle telemetry/vehicle trackers, remote environmental sensors, digital signage etc.  In many cases, your customers may not be aware of the ticking time bomb within their own organisation.  Of course, for the reseller, this is a huge opportunity not just to solve a problem but to save their customer money.  The reality is that connectivity costs have come down significantly over the past few years so your customers’ 3G solution likely supplied by one of the big four mobile operators will look very expensive based on today’s prices.  Of course, swapping hardware could be expensive but with solutions like the Jola Device as a Service then you may be able to solve their problem without any CAPEX at all whilst delivering better performance and the latest features.

Every IoT solution will involve a variety of vendors from the device manufacturer, connectivity supplier, device management software vendor, application vendor, and cloud or hosting location.  In some cases your customer will be coming to you for just one element of the solution, in others, they’ll be looking for the end-to-end solution.  Many vendors are not geared up to sell via the channel and should be avoided.  Only a truly channel-only specialist will be able to help resellers at every step of the engagement with a new IoT opportunity.  The low-hanging fruit in all IoT opportunities is connectivity.  The reality is that mobile network operators have quite rigid product sets and limited management bandwidth to deal with a lot of opportunities.  Of course, if the opportunity is sizeable then they’d rather win it themselves. 

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Topics: IoT, M2M

Ready for 5G

Posted by Adrian Sunderland on 08-Dec-2021 16:49:08

The channel is well placed to help customers adopt new technologies such as 5G. Resellers will know which of their customers are in an area with 5G coverage and also what their requirements are. Many resellers may already be using 4G to solve their customers’ Internet access issues in areas with poorly performing fixed-line services, so 5G is a great opportunity to upsell to new 5G hardware and SIMs.

Is now the time to build offerings that use 5G services?

Now is definitely the time because there’s the opportunity to provide 5G-ready solutions. 5G routers also support LTE Advanced, which is already available in much more of the country than 5G. So by selling a 5G-ready SIM and router, the customer could enjoy a big performance boost even before 5G actually arrives. 

What is the appetite for 5G-ready devices?

In the mobile voice space, the latest handsets from all the main manufacturers are already 5G ready, so any handset replacement project is likely to have 5G readiness as a requirement. In the mobile router space, though, there are extremely few 5G options available although we expect that to change this year now that the major chipset and modem module manufacturers are now producing 5G components in volume.

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Topics: 5G

Cyber Security

Posted by Adrian Sunderland on 18-Nov-2021 12:50:54

There have been some high-profile cybersecurity attacks on IoT and M2M devices and deployments. The Bristol Airport's flight information system was hacked and held for ransom, and the digital signage in Union Street station was hacked as well, with the train information screens being used to display hardcore pornography at rush hour. These attacks were obviously highly visible and disruptive, but there are also hidden attacks where IoT devices are hacked to become part of botnets that are then used to power massive DDOS attacks against whomever the hackers are trying to target. In this scenario, the device owner may not be aware of their role until their monthly bill arrives and their connectivity consumption has increased dramatically.


Jola provides SIMs that are used in a wide variety of different IoT and M2M scenarios. We’re acutely aware of the need to protect our resellers and their customers from the consequences of falling victim to a cybersecurity attack. At the foundation of what we do is our Mobile Manager portal, which, with its real-time alerts and control, provides visibility into the SIM usage before the monthly bill arrives. However, our approach goes beyond just managing costs. If the application does not need access to the Internet, then why would you expose it online? Jola offers SIMs that provide secure private access back to a corporate network with no access to the Internet at all. This almost eliminates the ‘attack surface’ completely. Jola has also been involved in some extremely high-profile digital signage deployments where our approach to security has gone beyond just securing connectivity. We have provided secure devices with hardened device operating systems and configurations to deliver a truly secure solution.

Our goal is to enable our channel partners to embrace opportunities and benefit from our experience to deliver unique and differentiated solutions to their customers that are secure from threats that are undeniably out there.

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Topics: Cyber Security

FTTC broadband for business

Posted by Adrian Sunderland on 02-Jun-2015 13:56:00

What is FTTC?

It stands for fibre to the cabinet and it is fibre-optic broadband which offers faster Internet connectivity. Businesses looking to use their Internet connection for more than checking email and using Google may benefit from faster more reliable fibre-optic services.

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Topics: Broadband

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