The UK’s broadband industry has grown exponentially over the last five years and the influx of CPs and alternative networks serves to dilute the market, creating more options for the end user.
FullFibre is aware of the expense and support needed for CPs to grow and exist alongside their larger competitors and is the reason why the network builder helps them reach new customers and maximise crucial costs of service and acquisition.
Being able to utilise budget effectively allows for smarter customer uptake methods and understanding overall costs is crucial for a new CP to survive in today’s market.
At #ConnectedBritain 2022 we spoke to James Warner, Chief Sales Officer, FullFibre where he gave the low down on how CPs can expand their customer base and network footprint.
For further details, talk to the FullFibre team at fullfibre.co
The Department of Justice (DoJ) revealed that the two Chinese intelligence agents had been arrested and charged for trying to steal files related to an ongoing investigation into Huawei
This week, the DoJ has unsealed documents relating to the arrest and charging of two Chinese nationals believed to be intelligence officers for the Chinese government.
The document alleges that two individuals, Dong He and Zheng Wang, employed by Huawei in the US, were planning to steal sensitive information pertaining to an ongoing investigation into Huawei from the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
According to the government documents, beginning in 2019, Dong He and Zheng Wang attempted to recruit a US government employee, tasking the individual with sharing confidential information related to an ongoing investigation into Huawei.
In September 2021, they urged the employee to report on confidential meeting being held with US prosecutors, with a particular interest on which Huawei employees had been interviewed by the US government in relation to the case, as well as the prosecution’s evidence and strategy.
One month later, the employee sent Dong He a single page of what was supposedly an internal strategy memorandum from the US Attorney’s Office, for which Dong He paid the employee $41,000 in bitcoin.
A second payment of $20,000 in bitcoin was sent to the employee by He in September 2022 as a “reward”
However, unbeknownst to both Dong He and Zheng Wang, the government employee was working as a double agent on behalf of the FBI and the document had been fabricated.
Now, arrest warrants have been issued for the two men; if prosecuted, Dong He could face up to 40 years in prison and Zheng Wang could face 20 years.
“Today’s complaint underscores the unrelenting efforts of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] government to undermine the rule of law,” said US Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. “As alleged, the case involves an effort by PRC intelligence officers to obstruct an ongoing criminal prosecution by making bribes to obtain files from this Office and sharing them with a global telecommunications company that is a charged defendant in an ongoing prosecution. We will always act decisively to counteract criminal acts that target our system of justice.”
The US government has been fighting legal battles with Huawei since 2018, ultimately deciding in 2020 to ban the use of US government funding for procuring, extending, or renewing contracts with the Chinese vendor.
Since then, the relations between the two parties have remained tense, catalysed in part by the lengthy trial of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO and daughter of fonder Ren Zhengfei. Meng was detained and placed under house arrest in Canada, having been charged with fraud by the DoJ, who sought her extradition to the US. A deal was eventually struck that allowed Meng to return to China late last year.
Nokia this week announced the extension of its existing relationship with the world’s largest power utility, State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), with the selection of its Optical Transport Network (OTN) solutions
SGCC will deploy Nokia’s optical technology across Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, creating a world-class OTN backbone with the capacity, operational efficiency and intelligence required to support the Chinese power grid and provide highly-reliable service to its broad customer base.
SGCC supplies electrical power to more than 1.1 billion people across 26 provinces, covering 88% of Chinese national territory. As power utilities such as SGCC adopt the Internet of Things (IoT) in the creation of smart grids, both bandwidth and complexity increase. The Nokia solution, which consists of Nokia’s family of 1830 Photonic Service Switch-x (PSS-x) P-OTN, enables SGCC to swiftly transition to this new reality, improving overall reliability of the power grid and achieving a significant reduction in daily operating costs. Through automation, the utility is able to monitor electrical power production and distribution status in real time, using IoT sensors throughout their infrastructure. SGCC is also able to harness new energy sources such as solar, water and wind by connecting and monitoring these energy generation and storage systems across its wide geography.
With a cost-effective small footprint and low power consumption, the portfolio’s design plays a critical role in realizing China’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2060. The Nokia optical transport portfolio provides scalable WDM capabilities from 100G to 600G per wavelengths, which eliminates the need for costly, disruptive replacements and minimizes product waste.
Markus Bochert, President of Nokia Greater China:“The Nokia solution is one of the most agile and efficient optical transport networks available today. With this mission-critical network, the State Grid Corporation of China now has the flexibility to transition beyond 100G when and how it chooses, leveraging unmatched operational and environmental efficiencies as it automates and modernizes across its geographies.”
Nokia has deployed mission-critical networks to more than 2,200 leading enterprise customers in the transport, energy, large enterprise, manufacturing, webscale, and public sector segments around the globe. It has also extended its expertise to more than 515 large private wireless customers worldwide across an array of sectors and has been cited by numerous industry analysts as the leading provider of private wireless networking worldwide.
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The 5G ecosystem continues to grow, with the service providers expanding the 5G network and more service providers beginning to offer 5G services. There are now around 230 5G networks and 800 5G phone models in the world, catering to more than 760 million 5G subscribers.
There has been a definite acceleration in the business success of the service providers from 2021 till now. At the recent Huawei MBBF 2022, Peng Song, President – ICT Strategy and Marketing at Huawei, elaborated on the key success factors of 5G in his speech on 5G Business Success is Accelerating.
“G.U.I.D.E. is a strategy for operators who strive for success. It aims for efficient Gbps experience to 5G networks, cross-generational experience, automatic Operation & Maintenance(O&M), on-demand customization, and green network,” says Peng Song in his speech.
Huawei introduced the G.U.I.D.E. model some time back which stands for Gigaverse Initiative, Ultra-automation Speed-up, Intelligent Computing & Network as a Service, Differentiated Experience On-demand, and ESG More Bits Less Watts. It is designed to build ubiquitous gigabit connectivity, accelerate automation, and provide intelligent computing and networks as a service, offering differentiated experiences and enabling sustainability with green ICT.
The second factor is 5G user migration for large-scale business development. 5G can help the service providers boost Data of Usage (DOU) to ensure better profits. Further, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) also gives service providers more growth avenues. The services can further boost this growth by exploring new use cases in 5G to consumer, 5G to Home and 5G to Business scenarios.
Boosting 5G toC monetization
With the accelerated development of 5G toC in the past year, leading operators have finetuned their strategy to monetize their 5G investments. While the telcos have been using data as the primary way to monetize Mobile Broadband (MBB) since 4G, 5G offers new opportunities to monetize their investments.
Peng Song elaborated on the new ways in which telcos can improve revenues. “In today’s era of live streaming, charging by uplink speed is also a significant strategy. For instance, German operators offer special tariffs to ensure a seamless live-streaming experience. On the other hand, a Chinese operator has tariffs to monetize low latency sought after by gamers,” says Peng Song.
Peng Song, President – ICT Strategy and Marketing at Huawei
Further, the 5G ecosystem allows the service providers to monetize new content and applications. Nearly 45% of 5G operators include OTT content in their 5G packages to improve their attractiveness.
The service providers can further boost revenue by feature content bundling. Peng Song shared the example of South Korean operators who are going into 5G XR content production. Typically service providers are focusing on XR and metaverse for better monetization of 5G networks. However, there are other ways as 5G is transforming traditional services.
“5G has transformed traditional voice, SMS, and RBT into 5G call, 5G message, and 5G VRBT. These services are quickly monetized thanks to the exceptional experience they provide to their massive user base. When we look at video, traditional formats have also transformed into higher definition, spatial, interactive formats that fascinate consumers. New business models such as freeview streaming have been released in multiple markets,” elaborated Peng Song in his speech.
Seizing 5G to Home Opportunity
Another crucial market for 5G services is 5G to the home, which is growing at breakneck speed. The number of 5G FWA users will reach 7 million by 2022 and 65 million by 2026, with a CAGR higher than 65%.
“Compared with 4G FWA, 5G FWA differentiates into two scenarios. One is Premium Home, which provides concurrent gaming and high-quality video. In addition, operators monetize multiple network capabilities including downlink, uplink, and latency,” says Peng Song.
Growing the revenue from enterprise segment
In the 5G to business segment, the private network revenue of the telcos continues to grow. The 5G private network revenue of the Chinese operators will exceed CNY9 billion or USD1.3 billion.
“Apart from widespread deployment inside China, 5GtoB has grown quickly overseas. There are over 100 mobile private networks deployed by operators out of China, and this number has doubled compared with last year,” says Peng Song. Today, 5G private networks are widely launched in over 10 vertical industries, and the virtual private networks with slicing technologies can bring down the time to market are particularly apt for energy, logistics and smart city applications.
As a technology, 5G is growing at a much faster rate than 4G. Since 5G was commercially launched three years ago, 5G to consumer users have grown seven times faster than 4G. 5G has covered more population, and there are more 5G devices compared to 4G in the same period. Similarly, 5G FWA subscribers will reach seven million with a CAGR as high as 65%, and 5G toB subscribers will also continue to grow exponentially. All this represents new opportunities for the service providers.
Venezuela’s telecoms sector has not been flush with positive developments of late – the country’s economy has been in a downward spiral for well over five years now, and this has caused a staggering decline in a sector that had seen average to strong growth up until around 2015.
As observed by BuddeComm analyst Henry Lancaster, Venezuela’s fixed-line teledensity was relatively high for the region up until this point, but has fallen dramatically to a low of around 17.3% in 2021. The country’s broader economic woes have left millions unable to afford even basics such as food, water and gasoline. In this context, even communications become a luxury, leading many customers to cancel fixed line and mobile services. Lancaster notes that mobile subscriptions fell by an estimated 2.4% year-on-year in 2020, and growth is not expected to return until 2023.
As reported by CFR.org, Venezuela’s economic woes have been ongoing since around 2014. At that time, a barrel of oil was priced at around US$100 – but by early 2016, this had dropped to US$30. Oil sales account for 99% of Venezuela’s export earnings and approximately a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product, but investment in oil production has been flagging for years – and the pandemic saw output sink to its lowest level since 1945. Although it has recovered slightly since, predictions vary on whether Venezuela’s economy will continue its downward trajectory in 2022.
Obtaining accurate information about Venezuela’s telecoms sector over the past two years has been extremely challenging, as noted by Omdia’s Sonia Agnese. The Latin America-focused analyst told us: “it is difficult even to understand…the real status of the market, since the regulator Conatel has not published telecommunication statistics since 2020.” However, many of the factors that are hindering the sector’s development have been present since long before the pandemic.
The most obvious of these is the price cap on operator services, which have impacted operator revenue – and therefore investment. In an interview with BNAmericas earlier this year, Pedro Marín, president of local operators association Casetel, said that tariffs were 25 to 30 times lower than in other markets in the region – and had been for several years. While some increases have been authorised, he said that these were not enough to operators to even cover costs, let alone plan for further investment.
Marin noted that Venezuela’s government – headed by President Nicolas Maduro – has relaxed price caps in the broadband sector and there are hopes that the mobile sector could be next. He claimed that change was afoot, with signs that the government was abandoning political dogma in favour of pragmatism as it realised the need for growth. However, Marin cautioned that demand for internet still vastly outstrips supply; while Conatel has not released official statistics for two years, unofficial figures indicate that over 40% of Venezuelans have no internet access.
Lancaster’s analysis loosely corroborates this; he notes that state incumbent DSL provider CANTV has very low revenue and virtually no competition, giving it very little incentive to invest. Meanwhile, private companies have nowhere near the funds required to boost their internet coverage. Infrastructure issues are a major factor here; Lancaster describes the Venezuela’s fixed networks as being in a “decrepit” state, with international sanctions making it difficult for providers to import any new equipment from foreign vendors. Indeed, Marin stated that there had been no significant investment in 11-15 years.
The mood of desperation in Venezuela is such that despite the decrepitude of its fixed infrastructure, theft of equipment is so widespread that it is often economically unviable for companies to address the issue. Operators largely do not have the funds to replace stolen batteries and cables, so affected sites are typically left out of commission, no longer able to service their coverage area. This impacts revenue from the sector and makes it virtually impossible for operators to form investment strategies to improve their networks.
Such strategies will be contingent on stability, and it is evident that Venezuela is still a long way from this, says Agnese. “Investing in fixed and wireless networks involves large sunk costs and long payback periods; therefore, prospective investors seek certainty and clarity over the legal and regulatory landscape…The Venezuela political and economic situation is still very delicate, and it would take a long time to have the market conditions required for private investment to return to the country. Venezuela is in the 188th position in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Ranking’ out of 190, which shows the magnitude of changes required to attract international investments again.”
If there is a glimmer of hope, it is from a highly improbable source – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has seen Europe scramble to find alternative sources of crude oil as it seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian imports. While the US imposed oil sanctions on Venezuela in 2019, news agency Reuters reported in May 2022 that the US State Department had authorised Italy’s Eni and Spain’s Repsol to resume imports from Venezuela, in a move that will help the Latin American country take steps towards relieving its vast debt burden.
However, there is a long way to go to rectify the damage – and the country’s economy will need to stabilise before further investment can take place. Agnese concludes: “It is true that Venezuela has been showing more positive economic signs in the last months, mainly due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict that indirectly impacted positively in Venezuela’s economy… [However] these recent changes are not enough to plan a telecommunication investment.”
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Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) has struck a new partnership with the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre to explore the use of 4G and 5G drones to deliver emergency services in remote locations
The UK’s national parks are some of the most celebrated locations in the country, attracting millions of visitors every year to bask in their natural glory. But despite their popularity, many of these regions are lacking in crucial connectivity, particularly in some of their most mountainous areas, where deploying infrastructure is a challenge. This lack of connectivity represents a significant challenge for emergency services, with visitors often unable to contact help when lost or injured in the parks.
The scale of this problem should not be underestimated. Recent research from VMO2 indicates that 73% of British people have walked or hiked in a national park in 2022, with 31% saying they feared being unable to contact anyone if they got lost. The study also suggested that the number of Brits visiting these parks could soon increase, with 36% of respondents saying they would consider visiting a national park due to its inexpensive nature during the cost-of-living crisis.
Now, VMO2 is joining forces with the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre to test the latter’s ‘Dragon’ Unmanned Aircraft System as a potential flying base station, able to deliver 4G and 5G to visitors and emergency services.
The Dragon drone will not only be a relatively cheap and environmentally friendly way to provide connectivity to visitors but will also help provide emergency services with more precise location data for visitors in need of rescue, as well as picture sharing and video call capabilities. In some cases, this will allow lost visitors to be guided back to safety without the need to send out rescue personnel.
“Mountain Rescue is a volunteer service and there is only so much resource we have available to us. With more and more people visiting Snowdonia each year, a drone with mobile connectivity would be a powerful tool for the search and rescue teams to understand and assess a situation immediately, saving crucial time in life-threatening situations,” explained Paul Terry a Police Sergeant in the North Wales Police Drone Unit and Mountain Rescue volunteer.
“This project is a further example of how 5G technologies can provide real societal benefits for people around the UK, wherever they are. This trial could transform how emergency services operate and react to life-threatening situations, and make people feel safer while enjoying national parks,” explained Kirsty Bright, Director of Network Innovation and Transformation at VMO2. “We’ve already run our first successful test flights at the Llanbedr airport with the Snowdonia Aerospace team and look forward to demonstrating how it can support mountain rescue teams across Snowdonia.”
This drone project is currently funded by the Innovate UK Future Flight Challenge and a Department for Transport Drone Technology Research and Innovation Grant. In addition to VMO2 and Snowdonia Aerospace, the project also includes SwiftFlight Avionics, Wavemobile, and the Welsh Government.
VMO2 has been testing drones in an emergency services context for a while now, last year partnering with Swiss company Fotokite to trial 5G-connected tethered drones. These drones do not need a specialist operator and can fly 45 metres above an emergency site, providing emergency responders with live video feed of the surrounding area.
What role will 5G play in enabling drones for emergency services and beyond? Join the operators in discussion at this year’s live Total Telecom Congress
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