After a small break, we are back with the most interesting telecom headlines from the past week. Apart from catching you up on the biggest telecom networks and their upgrades, we will also talk about the 5G autonomous convenience store and a google extension developed by an Australian entrepreneur to fight zoom fatigue. We talk about the telecom stage in the UK and the battle between EE and O2, the new venture by Orange, a new network offensive by Vodafone Germany, Nokia’s new huge 5G network deal, and the launch of Juniper’s newest software. Take a look at our latest telecom weekly.
The AI-powered autonomous shopping company AiFi has announced they will be partnering with Verizon. The partnership will result in an autonomous convenience store in Indianapolis. Clients will be able to purchase snacks, beverages, and Indy 500 merchandise through Aifi’s portable computer vision NanoStore, running on Verizon’s Ultra Wideband network. As NanoStore is fully autonomous and customizable, it can be placed in any location with Verizon 5G coverage.
“As in-person gatherings start back up, venues and consumers alike will prioritize personal safety in every way possible,” said Steve Gu, founder, and CEO at AiFi. “Our NanoStore allows attendees to avoid crowded lines and experience contactless shopping while purchasing their favorite snacks and drinks. We’re incredibly excited to partner with Penske to bring a seamless shopping experience to event attendees, allowing them to get back to their seats faster to enjoy the race.”
“The NanoStore provides a completely new and futuristic shopping experience for attendees,” said Rebecca Russelink, Chief Information Officer at Penske Entertainment. “We’re excited to work with AiFi and Verizon to ensure the best possible customer service with this unique store.”
Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is currently available in more than 70 cities across the US.
Ben Flux, the Australian long-time tech entrepreneur just launched Mindfulmeets app together with Karina Castex, after his first-hand experience with the zoom fatigue struggle that has become common among office workers since the beginning of the pandemic.
Minfulmeets offers a first free Chome browser extension that enhances video calls with mindful features. One of the features that may be most awaited by the users is the “On Hold” video loop that allows the users to sneak away from the Zoom calls without anybody realizing.
However, there is also a series of other features such as adding meeting agendas, seeing the profile of the call attendees, sharing gifs, exit and entering prompters that notify everybody on the team.
“Having a tech team situated globally, we were needing to navigate different time zones, varying lifestyles, and the day-to-day realities of working remotely,” Flux said. “I started to think of ways to simulate the in-person interactions we had been missing that help us survive the workday. As humans, we need technology that considers how we operate and live as well as the value of time.”
“Moving to work online and offsite from the physical workplace increased a sense of isolation and aloneness for many people,” said Susan Long, a former psychologist, and Clinical Services Manager. “Without the reinforcement of connection through eye contact, the brain needs to work harder than it would typically in face-to-face interaction, causing people to feel fatigued. Staying well is important to work effectively and workplaces that can introduce a more psychologically appropriate format of how meetings progress are invaluable.”
Orange Ventures announced its new investment vehicle, Orange Ventures Impact. The company announced it will be backing French and European startups in their see stage.
“These start-ups must help new responsible economic models with a positive impact on the environment, inclusion or CareTech to emerge, fields which are not currently covered by Orange Ventures,” the telecom announced.
The company plans to invest over $30 million in its new venture.
“By launching Orange Ventures Impact, without sacrificing any part of our ambition for financial performance, we are pleased to allocate €30 million to start-ups which, due to their development stage or business sector, had not been captured in Orange Ventures’ current investment proposition, but whose positive impact on the environment, inclusion or help to individuals will be especially strong,” said Jérôme Berger, Chairman and Managing Partner of Orange Ventures, in a statement.
In the UK, O2 is pointing out its advantage in ultra-strong 4G coverage. However, this announcement is not met with huge excitement among the claims by another UK telecom, EE. While O2 is also doing well in the 5G space, it can not be compared to the EE which pretty much took the leader position.
“O2 showed impressive Everyday 5G median download speeds, but its Everyday 5G availability has room to improve,” RootMetrics noted. “The good news is that O2 improved its Everyday 5G availability and Everyday 5G median download speeds in all four cities since 2H 2020.” Unsurprisingly, the analyst firm had similar comments about improvements in availability for all four players over the six months.
“Vodafone didn’t register any 5G in Coventry, but its Everyday 5G speeds were fast in the other three cities,” it said, which perhaps leaves Coventry residents feeling a little nonplussed. But not as much as customers of Three UK, which was damned with faint praise: “Three’s Everyday 5G median download speeds were strong but not quite as fast as those of the other operators in each city,” RootMetrics said. Good job mobile operators are not desperately competing with one another to be able to claim the broadest or fastest 5G network or anything like that…”
Vodafone Germany announced it will be expanding its “network offensive”, aiming at building out new bast stations, 5G masts, and increasing network traffic. The telecom plans to start over 7000 mobile infrastructure build projects in the current financial year, 3000 of them will be 5G projects.
With exceeding the 5G coverage targets, Vodafone Germany now aims at 30 million population coverage by the end of 2021. The upgrades will not only be focused on 5G though. Vodafone also plans to reform the 3G spectrum for LTE, switching 3G to 4G at 18 000 sites just by the end of summer.
“A look at our network shows that people are taking more time to make calls again. Each call lasts more than three minutes on average: 35 seconds longer than a year ago,” said Hannes Ametsreiter, chief executive of Vodafone Deutschland, adding that video calls and streaming led to a 40% increase in data on the network.
“In the new financial year we will build additional stations where there are still annoying dead spots. We are switching off 3G to free up even more space for LTE. And we are the first provider in Germany to turn 5G into a commercial real-time network in more and more places – completely independent of the existing LTE infrastructure,” he said.
Juniper Networks has just launched its newest, 4.0 version of Apstra software that manages intent-based networking. One of the main upgrades that we can see in the newest version is the ability to create validated connectivity templates and tags that make setting up intent-based networking easier and quicker. This way, companies can add devices, servers, and workloads across the whole network fabric.
“This is simple, validated and repeatable connectivity design for attached systems,” said Mansour Karam, vice president of products at Juniper. “You need to operate and manage your network as one system. Otherwise, if you go to all this trouble to set up all these configurations separately, and you have one configuration wrong, you’re dead in the water.”
Today, Nokia announced that it has entered an eight-year agreement with the leading oil,gas, and wind power producer Equinor. The agreement concerns delivering private 4.9G and 5H-ready solutions that can be used at Equinor’s installations worldwide.
The eight-year frame agreement that Nokia entered in cooperation with NetNordic will include hardware, software, design, radio planning, implementation, and support.
“Working with Nokia we are able to deliver the secure, smart, offshore wireless digital fabric that Equinor can use to support its communication and maintenance activities and safety objectives,” Jarl Øverby, NetNordic Group CEO said.“This includes the flexibility to employ a wide range of integrated applications, including Nokia DAC teams comms and Nokia Drone Networks, and the capability to deploy them to the edge. This is a secure and resilient solution that will easily scale and evolve to 5G to meet their future needs.”
“Equinor is one of the most forward-looking energy companies in the world, with a growing wind and renewables business and impressive sustainability targets for its oil and gas production. Nokia has a long history of working closely with the energy industry, and as the world leader in private wireless, we are pleased to deploy our 5G-ready technology to Equinor,” Raghav Saghal, Nokia’s President of Cloud and Network Services, added.