We talk about the most interesting telecom headlines that made the news during the past week. One of the biggest stories for everybody has been Huawei’s battle with FCC. The Chinese telecom giant has not only lost its battle against the US Communication watchdog in the court of appeal, but the FCC has also started discussing expanding the last year’s ban significantly. Meanwhile, a European kit maker giant, Nokia, is securing its share of the OpenRAN pie in the United States as it opened its first center in Texas. In Canada, the 5G Spectrum Auction is finally launching, after a huge delay caused by the Covid-19. Another long-awaited news is Telenox and Axiata coming to an agreement about the terms of the merger that will combine their Malaysian operations. We will also look at the forecast for IoT spending in 2021, as the industry has been hit by Covid-19 to a varying degree. There is also some news from Bejing as the city prepares for hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics and tries to ensure the high quality of 5G.
Noovle, the cloud business of Telecom Italia has just sealed the partnership with the U.S. tech company Cisco, aiming at creating cloud services for businesses and public administration.
The move comes amidst the continuous attempts by the Italian government that tries to develop a national cloud hub for its public administration data, using a part of the EU recovery fund. Italy’s innovation minister said the country plans to use cloud technology developed by tech giants from overseas while all the data will be stored locally.
Noovle that targets roughly 1 billion euros revenue by 2024 already sealed another partnership with Google last year.
Canada will finally launch the 5G spectrum auction that was delayed by over a year due to the pandemic. The auction will take several weeks as the Canadian government will be selling off over 1500 licenses in 172 service areas.
The smaller telecom operators go into the auction with mixed feelings, pointing out that the latest regulatory decisions in Canada have been in favor of giving even more power to the three largest telecoms – BCE, Telus, and Rogers Communications that jointly have around 90% of the market share in terms of revenue.
However, it will be 23 bidders that include smaller, regional companies such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron that will participate in the auction. Some experts believe that Trudeau’s government attempts to make the telecom sector fairer by setting aside a part of the spectrum in some areas solely for smaller companies.
As of now, there is no set end date for the auction. That being said, the federal ministry that is in charge of the spectrum auction announced that the winners will be known within five days of completed bidding.
Huawei has lost against FCC yet again, as their petition for review of FCC’s decision has just been denied by the US appeals court. Over a year ago, FCC has designated Huawei as a national threat which resulted in the ban of federal funds being spent on Huawei-made KIT. This has been a big issue for small operators that specialize in rural connectivity. Now, the appeal court supported the FCC’s decision.
“Assessing security risks to telecom networks falls in the FCC’s wheelhouse,” concluded the introduction. “And the agency’s judgments about national security receive robust input from other expert agencies and officials. We are therefore persuaded that, in crafting the rule, the agency reasonably acted within the broad authority Congress gave it to regulate communications. Additionally, having carefully considered the companies’ other challenges under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Constitution, we find those unavailing as well. We, therefore, deny the petition for review.”
After months of negotiations, Telenor and Axiata finally came to an agreement regarding merging their Malaysian operations, Digi and Celcom respectively. After the merger, the joint company called MergeCo will be serving around 19 million customers.
In order to strengthen its position, MergeCo plans to spend RM250 million within the next five years to develop an innovation center in Kuala Lumpur. In the center, the company wants to research 5G use cases and support digital start-ups.
MergeCo is forecasted to generate an EBITDA of RM5.7 Billion on revenue of RM12.4 Billion. Telenor and Axiata will both have 33.1 percent of MergeCo.Celcom CEO, Idham Nawawi, will be leading the merged company with Digi CEO Albern Murty serving as his deputy. Dato’ Izzaddin Idris, who is president and CEO of Celcom parent Axiata, has been nominated as MergeCo’s chairman. Jørgen Arentz Rostrup, the head of Telenor’s Asia footprint, will serve as deputy chairman.
“The telecom industry is at the beginning of an exciting digital shift, and new technologies are going to change how we develop and deliver services for both the private and public sector,” said Rostrup, in a statement. “With this merger, we bring together competencies, financial strength, and scale to go beyond connectivity and implement technology that further advances our customers’ digital experience.”
“We are charting good progress in the ongoing merger exercise with Telenor and Digi and remain aligned in our intentions to deliver a strong value proposition that will enable our customers to participate more confidently as the nation transitions towards a digital economy,” declared Axiata’s Idris.
The deal is expected to close in Q2 of 2022.
Last year, after Huawei and ZTE have been declared as national security threats and federal funds could not be spent buying kits from them, the small US providers have been hoping by some easing of the decision. As we wrote above, Huawei just lost its case against the court of appeal. Now, the US wants to go even further and impose a blanket ban on all such purchases, regardless of whether federal funds are involved or not. Moreover, the FCC is even considering revoking past authorizations.
“Despite having identified security concerns with telecommunications equipment from Huawei and ZTE back in 2019, for the last several years this agency has continued to put its stamp of approval on this equipment,” said acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel. “In other words, we have left open opportunities for its use in the United States through our equipment authorization process. So here we propose to close that door.”
“Once an entity lands on our Covered List, there appears to be no reason why the FCC should continue to review its gear and offer the FCC’s seal of approval,” said Commissioner Brendan Carr. “Taking this step, as I first proposed in 2019 and then expanded on in March of this year, will strengthen our national security by preventing the further installation and use of insecure technology in our networks.”
“Back in 2019, I called for the Commission to examine its equipment authorization authority as a possible tool for improving our network security,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. “Since then, I’ve repeatedly highlighted the need to secure our supply chain, particularly with respect to devices originating overseas. I’m therefore glad that we’re moving forward with these proposed rules and I look forward to the public comments. While I recognize that the issues are complex, we cannot continue to authorize, import, and use equipment from companies deemed to present a national security threat.”
One of two leading European kit vendors, Nokia, has just secured a piece of the US OpenRAN as it opened a specially designated facility in Dallas. Nokia’s Collaboration And Testing Center is designed as a place where various RAN stakeholders can get together, connect and work together on Open RAN solutions.
“In particular, vendors will be able to execute Interoperability Tests (IoT) and end-to-end testing for O-RU/O-DU Open Fronthaul as well as xAPP testing for Nokia’s near-real-time RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC),” said the press release. The project is the latest in Nokia’s continued commitment to O-RAN, vRAN, and Edge Cloud innovation. Nokia plans to open similar facilities at its other global offices around the world in the future.” Sounds like a laugh a minute.
“Our new O-RAN Collaboration and Testing Center highlights our continued commitment towards O-RAN and the development of new solutions,” said Pasi Toivanen, Head of Edge Cloud at Nokia. “At our Dallas offices, we have created a collaborative and secure working environment that offers best-in-class facilities to help our partners achieve their goal.”
IoT Analytics has just released its latest research that points out that IoT spending will grow 24% by the end of this year. While the company highlights that the pandemic has had a varying impact on the different IoT segments, the overall spending on enterprise IoT solutions grew by 12.1%. In 2020, reaching $128.9 billion. However, we see the large differences when comparing for example spending on the IoT hardware that recorded 5.4% growth and the cloud and infrastructure services that grew by 35% during the same time.
The report has also highlighted that China has significantly limited the impact of the pandemic as it has acted very quickly and has, as a result, managed to outperform the global average, recording 23.5% growth in enterprise IoT spending.
IoT Analytics emphasized that post-Covid-19-digitisation can already be felt and that the increased use of digital technology will result in a compound annual growth rate of 26.7% between 2022 and 2025.
The spending outlook for this year’s IoT solutions includes the continuous push for digitization in all major world regions with an area to watch being IoT chipsets.
China Tower, China telecom infrastructure company has deployed more than 100 5G base stations in 17 competition venues as it prepares for the 2022 Winter Olympics. China Tower is coordinating the deployment with the biggest Chinese telecom operators.
“We started the building of 5G base stations two years ago, and now we have completed the infrastructure construction of mobile communication network for the Winter Olympics,” said Cheng Jiwei, deputy general manager of the Beijing subsidiary of China Tower. The executive said the construction of 5G base stations included 31 in the Beijing and Yanqing competition zones and three sets of 5G indoor distribution systems in the National Alpine Ski Center, the National Sliding Center, and the Yanqing Olympic Village.
Cheng pointed out Beijing will have full 5G coverage on its high-speed railway to its co-host city of the Winter Olympics, as there are nearly 50 5G base stations built along the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway and 32 along the Beijing-Chongli expressway.