What’s up with… Dish and Amazon, Ericsson, Open RAN & 5G in Brazil

  • Amazon might become a sales channel for Dish’s 5G services
  • Ericsson whistleblower reportedly gets massive payout
  • Brazilian government invests in next-gen network and AI R&D

In today’s industry news roundup: Beleaguered Dish Network might get a 5G sales lifeline from Amazon; Ericsson tipster believed to have banked hundreds of millions; Brazil invests in Open RAN, 5G, 6G and AI R&D; and more!  

Dish, the US market 5G newcomer that built out an Open RAN-based greenfield network and is now trying to capture business from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, is reportedly on the verge of striking a deal to sell its mobile service contracts via Amazon, according to The Wall Street Journal, a move that would give it a vital sales channel as it looks to justify its 5G investments. Amazon’s public cloud services division Amazon Web Services (AWS), it should be noted, is one of Dish Networks’ key technology partners for its 5G network, which launched last summer, so any such sales channel relationship would build on that existing engagement. And Dish needs all the help it can get: It has 7.9 million mobile customers currently and that number is shrinking each quarter, and most of those users are MVNO customers brought on board as part of its acquisition of Boost Mobile from T-Mobile US in 2020 and are still connected to rival networks. Dish isn’t yet stating how many of its customers have signed up for its 5G service packages or how much traffic is running over its new network, which is still being rolled out, though it did admit when reporting its first-quarter financial results that there’s not much activity on the 5G network as yet. This is mainly because of the limited availability of smartphones that can connect to it, a situation that will improve during the course of this year, the operator’s executives have pledged: Currently only a handful of Android-powered devices are available but the introduction of an Apple iPhone that is compatible with Dish’s 5G spectrum band is imminent. However, it’s clear that the consensus is that a sales channel deal with Amazon could be a game-changer for Dish, as its share price jumped by more than 7% to $6.67 during Thursday trading. In the meantime, Dish has another network rollout deadline to meet the obligations of its spectrum licence, but the company’s EVP of network development, Dave Mayo, stated recently that it’s on course to hit the June deadline to reach 70% of the US population with its 5G services, reported PCMag.  

The “whistleblower” who is believed to have alerted the regulatory authorities to illegal business activities undertaken by Ericsson in five countries – Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait – has received a payment of $279m under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s ‘cash-for-tip’ programme, according to a Wall Street Journal report (cited here by Reuters). In 2019, the Swedish vendor paid $1.06bn in penalties to resolve its violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which saw it “make and improperly record tens of millions of dollars in improper payments around the world,” the US Department of Justice (DOJ) noted at the time: It is believed the size of the ‘tipster’ payout is related to the value of the penalty paid. 

Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and the Brazilian Company for Research and Industrial Innovation (Embrapii) are to invest $180m Brazilian reals (BRL) (US$36m) in “three institutions selected to form Centers for Competence in the development of research in 5G and 6G, immersive technologies applied to virtual worlds and Open RAN,” the ministry announced this week. The three selected organisations are: The Telecommunications Research and Development Center (CPQD) in Campinas, which will focus on Open RAN developments; the National Telecommunications Institute (Inatel) in Santa Rita do Sapucaí, which will focus on 5G and 6G; and the Center of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence at the Federal University of Goiás (CEIA-UFG) in Goiânia, which will focus on augmented reality, immersive technologies and virtual worlds. Each will receive an investment of BRL60m to be applied over a period of 42 months “in actions that combine expansion and strengthening of scientific and technological competence” in R&D, skills and the development of startups. For more information, see this announcement (in Portuguese).

Having been approved by the European Commission this week, the acquisition of UK satellite company Inmarsat by US rival Viasat is now imminent. The pair are aiming to “expedite” its completion and Inmarsat has indicated that it expects the deal to be finalised by the end of May. The UK satellite communications provider has also unveiled that Rajeev Suri will step down as CEO on completion of the sale. He will be appointed a board director of Viasat once the transaction is finalised, a role that will involve “ensuring a smooth transition period”. Another change will see Inmarsat chair Andrew Sukawaty leaving the position to join Viasat’s board. Commenting on the restructuring, Suri expressed pride in working with “such a great team” at Inmarsat, which he described as “a terrific company with first-class people”. He highlighted that during his time at the helm, Inmarsat has achieved “record” financial performance, enhanced employee engagement, accelerated innovation and has now sealed a deal “that ensures Inmarsat will be part of a long-term industry leader”. Before nabbing the CEO role at Inmarsat, Suri spent six years as chief of Nokia – see What’s up with… Rajeev Suri, FCC on Open RAN, BT + renewable energy.

ETSI’s network functions virtualisation (NFV) industry specification group (ISG), which was founded a decade ago, met for its 41st plenary meeting recently during which it, provided the latest updates to its documents and introduced two new group specifications: ETSI GS NFV-IFA 047, which defines the service requirements as well as service interfaces produced by the Management Data Analytics Function (MDAF); and ETSI GS NFV-IFA 048, which adopts the State-Task design pattern to specify the NFV-MANO policy information model. To find out more, read this ETSI blog  

Bell Canada has upped its sustainability credentials by entering into its first sustainability-linked derivatives (SLDs). As part of the move, the telco has introduced a pricing adjustment that increases the cost of the derivatives based on Bell’s performance against its goal of reducing its operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2030 by 58% compared to their 2020 levels. “This new initiative, combined with the publication of our first Integrated Annual Report earlier in March, demonstrates our focus on integrating sustainability within our financial performance and aligns with our ESG [environmental, social and governance] objectives to make a positive difference with our investments, supporting a more sustainable and prosperous future,” said Curtis Millen, SVP of corporate strategy and treasurer at Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) and Bell. Read more.

- The staff, TelecomTV