What’s up with… Reliance Jio & Bharti Airtel, Open RAN in Europe, Dialog Axiata

  • Indian telcos hike prices following weak 5G auction
  • Open RAN telco enthusiasts in Europe issue requirement update
  • Dialog Axiata completes takeover deal in Sri Lanka

In today’s industry news roundup: Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel introduce tariff hikes to boost investments following tepid 5G spectrum auction in India; Open RAN MoU telcos release new requirements and priorities to reflect the AI era; Dialog Axiata finalises the acquisition of Airtel Lanka in Sri Lanka; and much more!

Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have separately introduced tariff hikes for their services. The increases in pricing for plans offered by Reliance Jio are reportedly between 12% and 27%, and according to the company’s chairman, Akash Ambani, the introduction of new plans “is a step in the direction of furthering industry innovation and driving sustainable growth through investments in 5G and AI technology.” Bharti Airtel followed in Reliance Jio’s footsteps with the announcement of a similar increase, with effect from 3 July, explaining it had made the decision to do so because “the mobile average revenue per user (ARPU) needs to be upwards of INR300 to enable a financially healthy business model for telcos in India. We believe that this level of ARPU will enable the substantial investments required in network technology and spectrum and offer a modest return on capital.”

The announcements from the two Indian telcos come just as the country closed its latest 5G auction, which garnered less-than-expected revenue. A total of 113.4bn Indian rupees (US$1.36bn) was raised through the allocation of a combined 141.4MHz spectrum to Bharti Airtel (which purchased 97MHz in total), Vodafone Idea (30MHz) and Reliance Jio (14.4MHz). The nation’s Ministry of Communications also put the remaining spectrum from an auction held in 2022 up for sale, as well as spectrum expiring in 2024. But just 26.5% of the spectrum that was up for grabs was sold. The spectrum licences on offer had a combined reserve price of 962.4bn rupees ($11.53bn). The unsold spectrum will go back to auction at a later date, the ministry has said.

The quintet of European telco giants that are pushing for the development of Open RAN – Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Vodafone – have published their latest update on the technical requirements they expect in the market, this time putting a focus on service management and orchestration (SMO) especially related to AI and ML (machine learning) frameworks. This fourth release of technical priorities for Open RAN includes further requirements around interworking with traditional radio access network (RAN) and slicing management, and updates on security. The document also outlines an “operator vision about the zero-trust approach and requirements for certification”, as well as cloud infrastructure mainly focused on “O2 and acceleration abstraction layer, while other areas have been significantly enhanced such as RAN software, O-RU and O-CU/DU”. It added that these technical priorities are developed as “guidance to the RAN supplier industry on where they can focus to accelerate market deployments in Europe, focusing on commercial product availability in the short term, and solution development in the medium term.” The objective is to promote “a fast pace for the development of competitive Open RAN solutions in Europe, across other regions and ultimately accelerate the global adoption of the technology,” it added. Find out more.

Dialog Axiata has finalised the acquisition of Airtel Lanka after completing a share sale transaction with the operation’s previous owner, Bharti Airtel. Dialog Axiata acquired 100% of the issued shares in Airtel Lanka through a share swap. With this move, Axiata Group (the parent of Dialog Axiata) now owns a 73.75% stake, Bharti Airtel holds 10.4% of the shares and the remaining 15.9% stake is held by the public. Plans for the acquisition were first announced in May 2023 as Dialog attempted to boost its position in the South Asian market. “As we embark on this transformative journey, our focus will be on leveraging the combined strengths of Dialog and Airtel to pioneer advancements in Sri Lanka’s telecommunications sector. This merger positions us to drive substantial growth, not just in customer experience and innovation but also in contributing to the digital economy of Sri Lanka,” explained Supun Weerasinghe, CEO of Dialog Axiata. The merger means the Sri Lankan telco market has shrunk from four to three players, the other two being Mobitel and Hutch Sri Lanka.

Proximus has launched a sovereign cloud solution that integrates technology from Microsoft, Thales and Intel and pledges to drive new sovereignty innovation in the cloud. It combines the Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty platform with Thales’ CipherTrust End to End Data Protection solution and Intel’s Tiber Trust Security. “By integrating these solutions, an unprecedented achievement in Europe, Proximus is adding a European encryption layer on top of Microsoft’s technology, enabling it to move into the sovereign in the cloud category,” Proximus explained, adding that the offering will provide companies with more control over their most critical data. “Sovereign cloud solutions are essential for European companies for reasons of security, compliance with European legislation and competitive edge. By 2027, the risk of bankruptcy will triple for organisations that fail to continuously manage remote access to their architecture and processes. Given these projections, the need for a sovereign cloud solution is clear,” said Anne-Sophie Lotgering, enterprise market lead at Proximus. Read more.

Intel has demonstrated what it says is the first fully integrated optical input/output (I/O) chiplet, which it hopes will “revolutionise high-speed data processing for AI infrastructure”. The chiplet market is expected to reach $20bn by 2027, up from about $4bn to $5bn today, in part due to the increasing demand for AI infrastructure. There is significant interest in creating high-speed photonic interconnect solutions between chiplets to increase packing density and alleviate I/O bottlenecks. Intel’s solution supports 64 channels of synchronous 32Gbit/s on up to 100 metres of fibre. “Our OCI [optical compute interconnect] chiplet boosts bandwidth, reduces power consumption and increases reach, enabling ML [machine learning] workload acceleration that promises to revolutionise high-performance AI infrastructure,” said Intel’s senior director of product management and strategy for the Integrated Photonics Solutions Group, Thomas Liljeberg.

- The staff, TelecomTV

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