What’s up with… Safaricom, Inmarsat, Coherent and II-IV, TIM
- Safaricom brings 5G to Kenya
- Inmarsat adds another former Nokia exec to its top table
- The battle to buy Coherent is over
- TIM offers 10 Gbit/s broadband
The arrival of 5G in East Africa, some new appointments at Inmarsat, the conclusion of an optical bidding battle and some XGS-PON action in Italy make the front runners in today’s race for the news finishing line.
- Safaricom, part of the Vodacom group, has launched trial 5G services in four locations across Kenya (Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega) and plans to expand its 5G network and service to 150 sites in nine towns during the next 12 months, the operator announced today. The service is being offered as both a home or enterprise fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband option via a router/gateway, or as a mobile service, initially with Huawei Mate 30 Pro or P40 devices but, from the end of April 2021, also with Nokia 8.3, Samsung Galaxy S21 series, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G devices. Safaricom, the dominant mobile operator in Kenya, is building its 5G network with technology from Huawei and Nokia, which is providing radio access network gear and fixed wireless access (FWA) gateways.
- Inmarsat CEO Rajeev Suri, the former chief executive at Nokia, has appointed Barry French, the former head of marketing at Nokia, as the satellite communications company’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer (CMCO). Suri, who started his new role on 1 March and who was French’s boss at Nokia, has also appointed Jat Brainch as Chief Commercial and Product Officer (CCPO). Brainch was formerly Senior Vice President of Group Commercial Management at Inmarsat, and has never worked at Nokia. For more on the appointments, see this press release.
- After a long duel with Lumentum, optical components company II-IV has won the bidding war to acquire photonics specialist Coherent with a cash and stock offer worth about $7.1 billion. Lumentum, which made the initial (and initially accepted) offer worth $5.7 billion, will get a $217.6 million termination fee. See this Coherent press release for further details.
- TIM (Telecom Italia) has started offering 10 Gbit/s broadband and is set to have its truly high-speed service tested “in front of millions of viewers” by the TV studio that produces Italian TV show ‘Amici’. The service, based on XGS-PON technology from Nokia, will be available in Rome, Genoa and Turin.
- Microsoft is reportedly interested in acquiring messaging platform Discord for $10 billion: The Verge reckons the move is all down to building a consumer-led community.
- WeWork, which only two years ago was valued at $47 billion ahead of its aborted IPO, is the latest to plan a public listing by merging with a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company), reports CNBC, in a deal that values it at $9 billion. SPACs are all the rage, as we pointed out earlier this week and in this article.
- UK-based 5G Open RAN baseband system on chip (SoC) developer Picocom, which has completed its chip design, is setting up an Open RAN small cell lab as part of its Bristol facility. “The focus will be for the team to review the chip when it comes back from the fab, bring it to market, and work with customers on software and hardware integration. We must have the capability to deliver first-class support for our small cell Open RAN silicon and carrier-grade software to meet our customers’-specific needs as we move towards field-trials later this year,” noted Picocom’s VP of Operations, Mike Davison, in this media announcement.
- European AI spending will reach $12 billion in 2021 and Europe will continue to enjoy double-digit growth through 2024, according to IDC, which suggests that “automation needs digital transformation.” The inverse may be equally true when you consider the complexity currently being introduced into network and application management. Another driver for AI growth, the researchers point out, was that the pandemic forced retailers to shift their focus from in-store AI toward AI-driven online experiences and services.
- More commercial surveillance in the home: ABI Research maintains that the Smart Home industry is leaving billions in data revenues untapped. It claims that despite double digit growth for the past decade, the home gadget industry is still at the early stages of ‘leveraging’ (selling on) ‘home smart data’. And ABI suggests that a swathe of industries, currently beyond smart home engagement, can build valuable applications and services based on the intelligence smart home data can provide. I’ll bet they can, but do the majority of home owners (smart and dumb) actually want commercial surveillance to be extended to their connected home gadgets? Is it time for some effective GDPR-like regulation to make sure that consumers consent to ‘data leveraging’ before purchase?
- The staff, TelecomTV
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