What’s up with… Cisco, eco rating, Twitter

  • Cisco’s growing its sales but shrinking its headcount
  • More operators sign up for mobile phone eco rating scheme
  • EC bigwig dumps on Twitter’s “flawed” model

In today’s industry news roundup: Cisco’s sales are on the up but it’s planning to cut costs and jobs; mobile phone eco rating scheme attracts three more operators; European commissioner puts pressure on Twitter to get its house in order; and more. 

Cisco is in rude health, it seems. The networking technology giant has reported a 6% year-on-year rise in fiscal first-quarter revenues to $13.6bn and a 3% rise in operating profit to $3.5bn, and expects its full fiscal year sales to increase by between 4.5% and 6.5% compared with the $51.6bn it generated in its previous financial year, which ended in July 2022. That sales forecast for the year is up slightly from its previous expectations and was greeted positively by investors, who would have also liked the news that Cisco is to cut its expenses by $600m a year through a restructuring process that will result in the loss of an unspecified number of jobs: The company’s share price was up by more than 3.5% in pre-market trading on Thursday to $45.97. "Our fiscal 2023 is off to a good start as we delivered the largest quarterly revenue and second highest quarterly non-GAAP earnings per share in our history," stated CEO Chuck Robbins. "These results demonstrate the relevance of our strategy, our differentiated innovation, and our unique position to help our customers become more resilient." Tell that to the staff of the profitable company that are about to lose their jobs during an economic downturn…

Sticking with Cisco, there’s talk it may be on the verge of a major acquisition. Seasoned industry commentator Scott Raynovich, founder and principal analyst at Futuriom, has heard the two most likely M&A targets for the networking giant are Splunk and Hashicorp. To find out more, check out this article.   

The consumer mobile phone eco-rating scheme is gaining in popularity and expanding. Three more operators have joined the scheme to bring the total to eight: EE (the consumer arm of BT), Portugal’s NOS and Belgium’s Proximus have signed up to the Eco Rating labelling programme that was initiated by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica (under the O2, Movistar and Vivo brands), Telia and Vodafone last year. The scheme now also has the support of 22 device manufacturers. Geographically, the scheme, which originally comprised 24 European countries, has expanded to include 35 countries across Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Asia Pacific region. Introduced just 18 months ago, the scheme’s Average Eco Rating has already improved as handset manufacturers adapt their designs and processes to meet both the demands of consumers and concerns of operators who are increasingly aware of the importance of their sustainability and environmental credentials. As of today, the Average Eco Rating is 74 out of a possible 100, up from the 72 recorded at the end of 2021. In Europe, the relationship between mobile operators and manufacturers is particularly strong and both parties want it to stay that way: It’s to their mutual advantage, hence the high levels of cooperation. The scheme is designed to aid consumers in comparing the environmental impact of mobile handsets and so enable them to make more eco-conscious ”green” choices. Eco Rating provides consistent, accurate information at retail and online levels, about the environmental impact of producing, using, transporting and disposing of smartphones and feature phones, and provides a snapshot of the total environmental footprint. It has also developed criteria to promote carbon efficiency and e-waste reduction, such as alternatives to plastic packaging, improved device durability, extended warranties and longer maintenance support. Eco Rating has launched a new database at www.ecoratingdevices.com so that users can compare the scores of assessed devices from participating suppliers: It covers aspects such as brand, model and scores. And in January 2023, a new and more detailed scoring methodology will be introduced.

We continue our monitoring of the chaotic state of Twitter with the news that Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission and commissioner for competition, has taken a close look at Elon Musk’s US$8 a month Twitter Blue Verification badge subscription model and pronounced it to be “completely flawed”. Speaking in Brussels, Belgium, she said: “If you have imposter accounts… your business model is fundamentally flawed. If you are to pay to be vetted and to be certified as being who you are and everyone can be you ...  that business model simply is completely flawed.” Vestager’s comments will bolster EU concerns that Musk is playing fast and loose with European regulations and will have to comply with recently strengthened legislation to identify, police and penalise online disinformation and impersonation, and ensure protection of the privacy and security of the users of social media platforms. The Digital Services Act (DSA), which came into force yesterday, is an updated and strengthened iteration of the EU’s e-Commerce Directive that regulates illegal content, transparent advertising, and disinformation. The landmark legislation mandates safer and more accountable online environments and encompasses digital services that connect consumers to goods, services or content and creates comprehensive new obligations for online platforms to reduce harms and counter online risks and criminality. To that end, it provides stronger protection of users' rights online, and places digital platforms under stringent new transparency and accountability requirements. The DSA has been designed as a “ first-of-kind regulatory toolbox” that “sets an international benchmark for a regulatory approach to online intermediaries.” Twitter will have to look to its laurels as it hurries to introduce its beefed-up “rock-solid” Blue Verification badge by 29 November. If it falls foul of EU laws, there will be trouble. Meanwhile, back in Twitterland, as the Twitter Blue Verification saga rumbles on, Musk is getting yet another media drubbing after it emerged he had knowingly posed for a photograph with two fake employees (that is to say, imposters peddling fake news) who lied that Musk had fired them and then re-employed them when he realised he’d made a mistake. While Musk was actually wielding the axe and sacking half the real Twitter workforce, two buffoons wearing (fake) Twitter employee badges identifying them as Rahul Ligma and Daniel Johnson stood outside Twitter HQ in San Francisco telling anyone who’d listen that they were engineers who had just been given the order of the boot. In fact, the pair had never worked for Twitter, but somehow Musk heard about their hilarious prank, invited them in and posed for a photo with them in front of a giant Twitter logo. He also Tweeted: “Welcoming back Ligma & Johnson! Important to admit when I’m wrong & firing them was truly one of my biggest mistakes.” How the redundant thousands laughed. What a card the world’s richest man is – sensitive and caring to a fault. His fault. As one Tweeter wrote: “Making fun of firing people while you fire people tells us all exactly what kind of boss you are.” As if we didn’t know already. By the way, Ligma Johnson is the payoff line to one of the most pathetic of adolescent smutty jokes: It’s the sort of thing that might make an 11-year old, on hearing it behind the bike sheds, snigger a bit. For anyone else, it’s so piteously puerile as to be embarrassing.

Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei are among the telecom technology suppliers “best placed to help telcos drive sustainability initiatives”, found an “unbiased” assessment of 81 vendors by ABI Research. “Sustainability initiatives were considered across two major dimensions: present-day implementation (the ability to scale impact), including the global rollout of 5G and market share of equipment; and forward-looking impact, evaluating the innovation of the technologies for reducing carbon emissions and waste, such as using next-generation silicon and integrating AI and machine learning (ML) to reduce the overall energy consumption of the equipment,” according to the research firm. The top-20 companies best placed to help the telcos, according to ABI’s criteria, are Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, ZTE, Samsung, Intel, Qualcomm, NEC, Mavenir, Cisco, Fujitsu, Rakuten Symphony, CommScope, Dell, AMD, IBM (Red Hat), VMware, Airspan, Parallel Wireless and Schneider Electric. Read more

Having announced late Wednesday that board director Frank Cadoret had resigned, Telecom Italia (TIM) has quickly followed up with a statement to note that Cadoret’s decision to step down “is motivated by personal reasons”. Cadoret’s resignation is so sensitive because he is an appointee of TIM’s largest single shareholder, French media and communications giant Vivendi, which hasn’t been seeing eye to eye with the Italian operator’s management team on a number of issues, particularly the valuation of the fixed access network that, if everything goes to plan, will be offloaded and merged with its national rival, Open Fiber, in a deal brokered by the Italian government. But, not for the first time, that deal is under threat as there are influencers in the new Italian government that are in favour of the whole of TIM being renationalised and brought under control of the state. It is likely that Cadoret’s decision to resign looked like a sign that Vivendi was reacting to such suggestions… never a dull moment in the corridors of TIM, it seems!

Brendan Carr, one of the Republican commissioners of the US telecoms regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is publicly urging the release of more wireless spectrum for commercial communications services, just as the body is about to relinquish its right to do so: The FCC’s authority to auction spectrum is set to lapse on 16 December. Speaking at what was described as a “fireside chat” hosted by the R Street Institute in Washington DC but was in fact a podium interview during which Carr made his points directly front-on to his audience from a shiny steel and bright yellow faux-leather chair, the commissioner advocated that the US Congress should quickly grant an extension to allow the regulator to continue to auction electromagnetic spectrum, adding that to allow that right to expire would be unacceptable. “We have never had a lapse in this auction authority. We need to continue to signal to the world and to our private sector that we know what we’re doing, we’re competent here, you can rely on a consistent pipeline of US spectrum,” he said. Carr agreed that Congress was correct in giving the independent FCC power to auction spectrum because of the body’s long experience of, and technical expertise in, all aspects of telecoms and their regulation, and should continue fully to support it. He pointed out that President Biden earlier extended the FCC’s remit, and that the Spectrum Innovation Act, passed by the House of Representatives in July, would effectively extend the FCC’s current powers for a further 18 months, so the Congress needs to get busy to ensure the commission is not hampered by an avoidable lapse. The act also establishes a process for auctioning specified parts of the spectrum currently allocated for federal use. It’s a complex business: The Office of Management and Budget must transfer certain funding to federal entities for planning activities related to re-allocating and auctioning spectrum, while the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) advises the Executive Office of the President, which is ultimately responsible for the planning. Furthermore, the Department of Commerce, having taken full account of the planning decision, must identify the spectrum to auction, while the FCC must adopt rules for the use of the identified spectrum and auction the licences. Meanwhile, the federal authorities are very reluctant to hand over any of the spectrum they now hold and are fighting a determined rearguard action to keep what they’ve got. The act also addresses the thorny issue of shared use of spectrum bands by federal and non-federal users. The whole thing’s a minefield. (Note. The R Street Institute is a non-partisan thinktank and one of its major areas of operation and policy research is industry regulation, including telecoms and IT.)

- The staff, TelecomTV

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