What’s up with… Nokia, Adtran, Ooredoo, Tejas and BSNL

  • Nokia and Adtran add to their US-based FTTX tech manufacturing capabilities
  • Ooredoo embraces APIs with Google Cloud and Tech Mahindra
  • Tejas lands $901m 4G/5G RAN gear deal from BSNL

In today’s industry news roundup: Nokia and Adtran are ramping up their US fibre broadband equipment manufacturing capabilities to meet demand from BEAD-funded operators; Ooredoo turns to Google Cloud and Tech Mahindra for its API-enabled transformation; Indian vendor Tejas Networks lands major RAN deal from state-owned telco BSNL; and much more!  

Sensing an enhanced business opportunity from the US Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) programme, Nokia is to produce its fibre broadband modules locally at the Santa Clara, California-based facility of optical technology manufacturer Fabrinet. “Many in the industry have said that manufacturing optical modules in the US was impossible,” stated Sandy Motley, head of Nokia’s fixed networks crew, in the vendor’s press release about the move. “Today, we’re proving it can be done. Working alongside the Department of Commerce and Fabrinet, we’re excited to add optical modules to the list of technology solutions that will be produced here in the US and become available to programs like BEAD which are so critical to bridging the digital divide,” she added. The news comes on the heels of Nokia’s recent announcement that it will make various fibre broadband products, including optical line terminals (OLTs) and optical network terminal (ONT) in the US through a partnership with Sanmina Corporation. Nokia is already a very well established supplier of broadband access network technology to US network operators, and claims that 70% of all current fibre broadband lines in the US are “powered” by the Finnish vendor’s technology. Building technology in the US is an important requirement for vendor participation in BEAD, which has $42.45bn to spend on broadband rollouts to unserved and underserved communities.

Nokia isn’t the only one ramping up its FTTX manufacturing capabilities in the US… Adtran, one of the Finnish vendor’s main broadband access network equipment vendor rivals, has announced plans to invest up to $5m in its Huntsville, Alabama-based manufacturing facility to meet the demand of BEAD-funded network operators. The company, which will create up to 300 new jobs as a result of the investment, is expanding its current US production of OLT equipment and “preparing to onshore” the manufacturing of its ONTs. “As a leading US telecommunications equipment provider, we look forward to partnering with state broadband offices and network operators across the country as they expand secure, high-speed internet access to millions of Americans,” noted Adtran’s CEO Tom Stanton. “This expansion not only represents a strategic investment in Adtran’s growing workforce and manufacturing capabilities but also demonstrates our long-term commitment to strengthening the domestic supply chain and securing communications networks with American-made equipment,” he added. 

Qatar-based telco group Ooredoo has enhanced its digital transformation efforts by sealing new tie-ups with Tech Mahindra and Google Cloud. Using Google Cloud’s API management platform Apigee, and with Tech Mahindra acting as implementation partner, the operator expects its IT operations to be modernised by deploying “a digital platform-based approach”. The telco is confident this will lead to “a significant upgrade in customer experience”. As part of the move, application programming interfaces (APIs) will be integrated at “every level of its organisation”, including the development of “open innovation, ecosystem expansion, mobile app development, internet of things, artificial intelligence and data-driven insights”. API implementation, the company has further stated, is set to “vastly expand opportunities for growth across the group’s global footprint”. Find out more.

Tejas Networks, the Indian telecom equipment vendor best known for its optical transport products, has landed a contract worth 74.9 billion Indian rupees ($901m) to provide state-owned telco BSNL with 4G and 5G radio access network (RAN) equipment for about 100,000 sites. The deal came via BSNL’s prime contractor, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), and the technology is due to be deployed during 2023 and 2024. Dr. Kumar N. Sivarajan, CTO at Tejas Networks, stated: Our state-of-the-art 4G/5G RAN products were subjected to rigorous field testing by BSNL for nearly 18 months before being chosen for this large-scale commercial deployment. This win is a true testament to the engineering excellence and innovation prowess of our R&D team that successfully developed and delivered an industry-leading product in a complex technology area in record time. This is a great deal for Tejas, which enhanced its radio access network portfolio in April 2022 with the acquisition of software-defined radio (SDR) specialist Saankhya Labs, and follows on from the router platform deal the vendor was awarded by BSNL earlier this year. Quite how much this will help BSNL is another matter: As we noted earlier this week, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are already well on their way to deploying nationwide 5G networks and command more than 70% of India’s mobile connections market between them, while Vodafone Idea is only just conducting 5G trials and BSNL, which has a mobile market share of less than 9%, is a long way behind. Can new wireless and access transport networks built using domestic technology from Tejas improve BSNL’s standing in India’s mobile market? That’s not known, but we can all be sure there will be plenty of local plaudits for BSNL, Tejas and TCS, as the network investments conform to the Make in India strategy that is very important to India’s prime minister Narendra Modi.  

Having just secured investment from Mastercard, MTN is reportedly looking to attract up to three more investors for its fintech unit. The pan-African telco group’s CEO, Ralph Mupita, told Bloomberg TV that the company is open to selling up to a maximum of 30% of the operation, which is valued at $5.2bn. The report comes days after MTN signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) under which the payment-processing giant will make “a minority investment” into MTN’s fintech operation for an undisclosed amount. MTN’s fintech service had more than 60 million users by the end of June this year.

NTT Docomo ended June with almost 22.5 million 5G subscribers, up from 20.6 million at the end of March, and almost 88 million mobile customers in total, according to statistics shared as part of NTT Group’s latest financial report. The company expects to end the current financial year, in March 2024, with more than 28.5 million 5G customers and almost 90 million mobile users overall. For the three months to the end of June, NTT reported revenues of 3,111bn Japanese yen ($21.35bn), up by 1.4% year on year, but its operating profit dipped by 5.7% to 474.7bn yen ($3.26bn). For more on NTT’s financial performance, see this earnings slide deck.  

2Africa has become the first submarine cable to land in northern Mozambique, Vodacom has announced. The cable has landed on the shores of Nacala-Porto and is accompanied by the launch of a new datacentre run by Master Power Technologies. “Through this submarine fibre optic cable infrastructure, Vodacom will provide a direct international gateway for faster and more reliable internet services in the country,” the operator noted in an announcement shared with the media. The 2Africa consortium that is funding the subsea network comprises eight partners: China Mobile International; Meta; Bayobab (formerly MTN GlobalConnect); Orange; Center3; Telecom Egypt; Vodafone Group (the parent company of Vodacom); and WIOCC (West Indian Ocean Cable Company). These companies have partnered to build 2Africa. Launched in May 2020, 2Africa aims to significantly increase the capacity, quality and availability of internet connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world. The cable, which is scheduled for completion in 2024, is being built and deployed by Alcatel Submarine Networks. It will be 45,000 kilometres long and with a design capacity of 180 Tbit/s. It will connect Europe (to the east via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia) and Africa, providing international connectivity to 19 countries in Africa and 33 in total. 

Organisations in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region have taken the lead in prioritising generative AI (GenAI) investments this year, supported by a “favourable regulatory environment”, according to IDC. In addition, APAC is also actively exploring novel technologies as it deals with “fewer regulatory obstacles” compared to other regions, while receiving “strong government support for fostering innovation”. As per IDC’s estimations, two-thirds of companies and organisations in the APAC region are exploring potential use cases or have already begun investing in GenAI in 2023. Alongside this trend, the analyst company highlighted new challenges for governments developing GenAI-related frameworks that “provide guardrails without creating obstacles to innovation”. Hurdles in this field include data quality, ethical issues, deepfakes, copyright and IP complexities, talent shortages and high costs of the technology. Ravikant Sharma, senior research manager for government insights at IDC Asia-Pacific, argued it is “imperative” for governments in the region to “craft robust regulatory frameworks to address various obstacles that could inhibit the economic possibilities they envision”.  

Dell’Oro Group has reduced its forecast for the value of public cloud 5G standalone (SA) workloads revenues generated by the hyperscale cloud providers (HCPs) due to “the slow migration” to 5G SA by mobile network operators for their enhanced mobile broadband (eMMB) networks, as well as slower adoption of private wireless networks by enterprises. The research house now expects 5G SA workloads revenues for the HCPs to grow at a 65% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), reaching $5.4bn in 2027. Its forecast further suggests that HCPs, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, will capture a cumulative 9% of the total 5G SA market revenue in the period, by hosting 5G workloads on their respective public clouds. In the enterprise domain, while some networks are already commercially deployed, most are still long-term proofs-of-concept (PoCs) or field trials that could last for a few years and thus drive limited revenues, explained Dell’Oro Group research director Dave Bolan. Hyperscalers are also expected to capture $1.3bn in multi-access edge computing (MEC) revenue. Growing at a 86% CAGR in the years to 2027, the segment is expected to be the one with highest growth for HCPs during the forecast period. Find out more.

- The staff, TelecomTV