What’s up with… Orange, Totogi, BSS for 5G, Nokia

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Feb 17, 2022

Stéphane Richard, the outgoing Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Orange

Stéphane Richard, the outgoing Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Orange

  • Stéphane Richard bows out of Orange on a positive note
  • BSS upstart Totogi unveils its app marketplace for CSPs
  • Nokia finds that most telco BSS systems are yet to be updated for 5G
  • And the Finnish vendor teams up with Kyndryl for private wireless networks

Orange sales growth, product launch and survey insight action in the BSS world with Totogi and Nokia, and an important-looking partnership in private wireless networks for the giant Finnish vendor lead the way in this news roundup. 

While Stéphane Richard might soon be vacating the Orange Chairman and CEO posts under something of a cloud, having had to resign late last year after being found guilty by the Paris Court of Appeal of “complicity in the misuse of public funds” for his actions at the French Finance Ministry more than 13 years ago, he is at least leaving on a relatively high note in terms of the operational progress of the company and its financial stability. The operator reported its full year 2021 results today, with full year revenues up by 0.8% to €42.5 billion, helped by a sales surge in its African markets, a healthy uptick in FTTH customers to 11.8 million (up 22.1% year-on-year), and steady progress in signing up converged customers that take high-speed fixed broadband and a mobile contract, with the total group number reaching 11.5 million at the end of last year. Growing FTTH and converged service customer numbers is key to Orange’s current strategy. Christel Heydemann will take over as CEO starting 4 April, 2022. For more on Orange’s financial results, see this announcement

Totogi, the cloud native BSS startup funded and currently managed by public cloud evangelist and founder of TelcoDR, Danielle Royston, has launched its ‘Marketplace’, a service that enables CSPs to “integrate pre-negotiated offers from over 90 global content and lifestyle brands, such as Apple Music, SoundCloud and Ticketmaster, via a single API. “Telcos want to diversify beyond the basic connectivity services and deliver a rich variety of digital offers, [and] the easiest way to do that is to partner with third party content and lifestyle brands, and offer their subscribers access to these services,” noted Royston. “Marketplace reduces the time and effort required for CSPs to design attractive offers, from months to just a few days. Totogi does the heavy lifting - from contract negotiation to simple integration via our cloud-based API platform - allowing CSPs to focus on their customers by providing a differentiated customer experience,” she added.

Totogi is aiming to disrupt the status quo in the telco BSS market, where it seems, there’s still a lot of catching up to be done in terms of deployments that can help deliver a return on investment for 5G operators… Almost all of the 100 communications service provider (CSP) respondents who participated in a recent survey commissioned by Nokia admitted they have still not deployed the type of cutting edge BSS systems needed to fully exploit to revenue-generating potential of 5G services, according to a new report from the vendor. “An overwhelming number of survey respondents, at 98%, indicated they would have to alter their BSS in the coming years in order to put proper, up-to-date monetisation tools in place,” noted Nokia, adding that “nearly 70% of CSPs are now considering deploying cloud-based monetisation solutions.” It added, in an announcement about its survey results, that about two thirds respondents ‘indicated they believe that real-time charging is essential for 5G monetisation, in part because of its ability to help CSPs respond quickly to customer demands.” These results seem rather surprising, as this means 30% are not yet considering cloud-based BSS (why not?) and one third don’t think real-time charging will be essential, which sounds like about one third too many! If these results are indicative of global CSPs, then there’s a lot of work to be done before many network operators get a return on their 5G investments. Find out more, and access the report, here

Nokia and Kyndryl, a recent managed infrastructure spin-out from IBM, have forged a global network and edge computing alliance “aimed at helping enterprise customers accelerate their digital transformations with industrial-grade reliable and secure LTE and 5G private wireless networking.” Ah, private wireless networks again! “The partnership builds on a successful private wireless connectivity project that yielded an innovative solution combining Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) application platform with Kyndryl’s consulting, design, implementation and managed services,” notes Nokia in this announcement

The rise of Nick Clegg, the UK’s former deputy prime minister, to demi-god status at his current employer Meta (the company formerly and still generally known as Facebook) is complete. Mark Zuckerberg has elevated Sir Nick to President of Global Affairs and he will now sit on Olympus at the Founder’s right hand. Clegg, who lost his UK parliamentary seat in an election in 2017, (c)legged it to the US in 2018 to become VP of global affairs and communications at Facebook. Now, apparently, he is an equal in the triumvirate (Sheryl Sandberg being the third member) that will lead Meta to become the greatest thing that has ever happened on Earth (apart from the birth of Zuck himself, obviously). Writing on his Personal Facebook Page, the Founder announced that Nick’s new status will confer upon him the authority to “lead our company on all our policy matters” such as formulating policies with international governments (there’s a surprise! Where’s my little black book and those photos?), being proactive in overseeing Meta’s regulatory developments and responses, and “making the case publicly for our products and our work”. He added, absent of irony as usual, that  “Nick’s calm and principled leadership will continue to be an asset for Meta in the months and years to come.” One of the reasons that Clegg lost his seat in the UK parliament was because the electorate in his Sheffield Hallam constituency decided his Liberal Democrat principles had proven to be all too malleable and ductile over the five-year period he was deputy prime minister in David Cameron’s Conservative-led coalition government and during which he serially reneged on many of the political promises he had made. Now, at Meta, he is ostensibly on a level with Zuckerberg himself, except of course that, in reality, Sir Nick isn’t anything of the sort because he still has to report to the godhead himself. Down the road apiece, this could end in tears. 

Akamai, best known as one of the world’s largest content delivery network (CDN) operators, has splashed $900 million on Linode, which it describes as “one of the easiest-to-use and most trusted infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform providers... with Linode, which has made it simple, affordable and accessible for developers to consume cloud computing, Akamai will become the world’s most distributed compute platform, from cloud to edge,” states Akamai. The CDN player wants to build on its heritage by becoming not only the company that securely delivers digital content around the world, but also be the cloud compute platform that application developers can trust. “The opportunity to combine Linode’s developer-friendly cloud computing capabilities with Akamai’s market-leading edge platform and security services is transformational for Akamai,” noted Akamai founder and CEO Dr. Tom Leighton. “Akamai has been a pioneer in the edge computing business for over 20 years, and today we are excited to begin a new chapter in our evolution by creating a unique cloud platform to build, run and secure applications from the cloud to the edge. This is a big win for developers who will now be able to build applications on a platform that delivers unprecedented scale, reach, performance, reliability and security.” Read more

Akamai has also just announced its full year 2021 financial results, with revenues up by 8% year-on-year to $3.5 billion and operating income of $783 million, up by 19%. For further details, see this announcement.

In an effort to increase its flexibility and gain greater access to emerging skillsets, BT Digital, the relatively new unit within the UK national operator run by Harmeen Mehta, has struck a £30 million deal with Distributed, a company offering access to “on-demand Elastic Teams of technology professionals to enable BT to better serve its customers. This resource will empower BT to accelerate its digital transformation and innovation agenda by rapidly bringing together multi-skilled digital teams, enabling the business to build high-quality digital products and platforms faster and more efficiently,” notes the operator in this announcement

Some might argue that foldable phones never really went away, but for those who thought they were relics of a past age, here’s a surprising prediction from IDC: The research company expects the global market for foldable phones will hit 27.6 million in 2025, when sales of the devices will be worth $29 billion, up from just 1.9 million devices shipped in 2020 and 7.1 million last year. The driving force behind this growth is South Korea, it seems. Read more.  

Strategy Analytics has released a timely report titled The Journey Towards A Net Zero Mobile Network, which looks at the ways mobile operators can achieve their net-zero targets. There are three key approaches operators can take, notes the research house: Improve energy efficiency; use renewable energy; and help their customers to reduce carbon emissions. But these efforts don’t always go hand-in-hand. “There is always a trade-off between improving network energy efficiency and guaranteeing user experience. Limiting network resources can effectively improve network energy efficiency, but it may hurt the user experience and eventually impact the operator’s competitiveness,” notes Guang Yang, Director of Strategy Analytics Service Provider Group. “Operators need to be innovative to balance improved network energy efficiency with the provision of resources that guarantee user experience. New technologies for intelligent operations are becoming available to make that possible.” Read more.

In related news... AT&T has expanded its commitment to sourcing renewable energy by purchasing 155 megawatts (MW) of solar power from Vitol, a purchase agreement that will support new solar projects in Maryland and Pennsylvania. AT&T says it has “committed to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its global operations by 2035. The electricity needed to power the company’s network is AT&T’s largest source of emissions. Purchasing renewable energy helps the company reduce its carbon footprint and address the global challenge of climate change,” notes the operator. Read more.

The NFT (non-fungible token) market is a thing of froth, spume and spindrift. Literally as insubstantial as Scotch mist, it soaks up money like a rampant giant sponge. So much so in fact that the UK tax authorities have, for the first time but probably not the last, just seized three NFTs following an investigation into tax evasion by 250 sham companies. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has arrested three individuals on charges of attempting to defraud HMRC of £1.4 million via a complex web of false addresses, fake IDs and concatenated VPNs. The value of the seized NFTs, that are the proof of ownership of virtual assets in the blockchain, “is yet to be appraised”. As with physical assets, virtual assets when seized fall under the provisions of the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act. Previous ‘owners’ don’t get them back. Instead HMRC will keep 50 per cent of the value and the Home Office (interior ministry) will get the rest. Nick Sharpe (what an appropriate moniker that is for a thief taker), commented that the seizure “serves as a warning to anyone who thinks they can use crypto-assets to hide money from HMRC”. NFTs first sidled quietly onto the global market in 2014: Last year the sector was worth US$22 billion, up from a mere $100 million in 2020. As the value of items that do not exist in any physical manifestation continue to rise and attract crooks, regulators around the world are, belatedly, beginning to sit upland take notice. 

And, while on the subject of NFTs, over in the US it has emerged that the former First Lady, Melania Trump, sold her own NFT to herself for US$170,000. In December 2021 she introduced her “Head of State” collection of virtual ephemera, the first instance of which was a ‘collection’ of three “one-of-a kind signed unique artworks” comprising “a digital artwork NFT with motion visuals”(?), a watercolour painting of herself and a virtual representation of a white broad-brimmed hat she wore when President Macron of France visited the White House in 2018. It was the first of a lengthy series of NFT auctions that Mrs. Tump says she will henceforth be holding. Melania Trump specified that any and all bids must be made in the Solana cryptocurrency and she set the target price at a quarter of a million bucks. There were five bids but the recent big fall in the value of cryptocurrencies over the last couple of weeks meant that the cash equivalent was $80 grand less than Melania wanted. An analysis of Solana blockchain transactions shows cryptocurrency used to buy her NFT came from the same wallet used to list the NFT for sale in the first place. In a statement, the “Office of Melania Trump” promised that a “portion” of the proceeds of the auction will go to some of those “who have been in the foster care community with access to computer science and technology education”. Generous. Currently the NFT market is unregulated. 

A Chinese informant for MI6, the UK’s foreign intelligence service, warned the UK’s parliamentary intelligence and security committee about the security threat posed by the deployment of Huawei technology in the UK, according to this Guardian report

- The staff, TelecomTV

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