What’s up with… Samsung, AVM, Bouygues Telecom

  • Samsung folds AI into its new devices
  • Fritz!Box vendor AVM sells majority stake
  • Bouygues Telecom opens its AI Factory

In today’s industry news roundup: Samsung’s new smartphones are crammed with AI capabilities; German home hub vendor has a new majority owner; French operator Bouygues Telecom ups its AI ante and, separately, hooks up with satellite broadband player Starlink; and much more!

Samsung continues to ride the AI hype wave with its latest product releases. The South Korean smartphone maker has introduced two new models, the Galaxy Z Fold6 and the Z Flip6, which it claims will “elevate Galaxy AI to new heights” while also combining “the unique foldable form factor” of its Z series. The vendor touts the new additions as “the slimmest and lightest” additions to the Galaxy Z portfolio, optimised for portability and also offering extra durability. Both models are equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 Mobile Platform for Galaxy, “the most advanced Snapdragon mobile processor yet” as the company describes it. Samsung noted that the processor is optimised for AI processing and offers enhanced graphics along with improved overall performance. In addition, the Galaxy Z Fold6 comes with AI-powered features and tools that “maximise the large screen and significantly enhance productivity”, according to Samsung. The company also took the wraps off several wearable devices, including two new smartwatches and the Galaxy Ring, a wearable for health monitoring that features Samsung’s sensor technology “in the smallest unobtrusive form” (a ring rather than a wristband). The Galaxy Ring also incorporates a sleep AI algorithm so that users can understand their sleep patterns and develop better snoozing habits. The launch comes at a tricky time for Samsung – thousands of its staff have just extended their strike action over pay and working conditions for an indefinite time.

The founders and managing directors of AVM, the Berlin, Germany-based customer premises equipment (CPE) vendor best known for its Fritz!Box home hubs, have sold a majority stake in the company to London, UK-based Imker Capital Partners for an undisclosed sum. AVM’s chairman and CEO Johannes Nill stated: “We have taken an active and systematic approach to the succession plan for the next generation to ensure AVM's continued success. We are pleased to welcome Imker as a new investor that shares our vision for the future of AVM.” The vendor, which has 890 staff and generated revenues of €580m in 2023, was previously estimated by financial analysts to be worth up to €1bn, according to this report from Handelsblatt (in German).

French telco Bouygues Telecom has joined the growing number of service providers seeking to add AI expertise to its portfolio of products and services. It has opened its AI Factory at its Technopôle in Meudon, a municipality on the south-west outskirts of Paris. “Installed in an open space with around thirty employees from different departments of the company, the AI ​​Factory’s mission is to imagine the range of possibilities offered by this new technology,” noted the operator in this announcement. Stéphane Allaire, director of innovation and emerging business at Bouygues Telecom, noted: “For over a year, we have seen myriad projects and initiatives relating to generative AI emerge. Our internal GPT LucIA, and the programme of the same name, have made it possible to share knowledge about this technological advance and give everyone the means to understand it. Now it is important that this knowledge, expertise and initial benefits materialise in a more industrial phase”. Bouygues isn’t the only European operator with an AI factory – Italy’s Fastweb just launched its own, albeit rather different, facility.

Still with Bouygues… The telco’s enterprise division has become a reseller of broadband connectivity services from satellite player Starlink. “This collaboration aims to enrich Bouygues Telecom Entreprises’ service portfolio and offer its customers access to Starlink Internet, allowing them to benefit from very high speed [connectivity] in addition to optical fibre,” noted the operator. It added that the move comes at a time when it is decommissioning its copper access network, so the Starlink connectivity can act as the primary fixed broadband alternative to fibre broadband.

Vodafone has teamed up with wireless chip giant Qualcomm and device maker Xiaomi to test a new 5G technology that, the operator claims, is capable of download speeds close to 1.8 Gbit/s using a new smartphone. The technology in question is 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) and is said to improve “the way data and video is transmitted from the radio network over 5G to a customer’s mobile device”. The telco and its partners conducted tests in Germany, where the partners measured a throughput improvement on the commercial network of around 20% over a distance of up to 600 metres, and in Spain, where they reached peak 5G download speed of nearly 1.8Gbit/s. Theoretically, Vodafone states, this kind of speed could provide a capacity gain of up to 25% in ideal conditions. For the trials, the company utilised the 3.5GHz band and used the Xiaomi 14 Ultra device which is equipped with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon X75 5G Modem-RF System. Vodafone expects this new technology to be more widely available in 2025, making it suitable to support “multiple customers close to a mobile site in busy areas such as a shopping centre or high street”. Find out more.

Rob Shuter, the former CEO of BT Enterprise, has been nominated to join KPN’s supervisory board. The appointment is pending a decision of KPN’s shareholders at an upcoming meeting and is a move that the Dutch operator claims will bring “valuable knowledge and expertise” to its supervisory board. Aside from his previous executive role at BT between 2021 and 2023, Shuter’s experience in telecoms includes serving at the helm of MTN, Vodafone’s Europe Cluster and Vodafone Netherlands, and as the CFO of Vodacom South Africa. Shuter’s departure from BT was announced at the end of 2022, when the UK operator merged its BT Enterprise and BT Global units to form the BT Business division – see BT merges units to form BT Business and save £100m.

International datacentre operator Digital Realty is bolstering its presence in Europe by purchasing a datacentre campus in the English town of Slough for $200m. Representing the company’s entry into the west London submarket, the acquisition will see Digital Realty taking over two individual datacentres with a combined capacity of 15 megawatts (MW), “excellent connectivity” and room for further expansion. The “highly connected” campus, situated in the Slough Trading Estate, is already an established hub for more than 150 tenants that include connectivity providers, technology companies and financial services firms. This move complements Digital Realty’s existing datacentre services in London City and Docklands, and will enable “seamless connectivity between its six campuses” located throughout Greater London. The datacentre operator further assured that the Slough campus will be fully powered by renewable energy, as part of a wider sustainability goal of becoming carbon-neutral across its European operations by 2030. “This expansion into Slough is a significant step for Digital Realty, reinforcing our commitment to supporting digital transformation in the UK and across Europe. As the UK solidifies its position as Europe’s premier technology hub, this acquisition enhances our ability to support customers as they grow and scale, further establishing our presence in this vital market,” noted Séamus Dunne, managing director of Digital Realty in the UK and Ireland. Read more.

The potential IPO of Jio Platforms, the subsidiary of giant Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) that comprises multiple digital platforms and assets including the country’s leading mobile operator Reliance Jio, is back in the news. Investment advisory firm Jefferies believes RIL could list some of Jio’s shares via an IPO in calendar 2025 at a valuation of about $112bn or be spun out by RIL as a separate company, reports Mint.

- The staff, TelecomTV

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