What’s up with… Vodafone, ITU’s Ukraine report, Netskope

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Jan 9, 2023

  • Vodafone to sell Hungarian unit at a discount
  • ITU report outlines Russian damage to Ukraine’s telecom sector
  • SASE specialist raises $401m

In today’s industry news roundup: Vodafone agrees price cut for the sale of its Hungarian operations; ITU publishes report that suggests it will take $1.79bn to repair damage to Ukraine’s telecom sector caused by the Russian invasion, but seems reluctant to let anyone know the report exists; secure access service edge (SASE) specialist Netskope has raised $401m; and more!

Vodafone has agreed final terms for the sale of its Hungarian operations to 4iG Group – the country’s leading IT systems integrator and regional communications service provider that already has fixed line operations in Hungary – and state holding company Corvinus for 660bn forints (HUF) (€1.7bn), which is less than the HUF715bn (€1.8bn) stated by Vodafone when the proposed deal was first announced in August 2022. The sale is expected to be completed this month, with the proceeds to be used to pay off some of Vodafone’s debt. 

Only days after taking her seat, the new secretary general at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Doreen Bogdan-Martin, is having to deal with the fallout from a politically sensitive report into the impact on Ukraine’s telecom sector by the invading Russian forces. The report, which was commissioned last April and covers the period from the initial invasion by Russia in late February 2022 until late August of last year, estimates that it would take $1.79bn of investment to return Ukraine’s telecom infrastructure to its pre-war state. It identifies multiple destructive actions by the Russian forces and details the level of cyberattacks perpetrated by Russia against Ukraine IT systems during the six-month period. But it seems the report was published much later than expected, and without any publicity, on 23 December (it still does not show up in search results on the ITU website) and was only uncovered by Reuters late last week following specific requests to the ITU. What is the agency playing at? It's as if it doesn't want anyone to know the report exists. Reuters noted in its article that the report was published in what it describes as a "[quiet] corner of the ITU website", but it didn’t provide a link. The only way TelecomTV could find it was to contact the ITU directly to ask where it was – a short response identified this page on the ITU website as the location. But there are many more questions to be answered about this report and the seeming reluctance of a United Nations agency to let the world know of its availability – when we get some answers we’ll be following up with further coverage.  

Secure access service edge (SASE) specialist Netskope has raised $401m from the sale of convertible notes (short-term debt instruments that are later swapped for shares) to “four of the world's premier investors” – namely Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, and CPP Investments. It seems Netskope might be a prime candidate for an IPO in 2023 following this type of fundraising. Netskope, which last year brokered partnerships with Orange and Telefónica Tech, plans to use the funds to “extend its technology and platform advantages and market reach through continued innovative worldwide platform development and expansion of strategic go-to-market activities” in a SASE market that is growing rapidly as enterprises adopt emerging solutions for secure connectivity.  Read more

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering imposing far-reaching changes to the period within which telcos and service providers must notify the agency of data breaches. Current FCC rules require that service providers with more than 5,000 customers notify it within seven days of discovering a data breach, while breaches affecting those with fewer than 5,000 customers must be reported within no more than 30 days. The regulation was first applied in 2007. FCC Chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel, said the 15-year-old rules are outdated and, during the intervening period, telcos have garnered access to a “treasure trove of data about who we are, where we have travelled, and who we have talked to.” She added: “The law requires carriers to protect sensitive consumer information but, given the increase in frequency, sophistication, and scale of data leaks, we must update our rules to protect consumers and strengthen reporting requirements. This new proceeding will take a much-needed, fresh look at our data-breach reporting rules to better protect consumers, increase security, and reduce the impact of future breaches.” In essence, the proposed new regulation will require all breaches to be reported immediately on discovery and the reports will go to the FBI and US Secret Service, as well as the FCC. Also, in light of the many telco breaches, deliberate as well as inadvertent, that have come to light in recent years, the FCC is to tighten regulations concerning exposure of customer information. It is “gathering information” on “whether to require customer breach notices to include specific categories of information to help ensure they contain actionable information useful to the consumer.” Telcos will further be required to immediately report data breaches to their subscribers.

Potential for British chip design specialist Arm to list on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) has been rekindled, as the UK prime minister Rishi Sunak has reportedly brought back talks with Arm’s owner, SoftBank Group, regarding such a move. The Financial Times broke the news (available here with a paid subscription), reporting that Sunak held a meeting last month with founder and CEO of SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, as well as Arm’s chief, Rene Haas, regarding an option for Arm’s upcoming initial public offering (IPO) to be held in the UK, in addition to a listing in New York. Previously, LSE was seen as an option for the share listing but such plans were halted in July 2022 – see What’s up with… SoftBank and Arm, Aviat and Ceragon, Asterion.

According to a study published by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, US, the human body could be used as a 6G antenna via a small copper bracelet costing less than half a dollar! Apparently, 6G could exploit “leakage” in visible light communication (VLC) as a transmission medium. VLC is a class of optical wireless communication operating in the visible region of spectrum (390 - 700 nanometers) and the technology uses commonplace, ordinary, mass-produced and mass-installed fluorescent office and domestic lights and streetlights to transmit signals at 10Kbit/s or LEDs for up to 500Mbit/s over short distances. A new research paper, “Next-generation wireless transmission may leverage the human body for energy”, announces that a team of scientists, led by Jie Xiong, professor of information and computer sciences at the university, has come up with a novel and low-cost way to harvest the waste (leaked side channel radio frequency [RF] signal) energy from VLC and recycle it to power a range of wearable devices. Professor Jie says: “VLC is quite simple and interesting. Instead of using radio signals to send information wirelessly, it uses the light from LEDs that can turn on and off, up to one million times per second. Anything with a camera, like smartphones, tablets or laptops, could be the receiver.” The report’s lead author, graduate student Minhao Cui, and the rest of the team, having demonstrated the RF leakage, used a range of everyday objects in tests to amplify the “harvested” power and found that attaching a coil of copper wire to an individual person proved to be very effective, collecting up to 10 times more energy than just using a coil on its own. That discovery has now resulted in the production of “Bracelet+”, a simple coil of copper wire to be worn as a bangle around the upper forearm. The team also experimented with copper coil finger rings, anklets, necklaces and belts, but the upper arm bracelet provided the “right balance of power harvesting and wearability”. Professor Jie Xiong says, “the design is cheap – less than fifty cents”, while Minhao Cui adds “Bracelet+ can reach up to micro-watts, enough to support many sensors, such as on-body health monitoring sensors that require little power to work owing to their low sampling frequency and long sleep-mode duration.” Quite where this leaves 6G reception and transmission is not particularly evident, but we await with interest the next report on the new copper technology from the team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

- The staff, TelecomTV

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