What’s up with… Broadcom and VMware, BT and Starlink, Sunrise

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Jan 15, 2024

Source: Broadcom

Source: Broadcom

  • Broadcom looks set to offload some VMware units
  • BT is testing Starlink’s satellite connectivity services
  • Switzerland’s Sunrise cuts jobs

In today’s industry news roundup: Broadcom has private equity firms queueing up to purchase VMware units it acquired last year; BT is looking into using Starlink’s low-earth orbit satellites for broadband services in remote locations; Sunrise confirms it will reduce its headcount by 200 employees by the end of March; and much more! 

Broadcom is reportedly seeking to offload two VMware units it acquired when it completed its $61bn acquisition of the cloud platform specialist late last year. According to Reuters, multiple private equity firms, including EQT, KKR and Thoma Bravo, are lining up to bid for VMware’s end user computing business, which provides software that enables workers to access desktop systems and applications remotely, and is valued at about $5bn. Broadcom is also seeking to offload a security software unit called Carbon Black for about $1bn. Broadcom closed the takeover of VMware last November and shortly afterwards initiated plans to cut VMware’s headcount by almost 1,300 roles.   

BT is exploring the potential of Elon Musk’s Starlink low-earth orbit (LEO) constellation to provide broadband service coverage in remote locations, such as oil rigs, according to a report from The Telegraph (subscription required). BT confirmed to TelecomTV that it is “exploring how Starlink services could help improve our wider connectivity offering at present, but we haven’t signed any deals – it’s very much a test phase,” and similar in nature to the tests and trials BT has long been undertaking with Starlink rival OneWeb. The current tests with Starlink, which already offers its direct-to-consumer satellite broadband services in the UK, are exploring the service’s potential with regards to coverage in hard-to-reach parts of the UK, additional network capacity (as and when needed) and network connectivity resilience (for example, if a mobile network site lost its backhaul connection). BT stressed that it also continues to work with OneWeb on satellite-enabled service developments

Swiss operator Sunrise will press ahead with a plan to cut 200 jobs, after finding that “redundancies are unavoidable” following a consultation process that began in November 2023 and was carried out with employee representatives and the Syndicom trade union. “The reductions will take account of natural attrition, staff transfers within the company and employees taking early retirement, resulting in 166 redundancies instead of the around 180 redundancies that were originally planned (6% of the total of 2,703 full time employees) by the end of March 2024,” the telco noted in a statement. Most of the redundancies will be announced later this month. The headcount reduction is part of the operator’s efforts to achieve a “leaner corporate structure” on the back of its merger with Liberty Global’s UPC in 2021. As previously announced, Sunrise will provide financial support and a social plan, which will include a new placement programme and a fund for “individual bridging measures”.

SK Networks, a sister company to SK Telecom, is to invest 25bn Korean won ($19m) in South Korean generative AI (GenAI) startup Upstage, which is developing large language model (LLM) platforms for enterprise users, The Korean Herald has reported. The investment was agreed on the sidelines of the CES event in Las Vegas, where AI was the dominant theme. 

SK Telecom, which is now styling itself as a global AI company, was also showing off its artificial intelligence prowess at CES, where it demonstrated various strands of its AI developments, mostly with strategic partners: For further details of its CES highlights, see this press release (in Korean). In his new year’s address, SK Telecom president and CEO, Young Sang Ryu, said the company was taking a “leap forward” as a “global AI company” as it expands its international collaboration around AI. That collaboration, of course, includes a key role in the development of a telco-specific large language model (LLM) along with Deutsche Telekom, a move that was announced in October 2023 and was the first significant step for the two major telco players since forming the Global Telco AI Alliance in July (alongside e& and Singtel).   

Pakistan is set to launch a project to make handsets more affordable. The “Smartphone for All” initiative was unveiled by the nation’s interim federal minister for science and technology, and the minister of IT, Umar Saif. It will enable customers to purchase smartphones in instalments and allow telcos to directly offer smartphones through instalment plans, according to local media outlets, including news channel ARY News. The government also plans to establish an R&D fund to support the manufacturing of affordable mobile phones in the country.

Portuguese telco NOS has secured €300m in bank loans, which it intends to use to help it achieve its sustainability-related objectives. This means that some 95% of its debt is now linked to sustainable targets, including its goal to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% in 2025, compared to 2019 levels, the operator explained. According to José Koch Ferreira, CFO of NOS, the move reinforces the company’s commitment to its environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals, and allows the telco to balance the maturity curve of its debt. You can find out more from a post by NOS on its LinkedIn page here (in Portuguese).

- The staff, TelecomTV

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