What’s up with… Cisco & AI, Vodafone & i2CAT, DSP Leaders World Forum

  • Cisco launches $1bn AI investment fund 
  • Vodafone teams up to develop Open RAN management system
  • DSP Leaders World Forum 2024 is live!

In today’s industry news roundup: Cisco ponies up $1bn to invest in AI innovators; Vodafone collaborates to develop an Open RAN management system that it will ultimately deploy; the ‘Davos of telecom’ is underway in the UK; and much more!

Cisco Investments, the global corporate venture investment arm of the giant networking equipment and security systems vendor, has launched a $1bn AI investment fund “to bolster the startup ecosystem and expand the development of secure and reliable AI solutions.” To prove it’s walking the walk as well as talking the talk, Cisco said it has already committed $200m of the fund and is making strategic investments in Cohere, Mistral AI and Scale AI among others “to advance customers’ AI readiness and complement Cisco’s AI innovation strategy.” Mark Patterson, Cisco’s chief strategy officer, noted: “For more than 30 years, Cisco Investments has invested and partnered with hundreds of companies to drive innovation both within Cisco’s core markets and in new strategic areas. Our recent investments in generative AI (GenAI) companies align perfectly with this long-standing strategy. At Cisco, we believe we are well positioned to be the best strategic partner for our customers in the AI era as they look to build, secure, and power AI. In addition to building essential technology to connect, secure and advance AI, Cisco is committed to investing in the broader AI ecosystem to more effectively meet our customers’ needs.” The vendor says it has made more than 20 AI-focused acquisitions and investments in the past few years, “furthering GenAI and machine learning capabilities and integration of AI across the Cisco portfolio… Cisco will also be working with AI companies on product collaborations that allow Cisco to co-innovate, while also being an agnostic provider and platform player in AI, offering options and coverage for Cisco’s global customer base,” the vendor noted. For further insights into this development, check out this report from Scott Raynovich at Futuriom. 

Vodafone and technology research outfit i2CAT Foundation are to leverage the “improved automation” offered by Open RAN to jointly build a “highly responsive multivendor management system to fix faults and respond to cyber threats faster and more cheaply,” announced the network operator, which ultimately plans to use the resulting multivendor dashboard to “respond to and control Open RAN events over a wide geographical area. This will support the company’s aim of having 30% of its masts across Europe using Open RAN technology by 2030,” stated Vodafone. 

The system will combine i2CAT’s R&D efforts in new digital technologies with Vodafone’s advanced engineering expertise at its innovation centre in Málaga: The partners will “use machine learning techniques to effectively manage and analyse multivendor Open RAN network logs. These logs provide vital information, such as successful login or failed access attempts, that can be used to enhance security and detect threats,” stated the operator. 

The DSP Leaders World Forum 2024 opened its doors today for two days of focused discussion between telecom industry leaders in Windsor, UK. The highlights of day one included sessions packed with executives from leading network operators discussing AI and network automation, cloud-native strategies, new digital infrastructures and innovation in the telecom sector: All of the sessions from the two-day event can be viewed live via our streaming platform. The co-host for the innovation session, Yago Tenorio, Vodafone fellow and network architecture director at the operator, used his opening keynote speech to announce the commercial launch of a private mobile network-in-a-box product that had been in development with partners for a couple of years – see 5G network-in-a-box launched at DSP Leaders World Forum.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has reported a 3% year-on-year increase in revenues to $7.2bn for its fiscal second quarter that ended 30 April, better than expected thanks in part to the impact of demand for AI capabilities. The vendor’s president and CEO, Antonio Neri, noted that the company had “delivered very solid results in Q2, exceeding revenue and non-GAAP EPS guidance”. “AI systems revenue more than doubled from the prior quarter, driven by our strong order book and better conversion from our supply chain. Our deep expertise in designing, manufacturing, and running AI systems at scale fuelled growth of cumulative AI systems orders to $4.6bn, with enterprise AI orders representing more than 15%. HPE’s AI advantage, increased HPE GreenLake adoption, and leading infrastructure portfolio, as well as an improved supply chain environment, set us up very well to deliver a strong second half,” stated the CEO, who expanded on his views about the impact of AI on HPE’s business in this blog

Swisscom’s Italian subsidiary, Fastweb, has agreed to sell its 4.5% stake in FiberCop to Optics Bidco, a subsidiary of KKR, for €438.7m, which the Swiss telco claims is in line with the pro rata price paid by KKR to Telecom Italia (TIM) for its stake. The transaction is subject to the completion of KKR’s acquisition of NetCo, TIM’s fixed access network unit, which is expected to close in the third quarter of 2024. Having launched in 2021, FiberCop was created by Telecom Italia, investment firm KKR and Fastweb to speed up the development of fibre infrastructures in Italy. Swisscom noted that its Fastweb business will keep making “relevant investments” to increase the coverage of its fibre network and will continue to provide wholesale services to third parties, to ensure “the availability of robust and competitive offerings in the market”. Last week, the European Commission granted “unconditional approval” for TIM to sell NetCo to KKR in a deal valued at up to €22bn.

- The staff, TelecomTV

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