What’s up with… MTN and Ericsson, Wind River, Samsung

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Jan 9, 2024

Source: MTN

Source: MTN

  • MTN boosts its mobile money offering with Ericsson 
  • Wind River poaches Darrell Jordan-Smith from Red Hat
  • Samsung had a less than stellar end to 2023

In today’s industry news roundup: MTN is expanding its mobile money platform collaboration in Africa with Ericsson; Darrell-Jordan Smith has left Red Hat to join rival Wind River as chief revenue officer; Samsung’s fourth-quarter operating profit is set to be way lower than expected; and much more!

Pan-African telco group MTN is strengthening its collaboration with Ericsson to enhance its mobile financial services portfolio in the region. In a joint statement, the pair announced that their enhanced partnership will broaden the scope of financial inclusion from first-time users to high-end business applications, running MTN’s Mobile Money (MoMo) service on the Ericsson Wallet Platform. Additionally, MTN plans to offer advanced financial offerings to address the needs of individuals and enterprises for digital financial services. MTN’s Mobile Money platform is used by more than 63 million active subscribers across 16 countries in Africa, while Ericsson’s Wallet Platform supports more than 400 million mobile wallets worldwide. MTN also noted that the value of annual transactions made using its MoMo services grew from $76bn in 2018 to $204bn in 2022 and that transaction volumes increased by almost 300% during the same period, up from 3.5 billion transactions in 2018 to 12.7 billion in 2022. “Our collaboration with Ericsson is a significant milestone in the execution of our Ambition 2025 [strategy] – building the largest and most valuable platform business and [creating] shared value for our customers in Africa,” noted Serigne Dioum, chief fintech officer at MTN Group. “Ericsson’s partnership with MTN is a world-leading example of the ability of mobile financial services to financially empower people and business – from giving the unbanked their first opportunity to control their finances, making it easier for women to access financial services and promoting digital inclusion – to enabling more advanced users to access high-end services. This model can be applied in any market anywhere in the world to genuinely empower mobile subscribers of all financial standings,” added Michael Wallis-Brown, Ericsson’s head of mobile financial services. In an interview for Bloomberg, Wallis-Brown has claimed that Ericsson is currently serving 10% of the African mobile money sector, but the company believes its reach can grow to 50% of the market through an “aggressive expansion plan”.

One of the best known names in telco open-source circles, Darrell Jordan-Smith, has jumped ship from Red Hat to join Wind River as its chief revenue officer. The highly respected Jordan-Smith was at Red Hat, which was acquired by IBM in 2019, for more than 10 years and was senior VP of industries and edge when he made the move to Wind River, one of Red Hat’s main cloud-native platform rivals, at the start of this year. Prior to his stint at Red Hat, Jordan-Smith worked at a number of other technology and telecom companies, including Oracle, Sun Microsystems, AT&T and Lucent Technologies (now Nokia). Jordan-Smith has appeared at many TelecomTV live and virtual events: In this video interview from about a year ago, he explains why the development of a horizontal, open platform that can enable multiple edge use cases will be absolutely critical for telcos in the coming years.  

Samsung Electronics has warned that its operating profit is likely to be down 35% year on year in the final quarter of 2023. In a brief statement, the South Korean company estimated its operating profit would drop to 2.8tn Korean won (US$2.13bn) between October and December last year, down by more than a third from the 4.31tn won ($3.27bn) in the closing quarter of 2022. The gloomy forecast falls significantly short of analysts’ forecasts, which expected the company to achieve an operating profit of 3.7tn won ($2.8bn). According to Reuters, Samsung’s forecast for a decreased performance is due to persisting weak consumer demand in many of the company’s business areas. Samsung is set to publish its quarterly and annual results for 2023 on 31 January.

Parag Agrawal, the former CEO at Twitter (now X) who was unceremoniously booted-out when Elon Musk bought the company for $44bn in October 2022, is back in the technology limelight. While X’s fortunes have waned – according to a filing made by Fidelity Securities, the social media platform’s value has plummeted by 71.5% since Musk took over – Agrawal’s stock is high, as he has just raised $30m to help fund his startup, The Information has reported. It comes as no shock to learn that the startup is focused on AI developments. Part of the initial investment has come via Khosla Ventures, the Menlo Park, California-based venture capital firm that funds early-stage technology companies and which is an investor in OpenAI, the developer of generative AI (GenAI) sensation ChatGPT. Agrawal’s new company will create software for developers of large language models (LLMs) that underpin GenAI systems. The startup doesn’t appear to have a name yet (if it does, its founder isn’t saying what it is). Before becoming CEO of Twitter, following the departure of company founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey, Agrawal had been Twitter’s CTO and was in charge of technical strategy, including the implementation of AI and machine learning capabilities.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has urged the US Congress to extend funding under the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), aimed at providing affordable broadband across the US. Initially launched in 2021, the $14.2bn programme has delivered connectivity to nearly 23 million households in rural and urban areas of the US. However, FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel emphasised in a letter to Congress that “more funding is urgently needed to keep the ACP in place, so that it can continue to support the households that rely on it and reach others that may be on the wrong side of the digital divide”. She added, “In light of demand, the remaining funding we have is insufficient to fund the ACP to consumers beyond April 2024”. Rosenworcel also called for Congress to approve $6bn in additional funding, recently requested by the White House, so that the programme can keep running until the end of 2024. The FCC chair noted that if the additional funding is not granted in the near future, “millions of households will lose the ACP benefit that they use to afford internet service”, and that “roughly 1,700 internet service providers will be affected by the termination of the ACP and may cut off service to households no longer supported by the programme”.

Swedish telco Telia, along with several other organisations, will receive funding from the European Commission to build dedicated 5G networks in its home market and boost the digitalisation of several main sectors. In one initiative, Telia and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, in collaboration with other partners, will receive €3m to establish networks and lead digitalisation projects, which will seek digital innovations for “sustainable agriculture, transport, logistics, port safety and traffic management in cities”. These projects plan to use technical solutions, such as agricultural robots, drones, as well as connected and self-driving vehicles. In another programme, Telia and regional council Region Stockholm have been awarded €6.4m to build networks for the healthcare system and explore how advanced 5G services can contribute to increased patient safety, quality of care and accessibility. The grants have been provided by the Connecting Europe Facility programme and the projects will run for three years. The plan is for the dedicated 5G networks to be connected to NorthStar, the innovation programme that was launched by Telia and Swedish vendor Ericsson in February 2023 to provide Swedish industrial companies with access to the latest 5G technologies. “The new EU funds pave the way for decisive investments in 5G in several important areas, where we gather representatives from the private sector, the public sector and academia in strong ecosystems and partnerships,” noted Magnus Leonhardt, head of strategy and innovation at Telia Sweden’s B2B business. Find out more.

- The staff, TelecomTV

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