What’s up with… Nokia, Verizon, Nvidia
- Nokia gets its Vivo patent deal over the line
- Verizon boasts of its Open RAN progress
- AI tech giant Nvidia is a beast
In today’s industry news roundup: Nokia brings home more smartphone patent bacon; Verizon hits the 130,000 milestone as it tots up the number of Open RAN-capable radios in its network; AI tech behemoth Nvidia passes beastly financial landmark; and much more!
Nokia has finally sealed a patent-licensing deal with Chinese handset vendor Vivo, with which it has been engaged in a long and bitter legal dispute. Under the terms of the cross-licensing deal, the financial details of which were not shared, Vivo will make royalty payments to Nokia plus “catch-up payments to cover the dispute period.” The agreement “resolves all pending patent litigation between the parties, in all jurisdictions,” noted Nokia in this announcement. Jenni Lukander, president of Nokia Technologies, which manages the vendor’s intellectual property portfolio, noted: “This is the sixth major smartphone patent licence agreement we have signed in the past 13 months, and we have now almost completed our smartphone licence renewal cycle. Together these licensing agreements demonstrate Nokia’s significant contribution to developing key technologies relied upon by the entire smartphone industry and they will provide long-term stability to our licensing business for years to come.” Nokia recently finalised a deal with another Chinese vendor, Oppo, again after a lengthy legal battle, and at the start of the year announced a similar deal with Honor. The deals represent positive news for Nokia in what is a torrid time financially – see Nokia set to shrink again in 2024.
Verizon has deployed more than 130,000 Open RAN-capable radios in its network, the US operator has announced. The move includes massive MIMO radios as part of previously announced 15,000 Open RAN-compliant virtualised cell sites with Open RAN-compliant baseband units in its commercial radio access network (RAN). Adam Koeppe, SVP of technology planning at Verizon, confirmed that the US operator is “fully supportive” of the technology and aims to commercialise “an operationally sound” Open RAN architecture. “Our commitment to developing O-RAN standards and to deploying compliant equipment in our active radio access network is helping to drive the industry forward, which will result in a variety of tangible benefits for our customers who expect leading-edge technology from Verizon,” he added. According to the operator, the technology will enable a vast array of benefits, including deployment flexibility, faster innovation in an open environment and greater service options, as it will allow new entrants to provide competitive and advanced solutions. The announcement comes at a time when AT&T has been dominating the Open RAN debate in the US following its shock move to oust Nokia and go pretty much all in with Ericsson as it starts its own transition towards an Open RAN architecture.
The number of the beast? Nvidia’s share price surged late last week to hit $666 in after-hours trading on Friday evening. It is proof that Nvidia is a force to be reckoned with and its number is climbing. The increase was driven by various factors, the most important of which is the company’s strength in the development and sale of graphic processing units (GPUs). The chips can process multiple data loads simultaneously, making them indispensable in enabling AI and machine learning (ML). During this and the next few years, it is expected that there will be a massive hike in spending on generative AI (GenAI) applications that, currently, run best when underpinned by Nvidia’s technology. The vendor already commands a 90% share of the AI training market as well as over 50% in the AI inference market and the company’s domination looks assured for years to come. AI training is the process of teaching AI models to perform a specific task or set of tasks by exposing it to massive amounts of data and is often referred to as phase 1 of an AI model. AI inference, or phase 2, refers to the running of AI applications or workloads after models have been trained. The inference phase shows how well a machine uses the intelligence gathered and stored in phase 1 to understand and apply new data. Currently, most money is being spent on the training phase but the inference is regarded as being a bigger long-term opportunity. Furthermore, with “enterprise GenAI” still in its infancy but primed to grow very fast by the end of this year and through 2025 and 2026, Nvidia, with its widespread availability on public clouds, stands ready to leverage its partnerships with the likes of SAP, VMware, Dell, HPE and more, and do tremendously well in that sector as well. In addition to its domination of AI hardware, Nvidia has a big presence on the software ecosystem for GenAI, having produced popular software tools that make it easier to develop and deploy GenAI models. Its technology has become the de facto standard and Nvidia’s competitors are finding it extremely difficult to get a look in. It will be interesting to see if Nvidia can turn its beastly number upside down to $999. It just might do so and it’s already on the way – in early Monday trading, the company’s stock added 3.2% to hit $682.46, giving the company market valuation of $1.68tn. The ‘beast’ reports its fourth-quarter and full year earnings on 21 February.
CK Hutchison’s Italian telco operation, WindTre, has acquired wholesale 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) network operator OpNet (formerly known as Linkem) for an undisclosed sum. According to OpNet, its FWA network currently covers 75% of the Italian population. The move comes just as WindTre is in the final stages of trying to complete the sale of its network infrastructure assets to Swedish private equity firm EQT.
Paytm, the big Indian digital payment app and service company, is teetering on the edge of oblivion and has until the end of the month (29 February, as it is a leap year) to claw itself out of the pit it has dug for itself and “restore credibility” or go to the wall. It became a listed company, using the name One 97 Communications, via an IPO in November 2021, when it was valued at more than $12bn before the shares began to lose their lustre. In recent days, its valuation has plummeted by about $2.5bn on India’s National Stock Exchange (NSE) and the company is now worth 72% less than when it first listed, with its share price standing at 438.5 Indian rupees, giving it a current valuation of INR278.5bn ($3.35bn). Initially lauded as a shining example of Indian high-tech entrepreneurialism, Paytm is very popular and provides everyday payment services to hundreds of millions of the domestic Indian population and tens of millions of enterprises. It accounts for close to 50% of all money transfers made via India’s Unified Payments Interface. Following a recent audit that uncovered “discrepancies” in the flow of money and data traffic between the Paytm Payments Bank Limited (PPBL) and Paytm itself, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has stepped in and prohibited the banking arm from providing all and any forms of banking services with effect from the end of this month. This includes accepting deposits or top-ups to any customer account, prepaid instruments, wallets and the processing of payments. The RBI says the audit “found persistent non-compliances and continued material supervisory concerns in the bank, warranting further supervisory action.” It seems the problems, that actually date back for two years and more, “remain unresolved” and have now come to a head. The RBI points out that Paytm has been serially warned of the problems but appears to have taken no action to resolve them. The Reserve Bank is also “increasingly concerned” about “management overlap” between the Paytm Payments Bank and Paytm itself, with the same senior executives having oversight responsibilities for both entities and thus being evidently open to “potential conflicts of interest.” In a statement, Paytm said it is taking urgent steps to comply with the RBI’s orders. It needs to: Unless some solution is reached very quickly, from 1 March onwards the more the 330 million customers with Paytm wallets will only be able to withdraw or transfer money from those Paytm wallets or Paytm Payments Bank account until whatever balance remaining on the account is exhausted. After that? Zilch. No fresh deposits or top-ups into the bank account or wallet will be permitted. Addressing staff this morning in a so-called virtual town hall meeting, reported the Times of India, Paytm’s usually ebullient (many say “bombastic”) CEO, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who has described the RBI’s actions as “a speed bump” on the way to Paytm’s greater triumphs to come, said, “We are not completely sure of things…like what exactly went wrong, but we will figure out everything soon. You are a part of the Paytm family, and there is nothing to worry about. Many banks are helping us.” Presumably the bugles of the arriving cavalry had socks stuffed up them, because there was no sign of any banks galloping into town to relieve Paytm on Monday morning. Sharma has, so far, not revealed the names of the institutions lining-up to help him, but investors will no doubt be waiting in hope. You do have to wonder, though, when a CEO says that, henceforth, the “company will focus on being extremely compliant moving forward…” Shame about the past two years, but, hey, it’s easy to drive over a few speed bumps when sat on a comfy cushion of $1.2bn (Sharma’s net worth according to the Forbes 2022 rich list). Much is also being made of the fact that the PPBL and Paytm app logos “have been separated”. How’s that for a confidence booster? The announcement came as the industry association, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), issued a notice advising businesses to switch from Paytm to other payment apps. Meanwhile, Sharma insists that Paytm’s app will “keep working beyond 29 February as usual”. And well it may, it’s just that not many people are likely to be using it.
- The staff, TelecomTV
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