What’s up with… OVHcloud, 5G SA roaming, 5G in China

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Nov 25, 2022

  • European cloud giant banks major expansion loan from the EIB
  • BICS enables 5G standalone roaming between Belgium and Kuwait
  • China added almost 25 million new 5G subscribers in October

In today’s industry news roundup: The European Investment Bank (EIB) has loaned OVHcloud €200m to support its environmentally friendly datacentre expansion plans; BICS is claiming an industry first after enabling 5G standalone-based service roaming between Europe and the Middle East; China’s appetite for 5G is not yet sated as 24.8 million sign up during October alone; and much more!

European cloud services provider OVHcloud has snagged a €200m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB), the bank of the European Union, to “support the expansion of OVHcloud in Europe, where the group is positioning itself as the champion of users’ data sovereignty in an open, reversible, transparent and federated cloud ecosystem,” noted the EIB in its announcement about the loan. OVHcloud plans to use the loan to help open 15 new datacentres by the end of 2024, with 10 of those to be opened over the next 12 months. It will also use the funds to invest in “new and improved cooling technologies, particularly adiabatic systems and new mechanisms in line with its industrial innovations… OVHcloud currently achieves the cloud industry’s best ratios in energy efficiency (PUE [power usage effectiveness] between 1.1 and 1.3, compared to an industry average of 1.57) and water consumption (average WUE [water usage effectiveness] of 0.26 l/kWh, compared to an industry average of 1.8),” added the EIB. OVHcloud, a member of the European Green Digital Coalition, describes itself as “a global player and the leading European cloud provider,” operating more than 450,000 servers at 33 datacentres across four continents and serving 1.6 million customers in more than 140 countries. In its full financial year to the end of August, OVHcloud reported revenues of €788m, up by 12.4% on a like-for-like basis compared with the previous fiscal year, and adjusted earnings before taxes and other costs of €308m, up 5.4%. In the most recent financial year, OVHcloud’s capital expenditure was €301m. The loan marks the EIB’s first engagement with “a pure player [in] the booming cloud market” and “shows the Bank’s commitment to actively supporting European digital players,” boasted the EIB. It added: “The loan is an active contribution to efforts by EU decision-makers to strengthen the strategic autonomy of Europe’s digital infrastructure – especially in the key activities of R&D (research and development) and production – in a market that may outgrow telecoms by 2027.” Let that sink in…

In collaboration with major regional operator stc, international connectivity specialist BICS has achieved what it is calling a “major milestone for global 5G adoption” and a “world-first breakthrough” by setting up the first intercontinental 5G standalone (SA) roaming connection between commercial mobile networks in Europe and the Middle East. The connection demonstrated successful 5G SA service roaming between Belgium’s national operator Proximus and stc Kuwait. “Until now, operators around the world have only been delivering 5G non-standalone (NSA) roaming that routes traffic through 4G/LTE core,” noted Mikaël Schachne, VP for the telco market at BICS. “This is the first time anyone has ever carried out a successful live connection across borders using 5G standalone. By establishing 5G SA roaming, we’ve broken down the barriers to bring the power of this technology to international communications. This is an important step for the industry, and accelerates the benefits of 5G to potential consumers and enterprises around the world,” he added. Read more

China’s 5G services market continues to grow at an incredible pace. In October alone, the country’s three main operators signed up an additional 24.8 million customers to their 5G package offers (which means they have taken the 5G subscription but aren’t necessarily using 5G services as yet). That increase took the total number of 5G package customers in China at the end of October to just more than 1.03 billion. China Mobile ended October with 973.3 million mobile customers, of which 571.5 million have signed up to a 5G package. It added 14.7 million 5G package customers during the month. The operator also has 267.7 million fixed broadband customers. China Telecom ended last month with 390.5 million mobile customers, of which 256.9 million were signed up to a 5G package, an increase of almost 5.9 million during the month. It also has 179.7 million fixed broadband customers. China Unicom ended October with 205 million customers signed up to its 5G package, an increase of about 4.2 million during the month (but it doesn’t provide a number for its total mobile user base). Unicom also noted in its monthly stats update that it has 3,125 customers “served by virtual 5G industry private networks.” It added that a “virtual 5G industry private network is a high-quality private network based on the public 5G network provided to industry customers to satisfy their business and security needs. It is a core carrier for offering differentiated and partially self-operated network services.” 

To what remains of Twitter’s staff, the few weeks since Elon Musk and his pet kitchen sink took over the company must have seemed like a year. The entire process has been chaotic and fomenting chaos has its consequences. New analysis conducted by Media Matters of America (MMFA), a not-for-profit media watchdog, found that since Musk became the 3-in-1 almighty trinity at 1355 Market Street, San Francisco, 50 of Twitter’s top-100 advertisers have either announced that they will stop, or apparently have stopped, using the platform. Between them, since 2020, those advertisers have spent close to US$2bn, and more than $750m in 2022 alone. The analysis was undertaken by Angelo Carusone, the president of the MMFA, and the body’s senior director of innovation and impact, Sharon Kann, and is based on figures from the Pathmatics advertiser database and digital marketing intelligence platform. The Pathmatics strapline is, ”Bring transparency to your competitor's digital ad strategies.” And it does. As the MMFA report says, “In addition to advertisers that have seemingly stopped all advertising on Twitter as of November 21, there are an additional seven advertisers which appear to be slowing the rate of their advertising on the platform to almost nothing. Since 2020, these seven advertisers have accounted for over $255m in spending on Twitter, and nearly $118m in advertising in 2022.” The MMFA classifies the seven as “quiet quitters” because their advertising has discreetly disappeared “following direct outreach, controversies, and warnings from media buyers”. Among the household-name brands that have ceased to advertise on Twitter are: American Express, AT&T, Chanel, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, CNN, Dell, Heineken, Hewlett-Packard, Kelloggs, Kraft Heinz, Mars, Meta (aka Facebook), Verizon and Wells Fargo. You can see the full list on the MMFA website.

There is ongoing fallout from the UK government’s decision late last week, on grounds of national security, to overturn the acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab by Chinese-owned Dutch firm Nexperia. The Guardian has reported that Nexperia executives claim to have been planning major investments that would have resulted in the construction of two new plants and the creation of hundreds of additional jobs, but now those plans have been shelved and the current 550 jobs at the Welsh chip fab are under threat. Meanwhile, staff at the Newport chip firm “have been scathing in their condemnation of the decision from the UK business secretary to block its takeover – putting 600 jobs at risk,” reports the South Wales Argus. So the pressure now is very much on Grant Shapps, UK secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who announced the decision to overturn the acquisition, to come up with a plan that will not only find a new buyer for the Newport firm and save the jobs in Wales, but also boost the UK’s chip manufacturing sector. It’s the least he can do.

The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) Bill has been given the green light by the UK’s parliament and will soon become law. The telecom infrastructure measures, which provide “the necessary legal reforms to support the government’s ambitious plans to achieve the nationwide rollout of future-proof gigabit-capable broadband and 5G networks as soon as possible” will be applicable to “all parties involved in requests and agreements relating to rights regulated by the Electronic Communications Code. This will include telecommunications operators, infrastructure providers, landowners and occupiers, as well as professionals such as land agents and legal representatives,” notes an announcement from the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. The bill essentially addresses issues related to the “difficulties” experienced by telcos and landowners “when negotiating requests for rights to install, use and upgrade telecoms infrastructure. These difficulties mean it takes longer for agreements to be concluded, which in turn slows down the rollout of better mobile and broadband connections for homes and businesses.” It also addresses “a lack of clarity and consistency in the procedures and frameworks applicable to renewal agreements” as there is “uncertainty as to how some agreements should be renewed, and in some situations, operators are prevented from obtaining a new agreement altogether, even though they may already have apparatus in place.” The  product security measures, which “provide ministers with powers to specify and amend minimum security requirements in relation to consumer connectable products,” will be applicable to “manufacturers, importers, and distributors in the supply chain for consumer connectable products”. New legislation has been needed because “consumer connectable products, such as smart baby monitors and smart speakers,” of which there are on average nine in every UK household, are often inherently insecure. “The adoption of cyber security requirements within these products is poor, and while only 1 in 5 manufacturers embed basic security requirements in consumer connectable products, consumers overwhelmingly assume these products are secure.” Read more

The European Commission has updated its ruling on what spectrum can be used on board aircraft, a move that will allow airlines to offer 5G services when in transit. “Passengers aboard flights in the EU will be able to use their mobile phones to the maximum of their capacity and features, just like with a ground-based 5G mobile network,” noted the EC in this announcement

There have been angry scenes and reports of police violence at the world’s biggest iPhone factory, run by Foxconn and located in Zhengzhou, China, following protests by staff over late payments and Covid-19 restrictions, the BBC has reported. While the report suggests the protests have now ended and staff have been paid and will go back to work, according to CNN Foxconn has offered to pay new recruits a bonus to quit their jobs and leave the production site in an effort to calm the situation. The unrest is expected to hamper iPhone production numbers, which were already running behind schedule due to recent Covid-19 lockdowns.  

If you believe completing your tax return in the UK or Europe is a bureaucratic nightmare, then think again – compared with the process in the US, it is civilised simplicity itself. The US process is so complex and demoralising that most people decide it’s better to pay through the nose to get tax filing companies to do the donkey work. And so profitable is it for such companies that many of them have, for many years, lobbied and protested against any and all proposals to simplify the fiendish system: It is, after all, a $11bn a year sector. Most users regard the filers as a necessary evil but generally trust what they do, as indeed they have to. It seems, though, that such trust has been misplaced. The Markup, a New York City-headquartered nonprofit organisation focusing on the ethics and impact of technology on society, reports that some of the biggest tax services have, ever so quietly, been sending sensitive data about private individuals to Facebook (or Meta, if you must) when tax returns are filed online. It seems the data can include private personal details, such as an individual’s income, the names of dependents, tax status, filing history and status, refunded sums and so on. It’s all about data-driven analytics and the Meta Pixel, a smidgen of JavaScript code that allows a company or organisation to track the activities of visitors to their website. Allegedly it is supposed to measure the effectiveness of a company’s advertising by “understanding” the actions that people make while browsing a site. Actions are called “events” and tracking events is called “conversion”. The Markup says the tax filing companies using Meta Pixel range in size from the ubiquitous, nationwide H&R Block (there’s one seemingly on every Main Street across the US), TurboTax and smaller companies including TaxAct and TaxSlayer. When little Mark Zuckerberg took his booster seat to Washington DC to appear, mansize, before the US Congress, it was admitted that Facebook (as it was at the time and may yet be again) has in excess of 2 million such pixels in place lurking on the World Wide Web – for the most benign of purposes, obviously. Meta sends out the pixel to any advertiser that wants it and permits them to embed it on their sites as and when they like. Naturally, there’s a quid pro quo for Meta. It can, and does, use the data it scrapes from the pixel to power its almighty algorithms. Mandi Matlock, a lecturer at the highly prestigious Harvard Law School, commented that The Markup’s exposé is prima facie evidence that US taxpayers are “providing some of the most sensitive information that they own, and it’s being exploited.” She added: “This is appalling. It truly is.” The Markup approached Meta about its Meta Pixel and company spokesperson, Dale Hogan (what a hero!) helpfully emailed to say interested parties should read Meta’s rules on sensitive financial information. He added: “Advertisers should not send sensitive information about people through our Business Tools. Doing so is against our policies and we educate advertisers on properly setting up Business tools to prevent this from occurring. Our system is designed to filter out potentially sensitive data it is able to detect.” That’s alright then.

- The staff, TelecomTV

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