What’s up with... Rakuten Mobile, Liberty Global, India

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Oct 25, 2021

Photo credit: Rakuten Group

Photo credit: Rakuten Group

  • Rakuten Mobile acquires Send Anywhere developer, pushes back coverage target
  • Liberty Global mulls physical network asset carve-out
  • In India, Jio’s numbers dip sequentially as Vodafone Idea agrees to spectrum payment delay

An expansion and a delay at Rakuten Mobile and talk of a netco/servco split at Liberty Global set this week’s news agenda on fire! 

Rakuten Mobile has acquired South Korean peer-to-peer file transfer technology specialist Estmob for an undisclosed sum on behalf of Rakuten Symphony, the recently-formed and soon to be standalone unit that is aiming to build on Rakuten’s mobile networking developments in Japan and provide next-gen networking capabilities to other companies around the world (for a fat fee, of course). Estmob developed Send Anywhere, a peer-to-peer real-time file transfer service with more than 43 million users globally, and Sendy, a service that allows cloud functions to be added to Send Anywhere. Ryan Son, Chief Marketing Officer of Estmob, will join Rakuten Symphony as President of Internet and Ecosystem services, a unit that will develop a mediation layer to integrate all standalone products (payments, storage etc) and develop unified design guidelines. Read more

Still with Rakuten Mobile... the global chip shortage has impacted the Japanese operator’s plans to reach 96% population coverage with its own 4G network, according to a report by Nikkei Asia. The operator had previously pushed back that target to the end of this year, having initially aimed for the end of August, citing the semiconductor supply chain issues impacting many industrial sectors, but the ongoing impact of the shortage now means that 96% target is now due to be hit in March 2022. 

Following the current trend amongst operators to leverage the value of their physical network assets, Liberty Global is reportedly exploring the potential of creating separate businesses for its physical network assets and its communications services units in order to raise capital from external investors keen to plough their funds into the physical infrastructure that underpins digital connectivity, according to Bloomberg. The report suggests that Liberty Global has asked Accenture to look into the potential of such a move, while Bloomberg believes that such a move is possible in the UK, where Liberty Global owns half of Virgin Media O2: A Bloomberg analyst believes that operator’s physical networks assets could attract a 9.8 billion valuation. To date, most operators that have raised cash from divesting, or attracting external investments for, their network assets have done so with their mobile towers, but fibre networks have certainly gained in value in the past 18 months.  

Easy come, easy go… India’s hyper-competitive mobile market saw arch-disrupter, Reliance Jio, lose more than 11 million subscribers during the three months to the end of September (its fiscal second quarter), perhaps signalling the end of its long ascent through the ranks of India’s mobile operators from its launch in 2016 to become India’s largest mobile operator by subscriber numbers (it took the top spot from Bharti Airtel in 2019). In any other market, except maybe China, the loss of 11 million subscribers would be ruinous, but this is India, and even with 11 million fewer customers, Jio still ended the quarter with 429.5 million users… and an improved ARPU. That’s because a significant proportion of Jio’s customers had been so financially damaged by Covid that even the rock-bottom Jio prices were too much and many peeled away without recharging their subscriptions, a trend that provided a lift to the operator’s ARPU number. Meanwhile, cash-strapped Vodafone Idea has accepted a government offer of a four-year moratorium on its spectrum payments, according to India’s Economic Times. That was enough to push its share price up by 9% on the day and signal that, despite its parlous financial position, it was ’back in action’.  According to another newspaper, the Business Standard, the risk that the company’s position might worsen had diminished, and its lenders were confident that the moratorium on spectrum fees means Vodafone Idea will be able to raise fresh funds.

Juniper Research has found that the inability to distinguish between 4G and 5G data traffic using current standards will result in greater roaming revenue losses as the travel industry returns to pre-pandemic levels and 5G adoption increases. Juniper expects losses from roaming data traffic misidentification will rise to $2.1 billion by 2026 if the industry doesn’t implement the Billing & Charging Evolution Protocol (BCE), an end-to-end industry-wide standard defined by the GSMA that introduces new capabilities that identify roaming data traffic over different network technologies. Juniper has produced a study on the matter.

A new £1.4-million UK-India Future Networks Initiative (UKI-FNI) project led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) will bring researchers from the UK and India together to work on the development of next-gen networking capabilities, with an initial focus on Open RAN.  Read more

Altice Labs has announced what it says is a major innovation in fibre optic networks: It’s a simple change to the electro-optical connector where the fibre is connected to the central equipment, according to the Labs. The finger-sized connector - called a Small Factor Pluggable (SFP) - has the job of converting electrical signals into optical ones, so Altice Labs has created a dual SFP which, it claims, can connect two fibres from the one port to the central system and effectively double the number of subscribers. There’s more to it than that, and you can explore further by reading this announcement...

Seeing around corners: Verizon and Nissan have collaborated over technology that can notify drivers of detected pedestrians or other vehicles emerging from behind visual barriers. The technology uses Verizon 5G Edge, 4G LTE, and a Nissan proprietary telematics test platform to process sensor data from vehicles and infrastructure into urgent notifications. Read more…

More support for 5G the carbon killer: An Ericsson-sponsored MIT Technology Review Insights report, Decarbonizing industries with connectivity and 5G, concludes that 5G and other digital mobile technologies can generate a transformational acceleration of decarbonization efforts, because of their speed of deployment, lower latency and their ability to help organizations connect and manage disparate and remote assets.  In addition to significant operational performance improvements, 5G and other digital mobile technologies will enable organizations to achieve considerable sustainability gains by increasing energy efficiency through better monitoring and reducing waste and material costs through optimized management practices, it reports. Read more…

- The staff, TelecomTV

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.