What’s up with… Reliance Jio and Google Cloud, roaming charges for Brits, Cisco and Rakuten

  • India’s leading operator hooks up with Google Cloud
  • Roaming fees are coming back for (some) Brits
  • Rakuten preps for enterprise, IoT services with Cisco

A major telco/hyperscaler relationship in India and depressing post-Brexit news for at least some Brits are the top news items in today’s roundup. 

India’s leading mobile operator, Reliance Jio, is teaming up with Google Cloud to deliver 5G services to consumers and enterprises. The operator will make use of the cloud giant’s distributed infrastructure to deliver its services and the two companies will team up to offer edge-enabled 5G services to Indian enterprise users. In addition, Google and Jio shared more details around their jointly developed made-for-India smartphone called JioPhone Next. And as part of a broader deal, the Reliance Group’s retail divisions will use Google’s cloud platforms to improve efficiency and gain scale. For further details, see this announcement

It was almost inevitable… BT’s mobile division, EE, has become the first UK mobile operator to reintroduce roaming charges for customers traveling to the EU, a decision that would have been illegal before Brexit. But now that EE has decided that, from January 2022, any customers that join the network or upgrade after 7 July will pay £2 per day to use their tariffed services in most of Europe (excluding the Republic of Ireland), it’s likely only a matter of time before O2, Three and Vodafone do likewise. It’ll be a brave Brexit supporter who stands up to say this is a great example of how the UK is taking back control as a result of leaving the European Union. For further details, see this BBC report

Rakuten Mobile is preparing for the launch of IoT and enterprise services by bolstering its backbone network with Cisco technology. The alternative Japanese operator is deploying the vendor’s Segment Routing over IPv6 (SRv6) and Cisco Routed Optical Networking, a move that will “increase network resiliency and support a wider range of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that are foundational for upcoming 5G and IoT services.” Read more

The IPO of Starlink, the satellite Internet access service company currently run by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, will take place once Starlink’s cash flow is more predictable, Musk has noted in a response to a question put to him on Twitter. For more, see this CNBC report.

Talking of which... A SpaceX rocket is set to lift three UK-built satellites into orbit from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida late on Friday. The small constellation was built with money granted by the European Space Agency (ESA), of which the UK remains a member despite having left the EU, and will monitor climate and track endangered species of wildlife. Two of the satellites were built by Spire in Glasgow, Scotland, and are designed to provide optical inter-satellite linkage and so beam down at high speed very large volumes of data from orbit to earth stations. Meanwhile, Lacuna Space of Oxford, England, has provided extremely high-tech sensors to support earthbound IoT devices across vast areas of the earth. They will monitor the global environment and aid farmers through the provision of data relating to animal and crop health and water and soil management. The third satellite is from In-Space Missions of Hampshire in southern England. It will incorporate a demonstration payload for Lacuna Space’s satellite IoT service. This is a high gain, wideband software defined radio that will enable a wide variety of applications from tracking radars on maritime vessels to creating heat maps of 4G mobile usage.

Radisys, a seasoned telecoms tech developer that’s now part of the Reliance Jio portfolio, has teamed up with COMSovereign to bring multiple open 5G and edge solutions together in order to “accelerate the deployment of 5G networks in Defense, Public Safety, and Commercial markets.” Part of the technology mix is the Multi-access Edge Cloud (MEC) platform developed by Saguna, which was acquired by COMSovereign in May. For more on what Radisys and COMSovereign are doing together, see this announcement

In the US, in three weeks’ time, the Board of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a plan that would see it paying telcos, big and small, to rip Huawei and ZTE infrastructure out of their networks as quickly as possible. If passed, and it will be, any operator in receipt of Universal Service Funds (USF) will be get monetary compensation for the costs associated with removing the Chinese equipment. The USF gets US$9 billion a year in tax-payers’ money to boost broadband networks and Internet access. At first the plan was to reimburse those telcos with fewer than 2 million subscribers but, after the US Congress voted through an additional $1.9 billion to help ensure the speedy removal of Huawei and ZTE kit, the FCC will compensate operators that have up to 10 million customers.

So, you are an a farmer in rural Wales, not making a financially great living from traditional agriculture but getting a bit of a boost by renting off bits of your property as sites for telecoms masts, when suddenly the rental income you get is reduced from £5,500 a year to £3.50! You would not be happy. Ed Bailey, the subject cited in this little story, who farms near the coastal town of Harlech in Gwynedd, North Wales, is spitting feathers. He is just one of many affected by the ramifications of the 2017 Electronic Communications Code (ECC) 2017; legislation that was supposed to allow service providers to engage in "collaborative negotiations" with farmers to come to a mutually agreeable limited reductions in the rates they are paid to have mobile comms masts on their land. Under the ECC, rent calculations are based on assessments of the minimal value of agricultural land and no cognisance is taken of the value of the telecoms equipment that are sited on that land. The notion was that agreed reductions would result in more money being available to deploy more new masts and provide better mobile service. The reality is that farmers are facing the unilateral imposition of massive cuts - up to 99 per cent and more - in the rental payments they receive and they have no come back other than to wait until the end of the contracted land rental agreement and then demand that the masts be removed. The farmers are losing much needed income even as the realities of Brexit hit home in agricultural communities while telecoms subscribers across rural Wales face the likelihood that mast removal will mean reduced mobile connectivity. Protests have come to naught. The telcos have deep pockets and phalanxes of well-paid lawyers able to steamroller into submission small farmers, who have little enough money as it is never mind paying expensive legal costs to challenge their losses. Plaid Cymru, (the nationalist left-leaning political Party of Wales) has taken up the farmer's cause in Parliament and the UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is now "consulting" on the - presumably - unintended impact of the Code and has signalled that it will be changed. In a statement the Department wrote, "Our priority is levelling up the country with better mobile coverage and to do so quickly we need fair prices to be agreed for the right to access land and install new equipment. We are aware of concerns raised about the code and have confirmed we will legislate to encourage fairer, faster and more collaborative negotiations with network operators." Meanwhile, as we report elsewhere, in another example of "taking back control" after Brexit. EE, BT's mobile arm, has announced that it is to re-impose roaming charges on calls made by Brits from within Europe, a practice outlawed when the UK was a member of the EU. Six month's ago EE affirmed it had no plans to reimpose roaming charges. Somebody was telling porkies. 

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