What’s up with… Samsung, Telenor, BT

  • Samsung’s profits soar on the back of AI-fuelled demand
  • Telenor acquires security specialist 
  • BT and partners claim 5G carrier aggregation first 

In today’s industry news roundup: Ongoing demand for AI technology and services has given Samsung Electronics a massive boost to its second-quarter operating profits; Telenor bolsters its new cybersecurity unit with a strategic acquisition; BT, Nokia and Qualcomm team up for 5G carrier aggregation first in Europe; and much more!

South Korean technology giant Samsung Electronics is clearly back on the road to an AI-fuelled recovery as it has exceeded expectations with its second-quarter financial guidance. The company, one of the largest chip vendors and mobile device manufacturers in the world, is expecting revenues of 74 trillion Korean won ($53.6bn) for the three months that ended in June, up by more than 20% year on year, and an operating profit of 10.4 trillion Korean won ($7.54bn), about 15 times greater than in the second quarter of 2023. Marc Einstein, chief analyst at Tokyo-based technology sector research firm ITR Corp, told the BBC that “Right now, we are seeing skyrocketing demand for AI chips in datacentres and smartphones. The AI boom which massively boosted Nvidia is also boosting Samsung’s earnings and indeed those of the entire sector.” In his latest Radio Free Mobile blog, veteran technology sector financial analyst Richard Windsor noted that Samsung had “reported another set of excellent results, confirming that the spending on AI is continuing apace and that it may be a few quarters before reality catches up with the hype.” Windsor expects Samsung’s fortunes to continue to be positive, noting that the vendor is expected to “qualify as a supplier of high bandwidth memory (HBM) chips to Nvidia, putting it back into contention with SK Hynix and Micron,” and that all the real AI-related action is revolving around Nvidia, noted the analyst. “The AI party is still on, which I think we will see repeated when Nvidia reports its results in August. We will also see it in the capital expenditure budgets of the large cloud providers such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google, which look set to continue expanding. The key beneficiary of this is Nvidia with a $100bn, and growing, AI datacentre business that delivers gross margins of 80%,” stated Windsor. 

Telenor’s recently formed security company, Telenor Cyberdefence, hasn’t wasted any time in adding to its portfolio: Less than a month after being unveiled, it has acquired Combitech AS (formerly Watchcom Security Group) for an undisclosed sum. Oslo-based Combitech AS, which has just over 20 staff, provides services in security consulting, penetration testing (authorised simulated cyberattack) and cloud-based monitoring and response. “Through the merger with Telenor Cyberdefence, we get the opportunity to become part of one of Norway’s leading security environments and contribute to building a strong position in the market,” stated Combitech AS CEO Anders Thulin Røkke. “The threat landscape is constantly changing, and we are convinced that together we will be able to offer our customers even better security services and support,” added Røkke, who will become chief operating officer (COO) at Telenor Cyberdefence. The acquisition of Combitech AS is one of “several strategic initiatives” to strengthen Telenor’s security position in the Nordic market, according to the operator, which also recently announced plans to develop a sovereign cloud platform with AWS. “When we announced Telenor Cyberdefence, we stated that we have big ambitions,” stated Dan Ouchterlony, head of Telenor Amp, the branch of the telco that acts as a parent to emerging new business units, such as Telenor Cyberdefence. “This acquisition demonstrates that, and we have more in the pipeline,” added Ouchterlony.

BT has achieved enhanced 5G standalone (SA) downlink speeds of up to 1.85Gbit/s in what the operator claims is the first successful European 5G carrier aggregation deployment with five component carriers. The tests were carried out on a live network at the UK telco’s R&D hub, Adastral Park, in collaboration with Nokia and Qualcomm. The companies have aggregated 5G SA spectrum using 5CC carrier aggregation (5CC CA) and a device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF system. The achievement follows a demonstration by BT and Nokia in 2023 in which the pair achieved 4CC CA in 5G SA downlink with concurrent 2CC CA in 5G SA uplink. “With today’s announcement, the companies reached the next milestone, achieving further performance uplift in connections from the device to the network by increasing throughput and capacity,” Nokia explained in a statement. This move comes ahead of EE’s 5G SA network launch which is set to kick off later this year. According to Nokia, 5CC CA will be able to “significantly boost” the data rates for customers in areas of high demand, as it will combine all mid-band radio spectrum when the 5G SA device requires a high-speed connection.

Japanese telco SoftBank has unveiled plans to launch a 5G smartphone designed for corporate use. In a translated statement, the company said that the Digno BX3 series will include three versions that combine ease of use and durability. They will be made available for enterprise customers from late November. With the move, the operator claims it will address the needs of customers in a wide range of industries, including retail, wholesale, medicine, manufacturing and construction. The handsets are set to be waterproof, dustproof and come with a “highly durable body”, as well as a function to analyse faults in any internal parts of the devices

The US Commerce Department has revoked eight licences related to the export of products to Chinese vendor Huawei, with Intel and Qualcomm among a number of suppliers affected, according to Reuters, which first reported that Intel and Qualcomm were being subjected to tighter controls in May. The move is part of an ongoing clampdown on US exports to Huawei and ZTE, especially as Huawei in particular appears to be growing once again in terms of sales and influence and is now seemingly capable of developing and sourcing high-end smartphone components domestically as it once again becomes a force in the mobile handset market. What’s bizarre, though, is what some of the licences are for: According to a document seen by Reuters, “licence approvals for Huawei include ‘exercise equipment and office furniture and low-technology components for consumer mass-market items, such as touchpad and touchscreen sensors for tablets’." It sounds like Huawei will need to get its swivel chairs from elsewhere…

Not everyone’s cracking down on the Chinese vendor, it seems… Despite heavy pressure to stop using and replace Huawei technology in its networks, Deutsche Telekom is still installing the Chinese vendor’s technology in its network, according to investigative TV programme Panorama, which reports that one of its camera crews recorded the installation of Huawei antennas at a new mobile mast. DT, along with other German telcos, have long resisted pressure to stop using Huawei, though the national operator has started to replace some of the Chinese vendor’s technology with Nokia’s Open RAN products

- The staff, TelecomTV

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