What’s up with… SMIC, MWC22, South Africa

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Feb 11, 2022

  • SMIC cashes in on its chips
  • MWC22 organiser has high hopes
  • Positive news from South Africa

More chip sales records, an optimistic outlook for MWC, and some welcome news from South Africa are at the front of today’s news queue.  

Unsurprisingly, Chinese chip giant Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) reported record financial performance for the fourth quarter of 2021 and the full year, due to the inflationary pricing and increase in demand caused by the ongoing global chip supply shortage. Its fourth quarter revenues hit an all-time high of $1.58 billion, up 11.6% year-over-year, while annual sales skyrocketed by 39% year-over-year to $5.4 billion (up from $3.9 billion), which, according to the chipmaker, made it “the fastest growing company among the top four pure-play foundries in the world that year.” (But, as we all know, percentages can flatter to deceive…) Alongside the company’s earnings report, SMIC’s management described 2021 as an “exceptional year” in its history, citing “a rare opportunity” brought by the strong demand for chips and “many obstacles” to its development. On the latter, it referred to ending up a little over than a year ago on US’s Entity List (which required US-based exporters to apply for a licence to trade with SMIC) due to national security concerns and claims the company had ties to China’s military. Looking ahead, the company noted it will increase its 2022 capex to about $5 billion (compared with $4.5 billion in 2021) for investments into existing plants and rolling out three new projects. SMIC’s co-CEO Zhao Haijun dismissed concerns about oversupply in the industry as he explained there was strong demand for indigenous production in China, newspaper Nikkei Asia reported. Read more about his comments hereThe global chip shortage has seen many countries and companies struggling, with the US and Europe taking major steps to cope with the disruption. Earlier this week, the European Commission outlined measures to reduce the region’s reliance on Asia and North America for semiconductor supply through efforts to secure investments of €43 billion to enhance local research, innovation and production capabilities. (See Rise of the eurochips: EU targets €43 billion for local production.) Meanwhile, at the start of this month, the US House of Representatives passed a bill to pour $52 billion in funding for domestic chip manufacturing, CNET and other media outlets reported.

The GSMA, which organises the MWC events, is predicting that between 40,000 and 60,000 attendees will pass through the doors of MWC22, which starts in Barcelona on 28 February. The organisation says the show will have more than 1,500 exhibitors and 37 country pavilions. Could this be a turning point for the telecoms industry’s biggest annual gathering? The expected attendee number seems rather optimistic (which is to be expected from the organiser, of course) – if even the lower number can be achieved it would be a turning point for in-person comms in the telecoms industry, which is in dire need of new introductions and face-to-face conversations. Fingers crossed, and, if you’re going, expect to see the TelecomTV team on the show floor!  

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has announced that the nation’s telecoms regulator Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) will begin a public auction of high frequency spectrum in about three weeks’ time. In a speech to address the current state of the nation, Ramaphosa said the move will unlock new spectrum for mobile telecommunications for the first time in more than a decade. Additionally, the government intends to facilitate rapid deployments of broadband across the country by establishing a standard model for the granting of municipal permissions. “These reforms will revolutionise the country’s technological development, making faster broadband accessible to more people and reducing the costs of digital communications”, the country’s political leader assured. His comments come a month after Telkom SA attempted to stop ICASA from processing applications for the auction over claims the regulator’s invitation for the tender was erroneous. Then, ICASA dismissed the allegations and took aim at Telkom SA for attempting to “yet again derail the much anticipated and urgently needed licensing process” for issuing the spectrum. With the President’s comments this week it seems very likely the auction will commence, as planned, on or around 8 March this year. (Read South Africa hits yet another spectrum allocation hurdle.)

Disney reported “a significant increase in total subscriptions across our streaming portfolio to 196.4 million, including 11.8 million Disney+ subscribers” added in the media giant’s fiscal first quarter, which ended 1 January. Disney’s streaming revenues jumped by 34% year-on-year to almost $4.7 billion, though this was due in part to a price hike by Hulu, which Disney co-owns with Comcast. See this earnings release for more.

South Korean operator SK Telecom is seeking to make the most of its R&D efforts in the field of quantum security by teaming up with global data centre operator Equinix to offer QKD (Quantum Key Distribution)-as-a-Service in SKT’s domestic market and overseas. “So far, QKD has been mainly applied to backbone services of mobile operators,” notes SKT. “With the application of QKD to Equinix’s data center, SKT successfully expands the use of QKD to data center interconnection services,” it adds in this announcement.

Telefónica Tech has struck a cloud partnership with Oracle to offer Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and cloud applications to enterprises and public sector organizations in Telefónica’s markets. The Spanish operator will also be the host partner for the Oracle Cloud Madrid Region. Read more.


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