What’s up with… The AI Alliance, edge funding in Europe, Netcracker
- IBM and Meta form the AI Alliance
- EC approves €1.2bn of edge funding
- Netcracker integrates its GenAI solution with Amazon Bedrock
In today’s industry news roundup: IBM, Meta and more than 50 others have formed an alliance focused on the development of open foundation models; the European Commission has approved €1.2bn of state funding in seven member states for edge data processing; Netcracker digs deeper with its GenAI solution; and much more!
IBM and Meta have formed the AI Alliance with the support of more than 50 founding members and collaborators, including AMD, Dell Technologies, Intel, the Linux Foundation, Oracle, Red Hat and ServiceNow (but not Nvidia…). According to the founders, the alliance is “a group of leading organisations across industry, startup, academia, research and government coming together to support open innovation and open science in AI. The AI Alliance is action oriented and decidedly international, designed to create opportunities everywhere through a diverse range of institutions that can shape the evolution of AI in ways that better reflect the needs and the complexity of our societies,” stated the founders. “Open and transparent innovation is essential to empower a broad spectrum of AI researchers, builders, and adopters with the information and tools needed to harness these advancements in ways that prioritise safety, diversity, economic opportunity and benefits to all. While there are many individual companies, startups, researchers, governments, and others who are committed to open science and open technologies and want to participate in the new wave of AI innovation, more collaboration and information sharing will help the community innovate faster and more inclusively, and identify specific risks and mitigate those risks before putting a product into the world,” they added. One of the tasks of the alliance is to “responsibly advance the ecosystem of open foundation models.” AMD’s CEO and chair, Lisa Su, noted: “At AMD, we are committed to advancing technology through collaboration. The history of our industry highlights how open, standards-based development, leveraging the capabilities of the entire industry, both accelerate innovation and ensure technology advances have the largest positive impact. By embracing open standards and transparency across all aspects of the rapidly developing AI ecosystem, we can help ensure the transformational benefits of responsible AI are broadly available. We are proud to join with other industry leaders as a founding member of the AI Alliance and look forward to working together to ensure the rapid advances in AI are a force for positive change.” Collaboration is great but is a bit limited when the companies and organisations involved do not include some of the major AI developers – let’s see how this develops and whether the open-source approach to AI wins the day.
The European Commission (EC) has approved €1.2bn in state aid to support “research, development and [the] first industrial deployment of advanced cloud and edge computing technologies across multiple providers in Europe” as part of a project called IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest) Next Generation Cloud Infrastructure and Services (IPCEI CIS) – what a catchy name! Seven member states – France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain – will provide up to €1.2bn in public funding, “which is expected to unlock additional €1.4bn in private investments,” noted the commission in this announcement. The IPCEI CIS “concerns the development of the first interoperable and openly accessible European data processing ecosystem, the multi-provider cloud to edge continuum. It will develop data processing capabilities, and software and data sharing tools that enable federated, energy-efficient and trustworthy cloud and edge distributed data processing technologies and related services,” according to the EC. As part of the project, 19 companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), will undertake 19 projects, which will contribute to the development of “open-source software that will allow for real-time and low-latency services by distributed computing resources close to the user, thereby reducing the need to transmit large volumes of data to centralised cloud servers. The individual projects cover the entire cloud edge continuum, from the basic software layer to sector-specific applications,” noted the EC. Read more.
Netcracker Technology, which in September unveiled its GenAI Telco Solution that enables communications service providers (CSPs) to “harness their valuable telecom data and knowledge in a secure and controlled way to bring exceptional benefits to customers, partners and their own businesses,” has now integrated that solution with Amazon Bedrock. The digital services and cloud giant describes it as a “fully managed service that makes leading foundation models from AI companies available through an API, along with developer tooling to help build and scale generative AI applications.” Netcracker said that integrating its solution with Bedrock will enable CSPs to “enrich multiple leading generative AI foundational models, accessed through a single Amazon Bedrock API and serving different business needs, with real-time telecom BSS/OSS data and instructions in a secure way to create exceptional value across the business.” Read more.
According to the latest figures by the GSMA on the state of the mobile economy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), mobile technologies will contribute $440bn to the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2030, up from $370bn in 2022. In its ‘Mobile Economy MENA 2023 Report’, the industry association highlighted that 5G will be a key driver for this, accounting for $60bn (or 13% of the overall annual economic impact of mobile technologies in the region). Furthermore, it forecast that the total number of mobile connections in MENA will reach 550 million unique subscribers by 2030, half of whom will use 5G. “5G is gaining momentum in MENA, driven by the launch of new networks and the rapid expansion of existing networks. However, 4G will remain the dominant technology in the region in the medium term, accounting for more than 50% of total connections until 2026,” noted the GSMA in its report. By the end of November 2023, 23 mobile operators in nine markets across the region had launched commercial 5G services. And although there is “growing momentum” behind 5G in North Africa, commercial 5G is absent from the region due to spectrum-related challenges.
UK operator Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) has highlighted the potential of network slicing with a demonstration in collaboration with Ericsson at Comic Con in Birmingham. The trial showed how a dedicated slice on VMO2’s 5G standalone (SA) network can enable remote play and live broadcasting of augmented reality (AR) e-sport Hado. According to the UK telco, competitors taking part in the game at Comic Con were able to play remotely and in real time against players located in the US and South Korea. VMO2 said its network slice was the main contributor to the required bandwidth, latency and jitter during the trial. The network slice also provided “a stable, secure and reliable communications platform that enabled the live broadcast of the games to thousands of viewers worldwide,” it added. “The real benefit of network slicing is the ability to reserve a slice of the network for critical applications or services. In this example, the slice is optimised to provide the best latency possible, but equally it could be for something as critical as the emergency services at a busy event or live TV news broadcasting. The possibilities are endless,” explained Jorge Ribeiro, director of service platform strategy and engineering at VMO2. Find out more.
Australian operator Telstra has been hit with an AUS$3m (US$2m) fine over wrongfully charging customers for inactive internet services for 11 years. The penalty came after an investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that more than 6,500 customers, the majority of which are small businesses, were “wrongly billed” by Telstra an average of around AUS$2,600 (US$1,700) between April 2012 and August 2023. In addition to the fine, the Australian telecom watchdog noted that Telstra has also refunded more than AUS$17.7m (US$11.6m) to customers, and a further AUS$3.4m (US$2.2m) is expected to be refunded by the end of the year. The penalty imposed on Telstra over its billing practices comes after a series of similar findings in the past few years: In 2020, the ACMA directed the telco to comply with billing accuracy rules after “it overcharged more than 10,000 customers” almost AUS$2.5m (US$1.6m) over a 12-year period. This was then followed by another investigation in 2022, according to the ACMA, which discovered that Telstra had overcharged more than 11,000 customers around AUS$1.7m (US$1.1m). Nerida O’Loughlin, chair of the ACMA, said that the regulator has lost patience with Telstra due to this series of “significant billing errors”. “Telstra has a history of incorrectly billing customers and it’s just not good enough. At a time when many small businesses are facing economic pressures, unaccounted costs can create very real stress and financial hardship,” she said. The ACMA added that Telstra has now implemented controls within its systems to address its billing issue, but if the telco is found to circumvent billing accuracy rules again, it could lead to legal action by the watchdog. Read more.
Private equity firm KKR has requested more time from Telecom Italia (TIM) to weigh up its bid for Sparkle, the telco’s international network and services arm: KKR has already struck a deal to acquire Telecom Italia’s domestic fixed access network for €18.8bn. KKR wants until the end of January 2024 to consider its final offer. The Telecom Italia board will consider KKR’s request at a meeting in 14 December, but it’s unlikely the request will be denied as KKR doesn’t appear to be fighting off any other interested bidders.
Middle East giant e& has committed to achieving zero carbon emissions across its own operations (Scope 1 and 2) in all markets by 2040, as it embarks “on a decisive journey towards environmental sustainability, building on the company’s previous commitment to be net zero across its own operations in the UAE by 2030,” it has announced. The operator unveiled near-term targets (2030) of a group-wide reduction of 43% from its own activities and the energy it purchases and uses (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) and pledged a 25% reduction of Scope 3 emissions (including its supply chain and investments). “e& remains committed to net zero emissions across its entire value chain (Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions) by 2050, reducing the group’s total emissions in absolute terms and mitigating the remaining emissions through high-quality carbon offsetting,” the telco stated.
- The staff, TelecomTV
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