What’s up with… Vodafone & Meta, Telstra, Corning

  • Vodafone and Meta ease the short-form video burden
  • Telstra tries to justify price hikes
  • Even fibre vendor Corning is getting a GenAI boost

In today’s industry news roundup: Vodafone continues its efforts to optimise its networks in the face of an ever-increasing tsunami of short-form video content streams; having said it wouldn’t increase tariffs in July, Telstra is bumping up its prices in August instead; fibre-maker Corning is the latest company to get a sales lift as a result of the generative AI boom; and much more!

Vodafone and Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram, have collaborated on a network optimisation programme for the delivery of short-form videos. It is now active in 11 European countries and is helping to free up valuable capacity on Vodafone’s network (something that benefits all customers as this means less network congestion). The companies initially conducted a test in April in the UK whereby they “optimised the average bitrate of high-quality videos without noticeably compromising experience,” according to the operator, a move that resulted in “a meaningful reduction in network traffic for Meta applications across Vodafone’s mobile network.” A low double-digit reduction in the total volume of Meta-generated data traffic was recorded, resulting in “a reduction in utilisation of resources, such as capacity on our busiest sites when the optimisation was applied,” according to the operator. Vodafone’s chief network officer, Alberto Ripepi, noted: “Meta’s willingness to optimise the delivery of video for its applications leads the way for a more efficient use of existing network resources. Vodafone and Meta have implemented these optimisations across Vodafone’s European markets and intend to continue collaborating to foster additional efficiencies.” If Vodafone could do the same thing with TikTok, that would make an even bigger difference, one would imagine. This isn’t the only way that Vodafone is trying to better manage the delivery of short-form video on its network: In February, it announced it had teamed up with VMware (now part of Broadcom) to tackle the growing challenges associated with the endless provision of short video clips to smartphones irrespective of the end user’s status or even whether they will view the video content (aka ‘endless scroll’). 

Australian telco Telstra is to increase the pricing of its postpaid mobile plan from 27 August and of its prepaid mobile plans from 22 October. The prices of most plans will increase by between $2 Australian dollars (US$1.35) and $4 (US$2.70) per month. The move comes less than two months after the telco said it would not be increasing prices in July as it removed the consumer price index (CPI)-linked annual price review. Now, the operator has stated that in making these price changes, “Telstra has balanced cost-of-living pressures it knows some of its customers are experiencing, with its need to continue to invest to manage technology evolution and continued strong customer demand on its mobile network.” The company further justified its decision by pointing out the investments it has made in spectrum so far in 2024 to meet the increase in network traffic, which has risen by approximately 3.5 times in the last five years and continues to grow by 20% per year. Read more.

Fibre manufacturer Corning says it expects its second-quarter revenues to hit $3.6bn, up from its previous guidance of $3.4bn, thanks to…. you guessed it… the impact of generative AI (GenAI). Wendell Weeks, who has been CEO of the company for almost 20 years, stated: “We expect second-quarter core sales to exceed our previous guidance and mark a return to year-over-year growth. The outperformance was primarily driven by the strong adoption of our new optical connectivity products for generative AI. These results reinforce our confidence in ‘Springboard’ – Corning’s plan to add more than $3bn in annualised sales in the next three years as cyclical factors and secular trends combine.” The vendor’s share price jumped by 12% on Monday following the news and gained another 2.4% in early trading Tuesday to hit $44.04, giving it a market value of almost $38bn. Read more

Middle Eastern telco giant e& has deployed 50G PON (50-gigabit-capable passive optical network) “pioneering” technology in its live network, giving the UAE “a significant lead” over most markets, it claimed. The technology aims to deliver internet speeds of up to 50Gbit/s, resulting in many benefits for customers, ranging from high-resolution content streaming and a more responsive online experience to “quicker data transfers, enhanced cloud-based applications, and robust support for bandwidth-intensive operations like video conferencing, remote collaboration, and data backups.” Marwan Bin Shakar, SVP for access network development at e&, boasted, “As we transition into an era of hyper-connectivity and digital transformation, 50G PON technology is beyond an upgrade – it’s a revolution. It redefines the possibilities of fibre optic communication, paving the way for ultra-high-speed internet access across all sectors and industries. This advancement positions us at the forefront of global innovation, ready to unlock the future of connectivity.” The operator didn’t mention its vendor partner for the deployment but it has a history of working with Huawei on such deployments. Find out more.

Still with 50G PON… In the US, GFiber Labs (the ‘innovation hub’ of Google Fiber) has, in partnership with Nokia, successfully tested 50 Gbit/s broadband speeds over its existing fibre network. “This is the first live network demonstration of 50G PON technology in the US and shows how operators can easily use Nokia’s Lightspan MF fibre access platform to upgrade their fibre networks to meet the growing demand for faster, more reliable connectivity,” noted the vendor in this announcement

Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund is reportedly considering a sale of its 26.2% stake in Turkcell. According to Bloomberg, there have already been informal discussions with potential buyers, but the board of state-owned Turkey Wealth Fund (TWF) is yet to make a formal decision which is likely to need to be approved by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Some members of the fund, allegedly object to a sale as they consider Turkcell a strategic asset. The report suggests that investors from the Arabian Peninsula and Azerbaijan have expressed interest in acquiring a stake in the Turkish telco. The news, which broke yesterday, reportedly led to a 5.4% increase in Turkcell’s share price to 111.7 Turkish liras (US$3.41), giving it a market capitalisation of $7.3bn. TWF bought a stake in the Turkish operator in 2020, making it the company’s largest shareholder. Investment firm LetterOne Investment Holdings, founded by Russian-Israeli tycoon Mikhail Fridman, holds a 19.8% stake in Turkcell, while the rest of the shares are traded on Borsa Istanbul, the Turkish stock exchange.

Tech Mahindra is the latest company to take GenAI to the enterprise masses courtesy of a hook-up with Microsoft. The giant IT services and systems integration firm is pitching Copilot for Microsoft 365 to its more than 1,200 customers as well as making it available to 10,000 of its staff in 15 locations. Tech Mahindra says it plans to “extend the value of Copilot with plugins within and outside the Microsoft app ecosystem to leverage multiple data sources and drive creativity and increase productivity. The collaboration is focused on increasing efficiency, reducing effort, and enhancing quality and compliance across the board,” noted the integrator. Tech Mahindra CEO and managing director Mohit Joshi stated: “Our vision is to redefine the workplace experience by empowering every employee to excel and innovate using cutting-edge AI technology. We are not just adopting a tool, we are shaping the future of work for our employees and customers. The collaboration with Microsoft, and the introduction of Copilot for Microsoft 365 and GitHub Copilot also marks a significant stride in Tech Mahindra’s commitment to making AI accessible to everyone.” To help the process, Tech Mahindra has launched a dedicated Copilot practice that is focused on helping customers “unlock the full potential of AI tools.” Read more

- The staff, TelecomTV

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