What’s up with… BT, Ericsson, Samsung, global broadband growth

  • BT claims it can cut energy consumption by 40% using Ericsson’s new radio units
  • Samsung’s recently pardoned chairman takes on executive duties following its Q3 earnings dip
  • Global broadband subscriber growth is slowing, notes Point Topic

In today’s industry news roundup: BT boasts deployment of light, energy-efficient Ericsson radios; Samsung’s sales might be soaring but its margins are shrinking, so its recently pardoned chairman has been given the day-to-day reins; Point Topic says global broadband subscriber numbers are still rousing, but at a slower pace; and much more!

BT’s mobile business, EE, is deploying ultra-lightweight massive MIMO (multiple input multiple output) radio access network gear from Ericsson to benefit from “improved 5G energy efficiency and network performance”. The vendor’s AIR 3268 is “the lightest and smallest massive MIMO radio equipment in the industry and is also the most energy-efficient radio equipment of this type deployed in Europe,” according to BT. “Field measurements in active deployment have shown a reduction of up to 40% in energy usage, helping deliver immediate energy savings during a difficult time, as well as contributing to BT Group’s wider sustainability goals,” noted BT, which is initially deploying the equipment at 1,000 sites, starting in London. “We’ve already made significant progress in making EE a more efficient network, delivering vast quantities of additional data without equivalent energy increases,” said Greg McCall, who is now the UK telco’s chief networks officer. “Our partnership with Ericsson is a further milestone in this journey, enabling us not only to accelerate our 5G rollout in city centres, but to do so in a more sustainable way. That’s good for us, but also incredibly important to our customers and the planet.”

Samsung reported third-quarter results in line with its profit warning issued earlier this month, when the South Korean technology giant announced its operating profit was set to decline by 32% year on year, and 23% from the previous quarter, to 10.8tn Korean won (KRW) ($7.7bn). Revenues came in at 76.8tn KRW ($54bn), which were record third-quarter sales for the company.  The company also warned of persisting macroeconomic uncertainties, but said that it expected demand to partially recover. “In the Memory Business, after a dampened first half, demand is expected to rebound, centering on servers as datacentre installations resume,” the company noted. The responsibility for ensuring growing and improving profitability in 2023 will fall to Jay Y Lee, who has been appointed as executive chairman by the company’s board, which cited “the current uncertain global business environment and the pressing need for stronger accountability and business stability in approving the recommendation.” It was only a couple of months ago that Lee was granted a pardon by South Korea’s justice ministry to help overcome a "national economic crisis", Reuters reported at the time. Lee was already out on parole after serving 18 months in jail for bribery in a national scandal that resulted in the impeachment and conviction of the country’s then president, Park Geun-hye, in 2018. She was sentenced to 22 years for corruption but was pardoned last year

Point Topic says that global broadband subscriber growth is slowing, up by just 1.34% to stand at 1.32 billion at the end of Q2 this year, with subscriber numbers actually falling in 13 of the 129 countries covered in the report. As expected, the share of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections as a proportion of the total fixed broadband subs increased to nearly 60%. It found that China added 12 million fibre broadband subscriptions in Q2 2022, with Brazil, India and France adding almost 1 million each, adding that the global slowdown in growth is partly attributable to the global economic downturn and partly to market saturation in some countries.  

In response to the recent surge in energy costs, Orange Business Services has announced, with added zeal, that the company is all-in in terms of Europe’s energy-reduction initiatives. The operator said it is enhancing its energy consumption management techniques so as to adapt to demand peaks meaning that they don’t affect its customers’ own operations. To that end, Orange is migrating its physical servers to the cloud to help it cope with increases in application usage, is initiating IoT-based energy monitoring and has a decommissioning plan to identify and switch off any IT and network equipment with a low utilisation rate.

More evidence in support of the beneficial GDP impact from mobile financial services: Vodafone, Vodacom, Safaricom, and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have undertaken research to show that successful deployment and adoption of mobile financial services is associated with a boost to GDP in developing markets as it helps businesses to reduce cost, access credit and connect with consumers that were previously excluded from financial services. Having examined 49 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the researchers found that those countries with successful mobile money services grew by up to 1% more than countries where mobile money platforms had not been successful or had not been introduced: 1% GDP growth is reckoned to reduce poverty by around 2.6%.

Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom has launched what’s being called ‘5G Wi-Fi’. It’s essentially an upgrade for its existing 4G for homes and businesses fixed wireless solution but will obviously offer higher speed than the existing setup – up to 100 Mbit/s, it’s claimed. However, it could take a while for the service to become available for most as Safaricom only has 35 active 5G sites in Nairobi and a handful of other locations so far. The plan is to expand to 200 sites across the country by March 2023.

In what is claimed to be an historical first, a bricks-and-mortar house (well a plywood, sheetrock and vinyl-siding one anyway), has been sold as a non-fungible token (NFT). The virtual yet somehow real three-bedroom quantum-state edifice, apparently physically sited in Columbia, South Carolina (but if you don’t look at it, is it really there?) went for the princely sum of $175, 000. In London, for that amount of money, you wouldn’t get a leasehold on a derelict outside privy on top of a plague pit. The property was sold, via YouTube, on the “Roofstock onChain NFT marketplace”. The transaction was effected by transferring the Home onChain identity to an Ethereum address owned by a “local real estate investor, Adam Slipakoff”. I kid you not. According to Roofstock Inc’s website, the company is “the leading digital real estate investing platform for the $4tn single-family rental market”. The properties on Homes onChain “have been tokenised” and “are located in select real estate markets and owned by Roofstock or third parties”. Roofstock onChain is Roofstock Inc’s web3 subsidiary. Aficionados tout web3 as a revolutionary new iteration of the World Wide Web, which incorporates concepts such as decentralisation, blockchain technologies and token-based economics. Ethereum is a decentralised, open-source blockchain with “smart contract functionality”. Roofstock’s online blurb claims a house can be bought in a matter of minutes and, with a single click, “instantaneous sale and settlement of single-family rental properties listed on the NFT marketplace” is effected. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It’s not. The purchase of the house in Columbia required the participation of multiple actors in the blockchain. The actuality was this: The house was titled under a limited liability company whose ownership is linked to Home onChain, an NFT on Ethereum blockchain. The transaction took place on the Origin Protocol marketplace using the stablecoin USDC from Circle, which was converted from US dollars using Wyre. Financing was facilitated via Teller Protocol, a fintech platform that maintains the decentralised finance lending pool USDC Homes (which is nothing to do with USDC from Circle) With me so far? Good. Finally the buyer used a ‘multi-sig’ wallet on Origin, requiring two parties to sign off on the transaction before funds were released. Easy peasey. The only remaining question is: Is there a title deed to the property and where is it? After all, you still need a deed to prove ownership of a house. Once the news of the sale hit the wires, another company leaped into cyberspace to claim that it had sold a property as an NFT before Roofstock did. "Propy”, described as “a real estate startup” said it had sold a property in Gulfport, Florida for $653,000.

In an extended reality (XR) world, the main applications that will put pressure on 5G networks by users outside their homes, or other buildings/environments with local access options such as Wi-Fi, will be augmented reality (AR) experiences rather than virtual reality experiences, noted Douglas Vaz Benitez, senior director of business development and managing director for Spain and Portugal at wireless chip giant Qualcomm, during a metaverse-focused session at the Fyuz event in Madrid. “5G will be mostly tied to AR type of applications” and “there are already a bunch of use cases in consumer and enterprise…. Perhaps remote maintenance.” With that in mind, Qualcomm will focus its 5G product R&D so they are optimised to support AR applications. But that's not the big challenge for AR services, added the Qualcomm man: That lies in developing the optics and focusing on the “industrial design” of AR glasses to “fix the image projection” challenges. 

Canada has one of the most extensive and robust 4G networks on the planet and 4G services across the vast country are well proven although, in some places, there have been a few rumblings about slow download speeds in rural areas and the technological difficulties inherent to multiplayer gaming. Overall though, 4G has been a great success and its ubiquity and popularity has caused some politicians and industry commentators to question the value of deploying expensive 5G infrastructure and the likely resistance of happy 4G users to paying a premium for an untried medium. Well, a new report from Opensignal, the respected independent analytics company specialising in "quantifying the mobile-network experience”, shows that 5G is quickly bridging Canada’s urban-rural divide. The research shows that the move to 5G has narrowed the gap. For instance the average overall 4G download speeds ranged from 55.6Mbit/s to 63.1Mbit/s in urban areas – that’s 14.1Mbit/s to 21.7Mbit/s faster than speeds in rural areas. However, in rural areas where 5G is now available, users got download speeds of 116.7Mbit/s, which is only 12.2Mbit/s or 9.5% slower than in the cities and big towns. Indeed, even in the most rural of rural areas, 5G download speeds were no different to 5G download speeds in small and medium-sized towns.

Apple very much wants to continue to sell the endlessly iterative iPhone in Europe. After all, the handsets cost considerably more on the eastern side of the Atlantic and Apple does like to keep a steady stream of high-margin euros cascading into Cupertino’s coffers. That’s why it has agreed to discontinue its Lightning connector in all markets after the company, reluctantly and with bad grace, announced that it would conform to the EU regulation requiring that, with effect from this time next year, all smartphones sold in member states (regardless of manufacturer) will have USB-C port connector charging as standard. USB-Cs have long been the norm on devices such as games consoles, laptops and e-readers as well as on Android handsets. Apple’s capitulation was grudging. In a statement, it announced: “Strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world”. Yeah, sure. Head of marketing at fruity headquarters, Greg Joswiak, (popularly known by the diminutive of “Joz”) commented: “Obviously we’ll have to comply, we have no choice”, adding it “would have been better environmentally and better for our customers to not have a government be that prescriptive”. How’s that as a prime example of corporate sour grapes. Apple is hardly innocent when it comes to the proliferation of e-waste: Just think of the number of times the company has changed its cabling and connectors in exercises that forced consumers to buy expensive new ones and throw their old ones onto the mountain of junked Apple cables.

It could be paranoia, but questions are being asked about deep sea cable cuts – there seem to be too many happening at the moment. Incidents include cables being allegedly cut around the Shetland Islands (off the coast of Scotland) and ‘coordinated’ cuts have been reported from the South of France where at least three cables were severed. Suspicions were further aroused in the UK with news that a Russian research ship, tracked by the Royal Navy, suddenly changed course off the UK coast. Could it be Russia? Experts say cutting subsea cables as an aggressive act is not a new idea – it’s been part of Russian practice for many decades and the Shetland episode could have been a dry run. On the bright side, the sheer number of cables now laid – with more being added – might imply a degree of internet-style resilience, so that at least some traffic could be kept flowing should there be a concerted cutting campaign. 

- The staff, TelecomTV

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