What’s up with… Nokia, STC and Altice, Boldyn Networks

  • Nokia spews news as it updates investors
  • STC linked to Altice Portugal bid
  • Boldyn Networks lands #Roma5G deal

In today’s industry news roundup: Nokia lowers its operating profit target, signals cuts in its mobile networks unit and much more as it updates investors and analysts; Saudi operator STC appears to have a growing interest in the Iberian peninsula; neutral host networks specialist Boldyn Networks strikes city deal in Rome; and more!

Nokia, which has been much in the spotlight this month, has issued a slew of announcements as it hosts its investor and analyst day. On the back of its major loss of radio access network business at AT&T, the vendor has revised its operating margin target for the business to at least 13% by 2026, compared with its previous target of 14%. It also outlined its strategy to provide greater autonomy to its four business units and issued an update on what each of those units is planning. The biggest news comes, not surprisingly, from the Mobile Networks business that has suffered the AT&T hammerblow. Nokia says the business has “begun to re-baseline its operations for resilience and profitability while maintaining its commitment to technology leadership and protecting its R&D output,” which means it’s going to cut costs so it can hit the vendor’s planned operating margins with annual revenues of €10bn instead of the €11.5bn it previously expected to achieve. Nokia was already scrambling to find ways to reduce costs following its announcement in October that it is cutting up to 14,000 jobs to save money. To get the full details on the company’s updated strategy, check out this announcement.        

The giant Finnish vendor is still part of the Open RAN plans at Deutsche Telekom, though – to find out more, see DT kickstarts its Open RAN rollout with Nokia, Fujitsu.

Elsewhere in the Nokia universe, it has followed on from the telco-as-a-platform deal announced with BT earlier this week with a similar deal with Telia Finland, which will be using the vendor’s Network as Code platform, as well as its 5G standalone core SaaS platform, for its Sirius initiative that will provide connectivity and digital services on highways and seaways. Read more 

The vendor has also struck a Network as Code partnership with Georgia, Atlanta-based digital transformation solutions specialist Innova Solutions to help companies open up their digital platforms to third-party developers.  

And to bolster its potential in the private wireless networks sector, Nokia has struck a deal to acquire Chantilly, Virginia-based Fenix Group, which specialises in “tactical” cellular communications networking solutions for the defence communities, for an undisclosed sum. Read more

And last but not least, Nokia is shifting the location of its Bell Labs R&D empire from Murray Hill, New Jersey, to “a new state-of-the-art research and development (R&D) facility in the burgeoning innovation and technology hub in New Brunswick,” which is also in New Jersey. The migration will be complete by 2028. Read more

Saudi telco giant STC, which has acquired a slice of Spanish telco giant Telefónica, is rumoured to be one of the companies bidding to acquire Altice Portugal, which is up for grabs as Patrick Drahi’s Altice group looks to offload assets and pay down some of its giant $60bn debt pile, according to El Pais. Recent reports suggested that three bids had been tabled but that they were some way below Drahi’s expectations of in excess of €7bn: STC’s bid is reported to be in the region of €7 to €9.5bn, but it is expected to face competition from private equity funds, such as CVC, Apollo and Warburg Pincus.  

Neutral host network specialist Boldyn Networks has struck an agreement with Roma Capitale, the city’s municipal authority, to implement #Roma5G, which  involves the construction, management, operation and maintenance of a 5G and Wi-Fi infrastructure across the Italian capital city. Andrew McGrath, Group Chief Commercial Officer of Boldyn Networks, noted: We are honoured to bring Boldyn Network’s neutral host expertise to this important and cutting-edge project, implementing Roma Capitale’s vision for a leading Smart City. The Roma 5G project opens possibilities, working with the mobile operators, to benefit all Rome’s citizens and visitors for years to come. The #Roma5G project represents the importance of the Italian market for the expansion of Boldyn in Europe,” added McGrath. 

Playtime’s over for GoogleReuters has reported that Epic Games, the company behind the immensely popular video game Fortnite, has won its month-long, make-or-break antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet's Google. The judgement found Epic Games’s allegation that Google’s Play app store is a de facto illegal monopoly to be proven, a verdict that could well tip the entire app store economy, including Apple’s, into turmoil and enforced change. The jury found Google guilty on all counts (within just four hours of being sent out to deliberate the case) and confirmed Epic’s contention that Google’s strategy has been, and is, to suppress and put an end to competitors as a matter of corporate strategy as well as to charge rip-off “transaction fees” of up to 30% on app developers. It was also found that Google illegally requires developers to use both its Play store and billing services if they persist in wanting to have their apps on Google. In January, the court will determine what penalties Goole will face. It seems likely that, in addition to any fine, the biggest possible of which would hurt Google about as much as a mosquito bite would pain an elephant, it will be required by law to permit other and more app stores on devices powered by the Android OS and thus see the chunk of revenue it bites out of in-app purchases considerably reduced. In a statement, Epic Games posted this: “Over the course of the trial we saw evidence that Google was willing to pay billions of dollars to stifle alternative app stores by paying developers to abandon their own store efforts and direct distribution plans, and offering highly lucrative agreements with device manufacturers in exchange for excluding competing app stores.” Thereafter, Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Epic Games, said: “After four weeks of detailed court testimony, the California jury found against the Google Play monopoly on all counts. Google’s app store practices are illegal and they abuse their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition and reduce innovation.” Damningly, the court heard that Google systematically deletes texts and internal company messages to conceal its illegal anticompetitive behaviour and practices. Trial jurors were instructed that they could take it as read that whatever was in the deleted messages “would have been unfavourable to Google”. For its part, Google denies it has done anything illegal and is considering appealing against the judgement. However, before the trial commenced, Google paid $40m to settle similar claims of illegal anticompetitive practices made by the dating app company Match. It also agreed to pay penalties (the amounts of which, for some reason, have not been made public) to settle related antitrust claims made by various US state legislatures and consumer organisations and individuals. The Android operating system runs on approximately 70% of all the smartphones on the planet (and a huge number of smart TVs) and, so Epic claimed in the trial, in excess of 95% of Android apps are distributed through the Play Store. If you'll forgive the pun, the judgement may well be a game-changer.

As the search for the ultimate battery for mobile devices, electric vehicles (EVs) and power storage continues apace, the global demand for graphite continues to outstrip supply. It is expected that by 2030 the “graphite deficit” will have risen to at least 777,00 tonnes per annum. Graphite is a natural form of crystalline carbon and has long been the essential standard material used for the anodes in the manufacture of most lithium-ion batteries thanks to its excellent conductivity and charge capacity. However, graphite is heavy and accounts for about half the weight of a lithium-ion battery. China is the world’s primary source of natural graphite and dominates the global export supply chain to such an extent that importers of the material around the world are desperately seeking alternative supplies for fear of being locked indefinitely into a trading relationship with a mercurial state that could weaponise the supply chain at any time and even stop exporting EV batteries altogether – with truly disastrous results for the emergent electric vehicles sector and efforts to mitigate climate change. But now, CarbonScape, a New Zealand startup based in Riverlands close to the town of Blenheim in South Island, may have found a solution to help cut emissions and costs. It is using leftover wood chips to produce synthetic graphite for EVs. It does so via the process of pyrolysis whereby organic material, such as wood waste from the primary timber industry is heated, at temperatures in excess of 500 celsius, in the absence of oxygen. This “thermally decomposes” the wood to make biochar, which is very rich in carbon. The biochar is cooled and milled to become what CarbonScape claims is a more sustainable form of “green” carbon. The company recently raised $18m in funding from Store Enso, a Finnish/Swedish forestry and biomass company. The CEO of CarbonScape, Ivan Williams, said the investment “represents a strong statement of support for sustainable sourcing of battery materials for global decarbonisation [and] our mission is to decarbonise the battery industry.” He added that CarbonScape’s patented technology “offers the global lithium-ion battery industry a drop-in alternative to synthetic and mined graphite, enabling local production, high performance, and a negative carbon footprint.” Ironically, the conventional mining and refining of graphite results in the emission of an enormous amount of polluting carbon and CarbonScape’s claim is that, by using green biographite, battery manufacturers could cut the carbon footprint of each and every battery produced by 30%. Interestingly, given the China connection, the Ningde, Fujian province-headquartered battery manufacturer, Amperex Technology, one of the world’s largest suppliers of EV batteries, has also invested in CarbonScape. Maybe it knows something we don’t?

- The staff, TelecomTV

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