What’s up with… Airspan + HPE, Vivo + AWS, Openreach, TelcoDR

  • Airspan and HPE test E2E Open RAN
  • Vivo validates 5G core on AWS Outposts 
  • Openreach details expanded FTTP rollout plan
  • TelcoDR pumps $100 million into charging platform startup

Further Open RAN and telco cloud progress, details of broader fibre deployment in the UK and a dramatic investment for a disruptive new cloud-based charging platform startup take pole position on today’s news grid.

Open RAN systems vendor Airspan has completed end-to-end 5G Open RAN tests with HPE, validating interoperability between Airspan’s gNodeB (gNB) and HPE’s 5G Core Stack by testing “speed and latency performance to validate several use cases for public networks across Core, Edge and RAN, paving the way for additional tests to include network slicing and other critical 5G use cases.” For further details, see this press release

Telefônica Brasil, which operates under the name Vivo, has reportedly validated AWS Outposts as a suitable platform for the deployment of 5G standalone core functions, according to Teletime (in Portuguese). Core functions from Mavenir, Nokia and Oracle were used for the tests. This isn’t the only market where Telefónica is taking such an approach: It is deploying its standalone 5G core system from Ericsson on AWS in Germany.

Openreach, the semi-autonomous wholesale fixed access network unit of BT, has outlined its plans to reach an additional 3 million UK premises in hard-to-reach areas with fibre broadband connections and as part of plans to take the total number of premises passed to 25 million by the end of 2026. The detailed plan comes just a few weeks after BT announced its intention to seek an investment partner for its accelerated fibre access network rollout plan. For more on Openreach’s plans, see this press release

‘Public cloud evangelist’ Danielle Royston, head of consultancy TelcoDR, is gearing up to challenge her former employer, billing and charging systems vendor Optiva, by investing $100 million in public cloud-based charging platform startup Totogi, which Royston has been championing for the past few months, in this blog and in this video talk. Details about Totogi are scarce – essentially, it’s limited to what Royston has shared – but its focus is as much on the way it enables service providers to interact with their customers (via a ‘super app’) as much as it is on the capabilities of the system and the economies of scale it offers by running on public cloud platforms. Royston revealed the investment during a webinar presentation hosted by Mobile World Live, but didn’t reveal the source of her investment funds. But there’s clearly plenty of money behind Royston, and it seems it runs to more than the $100 million being invested in Totogi. “I've been quietly raising capital since my departure from Optiva,” she tells TelecomTV. “I plan to do three things with the capital raised: I will continue to invest in startups, like Totogi, that are innovating in telco with the public cloud; I will use it to acquire telco software companies to aggressively move their products to the public cloud; and third, I will continue my consultancy and evangelism work that I do with TelcoDR.” Some of the money raised has also been invested in this year’s MWC21 show in Barcelona (which is still due to go ahead as an in-person event), but Royston has also recruited a number of industry executives with experience in the world of telecoms business support systems (BSS) and whose services won’t have been procured on the cheap, including: Optiva’s former Chief of Staff Jamie Sidey, the vendor’s former European regional head Sudhanshu Sinha, and its former VP of Operations, Mark Crouse; and MATRIXX Software’s former VP of Worldwide Program Delivery Damon Wheaton, former VP of APAC/Japan Jeremy Thomas, and former VP of Presales Robin Langdon. All six are currently listed as TelcoDR staff on LinkedIn, but it’s notable also that another of TelcoDR’s staff, an anonymous employee with the current role of ‘Sales Americas’ is also listed on LinkedIn as Cloud Evangelist, Sales Americas, at Totogi. The lines between TelcoDR and Totogi appear to be blurring.    

China Telecom claims it has more than 100 million connections on its 5G NB-IoT network. “This is the largest number of 5G NB-IoT connections the industry has ever acquired, making China Telecom the world's largest carrier for NB-IoT and the world's first carrier to have developed such a large user base,” the operator claimed in an email sent to the media. It added: “China Telecom has built the world's first and largest commercial NB-IoT network that delivers continuous coverage. With more than 400,000 NB-IoT base stations, users can leverage the most suitable spectrum resources, facilitating continuous network upgrades, network tests and service provisioning based on NB-IoT Release 14. Multi-carrier capacity expansion is also supported, adding extra flexibility to fulfil requirements for higher rate and larger capacity.”

The US Senate is about to enact new legislation that will result in $195 billion of taxpayers’ money being dedicated to boosting American competitiveness against an increasingly assertive and expansionist China. The new industrial policy is central to President Joe Biden's plan to build up US capabilities, greatly increase R&D and invest in new technologies. Telecoms and semiconductors are two of the industries that will receive huge sums of focused investment. It is hoped the new law will be passed today. In rare bi-partizan consensus, US legislators have expressed increasing concern about China's power to throttle critical global supply chains and point to shortage of semiconductor chips for consumer devices in general, and the car and truck industry in particular, which is so badly hit that some factories have been forced to put staff on short time or even close altogether. The new law will quickly provide an initial $52 billion in cash to the US semiconductor industry and, in due course, will pump in even more to R&D in an effort to ensure the nation will never again be beholden to China for supplies of strategically important technologies or materials. Legislators have been doing some last-minute wrangling over the amount and cost of the "counter-intelligence" measures and systems that will be required to ensure that China and other "malign actors" cannot get their hands on novel US IPR.

Weeding out the Bitcoin bandits... When a police drone cruising in and around Tipton, a town in the English West Midlands, recorded a massive spike in the heat signature at a unit in an industrial estate, the cops assumed they had found yet another cannabis farm. Their suspicions seemed to be confirmed when covert surveillance showed the site being visited by several people at various times of the day and night. However, the police were wrong. When they raided the premises there was no weed to be found. They had burst in upon a linked array of 100 laptop computers dedicated to Bitcoin cryptocurrency mining, which is a perfectly legal operation. However, the electricity to power the mining had been illegally diverted from the mains supply and electricity to the value of tens of thousands of pounds had been stolen from the Western Power Distribution company. No miners (or minors) were present when when the raid took place and the computers were seized as forfeit under the Proceeds of Crime Act. No arrests have yet been made. The signatory to the rental agreement for the unit, a Mr. Donald Duck, seems to have flown south for the good of his health.

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