What’s up with… Vodafone, Orange, Virgin Media O2

Vodafone UK is targeting sectors such as manufacturing with its 5G standalone mobile private network solution.

Vodafone UK is targeting sectors such as manufacturing with its 5G standalone mobile private network solution.

  • Vodafone UK boasts 5G SA private network offer
  • Africa and Middle East drives Orange’s Q1 growth
  • Virgin Media O2’s business arm gets a helping hand from one of its parents

In today’s industry news roundup: Vodafone claims to be the first in the UK to offer 5G standalone-enabled mobile private networks; Orange, once again, gets a sales boost from its operations in Africa and the Middle East; Virgin Media O2 Business teams up with Telefónica Tech, part of one of its parent companies, for the launch of cloud and security solutions services; and more!

Vodafone has claimed to be the first UK operator to launch and standardise a 5G standalone (SA) mobile private network (MPN) product. Its offering features indoor and outdoor radio access network (RAN) infrastructure for private connectivity that can be 5G non-standalone or SA, depending on use case needs, and either on-site network core infrastructure or access to Vodafone’s core network, including the ability to integrate and use Vodafone’s multi-access edge compute (MEC) solutions. There is also an option to connect an MPN to Vodafone’s wider public network if necessary, a management platform enabling visualisation of data across the network and connected applications, optimisation and reconfiguration of network operations and parameters, provisioning of new services and automation of functions, applications and operations. Vodafone added that its offering boasts enhanced cybersecurity features and comes with ongoing managed services, such as a round-the-clock helpdesk, data insight and analysis, real-time monitoring and “early warning intelligence”. The operator can also provide support for use case developments and the integration of technologies such as cloud and internet of things (IoT) solutions. “Mobile private networks are an opportunity for our business customers to accelerate innovation at an unprecedented scale. By installing a private and customisable network, Vodafone can support innovation by cultivating new use cases in an environment which brings the best opportunity,” noted Nick Gliddon, business director for Vodafone UK. Whatever the use case, he said, Vodafone “can deliver a tailored experience to act as a catalyst for innovation”. The company has already deployed several MPNs across the UK, including a 4G network to enable real-time indoor and outdoor monitoring of a natural gas plant and its equipment – see Centrica chooses Vodafone to build 5G mobile private network for gas plant.

Orange reported modest revenue gains in the first quarter of 2023 (up 1.3% year on year to €10.6bn), with its Africa and Middle East business being the biggest contributor to the quarter’s growth, in addition to price increases in Europe. Its operation in Africa and Middle East reported a 9.1% rise in revenues to €1.7bn, followed by Europe with 3.8% growth, to €2.7bn, which was driven by gains made in Poland and Spain. In its home market of France, Orange booked a 1.8% decline in revenue (to €4.3bn) due to a “downward trend in wholesale in line with our expectations.” The telco group, however, believed its repricing in France, which is expected to be “fully effective” in the second quarter of the year, will add to retail services growth. Orange also booked a 0.7% decrease in Enterprise revenues (to €1.95bn) mainly because of “the sharp decline” in fixed voice revenues but reminded the markets, the industry and its customers that it has an ongoing recovery plan for that part of the company (now known as Orange Business), which is shifting more towards the provision of IT and integration services, such as cloud and cybersecurity. On another note, Orange claimed it still holds the crown in terms of converged services, with the number of convergent customers in Europe growing 0.6% to 11.6 million. Its EBITDAL (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortisation and special losses) were up 0.5% to €2.59bn, in line with Orange’s target of “slight growth in 2023”. Commenting on the results, Orange CEO Christel Heydemann said: “We have started to execute our ‘Lead the Future’ strategic plan with an even more value-oriented commercial strategy thanks to the quality of our networks and services which, combined with our cost controls, allow us to partially offset inflation.” Read more.

Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) Business has partnered with Telefónica’s digital business arm, Telefónica Tech, to launch cloud and security solutions services. The UK operator said the deal has seen its product lineup bolstered with “a comprehensive range of market-leading cloud and security solutions, alongside network transformation services” developed by Telefónica Tech. The new offerings are target enterprises and the public sector in the UK. Virgin Media O2 Business’s managing director for business and wholesale, Jo Bertram, noted that businesses and organisations in the public sector are now embracing digital transformation “like never before”. She added that the company’s new portfolio of services will help customers to “migrate and manage their data and systems in the cloud, enabling them to be more efficient, productive and secure.” And, according to Telefónica Tech’s CEO of cybersecurity and cloud, María Jesús Almazor, the set of managed cloud and cybersecurity services will enable customers of VMO2 Business to use “the most comprehensive threat prevention, detection and response techniques to ensure a secure digital transformation with the support of Telefónica Tech professionals in the UK and Ireland.” The partnership makes sense, of course, as Telefónica is the joint owner of VMO2, along with Liberty Global, so it is natural for the UK operator to want to take advantage of ongoing developments at its parent companies. Read more.

New research into enterprises, conducted by CCS Insight in partnership with NTT Data, suggests that more than half (58%) of decision-makers at businesses are concerned about “the strength of their company’s sustainability strategy”. It also found that enterprises struggle to define what sustainability means to them and the best approach to achieving it. Of the more than 1,000 senior executives who took part in the survey, over a quarter cited costs and insufficient return on investment (ROI) as major challenges to their sustainability initiatives. Meanwhile, less than a third of decision-makers believed suppliers provide “adequate metrics” about their environmental efforts, and 70% claimed their partners fail to do enough to communicate their commitments. “Over 60% of respondents said that customers are happy to pay more for sustainable products, yet less than 50% believe their firm should be paying more for sustainable materials and services – a dichotomy that shows the need for government incentives like tax breaks and grants to make sustainability more accessible and achievable,” noted Bola Rotibi, chief of enterprise research at CCS Insight. On the bright side, the analyst company’s findings suggest that technology can support different facets of sustainability, such as enhancements in renewable energy, the modernisation of infrastructure, application systems and IT operating processes. The biggest gains from technology, however, would come from its ability to provide accurate measurements of carbon footprint, the research found. Learn more.

Staying on the environmental sustainability topic… Counterpoint Research has identified there is increased demand for refurbished smartphones across most geographies, leading to a 5% year-on-year growth of the global market in 2022. According to the analyst firm, the rise would have been higher but was offset by a 17% drop in refurbished smartphone sales in China, with demand mostly affected by a resurgence of Covid-19 and the introduction of ‘Covid-Zero’ policies. India was the leader in secondary handset sales, recording a 19% increase in 2022, followed by Latin America (LATAM) with an 18% rise. Counterpoint Research also found that a significant proportion of consumers prefer to buy premium and flagship smartphones when picking up a refurbished option, pushing up the average selling prices (ASPs) in the secondary market. The level of trust has also increased, with trade-in volumes estimated to be “higher than ever”, noted the company. “Supply remains constrained as consumers are holding on to smartphones for longer. At the same time, demand for 5G is increasing, especially in mature markets like the US, Europe and Japan. In 2022, 5G made up 13% of global refurbished sales. The business potential of dealing in refurbished smartphones remains high, but the limited supply is affecting most emerging markets like LATAM, Southeast Asia, India and Africa,” explained senior analyst Glen Cardoza. For 2023, the company expects the share of 5G refurbished smartphones to increase “substantially”, while 4G-enabled handsets could lose their value at a faster rate.

- The staff, TelecomTV