What’s up with… BT & MTN, Quad Nations & Open RAN, Telekom Austria

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

May 26, 2022

  • BT teams with MTN on enterprise services in Africa
  • Quad Nations commit to Open RAN support
  • A1 Telekom Austria Group snaps up Bulgarian IT services firm

An enterprise services tie-up to target African firms, a commitment to Open RAN developments from the US, India, Japan and Australia, and an enterprise-focused acquisition in Bulgaria by Telekom Austria are our industry news top picks for today.

BT and MTN Business have forged a strategic alliance to offer communications services to companies in Africa, the operators announced Thursday morning. The first fruits of the partnership will be the launch of a subscription-based Security Operations Centre (SOC) service, which will “enable customers to consistently monitor and improve their cyber-security while preventing, detecting, analysing, and responding to cyber-security incidents. The new service is based on BT’s cloud-based Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) service, which combines the leading technologies with BT’s unparalleled track record in securing leading global organisations.” It’s worth noting that the CEO of BT Business, Rob Shuter, was the CEO of the MTN Group before he joined the UK telco last year. For more on the tie-up between BT and MTN, see this press release

The political leaders of the Quad Nations (Australia, India, Japan and the US) have struck agreements on a broad range of collaborative efforts related to security, health, climate, infrastructure and ‘Critical & Emerging Technologies’, among other things, at a Summit held in Tokyo. We think it’s worth noting what these countries have to say on this matter because collectively they account for almost a quarter of the world’s population and have a great deal of influence over the future of communications networking R&D. “The Quad remains focused on harnessing critical and emerging technologies to enhance the prosperity and security of the region. In the area of 5G and beyond 5G, while welcoming the Prague Proposals on Telecommunications Supplier Diversity, we will advance interoperability and security through the signature of a new Memorandum of Cooperation on 5G Supplier Diversification and Open RAN,” the countries noted in a joint statement. “We are also deepening our engagement with industry, including through Open RAN Track 1.5 events, and exploring ways to collaborate on the deployment of open and secure telecommunications technologies in the region. We have mapped the Quad’s capacity and vulnerabilities in global semiconductor supply chains and have decided to better leverage our complementary strengths to realize a diverse and competitive market for semiconductors. The Common Statement of Principles on Critical Technology Supply Chains, launched on the occasion of this Summit, advances our cooperation on semiconductors and other critical technologies, providing a cooperative foundation for enhancing our resilience against various risks to the region.  Our cooperation in the international standardization organizations, such as the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union, has made great progress, and we expect to strengthen such cooperation through the new International Standards Cooperation Network (ISCN). This cooperation will help ensure technology development in the region is guided by our shared democratic values. We continue to strengthen our horizon scanning cooperation following our deepened discussions in biotechnology through our efforts on mapping and a corresponding Track 1.5 and a future focus on quantum technologies. We will convene a business and investment forum for networking with industry partners to expand capital for critical and emerging technologies.” You can read the full statement here. If, like us, you are wondering what Open RAN Track 1.5 events are, well we can enlighten you… they are organised by the Open RAN Policy Commission, which shared some comments on the Quad Nations announcement.

A1 Telekom Austria Group has acquired STEMO, one of Bulgaria’s largest ICT companies, for an undisclosed sum, continuing its strategy of “expanding its scope through targeted, value-enhancing acquisitions” and adding to its aim to “become an even more relevant player in the CEE area.” STEMO is a market leader in information and communication technologies on the Bulgarian market: With this acquisition, A1 Bulgaria will “become the ICT market leader in the country and with its 30-year experience, well-developed network, and expert team, STEMO will work in cooperation with A1 Bulgaria to further improve and expand its integrated IT business solutions for corporate clients. The collaboration in the field of system integration, IT infrastructure, connectivity, cyber security and video surveillance will lead to substantial synergies and growth opportunities, which will result in additional benefits for the users of ICT solutions,” notes Telekom Austria in this announcement

NFTs aren’t worth the paper they can’t be printed on. Hands up if you are as surprised as we are at this staggering news! The value of NFTs is plummeting as owners of the physically non-existent assets they paid through the nose to ‘own’ try to sell them on. The existence of a market in Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) is proof positive of the veracity of Phineas T Barnum’s maxim that “There’s a sucker born every minute”. NFTs are online certificates that allow buyers to ‘own’ digital art that exists in cyberspace and is visible only while it is viewed on a video screen. Early entrants into the over-inflated and over-exuberant niche market paid big money to buy ethereal assets that, the marketers assured them, could only increase in value. But they haven’t. Just as the crypto-market has collapsed over recent weeks so has the value of a myriad of NFTs. Here’s an example: an NFT of the deathless first tweet authored by Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, was sold last year for $2.9 million. It went up for auction last month and the top bid was $280. It was withdrawn from sale and the Iranian collector who owns it will likely be hoping it might make $300 bucks within the next fifty years or so. The initial idea behind NFTs was that, as digital images are worthless because they can easily be copied, certificates verifying the ownership of assets would have a tangible value in the real world. This would allow the man and woman in the street, and not just the rich elite, to purchase art and see it increase in value. It seems that ain’t necessarily so. Now, there’s a surprise!

ElliQ-tion lessons: It’s not quite like the 2012 film Robot & Frank, where an elderly ex-con gets a robot companion that helps him gain a new lease of life by helping to plan and successfully carry out a robbery, but, in a pilot exercise, the New York State Office for the Aging is distributing 800 robot companions to old and lonely people adults across the Empire State to test whether they can help keep the elderly mentally active and engaged. The robots are not ambulatory and can’t help with housekeeping tasks but can chat, tell jokes, provide information, help people contact their friends and families and also track and record when medication has to be taken and remind their owners when they have missed a dose. The ElliQ robot is produced by Intuition Robotics of Israel and is designed to help ameliorate social isolation amongst old people: More than 14 million elderly Americans live alone and the number is increasing. ElliQ is a proactive robot that remembers interactions with its ‘individual’ and focuses on memories, health and wellbeing, stress reduction, sleep, hydration, medication and interactions with family and friends. The device consists of a rather lamp-like face with microphone and speakers that lights up and swivels to look at who it is talking to and a touchscreen tablet that displays pictures and moving images, conducts video calls and provides a wealth of useful information when asked questions. It remembers details about its individual’s life and shapes its evolving character to complement that of its owner. An ElliQ costs US$250 each and New York State will buy many more of them if the trial is successful. Early indications are overwhelmingly positive, with users forming close relationships with their empathetic little robot pals.

No need to take this with a pinch of salt… As home and office heating with gas becomes prohibitively expensive, researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the southern Netherlands have invented a so-called heat battery that works on salt and water. The University claims the system, which has taken 12 years to get from the drawing board to manufacture, is cheap, compact in size, and eco-friendly. It has been rigorously tested in extensive laboratory experiments and is now ready to be deployed in real-world situations. The hope is that the new technology will soon replace the burning of gas for heating homes, offices and factories and will be a “game-changer” for energy transition, severely reduce dependence on imported gas and greatly help the green agenda and ameliorate global-warming. The heat battery works on the old thermochemical principle that when water is added to salt it produces heat. What’s more, and potentially even more exciting, is that some of the heat produced can be used to evaporate the water whilst the remaining heat is trapped inside the salt for later use. The storage of heat within dry salt means the battery is totally loss-free and provides an astonishingly efficient way of storing energy for future use. The heat battery is ideal for supplemental use in conjunction with renewable but fluctuating energy sources such as wind and solar power.  The heat battery units comprise a heat exchanger, fan, evaporator/condenser and a boiler with salt particles. It is simple and robust and even the proof-of-concept battery could provide full central heating for an average family of four for two days. Such batteries are about the size of a kitchen cabinet and when available commercially will be able to heat a home for two months on a single charge. Eindhoven University says that by 2030, or even earlier, the heat battery could replace the burning of gas in 3.5 million Dutch homes, which is more than double the gas-free target set by the national government. Countless millions of other premises across Europe and the wider world would also benefit.

Here’s one to ponder for those who have tracked the evolution of RCS (Rich Communication Services) over the years… A new white paper – Unlocking multi-channel marketing with RCS – from mobile marketing automation experts’ Upstream suggests that RCS messaging “is expected to account for a growing proportion of global mobile operator revenue and become a vital channel for advertisers as they seek to enhance direct-to-consumer interactions and grow their first-party databases.”  “Audiences today are very fragmented and have come to expect personalized communication. There is currently no single communication channel that fulfils all of these needs effectively, so marketers have had to adapt to using a blend of different channels to maximize engagement. RCS brings unique value to any multi-channel mix, combining the rich media capabilities of digital channels with the hyper-personalized engagement of the SMS world. The marketing use cases for the channel can only be limited by imagination,” said Kostas Kastanis, Upstream’s Deputy CEO. Find out more in this press release

- The staff, TelecomTV

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