- Deutsche Telekom unleashes Nostradamus
- Apple snatches Samsung’s smartphone crown
- BT to abandon inflation-based price increases
In today’s industry news roundup: Deutsche Telekom launches the quantum key distribution (QKD) testing consortium it is spearheading, and it’s called Nostradamus; Samsung has ceded its smartphone crown to Apple, according to IDC; BT to land customers with one more inflation-linked price hike before it updates its model; and much more!
Deutsche Telekom (DT) has launched the consortium, of which it is the primary partner, that is building Europe’s test infrastructure for quantum key distribution (QKD). In a statement, the German operator noted that the European Commission has tasked the wonderfully-named Nostradamus, a consortium unveiled nearly a year ago, to enable the evaluation of QKD devices made by European manufacturers. DT’s main partners are Thales and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, alongside representatives from academia and industry. According to DT, the launch paves the way for the implementation of European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) – a secure quantum communication infrastructure spanning the European Union’s member countries. EuroQCI is intended to enhance security at datacentres, communications networks and critical infrastructure such as hospitals and power plants. Additionally, the future encrypted EU satellite network IRIS2 (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity and Security by Satellite) will also rely on EuroQCI. “Nostradamus exemplifies Deutsche Telekom’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of digital security. This collaborative effort not only enhances European cybersecurity but also underscores the importance of strategic partnerships in advancing technological resilience”, commented Daniela Theisinger, managing director of Deutsche Telekom Global Business. DT has been notably active in the space of quantum technologies. In September 2023, it opened a quantum research lab in Berlin. The telco has also been sealing partnerships, including with quantum specialists Anaqor and AQT (Alpine Quantum Technologies), to offer access to quantum applications and computers for customers of its enterprise services division, T-Systems.
Apple has snatched Samsung’s long-held smartphone market share crown, according to research house IDC. “The last time a company not named Samsung was at the top of the smartphone market was 2010,” according to IDC, which has analysed full-year smartphone shipment numbers and concluded that Apple ended up as last year’s top dog with a market share of 20.1%, ahead of Samsung’s 19.4%. Xiaomi was some way behind in third place with a 12.5% market share. Apple managed to take Samsung’s crown in a less than stellar year for the mobile device market: According to IDC, global smartphone shipments declined 3.2% year over year to 1.17 billion units in 2023, “the lowest full-year volume in a decade, driven largely by macroeconomic challenges and elevated inventory early in the year.” However, “growth in the second half of the year has cemented the expected recovery for 2024,” it added. Read more.
BT unveiled it is moving to a new “pounds and pence” pricing approach, to more clearly communicate changes to customers’ bills, at the expense of the inflation-linked pricing method it has traditionally used – but not before it hits its customers with one last inflation rate-based price hike. Confirming the changes in a blog, Marc Allera, CEO of BT Group’s Consumer division, explained that the new pricing model will kick in at the start of this summer. But before then, it will proceed with its annual price increase on 31 March 2024, which consists of the rate of inflation (or consumer price index – CPI) + 3.9% increase. The UK incumbent telco’s pricing method change comes after national regulator Ofcom opened a consultation last year with the view to introduce new regulation that would require price changes to be set out in pounds and pence in a clear and transparent way. Allera noted that BT will let its customers know “clearly and in good time how the way we communicate and charge for their contracts is going to change”, as it strives to be “the most personal, customer-focused brand in the UK.” BT’s move was described by Kester Mann, CCS Insight’s director of consumer and connectivity, as “smart” because it shows the operator is moving fast ahead of the likely ban on inflation-linked pricing. “It gives the operator a short window to promote a clearer and more transparent approach compared to its rivals before most other operators inevitably follow suit”, Mann noted. In addition, the announcement comes less than 24 hours before many UK operators are set to confirm their annual price hikes for 2024. “This is a delicate topic as households continue to grapple with cost-of-living concerns. Operators need to tread carefully: In CCS Insight’s consumer research last month, nearly three-quarters of people said they would consider acting if their mobile or broadband bill went up again this year”, the analyst cautioned. He expects the rest of the UK’s operators to quickly follow suit. However, the situation appears to be more difficult for Vodafone UK and Three, the operators that are currently trying to appease concerns related to competition and pricing hikes that might kill off their proposed merger. For them, as Mann put it, “it’ll mean some crucial decisions given that their pricing strategy will be scrutinised by the competition watchdog as part of a major upcoming investigation into their planned merger”.
Orange and Capgemini have announced that their sovereign cloud joint venture, Bleu, is now engaging with “select French public and private organisations” to ensure their readiness to migrate to their forthcoming “cloud de confiance” services and future partner ecosystem. After receiving validation from the European Commission in 2023, first services are set to go live on the platform at the end of 2024. The pair also aims to obtain the SecNumCloud 3.2 qualification from the French National Cybersecurity Agency (ANSSI) to offer “cloud de confiance” based on Microsoft technology. In its statement, Orange highlighted it has seen “strong demand from an array of French organisations” for the Bleu service and therefore has freed up the coming months to prepare their migration, carry out tests and pilots with clients, and to ensure a successful onboarding on Bleu. Orange CEO, Christel Heydemann, explained that the telco is aware of “the specific challenges in terms of data protection and sovereignty for critical infrastructure operators and public institutions” in France, so the company is confident that “Bleu will meet these needs by providing a cloud solution based on Microsoft services while being fully compliant with the standards set by French authorities in its ‘trusted cloud’ doctrine”. Read more.
Tele2 has partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch an AI-powered customer support system for its internet of things (IoT) customers. The Swedish operator noted that its offering is powered by Amazon Bedrock, a fully managed service that “enables fast-paced building and scaling” of generative AI (GenAI) applications by selecting foundation models from leading AI companies accessible through application programming interface (API) calls. As the telco continues expanding its IoT business in Europe, it highlighted the importance of providing an enhanced customer experience and claimed that the solution will help IoT customer support agents to deliver “faster and more detailed conversational responses to IoT customer inquiries across multiple channels”. In the future, Tele2 plans to upgrade the solution with multi-language support for further localisation for its agents. But that’s not all: “An additional objective is making it available for IoT partners and customers as a multi-tenant solution. This way they can increase their own end-customer service efficiency and satisfaction in B2B2x scenarios through streamlined and personalised support”. Find out more.
UK operator EE (part of the BT Group) said it has achieved 4G coverage targets related to the Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme six months ahead of schedule. In a statement, the company noted it has expanded its 4G network to more than 1,600 countryside communities across the UK and, with this, has exceeded its goals, as set out by the UK government, before the deadline of June 2024. The expansion has been made in alignment with the first phase of the SRN scheme, under which the four UK operators have committed to upgrade or build mobile infrastructure and expand the reach of their 4G networks to eliminate partial ‘not-spots’ – areas which receive coverage from at least one operator, but not all. EE claimed that its “careful planning and prioritised investment” have helped it achieve its goal towards meeting the SRN requirements and that following this upgrade, its 4G coverage stands at 94% in England, 89% in Northern Ireland, 86% in Wales and 77% in Scotland. According to its own figures, its mobile coverage and internet access covers 99% of the population and 88% of UK’s landmass. “Even though we have met our Shared Rural Network commitments months ahead of time, we will continue to focus on enhancing mobile connectivity in areas without any existing coverage to ensure everyone – residents, tourists, local businesses and the emergency services – have the connectivity they need to thrive in the years ahead”, noted Greg McCall, EE’s chief networks officer. The next phase of the SRN, which covers the development of new-shared masts to bring 4G connectivity to areas with no existing mobile service, is due to be completed in 2027. The SRN is a £1bn joint programme between the UK government and the four mobile network operators in the UK, signed in March 2020 – see Government signs up UK mobile operators to Shared Rural Network scheme.
- The staff, TelecomTV
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