What’s up with… Orange, Huawei in Europe, the Gateway to Europe

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Nov 14, 2022

  • Orange adds to its cybersecurity arsenal
  • EC bigwig puts pressure on Huawei
  • Ireland bypasses UK with latest subsea network plan

In today’s industry news roundup: Orange buys a pair of Swiss security specialists; the EC’s Vestager pressures Germany over Huawei; Ireland is linking Europe to the world, but no longer via the UK; and more! 

Determined to be a leading player in cybersecurity, Orange is beefing up its capabilities with the acquisition (for an undisclosed sum) of two related Swiss companies: SCRT has been supporting its customers in the French-speaking Swiss cybersecurity market for 20 years with “managed security services, consulting, ethical hacking and remediation in the event of an attack”; while Telsys is focused on the management of IT solutions. The acquisitions have been made by Orange Cyberdefense, which now has more than 2,700 staff and a presence in nine European countries (France, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK and Switzerland). Orange Cyberdefense, which already has more than 8,500 customers worldwide, claims to be growing faster than the cybersecurity market, and is aiming to generate revenues of €1bn in 2023. Read more

The European Commission appears keen to see Huawei ousted from Europe’s next-generation communications networks. According to Politico, Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the commissioners’ group “A Europe fit for the digital age”, noted last week during an update on cybersecurity developments that, "We are urging member states who have not yet imposed restrictions on high-risk suppliers to do that without delay, as a matter of urgency." While there may be more than one, the main “high-risk supplier” in question is Huawei, and the country that has done the least to conform to the Commission’s 5G Toolbox recommendations is, it seems, Germany, though it is not alone, according to Vestager. 

The Republic of Ireland, still very much an enthusiastic member state of the European Union, is following a ‘Gateway to Europe’ strategy with regards to submarine cable systems, as the country positions itself to become “a key international connectivity hub between Europe and North America”. Eamon Ryan, who is Ireland’s minister for the environment, climate and communications as well as the minister for transport, explained the new policy last Friday at the inauguration ceremony marking the completion of the IRIS high-speed undersea cable system that runs for 1,700km from Ballyloughane Strand in Galway, on the west coast of Ireland, to Thorlakshofen beach in the south-west of Iceland. IRIS is a six-fibre pair trunk with a total capacity of 108Tbit/s, with each fibre pair delivering 18Tbit/s. The subsea cable is owned and will be operated by Farice, an enterprise fully owned by the Icelandic government. Farice contracted New Jersey, US-based subsea optical network system specialist SubCom to lay the cable, which it did using its vessel CS Durable at a rate of between 200km to 300km per day. IRIS will enter commercial service at the start of 2023 and is the first direct cable link between Ireland and Iceland. What’s more, in another example of how the UK is being sidelined since Brexit, this is the first Irish submarine cable that is not linked to the UK. Ryan is bullish about Ireland’s prospects as a connectivity hub between North America, the north and south of Europe and on to the rest of the world and regards the IRIS cable as the catalyst for ”continued and expanding investment". Describing Ireland’s subsequent comms strategy as “part of the new industrial revolution… that combines high-quality, digital infrastructure with renewable technology, infrastructure and skills,” the minister stated at a recent cable-landing ceremony that the sector will help “ensure that Ireland stays ahead of both the digital and climate curves and maintains its competitive advantage as a clean, innovative, secure and open economy.” He added that "the IRIS cable enhances Ireland’s digital connectivity internationally, providing the essential factors needed by businesses to be able to compete globally and attract investment", while the “direct, high-capacity route to Iceland and through to northern Europe provides opportunities for all businesses to extend their market reach.” Also speaking at the inauguration, Ireland’s minister of state, Ossian Smyth, said, “This is the start of a strategic move by Ireland to connect directly to northern and southern Europe. Ireland is now open for business to further subsea cables.”

It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that Reliance Jio is the strongest telecoms brand in India, according to a new report, India’s Most Desired Brands 2022, published by TRA Research, a brand intelligence and data insights company dedicated to understanding and analysing “stakeholder behaviour”. Lower down the rankings of the strongest telecoms brands come Jio’s rivals, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and BSNL. Navi Mumbai-based Jio is the largest mobile operator in India, with a 4G network that spans all of the country’s 22 ‘circles’ (communications service areas). It has just launched its first 5G services and plans to cover the country with its next-generation mobile services by the end of 2023. Yet the operator has been offering mobile services for barely six years and has massively disrupted the Indian telecoms environment since its soft launch at the very end of December 2015, after which it began full commercial services in September 2016. Since then it has grown to be the largest mobile network operator in India and the third-largest mobile network operator in the world with 426.2 million subscribers and a 37% market share of the country’s mobile services market, according to the latest figures from the country’s regulator the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Its share of the broadband services market (mobile and fixed) is 52.3%, way ahead of Bharti Airtel’s 27.5%, Vodafone Idea’s 15.1% and the 3.2% market share commanded by the basket case that is BSNL, which is 100% owned by the Indian government. 

It appears that better times might be coming SoftBank Group’s way. The company has reported fiscal Q2 (ending on 30 September) profit, for the first time in the past three quarters, totalling ¥3tn (approximately $21.4bn) compared with a loss of ¥398bn ($2.8bn) in the same period of 2021. Gains were made by selling part of its stake in Alibaba Group, which has offset the continuous decline in its Vision Fund venture capital entity. Vision Fund reportedly saw an investment loss of ¥1.4tn ($9.9bn) in the quarter. In an earnings call, chairman and CEO of SoftBank Masayoshi Son noted it was his last time presenting the company’s results as he is shifting focus towards the UK chip design specialist Arm, which is set for an IPO after plans for a $66bn acquisition by Nvidia crumbled in February – see Ouch! NVIDIA finally loses in Arm wrestling contest. Full breakdown of the company’s financial results for its fiscal half year 2022 can be found here.

Staying with SoftBank… The company has announced it will shut down its 3G service by 31 January 2024, with subscribers to the legacy technology required to switch to a billing plan or model supporting 4G and 5G instead. “SoftBank Corp. began offering 3G services in December 2002, but now 4G and 5G services with higher speeds and higher quality are becoming more popular. With the termination of the 3G service, we aim to improve customer satisfaction by promoting the effective use of radio waves and providing comfortable communication services with more stable quality”, it said in a statement available here.

Tele2 Russia, the mobile operator which was originally founded by Sweden’s Tele2 but now a wholly-owned subsidiary by Rostelecom, has reportedly begun legal proceedings against Ericsson and Satel TVK, a Russian company providing design and installation of low-voltage engineering networks, which has been supplying Tele2 with Ericsson’s kit. The legal action has been undertaken as the companies allegedly refused to carry out their obligations to provide equipment, most of which had been outlined in orders made long before sanctions against Russia were put in place, according to Tele2’s claims. Ericsson has acknowledged it is aware of the lawsuit, without providing any further commentary. The move is a consequence of the Swedish network vendor’s decision in April to suspend its business in Russia “indefinitely”, causing estimated damages of SEK900 million ($95m). The vendor’s main European rival, Nokia, has also stopped doing business in the country – see Nokia the latest to exit Russia, adding to the woes of the country’s mobile operators.

The Cloud Infrastructure Service Providers in Europe (CISPE) organisation, a regional pressure group that “gives a voice” to Europe’s cloud infrastructure companies, has filed a formal competition complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition. “CISPE supports its two members, OVHcloud and Aruba, which have already filed a separate complaint against Microsoft. With its own complaint, CISPE takes into account serious unresolved issues and represents the wider European cloud infrastructure sector. It seeks remedies that will benefit customers and vendors in a vibrant marketplace for cloud infrastructure services,” noted the CISPE in this announcement. “Recent announcements, blogs and FAQ documents published by Microsoft in an effort to head-off market investigations have not provided the detail, clarity or assurance that it truly intends to bring a swift end to its anti-competitive licensing practices. On the contrary, the new contractual terms imposed unilaterally by Microsoft on 1st October 2022 add new unfair practices to the list. Microsoft’s ongoing position and behaviours are irreparably damaging the European cloud ecosystem and depriving European customers of choice in their cloud deployments. CISPE feels it has no option but to become a formal complainant and to urge the European Commission to act,” it added.

Nokia Bell Labs will use Keysight's sub-Terahertz (THz) test bed to verify the performance of 5G-Advanced and 6G transceiver (TRX) modules, power amplifiers, transceivers and antennas on a glass substrate. “Keysight's 6G test bed was chosen to verify, under both linear and nonlinear conditions, the performance of TRX modules, power amplifiers and antennas. Nokia designed these network infrastructure components by leveraging complex modulation technology and spectrum in D-Band (110GHz to 170GHz) and E-Band (60GHz to 90GHz),” noted the test and measurement technology specialist in this announcement

Photonic quantum computing startup Xanadu has achieved unicorn status by raising US$100m in a Series C round of funding that gives it a valuation of $1bn.  Xanadu, which was founded in 2016 and has now raised $250m in total, says its photonic approach to building quantum computers is unique and advantageous for several reasons. “Most importantly, using photonics enables the leveraging of modern chip manufacturing facilities, the application of optical components developed by the pre-existing telecommunications industry and the use of fibre optics to network photonic chips together. Such networking is needed to reach and exceed one million qubits, the scale at which useful applications can be accessed,” noted the company in this announcement

The world’s mobile operators are “making strong progress in maximising the use of renewable energy in their networks,” according to industry organisation the GSMA, which has issued the results of a new survey to coincide with the ongoing climate change talks at COP27 in Egypt. The results, gleaned from 33 operators covering 86 countries and about half of the world’s mobile connections, show that: 

  • European networks are leading globally, purchasing on average 71% renewable energy.
  • Mobile networks in 41 of the 86 countries surveyed use more than 75% renewable energy
  • Mobile networks in 29 of the 86 countries use less than 25% renewable energy
  • Some 32% of renewables used by operators is procured through power purchase agreements with energy generators
  • While 63% is achieved via renewable energy certificates from electricity markets
  • And 4% results from self-generation of renewable electricity.

Not surprisingly, the results show regional differences. “The figures show that operators in Europe and North America have been able to both access and scale up the amount of renewable electricity used to power their networks in recent years. In contrast, accessing renewable electricity is still a challenge in many countries, shown by lower market-based regional figures across Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America,” according to the GSMA, which adds that “access to an additional 64 terawatt-hours (TWh) of renewable electricity – roughly equivalent to Austria’s annual energy usage – will be required by operators globally by 2030, as they seek to decarbonise their energy supplies.” Read more

- The staff, TelecomTV

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