What’s up with… Orange, STC, KDDI

  • Orange offers ‘unprecedented protection’ with Cybersecure
  • STC joins United Group’s fan club  
  • KDDI preps Asia’s biggest AI datacentre

In today’s industry news roundup: Orange is building on its enterprise security service developments to pitch a consumer digital security service; STC is mulling a takeover offer for Europe’s United Group; KDDI is leading an AI datacentre joint effort in Japan; and much more!

Orange has launched a cybersecurity solution for customers in its home market of France. Dubbed Orange Cybersecure, the offering will be available from 6 June and will provide “unprecedented protection” against internet and telephone fraud. The solution aims to address the exponential growth and automation of cyberattacks that affect both enterprises and individuals and will enable users to check the legitimacy of a site, link, email or text message free of charge. According to Orange, two-thirds of people in France receive “suspicious messages every week” but “only 15% of them say they feel fully protected against digital risks.” The Orange Cyberdefense team will use AI-based technology equipped with a learning algorithm to create a database of unknown links that are to be thoroughly checked. The service is being launched initially in Orange’s home market, but the telco noted that there are also plans to launch Cybersecure in its other European markets, though it did not specify a timeframe. Read more.

Only weeks after e& was linked to a potential bid for United Group, another Middle East telecom sector giant, STC, is eyeing up an acquisition offer for the European network operator, Reuters has reported. United Group’s current owner, BC Partners, is believed to be lining up a sale process, with e& ready to submit a bid, according to reports from a month ago. United Group, a multicountry telecom and pay-TV service provider that has operations across south-east Europe (Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Greece, North Macedonia and Montenegro), is valued at about €8bn and it seems STC is in the process of deciding whether to join the anticipated bidding process. For 2023, United Group reported revenues of €2.8bn and earnings before costs and adjustments of €988m: It ended last year with 5.3 million broadband and fixed line customers and more than 7.3 million mobile subscribers, while its pay-TV and streaming video services are used by more than 8.2 million households. STC already has a relationship with United Group, as its Tawal subsidiary acquired the European operator’s tower assets for €1.2bn about a year ago. The Saudi telco is looking to expand its empire beyond the Middle East: It has already snapped up a stake in Telefónica and is believed to be one of bidders seeking to acquire Altice Portugal

News of STC’s interest came as United Group announced the deployment of a new terrestrial data transport cable connecting the Greek capital of Athens and the country’s northern port of Thessaloniki, and linking south-east Europe with key hotspots in western Europe. The deployment, which is due to be completed in 2025, “will reinforce the existing interconnections with Turkey and the Middle East, strengthening the existing interconnection with Bulgaria, and facilitate plans to enhance connectivity between Greece and Turkey,” noted United Group in this announcement

Japanese telco KDDI is teaming up with Supermicro, Sharp and Datasection to build what it describes as “the largest AI datacentre in Asia” on the site of a former Sharp production plant. The facility will house datacentre infrastructure running the latest technology from AI semiconductor giant Nvidia, with the expectation that Nvidia will be able to supply 1,000 units of its GB200 NVL72 exascale computers, KDDI noted in this announcement. Supermicro is set to provide a platform “capable of managing heat generation efficiently,” while the existing Sharp plant setup is expected to be able to provide the space and power supply needed to efficiently run state-of-the-art AI compute stacks. Datasection is to provide support services, and KDDI will build and operate the datacentre and its network infrastructure. KDDI is keen to be seen as a key player in the AI economy. It has launched a new strategy called WakonX to focus on the development and delivery of network and AI services that are tailored to specific industry verticals. KDDI has made several investments in AI specialists lately and was recently selected by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to be a certified provider of a cloud platform for generative AI research and development.   

Microsoft, Huawei and Vodafone Business have been recognised as the best-performing vendors in the cellular internet of things (IoT) market. According to a new study by Juniper Research, these companies have topped the charts for the comprehensiveness of their offerings, as well as their innovation and future prospects. Microsoft was recognised by the research house for its edge services for enterprise IoT, which are deemed “critical to its market leadership”. These services, Juniper Research added, enable enterprises to deploy cloud-native workloads, such as AI, directly on IoT devices while ensuring low latency and reliability during offline periods. It is also estimated that total operator revenue from cellular IoT will increase from $12.4bn in 2024 to $23bn in 2028. However, the team at Juniper Research warned that quantum attacks represent “a significant security vulnerability for enterprises” and that vendors of cellular IoT solutions should develop quantum-resistant cryptography services. Find out more.

SoftBank has demonstrated how its antenna technologies can deliver terahertz (THz) outdoor coverage for connected cars for the era beyond 5G and 6G. In a statement, the Japanese telco explained that during a field trial in Tokyo, it confirmed the reliability of THz communication as a use case for connected vehicles, expanding the spectrum’s application possibilities as it is currently widely assumed to be used for fixed wireless access (FWA) or near-field communication (NFC). In the test, it transmitted a 300GHz signal to a vehicle that was able to use 5G connectivity while driving on a straight road, demonstrating that coverage can be established specifically for vehicles by limiting the communication area only to roadways and thus preventing power dispersion, according to SoftBank.

Vodacom has deployed a triple-band mobile radio unit that combines the 1800MHz, 2100 FDD (frequency division duplex) and 2600 TDD (time division duplex). The deployment, which the company claims to be a world first, aimed to improve the network resilience in Egypt, with Vodafone Egypt using the advanced radio unit from Ericsson for the feat. According to Vodacom, which owns a 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt, the vendor’s equipment will allow the operator to lower the cost of rolling out its 4G/5G network in the country, as well as reduce the implementation time, energy consumption and tower load. Dejan Kastelic, Vodacom Group CTO, said the combination of three bands across FDD and TDD in a single radio unit is a “milestone in simplifying the engineering, deployment, and operation of our network”. Read more.

The semiconductor sector’s big guns have been taking it in turns to beat their chests and share their thoughts about AI at this week’s Computex show in Taiwan. Arm CEO Rene Haas shared how the company is enabling more than 100 billion Arm devices to be “ready for AI from cloud to edge by 2025” in this blog that accompanied his keynote speech, while Intel unveiled “cutting-edge technologies and architectures poised to dramatically accelerate the AI ecosystem – from the datacentre, cloud and network to the edge and PC.” Qualcomm president and CEO, Cristiano Amon, used his keynote to outline  what consumers and enterprises can expect from the Copilot+ PCs that are currently only powered by Snapdragon X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus Platforms. “The PC is reborn,” boasted Amon. “Copilot+ PCs powered by Snapdragon X Elite are the fastest, most intelligent Windows PCs ever built with AI integrated throughout the system and can deliver multiday battery life,” he added. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang opened the event on Sunday with a broad presentation that highlighted his company’s current market-leading position.  

- The staff, TelecomTV

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