What’s up with… Singtel, BT, Liberty Global

  • Singtel taps APIs for enhanced security
  • BT and Orca Computing take quantum tech to the datacentre
  • Liberty Global creates new role for sales push

In today’s industry news roundup: Singtel is leveraging network APIs in its latest anti-fraud and authentication efforts; BT and partner Orca Computing have been showing off the potential of quantum datacentres; Liberty Global promotes from within to create a new group-wide commercial exec role; and much more! 

Singaporean operators Singtel and M1 have joined forces to fight digital fraud with the launch of network application programming interfaces (APIs). The companies have agreed in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enable network-based authentication for their respective mobile subscribers through interoperable APIs, which are based on the Open Gateway common framework set by industry association the GSMA. “With on-demand and secure access to telco capabilities through APIs, telco networks will become a direct authentication solution, expediting the user authentication experience that is critical in a digital age,” Singtel noted in a statement unveiling the move. The two companies will integrate a suite of APIs to allow enterprises to access “real-time telco network data for authentication and fraud detection”. The pair’s first API set will focus on number verification and validating device location. Singtel CEO, Ng Tian Chong, noted that the partnership with M1 is a step “in the right direction” and urged other telcos to join the effort. Find out more.

But that’s not all from Singtel when it comes to security-focused developments… The Singaporean operator has launched SingVerify, a suite of authentication solutions that can authenticate digital identities registered on consumer services or platforms against telco data, the company explained. SingVerify will use APIs to enable on-demand and “secure access” to telco capabilities, so that digital identities can be secured as a direct authentication solution. Singtel believes the offering will help service providers, such as e-commerce platforms and banks, to mitigate phishing and malware app scams. Read more.

Orca Computing, a developer of full-stack photonic quantum computing systems, and BT Group have showcased technologies that can be used to build quantum datacentres. At a demonstration day held at BT’s R&D hub in Adastral Park, the pair exhibited how quantum communication and computing systems can be integrated with classical datacentres. The demo was part of a project run by Orca Computing and supported by a consortium of 14 organisations and universities, including BT. The participants presented a hybrid quantum-classical datacentre architecture and introduced a quantum technology access programme, which set the stage for “a series of state-of-the-art technology demonstrations”. BT Group’s senior manager for optical networks and quantum research, Andrew Lord, described the project as a significant step towards developing a quantum internet. He added that even before full-scale quantum computers are available, it is “crucial” to prove that they can be “fully integrated into the next-generation internet”. BT is also among the founding members of industry consortium UKQuantum, which promotes quantum research and technology, and the telco group has already built a commercial quantum-secure metro network in London – see BT targets thousands of businesses with its new quantum-secured network.

Liberty Global, the communications networks and technology group with multiple businesses across Europe, has created a new senior executive role in an effort to accelerate business development and sales growth at its operating companies, and has promoted from within to fill the role. Severina Pascu, who has been working at various Liberty Global group companies since 2007, has been made the company’s senior vice president for commercial and operations, and will report directly to CEO Mike Fries. “Severina is a world-class operator and leader,” stated Fries in this announcement. “Her strong focus on driving change will be instrumental in accelerating the execution of our in-market strategies and shaping our future success. I’m excited to work more closely with her as we implement our value creation strategies across the group.” Pascu’s roles in recent years have included deputy CEO and chief commercial officer for Sunrise in Switzerland and CFO and deputy CEO at Virgin Media in the UK. Liberty Global recently announced a revamp of its European operations in an effort to prop up its share price, which currently stands at $17.96, down by 5% since the start of this calendar year.  

Just six months after appointing a new chief compliance officer following a major scandal related to alleged corrupt business practices in Iraq, Ericsson has announced yet another change at the top of its compliance department. Rebecca Rohr, currently head of corporate and government investigations at Ericsson, will oversee the company’s compliance team as well as its investigations office, with both functions being brought under a single leader, although her start date has not yet been revealed. She will take over the role from Jan Sprafke, who was appointed chief compliance officer on 2 October 2023, after serving in the role on an interim basis since 28 February last year – as his predecessor, Laurie Waddy, had left the company. While a date for Sprafke’s departure has not been disclosed, the Swedish vendor did say he is leaving to pursue other opportunities. “I’m proud of the progress of our ethics and compliance programme over the last few years. As the company is truly dedicated in its continued mission to instil integrity into everything it does, and is poised for sustainable success, I am excited to explore new opportunities,” Sprafke said. Rohr, who joined Ericsson in 2022, noted that she will be leading the compliance and the investigations departments at the company “to improve our ways of working and strengthen [the] sustainability of the programme.” Ericsson’s president and CEO, Börje Ekholm, added: “With the change in reporting structure and Becky [Rebecca Rohr] as our new CCO [chief compliance officer], we will continue to build and transform our culture, focusing on strong decision-making and risk management, effective oversight, and accountability. Ethical standards shall continue to stand [at] the centre of everything we do and be our competitive strength.” In March 2022, Ericsson admitted it was under fire by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) which, at the time, found the company had breached rules related to Ericsson’s historical operations in Iraq. A year later, the company pleaded guilty to DoJ’s charges and agreed to pay a fine of $206.7m – see What’s up with… Ericsson, stc, Deutsche Telekom.

Optus has paid a fine of AUS$1.5m (US$982.163) after being found guilty by the Australian watchdog of “large-scale breaches of public safety rules”. In a statement, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced that the penalty had been imposed after finding the telco had left almost 200,000 mobile customers at risk by failing to upload required customer information to a database that is used by critical services, such as an emergency alert service, between January 2021 and September 2023. The Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) is used to send emergency text messages to people in the event of disasters, such as floods and bushfires, and to provide location information to the police, ambulance and fire brigade in an emergency. “While we are not aware of anyone being directly harmed due to the non-compliance in this case, it’s alarming that Optus placed so many customers in this position for so long,” said ACMA member Samantha Yorke. The breach was discovered after a compliance audit indicated that Optus had failed to upload data via its outsourced supplier, Prvidr. “Optus cannot outsource its obligations, even if part of the process is being undertaken by a third party,” Yorke noted. She emphasised that all telcos need to have systems in place that “ensure they are meeting their obligations, including having robust oversight and assurance processes for third-party suppliers.” Following the penalty, Optus agreed to carry out an independent review of its compliance with the obligations set out by the IPND industry code. If it fails to comply, the operator could be forced to pay up to AUS$10m per breach (US$6.5m). The Australian telco also suffered a massive outage in November 2023, in which it left 40% of the country’s population without mobile services. The disruption led to the departure of then-CEO, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin.

US regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and UK telecom watchdog Ofcom have joined forces to “combat illegal robocalls and robotexts” by agreeing to “cooperate and share information to further their shared interests in protecting consumers and ensuring the integrity of communications networks,” the FCC has announced. “Junk calls and texts are a threat to everyone with a phone. These scammers cross borders to trick, irritate, and defraud consumers,” noted FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “That’s why the FCC has taken critical steps to cut off illegal international robocall traffic, and step up our cooperation with our international partners. This new partnership is another breakthrough in this vital work.” Ofcom’s CEO, Dame Melanie Dawes, added: “Ofcom has been stepping up its work in the UK to combat criminals who try to cheat people out of their life savings over the phone and online. This is a complex problem that doesn’t respect borders and needs coordinated action from regulators, governments, police and companies around the world. Our close partnership with the FCC will help us crack down on scammers wherever they are.”

- The staff, TelecomTV

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