What’s up with… Vodafone, IBM, GSMA, Google’s Stadia, Telkom SA

  • IBM, Vodafone have joined the GSMA’s Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce
  • Google is “winding down” its cloud gaming service, Stadia 
  • South African altnet Rain wants to be acquired by Telkom SA

In today’s industry roundup: Big names sign up to an industry initiative that sounds a bit like a Marvel movie; Google quits the cloud gaming service sector; Telkom doesn’t know where to focus its M&A attention; and more!

With IBM and Vodafone as its initial members, industry body the GSMA has formed the Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce to “help define policy, regulation and operator business processes for the enhanced protection of telecommunications in a future of advanced quantum computing.” The taskforce will “help define requirements, identify dependencies and create the roadmap to implement quantum-safe networking, mitigating the risks associated with future, more-powerful quantum computers,” according to the GSMA. Read more

Just three and a half years after a launch that heralded a new era in cloud gaming, Google has decided to close down Stadia, its consumer gaming service. In a blog about Google’s “long-term streaming strategy”, Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison conceded that “while Stadia's approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn't gained the traction with users that we expected, so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service.” He added: “We will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store. Players will continue to have access to their games library and play [until] 18 January 2023 so they can complete final play sessions… We remain deeply committed to gaming, and we will continue to invest in new tools, technologies and platforms that power the success of developers, industry partners, cloud customers and creators.” Google doesn’t share customer stats, but specialist blog Stadia Dosage estimated in July this year that about 2.25 million users had tried the service and around 10% to 20% were still using the service this summer.  

The telecom sector in South Africa is getting complex. Telkom SA, which is still the subject of a takeover offer from larger rival MTN, has received a proposal from the sector’s minnow, wireless service provider Rain, which would involve Telkom SA acquiring Rain in an all-stock deal, a move that would provide both parties with more network and spectrum assets. The Telkom board, which is “conscious of economic and market dynamics and in accordance with its legal obligations, is considering various strategic options, including non-binding merger and acquisition proposals”, says it’s considering the offer. MTN isn’t too pleased, and has written to Telkom, suggesting it might withdraw its takeover offer if Telkom gets friendly with Rain. 

As previously mentioned, yesterday (Thursday 29 September) was Telefónica’s Metaverse Day, during which various members of the Spanish operator’s executive team discussed not only the immersive digital world but digital applications services, such as tokens, blockchain/web3, VR, AR and mixed reality devices, and more. Industry analyst Paolo Pescatore, founder of PP Foresight, beamed in for the day, so what did he make of it all? “Understandability, Telefónica is hugely bullish on the market opportunity and I applaud the vision, approach and ethos to jump into the unknown but, let’s be honest, telcos don’t have a proven track record in services. Arguably, the key play for Telefónica is… collaborating with partners and connecting them to users” via immersive platforms. But as Pescatore points out, the whole sector is still at an incredibly early stage and a long way off mass acceptance. “People are not rushing out of their seats to buy a VR headset or even watch 360 degree videos. There are numerous challenges – even the name is confusing to the average person on the street” and “while price will always be a factor, creating demand is far more complex than just lowering prices. This is my worry for a lot of these technologies that are fast-tracked into people’s hands – 8K is another example. There’s no demand, so why rush it? Maybe it’s one for the current gen-z or, more likely, future generations,” concludes Pescatore. 

International IT and communications services giant NTT Ltd, part of the giant NTT Group, is to help plan and build a private 5G network for the City of Las Vegas which, once rolled out, will be “the most extensive private network in the United States”. Shahid Ahmed, group EVP of new ventures and innovation at NTT Ltd, stated: “The City of Las Vegas network will drive innovation and be a model for cities and businesses worldwide. Once implemented, it will be the largest open, municipal-network CBRS deployment in the US. With the support of NTT’s bespoke services, local organisations can use their own devices and develop their applications on the network. City wide, residents and visitors will receive improved connectivity, safety and security, and access to healthcare and other critical services,” added Ahmed. Read more

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appears to be serious about clearing space junk. The agency adopted rules that will require satellite operators to deorbit low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites within five years of completing missions, as opposed to the “decades-old” guideline of 25 years. According to the FCC, orbital debris such as defunct satellites and discarded rocket cores fill the space, imposing challenges on current and future missions. It also claimed the novel regulation will bring “more accountability” and reduce the risk of “costly collisions that increase debris”. Learn more here.

Spanish network operator MásMóvil, which is in the process of being acquired by Orange, has deepened its partnership with transport solutions provider Indra to provide 5G-enabled mobility solutions. The duo unveiled plans to create a test site in Madrid to develop new smart mobility solutions and said they hope the facility will be seen as a space where it can collaborate with startups, universities, and small and medium-sized enterprises to conduct research, development and innovation (RDI) activities, proofs of concept, demonstrations and pilots to exploit the 5G potential for more connected transportation. Find out more about the joint initiative here.

SoftBank joined forces with Japanese conglomerate Hitachi to deploy a manufacturing site visualisation service that will collect and analyse data to boost productivity. The company said data from workers’ movements and production equipment operations will help them assess what causes production loss at manufacturing facilities. For the purpose of data gathering, SoftBank will build a private 5G network and deploy cloud services at the plant. SoftBank added that it will also work to identify potential customers willing to test the service before launching it by the end of its fiscal year 2023. More information is available in its statement available, in Japanese, here.

- The staff, TelecomTV​​​​​​​

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