What’s up with… Swisscom, BT, UK cloud sector

  • Swisscom launches AI Platform
  • BT CEO’s Scandi-inspired strategy 
  • UK’s CMA updates on cloud service probe

In today’s industry news roundup: Swisscom builds on its Nvidia relationship; Allison Kirkby brings her Scandinavian experience to the UK as the CEO focuses on BT’s domestic market; the UK’s competition watchdog updates on its cloud services market probe; and much more!

Swisscom has unveiled its Swiss AI Platform, which offers guaranteed data storage within Switzerland’s border and which from autumn this year will offer customers access to Nvidia supercomputers, generative AI (GenAI) services, an AI Work Hub for developing AI solutions and a library of models. “It is intended to be a one-stop shop for AI solutions, providing everything from advice to operation,” notes Swisscom, which announced its increasingly tight relationship with Nvidia earlier this year. According to the telco, the Swiss AI Platform’s modular design will give customers “the flexibility to select and combine components according to their requirements… GPU Rental provides access to Switzerland’s first Nvidia SuperPOD system, which enables the processing of large volumes of data; for instance, for the training, finetuning and operation of models,” noted Swisscom in this announcement. It added: “By working with Nvidia, Swisscom has leading global industry experts on board with experience in implementing artificial intelligence in diverse industries, sectors and specific application scenarios and who are abreast of the rapid developments in AI. The close collaboration with Nvidia enhances Swisscom’s strong partnerships with global public cloud providers, independent software companies and universities. Together with Swisscom’s 400 AI and data specialists and their many years of extensive experience, they constitute a unique Swiss Center of Excellence. This ensures that Swisscom is fully equipped to provide customers with comprehensive, tailored, technology-neutral solutions as a trustworthy partner.” Urs Lehner, head of business customers at Swisscom, noted: “Understanding our customers’ needs is our top priority. We can then support them in setting up their AI projects and customising them accordingly. Sensitive data is in good hands thanks to our powerful, trustworthy Swiss infrastructure. It is a Swiss solution for the Swiss economy.”

Philip Jansen, who stepped down as BT’s CEO at the end of January this year, picked up a total remuneration package of £3.72m during the UK national operator’s most recent financial year, which began in April 2023. That total comprised £1.1m in salary, pension allowance and benefits payments and £2.6m in cash bonuses and shares, according to details published in the telco’s annual report. Jansen believes he left BT in better shape than when he joined in early 2019 thanks to his determination to stick rigidly to his network investment plan, handing over an operator with 75% population coverage with 5G and 99% coverage with 4G, as well as a fibre access network that reaches 13.8 million premises, about half the nation’s total. His successor, Allison Kirkby, is now building on Jansen’s legacy with her own strategy, which includes a greater focus on the UK market and less of a focus on international operations. In the annual report, Kirkby, who joined from Swedish telco Telia, noted: “Having spent the last decade running telecoms companies in Scandinavia, I’ve seen first-hand how much more digital and connected those nations are. For example, Sweden’s equivalent FTTP take-up rate is over 80%, and they have far greater adoption of the new services that this connectivity enables. Digital platforms are embedded and aligned across all aspects of everyday life, with online banking, payment, public services and healthcare apps used at much higher rates than in the UK. What I saw in Sweden is a clear example of how a better-connected society can unlock huge benefits for both governments and citizens. As well as reducing costs, bureaucracy, fraud and complexity, these digital services also have great potential to help society decarbonise, and to underpin the creation of new, technology-based models that empower businesses to compete in an increasingly digital, global marketplace. That’s why I’m committed to ensuring BT Group plays a key role in helping the UK catch up and realise the benefits of a fully connected society. This isn’t something that’s nice to do – it’s critical to the UK’s future. Having made huge investments into UK infrastructure and services, we must ensure everyone now benefits from them. And all the right foundations are in place to enable this. As well as our own networks, we have regulatory stability, government policy that incentivises further investment, and strong competition spurring all of us in the industry to keep innovating. I know from my years of experience in the industry that the most successful telcos around the world are national champions who leverage their history, their assets and technology leadership to create value for all. Building on the progress we have made, and with the transformation of BT Group now accelerating, we are moving into a phase where the full potential of our brands, networks, products and services can be realised. This will unlock benefits for UK citizens, businesses and the economy as a whole – and I personally can’t wait to start delivering for all our stakeholders.”

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provided an update on its probe, which was initiated last year, into the country’s £7.5bn-a-year public cloud infrastructure services market that is currently dominated by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. While it seems increasingly likely that the watchdog will impose some kind of “behavioural” remedies to address an adverse effect on competition (AEC) it finds in the market due to the business practices of the dominant players, the CMA is “not currently minded to prioritise further consideration of structural or operational separation remedies” that would involve splitting up the cloud players’ UK operations, the CMA noted in its document on potential remedies. The CMA now plans to hold hearings with AWS, Microsoft and Google, which plays a minor role in the UK cloud services sector, and then publish its provisional findings in September or October: A final decision must be made and published by 4 April 2025. 

One of the biggest challenges facing communications service providers (CSPs) right now is how to generate growing and profitable revenues from the business-to-business (B2B) services sector. Deutsche Telekom’s latest effort to do just that comes in the form of a partnership with Mitel. The two companies are bundling Mitel’s cloud-based communications and collaboration suite with broadband access services from DT to offer enterprises a service dubbed ‘Unify X powered by Telekom’. Read more.

British tech sector entrepreneur Mike Lynch has been found not guilty by a jury in a San Francisco court of all 15 counts of fraud he was facing over the $11.1bn sale of his software company, Autonomy, to Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 2011. Soon after the acquisition, HP wrote down the value of Autonomy by $8.8bn and claimed it had been duped into overpaying because of major accounting improprieties. For further details, see this BBC report.   

Liquid C2, a division of pan-African network operator and tech group Liquid Intelligent Technologies, a leading pan-African technology group, has become the first Google Cloud Interconnect provider on the continent. Cloud Interconnect extends the external networks of businesses and organisations directly to the Google Cloud network through a private, high-availability, low-latency connection. By becoming a Google Cloud Interconnect provider, Liquid C2 can offer its customers direct access to Google Cloud services,” enabling companies in Africa to take advantage of all the benefits of the cloud… The direct connection’s increased speed and higher bandwidth significantly enhances the performance of cloud-based applications,” noted Liquid Intelligent Technologies in this announcement. Oswald Jumira, Liquid C2’s CEO, stated: “Direct access to the Google Cloud network will bring about the enhanced security and operating efficiencies that our customers in wholesale, enterprise and government are seeking.”

Test and measurement vendor Keysight Technologies has teamed up with radio access network (RAN) equipment giant Ericsson to create a pre-standards 6G network proof of concept (PoC) comprising a 6G protocol stack (a modified 5G stack) running on an Ericsson base station and a Keysight emulated user device. The partners will demonstrate the PoC, which includes various tests across high (sub-Thz) spectrum bands, at the IEEE International Conference on Communications 2024 in Denver, Colorado (9-13 June). Freddie Södergren, head of technology and strategy for Ericsson’s networks division, stated:  “As we navigate the early stages of 6G development, our focus is on learning and exploring the transformative potential of future technologies. Exploring new frequency bands creates a collaborative environment where diverse players can come together to shape the future contours of connectivity and technological innovation, ensuring that such advanced technologies are integrated seamlessly and sustainably into our connected world.” Read more

- The staff, TelecomTV

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