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4 April 2023

Round-up of highlights from the week’s news

After months of uncertainty, the Canadian Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Industry last week confirmed Canadian MNO Rogers Communications’ proposed $16bn merger/acquisition of Shaw Communications.

Initially proposed two years ago in March 2021, the deal to create a Canadian heavyweight of fixed-line and mobile converged services was contentious from the beginning, with dissenting voices proclaiming the steamrolling of consumer interests. The last of the three regulatory holdouts, Canada’s Competition’s Bureau, was defeated in an early January appeals court ruling.

Final approval concerned the transfer of some of Shaw’s spectrum licenses as part of the sale of its 2m subscriber-strong Freedom Mobile business to Quebecor subsidiary Videotron, a condition imposed by regulators.

Fixed-mobile convergence is also a major theme in other parts of the world. In Indonesia, Singaporean telco Singtel last week announced to its shareholders its intentions to drive the integration of Indonesia’s first mobile operator, Telkomsel, with Telkom Indonesia’s fixed broadband business.

Singtel holds a 35% share in Telkomsel and had previously signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Telkom in April 2022, pledging Telkomsel and Telkom to collaborate over fixed-broadband to drive the operator’s fixed-mobile convergence strategy.

As 5G monetization has so far largely fallen flat, the bundling of fixed and mobile services has emerged as a fan favorite amongst the world’s operators.

Embattled Chinese e-commerce and technology company Alibaba has just been struck another blow in the Chinese government’s latest attempts to rein in its domestic technology giants, with implications for the Chinese cloud service market.

The company, whose founder Jack Ma temporarily vanished in the Winter of 2020 following public criticism of the central government, has been locked in a struggle with the Chinese Communist Party leadership for the better part of two years.

Alibaba has now announced its re-organization into six separate businesses: e-commerce, cloud, logistics, digital business and digital media.

Currently the most important cloud service provider in China, the move puts in doubt its ability to maintain its market share and remain competitive in the face of re-doubled efforts to establish a cloud presence by China’s mobile carriers China Mobile, Telecom and Unicom, but also traditional cloud rivals Huawei, Tencent and Baidu.

Verizon continues with its spate of lucrative government contracts and last week was awarded a deal to overhaul and update the Federal Aviation Commission’s mission critical communications systems.

To deliver on the $2.4bn deal, Verizon has enlisted the help of Saab’s air traffic management division, and mission critical communications specialist Frequentis.

It is the latest in a series of government contracts the carrier has managed to land over the past years. Others include a $1.5bn deal with the State Department and a $2.5bn deal with the Department of Health and Human Services in 2020, a $0.5bn deal with the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2021, and a trio of contracts, also with the DoD, worth almost $1bn last summer.

Rakuten has invited telcos and relevant vendors in Europe and the Middle East to test their ORAN technologies and products in a new facility just opened in the UK. Called the Rakuten Open RAN (ORAN) customer experience center, the facility is the result of cooperation between Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and the UK’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

The new ORAN center will serve as a European hub for interoperability testing around the viability of the technology for broadening the vendor ecosystem in new and existing networks. It will be used to host workshops and events designed to show that the latest ORAN hardware and software can improve operational efficiency.


India’s struggling third largest telco Vodafone Idea is to collaborate with L&T Smart World & Communication (SWC), a business unit of L&T Construction, to promote private LTE enterprise networks in the country. The companies will carry out a joint proof-of-concept (PoC) at L&T Heavy Engineering’s A M Naik Heavy Engineering Complex, in Hazira, India.

L&T SWC and Vodafone Idea will also develop 5G use cases for public safety, smart cities and connected health, as part of ongoing trials on 5G frequencies allocated by the Indian government. The private LTE PoC is based on technology from Nokia.



China finished 2022 with 1.84bn cellular IoT connections and is on track to reach 3.6 bn by 2030, according to a report and forecast from the GSMA, based on data supplied by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). Apart from having the world’s highest number of cellular IoT connections, China is also the first country where the total exceeds the number of mobile users, according to GSMA.

The cellular NB IoT LPWAN variant accounts for by far the largest proportion of IoT connections in China, spanning a fast-expanding array of use cases. According to the MIIT figures, water meters, gas meters, smoke detectors and tracking each account for over 10 million cellular IoT connections in the country. Agriculture, streetlights passed the 1 million mark, along with five other usage sectors. Public services, connected vehicles, smart retail and smart home applications dominate the consumer side, accounting for 1.4 bn connections between them.

The GSMA forecast that China will account for 67% of the 3.6bn global cellular IoT connections in 2030, with Europe and the US taking about 21% between them in almost equal proportions.


Amazon is attempting to boost its US-wide LoRa-based Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) called Sidewalk designed to link consumer smart home devices into local wireless infrastructure for IoT monitoring. The network now reaches 90% of the US population and combines the proprietary LoRa protocol operating in the 900 MHz band with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for short range communications in user premises. It has attracted some support from chip makers Nordic Semiconductor, Silicon Labs, and Texas Instruments, as well as the module maker Quectel, but faces competition from the cellular variant NB-IoT, promoted by US carriers AT&T and Verizon. In China NB IoT has been cleaning up in LPWAN with strong support from Huawei as well as the state-owned telcos (see separate brief on Chinese IoT growth).