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18 April 2023

Worth Noting – Deals, Launches and Products, in the wireless industry

NTT and SES have announced a partnership, to combine NTT’s enterprise services with SES’s satellite connectivity offerings. The goal is to provide a new ‘Edge-as-a-Service’ portfolio, aimed at private 5G, edge computing, and IoT applications.

Vodafone is valuing its Spanish wing at around $4 billion, according to reports from Bloomberg. Vodafone is facing significant investor pressure, and given that its rumored acquisition of MasMovil fell apart last year, Vodafone appears to have abandoned its expansionist strategy.

Four US congresspeople have petitioned the US Department of Justice to reexamine the $43 billion sale of AT&T’s WarnerMedia assets to Discovery, alleging that the deal has enabled the new entity to “adopt potentially anticompetitive practices.” This includes reducing programming options for consumers, as well as staff layoffs.

T-Mobile USA has confirmed its two fiber partners, which it is using to provide fixed-line services. In New York City, Pilot Fiber is the provider, while for Northglenn and Pueblo in Colorado, Intrepid Fiber is on hand.

Vodafone NZ has completed its rebrand to One New Zealand, announcing a coverage deal with SpaceX to provide 100% national coverage for an emergency calling feature for compatible smartphones.

Telkom and Telkomsel have announced a deal that will move Telkom’s IndiHome fixed-line broadband division inside Telkomsel. Telkomsel is currently 65% owned by Telkom, with the other 35% owned by Singtel, the Singaporean MNO. IndiHome is now valued at $5.1 billion, and claims a 75.2% market share in Indonesia. Despite this, it is labeled as a high-growth business.

Rogers is acquiring BAI Canada, the company that holds the exclusive rights for the Toronto Transit Commission wireless network – a 5G project that will serve mass transit and emergency services systems. No price has been given, but Rogers received significant pushback in its only-recently-approved purchase of Shaw.

Nokia has upset Huawei, after agreeing to sell its 51% in the two parties’ TD Tech joint venture. TD Tech develops wireless communications technologies, and has found success in the Chinese mobile networks. Huawei argues that the replacement partner, an adhesive and ink specialist called New Oriental New Materials, lacks the contractually specified scale and expertise. A price of around $305 million has been reported.

Comcast has deployed around 900 WiFi 6E access points from Extreme Networks, at the home of the San Francisco Giants – Oracle Park. The pair claim that this makes the Giants the first team to be completely WiFi 6E ready. Use cases include fast mobile entry, mobile concessions sales, and future apps such as AR and VR experiences, and biometrics-based entry.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is advocating for 1.2 GHz of spectrum in the 6 GHz region to be freed up for Indian MNOs, in order to create both 5G and 6G networks. The COAI represents Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone Idea. The latter has struggled financially, and has had to delay its 5G deployment yet again, leaving India with an effective 5G duopoly.

Astrocast has been selected by the EU’s CiROCCO project, to help use satellite IoT systems to plan renewable energy systems (RES) deployments. The initial target locations, for the surveying, are Serbia, Spain, and Egypt.

Semtech has launched the SX93786 chipset, aimed at 5G-enabled personal consumer electronics. Part of the PerSe product line, Semtech claims intelligent sensors powered by these chips have led the market for the past decade.

T-Mobile USA is under scrutiny, for employing some 9,000 fewer staff today than it did when it acquired Sprint, for some $26.5 billion. This is despite jobs growth being part of the promises made to appease the regulators.

The UK has awarded OneWeb two trial satellite broadband projects, as part of its Very Hard to Reach Premises program, which is targeting namesake locations. The Shetland Isles and Lundy Island will be the targets, and there is a total of £8 million available, through the program.

Inmarsat and MediaTek have announced a 5G satellite partnership, aiming to develop SoCs that enable direct two-way communication from mobile devices to Inmarsat’s L-band network.

Intel and Arm have announced a manufacturing partnership, which they claim will make it easier to make low-power Arm designs on the Intel 18A process. The initial target is mobile SoC designs, before expanding into automotive, IoT, data center, government, and defense.

SoftBank Group has sold its SoftBank Ventures Asia division to The Edgeof, a new venture capital firm, based in Singapore. SVA has some $2 billion of assets under management, but crucially, this does not involve SoftBank’s infamous Vision Fund.

Brazil is attempting to court China’s silicon industry, with a meeting of the two national leaders taking place this week. Joint R&D agreements have been signed, with Brazil looking to become a key partner – likely with a view to manufacturing semiconductors. This will irk the US administration.

Vodafone and Three UK are reportedly close to signing a formal merger agreement. The two have been in talks for around six months, with Vodafone under investor pressure and Three’s CEO saying the MNO is unsustainable without the deal.

The National Content & Technology Cooperative (NCTC) has finally signed a deal with AT&T, which allows the 700+ members of the cable-focused cooperative to launch MVNO offerings on the AT&T network.

Qualcomm has launched four new SoCs, as part of its Aware platform that was launched at MWC 2023, focused on IoT applications. The designs span high-power and handheld implementations, both with and without integrated modems.

The O-RAN Alliance has signed a co-development MoU with the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance (OAI), the opening of two new testing centers in APAC, the availability of the O-RAN Release 003 spec, and a series of global plugfests.

Keysight Technologies has validated a Open RAN compliant 5G mmWave small cell base station design from Astella. Testing was done using the Keysight Open RAN Architect (KORA) suite.

Global 5G connections have grown 76% in the past year, to reach 1.05 billion, according to Omdia. The count is projected to reach 1.9 billion by the end of 2023, and hit 5.9 billion in 2027.

The Malaysian Communications and Digital Minister, Fahmi Fadzil has answered questions in local papers over the country’s plans for a second 5G network, saying nothing has yet been set in stone but the idea is for the cabinet to vote on it next week, and set up a dual wholesale network instead of the government’s single wholesale network which is already running. Three companies have offered 5G on the first wholesale network, Celcom Axiata, Unifi Mobile and U Mobile.