Nokia’s New CEO Has Reasons for Optimism

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• One era ended and another began, with new CEO Pekka Lundmark taking the reins August 1.

• While the company faces a host of challenges and questions to address, there are many recent signs of hope.

Nokia began life under its new CEO, Pekka Lundmark, on August 1 following the departure of his predecessor, Rajeev Suri. Lundmark’s appointment had been announced in March; he had originally planned to begin September 1 but the start date accelerated by one month from the original plan.

The appointment of Lundmark to the helm marks the end of what was an impressive 11-year tenure for Suri, who provided steady leadership through a tumultuous period that included the merger of Nokia and Siemens, and after a lengthy integration period, the eventual acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent. Continue reading “Nokia’s New CEO Has Reasons for Optimism”

COVID-19: Operators Kick the Can Down the Road in Defining Impact to FY2020 Results

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• In their first round of quarterly results since the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, network operators provided few specifics on the true impact of the pandemic on 2020 outlooks.

• Most operators remain hopeful that a fuller picture of the impact of the disease will emerge in time for Q220 earnings releases, but that is likely to vary significantly by region and country.

With most of the world’s largest network operators now having chimed in on Q1 2020 earnings, what is clear is that little remains clear in terms of how COVID-19 will impact them this year. Most operators have withdrawn full-year guidance and have indicated that a reliable picture will not emerge until the true trajectory of COVID-19 becomes clear. Since that answer can vary significantly from country to country, region to region, and city to city, most operators lack the tools to provide reliable guidance. Continue reading “COVID-19: Operators Kick the Can Down the Road in Defining Impact to FY2020 Results”

COVID-19: Ericsson’s Proactive Approach Serves as a ‘How To’ in Crisis Management

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Ericsson provided the most level of detail yet on the steps it has taken, both internal and customer-facing, in the wake of COVID-19.
  • Advanced planning emerges as a key feature of Ericsson’s approach, helping drive a number of important steps that should serve as a template for managing future crises.

As it released its first earnings report since COVID-19 began its rapid global spread, Ericsson took the opportunity to outline the various steps it has taken, both internally and externally, to plan for the known impacts and to predict the unknown effects. The actions taken by the company, which was one of the earliest to make the difficult decision to withdraw from this year’s MWC event in Barcelona, should serve as a case study for ‘how to get it right’ in the case of a crisis. For example: Continue reading “COVID-19: Ericsson’s Proactive Approach Serves as a ‘How To’ in Crisis Management”

COVID-19: Today’s Mobile Networks Are More Prepared Than Ever to Embrace New Spectrum

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• U.S. Cellular’s rapid increase in capacity, thanks to new spectrum access, highlights the importance of low-touch deployment and software in today’s radio networks.

• The likely extension of the ongoing lockdown raises the chances that current spectrum lending programs will need to be extended.

When it comes to COVID-19, telecommunications equipment vendors are somewhat at the mercy of forces beyond their control. In the U.S. in particular, reports of crew shortages available for tower climbs are abundant. However, with a boost from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), vendors are helping operators gain additional capacity by temporarily gaining access to new spectrum bands.

Continue reading “COVID-19: Today’s Mobile Networks Are More Prepared Than Ever to Embrace New Spectrum”

GSMA to MWC20 Exhibitors: ‘Take It or Leave It’ on COVID-19 Refund Package

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Since COVID-19 forced the cancellation of its flagship Barcelona event, MWCA exhibitors have been waiting for details on a rebate or refund program.
  • The package announced March 25 provides a cash refund for smaller exhibitors but realistically represents a ‘take it or leave it’ package of rebates toward future events.

Since the GSMA made the difficult decision to cancel its annual conference in Barcelona in February, exhibitors have been awaiting details on the association’s refund package promised by the end of March. Now that offer has been announced, and while cash refunds are being offered for some, the vast majority of exhibitors will need to accept a package of rebates – albeit generous – toward future shows. However, the package looks punitive toward exhibitors that acted responsibly in withdrawing from the conference before it was officially cancelled. Continue reading “GSMA to MWC20 Exhibitors: ‘Take It or Leave It’ on COVID-19 Refund Package”

Nokia-Marvell Partnership Targets Crucial 5G Performance Gap

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Nokia announced a partnership with Marvell Technologies in March to address a significant gap in 5G radio.
  • The Marvell partnership should help accelerate Nokia’s deployment of SoC solutions, but the company’s ill-fated decision to deploy FPGA silicon will put a damper on its results throughout 2020.

Nokia announced a new partnership with semiconductor specialist Marvell Technologies in March, under which Marvell will develop silicon for Nokia’s 5G radios. The deal is a crucial factor in Nokia’s bid to regain momentum after making some design decisions that have left it struggling to compete with other radio vendors in winning new 5G business contracts. Continue reading “Nokia-Marvell Partnership Targets Crucial 5G Performance Gap”

HAPS Alliance Envisions an Alternative to Satellite for Connecting Remote Locations

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• The network will take years to develop, but the stratosphere’s stable climate and close proximity to Earth compared to satellite orbits could create a compelling value proposition. Bullets:

• The deep pockets of supporting companies, including Google/Alphabet, don’t hurt either.

A group of telecommunications, technology, aviation and aerospace companies announced on February 21 the formation of the HAPS (High Altitude Platform Station) Alliance, dedicated to the promotion of a new communications platform supported by aircraft hovering in the earth’s stratosphere.

Continue reading “HAPS Alliance Envisions an Alternative to Satellite for Connecting Remote Locations”

U.S. Government Control of Western Telecoms Vendors Would Be Naïve – and Damaging to U.S. Companies

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • U.S. Attorney General William Barr suggested the U.S. and its allies should consider buying a controlling stake in Nokia or Ericsson to compete more effectively in 5G.
  • Beyond being hypocritical and practically unworkable, the proposal runs counter to ongoing open RAN initiatives which could help U.S. vendors thrive in 5G by innovating.

Giving the keynote address at the U.S. Department of Justice’s China Initiative conference on February 6, U.S. Attorney General William Barr raised eyebrows by suggesting that the U.S. and its allies should consider buying a controlling stake in Nokia or Ericsson. The argument is that, while both vendors have proven successful in managing customers’ migration from 4G to 5G, they lack Huawei’s scale as well as the backing of a powerful country like China. Continue reading “U.S. Government Control of Western Telecoms Vendors Would Be Naïve – and Damaging to U.S. Companies”

Looking Into the Crystal Ball: GlobalData’s Most Intriguing Predictions in Telco Technology & Software in 2020

Summary Bullets:

  • GlobalData recently published its comprehensive set of 2020 predictions across mobile and fixed access, transport and routing, and telco software and services.
  • The predictions here represent some of the most intriguing industry trends that vendors and operators will need to track closely in the coming year.

Standalone 5G Rollouts: Mobile operators will begin to deploy standalone 5G, which doesn’t rely on an LTE core. Because the first wave of 5G, non-standalone, heavily incentivizes operators to simply add 5G to their existing 4G infrastructure, some operators will use standalone 5G as an opportunity to trial new suppliers and architectures, including virtual core suppliers and Open RAN architectures. The timing of deployments will depend in part on how quickly operators can transition their voice services, since 5G won’t offer a circuit-switch fallback option, as 4G did.

Proving 5G Value: Mobile operators will continue to struggle with proving the value of 5G mobile broadband to consumers, as indicated by recent reports of unimpressed 5G customers thus far in South Korea. At Mobile World Congress 2020 (the year that has been hailed for most of the previous decade as 5G’s arrival date), vendors will once again, for at least the third year in a row, emphasize that 5G is ‘here’ and ‘real.’ At the same time, they will also concede that the enterprise use cases at the heart of the 5G value story are still at an early stage of development.

Shifting RAN Vendor Landscape: It’s too difficult to predict whether more countries will follow the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Japan in erecting barriers to Huawei and ZTE’s participation in their network infrastructure markets. But in any case, what has already transpired – combined with the cloud of uncertainty it casts over the future – will likely have several near-term effects in 2019. Continue reading “Looking Into the Crystal Ball: GlobalData’s Most Intriguing Predictions in Telco Technology & Software in 2020”

Artificial Intelligence Playing Larger Role in Preventing Communications Fraud – but Slowly

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • A new survey by the Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA) shows communications fraud remains a significant cost to network operators despite steady improvement over the past ten years.
  • A small but growing number of operators have begun implementing machine learning and artificial intelligence as crucial components of their fraud management systems, but most operators have not.

A new survey by the Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA) shows both good news and bad news in network operators’ efforts to control communications fraud.  Communications fraud happens whenever a person or group uses communications services with no intention of payment.  In order not to encourage even more fraud, operators like Vodafone and AT&T are understandably reticent when it comes to revealing how their own fraud prevention mechanisms and procedures stack up against competitors.  However, these operators are more forthcoming in anonymously responding to the annual survey by the CFCA, which represents operators, security and risk management vendors, and law enforcement authorities. Continue reading “Artificial Intelligence Playing Larger Role in Preventing Communications Fraud – but Slowly”