Welcome to this inaugural edition of our quarterly updates from Bridge Alliance, in which we will highlight initiatives and partnerships by our Bridge Mobile Operators in the areas of 5G, IoT, edge computing, enterprise mobility, Unified Communications, and emerging technologies like Web3 and Artificial Intelligence.
The first quarter of 2022 was marked by the physical return of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona after a two-year gap! We were delighted to send a team to the event, and finally met many of our member operators in person after such a long time. We hope MWC heralds the return of at least some in-person telecom events, after the difficult COVID-19 situation the world has gone though in the past two years.
5G was a key focus for this year’s event with an acceleration in 5G deployments globally. 5G has become an increasingly important technology, underpinning current and future operational and business developments in the telecom and technology sectors. At MWC, the buzz was less about the latest and fastest 5G phone launches and more on showcasing the capabilities of the live 5G networks. There were multiple use cases of 5G in vertical industries, as well 5G trials in TV broadcasting (DT).
There were numerous announcements around the growth of the technology as the entire ecosystem is gearing up to create new revenue streams, for both consumers (Metaverse) and B2B (Private networks, OpenRAN, etc). With hyperscalers entering these spaces with telcos, we are witnessing the evolution of a more complex ecosystem.
Consultant STL Partners brilliantly summarised the event as less about connecting a person or an object, and more “…. about using the most relevant mix of technologies, and ensuring that the actions required to deliver a desired outcome (such as delivering healthcare) are correctly coordinated across a multi-party ecosystem.”
And this is where Bridge Alliance and our member operators have something to contribute. Read on below, for some key developments among Bridge and Bridge Member Operators this past quarter. We’re watching 5G and other associated ecosystem developments closely and summarising them for your reading pleasure.
And in case you missed it, our annual Bridge Alliance CXO Digital Forum was held over two days in March, with the theme ‘5G Unlocked’, covering both 5G Consumer and 5G Enterprise. Catch the highlights here!
Bridge Alliance Research & Analysis Team
5G / AI / Innovation
More operators worldwide are launching POCs or pilots to support new 5G use cases, and the same can be said for our members. Maxis and Optus are launching their 5G Innovation Hubs in Malaysia and Australia respectively, while SK Telecom is working on an Air Taxi service with California-based outfit JOBY and promoting an AI Robot-based logistics business.
Taiwan Mobile is partnering AI & cloud service provider CloudMile. This will pave the way for the creation of a corporate cloud service ecosystem that will help Taiwanese companies “Open Possible ” and drive them to break into the greater market of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as Taiwan Mobile morphs into a regional technology and telecommunication conglomerate, according to President Jamie Lin. Meanwhile, Softbank and Kyndryl Japan KK have entered into a strategic partnership to further digital transformation in cloud and 5G.
On the M2M/IoT front, these days it is all about building IoT platforms/services to either serve specific verticals or facilitate entry into the IoT world. Our man in the subcontinent, Airtel is working with Ericsson to deploy NB-IoT sensors to monitor air pollution in India.
Edge / MEC
There were a number of announcements with regards to Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) partnerships and services in and around MWC Barcelona–and we’re proud to put our name on one of them! 5G and Edge are deeply connected: by working together they are both poised to significantly improve the performance of applications and enable data to be processed in real-time.
Together with Singtel, MobiledgeX and Telefonica, we announced jointly that we have achieved an interconnection between two heterogeneous MEC platforms, as part of the GSMA Foundry Telco Edge Cloud trial. We were delighted to win a GSMA Foundry Award for Excellence for this project!
Singtel has been very active in the MEC space – it also launched Paragon, an in-house all-in-one orchestration platform for 5G edge computing and cloud services and has also partnered Microsoft to launch a public MEC platform in Asia.
SK Telecom is also looking to gain an edge in the global MEC market, by launching an enterprise 5G MEC solution named ‘Petasus’ with Dell Technologies.
There were a number of cloud-related announcements made at MWC Barcelona. Telcos have been making inroads in virtualising their networks. It still makes sense for telecom operators to pursue the telco cloud to better serve their clients. In Asia, Airtel has deployed Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications to Accelerate Digital Transformation Across Its Supply Chain.
Web3, gaming and the metaverse
The metaverse is all around us these days (if you’re asking what’s that, you need a reality check!). MWC saw a proliferation of metaverse announcements. And we are glad to report that our very own SK Telecom was among the leading telcos promoting the Metaverse at its very eye-catching booth! There are still blurred lines around the metaverse as the definitions of what constitutes the metaverse and what it is not vary a lot from person to person, from company to company.
But, hype or not, the rise of the metaverse looks inevitable. And telcos should explore the space, keeping an open mind because there is a role that telcos can – and will – play; however, exactly what role they can carve for themselves remains to be seen.
In blockchain news, Airtel has acquired a strategic stake in blockchain technology startup Aqilliz, while Telkomsel Digital Ecosystem and AMAB Goto Group have entered into a joint venture “Majamojo” to spur development in Indonesia’s gaming industry.
New wins and other partnerships
We saw a number of enterprise customer wins among our BMOs. In Malaysia, Maxis was selected to boost Ranhill’s voice and cloud connectivity in 77 sites in the state of Johor. On the consumer front in Japan, SoftBank is partnering Louis Vuitton Japan to develop and accelerate new customer experiences in stores and online, using SoftBank solutions and know-how.
Airtel has been really busy this quarter! Airtel and Tech Mahindra have announced partnerships to grow India’s digital economy. Airtel and Google are partnering to help grow India’s digital ecosystem.
It’s been a lively first quarter of CY2022! We’ll be back to update you in a few months on what the second quarter of 2022 has in store for us.