Quarterly insights on Bridge Member Operators: 1Q2023

Quarterly insights on Bridge Member Operators: 1Q2023

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Our first in-person CXO Forum in three years! It was held on 21 March in Singapore.


Hi everyone!

We are delighted to bring you our insights on key happenings at Bridge Alliance and among our member operators in the first quarter of 2023.

As always, this quarter is dominated by announcements made at MWC Barcelona, which tend to set the stage for telco industry developments for the rest of the year. One key takeaway was telcos cannot make it on their own—collaboration and partnerships among industry players emerged as a key theme. In particular, open/telco APIs have become a buzzword with the GSMA’s latest Open Gateway initiative. 21 operators have already committed to this project, which aims to enable the sharing and federation of open, standardised network APIs to make it compelling for developers to integrate network capabilities in their propositions.

Sustainability is also increasingly becoming a hot topic for the whole telecom industry, especially around optimisation of energy consumption. More operators are discussing industry collaborations to improve energy efficiency.

Customer experience is increasingly becoming an area of differentiation among telecom providers; there have been several announcements by telcos making investments to integrate AI layers to create more personalized experiences for customers. Many operators are working on integrating AI features to drive automation or to improve customer experience. For example, SK Telecom’s AI assistant ‘A’ is described as a character-based B2C personal assistant which integrates with other SKT apps and services, like FLO (Music), Wavve (OTT) and T MAP (Navigation). SKT has ambitious plans to integrate more services with A in the future and is transforming itself into an AI company.

As telcos explore new growth areas, it seems almost like a misnomer to continue calling operators ‘telcos’ in the coming years as they progress on their journey and transformation be it to an AI company, to techco, or to communications technology group.

Did we mention that ‘Telco to Techco: Who Dares Wins’ was the theme of our Bridge Alliance CXO Forum 2023, which finally returned as an in-person event after three years. To those who attended: thank you for your support!

Enjoy the read.


Bridge Alliance Research & Analysis Team



In December 2022, our partner Ericsson announced that it would transfer its IoT Accelerator and Connected Vehicle Cloud businesses to Aeris (the acquisition is now completed). The two companies were at MWC Barcelona 2023, showcasing their IoT offerings that target transportation, utilities, healthcare, and the automotive sector.

California-headquartered electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Lucid Motors, was very active in deals with telcos worldwide, including with stc Group (Saudia Arabia), where it will provide connected car communication systems for customers in the Kingdom such as advanced telematics and in-vehicle communication to enhance the driving experience.

At MWC Barcelona, PCCW Global’s Console Connect launched the world’s first private connectivity solution to help businesses dynamically and securely route traffic directly between devices and clouds globally without traversing the public Internet for global IoT projects. Using Edge SIM, enterprises can securely connect IoT devices directly to all major cloud providers in over 180 countries worldwide.



In edge computing, Singtel has been active among BMOs. At MWC Barcelona, Singtel kicked off the private preview of Microsoft Azure Public MEC with Microsoft for selected enterprise customers. The partners collaborated to incorporate Azure Public MEC into Singtel’s 5G network and Paragon orchestration platform to help enterprises capitalise on 5G.

Bridge Alliance, Singtel, AIS and service provider Summit Tech successfully conducted an edge-to-edge interconnection across telcos in Singapore and Thailand with the support of the GSMA, validated through a 360 degree interactive livestreaming use case. With this achievement, our FEH testbed for this service is now ready for more trials with application partners to unlock new commercial use cases powered by multi-market MEC and 5G. Watch the video here.



There have been a number of exciting use cases announced by our operators in 5G, AI and Innovation. AIS Thailand, Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier and Swiss operator Sunrise successfully set up an intercontinental 5G Standalone (SA) roaming connection between networks in Europe and Southeast Asia for the first time. They completed the connection in a lab environment with live SIMs and devices and successfully roamed between Sunrise’s and AIS Thailand’s respective 5G SA networks.

Telkomsel, Ericsson, and Qualcomm strengthened collaboration through a 5G FWA technology trial to enhance digital experience in Indonesia. In the AI domain, Telkomsel has also inked an MoU to integrate Microsoft Azure AI into its marketing strategy and marketing platforms to create more personalized experiences for customers.

At MWC Barcelona, SK Telecom unveiled ambitious plans  to achieve ‘AI to Everywhere’ by driving innovations in five different areas, namely Customer & Technology, Time & Space, AI Transformation for Industries, Core Business Model, and ESG, following its announcement last year that it would reposition itself as an ‘AI company’. SKT will expand the variety and scope of its AI service, ‘A’.  SKT will partner with Pindrop, a firm in the voice security, identity and intelligence space, to to bring secure voice authentication and voice liveness detection to the Korean market and create synergies with SKT’s AI technology.

In India, Bharti Airtel has built an AI-based solution, in collaboration with NVIDIA which will improve the overall customer experience for all in-bound calls to its contact centre. The operator leveraged NVIDIA’s conversational AI toolkit and software and Airtel’s deep learning-based automatic speech recognition (ASR) models to enhance automated speech recognition.

Capitan, an initiative of Globe’s corporate venture builder 917Ventures, has launched a suite of digital solutions to help micro, small and medium-sized companies (MSMEs) grow their businesses. These solutions include digital marketing, e-commerce, messaging, and financing services provided by 917Ventures portfolio companies. In an effort to help address persistent unemployment and underemployment in the Philippines, the Asticom Group of Companies, another company under the Globe Group that deals in shared services, has launched a new platform that promises to revolutionize job and talent search.

Meanwhile, Globe tested Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity for SMS and emergency alerts in partnership with global firm Lynk Global. This breakthrough technology is expected to augment Globe’s existing terrestrial networks and provide cellular connectivity to more Filipinos in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

Singtel has joined several leading global telcos in the GSMA Open Gateway framework, an interoperable and federated network with open standard APIs. One of the biggest talking points at MWC Barcelona, the move towards Open Gateway, an interoperable and federated network with open standard APIs will help accelerate the development and growth of services in areas such as fintech, identity, smart mobility, gaming and Web3.


Private networks

Private networks remain a hot topic, with the theme of collaborations and partnerships with the aim of facilitating the deployments for customers and driving adoption. Among our BMOs, Softbank launched its ‘Private 5G’ service for enterprises that can be customized based on their different needs.

In Indonesia, Telkomsel is partnering PT Putra Perkasa Abadi (PPA) to launch the first private network service in the country, for smart mining solutions.



As demonstrated by MWC, interest in the metaverse is only increasing, with countries like South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong aggressively promoting it. As a leader in this space, South Korea announced that it would invest 27.7 billion Korean won (US$21 million) into local services looking to utilize the metaverse, while a US$30 million metaverse fund will help startups expand their businesses. SK Telecom continues to make progress in expanding its metaverse business, and inked MoUs this quarter with Deutsche Telekom AG, T-Mobile US, Axiata and CelcomDigi to cooperate in promoting ifland in US, Europe and Southeast Asia.

In Hong Kong, we saw the launch of PCCW/HKT Futurera, a virtual world in The Sandbox metaverse which introduced games and is also the SAR’s first metaverse staff recruitment to explore Web3.0 talent through gamification. Under HKT, 1O1O/csl collaborated with The Sandbox to launch Metaverse Academy for customers to gain an understanding of the metaverse.

During our CXO Forum, we announced that we would partner cloud gaming service Blacknut, in a first-of-its-kind strategic partnership to accelerate the growth and adoption of cloud gaming across Asia Pacific. Game publishers can gain new growth channels and scale through Bridge Alliance’s large regional footprint of tier-1 mobile operators, while participating Bridge member operators (BMOs) will benefit from collective triple-A games sourcing deals that will enrich the library of games available to their customers—the ultimate beneficiaries who could enjoy a whole new range of premium gaming content seamlessly across their compatible devices, on demand and without the need for expensive hardware.

In other gaming matters, Optus and Pentanet Limited said that they had entered into a partnership to deliver the NVIDIA GeForceNOW cloud gaming service to Optus customers, to be available from the second half of this year.

Over in Japan, Softbank has launched NFT LAB, which features many Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) that enables users to enjoy XR content in cooperation with its 5G LAB. Meanwhile, its subsidiary SB Payment Service Corp has formed a business alliance with biometric solution provider Liquid Inc, whose online identity verification service will be used in a service to screen online payments for businesses that provide Web3 services.


Unified Communications/CPaaS

In the unified communications space, Singtel has announced the release of the latest enterprise communication solutions from Zoom to enhance its customer service delivery, operational efficiency and support overall digital transformation. Several new solutions will be added to Singtel’s suite of 5G and unified communications (UC) offerings and will be progressively made available to enterprises. The first was Singtel’s Zoom Phone Connector where phone calls can be enabled from fixed lines to Zoom Meetings. Others to follow are Zoom One, Zoom Contact Centre, Zoom Virtual and Zoom IQ for Sales.



On the enterprise side, our BMOs have made quite a few breakthroughs. Singtel is actively expanding its data center business. Together with GULF and AIS, it has commenced the construction of a new data centre located near Bangkok, which will be operated by their JV company GSA Data Center Company Limited (GSA).

Globe’s enterprise customers looking to boost their connectivity with a comprehensive WAN edge-to-cloud networking solution would be glad to know that Globe is adding Aruba EdgeConnect to its Enhanced Managed SD-WAN solution. Meanwhile, Globe Business and its managed ICT services partner, Yondu, have officially launched a dedicated state-of-the-art Security Operations Center (SOC) in Taguig City. It provides fortified cyber intelligence, enhancing the management and maintenance of a large number of Globe’s cybersecurity clients. 

Stc Group and Telefónica have announced a Strategic Partnership Agreement to explore joint business opportunities and knowledge sharing in areas such as B2B & B2C, cybersecurity, cloud, Big Data, Technology, Innovation and Procurement. With the partnership, stc Group is now a member of Telefonica’s Partners Program.

In Vietnam, MobiFone has announced a strategic cooperation from 2023-2028 with Vietnam Airlines, in which the telco will build the airline’s digital infrastructures in the areas of cloud computing, domestic and international connection infrastructure, private/public 4G/5G networks, among others.



The adoption of cloud computing continues to be a key driver of many of the most transformative tech trends, including AI, IoT. We are now seeing cloud computing become an enabler of even more technologies, including the metaverse, cloud gaming, and quantum computing.

Our BMOs are offering cloud services to help their enterprise customers with a smoother digital transformation journey. Globe Business is expanding its partnership with Snowflake to help customers in the Philippines maximise their data and futureproof their operations. Customers can use the Snowflake Data Cloud to unite siloed data, discover and securely share data, and execute diverse analytic workloads.

In India, Bharti Airtel and Vultr announced a strategic partnership to offer cloud solutions to enterprises in India. The solutions, including Cloud Compute and Optimized Cloud Compute, Cloud GPU and fractionalized GPU offerings for advanced workloads tied to AI, machine learning, HPC, analytics, visual computing, and gaming use cases will be hosted in Airtel’s data centres across Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi-NCR, enabling businesses to scale their digital operations globally.

Taiwan Mobile has announced a collaboration with Taiwan Auto Design Co (TADC) and Rescale to launch a one-stop service called ‘Industrial Simulation Solutions’ that helps small businesses access cloud services and large and secure computing power quickly. The service taps on Taiwan Computing Cloud (TWCC), a cloud platform provided by Taiwan Mobile and Taiwan Web Service Corporation, featuring high-speed computing capabilities, high storage capacity, and high information security and 1,000 software programmes offered on Rescale Cloud HPC platform provided by TADC.


Customer wins

In terms of enterprise customer wins, Optus’ Enterprise and Business Team has partnered with Australia’s largest home service franchise Jim’s Group, to provide over 700 services that help the latter deliver exceptional customer and employee experience.

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