Quarterly insights on Bridge Member Operators: 2Q2023

Quarterly insights on Bridge Member Operators: 2Q2023

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Our CEO Geok Chwee speaking at a panel during MWC Shanghai, which returned as an in-person event in June.


Hi everyone,

We are pleased to bring you our updates on what went on at Bridge Alliance and our member operators in the second quarter of 2023!

Taking the pulse of the market, CPaaS remains hot as confirmed by Juniper Research. It is booming from the embrace of big business, and is predicted to be worth US$29bn by 2025 and $42bn by 2027, with key sectors retail & ecommerce, banking & finance and travel and growth driven by the integration of new channels (social media and social direct messaging channels).

IoT revenue and connections continue to experience significant growth, with China taking the lead. According to Analysys Mason, the future is good: IoT connectivity services for enterprises will account for $4.3 bn in revenue growth for operators between 2022-27. Accordingly, we sent our IoT team up to Mobile World Congress (Shanghai) in end June, the first in-person edition held since 2021. We renewed contacts with our Greater China counterparts, made new friends, and our CEO Geok Chwee spoke at a panel on monetizing 5G through Business Model Innovation. During the session, she also shared our vision for open telco APIs, API harmonisation and standardisation-all done in Chinese, no less!

Besides telco APIs which is set for massive growth, another area that is growing includes private networks, with growth not only coming from manufacturing but also entertainment and healthcare, albeit still at the pre-commercial stage. Meanwhile the metaverse discussion seems to have segued into more of an enterprise discussion rather than consumer; with a focus on three pillars: digital twins, mixed reality and blockchain.

More insights below!


Bridge Alliance Research & Analysis team



In IoT/M2M, the automotive and transport sector remains one of the key target segments for telcos. We were pleased to facilitate a Memorandum of Understanding between China Telecom Global and stc Group to collaborate in IoT and Connected Car projects. Airtel Business has also been active in IoT, partnering with Matter Motor Works to deploy Airtel’s IoT solution in Matter AERA, said to be India’s first and only geared electric motorbike. As part of the partnership, Airtel will enable advanced automotive grade E-Sims on all Matter AERA bikes, for which the pre-booking opened on 17th May. The Airtel IoT Hub will help with the real time tracking of these vehicles, monitoring performance with advanced analytics while maintaining extremely high reliability augmented by telco grade security.

On the consumer front, Airtel has partnered power and energy solutions provider Secure Meters to deploy Narrow Band (NB-IoT) services that will power 1.3 million homes in Bihar through a smart meter solution. This deployment will be India’s first NB-IoT solution on a narrow band with a fall-back option that will work on 2G and 4G and ensure real-time connectivity and uninterrupted transfer of critical data.

On the industrial front. China Telecom, through its IoT subsidiary E Surfing IoT, has partnered ABB Measurement & Analytics China Technology Center  to unveil a joint digitalisation and industrial IoT laboratory in Hangzhou, which will focus on developing end-to-end  IoT solutions for industrial companies based in China.



In edge computing, Singtel announced that it is making the Azure public multi-access edge compute (MEC) available for all enterprises, unlocking opportunities to experience the advantages of edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI) accelerated by 5G. Its first commercial customer and use case is Singapore’s National University Health System (NUHS). NUHS successfully trialled Singtel’s high-speed connectivity and low latency 5G network, Paragon and Microsoft Azure, including tools and applications to help surgeons leverage mixed reality technology to better visualise organs in high resolution 3D, and plan operating procedures. This is set to go commercial later this year.

The solution could also unlock new opportunities for customers to build and manage end-to-end use cases like digital twins, distributed compute video analytics solution and large language modelling.

On the consumer side, edge provides opportunities around content delivery, interactive experiences, cloud gaming, data residency, and smart homes. Over in the Middle East, stc Group is partnering Qwilt to deploy Open Caching, which will enable the carrier to provide an all-edge Content Delivery Network (CDN) footprint closer to subscribers, which will enhance applications’ performance and provide a superior content delivery experience.



On the 5G front, operators remain eager to find ways to monetize their 5G investments; and again our BMOs remain quite active in 5G deployments and use cases.

Optus partnered one of Australia and New Zealand’s largest retailers, Super Retail Group to deploy enterprise-grade 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) at its distribution centre in Queensland following a successful trial. The connectivity solution, powered by Optus5G and Cradlepoint, will increase operational efficiency and provide seamless backup for distribution facilities.

Over in Thailand, AIS has inked an MoU with the Federation of Thai Industries to support SMEs in their operational efficiency, and offering them AIS 5G Manufacturing Platform solutions on the PARAGON Platform. In Indonesia meanwhile, Telkomsel supported the Ministry of Health in the first 5G robotic telesurgery trials in the country, conducted at hospitals in Bandung and Yogyakarta.

In Singapore, the world’s first outdoor 5G-enabled Extended Reality (XR) experience has been trialled at tourist attraction Fort Siloso Sentosa, through a proof-of-concept jointly developed by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) and Government Technology Agency (GovTech). The POC is part of the 5G@Sentosa testbed, a public-private sector collaboration led by our BMO Singtel, SDC and GovTech.

AI continues to rank high on operators’ strategies. SK Telecom announced that it has released a major UX overhaul of its AI service ‘A’ to make it smarter while also announcing new partnerships with AI companies to secure its leadership in the AI ecosystem—its four new AI partners are CMES, MakinaRocks, Scatter Lab, and FriendliAI, on top of the seven it joined hands with in Barcelona (SAPEON, Bespin Global, Moloco, Konan Technology, Swit, Phantom AI, and Tuat).

SKT continues to forge forward in partnerships to accelerate Urban Air Mobility (UAM) services in South Korea. The ‘K-UAM Dream Team,’ a consortium consisting of SKT, Korea Airports Corporation, Hanwha Systems, and T Map Mobility, inked an MoU with South Gyeongsang Province to promote UAM in the southern coastal region, which is known for tourism. SKT’s role is to operate UAM services based on AI technologies, build aerial networks, and introduce UAM aircrafts in collaboration with Joby Aviation. This builds on other MoUs already inked with Jeju and Daegu.

In terms of new services, Globe’s KonsultaMD is joining forces with AC Health’s Generika Drugstore and Healthway Medical Network to expand healthcare services for Filipinos nationwide; at the same time Globe, through its 917Ventures, is working with FINSI, an Asticom Group of Companies subsidiary to bring the first-ever Gogoro battery-swapping platform for its Smartscooters in the Philippines.

Softbank has announced initiative to bring Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) solutions, which aim to provide communication networks from space and the stratosphere, both in Japan and global markets. SoftBank is aiming to expand communication network and area coverage from the sky through a ubiquitous network (multi-layered network) that combines existing terrestrial mobile networks with low Earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites in space, and High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) in the stratosphere.



The metaverse looked like it was set to take off, but issues like entry timing and uncertain market sizing have cooled down the hype. Yet, it is still alive and kicking for now.

Asia Pacific is a world leader when it comes to the development and adoption of metaverse technologies. Deloitte has estimated that the impact of the metaverse to regional GDP could be between US$0.8 and 1.4 trillion per year by 2035. Japan, Taiwan and Korea all have flourishing VR industry ecosystems, and governments in South Korea and Japan are featuring the metaverse in their economic plans.  The strategy in developing markets such as Thailand, India and Indonesia, is different thanks to a booming creator economy focusing mostly on AR technology.

The BMOs remain active especially AIS and SK Telecom. AIS partnered onling gaming platform The Sandbox and Paraplui Studio to showcase the major Thai cultural festival Songkran in the metaverse in April, while SKT announced that it added a new service named ‘if home’ to its metaverse platform ‘ifland’.

Softbank Corp outfit Realize Mobile has entered into a partnership with Pixel Canvas Inc, through which it will help businesses and content providers to venture into the metaverse, tapping on Realize Mobile’s real-time streaming volumetric video (3D hologram) technology and Pixel Canvas’ enterprise-grade metaverse platform technology.

In Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has shortlisted a financial solution in a secured lending product backed by tokenized real assets for participation in the inaugural e-HKD Pilot Programme. This proposed solution is led by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), HKT Payment Limited and ZA Bank.



On the enterprise side, there have been quite a few announcements made by our BMOs. Optus and major real estate group Lendlease announced the signing of a new multi-year technology partnership. It covers three key elements: Lendlease transitioning its existing mobile and data services to Optus; Optus partnering with Lendlease to roll out its cutting-edge property insights tool, and Lendlease and Optus jointly exploring other opportunities for collaboration. 

Airtel has announced its strategic partnership with tech advisory firm Bridgepointe Technologies, which enable US enterprises interested in expanding to India and Africa to leverage Airtel’s digital infrastructure solution.

In the Philippines, Globe Business has strengthened its cybersecurity portfolio by partnering with Check Point, a cybersecurity provider, to arm companies with comprehensive protection capabilities to keep corporate data safe on mobile devices by leveraging the latter’s Harmony Mobile solution.

It is that quarter of the year popular for reorganization, duly seen in three BMOs’ enterprise teams this time. Singtel announced a major restructuring, consolidating the enterprise and consumer businesses in Singapore into a singular operating company. Veteran Hewlett Packard executive Mr Ng Tian Chong has joined Singtel to head up the newly combined operating company. Singtel also formed a standalone infrastructure unit – Digital InfraCo – to include the regional data centre business, subsea cable, satellite carrier businesses, and Paragon. Digital InfraCo is helmed by Mr Bill Chang, our new Chairman, and Mr Jorge Fernandes has joined Singtel as the new Group Chief Technology Officer. These changes took effect from June 2023.

In Sri Lanka, Dialog, Axiata Group and Bharti Airtel Limited have entered into an agreement to combine operations of Airtel subsidiary Bharti Airtel Lanka with Axiata Group subsidiary Dialog. The proposed transaction envisages Airtel being granted a stake in Dialog, representing the fair value of Airtel Lanka. Airtel would accordingly be issued new shares in Dialog upon completion of the transaction. The proposed transaction is still subject to signing of definitive agreements and necessary closing conditions including applicable regulatory and shareholder approvals.

Separately, Ajay Chitkara, CEO Airtel Business, has decided to move on after August. Airtel Business will operate as three business and channel segments – Global business, led by Vani Venkatesh (a Bridge Alliance board member), Domestic business, led by Ganesh Lakshminarayanan, and Nxtra Data Centers, led by Ashish Arora.



The network cloud market continues to evolve and we see businesses taking the multi-cloud approach as they come to understand the advantages of diversifying their services across a number of cloud providers. HKT and PCCW Global rolled out several cloud initiatives.

HKT joined forces with Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., a leading global provider of cybersecurity solutions, to provide HKT’s Managed Cloud Security Services to businesses in HK; the addition of Check Point technology further strengthens HKT’s services in cloud-based workload management and public cloud security.

PCCW Global’s Console Connect and Vultr, the world’s largest privately held cloud computing company, announced a new global collaboration that enables businesses to establish their own private, dedicated link between Vultr and the Console Connect platform, improving network security and connectivity for mission-critical applications and workloads. Today, Vultr is integrated with the Console Connect platform in multiple regions.

Console Connect also saw SoftwareOne Hong Kong Limited join its PartnerConnect programme, helping SoftwareOne customers in Asia Pacific improve their access to cloud services globally.

In India, Airtel has won the Cloud and CDN mandate from the Digital India Corporation (DIC) to power DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing) – India’s national platform for open education digital content, operated by the Ministry of Education. The DIKSHA application and website will now be powered by Airtel Cloud and will be made seamlessly accessible to students across the country for free educational content in their preferred Indian language.


Enterprise customer wins

In more enterprise customer wins, Optus has landed a five-year contract providing end-to-end IT services including including internet, managed Fortinet SD-WAN, Enterprise Telephony, Managed Contact Centre, corporate mobile fleet, Managed Azure, Azure Consumption, and Office 365 licensing to CouriersPlease, one of Australia’s largest eCommerce and parcel delivery organisations. Separately, CouriersPlease also partnered with Optus to deploy SMS Gateway, IOT Cage Tracking and the exploration of artificial intelligence (AI) for their contact centre.

In Malaysia, Maxis has helped to connect the entire network of Johor Plantations Berhad’s operations, enabling it with SD-WAN for fast, secure and stable connectivity throughout its estates, mills, biogas plants, biomethane plant and agrotech lab, spanning across 60,339 hectares. Maxis designed and deployed infrastructure of over 27 microwave dishes and communications towers across Johor Plantation’s operating units to support a range of capabilities, especially Maxis’ high speed Dedicated Internet Access for cloud connectivity.

Maxis was also selected by Boustead Petroleum Marketing Sdn Bhd (BHPetrol) to deploy its managed SD-WAN to power outdoor payment terminals at every petrol pump and Point of Sale systems at all its retail stations in Peninsular Malaysia, which will boost customer experience for BHPetrol.



Can we get enough of CPaaS? All forecasts by research firms show a booming market: just to pick one, FMI expects the CPaaS market to reach a valuation of $6.3 billion by 2023 and to grow to $60 billion by 2032 (at a CAGR of 25% from 2022-2032). APAC is expected to grow at 7% CAGR due to the expansion of end-use industries like retail, e-commerce, and IT & telecom. Signs of APAC growth are everywhere.

Stc’s incubator/accelerator inspireU has inked an agreement with CPaaS provider Unifonic to promote, support and develop entrepreneurship and startups that focus on ICT and digital innovation. Through this partnership, Unifonic and InspireU from stc will support early-stage startups in various domains such as fintech, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, digital games, Internet of Things, blockchain, and other promising areas.

While we were not the winner, we were delighted to be shortlisted as a finalist in the ‘Best CPaaS Platform’ category at the UC Awards 2023, for the very first time! Through our BMOs Singtel, Telkomsel and Globe, we have enabled enterprise customers to deploy CPaaS. They benefit from the unique telco-grade infrastructure with the quality, security and reliability that our BMOs can offer, leveraging on our extensive footprint to offer regionalised services. By the time you read our next update, we would have onboarded AIS, which will enable Thailand’s enterprises to benefit from our CPaaS platform.

Do follow our LinkedIn account closely to get the latest updates as always. See you in a quarter!