Accenture | December 20, 2021
Accenture has announced its intent to acquire AFD.TECH, an independent network services company specializing in network engineering, operations and business services. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.
This acquisition would add more than 1,600 highly skilled professionals to Accenture globally, along with multidisciplinary capabilities across engineering, design, deployment, and operation of next generation networks, such as 5G and fiber.
“The combination of latest technologies such as 5G, cloud and next generation IoT is transforming the way businesses are operating across all the industries by creating opportunities for innovative services and new sources of growth,” said Olivier Girard, market unit lead for Accenture in France & Benelux. “To succeed in their digital transformation and take advantage of its full potential, companies must act now to adopt the right strategy and build new business solutions enabled by network investments. This acquisition would give us a significant footprint in advanced mobile and enterprise networks.”
The newly acquired expertise when combined with Accenture’s Cloud First capabilities would provide a broad spectrum of proven practices, operational excellence and human ingenuity to help clients drive comprehensive transformation across their disparate networks.
Karthik Narain, global lead, Accenture Cloud First, said: “Most networks were not built for today’s highly distributed world of cloud, edge devices and remote work. Increasingly, companies will need to invest in modern networks that seamlessly connect across the dynamic capabilities of the cloud continuum from public through edge and everything in between. AFD.TECH’s network operations and IT capabilities, as well as its deep industry knowledge, would complement Accenture’s cloud, edge computing, security, and network capabilities to help clients shape, build and operate cloud-first networks.”
Founded in 1998, AFD.TECH serves leading telecom brands and clients across various other industries, including energy, industrial, infrastructure and life sciences sectors. The company is based in France with additional offices in Belgium and Morocco.
“Combining our strengths with Accenture would allow us to leverage the potential offered by the latest technologies and to allow an even-broader client base, both existing and future, to grasp the full potential of the range of new services that will be generated by the deep transformation across nearly every industry and market in the next five years. The opportunity to join Accenture would allow us to scale capabilities and enable tremendous opportunity for our clients, our company and our people. Together, we would help clients adapt their operating model, expand the skills of their people and drive innovation to unlock the full potential of 5G.”
Jérôme Picard, co-founder and CEO of AFD.TECH
The acquisition of AFD.TECH would strengthen Accenture’s network operations capabilities in Europe and follows Accenture’s acquisition of Arca last November and of umlaut in October 2021.
The acquisition requires prior consultation with the relevant works councils and would be subject to customary closing conditions.
Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we offer Strategy and Consulting, Interactive, Technology and Operations services—all powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Our 624,000 people deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity every day, serving clients in more than 120 countries. We embrace the power of change to create value and shared success for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities.
Zain Kuwait | December 24, 2021
Zain Kuwait's 5G traffic currently accounts for more than 40% of its total wireless traffic, ranking the operator as number one in GCC countries in terms of 5G offload ratio. Zain Kuwait is one of the leading telecom operators in MENA and has been at the forefront of innovation for years as the first operator to launch commercial 5G services in the Middle East.
From the 5G service development and business achievements of Zain Kuwait, it is clear that the focus on 5G development brings business success to operators. Zain Kuwait started deployment of 5G networks in 2018. After two years of continuous development, 5G services have entered a period of high growth. Users are continuing to develop rapidly, and the proportion of 5G traffic has also been increasing continuously. This has resulted in positive revenue and profit growth for the operator.
Zain Kuwait has achieved the 5G subscriber penetration ratio of 23%, and the average DOU of its 5G subscribers is five times higher than that of its 4G subscribers. Zain Kuwait's mobile network also recorded revenue and profit growth of 4% and 13% year-over-year in Q2 2021. This is an outstanding achievement especially when there is no population dividend and the expatriate population in country has been continuously decreasing. Zain's 5G development leads the Kuwait telecom market, and its business success has been a result of its overall strategic objective to provide first-class 5G services for users in Kuwait.
Zain Kuwait has firmly invested in 5G for the fastest network construction with the widest coverage, building a foundation for user experience
Network coverage is the basis for user experience. Zain started 5G C-band construction in 2018. In Q3 2019, it completed coverage of major urban areas. By early 2020, it achieved 1:1 construction ratio with its LTE network.
Focusing on fast and value-based network construction, Zain Kuwait was able to quickly exploit the benefits of enhanced 5G network coverage. Leading the network construction lays the foundation for creating 5G business advantages. For instance, Zain was the first operator to commercialize 5G networks in Kuwait. In the commercial release phase, Zain provided the most extensive 5G coverage and best services owing to its focus on network construction. Within six months of the commercial launch, Zain reached 100% coverage, forming the first-mover advantage of 5G networks for itself.
User experience is the key In leading 5G experience targets to drive network experience leadership
With the goal of providing a first-class 5G network experience, Zain insists on higher standards of 5G network construction to ensure high-speed and reliable services for all the users. As a result, the investment in network planning and network construction was increased, which enabled Zain Kuwait to win Ookla's Fastest Fixed Wireless Network Provider Award in 2020 and to lead the Open signal Global Experience Test reports as well. A great network experience enhanced Zain's brand and helped it achieve greater commercial competitiveness.
Verizon | December 18, 2021
Verizon and Google Cloud are working together to bring the power of the cloud closer to mobile and connected devices at the edge of Verizon's network. With Verizon 5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge, Verizon plans to bring Google’s compute and storage services to the edge of the local network enabling the bandwidth and low latency needed to support real-time enterprise applications like autonomous mobile robots, intelligent logistics and factory automation. The companies expect that this combination of Verizon's private On Site 5G and private 5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge will enable enterprises in industries from retail to manufacturing to unlock the power of 5G and mobile edge computing and gain operational efficiencies, higher levels of security and reliability, and improved productivity.
Verizon and Google Cloud also plan to develop public 5G mobile edge computing for developers and enterprises. The public 5G Edge solution has the potential to enable developers to build and deploy applications at the edge of Verizon’s wireless network in various locations throughout the U.S.
“By working with partners like Google Cloud and Ericsson, we’re building the 5G edge compute ecosystem that will enable enterprises in many industries to benefit from having a completely dedicated private network and edge compute infrastructure on premise,” said Rima Qureshi, Chief Strategy Officer at Verizon. “5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge will give our customers the ability to connect and manage a broad range of devices at scale and speed while also providing highly secure, near real-time connectivity. This will allow companies to unlock greater value from data and enable innovative applications involving computer vision, augmented and virtual reality, and machine learning.”
“Through our planet-scale infrastructure and expertise in data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, Google Cloud is enabling the rapid development and deployment of new services and applications,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud. “By bringing intelligence from data centers to the network edge, Verizon 5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge will allow customers to build new cross-industry edge solutions, unlock new revenue models, and transform the next generation of customer experiences – from AI-driven in-store operations to live inventory management on the factory floor, the possibilities span multiple industries.”
Verizon and Ericsson To Pilot Private Mobile Edge Computing at USA 5G Smart Factory
Ericsson, in collaboration with Verizon, will pilot 5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge as part of a proof of concept at its USA 5G Smart Factory. The first trial use case involves Verizon's Sensor Intelligence solution, which involves attaching a camera to an autonomous mobile robot that will scan packages to maintain inventory and location of indirect materials in the factory's warehouse. Then, using computer vision, the robot will communicate the bar code and shipping label data via 5G and mobile edge computing to the inventory management system, providing real-time analytics to improve logistics.
"Ericsson's Smart Factory is where we're putting the principles of the Fourth Industrial Revolution into action,Technologies like Verizon's 5G Edge, which is built on Ericsson's 5G Private Network technology, are critical for unlocking 5G's true potential, and this pilot brings real-time data to make operations more efficient, secure, and cost-effective. Testing this technology with autonomous mobile robots in our Smart Factory is an important step on the journey to the factory of the future."
Niklas Heuveldop, President and Head of Ericsson North America
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) was formed on June 30, 2000 and is one of the world’s leading providers of technology, communications, information and entertainment products and services. Headquartered in New York City and with a presence around the world, Verizon generated revenues of $128.3 billion in 2020. The company offers data, video and voice services and solutions on its award-winning networks and platforms, delivering on customers’ demand for mobility, reliable network connectivity, security and control.
About Google Cloud
Google Cloud accelerates organizations’ ability to digitally transform their business with the best infrastructure, platform, industry solutions and expertise. We deliver enterprise-grade solutions that leverage Google’s cutting-edge technology – all on the cleanest cloud in the industry. Customers in more than 200 countries and territories turn to Google Cloud as their trusted partner to enable growth and solve their most critical business problems.
IDTechEx | December 17, 2021
As of mid-2021, 5G is a reality in at least 78 nations. 5G is now being used in consumer sectors such as 5G smartphones, 5G broadband (fixed wireless access), and augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) games. In the foreseeable future, IDTechEx anticipates seeing widespread use of 5G in corporate areas such as industry 4.0, autonomous cars, and so on. 5G is a collection of optimized and updated mobile communication technologies, as well as new characteristics resulting from frequency changes (4G: 3 GHz 5G: 3.5-7 GHz (also known as sub-6 GHz) or > 24 GHz (also known as mmWave)) and larger bandwidth, which are the reasons why 5G can tackle so many industries that previous generations could not.
The deployment of 5G infrastructure is critical to enabling widespread 5G adoption. South Korea launched the world's first 5G network in 2018, and nations such as China and the United States have since followed suit. According to IDTechEx's newly released market research analysis, "5G Technology, Market and Forecasts 2022-2032", legacy telecom system suppliers such as Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia control a sizable portion of the 5G infrastructure industry, with Huawei leading with 36.4 percent in 2020, followed by Ericsson with 26.7 percent.
To eliminate the proprietary nature of the radio access network (RAN) system, diversify the vendor supply chain in the telecom industry, foster more innovation, and reduce the upfront and operational cost of RAN deployment telecom operators are pushing Open RAN development. But wait...what is Open RAN?
Open RAN is one of the key topics when speaking of 5G network deployment. Open RAN is a network alternative to traditional legacy RAN that allows components (including hardware and software) with interoperable standards from various suppliers to work together smoothly. In Open RAN, there are two network architecture transformations: 1. Hardware decomposition (For example, a baseband unit is separated into three sections: the central unit, the distributed unit, and the radio unit). 2. Hardware and software separation. Overall, Open RAN allows telecom operators to choose from a variety of suppliers to get the equipment that best suits their needs.
IDTechEx believes that Open RAN is an unstoppable trend. It is not a question of whether it will really take off, but rather of when there will be a large-scale deployment of Open RAN.
As of 2021, there are already several small-scale Open RAN trials underway, showing that the initiative is gaining pace. Vodafone, for example, said in June 2021 that it will start to build 5G Open RAN development in the UK, focusing on rural areas first. This will be Europe's first Open RAN commercial deployment. Vodafone also mentioned that they will further expand the Open RAN networks to other Vodafone-operated countries, such as other European countries and South Africa.
Vodafone is not the only telecom provider undertaking 5G Open RAN development in Europe. Its competitors, including Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, and Orange, have all stated a strategic intention to deploy 5G Open RAN networks before 2025.
Japan is another important breeding ground for Open RAN; except for SoftBank, all the other Japanese telecom carriers are proactively embracing it. Rakuten, an early Open RAN pioneer, deployed their Open RAN 4G network in February 2019 and their Open RAN 5G networks in September 2020. NTT DOCOMO stated earlier this year that it will collaborate with Samsung on the development of 5G Open RAN networks.
In China, where the RAN infrastructure market is immense, telecom operators such as China Mobile and China Unicom are also trailing Open RAN equipment. In the U.S., Verizon stated that it will work with Samsung to deploy its mmWave and C-band (sub-6 GHz frequency range) holdings based on Open RAN from this year.
Nonetheless, there are several challenges with Open RAN networks that must be overcome before the bulk of telecom carriers adopt the technology. IDTechEx identifies 4 key challenges in their newly released "5G Technology, Market and Forecasts 2022-2032" report:
Real Open RAN: For operators, the key to enabling true Open RAN is the interfaces. This requires mass adoption of, and participation in, open RAN interfaces and elements. Otherwise, the result is poor interoperability with inconsistent integration of equipment and software from multiple vendors. From conversations with some 5G Open RAN players, IDTechEx learned that while many firms claim to provide Open RAN solutions, not every company is giving this enough consideration.
Efficient testing scheme: Providing efficient testing schemes for vendors to demonstrate the interoperability of their devices is important.
RAN intelligent controller (RIC) development: RIC is Open RAN's brain and the secret to Open RAN outperforming traditional RAN. Nevertheless, the RIC development is still slow. Only very few vendors have RIC now and the functions that their RIC provides are also very basic.
The value of Open RAN: Not every operator shows interest in the Open RAN. For example, T-Mobile U.S. shows some serious concerns towards Open RAN and is hesitant to move forward with it. One common concern among operators is the question of trust and liability: "Is the new equipment from this new provider dependable? Now that I have several suppliers supplying me with various pieces of equipment, who should I contact if an issue arises?"
Advocates for Open RAN are working to solve these issues. NTT DOCOMO and Rakuten, for example, are building their own 5G Open RAN ecosystem to not only serve as a model for other operators who are still reluctant but also as a new business model which they can offer their "Open RAN package" to other telecom operators.
Overall, Open RAN is still in its early stages, and it will take these pioneers years to demonstrate the reliability of their Open RAN networks. From IDTechEx's perspective, it will be at least 5 years before the Open RAN market begins to expand rapidly in the 5G infrastructure industry. In the "5G Technology, Market and Forecasts 2022-2032" report, IDTechEx examines more Open RAN disruption in the 5G infrastructure market, including the Open RAN business model, players, commoditization risk, Open RAN for private or commercial 5G networks, and legacy suppliers' (Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia) attitudes and strategies toward Open RAN.
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