Mobile Magazine - November 2021

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ORANGE MARINE: Navigating global cable networks IBM, INTEL AND WIPRO: Stronger together in a 5G ecosystem TMFORUM: Driving diversity and includsion + MUCH MORE


BUILDING SMARTER NETWORKS TPG Telecom’s Yago Lopez talks mergers, navigating COVID-19, and building a future-proof 5G network

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SirionLabs’ smart contract lifecycle management technology and expertise are a powerful tool in supporting Vodafone’s business objectives Vodafone first engaged with SirionLabs when the US-based contract lifecycle management (CLM) company was still in the startup stage. The telecoms giant was reshaping its CLM throughout the business. “We had a blueprint about what we wanted to achieve,” says Reinhard Plaza-Bartsch, Global Head of SCM Development, Operations & Digital, Vodafone. “And SirionLabs came incredibly close to matching that blueprint with technology.” Since the implementation of SirionLabs’ technology, Vodafone has on-boarded more than one thousand contracts to the platform enabling them to improve contract compliance and performance. Plaza-Bartsch says: “We have also expanded the end-to-end process from post right to pre-signature. We’re now able to see the endto-end process, and therefore that made us more effective and efficient in terms of how we operate.” The platform has given Vodafone enhanced abilities to monitor performance and compliance within the business, and take action where necessary. “As a result, there has been quite a significant benefit in terms of time freed up and given back to the business to focus on more value-add activities,” PlazaBartsch says. That platform integrates with the suite of in-house and managed digital solutions already in use across Vodafone’s supply

chain organisation. “When we make these technologies available to our user base, it is crucial to us that they see it as one simple user journey. The degree to which Sirion integrates into our wider landscape is so important to provide that simple user experience across the board.” It has been an evolving success story for both parties, and Plaza-Bartsch says the collaboration goes far beyond just the technology, important as it is. “One critical aspect for us in working with Sirion was the contract management expertise in the contract management space that resided within the organisation. They understood what we were after, and that was crucial in helping us build the capability much faster. “We really value to work with companies that beyond their technology, have a sound understanding of our business and priorities, and take a further step to incorporate these into the plans and roadmaps.” Explore smarter contracting solutions

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Samsung’s flip phones are suffering from their own success Pre-orders for the Samsung Z Flip 3 blew away even the company’s most ambitious estimates. Now, thanks to massive enthusiasm for a more affordable folding smartphone and the ongoing global chip shortage, the South Korean tech giant is struggling to meet demand. Samsung has kind of gone and shot itself in the foot. The latest generation of folding phones from South Korea’s biggest tech brand - the Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3 - managed to rack up pre-launch sales of just over a million units. While that fact should be a cause for celebration at Samsung, executives at the company are reportedly worried that it won’t be able to meet such strong demand. Chips are in such short supply, not to mention so expensive, that simply over-manufacturing devices isn’t an effective solution. You have to guess it right. And Samsung, bless them, went and guessed wrong. It’s somewhat understandable that this happened, however. Pre launch sales figures for the Galaxy Z Flip 2 and Galaxy Z Fold 2 released last year barely topped 80,000 units, and orders for the Samsung Galaxy S21 released earlier in 2021 topped out at just 300,000. The Galaxy Z Flip (the cheaper of Samsung’s two foldables, with a price tag of just under $1,000) racked up 700,000 pre-orders by itself. The age of the (somewhat) affordable folding phone is here. It might have been a little more auspicious if everyone who bought one didn’t have to wait a full month for it to arrive. MOBILE MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED BY





Our Regular Upfront Section: 10 Big Picture 12 The Brief 14 Timeline: Apple 16 Trailblazer: Robert Franks 18 Five Minutes With: Esmael Dinan



Is there a place for MVNOs in the UK’s 5G future?



Building a smarter, modern 5G network

Leading the way in mobile networks


Epic Cyprus



Stepping into the Metaverse

70 5G

Can 5G save public transport?


Telekom Infra

The Foundation of 5G


Digital Realty

The future of interconnection in APAC

118 IoT

Digital Wellbeing


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Eurofiber & Infradata Laying the foundations for a digital society

Wipro | IBM | Intel Stronger together in a 5G Edge ecosystem


Orange Marine

High seas, high tech and high levels of sustainability

146 Top 10

Global Tower Companies


TMForum | IDS

Driving diversity and inclusion



Expands scope of critical connectivity solutions

Teaming Up to Fuel Mobile Operators' 5G Success

CSL Group



Smart, Social Shades Menlo Park, California

Facebook has released what might be the first commercially viable smart glasses to hit the market. The headsets, made in collaboration with Ray-Bans, can capture video and images, play audio, and have a white light hardwired to shine when capturing media - Facebook’s attempt at avoiding some of the controversy that sank Google Glass.


November 2021


THE BRIEF “ We’ve become so dependent on our phones for so many aspects of our lives, many users fear that they wouldn’t be able to get around a normal life without one”  Joe Hollier Founder & CEO, Light READ MORE

“ A virtual replica of the built world, made up of billions of digital twins, will fundamentally change how we experience, interact with, and analyse with space around us”  James Morris-Manuel EMEA Managing Director, Matterport READ MORE

“ The increase in data consumption appears to be accelerating dramatically with 5G, and MVNOs are at risk of significant profitability erosion”  Hamish White Founder & CEO, Mobilise READ MORE


November 2021

BY THE NUMBERS Automated customer experiences are here to stay, but are they actually any good? Based on data collected by NTT…

22% 49% 35% UK Customer Experience Workloads Handled by AI (2021)

UK Customer Experience Workloads Handled by AI (2022)

Customers “satisfied” with automated Customer Experiences

EDITOR'S CHOICE XIAOMI CHASES FACEBOOK INTO THE SMART SHADES SPACE Just a week after the Facebook-Ray Bans colab gave us a solid contender for the smart glasses market leader, Xiaomi is unveiling a bold new concept. READ MORE

THE DEATH OF THE RINGTONE Younger generations are increasingly choosing to keep their devices on silent, something for which we should all be thankful. READ MORE

E-WASTE: THE UNCOMFORTABLE COST OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION Turns out that more than half of UK IT departments don’t adequately recycle their old electronics. READ MORE

 STC The Saudi Telecom Company managed to raise a staggering $966mn from an initial public offering of its Arabian Internet and Services company (Solutions).


Laisvas Tibetas! So, Xiaomi’s done a not so smart thing. Oh yeah? Yeah, just try typing any number of “dangerous” things into one of their phones. "Voice of America," "Democratic Movement" and "Long Live Taiwan Independence" might all be blocked. Wait, no they weren’t. Try it again in Chinese Characters. Oh dear. Yeah, man. It’s not great. A recent investigation by Lithuania's National Cyber Security Center found that Xiaomi’s devices filter content for 449 keywords or keyword groups - just like Huawei. What’s Xiaomi got to say about it? They fervently deny restricting or blocking “any personal behaviours” of their users. It’s a very tense time between Lithuania and Beijing. There are ambassadors being recalled over Lithuanian recognition of and aid to Taiwan, and this certainly isn’t helping matters as far as Lithuanian security services are concerned. Oh? More than 4,500 employees and officials of various Lithuanian state agencies apparently use Xiaomi phones. Oh dear.

 TIM The Italian telecommunications company officially has the fastest 5G in Europe, according to OpenSignal,with average 5G download speeds of 296.5 Mbps. That’s over 1,000% faster than 4G speeds, something only six MNOs worldwide have been able to pull off.  GOOGLE AND APPLE In the first of what look to be many such rulings, the South Korean government recently declared that Apple and Google were no longer allowed to prevent app developers from redirecting their users to third-party payment platforms.  RINGTONES In news that should come as a shock to exactly no one, millennials are killing the ringtone industry. UK users installing ringtone-related apps decreased by a full 20% over the past few years - from 4.6 million in 2016 to just 3.7 million last year. Now that’s what I call progress.

U P NOV 2021







Safety and Security

According to the Experts


s countries all over the world grapple with the thorny topic of returning to the office, the debate over how, when, and whether we need to come back at all is still going strong. To get a better idea of the future of hybrid, remote, and in-person postpandemic work, we asked five experts for their take on the future of the office.

Asam Akhtar, Channel Manager, UK at Envoy One thing I’ve learned from the pandemic is that employees want and expect the freedom to choose how, when, and where they work. And for many, that means a hybrid work schedule. They also expect to return to a safe environment.

Clarity and Accountability are Key Simon O’Kane, Head of EMEA at Asana No matter how companies choose to work, prioritising tools that enable clarity and accountability for all their staff is key, no matter where, when, or how they are working. But, without a clear blueprint for hybrid work, providing clarity and collaboration across the organisation is a massive obstacle. 18 months on, it’s clear that teams spend far too much time switching between apps to source information and updates.


November 2021

Wherever, Whenever is here to stay

Dominic Allon, CEO at Pipedrive The ‘work wherever, live wherever’ landscape is here to stay and is only the beginning of a continued digital evolution. IT improvements are often confused with true digital transformation. Upgrading your hardware and software is just the start, but acquiring maturing technologies that use innovative data processing methods to automate practices that transform your business for the better is the real future.

The “Gold Standard” of Productivity The Cybersecurity Concern Stuart Templeton, Head of UK at Slack The pandemic has shown us that the office is no longer the ‘gold standard’ of productivity. Less time wasted in rush hour commutes means more time to spend on things that really add value. Flexible work also helps retain employees who need to shape work around life in different ways. Businesses must therefore use this moment to take learnings from the past year, and reimagine the future of work.

Clare Loveridge, Vice President & General Manager EMEA at Arctic Wolf If worker devices continue to move between different networks, their company security can quite easily be compromised, identity and access management becomes harder, misconfigurations are easier to miss – all increasing cyber risk. It is therefore vital that organisations, of any shape and size, are actively taking the time to review their security practices and protocols, with a hybrid, often disparate networks, in mind.



Delivering on the 5G Hype Name: Robert Franks Job Title: Managing Director Company: West Midlands 5G


he benefits of 5G to our economies and daily lives get hyped up a lot. Operators (who, to be fair, have invested an awful lot of money in their shiny new 5G networks) paint glowing portraits of a world full of smart cities, driverless cars, and interactive mixed reality experiences, where 5G lifts us all into a hyper-connected, hyperefficient existence filled with rich, meaningful experiences. Finally, they say, the future is now. However, as with many new technologies with the potential to represent a fundamental, generational leap in the way we live, work, and play, the hype train looks like it might be outrunning reality for the moment. Yes, there have been some stunning use cases for 5G, from blisteringly fast internet and multimedia events to better automation solutions in manufacturing. But, in many cases, 5G is just letting us do what we already do faster and better. The top to bottom transformation of our daily


November 2021


Years in telecoms

lives is still buffering it would seem. One organisation working to bridge the gap between 5G hype and reality is West Midlands 5G. The UK firm is driving significant steps in the rollout of 5G, the development of the necessary infrastructure to support new use cases, and the use cases themselves. And driving West Midlands 5G’s efforts is Robert Franks, the company’s Managing Director. “WM5G offers the opportunity to deliver innovation that makes a real difference to people, businesses and public services on a grand scale,” said Franks upon his appointment in July of 2019. Franks is a seasoned veteran of the UK’s telecommunications industry. Previous to joining West Midlands 5G, he worked as the Director of Digital for leading UK network operator O2. While at O2, he launched and scaled innovative and profitable business units for the company, including sectors such as WiFi, Internet of Things, messaging, payments, data analytics, advertising and FinTech. He also led O2’s startup accelerator. Before that he spent five years in executive roles at T-Mobile, which he came to following a stint at Orange. Essentially, over the past twenty years, he’s touched just about every major player in the UK’s telecom sector. Now, he’s bringing his extensive experience and expertise to West Midlands 5G, accelerating the deployment of 5G networks - testing, proving, and scaling innovative new use cases for the next generation of communications technology. West Midlands 5G, under Franks’

“WM5G offers the opportunity to deliver innovation that makes a real difference to people, businesses and public services on a grand scale” leadership, is building testbeds for health, industry and mobility 5G applications. The region is already emerging as one of the UK’s richest 5G and technology innovation environments. West Midlands 5G has itself driven innovative 5G applications from remote 5G ultrasounds to a series of trials that embed 5G technology in railway trains throughout the region. While it’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding the technology, Franks takes a very grounded approach to 5G, saying that the technology needs to be as simple as possible if people are to immediately grasp its potential and embrace the possibilities. “It’s crucial that leaders think about the change management and process re-engineering that’s needed, particularly when humans are involved,” he stressed in a recent interview. Training is essential, and Franks is also a driver of education and skill development opportunities through a 5G testbed youth engagement program he ran earlier this year. The project, he said, “is an opportunity for them to bring their ideas to life and utilise 5G technology to improve the lives of those within their communities.”




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November 2021

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November 2021


TPG Telecom is building a smarter, modern 5G network



Yago Lopez General Manager, Wireless & Transmission Networks, TPG Telecom


November 2021


Yago Lopez, GM of Wireless & Transmission Networks at TPG Telecom, talks mergers, COVID-19, and bringing next-generation 5G to Australia’s biggest metros. WRITTEN BY: HARRY MENEAR


he 5G rollout has presented a monumental financial and logistical challenge for telecom operators around the world over the past two years. Some carriers, however, have had to contend with greater challenges than others. TPG Telecom’s 5G rollout has occurred at the same time as it executed one of the biggest mergers in the history of the Australian telecom sector, contended with the loss of Huawei as a key equipment supplier following a ban by the Australian Government - and did it all in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s been a challenging time, but when life hands you lemons you make lemonade,” says Yago Lopez, TPG Telecom’s General Manager Wireless & Transmission Networks. “Of course, the rollout has had its challenges, chief among them being the Huawei ban, but it has given us the opportunity to end up with a legacy-free, standalone, 5G-native network.” Now, with the merger complete, and the company on track to outperform its 5G coverage targets for the year, I sat down with Lopez to find out how a skillful integration, a diverse network of talented partners, and a refusal to succumb to the obstacles placed before it has resulted in TPG Telecom bringing a world class, state-of-the-art 5G experience to Australian consumers.

PRODUCED BY: STUART IRVING A “Match Made in Heaven” TPG Telecom is the result of a merger between TPG and Vodafone Hutchison Australia, which itself is a product of the merger between Vodafone Australia and Hutchison - better known in Europe and Asia as Three. Prior to being united, TPG was the country’s second-largest internet service provider (ISP), and was “very strong in the consumer and enterprise fixed line space” but did not have a mobile network. Vodafone, on the other hand, was a mobile network operator with limited assets in the fixed domain. “It was basically a match made in heaven,” recalls Lopez. “From an asset and market point of view, there wasn't much overlap between the two companies. As a merged company, we now have some of the most loved telco brands in Australia under one roof including Vodafone, iiNet, TPG and Lebara. This creates

“ We had to start our 5G buildout from square one” YAGO LOPEZ




a great opportunity to cross-sell one another's products. It was two highly complementary businesses coming together to create a much better business than the sum of its parts.” Joining the new company from the Vodafone side, Lopez remarks that “when you're going through a merger, the key thing is to understand the cultures of the companies that are coming together.” Bringing two outlooks, cultures, and “families” together successfully, he continues, is “all about empathy”. “One thing you absolutely cannot do when you're trying to execute a merger is to try and make one company into the other. You need to take the best elements of both, listen to both sides, and choose the right combination to ensure you get the best of both worlds.” 26

November 2021

One year later, and the integration process is nearly complete. “We needed to ensure that we become - and are seen by our customers as - one functional entity rather than two,” Lopez explains. The next step is to leverage the formidable combined capabilities of the brand new TPG Telecom in order to do something remarkable: take a bite out of the NBN. “In Australia, we have a governmentowned company called the National Broadband Network (NBN) and they're the main provider of fixed broadband services for both consumers and enterprises throughout the country,” says Lopez. “One of our key strategies at TPG Telecom is to leverage our 4G and 5G mobile network to deliver home internet services, as we try to



“ In a 5G world, you have got to have strong partners. And our partners have been key to finding solutions to the challenges of our 5G rollout” YAGO LOPEZ



COMPANY: TPG TELECOM Spanish-Australian Yago Lopez’s passion for Science led him to pursue an academic path in Physics at the University of Oviedo (North Spain) where he graduated after joining Tubingen University (Germany) for part of his studies. He started his Telecommunications career in Vodafone Spain as an Engineer. From there, he built and international path which brought him first to Dusseldorf with Vodafone Group providing technical consultancy services to Operators around the world and then to Dublin as Vodafone Ireland Network Performance Manager. Yago moved to Sydney in 2013, joining Vodafone Australia as Head of Radio Networks. Since then, he has held multiple leadership roles in both technical and commercial sides of the industry. He is currently leading the Wireless & Transmission Networks of TPG telecom. Yago is a rugby fanatic and while he is not playing with Waverley RC, it’s easy to find him enjoying the beach with his young family.

A true customer-centric approach Michael Riches, CEO of Axicom, talks about how his company’s unique customer-first approach is helping them move from being a supplier to a true partner. As Australia’s largest independent owner and operator of shared wireless infrastructure, Axicom has undergone a strategy and cultural transformation to place the customer at the heart of everything they do. Their focus to understand their customers’ critical issues, anticipate their changing needs and create innovative infrastructure solutions, continue to help them deliver long-term value to their customers.

predominant focus. Understanding your customer and stepping into their shoes – looking from the outside in – is imperative in any market but critically important in the telecoms sector where the requirements of the customer are changing and evolving so rapidly” explains Michael Riches, CEO of Axicom.

“The principle I seek to instil in my team, and all our employees, is that creating value for our customers should be the first and

As a long-term player in the market, Axicom’s depth of IP and processes as well as their ongoing investment in digital, enables them to provide speed and transparency in delivery.

“We have a strong focus on digital transformation and automating a lot of our processes which allows us to work with our customers in a collaborative and co-ordinated way and deploy faster and more effectively across our sites.” Riches explains. “Creating meaningful customer experiences, not just good service, continues to drive the way we operate”. It is Axicom’s customer-centric approach that has seen them develop true partnerships with their customers, including TPG Telecom. Axicom worked in a highly collaborative and consultative way with TPG Telecom to understand their future network needs and key business objectives and provide solutions that deliver long-term value. Abandoning the traditional dynamic of supplier and vendor, working together, TPG Telecom and Axicom were able to speed up the 5G deployment

process, eliminate procurement delays, and create a better alignment of outcomes oriented towards the overall enhancement of the network. “TPG Telecom’s 5G deployment has gone ahead at a speed that has not been seen in this market and as a key partner we’re proud to be part of that success” says Riches. And there’s every sign that TPG Telecom and Axicom will continue to move forward together as true partners, with the recent extension of the lease term of existing network sites for an initial period of 19 years.

For more information, contact Axicom at or visit



Year Founded

6,000 Number of Employees

A$4.35bn Revenue (2020)


November 2021


“5G is going to be really important when it comes to letting people have a seamless, work from anywhere experience” YAGO LOPEZ


keep our customers within our own network rather than give up ground to the NBN.” Taking on the state-sponsored ISP is no small thing. However, Lopez is confident that Australian consumers deserve to be offered more choice and better value than a single government-run infrastructure body can provide. “At the end of the day, we are providing choice and value to Australian consumers and enterprises,” he says. “The NBN is kind of a monopoly in that a lot of Australians only have one choice when it comes to their home connectivity, and we want to change that.” Of course, in order to offer the worldclass service that might stand a chance of holding up in direct competition with the NBN for Australia’s home internet market, a successful 5G rollout is critical. 5G, Huawei, and Making Lemonade When the Australian government announced that it would ban Chinese tech firm Huawei from its 5G buildout back in 2018, Vodafone found itself faced with a serious issue. “Before the ban, we were planning to use Huawei as the natural vendor to upgrade our 4G network to non-standalone 5G, because we'd already been working with them for a long time,” recalls Lopez. “When Huawei was banned from supplying Australia's 5G equipment, all of Vodafone's existing radio and transmission network infrastructure was Huawei, which presented a big challenge for us.”


Changing the Future of Network Rollouts

Through the development of the innovative Sector Assembly method, Vecta is empowering TPG Telecom’s nationwide 5G rollout. Vecta is a specialist assembly and testing service provider for telecommunications equipment owners and operators. As a key partner of one of Australia’s leading telecom operators, TPG Telecom, Vecta has torn up the rulebook for cell site assembly, testing, and installation, delivering an innovative, proprietary new method that is set to change the process of network rollouts forever. “Through the Sector Assembly concept, we are driving innovation in the construction of 5G networks,” says John Bonello, Executive Director of Vecta. “Radio systems can now be assembled and tested in a factory and, for the first time in the industry’s history, system level testing is being carried out in a precision laboratory.” The results, Bonello explains, are profound. “We’re delivering radio sites that work first time after installation, backed by reduced cost, improved network performance, reliability, health and safety and environmental impact.” Prefabrication of cell site equipment also allows for more effective

testing in controlled factory settings - especially with regard to detecting and eliminating passive intermodulation. “Passive intermodulation is a problem for many telecom networks. It’s an effect that basically creates self-interference, which reduces network capacity and quality of service. It’s something that you don’t want in your mobile network,” Bonello explains. By testing the cell site equipment in controlled conditions using Vecta’s fully shielded anechoic chamber, “We’re currently the only business worldwide that’s able to offer passive intermodulation, or PIM, testing for cellular products to the ISO 17025 accredited laboratory standard.” Vecta was chosen by TPG Telecom to develop and deploy its Sector Assembly method in order to support and speed TPG Telecom’s rollout of a standalone, future-proofed 5G network, contributing to the successful delivery of 5G to 85% of Australia’s largest metros ahead of schedule. “Vecta is adding significant value to TPG Telecom as they fast track the 5G rollout using this innovative process,” Bonello says. “In modern networks, mobile operators face performance, value, safety and environmental challenges that must be overcome. In partnership with TPG Telecom, the sector assembly method was developed to help remove these obstacles, resulting in an incredibly strong solution that meets the TPG Telecom KPIs for their 5G rollout.” He added that “Working in close collaboration with Yago’s team has resulted in a highly successful product with a level of factory assembly, testing and inspection never seen before in a network deployment.”

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The majority of 5G rollouts around the world - including in 5G ‘leader’ countries like South Korea - eased the transition from 4G to 5G using non-standalone 5G networks. By piggybacking on existing 4G infrastructure, the process of rolling out a 5G network becomes more gradual, reducing costs and potential disruption. However, with 4G infrastructure built using Huawei equipment, a complete network build was required. “Without Huawei's equipment to build on, we had to start our 5G buildout from square one,” says Lopez. “TPG Telecom is probably the only operator in the world where the move from 4G to 5G meant completely ripping apart our mobile network, because all our 4G infrastructure was built by Huawei. Instead of being an incremental expense, building from nonstandalone 5G and slowly rolling it out across the network, we needed to build the entire network from the ground up.” It’s a testament to the dedication and skill of TPG 34

November 2021


“ One thing you absolutely cannot do when you're trying to execute on a merger is to try and make one company into the other” YAGO LOPEZ


PARTNERING FOR SUCCESS “In a 5G world, you have got to have strong partners. And our partners have been key to finding solutions to the challenges of our 5G rollout,” explains Lopez. “TPG Telecom has partnered with Nokia for our radio access and mobile transmission networks and Ericsson for our standalone core. For the optical components on the fixed side we've partnered with Ciena, and we've also been collaborating with Samsung on emerging technologies like V_RAN and Axicom - which is a tower company. We've been working with all of them to help support a 5G rollout with a ‘no legacy’ mentality.” He adds that TPG Telecom has also “relied heavily on a partnership with steel fabricators Site Pro 1 and radio frequency experts Vecta Labs to assemble our new 5G sites in controlled warehouse environments, which is safer, more reliable, and faster – and an Australian first.” Lopez reflects that, in the 5G era, “partner relationships are also changing. You can't just have one-to-one conversations anymore; we want all our partners to be able to collaborate with one another to really create this ecosystem where ideas and skills are shared without TPG Telecom necessarily having to be at the centre of every conversation.” To that end, TPG Telecom recently opened its new Innovation Lab in Sydney. “Together with our partners, the lab allows us to test innovations in 5G network technologies. The lab is driving innovation in our 5G network and allows us to develop and showcase use cases that will enable the digitisation of more industries across Australia,” says Lopez.


Reäl end-to-end.

Delivering Endto-End Expertise

the build, deployment, and planning, all the way through to optimisation, engineering, and operation. We’re also offering our services across the fibre and fixed wireless network sector, as well as cloud and cybersecurity.”

umlaut continues a decade-long partnership with TPG Telecom, offering specialised, in-depth expertise to support TPG’s 5G rollout.

In Australia, umlaut has been a core partner of TPG Telecom for more than a decade. “Prior to the Vodafone-TPG merger, we were a longstanding partner of Vodafone at a group level where we worked with them on numerous projects over the years,” Ekmen explains. “We had a strong history with Vodafone Hutchison Australia, working with them on infrastructure and security projects, as well as 5G.”

.dne-ot-dne läeR

umlaut is a globally recognised, technologydriven and future-oriented company providing end-to-end consulting, engineering, and testing services to companies across the automotive, aviation, energy, rail, telecommunications industries and beyond. Founded 24 years ago in Germany, umlaut has grown into a multinational, globally active company - recently acquired by consultancy giant Accenture - with more than 4,500 employees delivering specialised consulting, engineering, and network testing services to the world’s largest enterprises. “We are defined by the added value we create for our clients, their companies, products, and their end customers as well,” says Hakan Ekmen, global CEO for umlaut’s telecommunication unit. “Our credo is to always add something on top, like the umlaut from which we get our name.” In the telecommunications industry - where Ekmen has been overseeing umlaut’s operations for the past 14 years - umlaut delivers “services and expertise from end-to-end, starting with

“As the telecom sector continues to innovate and develop new technologies and services, we’re going to see 5G deliver real-time connectivity and faster data speeds. And we’ve been closely engaged with TPG on their own deployment of 5G, as well as the development of new products and services to capitalise on this next generation of telecommunications technology,” says Ekmen. “With our specialised set of skills and in-depth, detailed knowledge of the verticals where TPG is focusing its efforts, I think we can continue to strengthen our partnership, help them adopt and capitalise on new technologies, and drive winwin outcomes for both umlaut and TPG for many years to come.”

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Telecom’s network engineering department that the company has managed to not only build and spin up an entirely new standalone 5G network in such a short space of time, but this success will also build towards future wins for TPG Telecom. “Every piece of equipment we're putting into our network is 5G ready, and that's something that we're going to be able to continue to leverage for years to come. We're very proud of what we've built in such a short amount of time,” Lopez says, adding that the merger between Vodafone and TPG “came at a great time, because it combined all the expertise and assets of Vodafone with some of the strategic spectrum purchases made previously by TPG - as well as their fibre and fixed assets. When you put the capabilities of our two companies together, and remove all that legacy infrastructure from our network, you end up with something really special.” TPG Telecom’s 5G rollout has been gathering pace. “We're exceeding our rollout targets. We originally intended to cover 85% of Australia's top six metros - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra - by the end of the year,” Lopez says. “Right now, we're on track to also hit that goal in four of the most populated regions in the country - the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, New South Wales Central Coast, and Wollongong - by the close of 2021.” As TPG Telecom’s 5G services reach more of the Australian population, the lower latencies and higher throughput connectivity it delivers is supporting improved video streaming, gaming, and enterprise applications. “The technology is really helping us deliver the kinds of services our customers are going to be requiring in the near future. And we want to be able to offer to Australians the best of those 38

November 2021

“ It’s been a challenging time, but when life hands you lemons you make lemonade” YAGO LOPEZ



possible services which 5G is already making a reality,” Lopez explains. “I'm not talking about distant advancements like driverless cars; cloud native, 5G-driven applications for 5G are here already.” Particularly in light of the COVID19 pandemic’s effect on the growth of remote work, cloud migrations, and the consumption of digital services, Lopez argues that “5G is going to be really important when it comes to letting people have a seamless, work from anywhere

experience.” “Our spectrum portfolio is the strongest it has ever been, and was boosted further with recent 5G spectrum acquisitions which will allow us to provide an excellent 5G experience for our mobile and home wireless customers.” In order to expand upon its 5G applications, TPG Telecom is continuing to work with its key partners, including Nokia and the University of Technology Sydney. Recently, TPG Telecom was selected by the Australian Government


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Samsung and TPG: Building the Network of Tomorrow Samsung is enabling TPG Telecom to transcend the limits of conventional mobile connectivity. As the society transitions into the New Normal era after COVID-19, digital technology will continue to play an essential role in our homes, workplaces and beyond. The pandemic highlighted the importance of connectivity and it will become more prominent in our daily lives. The increasing reliance on and usage of digital technology will bring forward a dynamic transformation, reshaping businesses and industries – unleashing new use cases and services. With the emergence of more complex and diverse use cases, network infrastructure will also become more sophisticated. This means that conventional hardware-based network architecture needs to evolve into a more agile and flexible network to support these use cases swiftly and effectively. Samsung believes virtualisation and openness will be fundamental to this network transformation. These next-generation networks will be equipped to power new services with more efficiency and flexibility, while also ensuring network reliability and quality. “The network of tomorrow will be a platform going beyond the limits of conventional mobile connectivity for future use cases, such as smart factories, smart offices, and smart cities,” says Jonathan Ang, Head of Networks for Samsung

Australia. The key to this era of more flexible, powerful, versatile networks, Ang explains, is network virtualisation. Samsung’s cloud native, fully virtualised Radio Access Network (vRAN) solutions effectively liberate network operators from the static, hardware-bound networks that defined telecom infrastructure in the past. “By using Samsung’s vRAN solutions, operators are able to flexibly allocate network resources based on service patterns, and manage networks more effectively by bringing automated operation one step closer, making the entire network life cycle much easier from design and deployment to operation and optimisation,” he adds. Samsung has been working closely with TPG Telecom to bring virtualisation in Australia. According to Ang, “the virtualisation of TPG’s 5G network is a key step on TPG’s journey towards creating the network of tomorrow.” As TPG Telecom’s 5G network continues to grow and evolve, Samsung’s vRAN will support and enhance that network expansion. “Together with TPG, Samsung looks forward to bringing immersive mobile experiences for users in Australia and to reshape the value of 5G for enterprises,” says Ang. “We are ready. TPG is ready. Let’s virtualise the network today.”

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“When you're going through a merger, the key thing is to understand the cultures of the companies that are coming together” YAGO LOPEZ


to use its 5G technology in order to develop a better method of counting sheep - a labour-intensive, mission critical job for farmers throughout the country’s massive agricultural sector. As 2021 draws to a close and companies turn their sights towards 2022 and beyond, Lopez is excited for the next phase in TPG Telecom’s 5G journey. “We're focusing on those top 10 most-populated cities and

regions first, and then plan to move forward with our 5G rollout across other areas of the country in the years to come,” he says. “We’ll continue focusing on our key priorities including going hard on 5G home wireless and other products to migrate customers from the NBN.”




November 2021


IS THERE A PLACE FOR MVNOS IN THE UK’S 5G FUTURE? Industry experts weigh in on the past, present, and future role of Mobile Virtual Network Operators as the UK wades into the 5G era. WRITTEN BY: HARRY MENEAR


obile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) - mobile carriers that don’t own any physical infrastructure, instead offering services by piggybacking on the assets of another Mobile Network Operator (MNO) - have historically found themselves on the back foot whenever a generational technology leap started to hit the market. “In previous generations, such as 4G, there was an extended lag between when

the host operator offered 4G to its retail customers and when it was offered to MVNOs,” explains Hamish White, CEO of Mobilise. By White’s estimate, the gap between MNOs in the UK offering 4G services commercially and the country’s MVNOs launching their own 4G products was a full 12 months. This unfortunate reality created serious customer retention and engagement issues for the UK’s MVNOs last decade, as MNOs leveraged their network control to keep highspending data customers to themselves for as long as possible. Now, with 5G adoption in the UK rising steadily, are MVNOs about to be left on the sidelines once again while MNOs reap the rewards? Or has the game changed? With a greater variety of new opportunities stemming from the business and wholesale sectors, the growth of non-traditional network applications like IoT, and the overall shift towards telecoms as user-experience companies rather than utilities firms, maybe a better question to ask is, “when 6G rolls around, will there be any telecoms left that aren’t MVNOs?”

“ In previous generations, such as 4G, there was an extended lag between when the host operator offered 4G to its retail customers and when it was offered to MVNOs” HAMISH WHITE



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“ The increase in data consumption appears to be accelerating dramatically with 5G, and MVNOs are at risk of significant profitability erosion” HAMISH WHITE


The Risks to MVNOs So far, it seems as though MVNOs aren’t going to be shut out of 5G until the big players have had their fill. This time around, White reflects, “major MVNOs have had access to 5G in a much shorter time frame.” This, he notes, has been largely

positive for MVNOs, who aren’t visibly at a disadvantage in their customers’ eyes. However, he adds that “this also signals that MNOs either see 5G as less of a competitive advantage compared to previous generations, and are therefore willing to make it available to potentially competing MVNO brands.” If major MNOs don’t consider 5G to be a core differentiator when it comes to attracting new customers, MVNOs having access to 5G at the same time might not be enough to remain competitive, as MNOs look to enterprise sectors like manufacturing, transportation, and supply chain in order to drive new revenue streams. It makes a lot of sense; while Ericsson’s consumer mobility report from earlier



Cinos Mobile: An Interview with Dan Worman – Executive Director at Cinos

this year found that muddling along at just 2.9 “MVNOs increase the smartphone users were gigs per month in 2020 choice and flexibility willing to pay over the - even at the height of available for customers, odds for 5G by about 9%, lockdowns, remote work, and often have a really that kind of revenue boost and swelling 5G adoption. isn’t enough to justify the “The increase in data strong presence among multi billion pound cost consumption appears to be specific customer of rolling out 5G in the UK accelerating dramatically segments - such as the alone if consumer prices with 5G,” White notes. “As youth market” are expected to remain a result, MVNOs are at risk essentially stagnant. of significant profitability MIKE CARTWRIGHT White explains that "With erosion if wholesale pricing HEAD OF WHOLESALE, the introduction of 5G, data is not dynamic enough to VODAFONE UK consumption is exploding, adapt to this increasing and unlimited plans are becoming more data consumption rate.” prevalent.” In South Korea, where 5G has the highest user penetration rates in the Targeting the Enterprise Market world, the country’s leading MNOs have Rather than going after the consumer reported that the average smartphone market, then, what if MVNOs look user consumes about 32 gigabytes every where the MNOs are looking - at the month. By comparison, data from the UK enterprise market? Government’s watchdog Ofcom pointed James Kirby, SVP & Head of EMEA to the UK's average data consumption Business at CSG, thinks that there are “many 48

November 2021


opportunities” for MVNOs to fit into the UK’s 5G future, but adds that “the urgent need for product innovation and delivering real customer value makes those related to B2B 5G… particularly compelling.” Providing enterprise and wholesale solutions has a lot of potential for MVNOs to unlock new sources of revenue, and some of them - like BT - aren’t doing it alone. “Thinking beyond traditional mobile, the IoT market is predicted to be worth almost £1bn in the next four years and MVNO partnerships will play a big role in maximising BT’s share of market in this growth sector,” says Nick Wootten, BT Wholesale’s Director of MVNO. Wootten believes that close partnerships between an MNO like EE and various more specialised MVNOs (including BT Mobile) can be a source of mutual benefit as the traditional vendor-supplier relationship which characterised MVNO-MNO relations as the 4G era starts to disappear. Mike Cartwright, Head of Wholesale at Vodafone UK, which hosts the virtual networks of VOXI, Virgin Mobile, Asda Mobile, Lebara Mobile and Talkmobile on its network, is also a believer that “MVNOs will continue to play an important part of the UK mobile market as we progress towards a 5G future.” MVNOs, Cartwright explains, “increase the choice and flexibility available for customers, and often have a really strong presence among specific customer segments, such as the youth market, and with adjacent service providers such as those offering home broadband/TV.” Again, as with BT, building dedicated, long term partnerships (Cartwright is quick to highlight the recent extension of Lebara Mobile’s exclusive MVNO partnership with Vodafone, which

Give the People What They Want MVNOs have managed to stay relevant and popular over the past decade because - in a strange reversal of how market pricing segments virtually everywhere else - the little guys can deliver the same service for less than the big players. However, are lower prices all that’s important to the UK consumer? A recent RootMetrics survey of high data usage mobile consumers found that: - 75% identified speed as an important factor for their next mobile purchase, compared to 71% on their last purchase. - 5G availability is of increased importance, with 59% of customers saying 5G was important for their next purchase versus 49% for last purchase. - The expectation of businesses for their next mobile purchase is even higher, with 83% importance on speed and 74% importance on 5G network availability.



The UK’s MVNO Market


November 2021


“ Everybody will need a mobile device, you can't really get away from that fact - and for MNVOs this creates an opportunity to deliver rich mobile experiences” DAN WORMAN


gives its customers access to Vodafone’s 5G network) look like a way for MNOs to fit more services under their umbrellas without having to directly invest in new capabilities as heavily - or at least target their investments where they’ll make them the most money.

An All-MVNO Future? A pessimist might, at this point, suggest that closer partnerships with bigger companies is a sure fire way to put MVNOs on the track towards becoming de facto subsidiaries boxed into increasingly niche market silos by the MNOs on which they rely for their supporting infrastructure. Dan Worman, the Executive Director of newly launched Cinos Mobile - an MVNO targeting the UK’s already saturated market - is confident that the 5G era is one of opportunity rather than struggle. “As the new world of hybrid work unfolds and 5G gains momentum, it’s important that businesses recognise the infrastructure and investment required to enable a workforce




November 2021


that can work anytime, anywhere,” he says. “Everybody will need a mobile device, you can't really get away from that fact - and for MNVOs this creates an opportunity to deliver rich mobile experiences.”

“Thinking beyond traditional mobile, the IoT market is predicted to be worth almost £1bn in the next four years and MVNO partnerships will play a big role” NICK WOOTTEN


Kirby takes the idea of a bright future for MVNOs a step further. Noting the current trend across Europe, wherein the infrastructural elements of telecom operators are being spun off into independent tower operators - or infracos - he speculates that “Today, there is a 5G requirement in any new technology solution, representing a paradigm shift that requires operators to establish new ecosystems and evolve into MVNOs to survive in the digital economy. Investing in their networks and driving collaboration and innovation through dynamic ecosystems are the critical elements that will lead them to win and take greater market share in a 5G world.” This shift, Kirby predicts, “will position MVNOs in the driver's seat for the next decade when yet another network evolution and IT cycle comes to bear.”



Leading the way

in mobile networks in


while building a new

state of the art fibre-tothe-home network


November 2021





Yiannis Michaelides Chief Technical and Information Officer, Epic Cyprus


November 2021


Epic is already the No 1 network for mobile in Cyprus, while has recently started building a state of the art FTTH network for Cyprus and transforming its IT: we speak to Epic's CTIO Yiannis Michaelides


f anyone still thinks of Cyprus as a remote island, tucked away in the eastern Mediterranean and with little going other than its ancient monuments, they should ask themselves why those monuments are there. Every civilisation in Europe and Asia Minor has wanted to grab Cyprus: the lesson of history is that its location has made it of key strategic importance, and that's why it has been something of a political football right up to 1960 when it gained its independence from Britain, and later joining the European Union in 2004. Since these events it has grown to become a favoured location for business, thanks to a high per-capita income and low tax regime, making it attractive to investors looking to take advantage of its growing service economy. The rise of Epic mobile But it's not just the increasing demand from business and domestic subscribers that has boosted the growth of the telecoms industry in Cyprus. It's geographic position close to the major economies of the Middle East, southern Europe and northern Africa make it a natural hub, connected to all these markets by undersea communication. Areeba, the predecessor to Epic, was founded in 2003. It was acquired by South Africa's MTN in 2007 and in 2018 by Monaco Telecom, a part of the NJJ Group it was rebranded as Epic Cyprus (Epic). Since 2004, Yiannis Michaelides has been a key player in the company's development, and since 2017 he has been Epic's Chief



Technical and Information Officer, building on its achievements prior to that date and its new direction thereafter. He is responsible for both IT and the Networks and has 100+ skilled engineers and technicians in his team. “We used to be predominantly a mobile operator, and were the first to introduce 3G, 3.5G, 4G and VoLTE in Cyprus. In 2020 we were ranked for Cyprus as “Best Mobile Network in Test” by umlaut, and “Fastest Mobile Network” by Ookla.” Michaelides and his team started around three years ago the journey to become the #1 mobile network in Cyprus. They called it “The preferred network project,” a name allowing no misinterpretation about what this project was all about. This journey begun by putting a plan in place, to tackle all the weak points of the network, starting from excelling first in voice, through improvements in coverage

“ This is not just about transforming our IT systems, but about transforming the way we do our business. This is going to enable us to manage interactions with customers, at all touchpoints, flexibly, quickly and how they really should be during this digital age” YIANNIS MICHAELIDES



November 2021

with Umts900, the rollout of several new sites and the activation of HDvoice and VoLTE. Then, they planned how to become faster in data speeds, by improvements in the 4G indoor coverage, the use of lower spectrum bands, the reframing of more and more spectrum towards 4G and the addition of several 4G bands that would allow the extensive use of carrier aggregation in the network. “In parallel, we needed a reliable and independent way to continuously monitor the results, to benchmark ourselves, against our previous performance and against our competitors. As such, we selected umlaut to measure our performance using its proven methodology, and monitoring how the network was changing week by week. It's a fantastic “tool” to measure our results, our progress and how we compare against


the competition, and it's evolving as the networks and technology evolves, reflecting the real customer experience through ever changing methodology.” As a result of this plan, Epic has seen continual improvement in coverage, voice, speeds and latencies. Call drops on the network have reduced by nearly 25%, and most on-net voice calls are now being served over HDvoice and VoLTE. And that's not all: “We are now serving almost all our data traffic over 4G/5G and the speeds in the network are more than 4 times faster than before. These great results, demonstrated through the industry proven and independent benchmark of umlaut, fulfill our expectations and outperform the performance of our competitors, allowing us to claim the undisputable no.1 position among the mobile networks of Cyprus.”



Yiannis Michaelides is Chief Technical and Information Officer at Epic Cyprus, one of the largest telecommunications providers in its market. He manages the technology division of Epic, formerly MTN Cyprus, where he is responsible for both the Network and IT teams, comprising over 100 skilled professionals.

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No idle boast – the resilience From school to homes and of the system was tested over 18 businesses most people turned months by the pandemic, during to MS Teams, Zoom, WebEx which time the need for reliable and the like to provide them networks suddenly sprang to with reliable interfaces for the fore, and the demand for the multitude of applications Year Founded data grew like never before. “Our that have emerged and been network was put to the ultimate established due to the pandemic, test. We faced a big challenge, as says Michaelides. “We at Epic Industry did every telecoms company in stood by the side of citizens. the world. We had a responsibility Making timely investments, based to respond effectively to the on our long-term strategic plan Number of Employees enormously increased needs of for a network that can withstand our customers. We had to step even the most difficult conditions, up for the good of the people we continued to offer seamless and the good of the country. We managed communication during a time when public to very quickly mobilise all our colleagues to health became a top priority.” The technical work from home, as an emergency measure teams worked tirelessly to meet these against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. increased needs and it's significant that During this time, we proved that we can work under these unprecedented and challenging efficiently from home and so, have decided conditions Epic's network achieved the top to keep this option going forward for our rating from not one but two independent and people. Microsoft Teams has become our globally recognised network performance new most used application.” measurement organisations.


Telecoms 330



EPIC'S ROUTE TO NO1 MOBILE OPERATOR The plan • 2018: the preferred network project to become the #1 mobile network in Cyprus starts by putting a plan in place, to tackle with priorities all the weak points of the network, starting from excelling first in voice, through improvements in coverage with Umts900, through the rollout of several new sites and through the activation of HDvoice and VoLTE. • Then we planned how to increase data speeds, by improvements in the 4G indoor coverage, the use of lower spectrum bands, the 'reframing' of more spectrum towards 4G and the addition of several 4G bands that allow the extensive use of carrier aggregation in the network. • In parallel, we wanted to put solid foundations for the future 5G network. We acquired the maximum spectrum possible in both the c-band and the 700mhz band. • A good plan is just a wish if there is not equally good execution! Our team, through their efforts and commitment, work in parallel with our strong partner Huawei. What did we achieve? • We have upgraded base stations (antenna systems) all over Cyprus, from urban centres to remote rural areas, utilising all the investments in frequency bands that Epic has made so far and especially the low frequency bands that offer wide coverage in both 4G as well as 3G. • At the same time we prepared the network for the transition to 5G, by upgrading antenna systems. • We have rolled out new base stations, in various areas of the island, with the aim of


November 2021

maximising network coverage, for seamless access to 4G and 5G services. • We implemented over 500km fibre optic links to route the increased data traffic from every corner of Cyprus to the Epic backbone network in Nicosia. • We invested in a new international capacity, beyond 800Gbps, to the international network of our new Group in France and from there to the major European internet centres. This capacity will serve the growing needs of 4G and 5G networks, as well as our new FTTH network and our corporate customers. • We completely upgraded the core network, aiming not only to offer extremely fast speeds, but also high definition voice and VoLTE calls, with very much faster calls and simultaneous use of voice and data during a call. • We improved the management of our network, transferring it to the network operations centre (NOC) of our Group in France, where the management of the other networks of our Group is done, thus taking full advantage of the wide know-how available within our Group. • We needed a reliable and independent way to continuously monitor the results, to benchmark ourselves, against our previous performance and against our competitors. As such, we selected umlaut to measure our performance using its proven methodology, monitoring how the network was changing week by week. • We have migrated our pre-paid/pay-asyou-go customers to our new in-house developed CRM system, transforming the way we interact with the customers at all touch-points.


“ We acquired the maximum spectrum possible in both the c-band and the 700mhz band. At the same time, through the upgrade of the antenna systems, we prepared the network for the transition to 5G” YIANNIS MICHAELIDES


Fibre to the home Till recently the fixed networks in Cyprus remained largely dependent in DSL and Hybrid Fibre/Coaxial infrastructure. In contrast to mobile, the country has lagged, scoring 82nd on the Ookla Global Index. “We can't go on like that!” says Yiannis Michaelides. “We need to be up in the global top 10, as we are for mobile, and we believe that our FTTH project will be a key driver in reaching this target, just as with our mobile network modernisation.” It's an ambitious project, conceived in 2018, designed and tested in trials during 2020 and for the last 12 months in full execution mode. FTTH rollout is an expensive and technically as well as regulatory demanding process, but it is the future-proof solution for global telecoms and countries are racing to roll it out.



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November 2021


Title of the video

“To rollout fibre so extensively we needed to optimsze the ducting colocation framework in Cyprus, as the infrastructure belongs predominantly to another operator. The framework was mostly appropriate for small rollouts, mainly for point-to-point fibre links to the network nodes and individual businesses, whereas we want to rollout massively to every home in the country. We are working very closely with our regulatory team and the country’s responsible authorities to improve this.” Before setting out its project Epic's fibre network was limited to business customers: by rolling it out across the country Epic will lead most of its EU peers. How has it been made possible and how can Cyprus afford it? Well, as part of the Monaco Telecom family and the NJJ Group, Epic now has all the expertise it needs at its disposal. As for funding, in March 2021 the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced an investment of €19m for the installation of

1,600km of fibre network as part of Epic's Very High Capacity broadband network rollout in Cyprus. This will allow access to gigabit digital services and connect both towns and rural areas. As Epic's CEO Thanos Chronopoulos said at the time: “We see ourselves as catalysts for change and growth, our FTTH project is set to radically reshape the digital experience of the Cypriot households and enterprises and accelerate economic growth by providing new opportunities for innovation and productivity.” It will also be a huge and exciting challenge for Michaelides and his colleagues. “Our priorities are a fast rollout, robust design, with enough capacity for the future, using explicitly fibre connections up to the living rooms of households, without any compromising fallback to a copper or coaxial connection, perfect indoor coverage by providing the right customerpremises equipment (CPE) and finally quick and personalised customer support from technicians in the field, and agents in the



call centre. The equipment at the premises is as equally important as the network, it's no good providing a gigabit connection to a cheap modem with poor Wi-Fi capabilities that gives to the customer - just 50 Mbit/s – customers will feel cheated!” Quite an agenda for Epic, but it will make a massive difference to the people of Cyprus and its economy, well expressed by EIB Vice President Lilyana Pavlova. “The EIB recognises the importance of Epic’s long term investment for Cyprus as a knowledge economy, to strengthen business connectivity and competitiveness, and to allow households to benefit from next generation broadband services.” 5G for the future With all the foregoing to manage you might think Yiannis Michaelides had enough on his plate, but yes, there is more. Monaco was one of the first countries in Europe to deploy a 5G network and all the work done to secure the speed and reliability of the mobile network was done with an eye on building solid foundations for the future 5G network. “We acquired the maximum spectrum possible in both the c-band and the 700mhz band. At the same time, through the upgrade of the antenna systems, we prepared the network for the transition to 5G. We have invested in new international capacity, almost 1Tbit/s, to the international network of our new Group in France and from there to the major European internet centres. This capacity intends to serve the growing needs of 4G and 5G networks, as well as our new FTTH network and our corporate customers.” In December 2020 Epic received its licence from the Cypriot government to build a 5G network, and officially launched that network on July this year. We did a lot of work on the sites and the network 66

November 2021

“ We prefer to build long-term relationships with our partners” YIANNIS MICHAELIDES



to prepare for this, in collaboration with our major hardware supplier Huawei. We already have a lot of 4G bands (something that is key for a good 5G network) and we have reduced the spectrum we were wasting on 2G and 3G, and in the last years we have installed more than 500km of fibre optic links just to connect the network nodes and the more remote radio sites, so we don't rely so much on microwave

links, which is expensive and vulnerable to weather conditions. That was good but we needed to know just how well we measured against the competition and our past performance, and that was a big part of the reason we selected umlaut. We have found it very customer-centric, not just about who has the highest speeds but the consistency of speeds and HD voice, in other words, customer experience. Now even though



“ We are very satisfied with what we have achieved together with Huawei, and I know they are also very proud and happy with our recent awards from umlaut and Ookla” YIANNIS MICHAELIDES


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November 2021




we're at the top, we are still improving and optimising.” Huawei, has been an important partner since 2009, since when they have been Epic's preferred vendor in many areas of the network. “We are very satisfied with what we have achieved together with Huawei, and I know they are also very proud and happy with our recent awards from umlaut and Ookla.” BSS Transformation Michaelides and his team are now implementing a broad modernisation plan for Epic’s business support system (BSS), migrating from legacy IT systems into a new CRM system that is being developed in-house and within NJJ. “This is not just about transforming our IT systems, but about transforming the way we do our business. This is going to enable us to manage interactions with customers, at all touchpoints, flexibly, quickly and how they really should be during this digital age” he says.

Partners for progress Epic Cyprus, Michaelides is the first to admit, would have had no chance of achieving its leadership position in the market without support from partners large and small. Monaco Telecom and its family of companies within the NJJ Group between them provide a valuable resource of technical expertise and investment. And as we have seen long-term partners like Huawei and umlaut have been vital in building and maintaining the infrastructure and assessing performance respectively: but Epic works with a plethora of technical companies on specific requirements. “We prefer to build long-term relationships with our partners. For example, Bluesun Automation, a local supplier with tremendous experience in power and data centres, works with us to build and maintain our data centres. In addition, we have together fully upgraded the power infrastructure of our datacentres and mobile sites, critical to the availability of the network. We are also indebted to GCC (another local partner) and Juniper for revamping completely our IP backbone network, in preparation for the load that will come from the extensive rollout of FTTH, as well as the increasing base and subscriber needs in mobile and 5G.” Naturally he is keen to retain skills internally as well, and develop his teams and as far as possible to be an independent operator, but this has to be balanced, he says, against the need to change quickly and scale up Epic Cyprus' operations for the digital age. Having steered the technical evolution of the company for more than a decade, he's well placed to lead that transformation.





November 2021


With roads becoming more congested and urban populations swelling, could 5G help make public transport a viable, sustainable option?


he need for efficient and affordable public transportation has never been greater. Urban populations around the world are continuing to grow. In 2018, 55% of the world’s population lived in cities. By 2050, the United Nations’ Revision of World Urbanisation Prospects estimated that the figure will have grown to 68%. The global migration from rural to urban, combined with overall population expansion, could result in as many as 2.5 billion more people living in cities by the middle of the century compared to today - almost the combined population of India and China in 2021. Congestion is becoming a major issue throughout many urban areas, and rural communities still remain cut off from one another and their urban neighbours by poor infrastructure and public transportation. In London, the UK’s most congested city, drivers lost an average of 69 hours each as a result of being stuck in traffic last year, and the researchers conducting the report noted that - thanks to lockdowns and reduced travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, “the amount of time lost due to traffic was considerably lower in 2020, compared with the previous year.” At the same time, it has become an incontrovertible fact - at least, if you’re willing to listen to scientists instead of the



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“ 5G enables a new kind of communication network to connect everyone and everything” ALI GOHAR & GIANFRANCO NENCIONI


Joe Rogan podcast - that the climate crisis has approached, reached, and passed a tipping point in the last few years. While there’s still a chance that we can mitigate a large amount of the damage through swift, decisive, and collective action, the fact remains that large areas of the planet are in imminent danger of becoming uninhabitable, threatening global food supplies and the loss of both life and property.

In order to cope with growing urbanisation, the need for radical climate reform, and the effects of the climate crisis we have been unable - or unwilling - to avert, public transportation needs to rise to the task. The speed at which these changes need to take place, and the scale at which they need to be delivered, is considerable. Just as the need for public transportation reaches an all time high (and given the fact that neoliberal governments like the UK and US have a more-or-less 0% chance of nationalising their infrastructure) public transportation has, ironically, a long road ahead of it. However, smarter technology - integrated at a fundamental level into increasingly smart cities - may be the answer and, if things like the internet



Paris: Greener and Safer Paris has committed heavily in the past few years to pedestrianising its streets and improving public transportation. The city is moving to replace its entire fleet of public buses with electric vehicles, and the city’s intelligent transportation system has contributed to a 40% drop in traffic fatalities since 2010.

of things (IoT), big data analytics, and automation are to transform public transportation, they’ll need to be underpinned by 5G.

“If the UK is to meet its climate change goals, it needs to deliver emissions reductions that are as big, fast and cheap as possible”

add that 5G’s impact on both economies and societies will be “profound”, and add that it will be a vital foundation in the creation of the “Intelligent 5G Decongestion Transportation System.” As researchers Ali That impact is Gohar and Gianfranco quantified in a recent Nencioni note in report from Vodafone their report The Role on the impact of 5G ANDREA DONÀ of 5G Technologies and IoT technologies CHIEF NETWORK OFFICER, in a Smart City: The on the UK’s net zero VODAFONE Case for Intelligent targets. “If the UK is to Transportation System, “enables a new meet its climate change goals, it needs kind of communication network to to deliver emissions reductions that are as big, fast and cheap as possible,” says connect everyone and everything.” They 74

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Andrea Donà, Vodafone UK’s Chief Network Officer. To do that, he continues, digital technology will be “an exciting part of the picture” and play a pivotal role in three crucial, high-emissions industries in the UK: manufacturing, agriculture, and transport. Where transport is concerned, the report notes that emissions from surface transport have remained “virtually unchanged since 1990”, making transportation the UK’s biggest source of carbon output. By harnessing digital solutions that involve intelligent traffic monitoring systems and ubiquitous networks of IoT sensors - what Henk Koopmans, Chief Executive Officer of Huawei’s Research & Development division in the UK, calls “A ubiquitous internet … the World Wide Web of Things'' - traffic congestion,

Vodafone estimates, could be eased to the point where UK transport emissions could be lowered by as much as 6.69.3mn tonnes annually. Vodafone’s report notes that Intelligent Transportation System investment “creates benefits not just around emissions reduction and air quality, but also improving journey times for public transport as well as private car transport to support the expansion of city centre economies.” However, this suggestion is still a relative adjustment of an existing model. More radical change could be accomplished with more impactful results. 5G Driving Sustainable Public Transport In the Swedish capital of Stockholm, a fully electric, fully-automated, 5G-powered



Seoul: The 5G Commute The South Korean capital was the first city in the world to leverage 5G in its public transport infrastructure. Not only is 5G available to the public throughout the entirety of Seoul’s major metro lines, but the city government is utilising the technology to install 5G advanced driver assistance systems on busses and taxis to leverage V2X technologies for increased road safety and traffic decongestion.


November 2021


Autonomous Vehicles, 5G and the future of transport

economy workers) the Swedish knowledge hub and testbed Urban ICT Arena (in partnership with Ericsson, Telia, and Keolis - a public transport company) are deploying and testing 5G-connected, selfdriving electric minibuses. The pilot was launched in September of last year on the island of Royal Djurgården – one of the most popular green areas and tourist destinations in Stockholm. The autonomous, electric minibuses slowly toured the island for about two weeks with marked success. It’s a long way from releasing publically-funded electric vehicles (or full sized buses) into heavily congested urban centres, but it’s a start.

“ ITS creates benefits not just around emissions reduction and air quality, but also improving journey times for public transport” VODAFONE


public transport solution is already being trialed. By harnessing the ultra low-latency connectivity of 5G networks (something currently being driven in the states by companies like Google’s Waymo and Uber as another potential revenue scheme that could one day eliminate the need for gig


NRT10 Narita, Japan


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Robert Davidson of Digital Realty talks interconnection, the fabric of fabrics, ubiquitous data centre experiences, and Digital Realty’s strategy in APAC.


HKG11 Hong Kong


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he global data centre industry is entering a new evolutionary phase. Driven by a generational shift in the ways in which data centre networks are designed, mass cloud adoption, exponential data growth, a shifting regulatory landscape, and changing approaches to interconnection, the sector is poised for revolutionary change. “What we’re seeing is a mosaic of services coalescing around the data centre in ways that haven’t happened before,” explains Robert Davidson, Director of Network Services, APAC for global data centre operator Digital Realty. “All these different points of entry are converging at the same time in a way that's allowing us to create an environment where the ecosystem surrounding the data centre is combining connectivity, data storage, application service providers, data service providers, and the interconnectivity to move all that data back and forth between locations.” With more than 290 data centres, ranging in size from traditional colocation facilities to massive hyperscale campuses, Digital Realty is in an unparalleled position to adapt, react, capitalise on, and drive this monumental transformation throughout the digital space. From his home in Hong Kong, Davidson sat down with us to dig deeper into Digital Realty’s strategy for success in APAC - the world’s fastest-growing data centre region.




Staggered Evolution and a Cloud Revolution From a regulatory perspective, the process of freeing up markets and reducing barriers to entry started in the US about 25 years ago when the company deregulated in a way that meant data centres were no longer the sole province of telecom operators. A decade later, Europe did the same. “Five years ago, that same process started happening in Asia,” Davidson explains. “What you're seeing now is that the tier one markets - Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia - are already open. Then you have the tier two markets like South Korea, India, and Taiwan which are starting to follow suit. There are still a number of tier three markets in Asia that haven't really opened up yet but will probably start to do so over the next few years.” Intersecting with the deregulation of APAC’s data centre industry is a dramatic increase in cloud adoption throughout the region. It’s this entry of overseas firms (as well as diversification and growth from domestic players), twinned with widespread 82

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“ What we’re seeing is

a mosaic of services coalescing around the data centre in ways that haven’t happened before” ROBERT DAVIDSON


digital transformation, that’s driving the “mosaic of services” that Davidson describes. As a result, he explains, things are getting a lot more complicated. “If we were talking 10 years ago, we'd be talking quite generally about a ‘data centre’; now, we can't have that same simplified conversation,” he says. Traditionally, data centres were - as Davidson

DIGITAL REALTY KIX Campus Osaka, Japan

Five Nines

explains - just ‘data centres’: enterprise colocation facilities that resided within a city’s central business district, resulting in market interconnectivity characterised by “many-tomany” connections. Now, things are very different. “We're seeing large hyperscale campuses located maybe 40-60km outside the network core being used for data warehousing, and then smaller edge locations close to the end user. It's a fundamental evolution in the way that data centres are architected and scaled. People are now looking for a mixture of large hyperscale campuses, edge transit campuses, colocation edge locations, and even micro-edge facilities which people are looking to use to lower their latencies as much as possible,” says Davidson.

“Digital Realty is building out metro ring facilities. We're building out our own interconnect infrastructure to make sure that we can get in and out of our buildings with fully diverse, tier grade access to the points of presence that our customers need to be connected to. In the US, for example, you can get a 1+1 redundant circuit and that's going to give you five nines of availability. To get the same level of availability in a place like Jakarta or India, you're probably going to need five routes because of the level of structure in those markets. Customers don't really want 1+1 redundancy; they want five nines of availability. So, whatever we need to do in any one market to produce that result the customer wants is what we do, rather than just building to a standard that was established for a completely different market context.”



EXECUTIVE BIO ROBERT DAVIDSON TITLE: DIRECTOR OF NETWORK SERVICES APAC LOCATION: HONG KONG Digital Realty supports the world's leading enterprises and service providers by delivering the full spectrum of data centre, colocation and interconnection solutions. PlatformDIGITAL®, the company's global data centre platform, provides customers a trusted foundation and proven Pervasive Datacenter Architecture PDx™ solution methodology for scaling digital business and efficiently managing data gravity challenges. Digital Realty's global data centre footprint gives customers access to the connected communities that matter to them with 291 facilities in 47 metros across 24 countries on six continents.


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“It's requiring people to think very differently about the data centre market, as well as how facilities are going to be interconnected into the greater fabric of a given market.” This bifurcation of the data centre industry into centralised hyperscale and a rapidly expanding edge has radically changed the ways in which data centres approach interconnection. Davidson – an 18 year veteran of CenturyLink – explains that around a decade ago, he started to witness the beginnings of this fundamental change. “Some of the most profitable routes that we had in Asia from a connectivity standpoint – where we were seeing the highest yields – were those express routes linking data centre to data centre,” he recalls. This was a far cry from the many-to-many

“ There are still a number of tier three markets in Asia that haven't really opened up yet but will probably start to do so over the next few years” ROBERT DAVIDSON


interconnection which had been the norm for the preceding decades. “Over the last five to seven years, there's been a dynamic shift where network connectivity – largely driven by hyperscale densities – has shifted towards the centralised data centre,” he says.

Partnering for Success Power, cooling, and intelligent, efficient design are all vital parts of a data centre. However, an industry-leading PUE and hyperdense server racks mean nothing without rich interconnection with the surrounding network. As it executes a sweeping rollout across APAC, Digital Realty is increasingly turning to interconnection specialist Ciena in order to deliver their ubiquitous, world-class customer experience, no matter the challenges posed by local interconnection infrastructure.

and I've always maintained that they're the best partner in the space from a total cost of ownership perspective,” says Davidson. “Ciena's products give you the uptime, they give you the availability; everything just works. That's very valuable, especially in a market like Asia where you can't always rely on the level of the skill of the technician you're going to get.”

“We work very closely with Ciena to ensure that, while the approach might need to vary from market to market, at the end of the day our customers aren't stuck in our data centres. I've worked extensively with Ciena for the past 20 years. They were the main provider when I was at Qwest and CenturyLink,


Networks are Evolving. Are You Ready for the Change?

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Interconnecting Digital Realty’s APAC expansion John Garrett of Ciena discusses collaborating with Digital Realty on a sweeping greenfield data centre footprint expansion throughout APAC.

“If you don’t work in the service provider industry, you may not be familiar with Ciena. But, we are probably the coolest company in our sector. We drive the bits and bytes of the Internet,” says John Garrett, Senior Director of Sales in APJ for Ciena. Founded in 1992, Ciena is a networking systems, services, and software company that underpins critical digital infrastructure across the world, serving more than 1,700 customers in the service provider, OTT, enterprise network, and hyperscale data centre industries. Ciena was chosen by Digital Realty as a key technology and interconnections solution provider to support the data centre leader’s sweeping expansion throughout the APAC market, balancing a strong commercial proposition that keeps Digital Realty’s costper-bit low, while still leveraging cutting edge technology to create a world class experience for their customers.

Ciena has provided the necessary optical infrastructure to connect these new facilities, starting in Singapore, where the partnership completed a deployment earlier this year. “We then expanded out to Hong Kong, Osaka, and Tokyo Narita, which are all scheduled to come online in the next few weeks. Then, later in the year, we’ll also be helping them connect and bring online another facility in Sydney as well,” he says. “It’s been a very exciting collaboration, and we’re excited to see these sites start to come online as part of PlatformDIGITAL.” “There’s a level of safety and comfort to Digital Realty’s choice of Ciena. They know us and know that they can trust us to deliver the right solutions to meet their needs and, by extension, their customers’ needs as well,” he adds. Looking to the future, Digital Realty’s APAC expansion is continuing at both speed and scale. “They have some significant expansion plans for Asia,” says Garrett. “Our collaboration so far has centred on data centres that they already had up and running that we interconnected, but I know that they have other builds underway in other countries. And we’re excited about working with them on some of those future projects.”

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Digital Realty: building the digital future

Thanks to increasing deregulation, data centre operators found themselves increasingly able to capitalise on this trend. “What those data centre operators found was that they could build those express networks between core campuses themselves, offering them at discounted rates, and eating into one of the few remaining golden goose revenue streams left to the telcos on the networking side,” Davidson says. The reason for data centre operators’ dominance over telcos in the interconnection space, he continues, is because “they were able to do it a little bit better because they didn't have to view that connectivity as a revenue source, and instead could treat it as a value-add.” 88

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This approach isn’t ubiquitous across the data centre sector, Davidson admits, but for Digital Realty, it’s become a cornerstone of how the company grows and attracts new customers into its user base. “When you look at how Digital Realty operates, that datacentre-to-data-centre connectivity really isn't a product: it's a feature, an add-on you see being used in order to attract people into the ecosystem,” he says. “It's not something you're looking to maximise your margin on; it's something that you're looking to sell as much of as possible in order to enable people to use your site effectively.” This ultra-open approach to the interconnection infrastructure surrounding and connecting Digital Realty’s facilities is, Davidson stresses several times


throughout our interview, a key differentiator for the firm. This is a particularly exciting prospect, he continues, when you consider the scale of Digital Realty’s global platform, and their ongoing plans to grow its reach in APAC. “We're taking the idea of interconnectivity as a value-added feature a step further,” he shares. “When you're a company that has more than 290 data centres globally, that can start to be a very interesting ecosystem play, especially given the fact that we're totally open and neutral.”

“People are now looking for a mixture of large hyperscale campuses, edge transit campuses, colocation edge locations, and even micro-edge facilities” ROBERT DAVIDSON


New Horizons, New Markets 2021 and 2022 are going to be bumper years for Digital Realty. In APAC alone, they’re planning to bring six new data centres online in the next nine months. “We're going to be in this rapid expansion phase as we open up data centres, and we're already working on the next set of new markets now,” Davidson explains. When it comes to breaking into a new market, Digital Realty goes where the demand is strongest, not necessarily for data centres (there are often plenty of data centres in the countries they enter) but for Digital Realty itself. “We're being driven by the customers who want us to be in these new markets because they know that with Digital Realty they're going to get the same



experience no matter whether they're in Jakarta or Amsterdam,” Davidson explains. “Right now, you can go into a lot of tier two and tier three markets and buy space in a data centre. The supply exists. However, if you do that, you're going to be managing different philosophies, operational styles, and customer experiences.” Rather than manage dozens of relationships with different data centre operators operating within dozens of different regulatory frameworks with different ways of doing business and different levels of technical sophistication, “the advantage of Digital Realty is that you can choose between 290 different sites around the world and be sure that you get the same experience in just about every single one of them,” Davidson says. “They're going to have the same portal, the same command structure, the same user experience that allows you to scale as fast as possible. It's that unified, ubiquitous experience that our 20-30 key customers value from us because, for them, a data centre is just a vehicle to help them achieve their business goals; they don't want to be managing data centres.” This demand for ubiquitous data centre experiences from a core customer base is the thing that’s driving Digital Realty’s massive expansion throughout APAC. “We're pushing to create this unified environment in as many new markets as possible. That's what's driving our strategy, whether it's in Australia, Hong Kong, India, or Japan,” Davidson explains. Of course, creating a totally uniform, ubiquitous solution that delivers the speed and convenience of a tier one market like Northern Virginia in a country with a very different regulatory, infrastructural, and cultural landscape, like India (where Digital Realty is currently expanding through its multi-billion dollar joint venture with Brookfield Infrastructure) is no mean feat. 90

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SIN12, Singapore

Ubiquitous Experiences in Diverse Markets “Each market is different,” explains Davidson. “Part of what I do is put together the regulatory and business framework to ensure that, no matter how different things may look when you part the kimono, so to speak, the market feels exactly the same as any other to our customers.” The first part of entering a new market revolves around creating the right governmental and regulatory strategy to support Digital Realty’s plans for the country. APAC’s deregulation that we mention earlier may be progressing quickly, but the region’s markets are still broken up into three tiers.


“Over the last five to seven years, there's been a dynamic shift where network connectivity has shifted towards the centralised data centre” ROBERT DAVIDSON


There are four tier one markets – Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia – which, Davidson explains, “are fairly open. You can build, operate, and own everything from facilities to networks and interconnection infrastructure; you're a facilities-based operator.” Then, in the tier two markets like South Korea, an operator has to approach things on more of a service basis. “You can do most things but you can't always own it all, which means you need to make some concessions or work with a partner,” Davidson says. “And then the third category is pretty much a closed market where you really can't do much of anything without a local partner, like Vietnam.”

“Digital Realty is already in all the type one markets. We're in Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. What we need to be able to do when we look at entering a type two or type three market is figure out how we can create an environment where, while we may not be in a type one market, we can make it look like a type one market to our customers,” and the approach to each new market is different. “What we did in Seoul is very different to what we're doing in India today, and is very different to what we're going to have to do when we start considering a move into say the Philippines,” Davidson explains.



From gaming and social spaces to education and the future of advertising, the metaverse is a lot of things to a lot of people. But what is it, really? WRITTEN BY: HARRY MENEAR


November 2021



he intertwining of physical and hyper-immersive digital spaces is a common theme in science fiction, from William Gibson’s Neuromancer to Cyberpunk: 2077 and The Matrix. This new decade is already blurring the lines between sci-fi and reality, as augmented and virtual reality technology, rich virtual experiences, and IoT conspire to push us further than ever before into new virtual worlds - a metaverse where all our needs, be they educational, social, entertainment, or work-related are met, all within one persistent digital space.

What is a “metaverse”? The term metaverse was coined in 1992 by author Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash. Later popularised by the book Ready Player One, a metaverse is a fully-realised digital space that exists beyond the physical world in which we live. Sometimes, it’s held up as a utopian paradise where we can transcend the restraints of our physical existence, unbounded and free to explore new, infinite horizons. More frequently, however, the concept finds itself burdened by dystopian overtones - a binary prison for


More in touch all in reach Better connected to our health and human family through 5G. We create the technology to connect the world.


“ We now have the ability to make the real world virtual and the virtual world real” DARREN SAVAGE


our minds; the symptom of a society in denial of an unjust or dying physical world. As tempting as it is to glibly reference the “you die in the game; you die in real life” trope and call it a day, when it comes to the nature of metaverses in the real world (itself something of a contradictory phrase), science fiction only got it half right. While the concept of a metaverse is nothing new (Tron came out in 1982 for crying out loud), here at the back end of 2021 the metaverse trend feels like it’s hitting a tipping point as the technology reaches a

stage when new digital worlds can make the jump from science fiction to everyday life. For some people, that’s a game changer of epic proportions. "Some see the Metaverse creating as big a shift in online communication as the internet itself,” says James Morris-Manuel, EMEA Managing Director at Matterport, a company that uses digital twins to capture and manipulate 3D images of physical space. “The Metaverse is incredibly exciting. A virtual replica of the built world, made up of billions of digital twins, will fundamentally change how we experience, interact with, and analyse with space around us.”



Morris-Manuel isn’t the only person who’s confident (and vocal) about the metaverse’s potential to “change everything”. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerburg, is throwing his company’s considerable weight behind a multibillion dollar bet that the future of social engagement belongs inside a metaverse - preferably one that Facebook has created. Earlier this year, more than 200 South Korean tech firms joined together to form the “Metaverse Alliance” - a sweeping series of public and private sector partnerships between financial institutions, game developers, telecoms, Samsung, and the government’s Ministry of Science and ICT, all aiming to infuse a number of industries (including national defence) with “metaverse technologies”. But when it comes down to exactly how, and for whom everything is about to change - not to mention whether these changes will 96

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“ A virtual replica of the built world, made up of billions of digital twins, will fundamentally change how we experience, interact with, and analyse with space around us” JAMES MORRIS-MANUEL



be for the better - specifics start to get a little thinner on the ground. As with any transformative, once-in-ageneration technological development - just look at 5G - the metaverse means different things to different people Innumerable worlds “We now have the ability to make the real world virtual and the virtual world real,” explains Darren Savage, Chief Strategy Officer at Tribal Worldwide - a multi-faceted branding and marketing consultancy based in London. Savage and his team work with some of the world’s biggest brands to explore every conceivable option when it comes to helping those brands form better, more meaningful (more profitable, essentially) relationships with their customers. The metaverse, he continues, is the new Wild West for consumer engagement. “The current state of play with the metaverse is nascent with lots of experimentation by brands, especially in the luxury and gaming sectors, exploring how to use the concept as the basis for brand engagement, enhancing product ownership experiences, devising new commercial models and augmenting retail spaces,” he says. “These nuanced experiences will continue for some time, with the end stage being the emergence of a new economy of commerce, ownership and experience.” Matterport, MorrisManuel continues, has built digital “mirrors” of more than five million phsyical spaces, including shops, houses, office blocks, and even yachts. “We estimate there are over four billion buildings comprising 20

billion spaces in the world, yet only 1% of this is digitised, which represents an enormous opportunity to generate tangible business results in the Metaverse,” he enthuses. “The Metaverse is a new frontier that will open infinite opportunities for consumers and businesses alike, building a virtual digital twin of the world one step at a time.” The potential for the metaverse to serve as a new economic frontier is causing ripples throughout the advertising sector. Lindsey McInerney, Global Head of Technology and Innovation at AB InBev - the global beverage giant which spends more than $1.5 billion every year on advertising - stresses that, “The metaverse isn’t simply about virtual and augmented reality. It’s an exploding digital economy that looks set to change the way we think about physical and virtual experiences forever.” McInerney tells me that this is a “pivotal time” for brands that are “are only just beginning to figure out how they’ll interact with one another in this new shared space.” For brands, the 2020s are already a scary place. Modern consumers are more savvy, less loyal, and have a much lower tolerance for behaviours like greenwashing and faux progressive messaging. Ad blocker usage is on the rise. For advertising execs, the


Quickfire Questions With… Oliver Kern Oliver Kern is the CCO of Lockwood Publishing, the Nottingham-based game developer that’s been running its own metaverse, Avakin Life, for an audience of more than 200 million people since 2013. Based on major investments we're seeing made into metaverse projects, why is big tech so keen on driving (and, to get cynical) controlling the future of this trend? Being honest with you - big tech investing in social spaces isn’t a new development. We saw the same thing play out with social media and mobile messaging - wherever an audience goes to spend their time the money will follow. As to why they’re interested in the metaverse specifically - it’s about time, knowledge and influence. Every company wants to have users spend their time with them and not someone else. Every company wants to know more about their audience. And every tech company wants to be the one influencing how platforms develop and are used. The metaverse can deliver on all three of these - if you get the experience right, you become the place for all kinds of social and creative activity and that gives brands an unparalleled insight into how an audience thinks, while also ensuring they spend their free time on your platform. You’ve said it’s important that Metaverses are developed from the ground up by users, rather than by a select few "tech bros"? Is that a likely or even feasible way for things to play out? We all make our own choices when it comes to our leisure and creative time - so why should the digital world be


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any different. As without our users, the metaverse is just an empty space. The best and only way to create an inclusive world is to involve our users in the creative process. They are the ones showing us how to make Avakin Life an even more compelling place to hang out - then it’s on us to deliver those experiences. What's your worst case for a metaverse future? How close does it look to William Gibson's book? The worst case isn’t a digital dystopia - it’s a series of worlds so boring that no one wants to visit them. That’s why it’s so vital that users are involved in developing the future of the metaverse - if it’s left to a select few it will become something closed off, corporate and dull. Passion and joy will be replaced by worthiness and corporate messaging and with every visit you’ll question why you’re coming back.


“ The metaverse isn’t simply about virtual and augmented reality. It’s an exploding digital economy that looks set to change the way we think about physical and virtual experiences forever” LINDSEY MCINERNEY


metaverse is a playground where they can trial new events and experiences, potentially generating revolutionary levels of engagement from consumers long-jaded by unskippable video ads. Exploring new, digital spaces, together Any new technology that attracts a lot of users is going to attract advertisers and brands

looking to capitalise. But what is it that’s actually drawing people into metaverse experiences? I got in touch with Oliver Kern, who’s the Chief Commercial Officer at Lockwood Publishing. Based in Nottingham, Lockwood is the development house for Avakin Life, a virtual space they describe as “a 3D social universe” - a metaverse as far as Kern is concerned. “For the Avakin Life team, building a metaverse is all about creating a shared digital world which individuals can have a meaningful impact on - making friends, creating experiences and curating their own space within it,” he explains. Avakin Life has been going since 2013, and if you ask Kern, technology isn’t a prerequisite of a metaverse experience. The technology and the channel - whether it be VR, PC, or mobile - aren’t as important as



“ It’s a journey and a marathon and we are partly constrained by technology, but you can see and feel the direction we are heading and the tech will find a way” ANDY LORD



November 2021

making sure that a metaverse “should be a space for everyone.” The idea of persistent digital spaces is nothing new to the gaming industry. MMORPGs like World of Warcraft have been maintaining these spaces and cultivating the communities within them for years. More modern multiplayer games like Fortnite and Roblox are taking this idea of shared spaces, events, and a persistent world even further. A metaverse is more like a framework, a hub from which you (and your friends) can move from one experience to another. Tribal Worldwide dipped its toes into the realm of a unifying social experience within what could be characterised as a metaverse last year. At the height of lockdown in the UK, the company paired up with Volkswagen and Forza - a popular series of racing games


- to host a “virtual treffen.” “Passionate fans of Volkswagen regularly arrange drives and gatherings to show off, admire and talk all things VW. The global pandemic meant this wasn't possible, so we switched to the virtual world of Forza 4 Horizon,” said a spokesperson for Tribal. Reportedly, “fans flocked to the meetups.” The idea that metaverse experiences can create events, held at “places” within the digital world is undeniably an intriguing one. Learning on a Digital Campus Metaverses seem to already exist within the gaming industry. They look like they’re headed towards being the future of social media and interaction online. They’re poised to make advertisers a lot of money. However, if you ask Andy Lord,

Second Life: the first Metaverse? Launched in 2003 by San Franciscobased developer Linden Lab, Second Life is an online virtual world where people can work, play, socialise, create and (predictably) do weird ‘adult’ stuff through an online avatar. In many ways, it’s held up as the precursor to social media. In even more ways, it might have been the first metaverse. The emphasis on existing (not necessarily “playing”, or “working”, or “doing weird ‘adult’ stuff”) within a shared virtual world without clear goals or expectations, where you can interact with other people, each having a unique experience, has become a pretty pivotal hallmark of a metaverse.



“ It’s a place where everyone can be themselves and express themselves however they choose” OLIVER KERN


the CEO and founder of Credersi, there’s another kind of physical experience that metaverses can recreate: going to school. “We are trying to bring a taste of the Metaverse to how we educate and train people,” he explains, elaborating that Credersi is building a platform where huge numbers of people can connect, experience events, and learn together - while being hundreds or thousands of miles apart. After a year when people are still trying to calculate the potential damage to the education of young people inflicted by 12 months of enforced remote learning, it’s arguable that digital learning needs a new direction. “Education has been waiting for a revolution 102

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communicate and network “wherever and whenever”. If you can pull that off, he says, “then you have removed barriers posed by time zones, work patterns and eradicated the morning commute.”

since the Victorian times, and whilst some of it may come from new teaching styles, new pedagogy, and new subject matter, the real enhancement will be how and where education is consumed,” says Lord. “It’s a journey and a marathon and we are partly constrained by technology, but you can see and feel the direction we are heading and the tech will find a way.” Lord paints me a picture of “an ‘always on’ platform with endless subjects being taught by an endless number of instructors and lecturers,” with virtual recruitment fares, galleries, shops, games, car showrooms (he assures me he’s “in talks with somebody at the moment” about that one) and ways to

The metaverse decade Whether it’s recreating the classroom, the office, a dragon’s lair, or the neon-drenched streets of neo tokyo, I think if I can hang my hat on one thing about what a metaverse can do, it’s “everything and anything.” Morris-Manuel and the digital twin architects at Matterport are trying to bring exact copies of physical spaces into the digital world, working to break out of the technology’s current state, which he describes as “a series of private walled gardens,” and into “harmonious systems that relate and are inter-operational.” Lord is also trying to build something analogous to the real world, but scaled up - unconstrained by petty concerns like real estate, bricks, and mortar - a global campus for work and learning where everyone’s admitted. Savage and McInerney see metaverses as new frontiers for commerce. And Kern (not to mention Zuckerberg and half of Silicon Valley) is fighting to bring people together, into new social spheres where ideas, creativity, individuality, and fun can flourish. “It’s a place where everyone can be themselves and express themselves however they choose,” he says. “One person might spend their time attending our live events, and another might spend their time hanging out with friends and chatting. All of these are equally rewarding ways to spend your time and that’s what’s so great about a metaverse - it creates a world where no two gamers have the same experience.” They all have different ideas about what the metaverse is. They all have different dreams for its future. And they’re all right.





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Shibu Varghese, Managing Director & CEO of Telekom Infra talks 5G, the company’s T-Mobile carve out, and the future of the European tower-co. The European telecommunications landscape is changing. As mobile network operators (MNOs) increasingly look to transform themselves into tech-focused platform operators - all the while contending with an ongoing industry-wide step change to 5G - independent infrastructure companies are increasingly coming to the fore. “Across Europe, the whole telecom infrastructure industry is consolidating,” says Shibu Varghese, Managing Director and CEO of Telekom Infra, the Netherlands’ largest tower-co, following its carve-out from T-Mobile Netherlands in 2019, and which recently merged with the infrastructure business belonging to Cellnex. “You can see this trend with the Cellnex-Deutsche Telekom merger, as well as with Vantage 106

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Towers (which are part of Vodafone) doing a similar kind of thing,” Varghese continues. Varghese joined Telekom Infra to oversee the company’s carve out from T-Mobile Netherlands two years ago. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride - building up a new network with a totally independent mindset,” he reflects. From building a team and reinventing an IT stack, to building new relationships with a host of key partners, Varghese and the rest of Telekom Infra have accomplished a lot in the past 24 months. They now find themselves once again at the start of another exciting journey as the Cellnex merger creates new synergies and opportunities to expand, and the Netherlands braces for the next stage of the 5G boom.


Finding their Feet Telekom Infra is the largest tower-co in the Netherlands with over 3,200 locations - a substantial portfolio in a country less than 42,000 km² in size. When it came time to plot a course forward for the newly carved out Telekom Infra, Varghese knew he needed to build a company that could leverage its new infrastructure assets from the ground up. “First, we focused on building the team. We had no one when I arrived, so our first priority was to bring some very experienced people on board,” he says. “I was very lucky to get the people who became my head of operations, my head of business development, technology, and finance - getting the right people on my team really was the first step in building this business the right way. Deutsche Funkturm (DFMG) the Deutsche Telekom Infra in Germany chipped in with some mentorship as well.”

THE RISE OF THE TOWER-CO Over the past few years, there has been a schism between the networks that MNOs build, own, and maintain, and the infrastructure that supports those networks. Increasingly, independent companies (which are often subsidiaries or business units owned at least in some part by the MNOs themselves) are stepping in to act as dedicated telecom infrastructure operators, sometimes offering their services to multiple MNOs at once. The trend represents an interesting shift in perspective. During the 1990s and early 2000s, cell towers were not considered to be saleable assets, as they were too closely tied to the MNOs core business competencies. Then, around 2014, several companies (including Cellnex and American Tower) began the acquisition spree for the cell site assets of various telcos looking for greater liquidity in the face of the Recession. The industry today follows a very similar business model to the colocation data centre sector, with MNOs selling their infrastructure (in much the same way they have sold off their data centre assets) to dedicated operators, who in turn lease capacity back to them at favourable, infrastructureas-a-service rates.



Telekom Infra: Startup agility at MNO Scale

With the right people in place, the next step was to fill the gap left by the removal of T-Mobile’s IT capabilities. “We were originally dependent on the T-Mobile Netherlands systems, so the priority was to build up our own IT systems,” Varghese explains, adding that once the human and technical elements were in place, the final phase was to “leverage both the technology and the people into a company culture that was uniquely our own. We knew we wanted to have a startup mentality because, although we were under the Deutsche Telekom umbrella, we were small, we were different - we were not an MNO. So, we developed this new culture with the aim of becoming this sharp, agile startup company that can, at the same time, still leverage the Deutsche Telekom group's strength.” The Anchor for 5G Immediately following the completion of the carve out, Telekom Infra became a key element of T-Mobile Netherlands’ 108

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5G rollout. “We enabled T-Mobile to be the number one Network Service Provider in the country for 5G. They were the first to launch a commercial 5G service in the Netherlands because of us. We really enable our anchor customer - which is T-Mobile - to be the market leader, particularly relating to 5G,” says Varghese. “In order to help T-Mobile Netherlands achieve that goal, we had to make sure we were ready for the launch of 5G far ahead of schedule. T-Mobile switched on its 5G network in the Netherlands in July of 2020, and we had been working to be ready for that launch since the beginning of 2019. The launch has been a phenomenal success for us, and for T-Mobile Netherlands.” Preparing for the 5G rollout in the Netherlands, Varghese adds, was not without its complications. One of the key challenges, he explains, for an operator looking to upgrade to 5G, is that “a lot of the latest technologies, like Advanced Antenna System




INDUSTRY: TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE Shibu has been in highly responsible global leadership roles in Telecom, Technology & Infra domains, presently the CEO & Managing Director of Telekom Infra (Deutsche Telekom) since Feb 2019. Shibu is known as a dynamic, results-oriented leader, with a strong track record of performance in CXO level technology business & successfully drive growth. He has been recognised as a strategic thinker and innovative leader who takes ownership of the business as his own, and has been invited and entrusted many times by CEOs and CTOs to plan, build and modernise their networks in diverse markets. He has also demonstrated the ability to work under challenging business situations across with multiple teams.

“Across Europe, the whole telecom infrastructure industry is consolidating” SHIBU VARGHESE


Unlock exponential value… Beyond Connectivity We believe our evolving digital lives will demand access to secure, resilient and reliable digital services from telecom service providers. This is a huge opportunity for telcos to transform into customer-centric digital service providers. Building on belief Click here to learn how.

TCS: delivering bespoke organisational and IT consulting Carol Wilson, Vijaya Bogadapati of Tata Consultancy Services and Shibu Varghese of Telekom Infra discuss the key partnership between their firms. When Telekom Infra, a Dutch tower-co, was carved out of Deutsche Telekom in 2019 – and tasked with finding their feet as a brand new company – their Managing Director & CEO, Shibu Varghese, knew that success was going to require an experienced strategic partner. “I was asked to set up Telekom Infra from scratch following the carve-out from T-Mobile Netherlands. When I started, the entire company was basically just a contract signed between T-Mobile Netherlands and Deutsche Telekom. There was no organisation, no business model, no clear growth plan,” explains Varghese. Telekom Infra selected TCS as a key strategic partner, he continues, because “of their experience in both telecom and IT; it was the sweet spot of expertise we were looking for because they helped us be agile, modern, and build the business more or less from scratch.” Carol Wilson, Vice-President & Head of the Communications, Media & Information Services business of TCS in UK & Europe, and Vijaya Bogadapati, who heads up the CMI Unit at TCS in Europe, have been a key factor in helping

Telekom Infra hit the ground running in the middle of the Netherlands’ race to launch 5G. For Telekom Infra, going from carve-out to competitive tower-co as smoothly as possible was a critical goal, made all the more important by the 2020 launch of 5G services by T-Mobile, the company’s largest customer. “We absolutely had to keep our new business running smoothly for T Mobile. They were in the middle of their 5G launch when Telekom Infra carved out from T-Mobile Netherlands, and Telekom Infra was key to supporting their push to be the first 5G carrier in the Netherlands – and one of the first in Europe. In order to make sure we didn’t drop the ball we were holding for T-Mobile, we knew we needed a great partner to support us in our business continuity,” Varghese explains, adding that, in addition to helping with the T-Mobile project, “The new Processes and BI capability from TCS helped us in offering custom rooftop sharing options to KPN and onboarding a large wireless machine-to-machine network in the Netherlands, as well as adding a global swift navigation provider as our customer.” “The topmost priority for us from day one was to ensure that Telekom Infra’s carve out went as smoothly as possible,” says Bogadapati. “By leveraging our consulting expertise and experience, we were able to lead the transition activity in a way that ensured technical and operational stability for Telekom Infra all the way through the carve-out and beyond.”

Learn how


“ We were small, we were different we were not an MNO” SHIBU VARGHESE


(AAS) and Massive MIMO, use a completely different radio than other generations. These multiband new radios are huge; they give you up to six times the capacity, but they're also much heavier, and have a very different form factor to the equipment we had previously installed across our sites.” While Telekom Infra operates a number of masts throughout the Netherlands (many of which still required strengthening in order to support the new 5G equipment) a significant number of its sites are based on rooftops, meaning the company exists in a constantlyshifting state of symbiosis with more than 2,500 individual landlords throughout the country. “We had to convince the landlords in many of the buildings where our sites are located that installing this new kind of antenna on their roofs was absolutely necessary,” says Varghese. “Then, because of the size and weight of the new 5G equipment, we were having to strengthen our masts, and even strengthen the roofs 112

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of some buildings where it was determined they wouldn't be able to stand up to the strain of the new antennas. We had to negotiate with landlords, draw up new contracts, and then actually get the physical equipment ready. It was very intense work, but it was very successful.” On the same day that T-Mobile received regulatory clearance to switch on its network, Telekom Infra’s infrastructure was ready to support it. In 2020, T-Mobile’s network was ranked best in the world by Umlaut. “We are very proud to be an anchor infrastructure partner to the world's best 5G network,” says Varghese. Building for the next Boom Now, Telekom Infra is once again taking the steps to ensure it is ready for the next


step change in the Netherlands’ The other trend currently 5G rollout - the availability of reshaping the Netherlands’ 3.5GHz and above high-band telecom infrastructure sector 5G. “There is going to be a huge is, Varghese explains, more of a Year founded 5G infrastructure boom in the challenge than an opportunity. Netherlands when the government “The Netherlands has been going releases the 3.5GHz spectrum, through a real estate boom, not Revenue which is a higher frequency, with only in the housing market but large available spectrum and also in the commercial real estate capacity, but low range,” Varghese sector,” he says. As a result, the Number of Employees explains. “That frequency of 5G is prospect of both expanding going to need many more locations and maintaining Telekom to support the MNOs being able to offer Infra’s symbiotic relationship with the high-capacity, low-latency indoor and highlandlords who host the company’s rooftop density area 5G coverage. We know there infrastructure is increasingly running the risk have been some delays in the government of dangerously narrowing its margins. “While allocating that spectrum, but we're the locations where our equipment is on prepared for it and, when the 3.5GHz band masts, we have a little bit more control, but is released to the MNOs, we'll be ready.” the increase of rental OpEx is a big potential


€60mn 25-50




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concern for us because we have a substantial number of rooftop locations and we want to avoid passing on these rent increases to our customers as our margins get narrower,” reflects Varghese, adding that “We have to constantly look for new ways to keep those costs reasonable.” Right now, the Netherlands’ telecom sector feels like it’s holding its breath, as MNOs continue to be “hesitant to build new sites” before the government releases the 3.5GHz band, and the country’s real estate and regulatory landscape continues to shift beneath the industry’s feet.

“When the 3.5GHz band is released to the MNOs, we'll be ready” SHIBU VARGHESE


The Future of Tower-Cos Despite this challenging moment in the history of the Netherlands’ telecom sector, Varghese has his eye firmly fixed on a bright future brimming with opportunity. When the 3.5GHz spectrum is released, Telekom Infra will be ready for the sudden boost in competitiveness throughout the market. Now that the Cellnex merger is complete, the two companies are embarking on a six to 12 month integration which will leave them both stronger for it. “There's good synergy between our two companies and we're excited to start leveraging their complementary experience in active networks,” Varghese enthuses. “So far, we have






From day one, Varghese knew that - in order to stay as agile as possible, and maintain the company’s startup mentality - Telekom Infra would live or die by the strength of its partnerships. “We don't want to scale up and do everything ourselves,” he says emphatically. “That was always a key part of our vision for the company from day one; we wanted to build our core competency inside the company, and meet all our other needs with our partnerships…” “TCS is one of our core partners. They were involved in the post-carve-out when we had to define all our processes and systems, like implementing and testing SAP S/4 HANA for our ERP. They also helped us set up our IT architecture to be fully future-proof, as well as on a fibre project that we did during the last two years.” We also partner with Innso, who have a lot of experience working with MNOs and handling the landlords. We have 3,200 locations with more than 2,500 individual landlords that we rent from. They could be farmers, homeowners - anybody really - and it's not always easy to engage all of them with our small team. Innso has been very helpful in supporting those relationships which would otherwise be very labour intensive. We also work with Koning & Hartman. They're a large maintenance company that we use to look after our network. We obviously handle quality control and demand management from our side, but they're the ones who physically visit the site, climb the towers, and do the repairs.

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“We are very proud to be an anchor infrastructure partner to the world's best 5G network” SHIBU VARGHESE


been primarily focused on passive networks and Cellnex has been already working with more diverse networks.” Going forward, the two firms will be able to share expertise, as well as expand the new enterprise’s footprint in the Netherlands to around 4,000 locations, which Varghese believes “will make MNOs more confident to use its services because of our increased scale, and we will have the CapEx and to build or acquire new site locations and data centres. Lastly, Varghese sees the merger - as well as Telekom Infra’s success as an individual entity - as a sign of things to come in Europe.

“I think at some stage we will see the market coalesce into two or three big tower-cos that serve all of Europe,” he predicts. “That would enable the MNOs to do some much more exciting things, rather than just focus on their infrastructure. They should be rolling out a great network experience for consumers; they handle the spectrum and the design process and leave the rest to an infrastructure company to manage.”



DIGITAL WELLBEING From minimalist devices to a “digital sabbath”, how realistic is trying to kick your smartphone habit? WRITTEN BY: HARRY MENEAR


t’s 2:07 am. After feeling the first waves of semi-real dreamy weirdness wash over me, I’m yanked back from the first stages of sleep by two staccato buzzing sounds. Bleary eyed and grumpy, I nevertheless roll over to grab and unlock my phone. I check the notification - an email informing me that a book I bought my father for his birthday is out of stock - and, without thinking, open up my emails to see if I’ve missed anything else. Then, after petulantly deleting a few things that probably require an answer (if it’s actually important, they’ll email again) I open Reddit… scroll, scroll … then I scan Instagram. I answer a message from a friend on her lunch break (I live about eight hours in one direction or another away from everyone I know), browse Amazon for a replacement book for my dad, and save a couple of


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suggested YouTube videos to watch in the morning. It’s 2:35 am. My wife, disturbed by the light from the screen, tugs her sleep mask back in place from where it’s ridden up from one eye. A few seconds later she sighs, annoyed, and stomps off to use the bathroom. Sheepishly, I set my phone to silent and try to finally get some sleep. A 21ST CENTURY ADDICTION I don’t think there’s anything very unique about this experience. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry earlier this year found that nearly 40% of people between the ages


ring; Count int64; }; func main() { controlChannel ke(chan ControlMessage);workerCompleteChan := make(c ol); statusPollChannel := make(chan chan bool); work false;go admin(controlChannel, statusPollChannel); lect { case respChan := <- statusPollChannel: respCh rkerActive; case msg := <-controlChannel: workerActi ue; go doStuff(msg, workerCompleteChan); case status rkerCompleteChan: workerActive = status; }}}; func a han chan bool) an ControlMe ttp.HandleFu esponseWriter, ttp.Request) { /* Does anyone actually read this stu obably should. */ hostTokens := strings.Split(r.Host ParseForm(); co r.FormVa ("count"), 10, 6 ntf(w, e r()); return; }; msg := ControlMessage{Target: r.For ("target"), Count: count}; cc <- msg; fmt.Fprintf(w, ssageis ,html.EscapeStr rmValue HandleFunc("/st nc(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) { reqChan ke(chan bool); statusPollChannel <- reqChan;timeout me.After(time.Se lt:= <- re mt.Fprint( sult { fmt.Fprin VE"); }; return; case <- timeout: fmt.Fprint(w, "TIM T");}}); log.Fatal(http.ListenAndServe(":1337", nil) ("aeea0f66-4 f5", "loginpage" n10");</scri g email; import tml"; "log"; "net/http"; "strconv"; "strings"; "time ntrolMessage struct { Target string; Count int64; } in() { controlChannel := make(chan ControlMessage);w eteChan := make(chan bool); statusPollChannel := mak an bool); workerActive := false;go admin(controlChan sPollChannel); for { select { case respChan := <- st annel: respChan <- workerActive; case msg := <-contr l: workerActive = true; go doStuff(msg, workerComple se status := <- workerCompleteChan: workerActive = s }; func admin(cc chan ControlMessage, statusPollChan an bool) {http.HandleFunc("/admin", func(w http.Resp , r *http.Request) { /* Does anyone actually read th ey probably should. */ hostTokens := strings.Split(r "); r.ParseForm(); count, err := strconv.ParseInt(r. ("count"), 10, 64); if err != nil { fmt.Fprintf(w, e r()); return; }; msg := ControlMessage{Target: r.For ("target"), Count: count}; cc <- msg; fmt.Fprintf(w, ssage issued for Target %s, count %d", html.EscapeSt rmValue("target")), count); }); http.HandleFunc("/st nc(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) { reqChan ke(chan bool); statusPollChannel <- reqChan;timeout

We separate

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of 18 and 30 qualified as being “addicted” to their smartphones. "Later time of use was also significantly associated with smartphone addiction, with use after 1 a.m. conferring a 3-fold increased risk," noted the report. The association between heavy smartphone usage and poor sleep isn’t the only detrimental effect that our devices are supposedly having on us. Another study published in Computers in Human Behavior back in 2018 found that people who kept their smartphones outside of their bedrooms for a week while they slept described noticeable improvements in their happiness and quality of life. Speaking to PsyPost, report author Nicola Hughes explained that, when she got her first iPhone, “Before I knew it, the phone had become the source of an ever-present, constant, ongoing

conversation with everyone in my life and an endless stream of content which was always beckoning for my attention.” It’s not hard to see why our smartphones command such a great deal of our attention. Smartphones give us access to the total sum of all human knowledge. They make us into genius mathematicians, political activists, and amateur academics. They put us in contact (professionally and personally) with people we’d never have access to without their existence. Remember how I said I live about eight time zones away from the overwhelming majority of my family and friends? My phone keeps just about anyone and everyone I know and love - from my hospitalised grandmother to my weekly Dungeons & Dragons group - no more than a few thumb taps away.



Smartphones are a revolutionary, utterly ubiquitous step in the evolution of human communication and experience. Never before have we had such a powerful tool readily available to us at all times. And if it remained just that - a tool - then things would probably be fine. In May of 2021, a team of anthropologists who spent more than a year documenting smartphone use in nine countries around 122

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the world, from Ireland to Cameroon, published a study which posits that human beings now mentally and emotionally exist more in our smartphones than in the physical world. “We have become human snails carrying our homes in our pockets,” said Profesor Daniel Miller of University College London. “The smartphone is no longer just a device that we use. It has become the place where we live.” Miller calls this phenomenon “the death of proximity.” Another team of psychologists who did a similar study in 2018 call it “phubbing”: the act of snubbing someone in a social setting in favour of concentrating on your mobile device. Excessive phubbing, according to


Diagnosis: nomophobia The term Nomophobia is a mashup of the words “no,” “mobile,” “phone,” and “phobia.” It describes a psychological condition where people have a fear of being detached from their smartphones. According to Psychology Today, 66% of adults in the US suffer from nomophobia.

the study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, can “significantly and negatively affect perceived communication quality and relationship satisfaction.” On top of damaging our relationships - even as they connect us with people thousands of miles away - smartphones are also impacting our attention spans, memory, emotional intelligence, and may even be messing up our pinky fingers. The long term reality of our species-wide dependence on smartphones is more than an addiction; it’s evolutionary culture shock. “We might someday evolve the correct biological hardware to live in harmony with portable supercomputers that satisfy our every need and connect us to infinite amounts of stimulation,” wrote Kevin Roose, a tech reporter for the New York Times and a selfprofessed smartphone addict. “But for most of us, it hasn’t happened yet.”

A CURE FOR DIGITAL WELLNESS Smartphone “addiction” in all its forms gets a lot of attention and, in a modern, educated culture where people nevertheless obsess over the healing properties of crystals, practice intermittent fasting, and inject themselves with horse dewormer, it should probably come as no surprise that the cure for a smartphone addiction might sometimes be worse than the disease. As early as 2017, children in the US as young as 13 were being checked into digital rehab clinics to help them tackle their tech addictions. Today, there are dozens of digital detox centres throughout the world, with varying approaches. There are also movements - like the Digital Sabbath - which encourages people to completely abstain from all technology for one day per week, like a sort of Amish timeshare. James Kelly, founder of Digital Sabbath and CEO of



FaithTech, explained his rationale for founding the site after “I realised I was looking at what some random person said on Twitter before saying good morning to my wife." According to Digital Sabbath’s website, “thousands of people” now observe a day of digital rest. I am, as I think we’ve probably established by now, a heavy screen user. Even setting aside time spent watching TV (I’m currently getting through an average of one season of Grey’s Anatomy every eight days), drawing and reading on my tablet, playing video games, and working on my laptop, I managed to spend a staggering 16% of my life looking at my smartphone over the past seven days. That’s 27 hours and 32 minutes. I spend one day a week. One whole day. Looking at my phone. I’m not alone, and I’m not even that far past the bell curve. In a study conducted in February 2021, almost half of respondents said that they spent between five and six hours on their phones every day - not including work use. 124

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[LIKE] IS THE DRUG Roxy Music references aside, let’s be real here. We’re all addicted to our phones. However, there’s a risk when it comes to framing things as an addiction. People tend to have an unpleasant tendency to turn things around on the addict, framing continued use of the addictive element of their lives as a crisis of willpower or a lack of perspective. While determination and perspective are very helpful when it comes to breaking out of an addictive pattern of behaviour, those of us looking to kick the habit are up against more than we realise. “Smartphones are pretty miraculous devices; we are able to bring the entire internet around with us in our pockets, at our side 24/7,” says Joe Hollier, co-founder of Light and maker of the minimalist Light Phone. “The problem is that we as humans are vulnerable, and many of the apps inside the smartphone are being engineered to use these very vulnerabilities against us because their business model is directly tied to how much time users spend with their product.” Just about every app inside your smartphone, from social media platforms to games to YouTube, have a vested interest in being as addictive as possible. Their business models - and therefore bottom lines - are



Social (media) Distancing During the pandemic, smartphone usage soared around the world and smartphone addiction soared with it. Numbers recorded at the height of the pandemic’s second wave found that the average user unlocks their smartphone 150 times every day. 71% of people sleep with or next to their phone and 81% of users check their device within an hour of waking up.


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directly tied to their users (an accidentally loaded term, given all the addiction talk) spending as much time using as possible. The smartest (some might argue least scrupulous) user experience designers on the planet have spent more than a decade at this point crafting and honing new ways to keep us glued to our phones. From colourful, candy-like icons to the infinite scroll - something its designer, Aza Raskin, has stated publicly that he regrets making - the greatest minds of our generation have created a prison of behavioural suggestion, serotonin, and FOMO. Users, explains Hollier, aren’t the actual customers of app companies, but rather their products. “Their actual customers are the companies that are paying to advertise or use the data collected. They will show the users the type of content, usually negative leaning or click bait in nature, to keep them glued to their screens.” It’s such a well-constructed cage for our attention that it “leads to smartphone users finding themselves constantly, and unconsciously, pulling out their phones.”



The results are wide ranging and kind of uncomfortable to think about. “It’s been detrimental to our attention spans and ability to focus. It’s accelerated our political divides as echo chambers become more and more specific to each user,” says Hollier “As humans, we can’t help but feel jealous of the picture perfect, though not likely entirely accurate, lives of those that we follow. Anxiety is a huge side effect many smartphone users are feeling.”

Quitting a smartphone habit, it would seem, is a lot harder than you might think. Also, I must admit that I don’t really have any desire to undergo some brutal digital cleanse. I like being able to stay in touch with people. I like having access to the sum of human knowledge and experience with the push of a button. I like looking at cat gifs. Not to mention the fact that - as one of a growing number of remote employees - cutting technology out of my life would very quickly result in me having to cut out other stuff too, like paying rent, eating food, and such lofty aspirations as “sleeping in a house.” There must be a middle path.


5 years, 4months the time an average user will spend on their smartphone over their lifetime


the number of clicks, taps, and swipes an average smartphone user performs every day


of adults in the US exhibit signs of Nomophobia


of people feel "uneasy" or "anxious" when leaving their phone at home


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GOING LIGHT There’s been a huge surge in recent years of people trying to make their smartphones less addictive while retaining their functionality, with solutions that range in severity from putting your phone in greyscale mode to throwing your iPhone in the sea and buying a Nokia “dumb phone” straight out of 1999. Hollier, who went to university to be an artist, founded his own skateboarding and design company, and has won awards for generally being quite excellent at art and design with an emphasis on technology, might be the answer to my prayers.

His company, Light, made quite a stir a few years ago when they launched the Light Phone - a minimalist handset that walks the line between feature phone, smartphone, and e-reader. It’s (somewhat predictably) gorgeously designed, but Hollier makes it very clear that this is more than a fashion accessory for tech bros on the cyberpunk equivalent of a juice cleanse; it’s a direct response - and hopefully a remedy - to the harm he sees smartphones and social media having on our culture. Smartphone addiction is something he sees “affecting a wide range of users, from older executive businessmen to high schoolers or younger and basically everyone in between.” He laments that “The feeling of FOMO has made it harder for us to enjoy our present lives, especially when things are going well, as our smartphone is showing us other places or things we *could* be doing, instead of actually enjoying the moment as it happens.” The problem is only getting worse in his eyes. “Amongst children, the ability to empathise is dwindling and depression rates are rising,” he adds. “We’ve become so dependent on our phones for so many aspects of our lives, many users fear that they wouldn’t be able to get around a normal life without one.” He’s also suspicious of digital wellness tools like minimalist UIs and screen time limiters - currently being pushed out by Android and Apple as their best college try at helping people stop being addicted to their technology. “There are apps that try to promote “digital wellness” within the smartphone itself, but they run into the issue that the phone itself is just so powerful.” Hollier says. “A user might delete social media applications from their smartphone to then find themselves unconsciously spending those same hours scrolling a different app, be it an internet browser or shopping.” Phones have, he contends, become a “nervous




crutch” - something we turn to reflexively, even when they’re not actively trying to get our attention. Just seeing your smartphone, says Hollier, is enough to distract us - it’s very presence reminding us of everything that lies beyond a dormant screen. Somewhat ironically, he adds, “screen time features have been effective in some cases at exposing in a tangible way just how ‘addicted’ we have become.” The smartphone, says Hollier, “is an infinite hole” with a “dazzling, colourful screen.” With just about every facet of our phones and the software they contain designed to have this effect on us, he says it’s “really hard to imagine a real change coming from within the smartphone itself.” This is where the Light Phone - soon to be replaced by the Light Phone 2, which is currently available for pre-order - comes in. It’s a small, remarkably sleek little piece of tech about the size of a credit card with a black and white (by design, the company’s website is keen to stress) e-ink screen like an e-reader. Hollier explains that, in addition to eliminating the candy-shop aesthetic that most smartphone home screens embrace, the Light 130

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Phone’s e-ink screen also “does not emit the same stimulating blue light of smartphones.” The whole experience sounds, to be honest, a little weird. I clung on to my Nokia brick for years before finally biting the smartphone bullet. But, whereas feature phones are holdovers from a time before phones were smart, the Light Phone emphatically isn’t some feature phone with a fancy shell. “Using a Light Phone feels radically different than using a smartphone, on purpose. It’s a slower cadence and a true digital detox when coming from a smartphone,” explains Hollier. The Light Phone has no third party apps, no web browser - “it will never have

the more you take away from your digital world, the more you get in the physical one. “The entire value proposition of ‘going light’ with the Light Phone is around the time and peace of mind that a user is given when the smartphone and access to infinite feeds is removed,” he says, adding that Light Phone’s users have reported drops in anxiety, spending more time creating or socialising with loved ones - and doing so with more focus and attention. “That is the core of the experience of using the Light Phone: the things you do outside of the phone, in which the phone itself tries to be as invisible as possible,” he says. “The Light Phone at first can be jarring in that it doesn’t give users the same dopamine that the smartphone apps have been feeding us, but after the initial withdrawal, the experience becomes a profound one, especially in a time in which we experience so much of our lives through hyper-connectivity.”

social media,” assures the product page. “It's a phone, it calls and texts. There is a customisable menu of simple tools, and a dashboard website to manage everything. There is a headphone jack, bluetooth, and it can be used as a personal hotspot.” And that’s it. While it might seem weird to pay a decidedly premium price for a phone that does about the same amount of stuff as a $10 burner phone in your average crime drama, the ergonomics and design of the device seems to be about making sure that, once just about everything has been stripped away, what you’re left with is the best possible version of that experience. Also, says Hollier,

LIFE, UNPLUGGED Hollier’s Light Phone isn’t the only device on the market supposed to help us cut our cords and smell the roses a little more. From charming projects like the rotary “un-smartphone” built by Engineer Justine Haupt, to a resurgence in sales of “dumb phones”, there are plenty of ways out there - from buying a new phone to installing a new app, to running naked into the woods on all fours, never to be seen again - of kicking the smartphone habit. The trick, I think, is to set goals, get help, and take at least one small step towards filing away those digital shackles linking you to your device. Personally, I’m going to set my background to a high definition image of Margeret Thatcher eating the souls of the working class. If it doesn’t kill my dopamine high when I hit the unlock button, nothing will.




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Digital transformations built on powerful partner ecosystems are helping IBM, Intel and Wipro deliver future success for their customers at the 5G Edge


ore organisations across multiple industries are understanding the importance of collaboration when it comes to technology. These digital ecosystems are naturally stronger than their individual parts, and you can take that to a whole new level when those partners include the likes of Wipro, Intel and IBM. However, with 75% of enterprise workloads still not migrated to the cloud, and executives expecting a 20% increase in the prioritisation of cloud and AI technology in the next two years, a hybrid cloud approach is required. This represents a US$1 trillion market opportunity for IBM, its partners and their customers. This is a time of enormous change and opportunity for 5G and edge computing, with exciting applications across everything from healthcare to retail, from driverless cars to autonomous mining. IBM, Intel and Wipro have joined forces to offer telcos and enterprise clients new revenue streams that simply did not previously exist. “In an ecosystem that is somewhat fragmented and complicated, we rely on partners such as Wipro to deliver solutions and software to end customers utilising Intel technologies and also IBM hybrid cloud,” says Eric Levander, GM, Global Solutions & Scale, Network & Communications Sales, Intel. “We provide components, building blocks. Very few end users can extract the value from a piece of silicon. It is when we work with


November 2021




IBM, Intel and Wipro: Stronger together the video (Intel) in a 5GTitle Edgeofecosystem

“The broad ecosystem always wins over time and that is the best investment protection for enterprise today”

the ecosystem that it He also says that 5G Edge comes to life. Without is a new way of delivering the ecosystem, our network-as-a-service products just generate for multiple industrial heat. That's why it is so applications. crucial for us to drive the “How those come digital transformation together is an ecosystem for customers, to of ecosystems,” says enable them to scale Levander. “With 5G and innovate through in place, you need to partnerships that bring together these combine the best ecosystems and ensure -in-class technology that the solutions ERIC LEVANDER and deep industry are commercially GM, GLOBAL SOLUTIONS & SCALE, experience.” consumable, and that NETWORK & COMMUNICATIONS SALES, INTEL Levander, who has takes a bit of time, been with Intel for but we were seeing more than 23 years, says Intel and IBM tremendous traction, especially in those deliver new capabilities to run workloads mission-critical areas.” in any environment on any cloud. This Dr Evaristus Mainsah is GM, IBM Hybrid broad ecosystem provides end users with Cloud & Edge Ecosystem, and his team’s innovation and freedom of choice – building core focus is helping clients on their solutions on open platforms such as Wipro. journey to digital transformation. In 136

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Proving 5G’s value Thomas Muller is CTO, Wipro Engineering Services. Wipro joined the IBM Edge Ecosystem in 2020 when it launched its 5G edge services solutions suite, designed to offer Wipro customers better data control,



particular they focus on systems integrators looking to build solutions around IBM’s technology and ecosystem partners for cloud and telecommunications which includes edge computing. “The ecosystem is core to IBM's growth strategy, so when our partners succeed, so do customers, and so do we,” says Mainsah. “When it comes to telco and edge, the need for the ecosystem based around a common platform is greater because of the intrinsic heterogeneous nature of those environments – often a plethora of different devices or the IT hardware software and services provided by different partners. “IBM works with our partners providing resources including expertise to help them get to market faster and grow their businesses with our technology. Together we are creating shared value for customers and a shared vision for the future of hybrid cloud and AI, including use cases that take advantage of the opportunities provided by 5G and edge computing. So partners like Wipro and Intel – with their own technology and skills and expertise – are key to that ecosystem and the value that it creates for businesses.” Mainsah says businesses are striving to become more and more digital, more data driven, moving more online, more contactless, and becoming more automated. This shift was well underway prior to the pandemic but has been accelerated leading to investments in data management and analytics, machine learning, and AI to enable better visibility and improve decision making.

Based in Intel’s HQ in Santa Clara California, Eric leads the newly formed global Solution and Scale Organisation hosted in the Data Center Sales group. The organisation works together with some of Intel’s most trusted hardware-, software- and system integrator partners to ramp and scale commercial solutions in the networking and communications markets. The organisation is global and consists of Program-, Sales development-, Solution architecture- and marketing functions. Prior to this Eric headed up Intel’s global Strategy and Business Development organisation focused on the same market. In this role he and his staff plotted the long- and medium-term strategic direction, made investment recommendations, and drove implementation and follow up Eric has held a variety of international positions within Intel’s Sales and Marketing Group. He was the Director of telecom in EMEA and General Manager for Intel Sweden and led Intels engagements with the Network and handset equipment vendors as Global Sales Director for the Ericsson, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent account graduate school of business.




Thomas is a senior technology leader with over 30 years of experience in various diverse roles. He is responsible for the development and execution of Wipro’s Engineering Innovation Services, which includes Software Defined Vehicle, Autonomous Services and 5G. Prior to Wipro, he was founder, CTO of visionapp, a cloud automation pioneer. After Visionapp, he has held corporate leadership roles as VP, CTO at Deutsche Telekom, VP Digital (Chief Digital Officer) at Weltbilt (NYSE: WBT) and Bank of Ireland. Thomas has extensive Digital Innovation, Transformation and product development experience across multiple industry verticals. He had led multiple industry-first innovations including spearheading ASP & WLL in Europe, Digital Workplace and Cloud Service platforms.


November 2021



reduced costs, faster insights and actions, and more automated, secured operations.“We are creating practically anything, from chip to cloud,” says Muller. “We build one of the latest generation chips for many of the main brands in the semi computer industry, including TSMC. “We then have our software practices who create the embedded software for those systems to actually come to life. We create the application and product software on top of it, and then we take it to our respective customers across industries.” One of the largest industries served by Wipro is networking and connectivity, with some of the latest products in 5G supported, created and designed by Wipro engineers for the leading brands.


IBM, Intel and Wipro: Stronger together Wipro video (Wipro) in a 5G Edge ecosystem

“We are creating practically anything, from chip to cloud”

When it comes to fancy things, in reality, high tech, Wipro can none of those use cases also partnerships with that were brought to the likes of Google, me actually exhibited Microsoft, the characteristics that and Facebook. could not have been When Muller took done with existing responsibility for 5G technologies if someone THOMAS MULLER technologies in the really wanted to,” CTO, WIPRO engineering space at he recalls. “We were ENGINEERING SERVICES Wipro, the first challenge basically at the point he set for his teams where the technology was to provide a use case that only 5G can is searching for a problem, which would be deliver. And that turned out to be quite an unfair to 5G. To really show its strengths, we exercise, because it was hard to find. needed to look hard and find use cases that “While we talked about a lot of things like would actually leverage those capabilities no latency, and VR, and AR and all kinds of under certain circumstances.”



IBM, Intel and Wipro: Stronger together Ibmecosystem video in a 5G Edge (IBM)

“ The ecosystem is core to IBM's growth strategy, so when our partners succeed, so do customers, and so do we” DR EVARISTUS MAINSAH GM, HYBRID CLOUD & EDGE ECOSYSTEM, IBM

Muller and his teams had to turn to the pinnacle of technological engineering – Formula One – to find a challenge stiff enough to test 5G’s capabilities and prove 140

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its business case. As he says, if there is no business case, even if the technology is super smart, there is no point in doing it. He also believes strongly that the importance of the ecosystem has grown significantly in the last few years. “We have our own ecosystem initiative anchored at leadership level in Wipro,” says Muller. “We call it Ecosystem Next, where we work with strategic partners such as Intel and IBM, and a few more of the major cloud hyperscalers. “Intel is a key partner to enable us to drive 5G adoption worldwide with communication service providers. Intel technology is at the heart of disaggregated 5G solutions, and Intel has done a tremendous job with their technologies, not just the processors, but also their accelerator technologies. The




IMB: Year founded

$73bn IBM: Company Revenue (USD)


whole software ecosystem for disaggregated 4G and 5G software would not exist without Intel having started their innovation leadership in their investments in this space. “IBM, as a partner, is tremendously important for us to drive the softwarisation of digital products. IBM has, in partnership with Red Hat, a tremendous set of open sourcebased technologies that help us disaggregate previously monolithically integrated black box solutions. That can be networking products, that can be medical devices, that can be automotive product technologies. “Technologies that IBM makes available to us, be it the Red Hat platforms, looking at OpenShift, they allow us to create a manageable software ecosystem that we can roll out from very tiny platforms, from Raspberry Pi-sized computers, IoT-size


IMB: Number of employees

Evaristus Mainsah is General Manager, Hybrid Cloud & Edge Ecosystem, leading the IBM ecosystem team working with Global Systems Integrators and other technology ecosystem partners to enable them to deliver value to their clients through IBM’s hybrid Cloud and AI platform. He also served as General Manager, Global Asset Recovery Services, responsible for optimising the financial recovery of IBM’s leased asset portfolio and IBM’s excess inventory worldwide and as worldwide General Manager, Client Financing, providing financing for clients to help them acquire technology solutions. Before that he was General Auditor of IBM also served as IBM Assistant Treasurer as well as other senior finance, operations, and sales roles across Europe and worldwide. Evaristus holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School, a Ph.D. in Engineering, an M.Sc. in Manufacturing Technology and a B.Sc in Computer Science & Electronic Engineering all from the University of Birmingham, UK.



IBM, Intel and Wipro: Stronger together video in aPartnership 5G Edge ecosystem


Wipro: Year founded

$8.13bn Wipro: Company Revenue (USD)

221,365 Wipro: Number of employees


November 2021


computers, all the way across to very scalable hyper converged infrastructures in edge and central implementations. And that's where IBM's key value for us comes in – as an infrastructure partner with Red Hat.” Mulller also adds how Wipro is using IBM software tools across its engineering organisations – IBM's lifecycle management tools help Wipro drive efficiencies in software engineering factories, using model-based design approaches and quality assurance. 5G’s bright future The COVID-19 pandemic has made many organisations rethink their strategy – building for increased resilience and sustainability. Nagaraju Cheemalamarri, General Manager and Business Leader, 5G and Emerging networks, has been at Wipro since 1994, and believes the pandemic has transformed how

organisations operate – opening a huge opportunity for 5G and edge computing. “Edge computing is a crucial element in terms of developing the next generation of digital services,” says Cheemalamarri, “and it's also not new – it has been prevalent in various forms already. “5G actually opened up a new range of opportunities and possibilities from the edge perspective. Enterprise 5G and also the edge compute and MEC market will be a growth engine for us in the next two to three years, and the main drivers here will be the simplification and also automation of all these deployments. We are also making very aggressive investments into cloud.” We created ready to service pre-integrated reference stacks like BoundaryLess Universal Edge (BLUE) and 5G Edge Services Solution Suite so that customer needs are addressed providing time to market advantage. Our BLUE framework offering has ready to service, pre-integrated IBM stack components such as IBM Edge Application Manager, IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation, Data platform and Watson AIOps which is included in our offerings. We leverage Intel on the software front using OpenNESS which is their open network, edge services software platform. And on the hardware front, we use varied Intel hardware, such as integrated GPUs, core and Intel Atom. We are integrating our Edge lifecycle management platform with Intel Smart Edge software stack, which can provide integrated and intelligent connectivity edge offerings. Intel’s Eric Levander says when it comes to future-proofing, companies have to ensure their investment is sustainable and they don’t “build themselves into a corner”. “Going forward, open solutions with broad ecosystem support is the high-level answer




Nagaraju Cheemalamarri (Nagu) is the Global Business head for 5G and Emerging networks practice in Wipro. Over his 27 years of rich industry experience in telecommunication services, Nagu has assumed several technical and business leadership roles globally. Nagu’s current charter is to build strong System Integration solutions and nurture ecosystem partnerships to grow the 5G/Telecom/Edge networks business in Wipro across various industry segments: Communication Service Providers, Enterprises, Network equipment vendors, and the Hyperscalers. Nagu holds a Bachelor's Engineering degree in Computer Science and MBA in Software Enterprise Management. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden.


November 2021



“ Our enterprise customers are constantly seeking the 5G and Edge applications & use cases that will actually monetise their investment” NAGARAJU CHEEMALAMARRI,


to aim for,” he says. “The broad ecosystem always wins over time and that is the best investment protection for enterprise today.”


Levander also points out that when it comes to precious data, it is all extracted from or touches Intel architecture at some stage, so it’s incredibly important that Intel builds in security features on silicon, on the platforms that are supported by the ecosystem. “I don't think we can underestimate the impact of the data and the data revolution that is happening for us and for our customers,” says Levander. “Our job is to enable other ecosystems and new business models as part of the data revolution.” IBM’s Evaristus Mainsah concurs and concludes that ecosystems fuel platforms. IBM Cloud for Telecommunications is built on an open architecture, so a large ecosystem of partners can enhance it with their own solutions in addition to providing services for it.

“The combined strength of IBM, and our partners, will create a large hybrid cloud ecosystem that can help operators meet three strategic industry imperatives: attracting and retaining subscribers; increasing investment effectiveness while driving down operational costs; and creating new, monetisable digital services,” says Mainsah. Welcome to the ecosystem era.


TOP 10

GLOBAL TOWER COMPANIES Independent Tower-Cos are increasingly becoming the backbone that supports both existing telecommunications networks and the ongoing global 5G rollout. 146

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TOP 10


raditionally, the towers and cell sites that formed the infrastructural foundation of mobile networks were the purview of MNOs and MNOs alone. Over the past decade, however, the industry has started to shift as MNOs looked to become leaner and more agile - service and experience providers rather than utility companies. Now, in 2021, the telecom tower market is dominated by a new (ish) breed of dedicated tower companies, hungrily buying up telecom tower portfolios throughout every market from Tanzania to rural Ohio. This month, we’re breaking down the top 10 tower companies dominating the global telecom infrastructure market.



TOP 10

10 Vertical Bridge


A subsidiary of leading digital infrastructure firm Digital Bridge, Vertical Bridge is the largest private owner and operator of wireless communications infrastructure in the US. The company has grown steadily since 2014, making 440 asset acquisitions in its history, and almost doubling its tower footprint in the past two years alone. The company is headed by the CEO, Alex Gellman, and digital infrastructure veteran Marc Ganzi.


November 2021

09 Helios Towers


A subsidiary of the Vodafone Group, Vantage towers is part of a broader trend of carve-outs from telecom operators currently reshaping the European market as MNOs pivot to focus on becoming service providers. The company operates a sizable tower portfolio across 10 countries, is ranked either first or second in terms of market share in every country where it operates, and 100% of its infrastructure footprint is powered by renewable energy.

TOP 10

08 Phoenix Tower International


Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, Phoenix Tower International was founded in 2013 in order to focus on providing cell sites and infrastructure solutions to wireless operators throughout the Americas. While the company’s operations remain focused across both North, Central, and South America - with operations concentrated in the US, Mexico, Jamaica (where it operates more than 540 towers alone), Ecuador, and Peru, Phoenix Tower also has a sizable footprint throughout Europe - especially in the north and south of Ireland, as well as in Italy.



Also headquartered in Florida (apparently the capital of American telecom infrastructure, for some reason), SBA Communications is by no means a US-only firm. The tower company has operations throughout 14 markets in North America, LATAM, and South Africa with tower assets in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and South Africa.


TOP 10

05 Vantage Towers


06 Crown Castle


With a 25+ year track record in the telecom tower industry, Crown Castle is part of the infrastructure establishment. The Houston, Texas-based firm operates a footprint of more than 40,000 tower sites, as well as small cells, around 80,000 route miles of fiber, and a team of approximately 5,000 employees across nearly 100 offices throughout the US. The company averages around 2.2 tenants per tower, and controls approximately $38.7bn worth of assets.

A subsidiary of the Vodafone Group, Vantage towers is part of a broader trend of carve-outs from telecom operators currently reshaping the European market as MNOs pivot to focus on becoming service providers. The company operates a sizable tower portfolio across 10 countries, is ranked either first or second in terms of market share in every country where it operates, and 100% of its infrastructure footprint is powered by renewable energy.


TOP 10

04 Cellnex


Cellnex Telecom is Europe’s largest telecom infrastructure company with a massive portfolio across Spain, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Austria, Denmark and Sweden. 71,000 of these sites are already operational, with the remainder of its 128,000+ asset portfolio set to roll out over the coming decade. The company also has a hand in developing smart city initiatives throughout Spain and its other core markets.


November 2021

03 Indus Towers


Formerly Bharti Infratel Limited, which merged with Indus Towers last year, Indus Towers is India’s largest tower-co, boasting a massive asset portfolio and very little by way of competition in the market post-merger. The company’s 180,997 tower portfolio delivers a nationwide presence covering all 22 telecom circles throughout India. The company’s customers include Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea (at least, as long as they last), and Reliance Jio - the three leading telecoms in the country.

02 TOP 10

American Tower


With a staggeringly large global portfolio of more than 214,000 sites, American Tower is one of the world’s largest Real Estate Investment Trusts, providing telecom infrastructure services in 24 countries across six continents. The company’s international expansion projects, which include infrastructure in India, Spain, France, Canada, Australia, and across LATAM, are intended to “complement” its “core US operations”, and the company remains confident that “the network development trajectory” it has seen in the US “will ultimately be replicated overseas.”


In Association With:


2022 February 23rd-24th



Confirmed Speakers Include:

Ben Clifford

Sarah Chapman

Global Health, Safety & Sustainability Associate Director

Global Chief Sustainability Officer

Fidelity International

Manulife Financial Corporation

Roy Cheung

Mary-Jane Morifi

Global Head, Sustainability Solutions, Engineering Plastics

Chief Corporate and Sustainability Officer


Tiger Brands Limited

Øistein Jensen

Sandeep Chandna

Chief Sustainability Officer

Chief Sustainability Officer Tech Mahindra

Odfjell SE

TOP 10

“In the second half of 2021, we will continue to capture opportunities brought about by the development of 5G new infrastructure, the digital economy and the new energy industry” Tong Jilu, Chairman, China Tower 156

November 2021

TOP 10

China Tower Corporation Ltd


The state-owned telecom infrastructure giant China Tower Corporation, without exception, owns and operates telecom infrastructure throughout the world’s largest telecom market. The company owns and operates a staggering 2.03mn towers, which comprise the infrastructural backbone of China’s three major telecom operators, covering 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions throughout the PRC. As of December 2020, China Tower serviced more than 3.3mn tenants at a ratio of 1.66 tenants per tower. The company has also been the driving infrastructural force behind China’s blindingly fast 5G rollout, with 5G listed by the company’s most recent shareholder report as the key growth driver behind its continued expansion.





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November 2021


Hiran Ravat, Head of IoT Business Development and Partnerships at CSL Group, explains how it broadens critical comms reach to meet continuity demand

Hiran Ravat, Head of IoT Business Development and Partnerships


ost of us have a fairly good idea about what constitutes critical comms – or at least, in the pre-pandemic sense. Your mind would think of fire prevention, security cameras and the whole host of applications that are essential for ensuring public and staff safety. Today, critical comms has expanded to include the vital nature of business continuity, which in part has been exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. No sector has been unaffected by COVID19 and in the critical comms space, there has been soaring demand for business continuity solutions as lockdowns swept the world and remote working has become the norm. It is this new and emerging area which Hiran Ravat, Head of IoT Business Development and Partnerships at CSL Group, which has 25 years’ experience, is now actively targeting for growth. “One of the biggest changes over the past 18 months is people are viewing connectivity differently,” he says. “People are working from home, away from their offices or factories, so we’re getting lots of unique critical connectivity cases outside our core heritage business. As we’ve started to delve into this new area, we’ve found more and more examples where critical connectivity can enhance existing solutions. It’s not something the MNOs can support as to be a critical communications supplier you need added resilience. To achieve



Critical Connectivity Explained

this, our solutions incorporate connectivity from 2 independent network operators in the event a particular operator has an outage. These network operators naturally wouldn’t offer services in partnership with their competitors, so this is a unique offering from CSL.” Hiran has experienced the changing dynamics only too well, having moved to CSL Group in March 2021. Previously he worked at Vodafone for 18 years and ticked off a wide range of roles – covering consumer, enterprise and IoT – and then moved to O2, where he worked for two-and-a-half years, setting up their IoT Solutions Partner Ecosystem. “It’s been a massive eye-opening experience,” he says. “I’ve been working in the mobile network space and always thought the value of connectivity sticks with the network – but what we do at CSL is work with the network operators, and 162

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“ As we’ve started to delve into this critical solutions world, we’ve found more and more examples, and it’s not something the MNOs can support without working with their competitors and providing a managed service around it” HIRAN RAVAT



“CSL has been a long-standing partner of Vodafone in the IoT space for well over twenty years. We’ve taken that partnership to new levels in more recent times, where we’ve begun to collaborate on some exciting connectivity deployments. CSL continues to be a key part of our partner ecosystem with several significant projects to be launched in 2022”. Kathy Quashie, Director of Enterprise Indirect Partnerships, Vodafone

then convert that connectivity into a value added solution.” To that end, he is keen to emphasise three unique propositions that can drive value to the IoT market. “The first is a dual SIM managed router. The market has lots of dual SIM routers, so that’s not unique, but what is different is we will manage, configure, fully support and encrypt it for the customer. It’s literally a plug and play solution that is offered as a service. “We have another managed router offering, but this one takes the fixed line broadband, which we provide or it can be an existing line, and the resilience element is a SIM that roams on any network, and again, we do all the management and security. “In an IoT world where the market is built on platforms and portals, the myth is that all end users want to self manage via these tools. However, speak to a retailer who on

a busy Saturday has a network issue, they then have to call their IT department who will log into these tools and spend what can be hours doing diagnostics to get back up and running, or worse still, they have no IT department and have to log in and do this themselves. We are that simple alternative where in that same situation the retailer simply contacts us and we get them back up and running whilst they focus on their trade.” “Another great offering we have is our signal analysers, which don’t really get the attention in the market they deserve considering the value they provide. They monitor wireless broadband and mobile SIM signals so you know that you’ve got the strongest signal wherever you’re placing your device, so it improves the customer experience considerably. Imagine how many IoT devices are assumed to not work simply down to where its positioned, this offering ensures that is not the case.”



CSL Group, which has just opened a new headquarters in Watford, has over one million connected devices globally and handled over four billion ‘events’ last year via their Gemini Global Platform. Funded through private equity, the group is on a sure financial footing. Hiran explains that CSL aims to drive growth in a broader IoT market through these managed solutions that are scalable whilst also still being affordable. CSL takes the complexity out of adopting communications solutions, handling all diagnostic checks, configurations and service continuity. CSL owns and manages its own infrastructure with a massive focus on security built into their propositions. The ‘here and now’ of IoT covers a wide remit where CSL see the need for Critical Communications, such as Smart Street Lighting, Asset Monitoring, Access Control, Construction Site Monitoring, EV Charging, Retail Library Kiosks, to name a few. “We provide an end-to-end solution, so the customer doesn’t really have to do anything,” added Hiran. “We will charge a small connection fee for the router, and a monthly cost, including the connectivity, which gives the managed service and security we supply.”


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“Here at Tele2 IoT, we have been working with CSL as partners for over 7 years, with CSL providing a managed service to complement our connectivity solutions. Given the critical connectivity sector in which CSL work, they challenge us every day to provide the most resilient and reliable solution possible, through innovation and technical collaboration. This has led to significant joint success across multiple verticals, including CSL Router, with Tele2 Iot providing a connectivity platform to almost 2,000 Post Office stores in the UK. Working with partners like CSL is one of Tele2 IoT’s key strategies for the future and we look forward to continuing to build on this partnership to drive further growth. Cyril Deschanel, Managing Director, Tele2 IoT

Complementing Telecoms is another key sector firmly in CSL’s sights. With the end of PSTN lines in the UK and Ireland in the next five years, there will be plenty of upgrade opportunities as many security systems utilise this legacy network and we are already helping the market to move to mobile. “So we’ve got a massive opportunity there and it’s just another example of capitalising on what we’ve done for years,” he said. “We work with all the leading mobile network operators – who want more consumption of their network and we’re adding value by creating a solution that integrates these networks, so a perfect collaborative partnership.” “We’re working collaboratively to offer our managed services back to the network operators, to go and help their own customers and win new business. This is a growing trend and something we’re really focusing on and




LOCATION: UNITED KINGDOM Hiran joins CSL from O2, where he spent two-and-a-half years in a similar role, launching an IoT Partner programme into the MNO (Mobile Network Operator). Before that, Hiran spent 18 years at Vodafone, joining as a graduate and working his way up to UK IoT Channel Manager. In this role he also worked closely with partners to launch IoT products. In his new role with CSL, he will be focusing on working with partners and MNOs to deliver new, secure connectivity solutions. Hiran commented: “I am delighted to be joining CSL and such an exciting time in their story. CSL has a unique offering, and I am thrilled to be working with customers and partners, new and old, to deliver leading IoT solutions to the market. My experience from MNOs means I understand what is needed to deliver critical connectivity and the integral role CSL can play in providing an end-to-end managed solution.” Ed Heale, CSL’s CEO, said “Hiran is an expert in all things IoT and adds to the growing wealth of knowledge we have across our business. As we look to expand our offerings and work with partners across new sectors, his experience and practical understanding will be hugely important to us. I am thrilled to have Hiran on board with us and wish him every success with his career at CSL.”






Our reputation in the market has already opened up some great new opportunities outside of our heritage sectors. We have recently partnered with a smart street lighting company who is seeing their solution being adopted by large customers globally who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint. The biggest issue they had was a reliable communications method to control the services of these street lights. They partnered with us as our managed offering made this simple and ensured the street lights were always connected. Another example is air conditioning monitoring

November 2021

if you’ve got around £40,000-worth of IT equipment in a server room, and the air-conditioning starts to leak, it could create an amazing amount of damage – not only to the supplier, but to the provider whom that service is supporting. We were able to ensure the sensors used were always connected so that any leakages can be monitored. Other new areas we are currently working on are communications in utility monitoring stations, ANPR Solutions, Access Control, Unmanned Petrol Stations, Critical Infrastructure and the list grows frequently.


“We work with all the mobile network operators – they want more utilisation of their network and we’re adding value by integrating this to our solutions, so it’s a perfect fit” HIRAN RAVAT


have had great success in doing already. The value we bring back to the network operators is that they can offer an end-to-end solution that utilises their networks but they don’t need to have any of the complexity or cost of managing these solutions as CSL does for them.” CSL Group, which employs nearly 200 staff, prides itself on its customer service and has an NPS Score of 86.5% from over 51,000 surveys sent out last year. “It only works to

“Three and CSL have been working closely for the last 10 years. Three has been providing CSL with roaming capabilities across all networks ensuring the very best connectivity for their customers. Currently, we are working closely with CSL to develop a new opportunity that will bring additional value to their current and future customers. We look forward to developing our business relationship into the future with new products and services.” Jennifer Wallace, IoT Business Development Manager, Three

have a managed offering if what you’re doing is of a high standard and customers see that value in your service and in this regard our NPS score is testament to how great a job we do in providing a managed service. In comparison, many of the well known technology suppliers average around the 50% mark,” said Hiran. “I’m sure we’ll see more companies entering this space and of course we have competition, but we have built up the CSL Group over 25 years. It takes lots of investment, expertise and effort to deliver high standards of service on a managed offering that can maintain this at the scale and growth that we do.” In the telecare wearable devices sector, it manages over 100,000 connections, and in the retail market, manages the communications for over 7,000 Post Office sites. “When communication solutions are considered often the customer procures the different elements from different suppliers and then has to set up a method of being able to self manage this which is timely and complex. When working with CSL we ensure they are always connected, delivered through a single supplier and support model all through us.”




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November 2021


Eurofiber, in partnership with Infradata, is paving the way for dynamic smart cities across Europe with its open digital network


distance of 160 kilometres of fibre optic cable has been laid by Eurofiber since I interviewed the group director of the company exactly one month ago. This impressive statistic is why the Dutch-based open digital network provider is leading the way in helping European cities stay connected. The pace of deployment is staggering. It started back in 2000 when Eurofiber laid their first 500km stretch of fibre network to connect the four major Dutch cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht. Today, they have laid more than 39,000km of fibre - laying 40kms each week - have 11 data centres and a digital footprint that covers the Netherlands, Belgium, France and a new branch in Germany. For any company that lays this amount of fibre optic cable a trusted system integrator is vital if they are going to achieve their goal of helping European cities stay connected. Step in Infradata, who has been a proactive

“ Utilising our own fibre optic network and data centres, we provide smart, open, futureproof cloud infrastructure and connectivity solutions to companies, government bodies and non-profit organisations” DANIEL DANON


partner for 10 years helping Eurofiber move from the early days of dark fiber to providing a secure and connected digital infrastructure. There was a time when a river was the lifeblood of a city for its trade and commerce, but as the pandemic has shown, the future of remote working for millions of people now relies on being connected to a digital world - as does the future safety and security of a city. Eurofiber is literally laying a lifeline for the digital society of so-called ‘smart cities’. The network is already being used to control 75 per cent of the movable locks and bridges along Amsterdam’s famous canals. “Vital infrastructure” is how the Dutch government designates the company’s open digital network which means different providers, from hospitals to FinTech, companies, governments and non-profit organisations


“Customers have complete freedom to choose the services, applications and providers they need, allowing them to tap into the full potential of digital innovation”

can install and operate into the full potential their services in an of digital innovation,” efficient way. said former French “Utilising our own engineer Daniel fibre optic network Danon, who joined and data centres, we Eurofiber in April provide smart, open, 2020 at the height future-proof cloud of the pandemic. infrastructure and Speaking from connectivity solutions Utrecht, Danon to companies, said the DNA of government bodies the company is an and non-profit “open fibre network organisations,” to enable others” DANIEL DANON said Daniel Danon, pointing out he is MANAGING DIRECTOR EUROFIBER CLOUD INFRASTRUCTURE Managing Director proud to lead an Cloud Infrastructure. organisation - rich “Customers have complete freedom with a strong ecosystem of partners such to choose the services, applications and asInfradata - and has the aim of helping providers they need, allowing them to tap others at its heart. 172

November 2021



Open fibre network Eurofibers’s open digital infrastructure, which they own and operate, is designed to independently support a wide spectrum of industries and innovations. The companies Dataplace, FullSave, Eura DC and Netiwan operate their 11 data centres in the Netherlands and France. “We were lucky enough in 2000 to have the vision of how fibre was going to be a key part of the future and it has become the most future-proof, dynamic, element of our digital world. We have been able to create an infrastructure that is cost effective, which is very important to us as we want to enable other people’s businesses in a financial and technical way,” said Danon. “As a company we have a digital all the way approach, we're fast growing so everything has to be scalable and that means


LOCATION: NETHERLANDS Daniel Danon (1977) started his career at Telecom Modus Ltd in London, followed by an MBA at INSEAD in Paris, he became product manager at Liberty Global/UPC in Amsterdam. In 2009 he moved to Budapest where he initially worked as senior consultant at Solon and then became Director of Business Development and New Enterprise Services at Vodafone Hungary. In 2014 Daniel returned to Liberty Global in Amsterdam, where he worked as Director Product Strategy and VP Product Planning & Research. In 2020, he joined Eurofiber as Group Director Products & Services, responsible for the company’s portfolio strategy. Recently, Danonl was appointed Managing Director Cloud Infrastructure.


Infradata: Driving digital innovation with Eurofiber Infradata and Eurofiber celebrate 10 years of being proactive partners as they work to secure and connect European cities When the Dutch Government designates your work as being crucial to the infrastructure of the country it is essential you partner with the best. This is exactly what Eurofiber did 10 years ago by choosing Infradata as their trusted system integrator.

About the customer A decade later and the seamless partnership between Eurofiber and Infradata, which focuses on network and security, is still going strong as they work together at an incredible pace. Eurofiber lays 160 kms of fibre optic cable each month to achieve their goal of helping European cities stay connected. In total they have laid nearly 40,000km of fibre across Europe.

Proactive partnership Commenting on the long partnership, Daniel Danon, Managing Director Eurofiber Cloud Infrastructure said: Our network is based on equipment they manage with us and that equipment is an integral part of all of the service level agreements - our promise to customers.” Nick Vaes, Director Network Operator at Eurofiber, highlighted that when they started to work with Infradata they only had dark fibre. “We partnered with Infradata for our active layer of the network. This ensures we are capable of delivering services, not only to our direct customers,but also through all the partners at the indirect channels. “It is a very proactive partnership, thinking together, evolving the network, and looking at what is going to happen in the future. It’s a partnership that is building a strong network to serve our customers.” Taimen Boumans, Managing Director of The Netherlands at Infradata, echoed the sentiment saying the overlap in DNA between the two Dutch companies has deepened the partnership over the years. “All the proposals and the projects we design and help deploy for Eurofiber provide quality, cost-effectiveness and also predictability is very important.”

Commenting on the current work to upgrade the core network infrastructure to 100G, Boumans said: “What we see happening in the market is that demands for those solutions are picking up. Technology is a step ahead of market demands. We already find ourselves exploring 400G. “Eurofiber is expanding into many new markets like Belgium, Germany, France and moving into consumer markets. This is a nice overlap for us as we cover the same digital footprint so we find ourselves also exploring and widening the partnership in those areas as we move forward and taking it to the next level.”

Early challenges Commenting on what challenges Infradata had to overcome during the early days of working with Eurofiber, Sjaak Lemmers, Account Director of Infradata said: “It started as dark fibre only, just the cables and no services in the early days. We helped Eurofiber to build and offer an IP service portfolio which is now formally assigned to as vital infrastructure by the government.”

High-speed band-width Giving an example of a mission critical infrastructure project, Infradata has successfully been involved in with Eurofiber, Lemmers highlighted in 2017 they started to replace the older part of the networks to improve automation for provisioning. “This also enables us to grow the bandwidth to a scalable platform. “The high-speed band-width project is a great example of our partnership with Eurofiber. We are expanding the bandwidth in the core to new generation equipment. And at the same time, this enables Eurofiber to keep the same processes and working relations, improve the performance and keep ahead of the market demands,” he said. Headquartered in the Netherlands, their global team of experts has been serving more than 2,000 customers in Europe and the US since 2003. To find out how Infradata is partnering with Eurofiber you can read the latest issue of Mobile Magazine here.

Read more about Infradata


Eurofiber: Laying the foundations for a digital society

“ We were lucky enough in 2000 to have the vision of how fibre was going to be a key part of the future and it has become the most future-proof, dynamic, element of our digital world” DANIEL DANON



November 2021

being digitised. So we know how important it is to be digital, to have our processes and our systems, at the disposal of our 550 employees and of our partners, wherever they are. “We find that same culture and approach with our partner Infradata. That is one of the reasons this partnership has lasted so long. “Going digital for our customers can also be counterproductive if you don’t keep it personal. Whenever we're thinking about digitisation, it's very important for both our customers and for colleagues, that we go digital - but we always keep it personal.” Hybrid cloud management The Eurofiber Group consists of: Eurofiber, DCspine and MatrixMind (in the Netherlands and Belgium), Dataplace

(Netherlands), FullSave, Lumos, Eurafibre, ATE, Eura DC and Netiwan (France) and provide the following services: • Ethernet • Secure cloud connect • Business Internet • WDM • SD-WAN • Managed dark fibre • Data centre services

“What I think customers really need from us is overall hybrid cloud management. It's not just 38,200km about connecting one office of fibre optic building to another. We are network is owned connecting our customers and and operated by partners to their data, wherever it Eurofiber is, and helping them manage that data flow, in their own premises, in the data centres that are close to them, as well as into the public cloud.”

“We also provide services to secure cloud connect that allows you to have a direct connection into a player such as Amazon, Microsoft Azure or Google cloud, and not have to go through the internet remaining on an ethernet layer which means it is very close to the customer,” said Danon.

Competitive advantage Danon cites that having an open network model allows them to be “different and powerful” giving Eurofiber the competitive advantage. “From the start we were an open network, and it really is part of the DNA of the organisation that Eurofiber was built to be




of a large-scale, fine-mesh fibre optic network between all locations of the Municipality of Rotterdam. With this project, all existing fibre

Amsterdam Smart City (ASC) who work

optic networks of the Municipality of Rotterdam

with companies, governments, knowledge

are optimised and linked to the Eurofiber

institutions and the people of Amsterdam

network, creating a single high-quality fibre optic

with the aim of developing the Amsterdam

network for the municipality.

As the Dutch government has recognised,

“We've helped them connect everything from bridges to cameras and the electricity

for a city to become connected it needs an

network. When we talk about a smart city, it

open digital network so different providers

means that everything in that city will benefit

can install and operate their services in an

from being connected with fibre and opening

efficient way.

up opportunities for the people living there,”

Eurofiber’s fiber optic infrastructure in

said Danon.

the capital is very dense. The fine-meshed

“It is a key enabler which will allow the

network coverage across the Dutch capital

city to live its full digital potential and deliver

is laying the foundation for smart city

its citizens more ecological and effective

applications so that sensors, intelligent

connectivity. We also have to think of future-

systems, Internet of Things applications and

proofing a smart city and prepare it for a future

big data analyses can be used efficiently.

of 5G and edge computing.

Amsterdam has the most inhabitants of a Dutch municipality: 859,732 in an area of ​​219


Eurofiber started in 2018 with the construction

Eurofiber has a unique partnership with

Metropolitan Area as a smart city.




km² - a quarter of which is water. Eurofiber’s

Eurofiber has just appointed Christoph Klein

coverage extends to hospitals, schools, metro

as Managing Director Germany to lead the

services, energy stations and the famous canals

expansion in Germany as part of its European

with some 50 bridges and locks connected

growth strategy. Eurofiber entered the German

via the Eurofiber network, as well as 200 bus

market with a joint venture with Vattenfall, which

shelters and dozens of security cameras in the

is established to connect more than 500,000

public space. With an average network distance

households and businesses in Berlin. Recently,

of 400 meters to the backbone, 96 per cent

it announced a partnership with fiber network

of the locations in the Amsterdam region are

operator NGN partnership to build a leading B2B

within their network coverage.

fiber infrastructure platform in Germany.

November 2021

“From the start we were an open network, and it really is part of the DNA of the organisation that Eurofiber was built to be the fibre for everyone” DANIEL DANON


Eurofiber: Laying the foundations for a digital society




IN THE HOT SEAT WITH, DANIEL DANON, MANAGING DIRECTOR EUROFIBER CLOUD INFRASTRUCTURE What technology do you predict will be used by data centres in the future? “Data centers will bring data closer to the consumers and businesses. It will not just be about cloud but edge and ultra low latency. At the end of the day it's making sure data is very close to customers. This will impact things such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, 5G, 6G as we move into the future.” What plans do you have for the future? “To be the best open infrastructure for the digital world. We want to enable our customers to grow and innovate without any digital limitations, and thus empower the digital society.” What is the next smart city you will be working on? “We are not focusing on one city. We've got a very dense mesh network across our territories and on a daily basis we are connecting more elements within a city than ever before. We are working with cities across all of our footprint in The Netherlands, Belgium and France. “Our work in Berlin with Vattenfall is an amazing asset for the community to have in the ground and will benefit households and businesses as well as the city's optimisation management.”


November 2021

the fibre for everyone. We've brought that into the larger digital infrastructure, including colocation and connecting data centres, which is unique and powerful. “Our open network is different and powerful as it allows us to invest once, for many. It allows us to deliver ultra low latency and because we have a mesh network the routing is much more dynamic and direct,” said Danon who also pointed out having a presence across Europe was also important. “In addition, when you're thinking about data, it's also about colocation and connecting to the cloud. Managing and controlling all aspects of this hybrid cloud also puts us in a competitive position. That

“We are connecting our customers and partners to their data, wherever it is, and helping them manage that data flow, in their own premises, in the data centers that are close to them, as well as into the public cloud” DANIEL DANON


means that we really are the partner of choice in terms of digital infrastructure. “We are continuing the vision of a dynamic digital world first envisioned by Eurofiber when the company started more than 20 years ago.” 10-year partnership with Infradata Danon outlined the importance of being an open network which enables Eurofiber to work with an ecosystem of partners which include Infradata. “Infradata is not just a partner, they really are our system integrator. Our network is largely based on equipment they manage

with us and that equipment is an integral part of all of the service level agreements our promise to customers. They have been supporting us and taking care of the ethernet and internet network.” Nick Vaes, Director Network Operator at Eurofiber said: “Infradata is a proactive partner, flexible, and always willing to fight for us. We started as a company which only had dark fibre. About 16 years ago we started delivering lit services for 160km our customers. Our open network of fibre optic cable is laid delivers ethernet (layer 2) and later every month on internet (layer 3) services over by Eurofiber our network.”



November 2021


“Infradata is not just a partner, they really are our system integrator” DANIEL DANON


“We partnered with Infradata for our active layer of the network, so we are capable of delivering services, not only to our direct customers but also through all the partners at the indirect channels,” he said. “It is a very proactive partnership, thinking together, evolving the network, and looking at what is going to happen in the future. It’s a partnership that is building a strong network to serve our customers." Taimen Boumans, Managing Director of The Netherlands at Infradata, echoed the sentiment saying the overlap in DNA between the two Dutch companies has deepened the partnership over the years. “All the proposals and the projects we design and help deploy for Eurofiber provide quality, cost-effectiveness and also predictability is very important.” Commenting on the current work to upgrade the core network infrastructure to 100G, Boumans said: “What we see happening in the market is that demands for those solutions are picking up. Technology is a step ahead of market demands. We already find ourselves exploring 400G. “Eurofiber is expanding into many new markets like Belgium, Germany, France and moving into consumer markets. This is a nice overlap for us as we cover the same digital footprint so we find ourselves also exploring and widening the partnership in those areas as we move forward and take it to the next level,” he said. Commenting on what challenges Infradata helped Eurofiber to overcome

during the early days, Sjaak Lemmers, Account Director of Infradata said: “It started as dark fibre only, just the cables and no services in the early days. We helped Eurofiber to build and offer an IP service portfolio which is now formally assigned to as vital infrastructure by the government.” Giving an example of a mission critical infrastructure project, Infradata has successfully been involved in with Eurofiber, Lemmers highlighted in 2017 they started to replace the older part of the networks to improve automation for provisioning. “This also enables us to grow the bandwidth to a scalable platform. “The high-speed band-width project is a great example of our partnership with Eurofiber. We are expanding the bandwidth in the core to new generation equipment. And at the same time, this enables Eurofiber to keep the same processes and working



the year Eurofiber was founded



€202mn revenue


November 2021


relations, improve the performance and keep ahead of the market demands,” he said. Healthcare and FinTech Danon said Eurofiber will continue to be agile to their customers by making sure they are available and adapt to their needs. “We’re constantly monitoring developments in industries like healthcare and FinTech and we build scenarios on that to make sure our network will continue to be the infrastructure they need. This also includes security encryption, reach and latency and bandwidth. “It’s also about our colocation infrastructure being more than just real estate but being part of how customers connect to the cloud, and that cloud is in EUROFIBER – EIGHT STEPS itself is a very agile and dynamic TO A FAST, SECURE AND place to work in. We've already COST EFFECTIVE SERVICE recognised how we can build an infrastructure - an orchestration • Ethernet – connects sites securely capability - to combine and flexibly over a custom private everything we've got. It’s not network with Ethernet VPN. always about inventing something • Secure cloud connect – offers new. It's also about combining a safe, direct access to multiple what we have with the expertise cloud platforms of our partners.” • Business Internet – offer Danon said he was looking employees fast and secure internet forward to focusing on their new access with business internet venture in Berlin. “Extending our • WDM – benefit from high fibre networks and data centres bandwidths with WDM and don't across Western Europe is part of worry about management • SD-WAN – software replaces the future plans but we are also committed to focusing on the manual management growth here in the Netherlands. • Managed dark fibre – control the Belgium and France still have a bandwidth of your dark fibre and lot of fibre and cloud connectivity grow as needed • Data centre services – data and opportunities and we are focusing on our joint venture in Germany,” applications optimally and securely he said. available in a Tier3 data centre. • Connectivity – the foundation of a smart city




November 2021





Orange Marine uses a fleet of sophisticated ships to install global cable networks, galvanise the future of communications and uphold sustainability as it navigates the ocean.


n the modern world, making a video call is becoming second nature. But how often do we consider how ‘the magic’ actually happens – how someone in a kitchen in North London can see, and talk to, someone in a Brisbane basement? The truth is – we don’t (generally speaking). Many would guess that it’s something ‘in the air’. In truth, almost every call, WhatsApp message and video conference relies on submarine cable installed by Orange Marine. To put it into context, this is manmade cable, laid at the very bottom of the seabed; a very real, tactile operation carried out by a crew of men and women navigating

the high seas. Amid the digitisation of our world it is a refreshing reminder that ‘actual’ things are still happening! Didier Dillard, Orange Marine’s CEO, is a veteran of submarine telecommunications and has been in the industry – fulfilling various other roles – for several decades.

“It is important to note that, materially, submarine cable doesn't have a significant environmental footprint”


November 2021




Consequently, the sea is in his blood and the installation of cable has become a way of life – a way of life that has been significantly altered by the era of sustainability and the myriad responsibilities that come with it. Especially in an all-encompassing international cable laying operation. “Firstly, it is important to note that, materially, submarine cable doesn't actually have a significant environmental footprint,” reflects Didier. “These cables are designed to last at least 25 years. They are robust, efficient, don't melt and, at the end of their operational usage, we can easily recover them. So, the cable by itself is already environmentally friendly.”



November 2021



“ These cables are designed to last at least 25 years. They are robust, efficient, don't melt and, at the end of their operational usage, we can easily recover them. So, the cable by itself is already environmentally friendly” DIDIER DILLARD



Creating a global network Although cables have impressive longevity, cable installation and cable repairs need vessels and these impressive nautical creations require fuel – for the time being, it’s an occupational reality. At Orange Marine, however, the company has a strategy to make the running of its fleet as sustainable as humanly possible. Didier says: “We have made sure that we use low-sulphur fuel, while also

Didier Dillard is an experienced executive in the telecom industry, who spent most of his career within the Orange group, formerly known as France Telecom and several years in the wholesale team of the American operator Sprint. He started his career in France Telecom submarine cable division moving from project manager for new systems, engineer in charge of installation projects onboard cable ships and finally director of marine operations. He held then several management positions in marketing, commercial and regulatory affairs in New York, Kansas City and Paris. He was appointed President of FT Marine SAS (commercial name : Orange Marine) and President of Elettra Tlc on January 2018. Orange Marine and Elettra are subsidiaries of the Orange group dedicated to installation and maintenance of submarine cables through their own fleet of cable ships. Didier Dillard graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique (Paris), he holds a MS in Telecommunications Engineering and a MBA from Columbia University (New York).



“ We strive to be at the forefront of all regulation in relation to waste waters and oils. Ultimately, we always need to have the best equipment – that's something we are constantly aspiring to” DIDIER DILLARD



November 2021

incorporating hybrid engines, which means our fuel is used only to produce electricity. We try to optimise the exact number of engines that are necessary at any given point. In terms of sustainability, we strive to be at the forefront of all regulation in relation to waste waters and oils. Ultimately, we always need to have the best equipment – that's something we are constantly aspiring to.” Orange Marines fleet of cable ships are specifically produced to do the job of installing or repairing submarine cables. They are uniquely robust vessels capable of navigating oceans throughout the world, even in the most adverse weather conditions. The shorter maintenance vessels are constantly on call, ready to intervene in case of cable breakage, while the longer,


highly sophisticated installation vessels are between 100 metres and 140 metres long. “To give an example,” enthuses Didier. “Our ‘René Descartes’ installation vessel is capable of laying a huge network of cable in one load. It means that it can carry upto 8,000 kilometres of cable onboard in a single operation. This vessel is currently in the middle of the Pacific, laying another transpacific cable.” The mighty installation vessels also uphold efficiency by towing sea ploughs. This is the powerful equipment that is used to meticulously bury the cable in the often rock-hard seabed.

It is a difficult job which is undertaken methodically and, if necessary, trenches are dug to depths of two or three metres in order to accommodate the cable.


Colombo Dockyard PLC “An odyssey of Excellence” Colombo Dockyard PLC (CDPLC) established its operations in 1974 and at present operates as Sri Lanka’s largest engineering facility leading in the business of ship repairs, shipbuilding, heavy engineering and offshore engineering operating in joint collaboration with Onomichi Dockyard Company Ltd of Japan.

Since 1974 CDPLC has been setting the standard in modern shipbuilding. Its formative years were spent building the company’s reputation by serving the local requirements and the needs of neighbouring countries such as Maldives and Myanmar. CDPLC subsequently became a force in the country’s shipbuilding industry and in 1993 the company formed a collaboration with the Onomichi Dockyard Company of Japan. Chairman, Hideaki Tanaka, explains: “The partnership enabled us to emerge as the most reliable, flexible, truly world-class shipbuilder in South Asia, capable of offering Japanese quality at a competitive South Asian price.” As the era of climate change emerged the company formed a strategy to build more complex vessels such as cable layers and eco-friendly vessels using hybrid technology (which can be classified as ‘green ships’), especially targeting the European market. D. V. Abeysinghe, the company’s Managing Director/CEO, reflects: “The challenges of the last decade have resulted in a much greater emphasis on employee skills, engineering knowledge, design management capabilities and internal quality management systems, together with safety and environment compliance.”

Ship shape

The current landmark project with Orange Marine has witnessed the company venture once again into the cable-laying market and

will see it produce this cable ship specially designed for the maintenance of both fiber optic telecommunication and inter-array power cables used in wind farms. With the delivery of the Orange Marine vessel, CDPLC will be a leading yard in the world having delivered two sophisticated cable laying/ repair vessels within a short span of five years. Over the last few decades the company has also been dynamically future-proofing by continuously transferring technical and practical knowledge to the younger generation. Mr Tanaka says: “We are very optimistic about the years ahead as we target the European market.” We have the edge over other far eastern shipyards as we are in close proximity to the European market and are well experienced in transforming European ship designs in to a reality through our master craftmanship. It certainly is a great time for CDPLC as it ambitiously navigates the high seas into a positive, sustainable future. As Mr Abeysinghe says: “It’s a pleasure to see the brand name ‘built by Colombo Dockyard, Sri Lanka’ sailing off to traverse the world seas.”



FCR became a 100% subsidiary of Orange Group


Number of employees

230K+ km

of fibre optic submarine cables in all oceans


of the world cable vessel fleet


Number of ships operated, including one dedicated to survey


Intercontinental- line repairs over the past 15 years including repairs at 6,000 meters deep


November 2021


“When you commission a new ship there is a full range of tests, including at sea, where you need to ensure that all the specifications are met ” DIDIER DILLARD


Ships shaping a sustainable future Orange Marine is currently overseeing the most ambitious ship build in its history and many of the new features being rolled out are testament to the company’s focus on low carbon output and investment in longterm sustainability across all its operations. “When you commission a new ship there is a full range of tests, including at sea, where you need to ensure that all the specifications are met,” Didier explains. “There are not many cable vessel builders around the world, so we have selected a shipyard with vast experience.” The partnership with the designers has been essential to the construction of a trailblazing vessel, as Didier notes: “We spent a lot of time with the shipyard trying to find the best way to optimise fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and overall performance. The ship also requires an ability to operate everywhere in the world.” “In order to refuel effectively and efficiently we have two locations in France – one in Brest and the other on the coast of the Mediterranean. In both cases, they are equipped with shore power, which means that the vessels get electricity directly from the bases, not from their engines,” he adds.



Orange Marine: High seas, high tech and high levels of sustainability

Culture shift as industry evolves Cable laying is an old industry negotiating (quite literally) a rapidly transforming world. While system, operation and hardware upgrades have been essential, there has also been a 198

November 2021

need to change mindsets in terms of climate change. Rebooting belief systems has fundamentally transformed companies, making every individual think differently about the environment in which they work. Didier is convinced that there has been a very positive cultural shift at Orange Marine and throughout the industry. “There are already protected areas in the seabeds, so, when you design a route for a new cable, you need to get permission from the local authorities. We now have constraints linked to biodiversity and marine life that were not significant 20 years ago.”


“We recently complied with some very strict restrictions in terms of when and where we could install cable in French Guiana and French West Indies. These regulations were in place specifically to avoid turtle nesting season, and that gives you an idea of where the industry is going.” Beyond changing policy, Orange Marine invites onboard sea mammal observers to accompany their operations, presenting them with opportunities to witness animal behaviour across the world’s oceans. The company is also involved with the ‘Argos system’, which deploys and collects

data from the sea's temperature. It is an initiative that the company is not obliged to participate in, but does demonstrate an expansive dedication to improving the environment. “We are happy to do it whenever we can,” insists Didier. “It’s a new and

“There are not many cable vessel builders around the world, so we have selected a shipyard with vast experience” DIDIER DILLARD




“ I really like this compelling combination of new technologies and traditional onboard operations. You will always need to have seafarers capable of handling the cable, cutting it, joining it and manipulating it” DIDIER DILLARD


increasingly visible dimension within our activity. At Orange Marine we are always trying to find new ideas or new things that have a positive impact on society.” Igniting communication through cable Submarine cables form the critical network that maintain personal and professional relationships – they hold families together, while enabling the international corporate infrastructure to flourish when – 25 years ago – it wouldn’t have been possible. “You cannot use the internet now without submarines, either for professional or personal usage. It's just impossible,” Didier points out. “And it’s physical stuff. I really like this compelling combination of new technologies and traditional onboard operations. You will always need to have seafarers capable of handling the cable, cutting it, joining it and manipulating it.” “It is the same type of skill that would have been used more than a century before. It's not only software or artificial intelligence that holds the key to sustainability. You need to have real people,” he adds. The international pandemic has brought the role of submarine cable networks into the sharpest of focus – video conferences 200

November 2021





November 2021


“It is the same type of skill that would have been used more than a century before. It's not only software or artificial intelligence that holds the key to sustainability. You need to have real people” DIDIER DILLARD


have become the fabric of our lives and, consequently, millions of miles of travelling have been taken out of the equation. The crisis has actually demonstrated what is possible by using remote technology. “Most of the video meetings that have taken place globally have used submarine cable,” says Didier. “It enabled the world to continue to work, even if people stayed at home without commuting. By maintaining communications between continents; between countries and between islands, I think that we've become a pivotal part of the solution.” In the past 18 months it has become obvious that submarine cables are a critical asset for all countries and the entire world. Even small islands now receive their connectivity through submarine cables. A prime example is Saint Helena – in the middle of the Atlantic – which has been connected by Orange Marine in the last couple of months. There are several notable tech companies that also know the vital importance of submarine cables, especially when it comes to economics and rapid responses. “Our industry has had huge investment from Google, Amazon and Facebook. It's interesting to hold discussions with these companies because they keep telling us that

they will require many more cables in the future,” says Didier. “When you add up these big players with the wider needs of the global community and the all-encompassing appetite for telecommunications, our industry’s future is in good health.” In many ways, Orange Marine has enabled the future to be brought forward, but it couldn’t have come to fruition without the craftsmanship and toil of human beings on the high seas. And in a world of digitisation it is satisfying to know that humanity is still taking centre stage.






November 2021




The world’s first industry standard for D&I in the workplace is the aim of the TM Forum, the D&I Council including Colt, stand together to inspire change


Vicky Sleight (right) and Keri Gilder (left) at the Technology, AI & Cyber Live event


November 2021

iverse companies perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged employees, and retain workers better than companies that do not focus on diversity and inclusion. Vicky Sleight, Global Director, Human Factor Diversity and Inclusion Council, with TM Forum, is not surprised by the findings from consultants McKinsey as she is inspiring change within the telecommunications industry alongside Keri Gilder, CEO of Colt Technology Services, who is a firm believer in the power of connectivity and the chair of the TMF Diversity & Inclusion Council. TM Forum, one of the world’s largest industry associations representing the interests of the technology and telco sectors, is collaborating with the TM Forum D&I Council to create the first industry standard for diversity and inclusion (D&I) within the industry. “We are working to help make the tech communications industry succeed in being the most diverse, equal, and inclusive industry in the world,” said Sleight who leads the global industry collaboration and Executive Advisory Board for Diversity and Inclusion.




TM Forum: Driving diversity and inclusion

Keri Gilder, CEO, Colt, is leading a global collaboration project focused on making the telecommunications industry the most diverse and inclusive industry in order to help accelerate transformation of the industry and underpin its continued success in the digital economy. “We wanted to work with the D&I Council to achieve the bold ambition of how we make real change happen,” said Sleight who pointed out they are also focusing on this goal alongside the founding members of the advisory board which includes Accenture, Accedian, Amdocs, Bain & Company, BT, Colt, Ciena, Deutsche Telekom, Nokia, Rostelecom and Verizon. TM Forum is hoping the Inclusion and Diversity Score (IDS) will improve diversity both within technology and eventually across all industries. This work is part of ‘The Human Factor’, one of the alliance’s six key areas of focus. TM Forum is made up of 850+ global companies working together to break down 208

November 2021

“ We are working to help make the tech communications industry succeed in being the most diverse, equal and inclusive industry in the world” VICKY SLEIGHT


technology and cultural barriers between digital service providers, technology suppliers, consultancies, and systems integrators. TM Forum’s collaboration with Colt Technology Services Gilder, who became CEO of Colt in May 2020, is not only leading the company’s Diversity Council, to ensure Colt is a business where “everyone feels they can bring their true selves to work”, but was appointed chair of TM Forum’s Diversity and Inclusion Council where she works alongside Sleight.





Her appointment at Colt neatly coincided with her D&I role at TM Forum as she was recommended for the post via a women’s networking group. “I think this is a good example where women's networks can help as there are senior executives out there that want to make change happen,” said Gilder. “I was aware change was not happening in the tech and telco industry when it came to D&I and we looked at how to make a real difference. That's how we started to think about the IDS. It is important we start treating D&I like we do the rest of our businesses by using benchmarks and metrics and measuring what truly matters. “If it continues to be a moral imperative, change will never happen. What it needs to be is as a strategic initiative and central to the business which is what we’ve done at Colt. We have ideated within the council, to develop a score that is simple, futureready, adaptable, and diverse enough to understand there are cultural nuances and different geographies around the world. We also wanted to ensure a level of adaptability to ensure the score can evolve as we start to mature as an industry,” she said.

A cultural diversity and inclusion executive with 20 years’ experience in the global tech communication’s industry, Sleight is leading, influencing and driving change at the international level in culture change, equality, diversity and inclusion. At TM Forum, as VP, Human Factor and Diversity and Inclusion, Sleight has built and is leading the global industry collaboration and Executive Advisory Board for Diversity and Inclusion along with the Digital Organisation Transformation & Culture program – the mission to accelerate digital transformation and succeed in the digital economy through ensuring tech communications is the most diverse industry in the world.

women hold the position of CEO in the global telecommunication space


in every thousand people that have been made redundant during the pandemic have a disability, versus 13 people per thousand with a non-disability (ONS)


top management positions in telcos are held by women



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Why the Inclusion and Diversity Score (IDS) is important Sleight and Gilder are collaborating to create the first D&I industry standard to measure if a company has an inclusive culture. “Right now, there are no universal and intersectional metrics that help us understand how we are progressing,” said Sleight who points out that while c-level executives recognise the importance of D&I only seven organisations are in the top 100 global benchmarks that are from telecoms according to both Refinitive top 100 D&I list and the FT Top 100. “Driving the meaningful change, which we're passionate about, not only requires leadership definition and determination, but also evidence and metrics. Without those science-based targets and metric based targets, we won't get anywhere because we don't actually know where we are today. “We're looking to create an actual industry standard in which we're not just measuring diversity but we're also measuring inclusion and the human sentiment of the employees to understand if a company really has an inclusive culture. “That’s why we started to work with the TM Forum council members, including Bain & Company, who are one of our major consultants. The pilot's gone well, so far, and we're getting ready for the next stage,” said Sleight. “This means a lot to TM Forum as we want to create an industry standard so we can understand where we are now and help companies progress on their D&I journey. We will not just be giving a number back, but a fully detailed score and we will then move on to providing those interventions to help support the company and make that real change happen for them.”

Keri Gilder was appointed Chief Executive Officer at Colt in May 2020. Based in London, Gilder is responsible for executing Colt’s strategy which centres around transforming the way the world works through the power of connectivity. Previously, Gilder was Colt’s Chief Commercial Officer, leading global teams across sales, presales and marketing, to ensure Colt delivered for its customers. Before Colt, she held several leadership roles at Ciena; most recently as Vice President and General Manager EMEA. Gilder is passionate about Inclusion and Diversity. She leads Colt’s Diversity Council and is Chair of the TM Forum’s Diversity and Inclusion Council.



Sleight commented on the partnership with Colt and the strong relationship with Gilder saying: “TM Forum and Colt are equally as passionate, but we bring together different experiences. It's diversity of thought, diversity of experience, diversity of perspective.” D&I in practice at Colt Technology Services Gilder pointed out that having a base of 850 members at TM Forum is critical for understanding best practice and understanding the talent base within the technology and telco sector. “For me, I can bring the real world example of how this actually is going to get implemented within an organisation. At Colt we've been able to do this over the last couple of years. We have developed five different employee resource groups, and that's been a start within Colt because now we've moved beyond gender. We're now looking at disability, ethnicity, race and LGBQT. We've moved out into the grander world of diversity and we're starting to develop the HR data in order to provide what's required to have a holistic view.” Gilder pointed out the first move is collating the data. “The first challenge is getting the data and making sure that what you're looking at provides the insights that are inclusive of the entire Colt community. “Although we have it, when it comes to gender it has to be self-projected and reported for practically every other diverse metric. As we've started to develop the metric, I've been working with my HR organisation and our employee resource groups to understand how we can get people comfortable with providing the data so that we can have a realistic metric that comes out of the scoring. 212

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“We have also looked at what is the easiest way to implement this into the way we measure across our organisation and we've come to the conclusion that over time it will be best incorporated into our employee engagement surveys.” Gilder said the advantage of using the TM Forum is they are independent so the employees may feel more comfortable divulging personal information. “The TM Forum can help us to obtain the data we need for the IDS because the employee may have more psychological safety by providing that data to a non-employer so there are a lot of benefits.” She pointed out the TM Forum also helps Colt to build the IT stack, help build

“It is important we start treating D&I like we do the rest of our businesses by using benchmarks and metrics and measuring what truly matters” KERI GILDER


applications, program interfaces, and APIs. “They help me think differently and more innovatively about how I'm approaching the technical side of my business. “The TM Forum has helped us to understand how we can approach our business using the same type of methodology, standards, a baseline that is going across the industry that will enable collaboration, and drive this to a point where it is a part of our development stack, but it's the development stack of our people. It's not the development stack of our technology.”



Spotlight on Colt Technology Services Colt comes from the original name of City of London Telecommunications when it was founded in 1992 by entrepreneur Jim Hynes. Keri Gilder has been the Chief Executive Officer at Colt since May 2020, and is responsible for executing the company strategy which centres around transforming the way the world works through the power of connectivity. Commenting on Colt’s work with TM Forum she said: “We do need an independent voice, which is a non-profit organisation, to help the telco industry build the Inclusion and Diversity Standard (IDS). “But I think the other important thing is that it should not stop there. We are building the council in order to enable the advocacy of the future,” she said. The Colt IQ Network connects more than 900+ data centres and over 29,000 on net buildings across Europe, Asia and North America’s largest business hubs. Colt understands today’s shifting connectivity requirements and provides agile, on-demand and secure high bandwidth networking and voice solutions to ensure enterprises can thrive. Customers include data-intensive organisations spanning more than 210 cities in more than 30 countries.


November 2021

War for talent According to Sleight, despite the fact more women graduate each year compared to men, the technology and telco sector is losing the war on talent to more traditional industries such as pharmaceutical and health as they are now asking for the same skills set such as software developers and data scientists. “When we talk to CEOs in telcos, they will say to us, I want to benchmark against not just my own industry and my own competitors, but I want to benchmark where I'm losing this war on talent. So the brand's not enough,” commented Sleight.


“The culture has got to be right but it is not just attracting staff it is also about retaining them. You may have a diverse board, but if your employees don't feel it's an inclusive culture, then you'll not retain that diverse talent. “The war for talent is one thing we want to win. At the centre of all this transformation is human-centred design, which is what we're focused on. The pandemic has highlighted that even more. If you take millennials, 80% see inclusion as a very important factor when choosing an employer and 39% of them will leave if it is not inclusive.”(Deloitte University & BJKLI Report – Unleashing the Power of Inclusion).

Sleight pointed out that figures from the Office of National Statistics showed disabled people suffered more during the round of redundancies during the pandemic. A total of 22.1 in every thousand people that have been made redundant have a disability, versus 13 people per thousand with a non-disability. That's a real challenge we're having to face,” commented Sleight. “We also recognise that diversity and inclusion is a business critical and strategic imperative. It’s not just a gender issue, societal or CSR, and diversity exists beyond gender, LGBTQ+ and ethnicity. It should



be equal for all, including accessibility, neurodiversity and can all be a key differentiator. Many efforts focus on visible diversity, yet we believe inclusion is more important in order to attract and retain diverse talent,” she said. Gilder pointed out there are only five women CEO’s leading 31 companies within the global telco space and only 60 of the 330 top management positions are held by women. “What we need is to get these diverse employees in leadership positions where they own the technology direction and own a very strategic part of the business,” said Gilder, who has a 50% representation of gender on the Colt leadership team. “We’ve seen over and over again that when we do that, we're more successful in innovation, more successful in being a resilient company and we're more profitable as a company. The reality is if we don't start paying attention to this, then we won't be able to attract the talent that we need in order to drive the innovation that's required in order to build resilience in a COVID world. We're going to lose out to other industries because they're now asking for the same skills.” Gilder actively promotes the telco industry to youngsters. “We do work in a super cool industry which works with the likes of Apple and Google, so I usually manage to encourage two or three girls to think about telco as a profession when I finish a talk.” Global aspirations for IDS Sleight points out that as TM Forum moves forward with the IDS they are aiming to make it more adaptable to take into account the initial challenges over data, geographical regions, languages and employment law. 216

November 2021

“ TM Forum and Colt are both equally as passionate, but we bring together different experiences. It's diversity of thought, diversity of experience, diversity of perspective” VICKY SLEIGHT



“We've just finished the pilot and are working to make the score adaptable as we understand in some countries there's differences in terms of law on what data we can collect. One thing we have realised is that to deliver IDS and to make change happen, we've got to get sponsorship from the very top,” said Sleight, pointing out they have created a CEO Council to give this issue the focus it requires on the global stage and to move it beyond the premise of HR.

“This is not just about ticking a box to say that they're part of this, but it is for them to drive IDS through their own organisations. This is to ensure IDS becomes a standard so that we can support the industry and stick to our mission because it is a bold ambition to transform the tech and communications industry to be the world leader in diversity, equality and inclusion.”




November 2021




Tony Kagoo, Head of Innovation, Communication, Media & Information Services for TCS in the UK and Europe, discusses the challenges facing telcos


owever, whatever sector a customer is associated with, in today's world communications must be central to their concerns. For Antony (Tony) Kagoo, based in London and Head of Innovation for the Communication, Media & Information Services unit for TCS in the UK and Europe, innovation – keeping a step ahead of implementation and constantly re-imagining the future – is the most important part of his work. “Many organisations invest in research, of course, but I see the challenge for them as understanding where to invest most effectively to get the best returns on those investments.” To make sure this happens, and that the most relevant and advanced thinking is brought in, TCS established its Co-Innovation ecosystem (COINTM) to leverage emerging technologies along with a global partner ecosystem. Tony Kagoo is a great evangelist for this initiative. “Within our COIN ecosystem we have 2,500 start-ups globally, venture capital firms, industry specialists and consultants, and technology alliances with the major cloud and technology companies. We also have more than 65 academic partnerships with leading universities and research institutes.” The COIN global team, he says, is focused on finding disruptive technologies in areas such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, cybersecurity, Robotic Automation, Advanced Analytics and the like. “We bring these technologies on board,


November 2021

Tony Kagoo, Head of Innovation, Communication, Media & Information Services, TCS




TCS: Innovation at the leading edge of communication

so the customer does not have to start the innovation journey from zero, but starts with a real head-start.” When the pandemic struck global business in 2020, it broadly changed the way TCS customers thought about innovation. The most vital lifeline for businesses and consumers alike was connectivity, which while enabling businesses to work remotely, had not even been tested for efficacy across scenarios. “It really proved the truth of the saying, 'the fuel for disruption is disruption itself,' so the need for smart investment in relevant technology quickly came to the fore. And with people in the 222

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major economies all working from home, communication technologies were at the centre of the conversation. We've been able to help our customers to re-imagine a future, shape it, evaluate the hypothesis, understand whether what they want to do with technology actually has a value in the market, then help them to formulate a structure, a roadmap or a business case to decide the right investment options.” But if connectivity was indeed the lifeline, CSPs should have witnessed a sharp rise in revenue and profits, which unfortunately was not the case, with many stagnating and some recording a slight dip at the start of FY '21.




Gathering PACE of change Transitioning to a Business 4.0TM mindset needs guidance if effort and investment are to be results-focused. With this in mind, TCS developed an experiential brand called TCS PACE TM. The TCS PACE TM brand was introduced as a brand identity encompassing its research, innovation and digital transformation capabilities, applied within a business framework. Tony Kagoo explains: “TCS Pace draws together our research, innovation, and digital transformation experiences for a smooth transition to Business 4.0. You could describe it as a 'client engagement arena' that channels

Antony (Tony) has 14 years of experience in the CMI industry, leading customer relationships across multiple CXO domains with a strong focus on contact experience, networks, enterprise functions and emerging technologies. He has been leading Innovation for TCS’ CMI customers in the UK and Europe regions for about two years now, evangelising the 'Art of Possible' in an uncertain world. Antony works with customers to create and implement innovation strategies that enable them to deploy the right investment models, understand market propensity, and meet end user needs. He also works with TCS’ research teams to build futuristic propositions to create blue ocean markets for global CMI companies.






the formidable domain expertise we've accumulated, across many decades and organisational units, into internal and external co-innovation programs” As a practical way to access all these resources, TCS is establishing co-innovation centres, called Pace Ports, at selected regional hubs. The most recent of these, joining facilities in New York and Tokyo, is in Amsterdam. “Amsterdam will be a hub for our TCS teams to co-innovate with UK &

• TCS Innovation Showcases: A sensory experience of ongoing R&I stories • TCS COIN™ Accelerators: An entrepreneurial forum to solve specific client problems • TCS Think Spaces: A space to create new solutions via digital forces and design thinking • TCS Academic Research Labs: A collaborative medium for partnerships with academia • TCS Agile Workspaces: A space to deploy TCS’ agile methods for rapid pilots and MVP

European customers, guiding them through the discovery, definition, refinement and delivery phases of innovation. It will also give them rapid prototyping capabilities. Pace Ports have a clear focus on finding and creating sustainable solutions.” Innovation Leadership “At TCS we are groomed to be leaders in whatever role we play,” Kagoo explains. “One of the key aspects of my role is to define an innovation strategy integral to TCS’ growth and transformation strategy. Managing multi-stakeholders is a leadership skill essential in today’s world. Innovation leadership is key in creating a collaborative ecosystem to drive exponential value across horizontals and verticals.



Anis Chemli, VP of Sales and Marketing Guavus

“Collaborating with a larger research and innovation ecosystem to drive growth and transformation for our customer is one part of the puzzle: there are other critically important ones as well. While keeping our eyes on the big picture we should never forget that people and culture give meaning to innovation. “Developing a culture of innovation is vital to the success of an organisation’s innovation strategy. At TCS we foster an innovation culture that is inclusive and diverse, not just in domain and technology 226

November 2021


CLOUD-SCALE AI ANALYTICS, SYSTEM INTEGRATION AND IMPROVED BUSINESS PROCESS ENGINEERING FUEL MOBILE OPERATORS’ 5G SUCCESS 5G networks promise to be faster than 4G, more reliable, massively scalable and will enable mobile network operators (MNOs) to develop a broad range of new applications and services for consumers and businesses. At full scale, 5G networks will also bring orders of magnitude more complexity compared to today’s 4G networks. The MNOs that Guavus (a Thales company) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) work with know this all too well. Everything increases: more connected devices, 5G cell sites, radio elements and antennae, bandwidth, cloud-native infrastructure, on-demand services and more data running over their networks. 5G scale and complexity are requiring operators to leverage artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) and real-time analytics to augment their human operators for time-critical decisions and actions. Guavus and TCS are collaborating with operators globally to leverage Guavus’ best-in-class 5G analytics solutions and TCS services and consulting to master this 5G complexity, increase operating efficiency and ensure a high-quality customer experience -- while protecting their existing investments and familiar processes associated with legacy 4G and older solutions. The bottom line for operators is reduced opex and organisational change while ensuring a smooth migration to 5G -- providing a sound base from which they can unlock the accelerated revenues and growth that 5G promises. Guavus’ cloud-scale AI/ML and real-time streaming analytics and services are aimed at helping operators transform into true digital service providers, delivering a new generation of 5G services that empower their users and serve as a critical link in their enterprise digital value chain. Vendor-neutral in a complex ecosystem – from 5G edge and core to cloud Serving the world’s largest operators for more than 15 years, Guavus’ analytics products use streaming analytics and advanced AI/ML algorithms to ingest a wide variety of high-velocity telemetry data, and then perform context-aware operational and behavioral analytics to generate real-time insights benefiting MNO stakeholders in network operations, network engineering, service operations, customer care, field operations and marketing. Operators are using Guavus’ analytics to collect and analyse petabytes of data every day and generate millions of dollars in opex savings and monetisation.

Guavus’ AI/ML-driven 5G analytics solutions help automate network operations, service orchestration and business processes throughout operators’ 5G networks. To ensure interoperability in these complex, multi-vendor environments, the company’s 5G solutions are fully open, extensible and adhere to industry standards such as the 3GPP Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF) standard. 5G’s virtualised, disaggregated, cloud-native infrastructure fosters the growth of a more diverse supplier ecosystem than 4G/LTE. This places a premium on multi-vendor interoperability in the 5G RAN, core and edge -- which extends to the data analytics functions that drive network automation. Guavus’ 5G-IQ NWDAF product takes a 3GPPcompliant ‘open NWDAF’ approach, providing operators multi-vendor analytics interoperability from the 5G network edge to the network core to the cloud. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is a proven systems integration, business process and IT managed services partner that has experience running Guavus solutions as a service for the world’s top communications service providers and multiservice operators. Tony Kagoo, TCS Head of Innovation, Communication, Media and Information Services, comments: “Telcos need business agility and insight-driven operations such as zero-touch that can enable the delivery of new valueadded services to their customers. At TCS we have strong business process advisory and system integration experience, and we strongly believe our partnership with Guavus can deliver customer experience and operational excellence to operators with the AI/ML-based analytics technology Guavus brings across multi-vendor 5G edge, core and cloud domains.” “TCS and Guavus have always seemed like ideal partners,” says Anis Chemli, VP of Sales and Marketing for Guavus. “TCS is very strong in the managed services space and Guavus is considered a leader in the telecom artificial intelligence, analytics and machine learning space. We have many mutual customers and both companies, by their very nature, take a vendor-agnostic approach.” “It’s a complex 5G ecosystem but we can simplify all of that with our AI-driven analytics – this capability complements TCS’ services because they’re used to integrating a very broad vendor environment for their customers. Partnering made every kind of sense and offers strong benefits to operators worldwide,” says Chemli.


but also in people and the roles they play. It is this embedded culture that I take to our customers as a living example during our conversations. “To create a pervasive innovation thought-process, it is important to enable people with the right attitude and mindset. Building the next generation of innovation leadership is a key measure that I own and work at every day. The conversations we have with customers and the wider ecosystem should not be restricted to a few but there is a fundamental need for it to be pervasive and outcome focused. “Innovation without outcomes is like running without a destination! In TCS we have embraced agile innovation at the core of how we partner with customers for Innovation. Our journey always starts with the outcome in mind. It is important to define success and failure before reaching decisions. “Again, where there is a strategy there are always key performance indicators (KPIs). I am often asked to define the right KPIs for innovation. Measuring innovation should be rational, and transcend the normal boundaries of strategy, finance and process. KPIs should also include people and partners like: what percentage of our people who engage, participate and really come through with disruptive or creative solutions? How often do we conduct campaigns focused upon solving our customers’ problems and identifying unmet, unarticulated needs that could be a hotbed for disruption? How many partners do we engage and co-create solutions with? Identifying key measures that help us to understand the human part of our innovation strategy is an absolute must. “As leaders it is our responsibility to enable and equip the wider organisation with right tools, processes, frameworks, knowledge and awareness to create meaningful and 228

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impactful habit-forming products and solutions for customers.” Innovation at the heart of CSP strategy Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are at the cusp of industry evolution, connecting the different touchpoints in a user's journey whether they are an enterprise or a consumer, Kagoo believes. “CSPs have the power to gather data and insight on how individuals and organisations function in the connected world. This means they


are best placed to create a collaborative ecosystem with partners and organisations to shape the future. One of the key trends we are observing is that enterprises in the B2B segment are constantly trying to disrupt themselves by re-imaging their business model to address a new world of consumers in the future.” It is very clear that innovation should be part of a customer’s business strategy and align with their vision for the future. Strategy is of course a living and constantly evolving collateral, the

key is execution, he believes. “One of many challenges is to break down the vision into rational pragmatic elements in the strategy that need to be positioned as part of the organisational culture and operating model.” Disruptions are happening on all fronts In the last year, we have seen how the necessity for remote working has fundamentally disrupted the way business is conducted globally, and the extraordinary demands this has placed on telcos in



particular. It's been no small task for them to address unanticipated demands in the short term but how might they need to change in the future? “To understand the future, we need first to identify the forces at play; society, environment, science, technology, geopolitics and the changing economic and regulatory environment,” he says. “Understanding how these forces influence the future we foresee plays a pivotal role in identifying problem statements and market gaps. We work with our customers to identify the intersections of industry, research, technology and society, where we strongly believe the opportunities exist. We work together with customers to evaluate and prioritise the opportunities. The innovation portfolio we create will help in deciding what needs to be done today, tomorrow and the day after. Only now we are strategically poised to start the execution phase of innovation and developing roadmaps for short-term, mid-term or long-term investments. Rapid delivery of prototypes to test hypotheses will help to reduce the time to innovate. One of the ways we provide rapid prototyping is through Innovationas-a-Service (IaaS). The as-a-service model helps customers to be on the fast track to develop solutions by leveraging the investments we have made in Research and Innovation (R&I) along with the decades of experience built across industries globally.” For TCS innovation is not just creating prototypes, but helping customers in shaping the future, shaping problem statements, and finally delivering impactful solutions to address these problem statements. “One of my primary jobs, conversations with a diverse set of customers who manage innovation across multiple functions in the 230

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EXPERIENCE RESULTS Experience Leadership • With TCS, you get more than what you asked for, says Debbie. TCS’ strong technical leadership is the foundation behind our partnership, she says. “TCS understands our 2020 strategy, and it dovetails quite well with their Business 4.0™ approach.” Experience Partnership • Applauding TCS’ hard work and strong partnership with Vodafone, Debbie says, “TCS has not just brought good people, but they have also brought a lot of innovation. As a result of that, over the last two years, we have managed to go through the TMMi accreditation, and I am delighted to say that as a result of TCS' hard work, we have delivered TMMi5.”

organisation, is not just to talk about success stories but also deliberate on what did not work – why they failed. These lessons and best practices along with contextual knowledge, belief in creating a better future through impactful products and solutions, uniquely place us to collaborate and accelerate our customer’s transformation journey – underpinned by innovation.” A good illustration of this approach is seen in the March 2021 expansion of the strategic partnership between TCS and VodafoneZiggo in the Netherlands to help the telco speed up its fixed fibre network rollout, enabling superior connectivity for subscribers and faster launch of new services. As part of the partnership, TCS is deploying AI and ML technology as well as TCS TwinXTM, its digital twin solution for enterprises. The digital twin model will help VodafoneZiggo gain a deeper understanding of its existing network infrastructure and embrace a data-driven roadmap for the rollout of its B2B fixed fibre network. 5G and essential partnerships Technology has to have relevance, Tony Kagoo insists. Just because blockchain exists, that doesn't mean every enterprise should adopt it, but in the world of the CSPs he deals with some are clearly spearheading the conversation and it's vital for them and their enterprise customers and end-users that fast-expanding technologies like AI, blockchain, edge computing and of course 5G, are realistically considered, matched, and applied to solve specific problems. We have already seen how TCS COIN is just one platform to bring together in an agile partnership the best minds and innovators. For TCS CMI one of the key areas of collaboration with partners is in the area of 5G and networks. “As 5G matures into



Tata Consultancy Services 5G & MEC Use Case | Verizon

a more commercially viable connectivity enabler and technology, ecosystem partners will be a catalyst to unlock market potential and drive purpose-led and insightful products and services.” 5G will mature as we progress through 2021/22, he predicts. “This dynamic is already driving CSPs to start re-imagining themselves as a technology company that provides curated and contextual products to specific industries. Piggybacking on CSPs' 5G connectivity will herald a wave of partnerships that will usher in the age of ecosystem-driven businesses.” One of the key partners Kagoo and his team are working with in this space is Guavus, a Thales company and a pioneer in the application of big data, streaming analytics, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). The partnership is working to solve critical operational and business challenges, and currently spearheading the development of analytics products for 5G network operators, 232

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mobile IoT applications and cloud-based digital services. “We are observing that telcos face the challenge of huge 5G investment and are keen to explore opex reduction measures. Telcos need business agility, real-time insightdriven operations such as zero-touch, that can enable the delivery of network slices seamlessly for enterprise business. At TCS we have strong consulting, advisory and system integration experience and we strongly believe our partnership with Guavus can focus on delivering customer experience and operational excellence to CSPs with the technology they bring across network domains from the 5G edge and core, to the cloud. “As 5G increasingly gains momentum, TCS’ partnership with Guavus enables operators to deploy best-in-class Guavus 5G solutions such as 5G-IQ Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF) and Ops-IQ which add huge value. However, in conjunction with TCS advisory, consulting and services capabilities,



this means that operators can protect their existing investments and familiar processes associated with their legacy 4G and older solutions, migrate and scale them to the levels required for 5G, whilst in parallel supporting 3GPP standards compliant 5G solution. This preserves previous investment, simplifies the analytics landscape, reduces opex and organizational change, and ensures a smooth migration to 5G. Further, this provides a sound base from which to unlock the accelerated revenues and growth that 5G promises.”Humanity makes progress through the power of its ideas and its quest to perpetually make

things better, concludes Tony Kagoo. “If we peel back the layers of innovation, at the core we uncover the forces and dynamics that drive today’s world – and people like us. For several millennia, our inventions have created greater futures for humans by helping us transcend the limitations of our biology and our environment. As a species we have been able to imagine and create the world we want to live in. As individuals and as a business we have a responsibility to invent a greater future for all.”


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