• Topics
  • Research & Analysis
  • Features & Opinion
  • Webinars & Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Dtw

A week in telecoms: BT launches NaaS, telcos test 5GSA roaming

Anne Morris
19 Oct 2023
A week in telecoms: BT launches NaaS, telcos test 5GSA roaming

A week in telecoms: BT launches NaaS, telcos test 5GSA roaming

Welcome to the Inform news round-up, where we take a look at a selection of recent CSP news and how it impacts the wider industry.

BT launches NaaS model, trials RedCap, repositions EE

BT Group has had a busy week, first announcing a trial of 5G Reduced Capability (RedCap) technology and then unveiling a network-as-a-service (NaaS) technical and commercial model called Global Fabric. At the end of the week, its mobile operator EE was positioned even more firmly as the Group consumer brand with the launch of a new consumer platform called EE ID, through which it will offer a broader range of products.

According to BT, Global Fabric is a new, international network that “connects the multiple clouds businesses use for their applications and data with users, such as customers and employees, and will allow them to take advantage of the new wave of digital automation and AI.”

The group is making a number of claims for the new model, noting that it is designed to be “flexible, scalable and resilient both in the quality of connectivity and the convenience of pay-as-you-use.” BT also estimates that “when fully rolled out,” Global Fabric will use 79% less electricity than its current global network. The network builds on BT’s Connected Cloud Edge solution launched with Equinix last year.

AT&T also recently highlighted it is making progress toward its goal of monetizing NaaS through collaborative relationships with hyperscalers and others, and the creation of new business models. Furthermore, TM Forum’s Catalyst Program help operators accelerate implementation of this strategy through the development of standard APIs and by engaging stakeholders across the ecosystem.

As for RedCap, BT said it trialled the technology with Nokia and MediaTek as part of its wider efforts to support IoT business models.

RedCap is a technology introduced in 3GPP Release 17 that brings 5G to devices that do not require its full capabilities. The trial made use of Nokia’s AirScale RAN portfolio, EE’s 5G standalone (SA) network and MediaTek’s RedCap testing platform.

BT noted that it sees RedCap as a complementary technology to current cellular (including low power wide area network/LPWAN technologies such as NB-IoT/LTE-M) and emerging direct-to-device (D2D) satellite technologies. The telco is in the process of building an NB-IoT network in the UK and indicated it is looking to trial LTE-M next year.

Finally, EE unveiled the new EE ID platform and announced its mission to play a more meaningful role in customers’ lives. It plans to continue its strategy of diversification by selling a broader range of products and offering increased options for payments.

UAE’s e& expands 5G SA

UAE-based e& (formerly known as Etisalat) announced the availability of smartphone services on its 5G standalone (SA) network, highlighting it as a “new technology milestone” after the launch of 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) services at the start of 2023.

e& said the 5G SA network already supports new applications including Voice over New Radio (VoNR) and Video over New Radio (ViNR), and highlighted plans to provide network slicing to “support specific use cases or even users.”

“5G SA coupled with new technologies such as cloud, network slicing, edge computing and AI will open up multiple innovative applications and solutions for enterprise, and consumer subscribers, including different vertical industries (manufacturing, healthcare, real-time surveillance and others),” the operator added.

e& is part of only a small cohort of operators to have launched 5G SA globally. The July 2023 update from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) said at least 36 operators in 25 countries and territories are now understood to have launched or deployed public 5G SA networks.

DT, T-Mobile, AIS and Sunrise flag 5G SA roaming test

Speaking of 5G standalone (SA), the ability to roam between different networks remains a crucial capability. In a recent key development, Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile US announced the successful completion of 5G SA roaming with Sunrise in Switzerland and AIS in Thailand.

The test used Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier’s Internet Protocol Exchange (IPX) and Hosted Security Edge Protection Proxy (SEPP) solutions with participating carriers Sunrise and AIS Thailand, completing 5G SA roaming between the United States and Switzerland, and the US and Thailand.

Ulf Ewaldsson, President of Technology at T-Mobile US, said the operator’s customers can already roam in more than 215 countries and destinations, “and 5G SA roaming opens the door for even faster speeds and increased reliability, enables emerging technologies like network slicing and will ensure the experience our customers have at home on our network travels with them practically anywhere.”

Among other benefits cited by the operators, they noted that 5G SA roaming is crucial for supporting massive IoT deployments and critical IoT applications. “Enterprises that rely on real-time data for their operations can benefit significantly from SA roaming capabilities,” the release said.

Nicholas Nikrouyan, Vice President, Voice & Mobile Solutions at Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, said the Hosted SEPP capability “has proven very successful during our PoC phase last year and we are thrilled to now enter the technical readiness phase together with T-Mobile US, Sunrise, and AIS.”

Telecom Italia gets binding offer for NetCo

Telecom Italia (TIM) made further progress with its plan to sell off its fixed assets, currently dubbed NetCo.

After making a non-binding offer earlier this year, investment firm KKR submitted a binding bid that, according to Reuters, indicated a valuation above €20 billion for TIM’s fixed access grid, including debt.

Sources told the news agency that NetCo could take on about 21,500 workers, more than half of TIM’s domestic staff. The KKR offer expires on November 8, although TIM said it could be extended until December 20.

If the sale goes ahead, it would bring to an end a long-running process that is aimed at helping TIM reduce debt and put its consumer and enterprise services businesses back onto a surer footing.

Ericsson and Nokia posts losses

Nokia announced plans to make up to 14,000 job cuts amid falling US sales and slowing 5G rollout in India. The company reported a 20% drop in Q3 net sales, which equated to a 15% year-on-year decline in constant currency. The news was similarly downbeat for Ericsson, which reported a 10% year-on-year drop in organic sales.

Also noted...

Deutsche Telekom is to lose a high-profile executive from 2024. T-Systems CEO Adel Al-Saleh is leaving to become new CEO of satellite operator SES. DT appointed Ferri Abolhassan as his successor.