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A week in telecoms: Jio, quantum security, GenAI and 5G MPNs in Thailand

Read about Jio's plans for 5G and AI; T-Mobile US's 5G network slicing progress; Nokia and NTT's private 5G tie-up in Thailand what DT and SKT are up to with quantum security and e&'s GenAI investment.

Anne Morris
01 Sep 2023
A week in telecoms: Jio, quantum security, GenAI and 5G MPNs in Thailand

A week in telecoms: Jio, quantum security, GenAI and 5G MPNs in Thailand

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

Jio outlines plans for 5G and AI

Reliance Industries made use of its recent AGM to provide an update on Jio’s 5G deployment plans and outline its strategy to build India-specific artificial intelligence (AI) applications for people, enterprises and the government.

Chairman Mukesh Ambani also confirmed the launch date for the operator’s fixed wireless access (FWA) service, Jio AirFiber, on September 19. The service will compete with the Airtel Xstream AirFiber service that has already been launched by Bharti Airtel.

“Through optical fiber, we can currently connect around 15,000 premises daily. But with Jio AirFiber, we can supercharge this expansion with up to 150,000 connections per day,” he said in his AGM statement. JioFiber’s optical fibre infrastructure now spans over 1.5 million km across India and it has more than 10 million subscribers.

Ambani said Jio 5G is already present in over 96% of major towns and is on track to cover the entire country by December 2023. He also highlighted Jio’s standalone architecture for 5G and noted that it has launched commercial services on millimetre-wave spectrum. “With over 50 million 5G customers, we’re already leading in 5G adoption in India,” Ambani declared.

Another focus area for Jio is artificial intelligence (AI). The company said it plans to build India-specific AI applications for people, enterprises and the government.

In order to support digital infrastructure in India that can handle “AI’s immense computational demands”, Ambani said the aim over the next five years is to “shift most of our energy footprint in connectivity and digital services to green energy.”

“Here is my promise to our countrymen. Seven years ago, Jio promised broadband connectivity to everyone, everywhere. We have delivered. Today Jio promises AI to everyone, everywhere,” the chairman said.

A further initiative announced at the AGM is Jio Bharat, a 4G-enabled phone that Jio described as a gateway to digital independence for those who can’t afford smartphones.

The operator also unveiled Jio True5G Developer Platform, a platform combining the 5G network, edge computing, and a spectrum of applications and services; and Jio True5G Lab, a facility designed to accelerate industry transformation using Jio True5G.

Meanwhile, a separate report from Crisil Ratings, part of S&P Global, said Indian operators are expected to spend less on 5G frequencies in the upcoming spectrum auction compared to last year, primarily owing to higher debt and their focus on network expansion and infrastructure improvement.

Vodafone Idea (Vi) is yet to announce its 5G launch plans due to financial constraints, while Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio have deployed 5G across the nation.

T-Mobile US highlights 5G network slicing progress

A growing number of telcos are progressing through the swathe of complexity involved in implementing network slicing and rolling out trials.

For example, T-Mobile US said it deployed network slicing to support the broadcast of the Red Bull Cliff Diving event in Boston, Massachusetts in June, claiming it as the nation’s “first use” of the technology for remote video production on a commercial network.

According to John Saw, Executive Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer at the operator, T-Mobile combined the 5G Hybrid Mobile Network product from its 5G Advanced Network Solution (5G ANS) suite with its 5G standalone network to provide “up-to”-276Mbps uplink speeds for the broadcast. T-Mobile launched 5G ANS, a portfolio of 5G-enabled services for enterprise customers, in May 2022.

Earlier in August, the operator launched a network slicing beta for developers for use with video calling applications. The aim is to enable developers to test video calling applications that require consistent uplink and downlink speeds.

Elsewhere, Vodafone UK and Ericsson recently completed a live network trial at Coventry University that they said successfully demonstrated the positive impact an optimized 5G standalone (SA) network slice could have on enhancing the mobile cloud gaming experience for consumers.

Ericsson’s network slicing report estimates that 25-30% of the potential 5G use cases will need slicing as an enabler. Separate research from Ericsson and consultancy firm Arthur D. Little also shows that CSPs globally have an addressable revenue opportunity of approximately $200 billion when it comes to network slicing.

From a vendor perspective, ABI Research forecasts the 5G network slicing market will continue an upward, albeit slowed, growth trajectory to reach $19.5 billion by 2028.

Nokia and NTT tie on private 5G in Thailand

Finnish vendor Nokia entered into a partnership with NTT that will see the two companies coming together to sell 5G private networks to more than 3.2 million enterprises across Thailand.

The Finnish vendor will be bringing its Digital Automation Cloud technology and MX Industrial Edge platform to the joint initiative.

According to Nokia, the partnership is designed to create an agile environment for enterprises and industries across Thailand, enabling businesses to take full advantage of Industrial loT, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Raghav Sahgal, President of Cloud and Network Services at Nokia, said the partnership supports the Thai government’s agenda of digital transformation. “Nokia plans to roll this initiative out to other markets to help drive economic growth in the Asia Pacific and Japan region,” he added.

A recent report from Dell’Oro Group estimates that private 5G RAN revenues are projected to exceed $1 billion by 2027. It noted that 5G is still dominating in China, while LTE prevails outside of China. Leading vendors are Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung, although Huawei is mainly active in China.

SKT outlines quantum progress and Deutsche Telekom opens quantum lab

SK Telecom highlighted it will be leading efforts to develop standards for key management of hybrid approaches with quantum key distribution (QKD) and post-quantum cryptography (PQC).

The Korean operator said it will promote the development of standards for quantum-safe communications at the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Study Group 17 (SG17) meeting held at the Korea International Exhibition Center (KINTEX) that runs to September 8, 2023.

According to SKT, quantum-safe communication refers to the use of technologies and methods that are resistant to attacks by quantum computers in order to keep information assets secure even after a large-scale quantum computer has been built.

Based on the characteristics of quantum mechanics, the QKD technology can guarantee information-theoretic security (or perfect security) for key exchanges. As a hardware-based technology, it requires operators to install physical key distribution device for each section.

PQC refers to cryptographic algorithms that are thought to be secure against quantum computer attacks. As it can be deployed via software upgrade, it offers high scalability.

SKT said it is currently studying a solution that manages QKD and PQC in an integrated manner. “By connecting sections applied with QKD and those applied with PQC, the solution will be able to protect the entire communication chain against attacks by quantum computers. Also, a maximum level of security can be provided by applying both QKD and PQC to a particular section,” it said.

The operator noted that it is also actively working to develop and commercialize quantum cryptography technologies together with SK Broadband and ID Quantique.

Meanwhile Deutsche Telekom has opened a “Quantum Lab”at its T-Labs location in Berlin. The new facility is dedicated to quantum research and the integration of quantum technology into commercial telecommunications networks, and connects to academic and business partners across Germany via over 2,000 km of fiber optical network.

e& capital invests in Ikigai Labs for generative AI

Abu Dhabi-based e& capital, the investment arm of Emirati operator e&, said it participated in a funding round for Ikigai Labs, which is investing in the use of generative AI for tabular data. Premji Invest and Foundation Capital also took part in the $25 million funding round.

e& capital said it is dedicated to championing innovative technologies. “This strategic move is anticipated to catalyze the next generation of AI-driven solutions, heralding a smarter, data-centric business world,” the operator said.

Ikigai Labs offers a no-code AI solution that aims to help organizations address the challenges of harnessing large datasets and ensuring accurate forecasting. The company combines time series forecasting with three core tools: aiMatch for data reconciliation, aiCast for prediction, and aiPlan for scenario planning.

Eddy Farhat, Executive Director at e& capital, said: “We believe Ikigai is poised to revolutionize the way businesses engage with AI. First, by prioritizing functional teams and meeting them where they are on their AI journey both through their powerful, intuitive AI platform and through their engaging, hands-on academy. Second, while the tech world is enamoured with text- and image-based generative AI, Ikigai recognises the substantial value of tabular data, the true treasure trove for most businesses.”

Also noted… Italy’s government looks set to acquire between 15% and 20% of fixed network assets currently owned by Telecom Italia (TIM), as part of a deal with equity firm KKR.

Dell’Oro Group said open RAN and virtualized RAN (vRAN) revenues declined in the second quarter of 2023, marking the first quarter of year-over-year contractions since the firm began tracking these next generation architectures back in 2019.

SpaceX and KDDI plan to begin a satellite-based service in Japan that goes directly to smartphones as early as 2024.