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Singapore’s first live 5G facility - a collaboration between Ericsson, Singtel and Singapore Polytechnic (SP) - has opened.

Aimed at developing the 5G ecosystem in the country and driving 5G solutions for enterprises, the 5G Garage utilizes Singtel’s 3.5 GHz trial 5G network at Ayer Rajah. The 5G Garage is the first partnership of its kind between enterprise, industry and higher education in Singapore.

At Singapore Polytechnic’s Engineering Show 2019, the three parties signed an MoU to:

 - Build and operate a 5G facility where enterprises can develop and test 5G solutions

 - Co-develop 5G solutions relevant to industries such as transportation, logistics, healthcare and manufacturing

 - Develop and deliver 5G wireless technology curriculum for the SP’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

 - Develop 5G capabilities of our workforce 5G Garage is the latest project in Singtel and Ericsson’s 5G Centre of Excellence programme which focuses on upgrading of employees’ skills, technology demonstrations, live field trials and collaborations with educational institutions.

Singtel and Ericsson made Singapore’s first 5G data call in November 2018 over their 5G pilot network at one-north.

Martin Wiktorin, Country Manager Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines, Ericsson
At Ericsson, we are already collaborating globally with 42 operators, 45 institutes and 31 industry partners, to create a thriving 5G ecosystem. We are delighted to partner Singtel and Singapore Polytechnic towards the setting up of the 5G Garage, which we hope will stimulate Singapore Polytechnic students to come up with new 5G use cases.

Mark Chong, Group CTO, Singtel
As Singapore advances its digital economy and becomes a Smart Nation, the benefits of 5G will first be seen in enterprises, especially in their digital transformation when they integrate technology into their processes, services and products. With 5G standards largely established, now is an opportune time for SMEs and enterprises to join us in shaping our 5G future.

Published in Technology & Solutions

IBM and Vodafone Business announced a a new strategic commercial agreement where Vodafone Business customers will immediately have access to the full portfolio of IBM’s cloud offerings.

As part of the agreement, IBM will provide managed services to Vodafone Business’ cloud and hosting unit, in an eight-year engagement valued at approximately $550 million (€480 million). Customers will benefit from IBM’s optimisation, automation and cognitive capabilities which help them to run their business effectively in a cloud environment.

It will provide clients with the open, flexible technologies they need to integrate multiple clouds and prepare for the next wave of digital transformation enabled by AI, 5G, edge and Software Defined Networking (SDN). The new venture will co-develop new digital solutions, combining the strengths of Vodafone’s leadership in IoT, 5G and edge computing with IBM’s multicloud, industry expertise and professional services capabilities.

The convergence of multicloud and connectivity promises to speed decision-making, enhance automation and personalize experiences for end users in any location – even some of the most remote. For example, in the past, innovating on an oil rig would have been a challenge due to lack of connectivity and disparate IT systems. Today, thanks to edge computing and IoT technologies from Vodafone working with the latest AI and augmented reality applications from IBM, engineers will be able to pinpoint and resolve faults on equipment in minutes rather than hours, potentially saving millions in lost productivity.

Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM
IBM has built industry-leading hybrid cloud, AI and security capabilities underpinned by deep industry expertise. Together, IBM and Vodafone will use the power of the hybrid cloud to securely integrate critical business applications, driving business innovation – from agriculture to next-generation retail.

Nick Read, CEO, Vodafone
This strategic venture with IBM allows us to focus on our strengths in fixed and mobile technologies, whilst leveraging IBM’s expertise in multicloud, AI and services. Through this new venture we’ll accelerate our growth and deepen engagement with our customers while driving radical simplification and efficiency in our business.

Published in Technology & Solutions

Huawei and Turkcell have jointly released a solution for Next Generation (NG) Wireless OSS.

Huawei claims that the latest test results show that the solution has greatly improved network Operation and Maintenance (O&M) efficiency via the customized WebUI and app-level fast upgrade based on microservice technology.

Towards the 5G era, operators face diverse challenges, such as complex network O&M, low resource efficiency, and difficult service experience assurance. NG Wireless OSS utilizes the latest technologies with microservices and AI, helping operators automate their network O&M and succeed in their digital transformation journey. The latest solution will provide the following benefits:

 - Scale-out capability for large-network management to realize "One Country, One System.

 - Fast Time-to-Market and high availability based on microservices to realize app-level independent upgrade.

 - Programmable capability based on openness to realize customized O&M and closed-loop end-to-end workflow.

Moving forward, Turkcell and Huawei will continue to innovate in joint workflow design, automatic system verification, and network capability openness as planned, and both parties are also determined to further cooperate and innovate in network O&M automation.

With the new mission of NG Wireless OSS being to realize O&M automation from 5G, and to achieve autonomous driving networks, Huawei will continuously build automation capabilities based on the newly released MBB automation Engine (MAE). This will unleash network automation potential and accelerate full-scenario autonomous driving in mobile networks.

Ozgur Genc, Core Network Capabilities Director, Turkcell
O&M automation is one of Turkcell's core strategies for evolution to 5G. Turkcell will accelerate its exploration of O&M automation through continuous innovation with Huawei. In addition, Turkcell will continue to reshape its tool chain system to meet demands for future O&M automation.

Lin Guixiao, President of Huawei Wireless Network SingleOSS Product Line
The successful deployment of NG wireless OSS in Turkcell is a solid foundation for O&M automation.

Published in Technology & Solutions

Recent technological advances are rapid and wide-ranging: the telecoms industry today is unrecognizable to that of 15 years ago. Traditional telecoms and digital infrastructure was once the center of connectivity and, though it is still essential in modern life, legacy models are struggling to survive in a digital world.

Communication is also at the core of humanity. Increased geographical mobility means time difference and distance are no longer barriers for multinational businesses, but globalization also means that it has never been more important for businesses to be, or appear to be, universal, always on-demand, and accessible.

You would think increased cross-border business would yield positive things in the voice industry, but even revenue from international voice services is now in terminal decline and wholesale is not immune either. Large voice-focused companies have failed to transition from legacy systems to internet protocol (IP), meaning telephony providers are particularly threatened due to the shift towards Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Some legacy key-players have adapted to IP by utilizing new infrastructure technologies, due to their compatibility with traditional methods, but many have also had to undergo awkward mergers to survive.

Maintaining traditional processes are costly in monetary terms and in time and manpower. Qualified professionals are required to tend to the network and around-the-clock experts are expected to be available to maintain good customer relations. But as costs spiral and revenues deflate, voice network operators cannot afford to use valuable resources on efforts that no longer pay off. The aforementioned VoIP and cloud-based telephony have changed the landscape so significantly that telcos who are not offering such international and wide-spanning services must urgently reconsider their offering.

But hope is not lost; by analyzing their business model, telcos could still catch up and even get ahead of the game. Like all enterprise faced with threats, streamlining operations is the obvious step. How to achieve this is often unknown, if not intimidating, as customer service budgets that were once the first to be cut are no longer dispensable. Owing to today’s increasingly tech-savvy and independent customers, top-quality customer service is expected every step of the process.

The solution - automated cloud communication

As such in every aspect of life, automation is inevitable and must be embraced. It’s also key in bringing telecoms into the 21st century. Through the automation of communication services, its ability to increase operational efficiencies, cut costs and create new revenue streams makes automation the best course of action for any company looking to step up their game in an ultra-competitive market. Legacy voice providers mainly waste resources in two key areas: number provision and internal processes. Both areas are challenging and present several problems, but can also be solved by automation. 

Telcos offering phone numbers, call routing and termination through traditional methods undergo an extensive and laboring process which includes cold calling, negotiation, and multiple applications before they are able to deliver the service. If the client needs international coverage on top of that, then the contract must be negotiated again in each relevant country. This tedious and unnecessary process is often made worse due to unorganized management and report systems which duplicate work, efforts, and information. Even though digital transformation is little more than a buzzword to some, the act of shifting your business model in line with industry trends, which are hugely dependent on movement in the digital economy, is essential.

The benefits - reduced overheads, self-service and quicker delivery

While carriers using legacy systems are reluctant to introduce up-to-date structures due to initial costs, C-levels must realize that every day outdated means are used, there are greater risks to deliverables. Businesses who have made the switch to VoIP are already reaping long-term results, seeing an average saving of 50 to 75 percent.

Phone number ordering will speed up exponentially through the automation of this process. Ridding inefficiencies and creating an on-demand online service for both international and local numbers, plus competitive call routing packages, offers an opportunity for telcos to cut overhead costs substantially and enables bootstrapped businesses to completely collapse their back office. This technology is beneficial in more than just monetary means. Software Advice found that people are four times more likely to answer calls from local numbers while being able to call a local customer support number offers an additional sense of business legitimacy. Through using an array of numbers, depending on the receiver, businesses are able to tailor their efforts for better results.

Having more control over the numbers a company uses is also a huge advantage. There has been a great increase in competition for both memorable phone numbers and international freephone numbers, thus creating a whole new market of its own. Catchy phone numbers are a huge asset and are sought-after thanks to their ability to boost business, increase trust and further establish a company in the industry - the same way short website domains reaffirms a company’s reputation. This means there are big payouts available to telco providers offering memorable combinations of prefixes like 1234, 1122, or 9900.

Universal International Freephone Numbers (UIFNs) have also risen in popularity since internet-based numbers emerged. These unique, toll-free numbers can be called from anywhere in the world where the numbers are active. All sized enterprise enjoy increased accessibility through a single point of contact, while particularly beneficial to smaller companies who are now able to advertise globally without added cost and complexity of several location-specific numbers.

Despite the rise of chatbots and instant messaging, telephony is still essential in conducting business on an international level, resulting in the implementation of automation being crucial to telco and other legacy digital infrastructure providers. Though making the move may be costly, the rewards far exceed costs when looking at the bigger picture. At a time of continuous innovation within an already fast-paced environment, telecoms companies must not only survive but thrive. You cannot put a price on one-to-one, meaningful conversations with prospects and clients, and the tools that enable such communication.

Published in Expert Opinion

Telstra, together with Ericsson and Ciena, has announced a new rapid restoration service on its busiest subsea cable routes in Asia, to help keep customers continuously connected. 

The new continuous connection service combines the vast scale and diversity of Telstra’s subsea cable network, with flexible programmable infrastructure technology through Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme solution. 

 

Continuous connection builds on Telstra’s assured availability “Always on” service - a world first offering to key routes in Asia - which currently offers restoration within eight hours. Telstra’s new service will reduce that time from hours to minutes – a significant reduction to current restoration service arrangements in Asia. 

Together with Ericsson, Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme solution increases the intelligence of Telstra’s leading subsea network, enabling rapid responses to changing network demands, all without manual intervention. 

The technology solution provides increased visualisation over Telstra network, boosting resiliency, and providing the flexibility and agility to give customers fast, reliable data access. 

Nadya Melic, Head of Connectivity and Platforms, Telstra
Damage to a subsea cable can take weeks or even months to fix. But with our new continuous connection service, we are able to reroute customers impacted by potential damage to another subsea cable path on our three path network in less than 30 minutes.

Rick Seeto, VP and GM Asia Pasific, Ciena
We are seeing a growing trend for more agile, resilient and adaptive networks that use flexible, instrumented photonics and advanced software control. These innovations allow network providers like Telstra to not only scale their network and boost capacity but also protect traffic and service delivery.

Published in Technology & Solutions

Telstra announced the addition of substantial capacity to its subsea cable infrastructure with its first large capacity purchase on the new-generation New Cross Pacific (NCP) cable, and a further investment in the Faster cable.

These investments strengthen Telstra’s Japan to the US route and confirm Telstra’s subsea cable network as the largest in the Asia Pacific. Telstra’s investments are part of a long term strategy to capture data demand across Asia and the Pacific.

In December, Telstra entered into agreed terms to purchase a 25 per cent stake in Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN). Subject to definitive agreements and regulatory approvals, the agreement includes capacity on the existing Southern Cross network and new Southern Cross NEXT subsea cable - set to become the lowest latency path from Australia to the US.

Telstra has also boosted its Asia to US operations over the last 12 months, with a half fibre pair investment in the Hong Kong Americas (HKA) cable and a 6Tb capacity purchase in the Pacific Light Cable Networks (PLCN) cable, both due to be completed in 2020.

These new-builds complement Telstra’s major half fibre pair investment in the INDIGO cable system from South East Asia to Australia, which has reached a major milestone with the completion of the 4,600km Indigo West cable lay from Singapore to Perth just before Christmas.

Today, Telstra’s subsea cable network reaches more than 400,000km – enough to circle the world almost 10 times.

Once completed, Telstra’s investments in SCCN, HKA, PLCN and INDIGO, will grow Telstra’s subsea cable network ownership by more than 25Tb.

Michael Ebeid, Enterprise Group Executive, Telstra
Following Telstra’s purchase of Pacnet in 2015, we have strategically invested in additional capacity and infrastructure to meet the increasing demand for data right across the Asia Pacific region, carefully mapping our international paths and investment. Capacity demand on our international network has almost doubled over the past two years to over 200Tb, driven by the explosion of cloud computing, video streaming and e-commerce.

Published in Technology & Solutions

Deutsche Telekom's subsidiary in Greece, OTE has entered into an agreement to sell its entire stake in Telekom Albania to the Bulgarian company Albania Telecom Invest AD for a total consideration of €50m. 

Albania Telecom Invest AD is controlled by Spas Roussev, controlling shareholder of the Bulgarian incumbent telecom operator Vivacom, and Elvin Guri, an Albania-Bulgarian Investor. 

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval by the competent local authorities and financing, and is expected to be completed within the first half of 2019.

Michael Tsamaz, Chairman and CEO, OTE
The sale of Telekom Albania concludes the successful investment in Albania for OTE Group. It is a strategic decision, in the context of OTE Group’s redefined priorities and growth plans, in order to create value for all shareholders and support sustainable development.

NBN, the company building Australia’s wholesale broadband access network, has become the first Australian commercial network operator to gain membership to global open networking standards body, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).

Industry bodies like ONF break down inflexible systems and allow operators to pick the best-in-breed component for their organisation by providing access to open-source software and hardware. Traditional proprietary platforms can create a vendor ‘lock-in’, causing operators to become dependent on a specific vendor for hardware, software and services, which makes switching to other solutions more complex and costly.

Membership in ONF is expected to give NBN Co global insights as the telecommunications industry begins moving away from traditional single-purpose, proprietary platforms towards open and flexible lower-cost solutions.

The immediate opportunity for NBN Co in joining ONF is the ability to interact directly with a community of over 100 partners to begin investigating the company’s current and future network needs.

Ray Owen, CTO, nbn co
Joining the ONF and its push for more open standards on networking deployment is a demonstration of our commitment to find innovative ways to deploy and manage the network. By investigating open-source software and building on the work already done by the ONF, we can aim to drive programmable network architectures through disaggregation of control. 

Timon Sloane, VP of Marketing and Ecosystem, Open Networking Foundation
ONF's SEBA project virtualises broadband access to create a single access network regardless of the last mile technology used for each subscriber. Currently supporting XGS-PON and G-PON, our community would like to see SEBA expanded to support additional flavours of PON, DSL, DOCSIS and more. 

Published in Technology & Solutions
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