Big 5 Event: wireless connectivity use cases for healthcare, network slicing, security and private networks

Emerging use cases for wireless telecommunications technology was discussed at the Big 5G event in Austin, TX last week in a panel session titled, “Future connectivity use cases and the Holy Grail: Private networks, metaverse, 6G and beyond.”  The questions addressed included:

  • Who is monetizing private networks and what are we learning from their experiences?
  • Should telcos move past targeting only large enterprise customers for 5G services?
  • When will the metaverse take off?
  • How are telcos gearing up for 6G and what are the expectations?

Jodi Baxter, vice president for 5G and IoT connectivity at Telus, described the numerous emerging applications of 5G in healthcare. One example is a connected ambulance project carried out with Alberta Health Services, where, thanks to 5G, doctors can remotely issue authorizations necessary for stroke medication, which needs to be administered within a narrow time window.

Some of the applications developed for the healthcare sector can also be included in telcos’ offerings to corporate customers. Baxter said Telus has included remote doctor and nurse consultations in 5G bundles for small businesses, which can help their staff retention rates.  Healthcare companies are also looking at more specific applications, with Baxter citing the example of a healthcare company that would wish to track hip and knee replacements with 5G.

While sustainability is often seen as an unprofitable endeavor, Baxter argued technology can help customers see a return on investment. One of Telus’s projects in this area uses drones and 5G for reforestation.


Omdia’s research has shown that about a fifth of midsized to large enterprises “want to invest in 5G network slicing in the next two years, but most people cannot find a commercial offer,” said Camille Mendler, chief analyst of enterprise services at Omdia. “[It’s] not there yet, which is a problem, right?” she added.  Note that 5G network slicing requires a 5G SA core network, which most 5G service providers have yet to deploy.

Baxter noted that network slicing will be a game changer for security and transportation of critical data. The panel pointed to autonomous vehicles as another potential application that will require its own slice. She also said slicing will be important for ensuring applications from private 5G networks also have a macro capability.

Lori Thomas, senior vice president for strategic engagement and transformation at MetTel, pointed out that a lot of government agencies are currently looking to bring specific functionalities from the private network onto the public network, and make them accessible in edge devices such as laptops and tablets.


William Britton, vice president for information technology and CIO at California Polytechnic State University, said it is not always easy to figure out how products offered by telecom companies apply to specific use cases. The university has been told to “go elsewhere” by providers when it has approached them about possible 5G applications, as the solutions on offer did not meet requirements, he said.

Speaking about the particular needs of his university, he highlighted the significant demand for bandwidth during limited events, such as course registration, as well as ad hoc scenarios like high data throughput during online gaming events.

A big concern for universities in general is cybersecurity. Britton points out that the education sector has become a massive target for cyberattacks, such as malware and ransomware. Indeed, research suggests that attacks on educational organizations grew by 44% in 2022, while data from endpoint protection firm Emsisoft suggests that the number of individual schools impacted by ransomware attacks also grew.

Security is a major priority for organizations everywhere, not just in the education sector. Thomas points to IoT, where vast amounts of data travel at high speeds, which is particularly attractive for bad actors. Once 5G can be coupled with blockchain, she noted, data security will improve.

One way to look at specific use cases is through innovation labs, with Thomas saying in the short term these can accelerate the time to revenue. She pointed to MetTel’s partnership with SpaceX and VMware, which saw the latter company’s software-defined wide area network deployed over Starlink to bring high-bandwidth communications to remote areas.

Thomas also said demand for more bandwidth was one of the key trends in the public sector. Customers are, according to her, looking at technologies including 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) and satellites to secure it.

A lot of innovation has focused on private networks, but the “real money” lies outside of them, said Mendler.  No further details were provided.

Omdia’s Camille Mendler says companies cannot find commercial network slicing. 
Source: JLeitner Photography



NTT and Cisco launch IoT as a Managed Service for Enterprise Customers

NTT and Cisco have teamed up to launch a suite of repeatable IoT solutions that can be sold as a managed service. The partnership brings together NTT’s edge infrastructure, managed services, and IT systems integration expertise and Cisco’s IoT capabilities. Together, they promise to offer IoT services that encompass real-time data insights, enhanced security, improved decision-making, and reduced operational costs through predictive maintenance, asset tracking, and supply chain management.

NTT and Cisco are targeting opportunities in the manufacturing, transportation, healthcare and utility sectors, where they claim there is growing demand for edge computing and IoT solutions.   The team has already begun working with Belgian public water distribution utility, Compagnie Intercommunale Liégeoise des Eaux (CISE). CISE has deployed thousands of LoRaWAN sensors on its infrastructure, giving it the visibility it needs to improve efficiency in the areas of water quality, consumption, distribution, and maintenance. It’s being delivered as a managed service by NTT and Cisco.

“We are accelerating our IoT business initiatives to deliver a powerful portfolio of repeatable services that can be tailored to meet customer demand for these kinds of solutions,” said Devin Yaung, SVP of group enterprise IoT products and services at NTT, in a statement. “We’re doubling down on NTT’s IoT capabilities to meet customer demand,” said Yaung. “What we’re doing is pulling together our collective knowledge and skillsets, and putting the full power of NTT behind it, to better service our customers and the increasing need to outfit or retrofit their organisations with the connectivity and visibility they need to improve day-to-day business operations.”

“We are excited to work together to help transition our customers to this IoT-as-a-service model so they can quickly realise the business benefits across industries and around the globe,” added Samuel Pasquier, VP of product management, industrial IoT networking, at Cisco.

According to IoT Analytics, global enterprise IoT spending is expected to grow 19% to $238 billion in 2023, up from $201 billion in 2022. By 2027, it could reach as high as $483 billion.



STELLAR Broadband offers 10 Gigabit Symmetrical Fiber Internet Access in Hudsonville, Michigan

STELLAR Broadband, a fiber internet and technology service provider, will provide leading edge technologies and Internet connectivity up to 10Gbps to Elmwood Lake Apartments in Hudsonville, Michigan.

Elmwood Lake Apartments is a suburban haven of elevated comfort, where sweet serenity meets desirable convenience. From cozy interiors and relaxing leisure spaces to an idyllic setting next to private Elmwood Lake, the welcoming apartments in Hudsonville, MI, are ready to deliver a heightened living experience.

“With STELLAR Broadband, residents of Elmwood Lake Apartments will enjoy the fastest and most reliable internet service available. STELLAR Broadband’s fiber optic network provides symmetrical speeds of up to 10Gbps so residents can stream, game, and work from home without any lag or buffering,” said Richard Laing, president of STELLAR Broadband.

“Bosgraaf Homes has been building homes in West Michigan for four generations. Over the years, we’ve seen the industry change dramatically thanks to advances in technology. Construction methods have evolved, and the amenities that homeowners expect have grown more sophisticated. We’re grateful for our partnership with STELLAR Broadband, a company that has been at the forefront of the industry for 22 years. Their experience and leadership have helped us make the transition into multi-family housing,” said Mike Bosgraaf, president of Bosgraaf Homes.

The first in the U.S. to bring 10Gbps Internet to the apartment in student housing, STELLAR today serves over 149 communities totaling over 10,000 residents with a wide range of technology solutions, from managed Wi-Fi, TV, and access control to security.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

“DTN is excited to partner with Bosgraaf Homes and STELLAR Broadband to provide Elmwood Lake residents with a unique and enjoyable experience. Bosgraaf is building beautiful homes that will be easy to lease, and STELLAR will provide residents and our office with the best possible internet service,” said Dayle Braden, DTN property manager.

“We’ve seen and have been on the forefront of technology evolving from a desired amenity to a necessity. We are proud to partner with Bosgraaf to provide the high-quality technology that their residents expect and deserve,” Laing stated.

About Spartan Net Co, dba STELLAR Broadband:
STELLAR Broadband is the largest residential fiber internet service provider in Michigan, servicing over 149 communities with multi-Gigabit fiber internet. STELLAR provides technology design and installation services for the full portfolio of technologies for multi-tenant developments, including network design, structured wiring, consulting, door entry and access control, engineered Wi-Fi, security, voice, television services, and various Internet of Things solutions. To learn more, visit:


Opensignal’s new Coverage Experience metric finds Singapore #1 in 5G

Opensignal is now measuring coverage experience to track 5G network quality.  Their analysts believe coverage more accurately reflects users’ expectations and experience.  Opensignal’s new Coverage Experience metric measures the geographic coverage of populated areas on a 10-point scale to represent the experience users receive as they travel around areas where they would reasonably expect to find coverage. The new Coverage Experience metric completes the picture of how expansive a market’s coverage is, along with the coverage experienced by our users on each national operator within the market.

Singapore, which rolled out 5G two years after the USA, is now on par in offering the world’s best experience – both countries rate a 10. In Singapore, Singtel rates 7.9, StarHub 7.1, and M1 7.0 out of 10.

South Korea and the USA score relatively high for 5G Coverage Experience — with the USA statistically tying for the top spot with Singapore. This is due to, in part, more widespread deployments of 5G in the USA on low frequency bands, enabling greater geographic reach compared to many other markets with large land areas.

Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and the Netherlands round out the leaderboard.

Some telcos have opened up a massive lead over their competitors. Australia’s Telstra rates 5.2 points out of 10, almost double both of its rivals. In Japan, NTT Docomo scores 3.3, while newcomer Rakuten (which has just signed a 5G roaming agreement with KDDI) is just 0.4.  In Europe, Belgium scores just 1.9, while Sweden, Austria, Spain, Greece and Ireland all tally below 3 points.

A higher percentage of urbanization in a market means that — all else being equal — operators are able to serve proportionally more users with the same number of base stations, which reflects in higher 5G Coverage Experience across such markets. The graph above shows that the score increases along with urbanization percentage, with markets below 65% struggling to score above three points.

Some markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong have nearly 100% of their population living in urban areas. This greatly benefits them when it comes to rolling out infrastructure for 5G. Singapore launched 5G two years after the USA and South Korea, yet it ranks joint first for 5G Coverage Experience.

Coverage is an important metric as it quantifies the extent to which users will be able to use their network in their home market. Opensignal’s new Coverage Experience metric represents the real-world experience users receive as they travel around areas where they would reasonably expect to find coverage.


Robert Clark of Light Reading wrote:

he one shortcoming of the 5G survey is the lack of data from India and China, the Asian giants who by their size are among the biggest drivers of global 5G.  India’s absence is understandable as it’s still a nascent 5G market. In the case of China, where not even domestic organizations are allowed to track network performance, it’s hardly a surprise that foreign research efforts are blocked as well.

Chinese telcos and the Ministry for Industry and IT are barely any more informative. Their favored metric is base station population, which reveals nothing about user or geographic reach.

Right now China’s base station total, which is faithfully tallied up monthly, is 2.38 million – supposedly representing more than 60% of the global number. China Mobile and the China Telecom-Unicom partnership account for roughly half each.

The fact that some 600 million customers have signed up for China 5G may suggest they are happy enough with their user experience. On the other hand, that another 600 million have become ‘5G customers’ while remaining on the 4G network may indicate that they think 5G is simply better value.



UAE’s Du demonstrates 5G VoNR with Huawei and Nokia

Du, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Integrated Telecommunications Company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully demonstrating Voice over 5G (3GPP) New Radio (VoNR) capabilities in collaboration with Huawei and Nokia. The demonstration showcases the cutting-edge 5G core network developed in partnership with Huawei and the utilisation of Nokia’s IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) Platform.

Du said the successful demonstration of VoNR represents a crucial step towards future immersive calling applications for 5G and the realization of complete 5G Standalone (SA) capabilities. With VoNR, du is able to provide seamless 5G connections, offering enhanced call setup times and uninterrupted high-speed data transmission.

According to the statement, customers connected to VoNR will experience slightly faster call setup times and continued file downloads in the background during a phone call without switching to 4G network technology. 5G Voice calls to conserve battery by eliminating the need to switch to 4G.

Du said, “It is thrilled to announce the upgrade to the most cutting-edge 5G-enabled Network as a Service (NaaS) architecture. This enhanced Network will strengthen Du’s relationship with their partners.”

VoNR leverages the advanced capabilities of 5G SA, such as network slicing, which requires a constant connection to a 5G core. This integration of technologies opens up a world of possibilities for du and its customers, enabling the delivery of innovative services like 3D audio and holographic calls, providing an immersive communication experience.

Saleem AlBlooshi, Chief Technology Officer at Du, said: “The successful demonstration of 5G network VoNR capabilities represents a significant milestone at a time when the digital sector is entering a new era. It enables unprecedented simultaneous voice and data transmissions and provides incredibly rapid connectivity transmission rates. We are thrilled to announce, in collaboration with our key partners, the upgrade to the most cutting-edge 5G-enabled Network as a Service (NaaS) architecture. This enhanced network will strengthen our relationship with our partners while also fostering service innovation to improve the customer experience and push the boundaries of what is possible.”

The successful demonstration of VoNR highlights Du’s commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements and delivering superior connectivity solutions to its customers.

As the demand for seamless and immersive 5G experiences grows, du’s continued efforts to enhance its network capabilities will contribute to shaping the future of communication and content consumption.


No Surprise: AT&T tops leaderboard of commercial fiber lit buildings for 7th year!

Once again, AT&T ranked #1 in the U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings Leaderboard fromVertical Systems Group (VSG) for a seventh consecutive year.  The fiber focused U.S. carrier retained the top spot with the highest number of fiber lit buildings across its footprint in 2022.  But there’s a whole lot more AT&T #1 rankings that the carrier has not gotten proper credit for achieving:

–>Please see the images below, courtesy of VSG.

Major mobile operators like AT&T and Verizon are actively installing new fiber for their 5G network backhaul, which facilitates new fiber connectivity to nearby commercial sites.  T-Mobile no longer has any fiber assets from their Sprint acquisition.  They were sold to Cogent along with all other wireline assets in a deal that closed May 1, 2023.

Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, Lumen, Comcast Business, Cox Business, Zayo, Crown Castle, Frontier, Brightspeed, Breezeline and Optimum followed. Those retail and wholesale fiber providers qualified for the leaderboard with 15,000 or more on-net U.S. fiber lit commercial buildings as of year-end 2022.

  • “Fiber installations at U.S. commercial sites increased in 2022, driven by escalating requirements for gigabit-speed connectivity to support cloud-based services, data centers, 5G rollouts, and other applications,” said Rosemary Cochran, principal of Vertical Systems Group. “New fiber investments in the U.S. will continue to be impacted by pending federal programs and funding initiatives. Opportunities in the commercial segment include monetizing the millions of small buildings underserved.”

U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings LEADERBOARD Highlights:

  • The 2022 LEADERBOARD roster increases to twelve commercial fiber providers, up from eleven in 2021.
  • AT&T retains the #1 rank on the 2022 U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings LEADERBOARD for the seventh consecutive year.
  • Rankings for the top six companies on the 2022 LEADERBOARD are unchanged from 2021, which includes AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, Lumen, Comcast Business, and Cox Business.
  • The next six LEADERBOARD provider rankings change as compared to the previous year. Zayo advances to rank seventh ahead of Crown Castle, which dips to eighth. Frontier moves up to ninth position from tenth. Brightspeed debuts in tenth position with fiber assets acquired from Lumen. Breezeline (formerly Atlantic Broadband) falls to eleventh position from ninth. Optimum (Altice USA brand) drops from eleventh to the twelfth and final position.
  • The number of 2022 Challenge Tier citations expands from eight to nine with the addition of Ritter Communications.

Market Players include all other fiber providers with fewer than 5,000 U.S. commercial fiber lit buildings. The 2022 Market Players tier covers more than two hundred metro, regional and other fiber providers, including the following companies (in alphabetical order): 11:11 Systems, ACD, Alaska Communications, American Telesis, Armstrong Business Solutions, Astound Business, C Spire, Centracom, Cogent, Conterra, DFN, DQE Communications, Everstream, ExteNet Systems, Fatbeam, FiberLight, First Digital, Flo Networks, Fusion Connect, Google Fiber, GTT, Horizon, Hunter Communications, Logix Fiber Networks, LS Networks, Mediacom Business, MetroNet Business, Midco, Pilot Fiber, PS Lightwave, Shentel Business, Silver Star Telecom, Sonic Business, Sparklight Business, Syringa, T-Mobile, TDS Telecom, TPx, U.S. Signal, Vast Networks, WOW!Business, Ziply Fiber and others.

For this analysis, a fiber lit building is defined as a commercial site or data center that has on-net optical fiber connectivity to a network provider’s infrastructure, plus active service termination equipment onsite. Excluded from this analysis are standalone cell towers, small cells not located in fiber lit buildings, near net buildings, buildings classified as coiled at curb or coiled in building, HFC-connected buildings, carrier central offices, residential buildings, and private or dark fiber installations.



2022 U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings LEADERBOARD

AT&T expands its fiber-optic network amid slowdown in mobile subscriber growth

AT&T tops VSG’s U.S. Carrier Managed SD-WAN Leaderboard for 4th year

VSG LEADERBOARD : AT&T #1 in Fiber Lit Buildings- Year end 2020

2022 U.S. Carrier Managed SD-WAN LEADERBOARD


AT&T expands its fiber-optic network amid slowdown in mobile subscriber growth

AT&T is expanding its network of fiber-optic cables to deliver fast internet speeds for customers, including those in places where it doesn’t already provide broadband.  The plan will cost billions of dollars over the next several years, a price tag that the company—whose debt load outstrips its annual revenue—will not carry alone. AT&T formed a joint venture with BlackRock to fund the project and also wants to access government funding to accelerate the build-out.  AT&T and BlackRock have collectively invested $1.5 billion in the venture—named Gigapower—to date, the company said.

Gigapower plans to provide a state-of-the-art fiber network to internet service providers and other businesses in parts of select metro areas throughout the country using a commercial wholesale open access platform. Both companies believe now is the time to create the United States’ largest commercial wholesale open access fiber network to bring high-speed connectivity to more Americans.

AT&T will serve as the anchor tenant of the Gigapower network, but other companies could also provide internet service over the network. That so-called open-access model has become common throughout Europe, but has yet to be widely embraced in the U.S.  Gigapower recently introduced plans to build out fiber in Las Vegas, northeastern Pennsylvania and parts of Arizona, Alabama and Florida.

Doubling down on fiber optics sets AT&T on a different path than its rivals Verizon and T-Mobile US, which are relying on improved technology that beams broadband internet service from the same cellular towers that link their millions of mobile smartphone customers. AT&T is testing a similar fixed wireless access service but on a smaller scale, but executives say fiber remains the long-term focus.

AT&T updated shareholders on its vision for fiber internet and 5G cellular networks at its annual meeting, but the documentation/replay was not available at press time. AT&T spent about $24 billion on its fiber and 5G networks last year, and it forecast a similar level of spending this year.  The company is confident it will get a very good return on investment (ROI).

The Dallas-based company and its peers face heightened competition in the cellphone business—their core profit engine. After the Covid-19 pandemic brought a surge in new accounts, the cellphone business has cooled, pushing companies to seek alternate paths for growth. AT&T, which has nearly 14 million consumer broadband customers, has provided internet service for years, and executives say that keeping customers plugged in requires faster connections as more data is used.

“We should be putting more fiber out faster, quicker and in more places than anybody else,” AT&T Chief Executive John Stankey said in a recent interview. “If we do that, that means our network is always going to be ahead of anybody else’s.”

Fiber-optic cables, wired directly to or near Americans’ homes, contain easy-to-upgrade glass strands that can carry much more data than radio waves. That higher capacity is crucial for video calls, streaming, videogames and other services, which use more internet data than most smartphone apps. As of last year, fiber was available at some 63 million homes, or more than half of primary residences, according to the Fiber Broadband Association.

AT&T wants its fiber network to cover more than 30 million homes and businesses within its current service area by the end of 2025. In many cases, fiber will replace internet connections over copper wirelines.

Laying the fiber is one thing, but progress in getting customer sign-ups has been slower than some analysts expected. In the first three months of the year, AT&T signed up 272,000 home fiber subscribers, a deceleration from the December quarter and the same period last year.

The results also marked the fourth straight quarter during which residential fiber sign-ups failed to offset declines in broadband customers overall. Stankey said he isn’t expecting the trend to reverse this year.

AT&T offers its fiber service at various speed tiers, starting at $55 a month for downloads up to 300 megabits a second. Prices run as high as $180 a month for 5-gigabit speeds.

In the March quarter, the average AT&T fiber internet customer paid about $66 a month. That total was up 9% from last year but still slightly less than the sums paid by customers of cable rivals Charter Communications and Comcast, according to Roger Entner, the founder of Recon Analytics.

While AT&T’s fiber build-out continues, it hopes its Internet Air service—which uses cell towers to beam broadband to homes—can stem customer defections in the short term. The service, which costs $55 a month, isn’t yet widely available, said Stankey, who took over as CEO in 2020 and unwound AT&T’s bet on entertainment.

The company’s experiment with home internet via fixed wireless access (FWA) on technology that AT&T Chief Financial Officer Pascal Desroches played down earlier this year. “Long term, it’s not a solution we want to put a lot of resources behind,” Desroches said of FWA, at an analyst event in February.

CEO Stankey has more recently struck a different tone, acknowledging that some Americans might opt for the service even if offered fiber.

Verizon and T-Mobile both charge $50 a month for their fixed wireless offerings, but the prices are lower when bundled with mobile plans. Data speeds can vary, but T-Mobile says it delivers average speeds of about 145 megabits a second.

“There are some that are going to say, ‘It’s a lot less expensive right now and for where I am in my lifestyle, maybe that’s good enough,’ ” Stankey said.

Rivals are watching AT&T’s fiber progress. T-Mobile is “open-minded” about fiber, but it would likely look for partners to keep its own investment limited, finance chief Peter Osvaldik said in an interview last month. T-Mobile recently expanded a pilot program that provides fiber internet service using a local provider’s network in New York City and two cities in Colorado.

Helping bolster AT&T’s fiber ambitions is a $42.5 billion federal construction program. However, the government investments are rolling out slowly amid issues including labor shortages and permitting delays, said Garrett Baker, telecom and media investment banker at Lazard.

Some fiber companies have warned that build-out costs, from labor to supplies, are on the rise, leaving investors concerned that returns could be more muted than earlier forecasts. “We’re going to have no trouble getting the return on the investment,” said Gigapower CEO Bill Hogg.

Light Reading Podcast: ISPs, including cable ops, want to plug into Gigapower:

Bill Hogg, the CEO of Gigapower, joins the Light Reading Podcast to expand on the company’s open access model. He discusses plans to build to 1.5 million locations by 2025, exploration beyond that initial target and how Gigapower is sizing up opportunities to participate in the $42.45 Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program.

With respect to Gigapower’s open access angle, AT&T is already on board as the anchor tenant. But Hogg, the former president of AT&T Technology Operations, says there is high interest from several other ISPs to provide services on Gigapower’s wholesale network.

That list includes cable operators and “non-facility-based ISPs,” according to Hogg.

“We certainly anticipate that there will be a portfolio of ISPs that we’ll have in a particular market,” he says. “What we want to try to do is find a good complementary group of ISPs that go after segments that they otherwise might not be going after, and maybe have a bundle or a proposition that would be unique for that particular ISP and be successful in the marketplace.”

For a lightly edited transcript, click the closed caption button in the video toolbar. If you’d like to skip around and listen, here are some topics we cover:

  • Hogg discusses the top priorities at Gigapower after the deal to form the JV was finalized (1:00)
  • Gigapower has outlined its first set of markets but already has more candidates in the hopper (3:01)
  • Hogg expands on the criteria Gigapower is using to decide where to build (5:15)
  • Why a JV paired with an open access model makes strategic sense in today’s market (7:14)
  • Why Gigapower is confident that it can complete its initial buildout by 2025 (8:50)
  • How Gigapower is set up as a standalone company, number of employees and how the company will use contractors (10:11)
  • Gigapower expects to support a “portfolio of ISPs” in each market (13:25)
  • What Hogg considers to be the biggest challenge for Gigapower in the near term (15:45)
  • Why the open access model is critical to Gigapower’s financial success (19:30)
  • How Gigapower is sizing up opportunities to build in rural areas via the BEAD program (22:12)

Reuters: Telcos draft proposal to charge Big Tech for EU 5G rollout; Meta offers a rebuttal

Big tech companies accounting for more than 5% of a telecoms provider’s peak average internet traffic should help fund the rollout of 5G and broadband across Europe, according to a draft proposal by the telecoms industry.  The proposal is part of feedback to the European Commission which launched a consultation into the issue in February. The deadline for responses is Friday.

Alphabet’s Google, Apple  Facebook-owner Meta, Amazon, Netflix and TikTok would most likely be hit with fees, according to industry estimates.  Google, Apple, Meta, Netflix, Amazon and Microsoft together account for more than half of data internet traffic.

The document, which was reviewed by Reuters and has not been published, was compiled by telecoms lobbying groups GSMA and ETNO. They represent 160 operators in Europe, including Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica  and Telecom Italia.  Telecom operators have lobbied for years for leading technology companies to help foot the bill for 5G and broadband roll-out, saying that they create a huge part of the region’s internet traffic. This is the first time they have tried to define a threshold for who should pay.

“We propose a clear threshold to ensure that only large traffic generators, who impact substantially on operators’ networks, fall within the scope,” the draft stated.  “Large traffic generators would only be those companies that account for more than 5% of an operator’s yearly average busy hour traffic measured at the individual network level,” it said.  The European Commission declined to comment.

Meta on Wednesday urged Brussels to reject any proposals to charge Big Tech for additional network costs. In a Facebook blog post, Markus Reinisch, Meta’s VP for Public Policy for Europe, described potential fees as a “private sector handout for selected telecom operators” that would disincentivize innovation and investment, and distort competition. “We urge the Commission to consider the evidence, listen to the range of organizations who have voiced concerns, and abandon these misguided proposals as quickly as possible,” he said.  Here are Meta’s takeaways:

  • Network fee proposals misunderstand the value that content platforms bring to the digital ecosystem.
  • We support the Commission’s goal of “ensuring access to excellent connectivity for everyone,” but network fee proposals will hurt European consumers and businesses.
  • We urge the Commission to consider the evidence, listen to the range of organizations who have voiced concern, and drop these proposals.


Network Fee Proposals Will Ultimately Hurt European Businesses and Consumers

GSMA: Europe’s 5G rollout is too slow at 6% of mobile customer base

European telcos need to address very high 5G energy consumption

Strand Consult: Market for 5G RAN in Europe: Share of Chinese and Non-Chinese Vendors in 31 European Countries


Vodafone Idea (Vi) is worth ZERO; needs additional liquidity support from lenders

While announcing its FY23 earnings, UK telecom company, Vodafone Plc said the Group’s carrying value of investment in Indian listed firm Vodafone Idea (Vi) is Zero. Also, that the Group is recording no further losses related to Vi.  The troubled-laden Vi is still in need of additional liquidity and plans to raise funds going forward.  In its FY23 report, Vodafone Plc said, “VIL remains in need of additional liquidity support from its lenders and intends to raise additional funding.”

Vodafone seems to be backing away from Vi. The business needs more money, that Vodafone is certainly not willing to provide, and that zero valuation indicates that it will put no more effort into saving it.  There are significant uncertainties in relation to Vi’s ability to make payments in relation to any remaining liabilities covered by the mechanism and no further cash payments are considered probable from the Group as at 31 March 2023, it added.

“VIL [Vodafone Idea Ltd] remains in need of additional liquidity support from its lenders and intends to raise additional funding. There are significant uncertainties in relation to VIL’s ability to make payments in relation to any remaining liabilities covered by the mechanism and no further cash payments are considered probable from the Group as at 31 March 2023,” Vodafone said, in the notes to its consolidated financial statements for the 2023 financial year.

Furthermore, Vodafone said, “the carrying value of the Group’s investment in VIL is nil and the Group is recording no further share of losses in respect of VIL.”

It should be noted that Vi is the only Indian telco that has NOT yet deployed 5G services. Since the launch of 5G last October, Reliance Jio’s 5G services have become available in more than 400 cities and towns, while Airtel’s 5G services can be accessed in more than 500. Jio plans to provide all-India 5G coverage by December, with Airtel aiming for blanket availability by March next year.

Recently, Vodafone Idea complained to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), accusing its rivals of predatory 5G pricing. Although it has been shedding customers for years, there can be little doubt that losses have accelerated since the launch of 5G. Vodafone Idea had lost about 7 million in the four months leading up to 5G’s launch in October last year. In the four months following the introduction of 5G services by Airtel and Jio, its losses soared to about 10 million.

Vodafone Idea is known to have a significant percentage of high-spending customers who have remained loyal to it. These customers typically show limited interest in lower tariffs, but many will have been drawn to 5G services available only from other telcos, with Vodafone Idea’s 5G plan nowhere close to fruition. Airtel and Jio, accordingly, are racing to build 5G networks and attract as many Vodafone Idea subscribers as possible.


When Vodafone and Idea Cellular entered into an merger agreement in 2017, the parties had agreed to a mechanism for payments between the Group and Vodafone Idea, pursuant to the difference between the crystallisation of certain identified contingent liabilitiesin relation to legal, regulatory, tax and other matters, and refunds relating to Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.  Cash payments s or cash receipts relating to these matters must have been made or received by Vi before any amount becomes due from or owed to the Group.

Hence, any future future payments by the Group to VIL as a result of this agreement would only be made after satisfaction of this and other contractual conditions.  Thereby, the UK-based telco said, “Vodafone Group’s potential exposure to liabilities within VIL is capped by the mechanism described above; consequently, contingent liabilities arising from litigation in India concerning operations of Vodafone India are not reported.”

Vodafone Plc’s potential exposure under this mechanism is capped at 64 billion n (€719 million) following payments made under this mechanism from Vodafone to VIL, in the year ended 31 March 2021, totalling 19 billion (€235 million).

In FY23, Vodafone Plc’s revenue increased by 0.3% to €45.7 billion driven by growth in Africa and higher equipment sales, offset by lower European service revenue and adverse exchange rate movements. While adjusted EBITDAal declined by 1.3% to €14.7 billion due to higher energy costs, and commercial underperformance in Germany.


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