Intelligence Brief: Assessing the impact of Indian market reform

The announcement of a series of reforms [1] for the Indian telecom sector represents a game-changer for both the digital and wider economy.

While the growth of mobile broadband in India has been an incredible success story, with 4G networks available to almost the entire population and consumers paying some of the lowest prices for mobile services in the world, a combination of low ARPUs and high regulatory costs threatened the financial sustainability of the sector. This would ultimately be to the detriment of Indian consumers.

It is not an exaggeration to say the reforms are a lifeline, as many have argued. But the impacts could be far more reaching, by enabling operators to make the investments needed to upgrade networks and rollout the 5G services which could form the lifeblood of India’s digital ecosystem.

How so? A moratorium on statutory dues and rationalisation of bank guarantees provide a vital short-term boost to liquidity that the sector currently needs, especially Vodafone Idea.

But looking further ahead, these measures combined with the revised definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) and removal of usage charges on future spectrum acquisitions, will provide operators with improved means to invest in their networks. The extension of spectrum licences from 20 years to 30 years will also allow operators to plan for long-term investments and business strategies. This is especially important for 5G, which will require more intense investments than previous generations. Meanwhile, the removal of the additional charge for spectrum sharing, along with operators being permitted to surrender spectrum after ten years, should promote more efficient use of spectrum.

Furthermore, while the structural reforms have received most attention, the procedural reforms which were also announced should not be overlooked, particularly know your customer (KYC) changes which will permit online self-KYC. This will significantly reduce subscriber acquisition costs and make it easier for consumers to get a new mobile connection. These processes could potentially allow more lower-income and rural populations to get online, helping to close the country’s digital divide.

It is therefore not surprising the response to the reforms has been overwhelmingly positive, across all operators. As quoted in local media:

Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Bharti Enterprises: “We congratulate and thank the government, who under the decisive leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has undertaken these seminal reforms to lift an industry that’s at the core of his Digital India vision. The latest reforms ensure that the industry is able to invest fearlessly and support India’s digital ambitions.”
Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO of Bharti Airtel (India and South Asia): “These fresh reforms will further boost our efforts to invest in this exciting digital future and enable us to be one of the leading players in India’s digital economy.”
Mukesh D Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries: “Telecom sector is one the prime movers of the economy and the key enabler for making India a Digital Society, I welcome the Government of India’s announcement of reforms and relief measures that will enable the industry to achieve the goals of Digital India. I thank Honourable Prime Minister for this bold initiative.”
Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone Group: “We commend the resolve shown by the Government of India, under PM Modi’s leadership, to find a comprehensive solution that would support a competitive and sustainable telecom sector in India. Although the sector has struggled for many years, we expect that the government’s constructive initiative announced today, along with the continued strong support of the telecom minister and finance minister, will be the beginning of a new era for India’s digital ambitions and for Vodafone Idea’s continued contribution to creating an inclusive and sustainable digital society to the benefit of all citizens.”

What next?
While the operators are right to be positive on the reforms, it’s also true that more needs to be done.

The reforms are a critical first step in helping the country to meet the Digital India vision. Now, it is important the government builds on them to ensure the long-term sustainability of the sector. This will enable 5G to play a central role in India’s effort to become a $5 trillion economy.

A key area for further reform is spectrum policy [2]. Despite India’s large geography and population, operators have less spectrum than in most other countries. Yet when taking revenues into account, they have paid almost nine-times more per unit over the past ten years. Therefore, in the short-term, a key priority is for the government to release sufficient amounts of 5G spectrum in the next auction, now expected in early 2022 [3], at modest reserve prices. The market is getting ready, with many Indian consumers already owning a 5G device and all of the main operators having started network trials [4]. An enabling spectrum framework could accelerate the rollout and adoption of 5G in metro and rural areas.

In the longer-term, it is important that a full spectrum roadmap is developed, detailing what will be available when.

This will help operators to better-plan their investments. In particular, given the capacity requirements of 5G and expected demand by Indian consumers, the government will need to release around 2GHz of mid-band spectrum for 5G, in addition to mmWave spectrum [5]. Not only will this improve network quality and allow all consumers to access 5G, but it will also reduce the need for cell site densification. This will enable more efficient and environmentally-sustainable network deployment, helping operators to reduce their carbon footprint and meet their emissions targets.

Operators in India are already moving forward on ambitious green strategies [6], but support for those agendas is important given the critical importance of addressing climate change.

– Kalvin Bahia – principal economist, GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.


Intelligence Brief: In focus, green transformation and network sunsets

In recent years, the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agenda has made its way to the top of the list of priorities for most organisations.

Unsurprisingly, the question of how organisations can support efforts to tackle climate change sits at the centre of many of these ESG discussions and has driven the mobile industry to be one of the first to align itself with the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Green transformation
Did you know?
In February 2019, the GSMA board, on behalf of the entire industry, set an ambition for the mobile industry to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 [1] at the latest. This ambition has been supported by the launch of science-based pathway and milestone targets, with step-by-step guidance for operators to align their carbon reduction targets to the pathway.

This spurred a clear commitment from the industry: as of April, operators representing 65 per cent of the mobile market (by revenues) had committed to science-based targets for carbon reductions and net zero emissions. This is also echoed in our operator survey results [2], where more than 50 per cent of operators surveyed identified sustainability/energy efficiency as extremely important and one of the top network transformation priorities.

Some operators have even set ambitious timelines to achieve net zero emissions as early as 2025 or 2030.

Against this backdrop, operators are identifying and adopting numerous energy efficiency measures such as use of renewable energy sources, infrastructure-level improvements like new lithium-ion batteries, AI-enabled sleep and wake patterns of BTS to save energy, power efficient equipment, and modernising networks through retiring old and legacy networks.

These measures are paving the way for operators to achieve their energy efficiency targets in the net zero journey and they are a reason why green telecom remains in the news on a daily basis.

So what?
An increasing number of operators are committing to reduced carbon emissions, making progress on their goals and experimenting in the name of further efficiencies. This not only helps to combat climate change, but also has positive opex implications for operators.

For a telecom operator, maximum energy consumption happens at the network level, mainly the RAN (ranging from 70 per cent to 90 per cent of total energy consumption), which translates into a bigger slice of network costs allocated towards energy expenses (can be as high as 90 per cent). The energy efficiency measures implemented by operators can therefore drive significant cost savings.

But what else does the industry need to do to achieve these targets?

Operators work with multitude of partners (infrastructure vendors, third-party data centres and outsourced business operations) to deliver their products and services. It is therefore imperative for all the partners involved to work together, and not in silos, to align and achieve the industry-wide targets of net zero emissions. An overarching framework should bring all of the partners together and align their goals and targets.

At the same time, a list of universally agreed KPIs, along with their definition and reporting criteria is important to measure progress and allow an apple to apple comparison for players.

The absence of properly-defined KPIs reporting criteria married with erroneous data availability of energy consumed at every point in the network makes things difficult and complex.

Done right, this will be a win-win for both the global economy and telecom industry.

Related Reading:
Going Green: benchmarking the energy efficiency of mobile [3]
Energy efficiency in the 5G era: going lean, going green [4]

The year of network sunsets
Did you know?
Network sunsets are also one of the measures used by operators in their energy efficiency initiatives, but also with wide-ranging impacts on device sourcing, roaming agreements, VoLTE rollout and more.

The advent of LTE networks also marked the dawn of network sunsets. Starting around 2009/2010 with operators shutting down CDMA networks, the rationale was expansion of 3G networks or support for newer 4G networks. But, it was only around 2015/2016 when operators truly started warming to the concept of network sunsets to support their LTE launch or expansion plans.

Now, as 5G goes global, 2021 is the year when we will see the concept gaining full momentum. Compared with 43 networks shutdowns in the last six years, closure of 35 networks will be completed or planned in 2021 alone. In the five year period from 2021-2025, a total of 69 networks from 61 operators are expected to be shut (see chart, below, click to enlarge).


So what spurred the growth in network sunsets and what is the one key thing operators need to do right to make a network sunset a success?

The decommissioning of legacy networks offers a number of benefits to operators:

The spectrum can be refarmed (regulations permitting) for the launch and expansion of new technologies.
It contributes to the energy efficiency goals of operators: the standards and infrastructure requirements for newer technologies allow for less energy consumption per bit of data, like with the NR standard of 5G.
Legacy networks usually operate in low- and mid-frequency bands while more than 50 per cent of 5G launches have been in the 3.5GHz to 3.7GHz bands, making legacy bands ideal to enhance the coverage and capacity of 4G and 5G networks.
Where ageing 2G/3G networks eat up a significant portion of an operator’s opex, the new infrastructure innovations in 4G and 5G, such as open RAN, RIC and cloud-based networks are touted to drive significant opex, thereby presenting a good reason to sunset legacy networks.

These benefits conflated with the fact operators in numerous countries still do not have access to 5G-specific spectrum, makes the case for retiring legacy networks to support newer launches and expansions.

Sounds like a perfect scenario, right?

But, what often gets concealed behind these benefits is the challenges involved in the process. Phasing out a network generation completely is a complex process and usually takes years to complete. Transitioning of retail customers, for example, is still manageable by offering handset subsidies and continuation of existing tariffs, but transitioning enterprise or IoT customers can be a lengthy and difficult process given the reliance on low cost 2G devices and networks.

To ensure no hiccups for customers it is imperative an operator undertakes a detailed risk assessment and fully plans for all implications, including new device demands, VoLTE support and so on. The entire transition process needs to be planned carefully while ensuring timely communication with affected customers and the provision of advice and customer support to ensure the smooth transition.

Related Reading
Spectrum Navigator, Q2 2021: new insights and trends to watch [6]
Slow pace of 5G assignments is spurring spectrum refarming [7]
Intelligence Brief: What does 2021 hold for network sunsets? [8]

All the above analysis is based on news curated by GSMA Intelligence’s team of analysts and taken from their Industry Updates feed, available here [9].

– Radhika Gupta – head of data acquisition, GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.


Intelligence Brief: IoT is a journey

On 7 September I made my way to Islington Business centre to attend IoT Tech Expo. An actual, physical event. In person. That and to moderate a session: IoT enabled Digital Transformation.

Connected, IoT-enabled devices have become an inherent part of everyday life across consumers, enterprises and wider society. I am not only talking about barking commands at Alexa, regulating temperature via a connected thermostat or chatting to a Postie over a connected doorbell.

For instance, our commute relies on telematics data from trains, buses and taxis. And when these systems go offline, for whatever reason, there are consequences. Recently in my research on 2G/3G shutdowns [1] I called on an example of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which took weeks to update after the 2G network shutdown. This resulted in around 70 per cent of buses and trains disappearing from the NextMuni system map, which tracks vehicle locations in real time and predicts arrival times.

Not surprisingly, the conference agenda revolved around digital transformation and the impact IoT has across multiple sectors, while the topic of data and data analytics took centre stage.

Below are some of the key takeaways.

Start with a business case
Steve Hewitt, chairman of the MESA UK Special Interest Group warned most people start their IoT projects with technology which is why 70 per cent to 80 per cent of proof-of-concepts fail and go nowhere. The right way is to start with the why (value) rather than the what (technology). Only after the value and the outcomes are measurable can the technology discussion start.

Pirelli Deutschland’s former head of digital innovation Richard Allbert quoted Gene Haas, owner of the namesake Formula 1 team: “We’ve got a lot of data but we still run like dogs**t.”

Apart from being a really good insight to the realities into Formula 1 racing, this highlights a lot of frustration felt around IoT-enabled products and services if the integration isn’t done right or if a feedback loop to the business is missing. In essence, just deploying technology to capture data isn’t enough. One needs to know what to do with that data and the business outcome. After all, enterprises really don’t care about the tech they want to solve a problem, as such 49 per cent of enterprises see IoT as transformational to their company and industry.

It’s all about data
Enterprises of all sizes deploy IoT solutions to: a) connect assets; b) collect data; c) analyse (make use of data); and d) improve their business (processes, products et cetera), then go through this virtuous cycle again and again. The primary goal is to increase productivity, achieve cost savings/process efficiency and, through better insights, to offer tailored products/services.

However, there are some common pitfalls that should be avoided. Mike Bowers, chief architect at FairCom, advised the first step is to gather data via software to get it from all the various protocols then your data scientist can look at it to say what data is good to make decisions. This prevents getting into a data ocean situation where an enterprise drowns in a massive amount of useless data.

An Airbus collaboration with Palantir Technologies is a great example of scaling up:

Phase 1 included 50 users and achievement was to increase production of the A350 aircraft by 33 per cent
In Phase 2, users increased to 500 with integration including 20 adjacent use cases including supply chain
Phase 3 saw Skywise, an open data platform, extending to the entire aircraft industry
In Phase 4, currently Skywise has 130 airlines on board the platform and almost 20,000 users

During a panel session titled Fuel of the Future – a Holistic look at the Smart Energy and Sustainability Space, Nathan Pierce, programme director for Sharing Cities with the Greater London Authority, shared interesting insights.

Using data and running algorithms, they can optimise energy usage, some of which can be achieved through digital twinning (10 per cent to 15 per cent cost reduction). Analysing data allows for additional carbon savings, for example if a lamppost is broken the platform makes it visible, removing the need to drive around looking for it.

People matter
Employee/internal resistance shows the largest increase compared with 2018, when it was at 26 per cent (see chart, below, click to enlarge). This reflects the fact education on the benefits of IoT has to extend beyond C-level executives, requiring buy-in from people on the ground to adhere to changes. There is a need to think about the end users when designing an IoT solution. For example, Neal Humphrey, healthcare lead at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise UK, mentioned how nurses are overloaded by the massive amount of information due to a huge increase of health monitors.

All the new information causes alarm fatigue and, unless it is cured employees doesn’t have time to sift through it. A lot of stuff and not enough value.


Don’t reinvent the wheel
Enterprises are not IoT experts, as such they shouldn’t have IoT competence. They are the experts in their own domain though. IoT vendors can be enterprises’ best friends and that’s how KDDI positions itself, Bo Ribbing, head of IoT at its European unit explained.

During the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the carrier discovered its Japanese clients with outposts in Europe came to them asking for help with digitising operations. There will always be enterprises which will want to build their solutions in house, but our survey showed they are a minority at 4 per cent. Having the right partners is truly key to success.

The challenges remain to IoT adoption, but IoT is one of the key components and drivers of enterprises’ digital transformation. After all, as per our research 63 per cent of companies deploy IoT as part of transformation. In fact, Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation of a number of verticals, for example healthcare and manufacturing. A longer term goal of sustainability is driving transformation of other sectors including agriculture or cities

As a side note if you are a Formula 1 fan you must watch the Drive to Survive series to get all of the behind the scenes action in the sport.

– Sylwia Kechiche – principal analyst, IoT and Enterprise, GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.


Intelligence Brief: Do governments need to push open RAN agenda?

Open RAN is one of the highest profile topics in mobile networking technology, driven by impressive operator and vendor messaging. In some instances, this messaging focuses on potential opex benefits, in others on capex efficiencies. Which of the two is greater (and the magnitude) is up for debate, and might only be revealed as the technology matures and scales.

What isn’t up for debate, however is the notion technology innovation and network spending aside, open RAN is of interest to players beyond operators and vendors. National governments and regulators, in particular have their own reasons for taking an interest in the technology.

The politics of open RAN
Potential open RAN technical and business model innovations tend to dominate discussions of the technology. It is worth acknowledging policy agendas are also involved in driving the technology’s momentum in various ways.

Consider the existence of industry bodies specifically aimed at promoting policies which will advance open and interoperable RAN systems, such as the Open RAN Policy Coalition. Consider government-funded open RAN development projects, including the UK’s Future RAN Competition which pledged up to £30 million to fund projects that could expedite adoption of open RAN technologies. Consider the views of operators themselves. When asked if national political agendas and concerns are driving the momentum of open RAN deployments and technology development as part of a GSMA Intelligence survey, 54 per cent agreed.

The explanation for any connection between open RAN and national policy goals is often over-simplified, reduced to one or two goals. In reality, a number of different agendas might be at play: a belief the core open RAN promises will benefit mobile operators and the rollout of new wireless technologies; a push for enhanced supply chain diversity; and initiatives which support local manufacture of mobile infrastructure and a belief open RAN can support them.

At the same time, some operators have been clear in stating that they see national support as important to their open RAN goals.

An MoU signed by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, and Vodafone Group earlier this year, for example, noted the operators would work together with groups like the O-RAN Alliance and TIP to “ensure open RAN quickly reaches competitive parity with traditional RAN”.

European policy makers, however were also cited as important ecosystem partners. In fact, the MoU announcement ended by noting “the European Commission and the national governments have an important role to play to foster and develop the open RAN ecosystem by funding early deployments, research and development, open test lab facilities and incentivising supply chain diversity by lowering barriers to entry for small suppliers and start-ups who can avail of these labs to validate open and interoperable solutions”.

Political risk
From an investor perspective, the concept of political risk captures an understanding that political decisions could impact profits or expected returns. From an open RAN perspective, support from policymakers could be helpful in funding, or otherwise supporting, ecosystem development. At the same time, it is not without its own risks:

Changing priorities. Policymakers have been known to change their positions and world views over time. Open RAN, in turn is still a nascent technology with technical and business issues to sort out. If political support for open RAN were to diminish (or evolve as the market takes shape), operators could find themselves having gone down a path that is suddenly more difficult to manage. This would particularly be the case where operators were counting on non-commercial support as part of their open RAN strategies.
Option limitations. In extreme cases, open RAN backing could take the form of mandating its deployment, which would obviously limit an operator’s network options, potentially forcing them to launch a technology not suited to their needs. Again, the fact open RAN is still maturing will play into any evaluation of those needs.
Priority clash. As noted earlier, officials might drive the promotion of open RAN for any number of reasons. Their interests, however won’t always align with operator interests. Prescriptive policies in support of open RAN, then could potentially constrain network choices and/or add to costs even if they stop short of mandating the technology.

Against this backdrop, we need to be particularly sensitive to any moves towards mandated open RAN deployment, in particular. Given existing momentum, technology-neutrality should not hurt the progress of open RAN, but will preserve operator choice in line with their priorities and understanding of the market.

– Peter Jarich – head, GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.

Intelligence Brief: Assessing latest developments in SA networks and consumer gaming

As expected, MWC21 Barcelona saw an array of announcements on the leading innovations, developments and partnerships which will shape the future of the industry.

It comes as no surprise, then that as the dust settles post MWC21, most of the announcements and updates from the industry in the last month have focussed more on the day-to-day activities ranging from spectrum, network coverage, M&A and other updates.

From these, we decided to share an update on the latest developments in standalone (SA) 5G networks and consumer gaming.

How long is the SA 5G journey to become mainstream?
Did you know? By mid-August, 15 operators from 12 markets has deployed commercial SA 5G services covering mobile and fixed wireless access (FWA).

And 90 operators from 45 markets, around 38 per cent of operators which have either launched or plan to launch 5G, had also announced plans for SA deployments (conducting trials, and forging infrastructure and solution partnerships) after having initially launched non-standalone (NSA) 5G.

SA networks are expected to be one of the key enablers for myriad 5G use cases across enterprise and consumer markets. This explains why the investment in these networks is a natural step for operators in their 5G journey.

A recent GSMA Intelligence survey found operators foresee the following as top benefits from deploying SA networks (see chart, below, click to enlarge).


The momentum and progress is also reflected in the following announcements from operators sharing updates on their coverage plans, new launches, partnerships, and trials (see table, below, click to enlarge).


So what? The true success of SA 5G will only happen when it becomes more mainstream. How long this will take, therefore becomes one of the key questions to answer.

Any network evolution is a gradual process and can take anywhere from months to years depending on the specific operator circumstances, strategies and investment decisions. However, referencing the lifecycle of existing LTE networks, based on GSMA Intelligence data covering 150 operators, it took an average of two-and-a-half years to upgrade from LTE to LTE-Advanced. This does not suggest a direct correlation for understanding the lifecycle of an SA upgrade from NSA, but it serves as a good analogy.

LTE-Advanced, of course, was a technical advancement on existing LTE networks, whereas a move from NSA to SA will likely be more significant for most operators and might take similar or more time than LTE upgrades. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for SA networks to become mainstream.

Meanwhile, in the near- to medium-term, building on established coverage of LTE, NSA will continue to do the heavy lifting of 5G, but operators still need to incorporate SA network planning in their long term roadmap.

Related reading:
5G SA means business – but also consumer [3]
5G SA networks are going global, ready to become mainstream [4]

Operator opportunity in shifting gaming behaviour
Did you know? A GSMA Intelligence consumer survey found 60 per cent of the adult population across 20 developed countries play digital games at least once a week. But what percentage of gamers pay for these?

On average, only a third of gamers pay for games. The recent gaming surge among consumers coupled with this presents monetisation opportunities in the gaming ecosystem.

Not only this, the survey also brought to light shifting consumer behaviour.

A preferential shift to gaming on smartphones (thanks to a multitude of games available on cloud platforms, affordable smartphones, and the increasing availability of 5G networks and devices).

Gaming is now for every age group, however the proportion of people playing varies among different age groups: 72 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds play games at least once a week, while 42 per cent of people aged 65 and over do so.

Undoubtedly, the changing consumer behaviour and surge in gaming creates new monetisation opportunities for operators beyond connectivity or upselling larger data packages, and also creates opportunities for other players in the gaming ecosystem. This is also corroborated in the following recent developments in industry on the gaming front (see table, below, click to enlarge).


So what? It is clear the industry sees an opportunity in gaming and is making progress towards trying to capture it. The question then becomes what are the options available to operators for monetising the opportunities in gaming and what success will look like.

Drawing insights from the same GSMA Intelligence report [6], there are four routes available for operators to capitalise on the opportunities: two in B2C (selling third party games, developing in-house games); and two in B2B (offer networks services including edge and private networks to gaming and media companies, or develop e-sports products).

Operators will derive their success in the form of new revenue, premium customer base and reduced churn, alongside other benefits highlighted in the report.

Now, which route to take will then depend on some underlying factors such as market profile, operator network assets and their strategies.

Clearly the gaming industry is expected to grow manifold in the coming years and it’s time to capitalise on the opportunities.

For more detailed insights related on consumer gaming behaviour, the options available to operators and the underlying factors please refer to the following GSMAi publications.

Gaming comes into its own: capitalising on shifting consumer behaviours [7]
Consumer gaming: assessing the new revenue opportunity for operators [8]

All the above analysis is based on news curated by GSMA Intelligence’s team of analysts and taken from their Industry Updates feed, available here [9].

– Radhika Gupta – head of data acquisition, GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.


Intelligence Brief: What do latest 5G-Advanced specs hold?

Last week saw the release of a white paper focused on the 5G-Advanced mobile core.

As is often the case with these sorts of technical white papers, titling erred on the side of word count versus catchiness: 5G-Advanced Technology Evolution from a Network Perspective – Towards a New Era of Intelligent Connect X.

Broader visibility wasn’t helped much by a release in the middle of summer, at the tail end of earnings season and as the Olympic Games were winding down. Combined with an APAC-focused contributor list, you shouldn’t beat yourself up too much if you somehow missed this.

And yet, a source company list which includes Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, ZTE, KT, SK Telecom and every major mobile operator in China makes this something to pay attention to. It’s not every day fierce competitors collaborate on future forward market messaging and what they agree on is telling.

What’s it all about?
While the whitepaper title won’t win any awards for concision, it does manage to capture the key themes. Three terms, in particular tell you everything you need to know about the content: 5G-Advanced; network perspective; and intelligent connect X.

The first, 5G-Advanced is a 3GPP term for the evolution of 5G, but one which stops short of what we might get with 6G someday. Think new goals and capabilities for 5G networks, services, and operators. The term network is a broad one. Here, however, the network perspective is firmly centred on the mobile core. Yes, 5G-Advanced will touch the RAN as well as the core, but the paper avoids the former to remain focused.

And the final term? Intelligent connect X isn’t a commonplace industry term. However, it does capture the notion of intelligently connecting multiple different stakeholders along with a diverse set of user types and devices. To that end, it conveys 5G-Advanced aspirations fairly well.

What will operators need to support?
In the early days of 5G R&D, discussions of what the next generation would bring focused almost exclusively on use cases versus technologies. It’s only logical, then that discussions of 5G-Advanced would follow suit, and here the whitepaper makes a case for key market drivers across a number of dimensions.

5G versus 6G. We all know 6G is coming, but is still years away. Yet, as the paper argues, “the current capabilities of the 5G network are still insufficient,” for executing on the 5G vision. To this end, enhancements in line with 3GPP Rel-18 and beyond are coming.
Consumer versus enterprise. 5G was built to address business and consumer needs. To its credit, then, the paper highlights 5G-Advanced must, “meet the needs of personal consumer experience upgrades and digital transformation of the industry.” Of course, where enterprise verticals are a well-understood revenue opportunity for operators, their needs dominate the whitepaper’s context setting.
IT versus OT. Early on, the paper notes “in addition to ICT technology, there will be more demand from production and operation in the future.” This is a nod to the need for IT and OT integration as IoT further penetrates the enterprise segment.
Vertical versus vertical. Any recognition of 5G touching on OT demands must acknowledge different verticals have different needs. Or, as the paper puts it, “businesses in different industries…need the network to provide them with a differentiated business experience”.
Cloud versus edge. Against the backdrop of new low-latency applications, the paper minces no words in stating “the network edge is the centre of future business development”. Recognising operators are looking to meld edge cloud and central cloud assets, however it also asserts the need for 5G-Advanced to “integrate the characteristics of cloud-native and edge-native”.
Fixed and mobile. As with the discussion of differentiated vertical demands, a 5G-Advanced focus on the enterprise requires acknowledging fixed and mobile networks will need tight coordination, or “convergence of fixed network and mobile network”. Of course, with 5G tackling residential broadband use cases, this applies to home networks as well.

What will help operators succeed?
If there is one takeaway from the whitepaper’s discussion of market drivers, it’s that 5G-Advanced will need to support an increasingly broad set of industry requirements. Different device types and vertical demands, IT versus OT processes and protocols, and diverse network topologies.

To do so, three key technology advancements and trends get much of the paper’s focus.

Convergence. To be fair, convergence is more of a concept than a technology. But, considering the market drivers noted earlier, it is the concept which ties all of those drivers together. Convergence across different technology generations, fixed and mobile networks, diverse cloud localities (local versus central), and enterprise IT and OT domains. And, based on a broad set of whitepaper contributors, convergence across the views of diverse ecosystem players.
Distributed edge. I’ve mentioned edge computing a number of times already, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see it pop up as a key 5G-Advanced tech cited in the whitepaper. From a convergence perspective, the use cases are myriad, including the integration of fixed and mobile enterprise apps, or apps at the edge of multiple generations of technologies. Digging deeper into the enterprise, the role of edge in supporting private networks, low-latency applications, and applications where data needs to remain on premise is clear. And none of this should obscure the role of edge in supporting low-latency consumer applications. Of course, these dynamics are not exclusive to 5G-Advanced or waiting for its arrival. But the market shifts and demands driving 5G-Advanced development will only serve to make the edge more important.
Intelligence. If the idea of converging an extremely disparate set of use cases and service requirements seems like a dauting task, that’s because it is. And, if the idea of converging disparate networks and network localities (from the network core to the edge) seems daunting, that’s because is it. Success, then, will require support which goes beyond standard human assets and skills. This is why the paper spends a lot of time on the role of AI. For network set-up, maintenance and optimisation. For service set-up, slicing orchestration and SLA monitoring. For consumer and enterprise end-users. Again, the move to pervasive AI isn’t new or unique to 5G-Advanced. But, if there’s one technology message the paper tries to convey, it’s that 5G-Advanced will drive AI forward.

To be fair, there isn’t much that is incredibly surprising in the whitepaper. Its aim is to outline a roadmap of how 5G-Advanced can (or should) support industry goals. Where those goals are generally agreed on, there shouldn’t be too many surprises. At the same time, like many roadmaps, there is some good and bad news to consider.

The bad news is much of this isn’t new. The industry has been talking about enabling verticals, edge computing, convergence and AI for years. Any discussion of how 5G-Avanced involves all of this suggests we haven’t been successful.

Ultimately, this probably isn’t bad news as much as it is just reality. The good news, then, is we know what will help to support these aspirations and the industry is intent on making them a reality.

– Peter Jarich – head, GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.

Intelligence Brief: Is consumer 5G gaming an opportunity for operators?

We knew it was not a matter of if, but when: like with music and video in the past, digital transformation is now disrupting the gaming industry. Shifting consumer behaviour is a major driving force, as is recent progress with enabling technologies such as cloud, 5G and immersive reality. Here we look at the transformation of the gaming industry across different areas, and analyse what it means for mobile players.

Gamer behaviour is changing
Gaming is a popular pastime for people of all ages. GSMA Intelligence Consumers in Focus research shows that 60 per cent of the adult population across the 20 major countries we analysed plays digital games on consoles, PCs or mobile devices at least once a week. That is a significant user base. Our research also shows gamer behaviour is changing. First, there is a shift of gaming time from consoles to mobile devices, especially smartphones. This brings greater reach and higher consumer engagement, owing to the ubiquitous adoption of smartphones and the plethora of games available on mobile app stores.

Second, like with music and video, a subscription model is now emerging for gaming, as consumers show interest in it. Today, gamers have a broad and diverse range of options to choose: these include subscriptions for consoles (for example PlayStation Now, Nintendo Switch Online, Xbox Game Pass), cloud gaming subscriptions (Google Stadia, Tencent Start, GeForce Now), subscriptions designed for mobile (Apple Arcade, Google Play Pass) and subscriptions provided by game publishers (Uplay+, Origin Access).

What does this mean for the gaming industry?
It means disruption and innovation. The advent of mobile as a gaming platform and the rise of cloud-based gaming have disrupted the position of consoles as the dominant platform, opening up the market to new competitors. Console sales have been hit in recent years, while some OEMs have enhanced the gaming capabilities of their smartphones. Flagship mobile devices (Samsung Galaxy S21, Razer Phone 2 or Asus ROG Phone 5) are marketed specifically for gaming, with aftermarket accessories which can turn these devices into dedicated mobile gaming consoles.

It also means a new business opportunity. Let’s do the maths: 15 per cent of gamers in the countries we analysed already have a gaming subscription; half are not interested in a gaming subscription (for now), leaving an incremental market of at least 35 per cent of gamers. If subscription gaming is to work as a mass-market commercial product, gaming companies will need to attract non-paying gamers and turn them into paying gamers.

The prominent cloud gaming services in operation are run by the big companies with established cloud and content delivery network infrastructure footprints (for example Microsoft, Google and Tencent), but mobile players including Apple and a range of operators are making progress here too. Also, Netflix recently confirmed its intention to enter the gaming market, which is certainly a big development.

Why are operators looking at gaming, and why now?
So far, operators have mostly benefitted from gaming indirectly through upselling, as heavy gamers need larger mobile data allowances. However, the shift of gaming to mobile devices, coupled with technology innovation which heavily involves (or is led by) operators (for example cloud, edge, 5G) are driving new thinking.

The 5G element is important for at least two big reasons. First, streaming requires cloud-based content access, delivery and consumption, which in turn requires high-speed connectivity and low latencies: this is 5G territory. The rollout of 5G networks enables the faster and low-latency connections smartphone gamers need to have higher-quality, uninterrupted cloud-based gaming sessions.

Second, 5G users are more engaged with gaming than 4G users (twice as much to be precise) and are more interested in having gaming services bundled with their mobile connectivity contracts (40 per cent higher interest). Also, nearly half of people playing games on their smartphones frequently find the enhanced gaming experience enabled by 5G appealing, especially among younger generations (see chart, below, click to enlarge). This is something for operators to consider when designing their 5G and multi-play offerings and tariffs.


What are the strategic routes to gaming for operators?
An increasing number of operators are aiming to monetise the transformation of gaming via a more direct role. We have identified four possible routes for operators. Two of them are B2C-focused, selling third-party gaming services or developing own-branded services, often bundled with mobile or quad-play offerings. The other two are B2B-focused, offering premium network capabilities including edge technology, network slicing and private networks to gaming/media companies or developing e-sports. These routes are not mutually exclusive: a complete gaming strategy may well involve a combination of these options.

Selling third-party gaming services bundled with mobile represents the fastest and most common approach for operators, but it is largely a customer acquisition/retention strategy. Developing own-branded gaming services offers greater revenue potential. As with video streaming, operators will find it challenging to have a cloud gaming service which is competitive globally, however it is within their reach to launch competitive propositions for local markets. A range of operators have already launched local cloud gaming propositions, including Deutsche Telekom, TIM, Vodafone Italy, China Mobile and the three South Korean operators. KT and SK Telecom each aim to reach 1 million gaming subscribers over the next two to three years: this would correspond to around 10 per cent of their 5G subscriber bases, assuming most gaming subscribers will be 5G users.

What is the incremental revenue opportunity for operators?
Our revenue opportunity model considers multiple factors, such as the current adoption of subscription gaming, the probability core gamers will adopt a subscription in the future, the 5G effect (a function of 5G penetration 5G gamer behaviour) and pricing dynamics. We sized both the direct (gaming subscription revenue) and indirect contribution (core ARPU uplift) of gaming. The indirect contribution is important, as the average mobile spend of paying 5G gamers is 20 per cent higher than 4G, meaning 5G gaming attracts premium mobile subscribers.

Taking 2020 mobile revenue as the base, gaming subscriptions could generate up to 4 per cent of new revenue for operators in 2025. This ranges from 3 per cent in the UK, Italy and the US, to 4 per cent in South Korea. Given annual mobile revenue is set to grow by low single-digits in three of the four markets (and decline in Italy), the gaming opportunity, which comes on top of these figures, can be remarkable. In addition, operators are exploring the gaming opportunity in a period when traditional pay-TV revenue is under pressure and falling in some markets, providing one more reason to try and do well in gaming.

As mobile increasingly shapes the future of gaming, we will continue to track and assess technology developments, gaming adoption, and business opportunities.

You can read more on this topic in our latest report [2] Gaming comes into its own: capitalising on shifting consumer behaviours.

– Pablo Iacopino – head of research and commercial content, GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.


Intelligence Brief: Assessing latest developments in open RAN and public cloud

Last month saw the return of MWC21 Barcelona, the most anticipated event in the telecoms industry calendar. No surprises, then that we saw myriad announcements and developments in the last month from a wide spectrum of topics.

We decided to shed some light on developments in two of the most hotly debated topics in the industry right now, open RAN and public cloud.

Open RAN going global
Do you know?
As of today, 73 operators from 38 markets have either deployed or committed to open RAN deployments. Scanning through the list of operators and their geographic presence, it is clear the approach is now going global, touching developed and developing markets alike (see chart, below, click to enlarge).


Moves including Axiata Group announcing plans to deploy in multiple countries by end 2021, MTN detailing plans across its footprint, or a partnership between Bharti Airtel and Tata Group to deploy Indian systems, highlight the rapid global spread.

The momentum continues in other parts of the world also with the UK government funding a 5G testing laboratory and Deutsche Telekom switching on its O-RAN town with Massive MIMO radio units for high performance. The foundation of open RAN was laid with the creation of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) in 2016, but 2021 is clearly the year when we are seeing global momentum.

We saw many interesting developments in the open RAN space in the last month, some of which are highlighted below:

12 July: Middle East operators join forces to implement solutions
9 July: Vodafone teams with Mavenir to develop small cell solution for indoor connectivity
2 July: UK government launched £30 million competition for deployment in the country
29 June: Google Cloud joins O-RAN Alliance
24 June: Mavenir, Qualcomm to develop indoor and outdoor solutions
17 June: Algar Telecom to conduct tests on its 4G network

So what?
All the above points towards growing momentum and deployments going global. Does this mean operators which have not yet advanced their open RAN plans need to jump on the bandwagon now?

The answer depends on the current situation and requirements of each operator. Their decisions will be driven by factors including where they are in the lifecycle of their legacy networks; their capex versus opex split in networks investment; and whether they are looking to upgrade brownfield networks or build a greenfield 5G network.

GSMA Intelligence’s Operator in Focus Network Transformation survey found operators also see ownership/coordination, lack of internal expertise and integration into existing systems as the top challenges for adoption of open RAN. While cost saving is often advocated as one of the benefits, a lack of clarity regarding return on investment acts as a hurdle.

The above challenges do not mean operators must necessarily reject open RAN. Rather, they need to be aware of their requirements and network evolution plans. And in the present, operators still need to get the ball rolling by forging partnerships allowing them to undertake R&D on existing networks, understand use cases with open RAN deployments, and undertake trials to better inform their deployment decisions.

Are the clouds over public cloud clearing?
Do you know?
What did leading public cloud evangelist, Danielle Royston, tout for the sector at MWC21? She said simply “go all in”.

It is natural for an evangelist to make such a statement, but she backed it up by advocating the perceived benefits of using hyperscalers and public cloud, namely massive reductions in the total cost of ownership, scalability and flexibility, and employing the regional and local presence of data centres to make edge computing viable.

There were plenty of public cloud partnerships being announced by operators prior to 2021. Yet, the announcement from US new entrant Dish Network in April and the presence of Cloud City at MWC21 Barcelona highlights the momentum we now see in adoption.

The increasing intersection of telecoms and public cloud is reflected in the below announcements and is also mirrored in the forthcoming MWC21 LA theme of Telco Cloud.

5 July: Dtac with AWS unveiled a proof-of-concept 5G Private Network solution for enterprises
30 June: AT&T to shift 5G core to Microsoft Azure
29 June: Google Cloud and Ericsson collaborate to develop 5G and edge cloud solutions
29 June: Google Cloud joins O-RAN Alliance
28 June: Swisscom partners AWS for cloud services
24 June: Reliance Jio partners with Google Cloud for 5G
21 June: Dish Network announced its plans to run Nokia’s standalone 5G core software on AWS
16 June: Microsoft launches Azure Private MEC

So what?
There is clear momentum behind public cloud in the telecoms industry with progress on multiple, fronts from network related developments to co-developing enterprise-related solutions and hyperscalers working on future-proof solutions.

But the industry is still divided on the killer use case. Where some see latency as the benefit (using data centres for edge computing) of using public cloud, others see the same as a risk of using shared space.

Beyond this, adoption faces headwinds from the speculated risks to privacy and data security. The data sovereignty rules in some markets will also make it difficult for many operators to fully embrace the public cloud.

However, the multitude of enterprise opportunities in the 5G era are only expected to be supported by the new cloud native architecture powered by AI solutions and edge computing, made possible using the cloud. This makes it inevitable for operators to embrace cloud technology: the choice is simply between public or private cloud.

To capitalise on the benefits of public cloud and overcome the highlighted risks and challenges, the industry must work together. A wait and watch approach does not always guarantee success, but working together and co-creating systems certainly does.

The transition to public cloud will be a gradual and phased process made possible with initiatives from across the cloud ecosystem. Hyperscalers are also taking initiatives to make this happen for operators: Google Cloud joining the O-RAN Alliance; Azure launching private MEC; and AWS introducing local data processing on outposts are sign of things to come.

All the above analysis is based on news curated by GSMA Intelligence’s team of analysts and taken from their Industry Updates feed, available here [2].

– Radhika Gupta – head of data acquisition, GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.


Intelligence Brief: Assessing latest smart city and tower asset developments

This year, June is a notable month for the telecoms and technology industry because it’s ringing MWC21 Barcelona [1] in my ears. I am clinging to my excitement as the ecosystem comes together later this month to learn about and experience, the announcements, demos and launches which will shape the future of the industry.

Of course, the event is hybrid this year, meaning you can take in all the updates from the industry in real time from the comfort of wherever you’ve got used to working from.

The theme of MWC21 Barcelona is Connected Impact and as we scan through our news feed from the last few weeks, this is corroborated in the business strategies, industry partnership and other announcements from ecosystem players.

Based on the recent news from our Industry Feed, the two topics we selected to take a deeper look at are smart city developments and operator tower monetisation efforts.

As always, we want to highlight the news items which might not have got a lot of attention, highlight the topics they signal and how they could play an important role in shaping the future of industry.

5G: A critical piece of the smart city puzzle
Do you know?
Global smart city connections are expected to experience a massive increase from 307 million in 2020 to 837 million by 2025 (see chart 1, below, click to enlarge). Cities and countries have been focused on smart city opportunities for years, but the market has generally developed only in selected areas (smart meters, lighting), leaving broader smart city ambitions unrealised.


So, will 5G change things?

There is no dearth of narrative on how the ability of 5G to connect millions of devices per square km, the ultra-low latency and high throughput creates an optimal canvas to paint the smart city landscape. But, what also differentiates 5G and makes it a key enabler is the new virtual and cloud native architecture of the technology and its confluence with technologies including AI, cloud, and edge (see chart 2, above, click to enlarge). The cherry on the cake is 3GPP including licensed LPWA technologies, the key technology for IoT, as part of 5G specifications.

With 5G now available from 168 operators in 68 countries (mobile and fixed wireless access), operators, vendors and software providers are making inroads by forging partnerships and announcing their plans. In few such recent developments:

15 June: TIM partners with Enel and Leonardo for smart cities project
2 June: NOS launches Smart City project in Albufeira
2 June: Qualcomm to test C-V2X in Georgia Smart City
31 May: HKT teams up with start-ups to accelerate smart city development
27 May: Sony plans to conduct AI based smart city trials in Rome in June
24 May: O2 to enable 5G based smart tram project in Pilsen
21 May: NT, Mavenir, 5GCT and Cisco collaborate to launch first 5G Open RAN Smart City in Thailand

So what?
The technology has the potential to unlock an array of opportunities for the ecosystem players in the smart city space. It is evident from the flux of announcements, highlighting the recent momentum gained, that operators and other ecosystem players have started venturing into this space to capitalise on the existing opportunities.

But to make the most of it, they will also need to be mindful of challenges including funding, lack of interoperability between systems from different vendors and who will take the E2E ownership which can impede the progress.

There is no unanimous solution to all the challenges, but as always, the timing of involvement is key. Governments and municipalities will be at the front and centre in the smart city development, however it is important for the ecosystem players to get involved from the planning stage. Collaborating early can help unveil business models that allow for cost and benefit sharing alongside the allocated budgets from the government. Coming together at the planning stage also ensures creation of interoperable solutions and open platforms.

Ultimately, the early involvement can help to lessen the impact of these challenges, and creates an opportunity to maximise on the potential benefits.

Related material: MWL Themed week on Making Cities Smarter [3]

Tower strategy
Do you know?
Tower monetisation, in different forms, is becoming a mainstream financing option for operators. There is a clear shift in business models from controlling infrastructure assets to sharing, and evolving into sale and leaseback models.

Why? With heavy debt burdens, and increased capex levels to support the deployment of next-generation technology, operators need to find money somewhere and tower monetisation comes as a viable option.

The ongoing trend of monetising tower assets via sales is also noted in the announcements from operators in the last few weeks.

2 June: Cellnex acquires 3,150 T-Mobile masts in Netherlands
2 June: Airtel to offload its tower assets in Tanzania
1 June: Telefonica completes sale of Telxius tower business in Europe to ATC
17 May: MTN receives 20 expressions of interest for its telecom towers

So what
The model of sale and leaseback agreements poses a win-win situation for service providers and tower operators. There are clear benefits for service providers in divesting stakes from their tower arms. The funds unlocked can be used to reduce debt and make investments in new infrastructure, helps to maintain focus on their core business and also drive opex efficiencies.

From the lens of tower companies, the business model works as they earn revenue from multiple tenants on the same infrastructure, a model allowing for the scalability and flexibility required to build next generation infrastructure.

Where tower companies are competing for a bigger slice of infrastructure assets with all these acquisitions, they need to remember while scale is important, so also are the new features and innovations including edge and cloud. To remain competitive in the long term, they should allocate part of their investments to create future ready infrastructure which can also support new generation technologies and features including like AI, edge and cloud.

All the above analysis is based on news curated by GSMA Intelligence’s team of analysts and taken from their Industry Updates feed, available here [4].

– Radhika Gupta – head of data acquisition, GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.


Intelligence Brief: Can Dell transform telecom industry?

Last week, I took some time to tune into the Dell Technologies Telecom Transformation Event [1].

It boasted a stellar set of operators (SK Telecom, Vodafone Group and Dish Network), alongside Dell executives, all talking about how operators are planning to transform their networks and, of course, how Dell was helping them.

To the extent Dell has been selling into operators for years, it wasn’t really a coming out party for the company in the telecom vertical. But, it did signify a major new push into the space. And it promised to answer some questions around Dell’s telecoms strategy following solid mentions of 5G and edge at Dell Technologies World in May.

Beyond merely watching the event on my PC, I was honoured to be a small part of it, if only because the topics addressed align with so much of what GSMA Intelligence is focused on. This also means I’ve gotten plenty of exposure to the content and have had plenty of time to think about the big picture messages.

Mobile World Live reporter Yanitsa Boyadzhieva did a great job of recapping the important news and announcements [2] from the event.

From a big picture message perspective, while far from exhaustive, here’s a view from the host’s position.

Networks are broad and complex. Across the event, Dell and its customers repeated a number of familiar network transformation notes. Cloud-native. Software-defined. Open. Data-centric. While some might call them buzzwords, the fact is these are the network features and capabilities operators are looking for and the terms in which they speak. More importantly, though, Dell talked about products and services, along with features: servers supporting edge, core, and open RAN use cases; full-stack solutions and references (including professional services) pulling together infrastructure and partnered functions; and pre-integrated hardware offerings and zero-touch provisioning. Of course, this all plays to Dell’s own commercial offerings. But as a context-setting exercise, it was a solid reminder that building a modern telecom network is difficult, and that Dell gets it.
Defining the edge. Dell execs spoke at length about the edge networking opportunity, but trying to pin down an exact definition of the network edge has been a long-term conundrum. We know the apps and use cases which benefit from edge computing. Where, exactly, the edge exists is another issue. Admittedly, it’s also a somewhat unfair question. The edge will live in multiple locations, spanning from user devices to just outside the carrier core. Operators, however, have given us a view into how/where they plan to deploy edge solutions. This was reflected in SK Telecom comments about deployment in the public cloud (close to the user), its own cloud (close to the user), and at the enterprise premises. Picking apart edge networking (including storage and compute) at the customer premise, it bears an uncanny resemblance to classic enterprise server and storage solutions, hosting operator apps. The role for Dell, then, is easy to see.
Operator versus enterprise transformation. The intro video for Dell’s event managed to do two things with incredible efficiency. The first was to very directly set out the network transformation themes I highlighted earlier. Most of the key messages we would hear about flashed across the screen at some point: transform operations, modernise networks, efficiency at scale, 5G, edge. The second thing it did was slightly more subtle, depicting enterprise environments across a wide array of verticals including ports, healthcare, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, automotive and warehousing stood in stark contrast to showing-off consumer use cases. While not a unique positioning, reminding us enterprise digital transformation represents the key opportunity/motivator for operators helps to signal Dell understands operators while still playing to its own strengths.
Operator versus partner marketing. Integration has long been acknowledged as a critical challenge in network transformation, particularly where the core value proposition of technologies including open RAN and edge is the participation of multiple suppliers. This was reflected in Dell’s discussion of its services capabilities and in the launch of its Open Telecom Ecosystem Lab, a testing environment and co-innovation space for multi-vendor network configurations. But none of this really matters without partners. This explains Dell’s focus on building solutions with companies including Affirmed Networks, Microsoft, Nokia, CommScope, Red Hat and Mavenir. But, where operators will need a broad set of network configurations and assets (their networks are broad and complex), Dell will need more partners. The message, then, was just as much about Dell marketing itself to operators as it was Dell marketing itself to partners, including promises of joint innovation, tech validation, and co-selling.

If it seems like there was a lot to digest in this event, I should note this barely scratches the surface of an event which also included product launches, deep dives into operator strategy and the coolest new system, Metalweaver, which sounds like a hard rock band, Covid-19 (coronavirus) and open RAN as recurring themes.

There was virtually something for everyone in the 50 minute event.

When re-watching, I was struck by the nearly-frantic nature of the host. It seemed as if they were trying to fit 15 minutes of content into a handful of three-minute slots. (yeah, I’m talking about myself). But it’s also clear this pacing and energy very much set the tone for the rest of the event. With so much to cover, Dell’s Telecom Transformation Event truly was a whirlwind. This means it’s the type of event that needs to be watched more than once to be fully digested. It also means it is incumbent on Dell to follow up, reminding people of its focus and innovations to let it all sink in.

Let’s end, then, by returning to the title question. Can Dell Technologies transform the telecom industry?

By all accounts, it is already doing just that. Going forward, however, we will need to hear more from Dell on the telecom front to turn the question of can into one of how, and for the company to fully execute on its assets in support of the mobile industry’s success.

– Peter Jarich – head of GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.

Watch the event on-demand here [3].