5G Makes Mining Site Safer & More Efficient

As the newest generation of mobile technology, 5G has dramatically transformed many industries, not the least of which is mining. Formerly dependent on manual labor, mining has evolved into a high-tech industry that incorporates remote driving and 5G-enabled unmanned smart mines.

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai earlier this year, many eyes were on a booth exhibiting a remote control platform for excavators and live stream of onsite excavation. This mining site belongs to China Molybdenum and is the world’s only 5G smart mine in operation. 30 5G autonomous mining vehicles have been deployed, and the company’s monthly capacity is 500,000 tons.

How did China Molybdenum achieve this? At the 2019 Customer Strategy and Pain Points Analysis Conference (CSPA), COO and Chief Engineer Yang Hui from Yuexin Intelligence shared with the audience the great value 5G contributes to the construction of smart mines and explained how China Molybdenum introduced 5G technologies. According to Yang, 5G is ideal for smart mine construction and mining is the new “battlefield” for the business use case of 5G technologies.

COO and Chief Engineer Yang Hui of Yuexin

COO and Chief Engineer Yang Hui from Yuexin intelligence speaks at the 2019 Customer Strategy and Pain Points Analysis Conference

China Molybdenum has been replacing its 4G technologies with 5G technologies and has been improving unmanned mining through 5G network development and technologies such as short-range control, long-range control, control of single vehicle, centralized management, and smart management and control since 2015. This initiative relies on the concerted efforts of many companies, including Huawei, Yuexin Intelligence, and of course China Molybdenum itself.

Minimizing risks through unmanned mining
There are two main types of mining techniques: surface mining and sub-surface mining. Surface mining has absolute advantages in terms of mining scope and safety, and various technologies have been developed for it. As a result, most mines have adopted this technique over the past ten to 20 years.

Statistics show that there are more than 3,000 surface mines with reserve deposits of over 20 million tons in China. It would cost around CNY200 million for each of these mines to invest in intelligent mining equipment. If a manufacturer can occupy just 10% of this market, its market prospects are on the order of CNY60 billion.

However, safety is still a major concern in surface mine operations. In such complicated terrain, large machinery can fall at any time. “I once saw an excavator disappear while it was in operation,” said Yang Hui. “Later, we found it in a 30-meter deep pit.”

In the interest of keeping miners out of such dangerous environment, the mining sector has long been exploring the possibility of unmanned mining.

Three challenges for unmanned mines
Unmanned mining involves enabling equipment and machinery to function without requiring manual operation, especially with regard to autonomous driving. As many people have realized, the relatively closed-off mining area is a viable scenario for implementing autonomous driving.

Unmanned mining is being quickly adopted in other countries too. The mining sector giant Rio Tinto Group is leading the world in the area of intelligent mining, according to Yang.

At the remote control center in Perth, staff of Rio Tinto can now remotely control unmanned trucks, trains, drills, and the like at the Pilbara iron mining site, a 2-hour flight away in Western Australia. Compared with other countries, China has lagged behind in unmanned mining. There are only few unmanned mining projects in operation that generate real benefits. The main reasons for this are as follows:

First, there is a lack of application scenarios. Mining equipment is expensive. For example, a single vehicle costs at least several million CNY. Purchasing new equipment is too big a risk for mining companies.

Second, there is a lack of core technologies. In recently years, research into autonomous driving has mainly explored driving on roads in cities. No particular research and development has gone into autonomous driving in the field of mining.

Third, market preferences mean that no technological breakthroughs in mining-specific autonomous driving are on the horizon. While autonomous cars on urban roads or expressways are a market darling and attract significant investment, autonomous vehicles for the mining industry are less favored, leaving a gap that is hard to fill in a short time.

Building sophisticated unmanned mines in five years
To fill this gap in the market, Yuexin Intelligence has been working hard to explore unmanned mining. China Molybdenum and Yuexin launched their unmanned mining project in 2015, deploying remote control technology to address the safety issues relating to extraction activities in mining voids. These safety concerns had been plaguing the company for years, according to Yang Hui.

Yuexin Intelligence led the project, going through the project charter stage, research and development, prototyping, trial production, commissioning, trial run, and final production. Short-range remote control became a reality in 2015. Long-range remote control in 2016. And in 2017, self-driving trucks were successfully tested.

“At that time, we were content with remote control,” said Yang Hui. “In dangerous areas, we remotely controlled excavators to dig out the ores and then the remotely controlled trucks to load and transport ores. This did not improve efficiency; on the contrary, it made the process more cumbersome,” said Yang Hui.

Remote control technology did help enable the extraction of high-grade ores previously off limits due to safety concerns, but mining efficiency has stayed the same. What kind of technology can be used to fully automate mining operations, without involving humans in the field?

By 2018, remote drills, remote excavators, and a fleet of 30 driverless electric haulage trucks empowered by Yuexin Intelligence were put into use. The solution allowed drilling, shoveling, loading, and transportation to be fully automated, without the need to deploy any on-site staff.

Most notably, Yuexin substituted 5G for 4G, enabling a dramatic increase in productivity. Production capacity shot up to 500,000 tons per month. This was the first time that 5G technology was deployed in the mining industry in China.

5G enables more efficient and safer intelligent mines
There are a couple of reasons why Yang says 5G is ideal for mining. First, mines are generally located in remote areas where network coverage is weak, so a dedicated network needs to be constructed. 5G is a great option, as it is relatively easy to build a 5G network.

Second, most of the mining machinery is constantly on the move, so a mobile network is needed. In addition, as blasting is frequently used in mining, fiber networks are not realistic. Third, in the case of surface mining, only a few cell sites are required to cover the entire mining site.

5G unmanned mines are able to meet multiple needs: HD image backhaul on mobile devices, intelligent scheduling systems for autonomous driving, cloud computing, and wireless transmission of massive numbers of HD images.

5G networks also enable key breakthroughs in autonomous driving for intelligent mining. First, before 5G, each truck used to need an onboard industrial computer installed to process data. Once 5G is deployed, all data is transmitted from the vehicles to a cloud server for central processing.

Second, low latency is crucial to the application of autonomous driving technology for mining. According to Yang Hui, only after latency is reduced to under 30 ms will operators be able to control autonomous driving vehicles without feeling any lag. And only then will traffic and operational safety be assured. The 5G network, with its low latency, has enabled long-range remote control to become a reality after stagnating for many years. It also increased the speed limit of autonomous mining trucks from 10 km/h to 35 km/h, improving transportation efficiency.

Last, 5G enables a positioning precision of less than 1 meter. Replacing GPS with 5G positioning in mines reduces the cost and facilitates more-effective management of personnel and vehicles. Referring to the various costs relating to deploying 5G technology for mining, Yang Hui said that the number of 5G-ready devices (such as 5G CPE) necessary for intelligent mining is small, so equipment cost is not as high as it rumored to be.

5G creates other kinds of value for mining, too. Chief among them are addressing safety concerns and improving production efficiency. For Yuexi Intelligence, operational precision, stability, and efficiency have been greatly improved with 5G technology. Looking at the case from the larger industry perspective, the practice of the 5G unmanned mines is also applicable to other surface mining sites, and serves as an important reference for the use of 5G in traditional industries.

Ofcom moves in to protect UK mobile users from loyalty punishments

The UK’s telecom regulator believes out-of-contract mobile users could have saved millions if telcos offered the best deal available, and has released new measures to protect them from being treated unfairly.

After nearly a year’s research the regulator has found that on average the out-of-contract customers, those who have taken out a handset/airtime bundle contract and stay with the operator after the contract runs out, are paying £11 more per month than if they have been offered a better alternative, e.g. a comparable SIM-only deal. This would take the total amount of over-payment made by the 1.4 million out-of-contract customers to £182 million a year.

“Our research reveals a complex mobile market, where not everyone is getting a fair deal. So we’re introducing a range of measures to increase fairness for mobile customers, while ensuring we don’t leave existing customers worse off,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director.

The new measures introduced today, published in a release titled “Helping consumers to get better deals in communications markets: mobile handsets”, focus on three areas:

  1. Transparency of contract details: mobile operators offering bundle contracts should tell customers the cost of the handset and the cost of airtime separately. This is in line with new EU rules, but Ofcom has decided to introduce it to the UK despite  the decision to leave the EU.
  2. Time limit on “split contract”: this refers to the kind of contacts that a customer would pay for the handsets and usage separately. The new rule would cap such contracts to 24 months, to avoid customers being locked in one contract for to long and to make switching operators easier.
  3. Concretised measure to treat customers fairly, following the more vague “Fairness for Customers” commitment the operators signed up to. Specifically, it requires mobile operators to tell customers that their contract is going to end, and to explain to them the best available deals including SIM-only deals. The easy way of switching operators with a text message that was laid out in June is also coming into effect this month.

Ofcom also declared the first victories in operator endorsements. “All the major mobile companies – except Three – will also be reducing bills for millions of customers who are past their initial contract period,” Fussell said.

O2 and Virgin Mobile will charge their out-of-contract customers the equivalent 30-day SIM-only deal, while both EE and Vodafone are going to reduce the price for their customers out-of-contract for more than three months, though they will only confirm the level of discount by the end of the year. The discount will become effective next February.

“Three is the only major provider that has refused to apply any discount to its out-of-contract customers. As a result, these customers will continue to overpay and will not receive similar protections if they stay on their current deal,” the Ofcom statement said.

The regulator also announced that later this year it will publish its findings on broadband prices, and why some customers find their broadband bills higher than others.

49% of US and UK would not trust Facebook for cryptocurrency

Not many people understand the complexities of cryptocurrency and an alarming number of people don’t trust Facebook; it seems combining the two is not a well-received idea.

New research from messaging app Viber has suggested 49% of consumers in the UK and US would not trust the social media giant when it comes to cryptocurrency. Facebook might want to get a foothold in this embryonic segment of the technology industry, however if consumers have lost trust in the firm, you have to wonder whether this will kill the potential of cryptocurrency through association.

There are two interesting areas concerning Facebook’s drive towards cryptocurrency. Firstly, many people will start asking what cryptocurrency actually is and what it does. And secondly, when talking about money, many will start to question whether Facebook should be considered a trusted partner with its track record.

Starting with the definition of cryptocurrency, we will not pretend to be an expert on the segment and few in the general public will have a concrete grasp either. This lack of understanding creates uneasiness and a lack of trust, while the fact it is largely unregulated simply compounds this sense of nervousness.

This environment of confusion also seems to filter upwards towards governments and regulators; no-one has seemed to want to take ownership and when it was suggested the Swiss would take the lead, the Swiss regulator seemed very confused.

We’ve already seen the complications the world faces when a void in the regulatory landscape is formed and it does seem cryptocurrency is heading the same direction. Talking about the issues which arise during a regulatory void, this leads us onto the second interesting point brought forward in this research.

In the UK, 49% of consumers has suggested they would not trust Facebook at all when it comes to keeping information secure through its new cryptocurrency service Libra. Only 4% said they would trust Facebook, while 28% have not made their mind up. The numbers were remarkably similar for consumers in the US, however even less, 2.5%, explicitly stated they would trust Facebook.

Over the last 12-18 months, Facebook has destroyed any credibility the consumer had in it and has done little to earn it back. Cambridge Analytica has a disaster for Facebook though Facebook’s response to investigations and leaked memos since have further fuelled the distaste felt by the consumer towards the social media giant. Largely, the fallout from this saga is in the past, but the damage to Facebook’s reputation has been dealt.

Dealing with personal information is one thing but managing transactions and handling financial data is a completely different ask. Facebook is asking for a lot of trust and credit with the launch of Libra. As mentioned before, if Facebook is attempting to be the poster-boy to take the concept of cryptocurrency to the masses, let’s hope its reputation does not pollute a potentially very exciting segment.

Is the secondary mobile device market ready for a 4G device deluge?

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this article, Alan Bentley, President, Global Strategy at Blancco, looks at anticipated 5G device sales forecasts and considers the impact that they could have on the secondary device market.

The global device market has been under criticism in recent years. Many industry commentators have bemoaned slowing levels of innovation when it comes to new smartphone functionality. Global OEMs have been trying to maintain high prices for premium high-end devices, despite minor improvements in features and technology. While on one hand, device prices have sustained themselves, on the other, consumers are keeping their old devices for longer and global smartphone shipments and sales have started to decline.

Global OEMs and operators have been looking to accelerate their sales figures. Both have pointed towards 5G as the catalyst to build much healthier pipelines and grow revenues. 5G promises greater capacity, richer content and faster processing speeds. The hope is that it will excite mobile consumers in new ways and persuade them to part with more money for the privilege of consuming it.

5G device demand is looking strong

The good news is that industry predictions seem to support these hopes. Only last week, industry analyst Canalys predicted that 1.9 billion 5G smartphones will ship over the next five years. Global volumes will increase from an anticipated 13 million devices this year, to a daunting 774 million by 2023. This suggests that the current period of smartphone upgrade inertia we’re experiencing will end.

However, the success of the secondary mobile device market will be a significant contributing factor to the success of 5G devices and network service uptake. Over the past few years, it has helped improve consumer affordability for high-end devices, while helping OEMs sustain high prices. In other words, if OEMs and operators hope to sell high volumes of 5G devices, they must also be ready to collect almost the same number of used 4G smartphones.

Secondary strain from primary market pain

There is a clear link between the success of the new smartphone market and the secondary device ecosystem. If the primary market stalls, so will the secondary market. The affects of this link have been felt over the past year. According to Counterpoint Research, the secondary market grew just 1% in 2018, compared to around 13% the year before. The primary reason was the 11% drop in new smartphone sales in the same period. If consumers aren’t upgrading, old devices simply can’t be collected. However, the secondary market still grew. Consumer appetite for 5G is reflected by the 5G device shipment forecasts and there is also increasing comfort for engaging in the secondary market, assuming data security standards remain high. This will lead to a deluge of 4G devices hitting the secondary market in the next 12-18 months and the supporting ecosystem needs to be ready.

Is the secondary market ready?

The commitment from every stakeholder within the secondary market ecosystem is clear. OEMs, operators and the logistics providers that manage buyback and trade-in programmes on their behalf, are investing significant time and money to scale secure device collection. While Canalys predicts that 582 million 5G smartphones will ship in 2022, Counterpoint Research predicts that less than half, just 220 million devices will be collected in the same year.

Canalys smartphone forecast

This feels conservative. Operators and OEMs are marketing buyback ad trade-in programmes very hard. Earlier this year, Apple’s Tim Cook openly stated that its iPhone buyback programme was central to its strategy of stimulating device sales and maintaining premium pricing. Several of the world’s largest operators are known to be predicting or expecting significant revenue from used device collection and resale this year (and in future years).

Most now advertise their buyback programmes on their website homepages and include the ability to trade-in used handsets for all new device purchases. There is also strong consumer incentive to engage in the process. Recent statistics from HYLA Mobile suggest that the secondary market returned more than $2 billion to US consumers that traded in their devices in the US last year alone. All secondary market stakeholders have significant incentive for the entire ecosystem to deliver.

More devices, more speed, more risk

The significant increase in 4G devices hitting the secondary market will drive greater efficiency enhancements across an increasingly complex supply chain. Mobile device processors will be judged according to a variety of factors. Perhaps the main one is speed – of device diagnosis, repair and resale. Technology advancements, including the use of AI and automation continues to drive through mobile device processing efficiencies. Mobile devices can now be processed in seconds, rather than minutes. This is vital in retaining as much of the latent value held in used devices as possible.

However, with greater speed comes greater risk, especially given the importance of maintaining consumer trust in data management practices tied to the secondary market. If consumers lack the confidence in operators, OEMs and logistics companies to keep their data secure, they won’t trade-in their old devices. What’s more, upgrade inertia will continue.

The mobile industry is dependent on 5G to grow revenues. This requires a healthy device upgrade cycle. It’s time for all parties in the process to play their part in ensuring that the secondary device market is booming, for a strong and secure future.

 

alan-bentleyAlan Bentley is President, Global Strategy at Blancco. An industry veteran, he joined the company in October 2016, and has worked closely with Blancco’s many customers and partners to implement data erasure solutions to mitigate security risks and ensure regulatory compliance. This gives him a unique insight into the market and business requirements driving the needs of today’s businesses.

Most EU countries complete 5G national risk assessments

24 out of the 28 EU member states have completed 5G risk assessments at national level, laying the groundwork for an EU-wide assessment by October.

The project was launched in March, when the Commission (the administrative branch) responded to the Council’s (the heads of state or government) expectations to see a “recommendation on a concerted approach to the security of 5G networks”. According to the Commission’s statement, the assessment should be conducted on three main areas:

  • the main threats and actors affecting 5G networks;
  • the degree of sensitivity of 5G network components and functions as well as other assets; and
  • various types of vulnerabilities, including both technical ones and other types of vulnerabilities, such as those potentially arising from the 5G supply chain.

All member states were requested to complete the national assessment by the end of June. The Commission does not publish the names of the countries that have missed the deadline.

“The completion of the risk assessments underlines the commitment of Member States not only to set high standards for security but also to make full use of this groundbreaking technology,” Julian King, Commissioner for the Security Union, and Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said in a joint statement.

“We hope that the outcomes will be taken into account in the process of 5G spectrum auctions and network deployment, which is taking place across the EU now and in the coming months. Several Member States have already taken steps to reinforce applicable security requirements while others are considering introducing new measures in the near future.”

The national assessments will feed into the pan-EU 5G risk assessment, led by the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), tasked to be completed by 1 October 2019. By the end of the year, a toolbox to mitigate the risks identified at national and EU levels will be developed by the NIS Cooperation Group, the EU’s cross-agency identity responsible for cybersecurity. By 1 October 2020, member states are requested to undertake an evaluation of the effectiveness of the measures taken and determine whether further actions should be taken.

Meanwhile, ENISA will also take the lead to develop an EU-wide certification framework to cover 5G networks and equipment, which member states are encouraged to adopt.

Jio surges forward with subs and profits

Reliance Jio has unveiled its latest quarterly figures and, surprise surprise, subs are once again on the up as well as profits.

Monthly ARPU might have be on the decline, down to $1.77, a trend which is not showing signs of slowing, but scale seems to be the answer for Jio. The firm now has a subscriber base of 331 million, adding 24.5 million over the last three months and 116 million during the last year.

“Growth in Jio mobility services has continued to surpass all expectations,” said Mukesh Ambani, MD of Reliance Industries, Jio’s parent company.

“In less than two years of commercial operations, Jio network carried almost 11 Exabytes of data traffic during the recently concluded fiscal quarter. Jio management is focused on giving unmatched digital experience at most affordable price to every citizen of the country, and accordingly expanding the network capacity and coverage to keep pace with demand.”

The progress which has been made by the firm over the course of the last two years is remarkable and perhaps demonstrates how under-developed the Indian market actually was. Although India has been seen as a growth economy, part of the now old-fashioned BRICs group, it wasn’t until Jio shook up the market the digital revolution took hold.

Average consumption of data is now up to 11.4 GB a month, with Jio suggesting customers used 10 exabytes over its network during the quarter. The Indian consumer certainly has an appetite for data and they don’t seem to be satisfied whatsoever.

Looking at the financials, these are also very promising. Early criticism of Jio was that it was negatively impacting competition in the market as there was little profit being made by the firm. This is generally seen as a negative, as running loss leaders to kill off competition very rarely works for the greater good in the long-term, though the numbers speak for themselves.

Quarterly revenues increased 44% year-on-year, while the firm collected profits of $119 million, a 45% year-on-year boost. These numbers are attractive for the moment, but profitability currently looks to be reliant on scale and subscriber growth. Sooner or later, this growth will slow, and the team will have to look at the worrying rate at which ARPU is declining.

Period Q1 2019 Q3 2018 Q1 2018
ARPU (Indian Rupee) 122 130 154

China to lead the world on smart assistant adoption – Canalys

Canalys is forecasting China to be the biggest adopter of smart assistants by 2023, with an install base of 5.8 billion.

Though the US will claim to be the leader today, over the course of the next four years, Canalys forecasts a boom in China. The team suggests 5.8 billion devices will be installed across the country, twice as many as the total in the US.

“The growing Chinese middle class is relentlessly pursuing a higher standard of living, and smart appliances will play a major part in their vision of the ideal home,” said Canalys Research Analyst Cynthia Chen.

“Appliance makers Haier, TCL and Hisense are changing their strategies to capture the trend early. Even the retailer Suning and smartphone vendor Xiaomi are aiming to disrupt the market.”

This is perhaps where the consumer IOT and smart assistant segments will receive the greatest drive for momentum; adoption from traditional consumer electronics and appliance manufacturers. Companies like Google and Amazon can push new technologies to a degree, but consumer trust will be earned when traditional and credible brands in the consumer product space start integrating ‘intelligence’.

The idea of a smart assistant has almost been normalised, though usage is still incredibly limited. As consumers, we have not given up on the touch user interface, though as more assistants appear on air conditioning units, door locks and refrigerators, the more normalised the idea will become. And it seems the Chinese will be high up on the adoption list.

Canalys estimate each Chinese household will own an average of seven smart assistant-compatible home devices by 2023, with the large appliance category proving to be the biggest contributor to growth. However, smart phones will of course be the main device category for smart assistants in 2023.

“Chinese smartphone vendors, such as Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, are shifting their strategies to create IoT ecosystems with smart assistants, especially targeting homes with smart speakers and smart assistant-compatible devices,” said Canalys Senior Analyst Jason Low. “Having such devices work together seamlessly, especially across brands and platforms, to create new intuitive use-cases remains an industry-wide challenge for vendors around the world.”

CityFibre adds 14 more names to the full-fibre list

CityFibre has entered into the next phase of its challenge to the connectivity status quo with an additional 14 towns and cities to experience the full-fibre euphoria.

Although CityFibre has always presented itself as a challenger to the status quo, it was little more than an also ran until investment found its way across the Atlantic. With capital secured from Goldman Sachs’ Street Infrastructure Partners fund, CityFibre has been buoyed to build out its fibre spine into a genuine connectivity challenger. This latest expansion will take the number of full-fibre deployments across the UK to 26.

“CityFibre’s sole purpose is to deliver the future-proof digital infrastructure the UK deserves,” said CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch.

“With a new Prime Minister set to increase government’s ambitions for the pace of full fibre rollout, we are delighted to welcome another 14 towns and cities to our Gigabit City Club. These Gigabit Cities will not only gain new full fibre networks that will spark their digital transformation, but also unleash the benefits that only competitive infrastructure investment can bring.

“Our rollout to five million homes is gathering momentum. We have now confirmed 26 locations and over two million homes in our programme. We are investing, we are building, and we are connecting customers to networks of the future.”

The new towns and cities on the CityFibre expansion roadmap are; Batley, Bradford, Derby, Dewsbury, Doncaster, Inverness, Ipswich, Leicester, Lowestoft, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Rotherham, Slough, Swindon and Worthing. These new projects will take the number of homes connected by CityFibre to two million, once completed of course, with CityFibre estimating the construction will create 3,5000 jobs.

For the UK, such ambitious moves will be nothing but good news. After ignoring the call for full-fibre connectivity for years, the Government is certainly taking an aggressive approach now. Not only are Openreach and Virgin Media aggressively expanding, numerous other challengers, nicknamed ‘alt-nets’ are providing additional momentum.

CityFibre might be the most recognisable name in the alt-net field, though others such as HyperOptic and Gigaclear are becoming more than a flash in the pan. There might be a need for consolidation in the future, but right now the additional competition is forcing aggressive geographical expansion of full-fibre networks.

Softbank opens yet another investment fund

Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son has continued his quest to prove he has been a man in the wrong career for the majority of his life with the launch of another investment fund.

The Growth Acceleration Fund has completed its first closing with committed capital of $269 million, somewhat short of the $100 billion raised during the first venture, though it will offer plenty of opportunity to explore new opportunities.

Having launched the Softbank Vision Fund and the Delta Fund, this latest attempt will look to target start-up businesses globally, though the primary focus of the fund will be the Asia markets. Softbank Group will be the main and controlling partner of the fund, contributing 52% of the capital, while other Softbank subsidiaries will also contribute as well as institutional investors such as Korea National Pension Service.

This is of course not the first fund which has been launched by the Softbank business, though it is another step-forward for Son, who seems to have the goal of being the most influential person in the technology industry.

The first investment body, the Softbank Vision Fund, was launched in 2017 and now has $91.7 billion in committed capital from the likes of the Mubadala Investment Company, Apple and Foxconn. With this capital, Son has made some heavy bets in the technology space including Nvidia, Arm, Slack and WeWork.

The more humble fund, the Delta Fund, is headquartered in Jersey and currently has $6 billion in contributing capital. The focus of this fund is also on the technology industry, although Softbank is less forth-coming with the names of its investments. So far, the Delta Fund has directed investment towards ‘VR/AR development tools’, a ‘geographical location platform’ and a ‘GPU developer’.

Although investment management is somewhat outside of the realms of Son’s experience to date, it seems he has a knack to running funds. In the financial year ending March 31, the two funds added 1.26 trillion yen in profits to the Softbank accounts. With such profits being realised, you can see why Son is keen to double-down and explore further.