UK government pledges £5bn for gigabit broadband in every home by 2025

During the Conservative Party Conference, Chancellor Sajid Javid pledged £5 billion for gigabit broadband in every home by 2025.

Standing on the steps of Downing Street following his election in July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the rollout of gigabit broadband one of his key pledges. The chancellor has now committed public money to help achieve Johnson’s pledge.

"We are setting out plans to invest £5bn to support the rollout of full-fibre, 5G and other gigabit-capable networks to the hardest-to-reach 20 percent of the country," it says in a press release.

The £5 billion will be invested to help support the rollout of gigabit broadband in challenging parts of the country.

In the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review last year, commissioned by former PM Theresa May, an “ambitious target” of 2033 was set for full-fibre. The review said, “additional funding of around £3bn to £5bn [will be needed] to support commercial investment in the final 10 percent of areas".

Johnson called the target “laughably unambitious”. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: "We should commit now to delivering full-fibre to every home in the land – not in the mid-2030s – but in five years at the outside.”

With today’s commitment, Javid has now provided the upper-tier of the funding called for in last year’s review while doubling the aim for it to support the final 10 percent of areas to 20 percent.

Sajid Javid MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

“Investment in our infrastructure will be key to making the next decade one of renewal – boosting our economy and making life easier for people all across the country.

This new multi-billion pound investment to deliver gigabit-capable broadband for all the UK and investment in roads and buses will help people to get around and businesses to grow, ensuring no community is left behind.

This will make the UK a better place to live and work, extending opportunity and raising living standards for all.”

Some observers believe the increased pace of the rollout will lead to a greater cost. BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, for example, likens it to “asking your builder to finish that extension by Christmas, not next summer.”

However, it’s notable how there’s been some watering-down of the language used about the pledge. While Johnson initially spoke of “full-fibre” that has recently changed to “gigabit broadband”.

Ensuring every household and business has access to gigabit broadband speeds is more achievable with 5G and technologies like Virgin Media’s DOCSIS 3.1 included. A rollout of FTTP (Fibre-to-the-Premises) to every property in the UK would be far more challenging, costly, and take much longer.

While easier, it still won’t be simple to achieve Johnson’s target. Procurements and legal obstacles can take two years to sort and training of new engineers will need to be vastly ramped up to handle such a rapid deployment.

Elsewhere, Javid has pledged £4.3bn in 2019/20 and £16.6bn over its lifetime to reassure businesses, universities, charities and others that all EU programme funding will be matched by the UK government once that money currently sent to Brussels is back in British coffers after Brexit.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam.

The many opportunities eSIM promises for IoT

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this article, Helen Gaden of the MVNOs Series talks us through some of the key findings of a recent report they conducted into eSIM and the opportunities and challenges it presents for IoT.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is opening up entirely new markets for mobile connectivity, and in doing so is reshaping the mobile industry ecosystem almost from scratch. From mobile phones, tablets and a handful of other gadgets mostly focused on consumer markets, demand for mobile services is now coming from dozens of different industry verticals, for hundreds of different purposes – everything from automated smart appliances in our homes to industrial machinery, connected vehicles and self-driving drones to monitoring systems in agriculture, healthcare, utilities and more.

It is a truly massive economic opportunity for the mobile industry and beyond. By 2025, it is predicted that there will be 25.2 billion connected devices in circulation. With all of them relying on mobile networks to stay on line, the mobile industry will be contributing close to $5 trillion in economic value – almost 5% of global GDP.

The catch is how the mobile industry embraces this opportunity and provides for all these new connections across so many new devices. The emergence of 5G, with the massive increases in network capacity and speed it will bring, will certainly help. But that does not resolve another, perhaps more fundamental challenge – how to provision, authenticate and manage network access for the mass deployment of billions of new devices when traditional mobile ecosystems have been based on a one-connection-per-user model.

That’s where eSIM comes in: to many analysts and observers, the switch from a removable SIM card to a user identification module hard-wired into a device has transformational potential for IoT. By 2025, it is estimated that eSIM will be present in two billion devices, with the proportion of total connections expected to rise steadily. But just how far do the opportunities for this virtual technology reach?

According to IoT solutions specialist Arm, eSIM will pay an integral role in revenue success for IoT, the technology they have called the “trillion device opportunity” for the mobile market. Arm predicts that revenues from IoT alone will be worth $10bn by 2025, but insists that embracing eSIM will be integral to that coming to pass.

So, what makes committed eSIM evangelists like Arm put so much faith in the technology when it comes to IoT? The added flexibility eSIM creates in the relationship between device/client and network provider might loosen the grip operators have traditionally enjoyed on network access, but it also opens the door to many more use cases for mobile technology.

For example, the connected car sector has stood out as an early adopter of e-SIM, with predictions that there will be 250 million connected vehicles on the road by 2020, while the total number of connections is expected to increase by a CAGR of 31%. Major manufacturers like General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Renault Nissan, Scania, Volvo, BMW and Daimler have all enthusiastically backed eSIM, partly because of the convenience of being able to embed a single, secure connection module in all vehicles ready to be shipped to any market.

But the connected vehicle sector also underlines the value of flexibility in network connectivity for IoT use cases. Connected cars rely on networks to provide a variety of services to vehicle owners, such as infotainment, real-time navigation, pay-as-you-drive insurance and breakdown services, telematics and diagnostics. With critical real-time services like navigation and breakdown provision, there’s a great deal of value in the subscription modules automatically picking up the best available network connection as the vehicle moves from place to place – especially when crossing international borders. This is of particular concern to the logistics and transport sector where fleet management and asset tracking systems need to be effective everywhere the vehicle or shipment goes.

There is also the potential for different services available in a vehicle to use different types of network according to their requirements, all provisioned through the same e-SIM. For example, while infotainment services like video streaming require the kind of high-bandwidth data services offered by 4G LTE, sending diagnostics and telematics data is much less bandwidth-intensive, and use of low-power networks like NB-IoT would be much more efficient and cost effective. The ability of eSIM to store multiple operator profiles at once opens the door to these kind of flexible choices, meaning network services can be matched closely to specific requirements.

The opportunities and advantages of a highly agile, adaptable connectivity ecosystem extend well beyond vehicle and transport industries. In utilities and agriculture, the use of self-driving drones to monitor pipelines, crops and other assets over large geographic areas offers a similar example. Automated drones require guaranteed connectivity wherever they go, with seamless transition between networks as required. Again, simple observational data such as that transmitted from sensors might be most efficiently carried on IoT-specific LPWAN networks, while streamed video would require 4G LTE or, in years to come, 5G. Goldman Sachs sees the value of the self-driving smart drone market as potentially rising to $100bn.

In manufacturing and industrial IoT, e-SIM is seen as a key enabler of so-called predictive maintenance, the use of predictive analytics and AI technologies to anticipate system issues in advance and take action before outages occur. A step beyond proactive maintenance, which seeks to resolve performance issues in the shortest possible time frame using advanced system monitoring, predictive maintenance promises to push availability, efficiency and performance guarantees to new heights.

The prerequisite for predictive maintenance is exceptionally high and consistent levels of data capture, which according to Arm poses a major obstacle. With the sophistication of modern digital processing systems, it often falls to OEMs to provide maintenance for equipment and machinery as an aftercare service. But their issue is that they ‘lose sight’ of their product as soon as it leaves their factory for the client. With e-SIM, data monitoring and analysis can be switched on instantly, providing a full picture throughout the lifecycle of the product, and with no interruptions even if it moves locations. It is this level of continuous performance data streaming that effective predictive maintenance relies on.

So overall, the widespread adoption of e-SIM gives equipment manufacturers opportunities to innovate with the type of devices they can add value to with connectivity and the range of form factors they can give those devices, including shrinking sizes and improving efficiency. It lets them rationalise product ranges with single designs that can be deployed across a wide range of markets, and it allows them to improve service and maintenance SLAs through predictive maintenance.

For operators, more connected devices across more industries opens the door to new markets and potentially enormous increases in their client base. Yes, e-SIM challenges the one device, one network model around which operators have built their traditional business models, loosening ties with customers and introducing more competition. But that in itself should be seen as an incentive to transition to the more service-oriented business models that best suit B2B markets.

Rather than jealously guarding activation to their networks through their own proprietary SIMs, operators should be encouraged to work in partnership with IoT service providers offering their expertise to support flexible, scalable ‘Network-as-a-Service’ platform models that meet the demands of business and enterprise clients.

 

For more insights into the relationship between eSIM and IoT, download the full report: “eSIM: Challenges and Opportunities for IoT.”

Obituary: Dr Stuart Sharrock

26th September 1943-25th August 2019

Dr Stuart Sharrock was a rarity among journalists of the time.  For a start he was actually a nuclear physicist both by trade and qualifications. He held a BSc in Natural Philosophy from Edinburgh University and a PhD in Nuclear Physics from University College, London.

He worked as a scientist in Russia and also at CERN in Switzerland putting those qualifications to good use. Stuart was also part of a team that won a Nobel Prize for Physics – though when pressed on this he would only ever say he was simply part of the backroom team and would change the subject.

Unassuming, would be one apt description of this quietly spoken man.  But he had a giant intellect which he put to good use working for many years as a consultant to the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), and to the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).  He sat on editorial boards, designed conference agendas, led discussions from the main stage and asked cogent questions from the conference floor.

As a journalist, he was the youngest editor of the UK’s foremost science journal, Nature, and also the launch editor of Informa’s Mobile Communications International magazine (MCI) which eventually became the telecoms.com website.  At Informa, Dr Sharrock built MCI into a much-respected international title and, in the early days, played a key role shaping and establishing the Mobile World Congress conference – now recognised as perhaps the world’s largest international trade conference and exhibition.

In recent years he has concentrated on conference and event organisation, alongside his contributions to the IEEE’s publications, especially on the Internet of Things.  A thoughtful, informed, commentator with a sharp business brain, Stuart Sharrock will be a much-missed presence whenever the telecoms industry gathers to discuss future direction and technical innovation.

One of his telecoms media contemporaries, Ian Channing, added:

“I knew Stuart for more than thirty years and was proud to call him my friend. Over the years we worked together on many projects including books, advertorials and ITU conferences and publications and I was a witness at his wedding to Heather, enjoying the wedding reception no end!

“We used to say that among the pack of characters that formed the telecoms press of the 1990’s dot.com boom years that Stuart brought the gravitas that the rest of us so sorely lacked.

“During an interminable trip around the nationalised telecoms operators in Scandinavia we were subjected to a strange, rather shambolic dinner in a lighthouse. Stuart, as the senior man, was urged to say a few words of thanks to our hosts. Ever reluctant to put himself forward, he nevertheless made such a graceful speech of thanks I was left wondering whether we had been at the same event.

“On another occasion, during a casual conversation at a trade show, Stuart revealed that in his youth he had been the eponymous Dave Rave, lead singer of Dave Rave and the Rave-Ons – something I would not put past him.

“For me Stuart was that quiet friendly guy who knew everything about technology and was happy to share that knowledge with his compatriots. He was a lovely man with an understated but wicked sense of humour which often came out as we sat enjoying a beverage or two. He will be much missed by me and by the many others who knew and liked him.”

A donations page in his name has been set up with the British Heart Foundation.

Tories promise another £5 billion to fuel fibre and 5G drive

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid has suggested an additional £5 billion will be made available for connectivity upgrades.

Although it has been tricky to confirm any of the details, it has been reported the Tories will search for an additional £5 billion to fulfil the fanciful promises Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been making in the connectivity domain.

Speaking to the press office at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, we were told that as this is a political matter they are not involved. Over at the Conservative Party press office, the team said they were not in a position to make any official confirmation just yet (at the time of writing).

Although this is part of a wider infrastructure message, including other areas such as road schemes and bus services, Javid has suggested the £5 billion would be used to ensure a digital divide is not created as roll-out of full-fibre, 5G and other gigabit capable networks steps-up a level.

“We want to make sure that we’re upgrading across the country, much of that can be done by the market which is a great thing,” Javid said during a Twitter message.

“But what I’m specifically focusing on today is the hardest parts of the country, some of the more rural areas and trying to make sure that no-one in this country is left out. We want to level up and make sure everyone gets the benefit of new, modern infrastructure.”

This is a common message from both the Government and the connectivity providers. There has been notable work over the last couple of years to ensure there is a fair and reasonable deployment of future-proof infrastructure. Although the telcos will be more drawn to investments in the more densely populated areas, this approach to drive ROI will not sit easily with the Government.

The Universal Service Obligation (USO) has been designed to ensure everyone across the UK has a clear, enforceable right to request high speed broadband, while the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme offers £740 million from the National Productivity Investment Fund to entice interest in the rural communities from the private market.

Looking at the mobile side, with the release and auction of new spectrum, coverage obligations are placed on the telcos. Following the Connected Nations 2018 report, the Government has committed to extend 4G geographic mobile network coverage to 95% of the UK by 2022. As part of the 700 MHz spectrum allocation, industry has to commit to at least 500 new mobile mast stations in rural areas to improve coverage.

Details are relatively thin for the moment, though this will be taken as a minor positive by the telcos.

In promising full-fibre coverage by 2025, PM Johnson was mocked by industry. To achieve such a feat, BT has suggested the industry would have to find an additional £30 billion in CAPEX, and industry would not be keen to fund this alone. £5 billion from Javid is a start, though considering this is to be spread across both fixed and mobile, there will have to be a few more of these announcements in the pipeline.

KPN cancels CEO appointment following insider trading investigation

Dominique Leroy was due to switch from Proximus to KPN but now she’s CEO of neither following an investigation into insider trading.

Leroy (pictured) was unveiled as the new CEO of Dutch telco KPN earlier this month, having previously headed up Belgian operator Proximus. She was due to hang around at Proximus until December, but within days employees of the company protested the prospect of having a ‘lame duck’ CEO at a time when there was extensive restructuring underway. This led the Proximus board to bring forward Leroy’s departure date to 20 September.

Another reason for the staff kicking off may have been the revelation that Leroy had flogged a bunch of her Proximus shares on 1 August, just a month before calling it a day. No unreasonably this led to speculation that she may have conducted the sale in advance of an anticipated drop in the share price following the announcement of her resignation. Leroy addressed the matter in a personal message published on the Proximus site. Here is it in full.

I would like to comment my sale of Proximus shares on August 1, 2019.

A CEO of a stock quoted company has few moments in which he can trade his company shares on the stock market. As for me I was in a closed period- this is a period during which no transactions are allowed- since November 22, 2018. I had the intention to trade my shares since several months, but this was not possible. After the publication of the results of the second quarter, August 1st was the first day on which new transactions were possible. I have therefore instructed the bank end of July to sell shares that day, what happened with notification to the financial regulator on August 5, as it needs to be done and with publication on their site on August 6.

At that moment I had not decided to leave Proximus. I was in discussion about the renewal of my contract with Proximus and had some conversations with several external parties, amongst which KPN.

I understand that with hindsight the timing can create the perception that I did this exactly prior and because of my departure. This is surely not the reason for my sale of shares, but this can –now that the discussions with KPN are closed soon after my holidays and the communication on my departure already had to happen beginning of September- be understood in such way by the external world. I regret that this perception has been created, this is not in line with my values where integrity and transparency are very high.

Belgian authorities don’t seem to have been reassured by this explanation, however, and launched a formal insider trading investigation, even going so far as to search her home for incriminating evidence. Typically this isn’t the kind of stuff companies like hanging around their new CEOs and KPN seems to have decided Leroy is not worth the extra aggro.

“KPN regrets to announce that Mrs. Dominique Leroy is no longer a candidate in the process to become the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Management of KPN,” said today’s announcement. “The duration of the procedures which concern Mrs. Leroy by the authorities in Belgium is unclear and unpredictable. The Supervisory Board of KPN considers these uncertainties around timing not in the interest of KPN and its stakeholders. For this reason, the Supervisory Board has taken the decision to withdraw the intended appointment of Mrs. Leroy in the position of CEO of KPN.”

“This was a difficult decision for the Supervisory Board given the track record of Mrs. Dominique Leroy as a very accomplished executive,” said current KPN Chairman Duco Sickinghe. “However, the uncertainty around timing results in a situation, which the Supervisory Board considers not in the interest of KPN. We wish her all the best.”

In other words: you’re on your own, kid. While it’s understandable to rethink a decision in the light of new information, it’s notable that KPN isn’t willing to wait to see if Leroy is exonerated by rhe investigation. Either they think there’s little chance of that happening, they think she’s irredeemably tarnished regardless or they just think the process will take too long.

Leroy presumably did her due diligence before selling the shares, but it’s hard to see how she can justify selling the shares before the announcement of her departure was made, since she already concedes she was considering doing so when she sold them. Meanwhile both Proximus and KPN are CEO-less.

Ericsson and Nokia both claim to be KDDI primary 5G partner

In a strange turn of events, both Ericsson and Nokia have made announcements claiming to be the primary partner for the efforts of Japanese telcos to drive towards 5G.

Unless there is a different definition of ‘primary’ in the Nordics, someone is up to a bit of funny business.

Looking at the Ericsson announcement first, the Swedes are claiming to be the primary 5G vendor with the first commercial live 5G services to be available from March 2020. As part of the agreement, Ericsson will supply KDDI with Radio Access Network equipment, including products and solutions from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio.

“Having established our important partnership with KDDI in 2013, we have now expanded our collaboration efforts,” said Chris Houghton, Head of Market Area North East Asia for Ericsson. “We are excited about our involvement in KDDI’s 5G network buildout, which will provide a sound basis for our future collaboration as well as allowing our partner to offer users a whole new generation of mobile services.”

Over in Finland, Nokia has said it has been selected by KDDI as a primary partner. There might be a bit of nuanced language here, though it would certainly be unusual to have more than one primary.

Looking at the two statements, Ericsson is claiming to be “the” primary partner while Nokia is claiming to be “a” primary partner. This might be the slight difference we have been searching for to understand why such little regard has been afforded to the dictionary.

If more than one company is being granted the title of “primary”, in our opinion, it undermines the concept entirely.

“This deal will allow KDDI to get ready for the 5G era and we are honoured and excited to continue our long-term relationship,” said John Harrington, Head of Nokia Japan. “As an end-to-end supplier of multiple technologies to KDDI, we look forward to transforming the network and launching 5G for consumers and industries.”

Nokia’s agreement suggests its radio access solution AirScale will be used to support both cmWave and mmWave 5G frequency bands across its network.

As it stands, Nokia currently has 48 5G commercial contracts in place, though it is not clear how many 5G base stations the company is manufacturing or shipping each month. Alongside this agreement, Nokia also signed a pact with Vodafone New Zealand last month, with the telco planning to launch 5G services towards the end of 2019.

In Sweden, Ericsson has signed 25 5G commercial contracts, while it announced deals with Nex-Tech Wireless and RINA Wireless earlier this month. These are not the biggest deals you could imagine, both the telcos are regional US carriers, though considering the size of some of the areas covered (Kansas, Utah, Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and Oregon) they are useful contracts to collect. Ericsson is also not unveiling how many base stations it has shipped to date.

Ericsson is claiming to be involved with two-thirds of the live deployments worldwide, while Nokia has said it is providing equipment to 11.

The two announcements with KDDI are perfectly demonstrative of the situation both Nokia and Ericsson are in currently. With Huawei running riot through the 4G era, these two vendors will have to prove their on-point heading into the 5G epoch. It might be little more than chest-beating for the management team to prove to investors they are not falling that far behind the Chinese rival.

Huawei has claimed to so far gained 50 5G commercial contracts and shipped more than 150,000 base stations. With the Chinese vendor under severe pressure from the US Government, some would have assumed both Nokia and Ericsson would have benefitted greatly, though this does not appear to be the state-of-play currently. They are both doing well, but given the context, is it good enough?

Over the last few years, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri has promised 5G would bring fortunes for the company, while Ericsson was forced into replaced its CEO in early 2017 to steady the ship. Börje Ekholm has done a perfectly reasonable job though rumours have emerged he is ready to step down.

What should be worth noting is that Ekholm was CEO of Investor AB prior to assuming control at Ericsson. Investor AB is a notable investor in Ericsson, so it would have been reasonable to presume his time at the top would have been limited. Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe has announced he will be leaving the automotive company, with local press suggesting he is in-line to take over.

Ericsson is yet to provide clarity on the situation, though Nokia has suggested KDDI would be able to clear up the situation.

UK starts laying groundwork for another assault on privacy

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is reportedly to sign a transatlantic agreement offering the UK Government more clout over the stubborn messaging platforms.

First and foremost, this is not a pact between the UK and US which would compel the messaging platforms to break their encryption protections, but it is a step towards offering the UK Government more opportunity.

According to The Times, Patel will sign an agreement with the US next month which will offer the UK powers to compel US companies which offer messaging services to handover data to police forces, intelligence services and prosecutors. After the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act was signed into law last year, the US Government was afforded the opportunity to share more data with foreign governments, and this would appear to be the first of such agreements.

This is of course not the first time the UK Government has set its eyes on undermining user privacy. Former-Home Secretary Amber Rudd was the champion of the Government efforts to break the blockage during yesteryear, attempting to force these companies to introduce ‘backdoors’ which would enable the access of information.

There are of course numerous reasons why this would be seen as an awful idea. Firstly, the introduction of a back-door is a vulnerability by design. It doesn’t matter how well secured it is, if there is a vulnerability the nefarious actors in the darker corners of the web will find it.

Secondly, stringent security measures should not be undermined for the sake of it or because the consumer is not driven by security as a reason for using the services. Your correspondent does not buy a car because it has the best airbags, but he would be irked if they didn’t work when called upon.

Finally, governments and public offices have not proven themselves responsible enough to hand over such a potential violation of the human right to privacy. And let’s not forget, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights is solely focused on privacy.

What is worth noting is this pact with the US Government is not a measure to introduce back-doors into encryption software, but you should always bear in mind what the UK Government is driving towards with incremental steps. It is easy to forget the bigger picture when small steps are made, but how often have you looked back and wondered how we got to a certain situation?

The CLOUD Act offers the US agencies the right to collect limited information from the messaging platform providers. Currently, US authorities can request information such as who the user is messaging, when and the frequency. The law does not grant access to the content of the messages, though it is a step towards wielding greater control and influence over the social media companies.

Should Patel sign this agreement, and it is still an if right now, this power would be extended to the UK Government to collect information on UK citizens.

What is worth noting is this is not official, though it would not surprise us. Rudd attempted to revolutionise the relationship between the UK Government and messaging platforms, and this failed spectacularly. This would be a more reasonable approach, taking baby steps towards the ultimate goal.

LG Uplus leads 5G service with AR, VR features

A recent report reveals that LG Uplus is successfully differentiating its 5G service package through adoption of AR and VR features.

LG Uplus 5G

South Korea’s third-largest mobile operator, LG Uplus [Photo/VCG]

 

South Korea’s third-largest mobile operator, LG Uplus, has adopted a successful differentiation strategy through its augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) service portfolio in the country’s highly-competitive 5G race, according to a report by Strategy Analytics, a global consulting firm.

According to the report released on Sept. 12, LG Uplus has a 5G market share of 29 percent, or 9 percentage points higher than its overall retail market share in South Korea, which is facilitated by a strong focus on AR and VR content.

In the report, a case study on LG Uplus’s 5G strategies and market execution identified VR and AR services, which require higher download speeds compared to conventional video, as demonstrating the power of LG Uplus’s new network and giving consumers reasons to upgrade.

In order to seed the market by letting users sample the unique services powered by a faster network, LG Uplus has been bundling VR headsets with selected plans.

Moreover, LG Uplus also offers its subscribers a range of VR and AR content, including Pro Baseball, Golf, Idol Live, AR Live and VR live, delivering an immersive 5G media experience to a range of consumers.

“The baseball app targets users in their 30s and 40s, while the golf app targets those in their 50s and 60s,”said Park Jong-wook, vice presidentin charge of the mobile service division at LG Uplus. “As the Uplus Idol Live app is designed to target those in their teens and 20s, we are setting up our business portfolio to encompass a wide range of generations,” he added.

According to a consumer survey conducted in June by Kantar Korea, the ratio of choosing Uplus for the company’s competitive 5G services (including AR and VR) was two to three times higher than that of its competitors.

Phil Kendall, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “In markets like South Korea, where many 4G users will be happy with their service experience and not feel any need to upgrade for a better network experience, operators must develop a service-based marketing story around 5G.” He explained that VR and AR content fit South Korean cultural and sporting interests well and will “work well in other markets in those customer segments with strong affiliations to celebrities or social media stars.”

The report concludes that, in a highly competitive market where differentiation on network quality and pricing is difficult, the LG Uplus operator has successfully used AR and VR content both as a compelling case for business-to-customer 5G services and as a source of exclusive content driving customer acquisition.

LG Uplus launched its 5G network in early April along with local competitors KT and SK Telecom, and has 540,000 5G customers to date. In cooperation with Huawei, the leading 5G provider, it has delivered more than 25,000 5G base stations across the country. The two companies have been working together to develop ultra-HD video and VR services based on 5G networks and to enable new 5G commercial applications.

According to a recent report from RootMetrics by IHS Markit, LG Uplus’s 5G network stood out with the most consistent speed performance among all South Korean mobile operators.

Report claims buying Huawei tech is ‘like buying Chinese fighter planes’

A report analysing the costs involved with removing Chinese telecoms equipment in Europe has trashed concerns it will be a lot more than in the US.

The US has just pledged $1 billion for rural mobile networks to replace Chinese telecoms equipment in the country. European nations are still debating whether to follow the US’ lead, but concerns about the cost are a factor.

Earlier this year, Huawei funded an analysis which calculated the cost of removing Chinese telecoms equipment from Europe would be as eye-watering as $62 billion.

According to Strand Consult, most of Europe’s networks are around 3-5 years old and ready to be replaced. This was not factored into the Huawei-funded analysis.

The firm believes 70-80 percent of equipment needs replacing and that around $2.9 billion has been spent annually over the past three years in doing so. Approximately 40 percent of this equipment was acquired from Chinese telecoms vendors like Huawei or ZTE.

If Europe was to go ahead with replacing Chinese telecoms equipment, Strand estimates the cost – based on the above figures – to be around $3.5 billion. This equates to a one-time cost to each mobile subscriber of approximately $7 (€6.50).

Speaking to Forbes, Strand said:

“Those sceptical of the claims that Chinese-made telecom equipment poses a threat to security should ask themselves whether they would be okay with NATO buying a fighter plane made in China.

Why is there universal agreement that military equipment from China should be restricted but not telecom networks where vital information is transported?”

The US has been making the same point as Strand for some time. Despite never outright banning Chinese telecoms vendors, the US limited the use of their equipment by preventing any carrier which did from accessing government contracts and subsidies. No major US operator uses Chinese telecoms equipment, but some rural ones do.

US-China Trade War

Amid the wider ‘trade war’ between the US and China, Huawei has found itself in the crossfire. The Chinese tech behemoth is listed on the Entity List of the United States Department of Commerce, which prohibits US companies from doing business with these firms without first obtaining a license.

Huawei’s presence on the list has not just affected its telecoms equipment arm but also its consumer devices. The company’s latest flagship smartphone, the Mate 30 Pro, is launching without access to Google’s services.

In response to the US trade situation, Huawei is decreasing its reliance on American companies. Speaking at a forum this week, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said his company has begun producing 5G base stations without US components.

“We carried out the testing in August and September, and from October on we will start scale production,” Zhengfei said.

Zhengfei also said Huawei is willing to license its 5G mobile technology to a US firm if it helps to alleviate security concerns over its products.

Many carriers around the globe would welcome access, whether continued or for the first time, to Huawei’s highly-regarded equipment. However, security officials must be satisfied that any risk posed by the use of Chinese telecoms equipment has been sufficiently mitigated.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam.

Android moves to replace Google Pay music app with YouTube Music

Google wants to make YouTube the default audio app on Android in the hope of boosting its chances of competing with Spotify.

Right now the default Android audio app is Google Play Music, which does try to get users to upgrade to Google’s subscription streaming service, but doesn’t do a very good job of it and is mainly used as the interface for accessing locally stored audio files. Rather than overhaul the way that upsell is managed Google has decided to merge it with the YouTube Music app.

Music videos are arguably the most popular type of content on YouTube, with the top 30 most viewed individual videos dominated by music. YouTube monetizes those via serving ads on the video, but it would rather people paid upfront to its premium subscription service, that offers ad-free playback, background play on mobile devices (without it the music disappears if you switch to another app) and even downloading.

YouTube premium has plenty of features, but Spotify is the incumbent streaming music service, so Google has to do something special to topple it. As politicians, regulators and anti-trust authorities around the world are increasingly sensitive to, in Android Google has an incredible powerful platform for upselling its other digital products and services and it seems to have decided YouTube Premium needs the power of Android to give it critical mass.

YouTube Music is your personal guide through the complete world of music—whether it’s a hot new song, hard to find gem, or an unmissable music video,” says the announcement, tellingly published on the YouTube blog. “Music fans on Android phones can now easily unlock the magic of YouTube Music, which will come installed on all new devices launching with Android 10 (and Android 9), including the Pixel series.”

The announcement also made it clear that Google Play Music will no longer be preinstalled, which seems like a precursor to it being replaced entirely. You can still access locally stored files through YouTube Music, but on first inspection the user interface is inferior to Google Play Music, so the company may face some push-back from users on that. We’ll leave you with the top 5 music videos ever on YouTube, bafflingly headed by the entirely mundane Despacito. Contrastingly Gangnam Style has lost none of its kitsch, tongue-in-cheek charm.