Making Sense of the Telco Cloud

In recent years the cloudification of communication networks, or “telco cloud” has become a byword for telecom modernisation. This Telecoms.com Intelligence Monthly Briefing aims to analyse what telcos’ transition to cloud means to the stakeholders in the telecom and cloud ecosystems. Before exploring the nooks and crannies of telco cloud, however, it is worthwhile first taking an elevated view of cloud native in general. On one hand, telco cloud is a subset of the overall cloud native landscape, on the other, telco cloud almost sounds an oxymoron. Telecom operator’s monolithic networks and cloud architecture are often seen as two different species, but such impressions are wrong.

(Here we are sharing the opening section of this Telecoms.com Intelligence special briefing to look into how telco cloud has changing both the industry landscape and operator strategies.

The full version of the report is available for free to download here.)

What cloud native is, and why we need it

“Cloud native” have been buzz words for a couple of years though often, like with many other buzz words, different people mean many different things when they use the same term. As the authors of a recently published Microsoft ebook quipped, ask ten colleagues to define cloud native, and there’s good chance you’ll get eight different answers. (Rob Vettor, Steve “ardalis” Smith: Architecting Cloud Native .NET Applications for Azure, preview edition, April 2020)

Here are a couple of “cloud native” definitions that more or less agree with each other, though with different stresses.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), an industry organisation with over 500 member organisations from different sectors of the industry, defines cloud native as “computing (that) uses an open source software stack to deploy applications as microservices, packaging each part into its own container, and dynamically orchestrating those containers to optimize resource utilization.”

Gabriel Brown, an analyst from Heavy Reading, has a largely similar definition for cloud native, though he puts it more succinctly. For him, cloud native means “containerized micro-services deployed on bare metal and managed by Kubernetes”, the de facto standard of container management.

Although cloud native has a strong inclination towards containers, or containerised services, it is not just about containers. An important element of cloud native computing is in its deployment mode using DevOps. This is duly stressed by Omdia, a research firm, which prescribes cloud native as “the first foundation is to use agile methodologies in development, building on this with DevOps adoption across IT and, ideally, in the organization as well, and using microservices software architecture, with deployment on the cloud (wherever it is, on-premises or public).”

Some would argue the continuous nature of DevOps is as important to cloud native as the infrastructure and containerised services. Red Hat, an IBM subsidiary and one of the leading cloud native vendors and champions for DevOps practices, sees cloud native in a number of common themes including “heavily virtualized, software-defined, highly resilient infrastructure, allowing telcos to add services more quickly and centrally manage their resources.”

These themes are aligned with the understanding of cloud native by Telecoms.com Intelligence, and this report will discuss cloud native and telco cloud along this line. (A full Q&A with Azhar Sayeed, Chief Architect, Service Provider at Red Hat can be found at the end of this report).

The main benefits of cloud native computing are speed, agility, and scalability. As CNCF spells it out, “cloud native technologies empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds. Containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs exemplify this approach. These techniques enable loosely coupled systems that are resilient, manageable, and observable. Combined with robust automation, they allow engineers to make high-impact changes frequently and predictably with minimal toil.”

To adapt such thinking to the telecom industry, the gains from migrating to cloud native are primarily a reflection of, and driven by, the increasing convergence between network and IT domains. The first candidate domain that cloud technology can vastly improve on, and to a certain degree replace the heavy infrastructure, is the support for the telcos’ own IT systems, including the network facing Operational Support Systems and customer facing Business Support System (OSS and BSS).

But IT cloud alone is far from what telcos can benefit from the migration to cloud native. The rest of this report will discuss how telcos can and do embark on the journey to cloud native, as a means to deliver true business benefits through improved speed, agility, and scalability to their own networks and their customers.

The rest of the report include these sections:

  • The many stratifications of telco cloud
  • Clouds gathering on telcos
  • What we can expect to see on the telco cloud skyline
  • Telco cloud openness leads to agility and savings — Q&A with Azhar Sayeed, Chief Architect, Service Provider, Red Hat
  • Additional Resources

The full version of the report is available for free to download here.

Investors pressuring AT&T to divest TV assets – report

Reports are circulating the telecoms press pages suggesting AT&T investors are pressuring new CEO John Stankey to sell assets in DirecTV.

According to Fox Business News, ‘bankers’ are pushing for divestment in DirecTV to reduce the heavy debt which are weighing down financial spreadsheets. This is not the first time there have been calls to sell interests in the content units, but the telco has resisted so far, emphasising the importance of streaming and entertainment in the convergence mix.

While debt is something which will always exist in the corporate world (some see the accumulation of debt as a measure of corporate ambition and market confidence), AT&T seems to be in a position which is making investors uncomfortable.

As it stands, AT&T currently has $164.3 billion in debt, $147.2 of which is deemed long-term. Considering how cash-absorbent the telecoms industry is, there will always be debts on the books at AT&T, but this is a company which has made very large bets on the content world, the success of which is very debatable.

During July 2015, AT&T purchased DirecTV for $67.1 billion including assumed debt, and a year later it announced it was acquiring Time Warner for an eye-watering $108.7 billion. The business also has a 2% stake in Canadian entertainment company Lionsgate, as well as several smaller bets. The aims are to add additional revenue streams to the AT&T business, attempt to sell convergence packages and add greater resilience against macroeconomic trends and the commoditisation path the telco industry is treading.

It is of course a valiant quest from the executive team, dipping fingers into additional pies to create a more diversified business, but it is questionable as to how successful the team has actually been.

These are very big gambles to make, working against general consensus in the industry with many rivals choosing to take a content aggregator position, a safer albeit less profitable bet on the platform economy. Of course, doing something different to the status quo is not necessarily a bad thing, it just has to work out well.

The question is whether the telco is any good at managing such a multi-faceted and eclectic business; evidence suggests it is not.

Firstly, the content business unit is incredibly fragmented. We are aware that you need different brands to appeal to different demographics, but it is quite extraordinary at AT&T where you have DirecTV, DirecTV Now, U-verse, HBO Max, HBO Now, HBO Go, Watch TV and DC Universe. It’s scattered, chaotic and overlapping.

Of course, none of this would matter if the unit was growing and making money, which leads us onto the second point. The content division is costing AT&T a lot of money, while subscriptions are disappearing faster than toilet roll in the first days of lockdown. During the latest earnings call, AT&T executives somehow had to defend losing 1.03 million TV subscribers.

Activist investor Elliott Management, which owns roughly 1.2% of AT&T, has already kicked up a stink regarding the diversification strategy, though this is hardly surprising. This is a company which focuses on forcing asset disposal to hike share price. It is a successful business model for Elliott Management, but it is questionable whether the long-term interests of the company is at the heart of the strategy. Forcing AT&T to sell content assets and purely focus on connectivity is not necessarily a sensible idea for the long-term.

CEO Stankey will have his resolve tested in the first few months of his tenure here. He has explicitly stated the DirecTV business unit is not for sale but will also be acutely aware of the dangers of resisting the demands of investors. After all, Stankey was placed in charge of AT&T following Randall Stephenson being ushered out the exit under the guise of retirement.


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National Advertising Review Board finally tells AT&T to stop lying about 5G

‘5G Evolution’ or ‘5Ge’ has been a controversial campaign from AT&T because it is effectively lying to its customers, but now the telco has been told to stop the foolishness.

The telco has persisted with the branding exercise, despite widespread criticism from all corners of the industry, though the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) will hopefully put an end to the misleading statements. It is quite frankly absurd that the telco has been allowed to carry on making such deceptive claims for this long.

Like the National Advertising Division (NAD), the NARB has come to the conclusion that the overall messaging implies that 5G is here. Despite the assertions from AT&T, the inclusion of ‘evolution’ does not inform the customer of an on-going technological journey and some may believe the telco is delivering a service which it is not.

“The Panel agreed with NAD’s conclusion that the addition of ‘The First Step in 5G’ does not cure the concern that consumers could reasonably take away the message that beginning 5G technology is delivered,” the NARB said in a statement.

“The Panel noted that a reasonable consumer could conclude that the reference to ‘The First Step to 5G’ was the advertiser’s way of promoting a 5G network, while promising an even more robust 5G network at a later time, especially since the slogan is being used in conjunction with ‘5G Evolution’.”

Starting back in January 2019, AT&T unveiled a new logo in the corner of its customer’s devices; 5Ge. Some might have assumed they were getting 5G services, a very forgivable mistake, but the presence of a 5Ge symbol actually meant 4G LTE Advanced services had been activated.

This does mean improved download speeds, but it does not mean 5G. AT&T is little more a snakeskin oil salesman.

Amazingly, while most companies would have admitted the error of their ways and retreated cap in hand, AT&T persisted with the campaign, even insisted there was absolutely nothing wrong with misleading its customers. It shows a lack of respect for its customers and an executive team which has the same moral code as an unsupervised baby kicker in a nursery.

Although this is a self-regulated element of the industry, there have been two official bodies appointed; the NAD and the NARB. The NAD is the investigatory arm, while the NARB handles any further disputes which may emerge.

In this case, T-Mobile made a complaint to the NAD, which sided against AT&T, believing the ‘5Ge’ position to be misleading. AT&T appealed this decision that the two claims (‘5G Evolution’ and ‘5G Evolution, The First Step to 5G’) should be discontinued. In such disputes, the NARB steps in to be the final voice, and fortunately its voice today is very reasonable.

AT&T has said that while it disagrees with the opinion of the NARB, it will respect the decision and stop promoting ‘5Ge’ and all other associated messaging.

For those who take a more reasoned and rational view of the US telecoms industry, this is a decision which will bring some relief. AT&T was toying with its own credibility with this misleading campaign, and as a result, was undermining the fragile confidence which is currently placed in 5G.

5G is currently viewed as a premium service for two reasons; firstly, it is not ubiquitous, and secondly, 4G satisfies the download demands of the vast majority. If telcos are going to convince consumers to migrate to 5G services, most likely paying a premium as a result, they will need to be convinced it is actually worth the hassle and the expense.

The 5G proposition which is being delivered today over mmWave is falling short of expectations, though the low-band service offered by T-Mobile is also a bit of a damp squib. With actual 5G services disappointing customers, the last thing US telcos need to do is further compound the misery by selling 4G services under the guise of 5G. The trust will be further compromised, making it more difficult to generate momentum towards the new era of connectivity.

AT&T’s stubborn insistence to keep the ‘5Ge’ campaign alive was going to be little more than a net loss for itself and the industry, but hopefully the 16 months it was allowed to directly mislead customers has not done too much damage.


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Verizon gets wrist slap for misleading 5G claims

The National Advertising Division (NAD) has condemned Verizon for misleading consumers over the quality of its 5G network across the country.

And guess who the complaint was filed by… AT&T.

“The National Advertising Division determined that, in the context of two challenged television commercials touting Verizon’s rollout of 5G service in sports venues, the claim that ‘Verizon is building the most powerful 5G experience for America’ reasonably communicates a message about the consumer experience of using 5G mobile service that was not supported by the evidence in the record,” the NAD statement declares.

While these organisations seemingly specialise in inaccessible language, the message is that Verizon was not fairly representing its network in adverts broadcast at sporting venues.

Verizon is building 5G networks in sporting venues across the US, though the NAD believes the way the adverts have been created suggests a similar experience would be offered outside the venues themselves. This is not supported by any evidence.

Although this would be deemed a win for AT&T, let’s not offer too much praise; 5G networks in the US are pretty poor as it stands.

The telcos are of course facing a difficult challenge in delivering the desired 5G experience, the US is a monstrously large country after all, but the available spectrum is also not helping matters. Despite the telcos preaching about the benefits of mmWave spectrum to underpin 5G networks, the telcos are performing woefully.

T-Mobile has been blasted for the speeds which have been delivered over the 600 MHz spectrum it has been offering, while AT&T and Verizon has been failing at coverage. In a recent Rootmetrics gaming study in Los Angeles, none met the minimum requirements for latency.

The US might be the champion when it comes to numerous segments of the digital economy, but it is failing to live up to its own proclamations in the delivery of 5G. If this is a temperature test of how the US is getting on in the 5G race, it is the equivalent of Britney Spears in the 100 metres.

TV takes a bite out of AT&T and Telia financials

The content business units of both the US’ AT&T and Nordics telco Telia as spreadsheets were strained during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

While it is becoming impossible not to mention the coronavirus outbreak at almost every turn, both the telcos have planned the crisis for the financial downturn. Although the top-line figures might show year-on-year declines, it is very difficult to hold anyone accountable as the world ponders this unforeseeable pandemic.

“The beginning of 2020 cannot be characterized as business as usual for Telia Company and society as a whole,” Telia CEO Christian Luiga said in the statement to investors. “Our financial performance is stable within our traditional telco business, with flat service revenues and an underlying growing adjusted EBITDA, whilst COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the TV & Media unit.”

“The COVID pandemic had a 5 cents per share impact on our first quarter. Without it, the quarter was about what we expected — strong wireless numbers that covered the HBO Max investment, and produced stable EBITDA and EBITDA margins,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T and CEO.

In both of these businesses, the core business of telecommunications stood firm against testing trading conditions, but it was the content units which felt the strain. Most notably, the legacy TV services which both are attempting to shake off moving forward.

Looking at the AT&T financials, revenues fell short of analyst expectations though the coronavirus outbreak is causing chaos in the ranks. With revenues reaching $42.8 billion for the three-month period, down 4.6% year-on-year with $600 million attributed to the COVID-19 crisis. Roaming revenues were a contributing factor though the issue has been largely attributed to dampening demand for advertising.

Like many other businesses throughout the telecoms and technology world, AT&T has decided against giving any guidance for the rest of the year.

Over in Sweden with Telia, although net revenues did increase year-on-year, this is partly down to the acquisition of Bonnier Broadcasting. On a like-for-like basis, comparing what business units existed in Q1 2019, total revenues declined by 2.2%. Data usage has increased, as did wireless revenues, but it was the entertainment and TV unit which suffered.

Coronavirus has had a severe negative impact on the overall business, with demand from advertisers declining through the period. Traditional TV businesses are under considerable pressure during this crisis, quite the opposite of the fortunes being hoovered up by the streaming giants.

While it is interesting to keep an eye on the financials of the telcos during this period, it is very difficult to use these earning calls as a genuine temperature gauge.

AT&T bags $5.5bn loan to firm up spreadsheets

AT&T has announced a number of new initiatives and loans to add some more confidence to the business which has seen a 23% share price decline over the last six weeks.

As several analysts lower their target prices on AT&T stock amid the coronavirus outbreak, the telco has offered the market a financial update to add more confidence in the business. While share price has stabilising over the last few days around $29, it is 23.75% lower than the high of $38.61 on February 20.

Analyst Old target price New target price
Wells Fargo $36 $28
Suntrust Robinson $36 $30
Goldman Sachs $35 $29
JP Morgan $38 $35
Citigroup $42 $31

AT&T share target prices taken from Market Realist

Forecasting the performance of the financial markets is far from an exact science, and it is worth bearing in mind the above target prices are for different timeframes, though all of the revisions over the last 15 days are heading in the same direction.

To combat the negative swing, AT&T has announced a number of measures which could add more confidence thanks to increased cash flow.

Firstly, AT&T has reminded the market that it had about $12 billion in cash on hand by the end of 2019, but to bolster this position it has announced a $5.5 billion term-loan agreement at competitive rates with 12 banks provide additional financial flexibility.

After completing a $4 billion Accelerated Share Repurchase (ASR) agreement in March, AT&T cancelled an additional $4 billion ASR to ensure further financial security. Elsewhere in the business, AT&T will gain $2 billion after the investment in the Central European Media Enterprises business unit, while the team expects to close the sale of its Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands operations later this year.

AT&T follows Italian lead by temporarily unlocking data limits

AT&T has announced it will suspend download limits on its broadband products in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The restrictions on data usage, which accounts for both downloads and uploads, are dependent on the amount charged for customers. Those with a DSL service are limited to 150 GB per month, FWA customers are limited to 250 GB, and for those who have a service with maximum speeds between 768 Kbps to 300 Mbps, the data restriction is 1 TB per month.

These limitations will now be lifted as the telco reacts to the on-going global pandemic.

In response to the more significant impact COVID-19 is having on the US, more than 1,000 cases have been confirmed to date, a group of 17 Senators have written to the major telcos to suggest the same actions are taken across the industry.

“No one should be penalised or suffer financial duress for following guidance from the CDC, their employer, local health public officials, or school leaders,” the letter, addressed to CEOs of the major telcos, states.

“While its likely that your networks will experience significantly greater traffic as a consequence of social distancing measures, we encourage you to forebear from application of broadband caps and associated fees or throttling as workers and families cope with the effects of this health emergency.”

Comcast is another which has taken action against to assist low income families. New customers for the Internet Essentials Service, the $9.99 a month broadband product, will be able to sign-up with without a long-term contract, credit checks will be dropped as will shipping fees for routers.

These actions seem to be following the actions of the Italian telcos who have been lifting data restrictions for all mobile and broadband products for customers in the impacted areas. Italy is the worst affected country outside of China and Iran.

Interestingly enough, as more people are forced to self-isolate or work from home, the more strain communications infrastructure will come under.

In Italy, Telecom Italia has said it has seen internet traffic across its network of 70%, mostly thanks to the increased use of video and gaming applications. The telco has said Fortnite and Call of Duty are applications which have seen notable increases over the last few weeks as schools have been closed and children need to be entertained.

With more companies asking employees to work from home and the potential for more schools to be closed, home broadband networks might be strained in a way never seen before. These are elements of the network which have not been designed to deal with this intensity of data traffic; how this is managed will certainly be an interesting story to unfold over the coming weeks.

Google Cloud gathers telco momentum with new partnerships

Google Cloud has announced two new partnerships with Telecom Italia, T-Systems and AT&T in an effort to build momentum in the burgeoning enterprise connectivity world.

Starting with Telecom Italia (TIM), Google will help the telco build public, private and hybrid cloud services as enterprise customers become more important in the new era of connectivity. As with every telco, the enterprise segment is one being heavily targeted by TIM, with plans to exceed €1 billion in annual revenues with more attention being paid to cloud and edge services.

“This strategic partnership with Google places TIM among the Italian key players in Cloud and Edge computing, two markets that will become more and more central with the deployment of 5G technology and Artificial Intelligence,” said TIM CEO, Luigi Gubitosi. “By choosing to join forces with a recognised global technological and innovation leader we confirm our commitment to promote and accompany Italy’s digital progress.”

As part of the agreement, Google Cloud will partner with TIM to open new cloud regions in Italy, with the telco suggesting it has developed training programmes involving 6,000 people in the commercial, pre-sales and technical areas. With a larger data centre footprint across the region, new services will be developed focusing on low latency and high-performance cloud-based workloads and data.

Over in Germany, the tie-up between Google and T-Systems will focus on digital transformation and managed services, with T-Systems providing consulting services, migration support and managed services to enterprise customers leveraging Google Cloud capabilities.

“Our joint goal is to support organizations in their digitization and to improve business processes with the cloud,” said Adel Al-Saleh, CEO of T-Systems. “This partnership is a core element of our strategy, generating value-add for our clients with managed cloud services.”

As part of the partnership, T-Systems will create a Google Cloud competence centre which will focus on creating customised cloud solutions and services for its customers. Services will focus on large-scale workload migrations to the cloud, SAP application modernization, development of new AI and ML solutions, as well as solutions for data warehouse and data analytics in the cloud.

Finally, the partnership between Google and AT&T will aim to develop 5G edge solutions in industries like retail, manufacturing and transportation.

“Combining AT&T’s network edge, including 5G, with Google Cloud’s edge compute technologies can unlock the cloud’s true potential,” said Mo Katibeh, CMO of AT&T Business. “This work is bringing us closer to a reality where cloud and edge technologies give businesses the tools to create a whole new world of experiences for their customers.”

Partnerships between local telecoms companies and the internet giants are starting to become more common and Google has been leveraging local expertise and presence. In India, Google has struck a deal with Airtel to offer its productivity suite. This deal was announced a few months after a similar tie up between telco Reliance Jio and Microsoft Azure.

Elsewhere, Google has partnerships with CenturyLink for areas such as cloud enablement, migration services, SAP and big data, NTT Data in Japan, BICS in Belgium and China Mobile, just to name a few.

As the lines between telecoms and ICT continue to blur, these partnerships will become much more common and deeply entrenched. However, there does seem to be a slight shift in mentality, with the telcos bringing network assets to the party and leveraging the cloud power of Silicon Valley. Telcos are highly unlikely to be able to compete with the likes of Google Cloud and AWS when it comes to software and services, so why bother?

There is clearly a lot for both parties to gain from these partnerships, though telcos are leaning more towards working with the cloud giants as opposed to competing with them directly. Perhaps a much more sensible approach.

FCC proposes $200 million fine for location snooping telcos

The four major MNOs each face the threat of a weighty fine, collectively totalling more than $200 million, for helping third parties stalk customers.

Thanks to all four of the national US telcos selling customer location data to third parties over a sustained period of time, the FCC has proposed fines supposedly proportionate to the impact. While there are justified and responsible means for third party companies to use telco location data, this was certainly not one of them and the telcos have been found guilty of not protecting the data privacy rights of customers.

“American consumers take their wireless phones with them wherever they go,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “And information about a wireless customer’s location is highly personal and sensitive.

“The FCC has long had clear rules on the books requiring all phone companies to protect their customers’ personal information. And since 2007, these companies have been on notice that they must take reasonable precautions to safeguard this data and that the FCC will take strong enforcement action if they don’t. Today, we do just that.”

The proposed fines are as follows: AT&T is potentially liable for $57,265,625, Verizon $48,318,750, T-Mobile US $91,630,000 and Sprint $12,240,000. What is worth noting is that it appears the investment community has been buoyed by the figures presented by Pai.

Telco Price at close Friday 28 February Price at time or writing (pre-market trading)
AT&T 35.22 (-1.43%) 35.66 (1.25%)
Verizon 54.16 (-1.63%) 54.52 (0.66%)
T-Mobile US 90.16 (-1.18%) 91.05 (0.99%)
Sprint 9.19 (-1.08%) 9.35 (1.74%)

The final hours of trading for the telcos were hardly the most profitable for the industry, though as the proposed fines emerged over the weekend there has been recovery. There may well of course be other factors, but it does appear the investment community believed these fines could have been larger.

Privacy red flags were raised here following an article in the New York Times which claimed a Missouri Sheriff named Cory Hutcheson was making use of location finding services from Securus without the appropriate legal authority. Instead of uploading documents such as a search warrant, irrelevant documents were uploaded such as health insurance policies and pages from Sheriff training manuals. What soon emerged from the eventual investigation was a slurry of abuse and the development of a nefarious industry.

“This investigation is a day late and a dollar short,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

“Our real-time location information is some of the most sensitive data there is about us, and it deserves the highest level of privacy protection. It did not get that here – not from our nationwide wireless carriers and not from the Federal Communications Commission. For this reason, I dissent.”

While it is hardly unusual for Democrat Rosenworcel to oppose the actions of a Republican controlled FCC, there is a valid point being made, despite it being somewhat lost in the immaturity of US politics. Firstly, the fines probably do not match the profits made or negligence from the telcos. Secondly, Pai elected to ignore action for far too long. And finally, the amount of redacted information in the documents blur the picture, protecting the reputations of the guilty telcos.

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, another Democrat, has painted another very similar gloomy picture, also choosing to dissent to large swathes of the FCC process. The condemning tone is hardly surprising, but the FCC does not look the most competent coming out of this saga.

When the initial suspicions were raised, nothing was done. When it appeared the practice was still largely continuing, actions were meek. The investigation took too long and the fine does not necessarily look proportionate. Not only did these telcos mislead the regulator, they broke the law, lied to customers and profited for at least five years from the practice.

Under the leadership of Ajit Pai, the FCC has taken a much more hands-off approach to regulation of the telco industry, allowing business to be business. But there are more and more examples of private industry, not just the telcos, demonstrating they are not responsible enough to act independently within the parameters of responsibility.

US hints at state support for domestic ORAN push

The US government is thinking of subsidising US tech companies to help them get better at 5G software, in the hope that will solve the Huawei problem.

The rumour comes courtesy of the WSJ, which actually has a named source for once. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told the Journal that the White House is ‘working with’ tech companies to help them raise their game when it comes to networking software. This would enable the US to be self-reliant on 5G in the advent of the Open RAN movement getting to the point when it was actually useful.

Presumably US tech companies have previously tried to take on Huawei in the networking market but failed. What a few top tips from President Trump will do to tip the balance in their favour is unclear, but a shed-load of public cash never does any harm. Among the companies involved in the initiative are AT&T, Microsoft and Dell, apparently, but Ericsson and Nokia also seem to have been adopted by the US for the purpose of this exercise.

Unsurprisingly Dell and Microsoft are especially keen to get involved, cognisant as they presumably are of the massive new market available to them is networks can be run by software sitting on any old server. Apparently Michael Dell has even gone on the record as saying “software is eating the hardware in 5G.”

While we would never suggest that some US tech companies might exploit the current use of Huawei as a pawn in the trade war with China, we can imagine the likes of Dell exaggerating the short term prospects of ORAN in order to tell budget-holding politicians what they want to hear. For further analysis, check out this Light Reading piece.