Telecoms industry shocked as Glotel Awards entry deadline extended

Marketing departments across the telecoms world have been caught flat-footed with the shock decision by the industry’s flagship awards event to extend its entry deadline.

The maverick team running the Glotel Awards have once more proved they don’t play by nobody’s rules and will roll the dice whenever they damn well feel like it. If you ignore the previous five years there’s literally no precedent for this   move and we can only assume it was prompted by desperate pleading from those companies that, for whatever reason, had yet to get their acts together.

“Look, I’ll be honest with you, I’ve kind of been on the lash for most of June,” Marketing Manager Denis told Telecoms.com, on condition of anonymity. “There have been a few festivals and once the weather picked up I had to have a few all-dayers didn’t I? By the time I’d sobered up the original deadline had passed to I’m really grateful to the Glotel team for this. I’m going to get my entry out of the way so I can properly get on one in July.”

The good news for Denis and anyone else that has been ‘too busy’ to give their company the chance at life-changing industry recognition is that they now have until 12 July to get it done. Just click here, follow the very simple instructions and then you’ll be free to do whatever else occupies so much of your time with a clear conscience. You know it makes sense.

Enhanced privacy protection is now at the core of Apple

At its 2019 developer conference Apple introduced new measures to strengthen user privacy protection, as a point of differentiation from other big tech companies.

Apple is hosting its 2019 edition of Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in California. On the first day the company announced a number of new products including the iOS13, new version of MacOS (called “Catalina”), the first version of iPadOS, and WatchOS6. At the same time, iTunes, which has been around for nearly two decades and has been at the vanguard of Apple’s adventure into the music industry, is finally retired. At the event, Apple also unveiled the radically revamped Mac Pro. Instead of looking like a waste basket (as the 2nd generation did), the new top end desktop computer looks more like a cheese grater.

One key feature that stood out when the new software was introduced was Apple’s focus on privacy, in particular the new “Sign in with Apple”.  It will be mandatory for apps which support 3rd-party log in to also include this new option, in addition to, or as Apple would like it, instead of, Facebook and Google. Although Tim Cook, in a post-event interview with CBS claimed “we’re not really taking a shot at anybody”, Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, was pulling no punch when introducing the feature. After showing the current two options to sign in apps or websites, he declared Apple wanted to offer a better option, which will be “fast, easy sign-in without all the tracking.”

In practice this means Apple will act as a privacy interlocutor. A user can log in to an app or a website with his or her Apple ID. Apple will then verify the email addresses, make dual-factor authentication, then send developers a unique random ID, which Apple asks developers to trust. Users can also choose to use TouchID or FaceID for authentication. In addition to the Apple products (iPhone, iPad, Watch, etc.), and it can also work on browsers built on other platforms (Windows, Chrome, etc.).

In addition to Sign in with Apple, the company also updated its Maps, so that apps that track users’ location would need to ask for permission every time it is activated. On MacOS, all apps need to request permission to access the user’s files on the computer, while Watch users can approve security requests by tapping the button on the side.

Although both Facebook and Google have been talking up about their focus on privacy, these companies have an intrinsic conflict of interest: their business model is built on monetising user data. Apple, on the other hand, makes money by selling products and services. Therefore, it is in Apple’s own interest to guard user privacy as close as possible, to enhance current and future consumers’ trust. By making privacy protection its differentiator, or as TechCrunch called it, delivering “privacy-as-a-service”, Apple is elevating the match to a level Google, Facebook, and other internet companies will be challenged to match.

Telecoms industry set to finally get the recognition it deserves

Hard working telecoms industry professionals are set to finally emerge from decades of bleak anonymity thanks to the new, improved Glotel Awards.

The 2019 version has just been launched and is open for entries. Now in its seventh year the event is single-handedly responsible for plucking telecoms vendors, service providers and the general ecosystem from obscurity and putting them on the pedestal they richly deserve. It would only be slightly hyperbolic to say the awards change people’s lives.

But the awards team passionately believe you can never have too much philanthropy, so have spent every waking moment since the triumphant 2018 event racking their brains for ways to improve it further, seemingly impossible though that might seem. So this year it has a bunch of new categories a shiny new brand and many other juicy surprises up its sleeve.

“Last year was a great laugh, with Russel Kane warming up the room perfectly and a really broad selection of winners from across the industry,” said Scott Bicheno, Editor of Telecoms.com. “I don’t know how Sophie and her team do it, but somehow they’ve managed to raise the bar once more and I’m counting the days until the next Awards evening already.”

“I don’t know what the telecoms industry would do without you lot, if I’m honest,” said some bloke Bicheno met in the pub. “I’ve just about had it up to here with vendors and operators not getting the recognition they deserve so I’d like to buy you all a drink. Just pints mind, no cocktails or nothing like that.”

All that remains is for you, yes you vendor whose always complaining about how nobody has heard of you, to go to the Awards site and see which category you think best fits what you do. The 2019 Glotel Awards will be the biggest and best yet and, quite frankly, you can’t afford not to be involved.

GSMA set for crisis meeting at MWC over Huawei bans – report

GSMA Director General Mats Granryd has reportedly been writing to members to set up a meeting on the side-lines of Mobile World Congress to discuss what to do about further Huawei bans.

Huawei might be facing pressure from governments around the world, but if reports turn out to be true, diminished support from the operator industry’s own lobby group would be a significant dent in the confidence of the vendor. As Huawei is one of the firms which contribute financially to GSMA events with astronomically large stands and branding presence, it certainly would be a brave move from the association.

According to Reuters, Granryd has proposed the implications of further Huawei bans should be discussed as an item on the agenda at the next board meeting. The meeting will take place during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of the month.

The GSMA has been evasive in its response to the claims, confirming there will be a board meeting (there always is), though the agenda has not been set. The meeting will of course discuss all the most pressing points in the telco industry, of which the Huawei situation has to be one, but there is no confirmation of specifics.

That said, it would not be unusual for such a discussion to take place. The GSMA board is made up of representatives from 25 of the worlds largest operators, the majority of which must be twitchy about the relationship between Huawei and the Chinese government. The US, Japan and Australia have already banned Huawei from contributing to 5G infrastructure, while more are putting very stringent conditions around participation.

Germany is one which is considering upping the security requirements to protect itself, however, Chinese companies which meet the criteria would still be allowed to do business. However, these protections might well be superseded by broader sweeping rules from the European Commission banning any companies from ‘suspect’ countries from providing kit for critical infrastructure.

Another Reuters report quotes German leader Angela Merkel as calling for guarantees from Huawei that it won’t hand over data to the Chinese state. Everything about Huawei will make executives nervous at the moment. To make such vast investments the telcos need certainty and consistency with policies and regulations. Huawei is the polar opposite of these concepts.

The focal point of the anxiety is the National Intelligence Law, which kicked into effect during July 2017. The law gives Chinese intelligence agency an extraordinarily wide remit to monitor both domestic and international ‘threats’, as well as the power to coerce domestic Chinese companies to aide its ambitions.

Here are a couple of the relevant articles from the original text passed into law:

  • Article 12: National intelligence work institutions may, according to relevant state regulations, establish cooperative relationships with relevant individuals and organizations, and commission them to carry out related work.
  • Article 14: National intelligence work institutions, when carrying out intelligence work according to laws, may ask relevant institutions, organizations and citizens to provide necessary support, assistance and cooperation.

For such a complex and powerful document, the language and remit are worryingly broad and vague. The law itself only has 32 articles, compared to hundreds of articles and even more clauses of immensely precise text in other countries.

Considering the GSMA named Huawei as the winner of the associations ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Mobile Industry Award’ for 2018, everything that has taken place since the last event puts it in a difficult position. If the GSMA decides on a general policy of distancing its members from Huawei in anticipation of further bans, that would be a significant further blow to the Chinese vendor.

Samsung and LG set to launch 5G smartphones in February

The Korean media has reported that the world smartphone leader Samsung and its struggling compatriot are going to launch the first 5G smartphones at MWC and ship in March.

According to a report by the Korean media outlet Pulse, citing its industry source, that both Samsung and LG will debut their 5G smartphones in February next year. Volume shipment is expected to start in March, which will synchronise with the start of 5G service for consumers by the three operators. All three of them launched limited 5G services for business simultaneously at the beginning of December.

Mobile World Congress has long been the venue for Samsung to showcase its latest Galaxy flagship product. It will be the series’ 10th iteration next year, so we can expect quite a bit of fanfare to go with the occasion. Whether the Galaxy 10 will be built on 5G, or there will be a 5G variant of the product, is up to speculation.

LG has seen its smartphone market share shrinking in recent years and already posted over $400 million loss in the first three quarters of the year. As a result, the head of its Mobile Communications business was replaced one year into the job. LG would desperately need something to excite the market if the company still decides to stay in the handset market. The expected 5G product could be a new model of its flagship G series, or the new head of its mobile business could decide to rewrite its product portfolio.

Both companies are expected to build their first 5G smartphones on the newly launched Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, which we have reported in detail. Samsung was one of the illustrious partners to adorn the launch event, but LG was absent. With a long line of OEMs, especially the Chinese smartphone makers showing strong interest in the new Snapdragon, we can expect more 5G handsets to be launched in Barcelona come February than those from the Korean stalwarts.

Telecoms was the ultimate winner at the 2018 Glotel Awards

The winners were evenly distributed among a broad range of operators, vendors and industry specialists at the 2018 Global Telecoms Awards.

A very enjoyable night, which featured a hilarious stand-up set from comedian Russell Kane, culminated with the winners of 14 awards being revealed. The awards span the full breadth of the telecoms industry, recognising the many technologies and activities required to connect the world.

You can see the full list of winners and highly commended entries below. It was especially pleasing to see so many different companies represented among the winners, indicating a healthy  and diverse industry. The headline of this story is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it’s with total sincerity that we, the Telecoms.com team, say it’s a pleasure and a privilege to play a part in celebrating the global telecoms community.

 

Advancing the Road to 5G

WINNER

Huawei for Microservice-based 5G Core Solution

HIGHLY COMMENDED

InterDigital for 5G-Crosshaul

 

AI and Automation Initiative of the year

WINNER

Verizon Wireless in collaboration with Accenture for Enhanced Customer Engagement

 

Best Digital Transformation Project

WINNER

BT for Help Re-design

 

BSS/OSS Transformation excellence

WINNER

Vlocity for KPN BSS Transformation

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Netcracker Technology for Netcracker 12

 

Connecting the Unconnected

WINNER

Cambridge Broadband Networks for VectaStar

 

Content Matters

WINNER

SK Telecom: Oksusu Social VR

 

Fixed Network Evolution

WINNER

ADTRAN Gigabit Gfast with GTTB Model

 

Ground-breaking Virtualization Initiative

WINNER

China Mobile Hong Kong and Huawei for Core Network Cloud Transformation

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Tata Communications Transformation Services for Virtual Cloud Exchange (VCX)

 

IoT Initiative of the Year

WINNER

Dialog Axiata & Ericsson for the first commercial Massive IoT network

 

Managed Services Innovation of the Year

WINNER

Netcracker Technology for Netcracker Managed Services for Digital Transformations

 

Mobile Money Mastery

WINNER

Mahindra Comviva and Econet Wireless (Cassava Fintech) for EcoCash Merchant Payments powered by mobiquity Money

 

Most Innovative Cloud Service

WINNER

KT for 5G Edge Cloud with Network Intelligence

 

Security Solution of the Year

WINNER

CUJO AI for AI Security

HIGHLY COMMENDED

AdaptiveMobile Security for SIGIL

 

Telecoms Transformation

WINNER

Smart Communications for Smart Network Transformation Program

HIGHLY COMMENDED

China Mobile Hong Kong and Huawei for Core Network Cloud Transformation

Xiaomi the difference: Chinese smart device maker vows to disrupt UK market

Xiaomi launched Mi 8 Pro, the first time it has unveiled new products outside of Greater China, a sign of its ambition to expand in more mature markets.

At a Hollywoodian event (as almost all smartphone launches are nowadays) in Barbican Centre on Thursday, Xiaomi became the latest Chinese smartphone maker to introduce their latest products in London, following recent launches by Huawei and OnePlus. The company unveiled Mi 8 Pro, an upgrade version of its Mi 8 model launched earlier in China.

After registering impressive growth in India and other markets in Asia, as well as consolidating its position in China, Xiaomi, like some other Chinese brands, is eyeing the mature markets for new growth. Western Europe is an attractive option as the market is not flooded with hundreds of smartphone brands as in India and China, and there is a sizeable open market that is easier for new brands to set a foot in instead of having to crack the carrier market as in the US.

“Today we witness a new chapter in Xiaomi’s global expansion journey, underpinned by our global ambitions. We are thrilled to make great strides by announcing our arrival in the UK,” said Wang Xiang, Senior Vice President of Xiaomi Corporation.” By bringing a range of our amazing products at honest pricing we want to offer more choices and let everyone in the UK enjoy a connected simple life through our innovative technology.”

The newly launched Mi 8Pro and its predecessor share exactly the same hardware and software, powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 CPU, 6.21” AMOLED display (yes, need to go to the second decimal digit), 8GB RAM and 128GB onboard memory,12MP+12MP AI dual camera on the back, and 20MP selfie camera, Dual 4G SIM, Dual frequency GPS (to minimise coverage dead zones, like near tall buildings), infra-red facial recognition (to unlock with facial ID in the dark).

On the software side, Xiaomi overlayed a light MIUI skin on top of the latest Android release, plus a couple of its own preloaded apps (browser, messaging, etc.). Presumably the main point is not how many people will use its apps but rather to gather usage data. The Xiaomi executives did stress the number of active MIUI users in the world and in Europe (its products are already being sold in Spain, Italy, and France). It has also preloaded a MS Office suite, one of the first offers Microsoft made to the Android ecosystem back in 2016.

Under the spotlight was its photography technologies including the so-called “4-in-1” super-pixel, that is combining 4 pixels into 1 to take in more light, therefore to capture more details even in low light environment. Also being boasted is the speed the phone focuses (using the so-called Double Pixel Auto Focus, DPAF, technology, demonstrated in a video as faster than both the iPhone XS and the Samsung S9+). Nowadays, no presentation of smartphone cameras is complete without talking AI, and Xiaomi is no exception. The main talking point here was on the analytics capability to separate foreground from background, making post-shot processing easier.

The only genuine upgrade the Mi 8 Pro offers over the Mi 8 looks to be the fingerprint reader. It is at the back of the phone on the Mi 8, but is upgraded to on-screen reader on the Mi 8 Pro.

All the bells and whistles aside, what Xiaomi most wanted is to stand out in two areas: design and price. It is clearly successful in one, maybe less so in the other. Xiaomi claimed to go down the minimalist route for its design, claiming that it was inspired by the exhibits at the Helsinki Design Museum. It even got the director of the museum to go on video to endorse an earlier product. But what it got to show its innovative design on the new product is a transparent back-cover where the upper part of the inside of the phone is visible. But to those of us old enough to remember the 1990s, this is more a retro than inno. Swatch’s Skeleton series, anyone?

Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro_Front resized Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro_back resized

But when it comes to pricing the strategy is much bolder and more likely to succeed. Xiaomi broke through in the device market in China in 2011 by offering smartphones with decent specs at a very affordable price. This strategy has carried them through ups and downs all the way to London. The Mi 8 Pro will be retailed at £499.99. This is vastly lower than other smartphones with comparable hardware specs. Xiaomi is clearly targeted at the so-called “affordable premium” segment.

On the distribution side, Xiaomi started in China exclusively using online distribution channels. There have been followers with mixed success, but at the same Xiaomi is also diversifying to brick-and-mortar retail outlets in markets like India, Malaysia. Xiaomi also aims at a mixed channel strategy in the UK, it opens its own online shopping channel, getting online and offline channel partners (Amazon, Currys, Carphone Warehouse, Argo, John Lewis, etc.) on board, as well as opening its own authorised retailer in southwest London on 18 November. It also tied a partnership with 3UK, though Xiaomi executives would not tell more details of the terms or the packages 3 plans to offer.

Also introduced to the UK market at the event are a smart wristband (Mi Band 3, main feature being its display larger than previous generations) and an electric scooter, to deliver the “ecosystem” story—the executive stressed Xiaomi is more than a smartphone company. On display in the experience area were also smart speakers, set-top boxes, smart kettle, and smart scale.

Our overall feeling is that, the Mi 8 Pro smartphone is decent but not fantastic. However the price point Xiaomi sets it on is disruptive. This strategy has worked for the company in China and other Asian and European market, taking them to commendable market positions and financial success. It may stand a chance.

Xiaomi event pic2