Orange builds out security credentials with SecureData acquisition

Orange has announced the acquisition of SecureData, building out the increasingly extensive cybersecurity operations at the telco.

The Orange Cyberdefense Division is another one of Orange’s ventures into the world of differentiation. Like banking and smart home services, this is not a segment which is necessarily core for the telco, but with a close enough link to connectivity it’s a low risk approach to diversification. With annual sales approaching €300 million, over 1,300 employees and a presence in 160 markets, it is also fast becoming more than just an ‘other bet’.

In SecureData, Orange has bought itself more of a presence in the UK, the largest Western European market for managed security services. SecureData’s existing Security Operations Centre (SOC) in Maidstone will add to the existing 9 Cyber SOC’s and 4 CERT’s around the world. The footprint is steadily increasing, gradually making the Orange security business more appealing to both national and international customers.

“SecureData, just like Orange Cyberdefense, has successfully made the transition toward Managed Security Services, and shares the same passion for Cyber,” said Hugues Foulon, Executive Director of Strategy and Cybersecurity activities at Orange.

“Cybersecurity has become a critical element for both large and small companies as they evolve in an increasing digital-reliant world. We are convinced that the combined expertise of Orange Cyberdefense and SecureData will provide a powerful resource for our customers in ensuring the protection of their valuable data.”

While Orange has not necessarily been spraying the cash everywhere, it has steadily been building its cybersecurity credentials. Aside from this purchase, Atheos and Lexsi are two other examples, with the services now being extended to 160 different countries.

These two acquisitions do date back a few years, though in cybersecurity Orange has once again proved it can think ahead of the game. This is a segment which is only starting to get the attention it rightly, and responsibly, deserves but it has been an ambition for Orange for years.

A recent survey from Tripwire claims 60% of respondents were more concerned about IoT security in 2019 compared to the previous year. IoT is a blossoming segment, an opportunity many companies will want to take advantage of for both new revenues and operational efficiency, but few know how to keep themselves secure. The perimeter of the network is about to vastly expand, but right now it is nothing more than a risk. Security needs to radically rise up the agenda.

Like getting ahead of the fibre trends across Europe, Orange looks like it onto a winner with a focus on cybersecurity. With tighter regulations on data protection and privacy, combined with increased public backlash with recent breaches and leaks, as well as new business models, security is becoming more of a priority for companies. The low-risk, long-thinking approach from Orange definitely looks to be paying off.

Ericsson gets more Liberty Global managed service work

Ericsson’s PR efforts currently seem devoted to promoting its managed services division and a pan-European fixed line gig with Liberty Global presents some low-hanging fruit.

Before we get too carried away it should be stressed this is the renewal of an existing partnership between the two, but it at least indicates Ericsson hasn’t been screwing things up. The new contract includes the consolidation of network service delivery in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland and Germany, which seems to be more countries than the previous 2016 deal.

“Ericsson will maintain Liberty Global’s European network operations to the highest level, ensuring that their customers will enjoy the best possible user experiences,” said Peter Laurin, SVP of Managed Services at Ericsson. “Ericsson’s Managed Services creates sustainable differentiation as Liberty Global evolves from a focus on network-centric operations to user experience-centric operations, using market-leading technologies in automation and artificial intelligence.”

“Our partnership with Ericsson is part of Liberty Global’s strategy to continually improve the quality of our services while creating operational efficiencies throughout the region,” said Jeanie York, MD of Core Network Planning, Engineering, and Operations at Liberty Global. “Ericsson’s leadership in Managed Services was an ideal fit for us as we innovate to improve the customer experience.”

This gig is especially intriguing since Liberty Global is a fixed line player and that’s not exactly Ericsson’s core area. Our understanding was that, as part of its efforts to bring Managed Services back to profitability, Ericsson was only going to manage the services of companies it also flogged kit to. Clearly there’s some wriggle room in that strategy.

Elsewhere Ericsson also managed to do a 5G NR-compliant live data call over the 39 GHz band using the Intel AIR 5331 baseband in both the US and Sweden. This is more of a big deal for Intel as it strived to keep pace with Qualcomm on the 5G modem front, but is also a sign that Ericsson is keen to encourage a diverse 5G ecosystem.

“This live 5G demonstration on the 39 GHz band signifies how close 5G commercial services are to reality in North America,” said Asha Keddy, VP of Next Generation and Standards at Intel. “Using the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform configured with a 39 GHz RF chip/antenna, we successfully demonstrated a 3GPP-compliant data call performed connecting to an Ericsson commercial 5G g-NB base station, an important step in ensuring our commercial platforms are field ready for deployment in 2019.”

If you’re still sceptical here’s a photo of some random kit in a room to serve as proof that the test really did happen.

Ericsson Intel 5G kit

Ericsson managed services contract with MBNL gets extended

MBNL, the network joint venture between UK MNOs EE and Three, has decided to keep Ericsson on as its managed services provider until 2020.

Managed services is a big part of Ericsson’s business, but has been its most problematic division of late thanks to a bunch of ill-advised historical contracts apparently entered into in a desperate drive for growth. Current CEO Börje Ekholm has prioritised profitability over growth and thus encouraged the abandonment of the worst of these, among which the MBNL deal clearly isn’t.

“This marks another significant milestone in our longstanding partnership with MBNL and our joint commitment to deliver superior network quality and performance to Three and EE consumers in the UK,” said Peter Laurin, Head of Managed Services at Ericsson. “We are delighted to continue our successful relationship and continue to evolve our managed services portfolio to deliver innovation and industry leading efficiencies through automation and analytics.”

“The agreement to extend the Design, Plan and Deploy services contract with Ericsson, for a further two years, reflects the strength of the collaborative relationship between Ericsson and MBNL,” said MBNL MD Pat Coxen. “This will continue the trend of collectively delivering great results and is a sign of true partnership. We look forward to continuing the great work with Ericsson in order to meet the demanding business objectives of MBNL and its shareholders.”

So far, so generic, but Ekholm and Laurin will be delighted by any positive news coming out of the managed services division. A major strategic decision has been to restrict its customers to those who already by Ericsson networking gear, which also seems to be a good way of restricting excessive deal-making zeal. You can hear more from Laurin about the strategy for his division in our Inside Ericsson piece.