Google looking at Vodafone Idea investment – report

Google is rumoured to be considering an investment in struggling Indian telco Vodafone Idea as Facebook positions itself for an assault on the market.

India has long been held in high regard for the potential of its economy, but this promise has often failed to translate into profits. Hope has been renewed with Reliance Jio democratising connectivity across the country, and it seems to be getting US investors excited.

According to reports in the Financial Times, Google is looking at an investment in the struggling Vodafone Idea, as much as 5%, as a pathway to Indian riches.

Some have suggested Google’s parent company was considering an investment in Reliance Jio, though these rumours are highly unlikely to progress any further with Facebook’s investment in the disruptive telco. That said, an investment in Vodafone Idea would be a very interesting transaction.

Firstly, Google would like to enter the Indian market. Reliance Jio has forced rivals to re-evaluate tariffs, opening-up connectivity to the masses. Democratised connectivity is a remarkable opportunity for Silicon Valley, one which is not being ignored by anyone else. Google has numerous business units which would benefit; balloons to offer connectivity in rural environments, a cloud computing unit and mobile-native applications from search to video and payments.

Secondly, Vodafone Idea needs input, both financially and operationally. It is facing a considerable spectrum bill from the Government and parent company Vodafone has said it would not be contributing anymore funds. Operationally, something has to change if it is to compete with Reliance Jio and bringing in one of the worlds’ most innovative companies would certainly be a step forward.

This could be a cut-price opportunity for Google to get a solid foot through India’s front door at a time where the market potential is looking very attractive.


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Europe backtracks on market consolidation opposition

The General Court of the European Court of Justice has annulled a decision made in 2016 to block the merger between O2 and Three in the UK, potentially opening the door for consolidation.

In 2016, Europe decided it was better for sustainable competition that the four operators in the UK remain independent, blocking the mega-merger between O2 and Three. This decision has set market precedent over the subsequent period, with the generally accepted rule that bureaucrats would not allow less than four independent mobile network operators in a single market. This ruling turns that presumption on its head.

“In our appeal, we argued that the Commission’s approach to reviewing the proposed merger, and European telecoms mergers more broadly, was guided by a misconceived default view that European telecoms markets are better served by having a minimum of four Mobile Network Operators in each EU Member State,” CK Hutchison, Three UK’s parent company, said in a statement.

“This approach ignores market realities, the clear evidence of successful market consolidation in Europe and across the world as well as the very significant efficiencies in terms of increased investment, network improvements and consumer benefits that can be achieved from mobile mergers.”

As soon as the decision from Europe was made to block the merger between Three and O2 was made, the agreement between the two parties was terminated. It will now always be a case of what could have been, as this decision will not reignite talks between the two parties.

“Telefónica notes the EU Court’s decision, but the company has moved on,” a Telefónica spokesperson said. “Telefónica recently announced a transaction that combines Virgin Media, the UK’s fastest broadband network, and O2, the country’s most reliable and admired mobile operator, into a 50:50 joint venture that will create a powerful fixed-mobile challenger in one of its core markets.”

As there will be no material impact on the proposed merger between Virgin Media and O2, which was announced in recent weeks, questions will now turn to more general market consolidation in Europe


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Europe has always been against market consolidation if the result leads to less than four independent service providers in the mobile segment. If concessions are offered, like in the Netherlands for example, mergers would be allowed but this would result in a diluted version of what the merging parties would have wanted to achieve.

The ruling from the General Court changes everything.

In 2016, the European Commission considered the reduction from four to three service providers would have resulted in increased prices, decreased quality of service, hindered investment in infrastructure and would have had a detrimental impact on the MVNO segment also.

The ruling which has been made public today disputes the claim there would be negative impacts on competition. Negative experiences for the consumer has not been seen in other markets around the world where there has been consolidation, while there were several flaws during the assessment process. The original assessment also failed to demonstrate effectively that network infrastructure would be impacted also.

With the General Court annulling the decision to block the merger, it is effectively saying Europe would consider market consolidation should there be a good business case. This is a very interesting ruling and statement to make, as it is effectively a green flag to the industry. Could this spur the market’s imagination for consolidation?

Beam-steering the way to real-world mmWave 5G

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Esat Sibay, COO and CFO at ALCAN Systems looks at how to get the most out of millimetre-wave 5G.

The past 12 months have seen the much-anticipated arrival of 5G but, so far, it’s not quite living up to the associated hype. If we take for example the US market, which is making some of the biggest strides in this field, operators have been firmly focused in low band frequencies. While there is still a great deal of value in this iteration of 5G, even T-Mobile has conceded, low band 5G will only be 20% faster than existing 4G LTE networks. Undoubtedly this is a move forward for the industry but, it is not a network technology that is going to see all the promises of 5G, and the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ that now seems synonymous with it, come to fruition. The truth is, to get even close to realising the potential of 5G, operators must enter the unchartered waters of mmWave 5G.

Why mmWave?

mmWave frequencies have long been associated with 5G delivery, but they are not without drawbacks. There are two big problems we encounter when using mmWave frequencies for 5G; poor penetration – a wall, or even a user’s hand can block signal, and a limited range of only 1000ft; that’s 2% of the range of 4G. So, when it comes to designing a commercially viable 5G network that can deal with these restrictions in a real-world environment, mmWave 5G poses a significant challenge for operators.

With such huge issues to navigate, which fuel uncertainty around its suitability, the question is, why bother with mmWave for 5G? The answer is simple, the 20% improvement on 4G that is possible in the low bands isn’t enough. It is unable to support dozens of proposed 5G use cases and puts a ceiling on the return operators will see on 5G investments. However, overcome the problems associated with mmWave and you are left with a technology capable of delivering above and beyond the promises of 5G. Take Telstra, only this week it has announced mmWave 5G trials that could achieve speeds up to 8 times faster than 4G. High-bandwidth, super-speeds, high availability and a significant improvement on 4G make mmWave frequencies ideal. This is of course is why the industry is so keen to tap into their potential– but how?

The boons of beam-steering

One of the key technologies that allow 5G to reach its potential by overcoming the restrictions of mmWave is beam-steering. As the name suggests, it allows a signal to be focused in a particular direction, rather than radiating 120º as it normally would. The signal, which is controlled with Electronically Steerable Antennas (ESAs) enables precise propagation and a faster and more reliable connection than would otherwise be possible. It minimises penetration losses and increases the reach of 5G working in mmWave frequencies.

In principle this sounds like the perfect answer; simply steering around obstacles to enable 5G, but inevitably there is a catch. The catch is that ESAs that so effectively tackle the challenges of mmWave penetration, are typically too high cost to be a realistic option for most operators. Based on existing ESA technology, operators are looking at tens of thousands of dollars per antenna. This may be palatable if only a few per city were required, but given the shorter reach of mmWave frequencies, even when enhanced by beam-steering, it is a technology that must be deployed in high volumes to be effective. Manipulating radiation patterns to navigate the physical limitations of mmWave frequencies is crucial, but operators need to be able to recoup the costs of equipment. So, the next task they face is finding technology to deliver beam-steering at the scale they need and with costings that allow them to have a commercially viable 5G network.

The answer: you could be looking at it

There are many different ways of approaching this. Looking at military solutions for beam-steering, using repeater antennas to expand coverage, but one approach uses technology you are very literally staring at.

Liquid Crystal, the material that is used in most screens across the globe, can be used as a way of developing ultra-low-cost, energy efficient and low-profile beam-steering antennas that offer a potential cure to many of the headaches associated with mmWave 5G.

First explored as part of a research project at Darmstadt University, Liquid Crystal Antennas take what is now an everyday material and evolve its applications. This results in antennas that allow operators to manipulate radiation patterns like any other beam-steering antenna, but the materials used mean the resulting ESA can be built 10 times cheaper than traditional options. Not only this but by using Liquid Crystal to enable beam-steering, the antenna functions with low-power and can be built with a form factor to minimise visibility – think how thin a typical mobile device can be made and this puts it into perspective.

Most technologies that are being developed are being stretched to their physical limitations to work in mmWave frequencies, however a quirk of using Liquid Crystal as the core material for ESAs is performance improves in higher frequencies. This makes it not only a viable solution to 5G stumbling blocks, but it has the potential to thrive in a 6G world.

Conclusion

There is no two ways about it using mmWave frequencies is the only way operators can build a 5G network that lives up to the promises and hype we have seen over the past few years. That said, delivering in these frequencies is a significant challenge which requires operators to completely rethink the architecture of their Radio Access Networks. It needs equipment that does it all – improved RF performance, with a smaller physical footprint, and lower power consumption, all with a reduced cost of ownership.

Operators across the globe have acknowledged that mmWave frequencies must be a key aspect of 5G networks. However, a big question mark still hangs over the best way to achieve this. Regardless of which technologies operators look to, to ensure 5G is a success, it is critical that in striving to achieve mmWave 5G they do not fall into an investment pit of spiralling infrastructure costs that cannot be recouped.

 

Esat Sibay is CFO and COO at ALCAN Systems, a specialist in the development of smart antennas.  He is responsible for financial management, business development, legal and administration at ALCAN and has more than 20 years of experience in finance and strategic consulting with companies such as HSBC, Citigroup and Accenture. He also holds an M.Sc. in Finance from London Business School, a Diploma in Economics from the London School of Economics and a B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from Bosphorous University.

Huawei CFO loses first legal battle in extradition case

Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng, the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, has lost her first legal battle in Canada and will now have to face an extradition case.

This story had been lost in the throng of news over the last few months, but it will almost certainly start to attract international interest once again. Not only is this a landmark legal case to set precedent, it will act as fuel to be tossed on the embers of the burning US-China relationship.

“For the reasons I will give, I find that the allegations depend on the effects of US sanctions,” a ruling from Honourable Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the Supreme Court of British Columbia stated. “However, I conclude that those effects may play a part in the determination of whether double criminality is established.

“For that reason, Ms Meng’s application will be dismissed.”

Although this is a loss for Meng and Huawei, this is only the first stage. The next court case will be to decide whether Meng can be extradited to the US.

Once arrested and the prospect of extradition to the US to face sanction violation charges emerged on the horizon, Meng’s legal team filed objections to the process on the grounds of ‘Double Criminality’. This is a rule in extradition cases which states that an individual can only be extradited if the law in questions exists in both countries.

The team claimed that as Meng allegedly broke US sanctions against Iran, not Canadian sanctions, Double Criminality could not be satisfied. However, the Supreme Court has confirmed there are relevant laws in Canada, therefore Meng is eligible for extradition.

“Huawei is disappointed in the ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, we have repeatedly expressed confidence in Ms Meng’s innocence,” a Huawei statement reads. “Huawei continues to stand with Ms Meng in her pursuit for justice and freedom.

“We expect the Canadian judicial system will ultimately prove Ms Meng’s innocence. Ms Meng’s lawyers will continue to work tirelessly to see justice is served.”

Meng was originally arrested in December 2018 while in Vancouver airport on layover to China. Canada made the arrest at the request of the US, with the US claiming Meng knowingly violated an embargo against Iran and misled US banks in 2013 by not making connections to Hong Kong firm Skycom, which works with Iranian parties, known.

While this is another sign of US aggression towards Huawei, the Chinese Government is bound to get involved sooner rather than later in protection of one of its domestic champions. Tensions between the two global superpowers could once again be ratcheted up a level, and it would be no surprise to see additional tariffs or corporate exclusions introduced as a result.

The political conflict will continue in the background, but for Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng, attention will turn to the extradition case. Cynics will suggest that as soon as Meng crosses the border to the US it is game over, so enough money will have to be thrown at the Canadian extradition case if Meng is to return to China in the foreseeable future, if ever.

City of Austin jumps in bed with NTT Data for smart city project

While some of the buzz surrounding smart cities has quietened, NTT Data is boasting of a new initiative with the City of Austin to address traffic-related issues.

Initially focused on easing congestion through the Texan city, the initiative could be expanded to numerous other areas for traffic management. This is a very small trial for the moment, focused on intersections of Cesar Chavez Street and Trinity Street and Neches Street and 8th Street, though additional locations will be added in time.

“We are piloting NTT because these solutions have the potential to help Austin digitally transform how people move safely through the city,” said Jason JonMichael, Assistant Director of Smart Mobility at Austin Transportation. “By better understanding the data and causal effects of problems we see in challenging areas, we can develop effective solutions that meet the community’s needs.

“Evaluating data is key to reaching our Vision Zero goal of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on Austin roadways. Smart technologies like this one will help us prioritize improvements to make our streets safer.”

Using NTT’s Accelerate Smart data platform, the project will collect traffic-related and mobility data through vehicle counting and classification, as well as wrong way vehicle occurrences. The project will allow for the delivery of real-time alerts and traffic statistics that improve predictions, traffic management and future infrastructure planning.

This initiative ties into the overarching Vision Zero project in the city, to end deaths and serious injuries on Austin roadways. The majority of these projects are civil engineering based, adding a second left-turn lane to Slaughter Lane at South 1st Street for example, but all are underpinned by data collection and analysis.

Arizona Attorney General sues Google for misleading data collection practices

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has filed a lawsuit against Google for what he describes as ‘deceptive and unfair’ methods to secure valuable personal data.

While it is hardly unusual for Google to find itself on the wrong side of right when it comes to data collection and privacy practices, registering the attention of a single Attorney General could be a worrying start. These lawyers have a tendency to swarm around an adversary, collecting support from counterparts in other states. Simply look at how easily New York Attorney General Letitia James rallied disciples in failed opposition to the T-Mobile US and Sprint mega-merger, as well as a previous antitrust case against Google.

“While Google users are led to believe they can opt-out of location tracking, the company exploits other avenues to invade personal privacy,” said Brnovich. “It’s nearly impossible to stop Google from tracking your movements without your knowledge or consent. This is contrary to the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and even the most innovative companies must operate within the law.”

The basis of this lawsuit is whether Google is acting with the rules set forth in Arizona consumer law. Brnovich details that the majority of Google’s revenues are derived from the collection of valuable personal information, though he also claims it is often done without the users’ consent or knowledge.

In 2018, the Associated Press ran an article which claimed Google was continuing to collect data even when the user explicitly removed consent. This practice seemingly carried on until the mid-2018’s and forms the basis of the case for Arizona. However, this is only the tip of the spear.

Following a two-year investigation, the Arizona Attorney General office has filed a 50-page complaint against Google in the Maricopa County Superior Court. Featuring internal documents, under-oath testimony from Google employees, as well as external opinions from academia condemning the activities.

A significant proportion of the information has been redacted and will be examined in private, thanks to confidentiality claims from Google, but the State lawyers will be pushing for more to be made public. Over the course of the next few weeks this could be a very interesting case to keep an eye on as details of the internal workings of Google are potentially exposed. Few people genuinely understand how Google works, so this could be very illuminating.

This will be an interesting case, though Brnovich will have to rally some support very quickly. The privacy advocacy organisations are remaining quiet for the moment, as are other politicians and Attorney Generals. That might change by this afternoon as our transatlantic cousins wake up but fighting the powerful Google legal department solo is unlikely to end well for Arizona’s Attorney General.

New appointment arrives to clean up Three’s network fiasco

UK telco Three has announced the appointment of Carlo Melis as Chief Network Officer just as the Huawei saga starts to rear its head once again.

Over the course of the last week, the rumour mill has been churning at full capacity, with Huawei’s name popping up on more than one occasion. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a backbencher revolt unless ‘high-risk’ vendors are removed from networks within years, while the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is once again investigating whether the firm is in a sound enough position to work with UK telcos.

One might have said there were better times for Melis to join the business.

Arriving from Wind Tre in Italy, Melis has been working on network resilience during the on-going COVID-19 landscape though eventually his attention will turn to managing the spectrum portfolio and presumably creating a network which can rival market leaders within the UK. Much work has been done in recent years, though thanks to outside influences, Three is still in somewhat of a difficult position.

“Three has been on an incredible journey, completely overhauling its network and IT infrastructure and laying the foundations for a 5G network that will dramatically transform the experience for its customers, at the same time as delivering major 4G improvements,” said Melis.

“I’m looking forward to joining Three, bringing my expertise to build on the great progress already achieved and to deliver a network that will stand the business in good stead long into the future.”

The last few months have certainly been an eclectic mix of ups and downs for the Three business. The fixed wireless access (FWA) proposition and campus network offering was looking healthy before Ros Singleton left the business. These business units are still functional, but look a little weaker without Singleton involved, however it is the more mainstream 5G programme which looks more precarious.

Announced at almost the exact same time as the departure of Phil Sheppard, who was effectively the company’s CTO, was the conclusion of the Supply Chain Review. Huawei was designated a high-risk vendor, and therefore limited to providing a maximum of 35% of a telcos network infrastructure equipment. This is a significant problem for Three which decided Huawei was going to be the sole supplier of RAN equipment for its 5G network.

These are the complications Melis needs to manage over the next few months. Alongside the teething problems of a new cloud core and ensuring the 4G network remains stable during this period of dramatically increased traffic, the 5G deployment strategy needs to be reimagined. Of course, this becomes difficult when even more uncertainty is introduced by rebellious politicians and the NCSC investigation.

It could have been a smoother start for Melis…


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Facebook edges towards digital currency with rebranded wallet

Facebook has renamed its digital wallet Novi as it takes another incremental step forward with its Libra digital currency.

Despite there being much criticism and scepticism surrounding the ability of Facebook (or whether it should be allowed) to run a digital currency, the team has been taking tentative steps towards the launch.

Announced to much fanfare in 2019, Facebook lead a coalition of companies in an attempt to create a new digital currency which would be anchored to commodities to prevent volatility. It certainly seemed like a positive idea, but Facebook’s track record on privacy and data protection tarnished ambitions. Partners dropped out, regulators cast doubt on the operations and ambitions were scaled back.

Against the odds, the Libra digital currency survived, and the team persevered in a much more low-profile manner.

In April this year, the Libra Association announced it had entered into the first stage payment system licensing process, but the digital currency would be pegged to local currencies. It adds more stability but removes flexibility for the team. The creation of a new digital wallet is the next step in making the currency a commercial reality.

“Today, we’re excited to introduce Novi – the new name and brand for the digital wallet that will help people send and hold Libra digital currencies,” said David Marcus, Head of Novi at Facebook.

“While we’ve changed our name from Calibra, we haven’t changed our long-term commitment to helping people around the world access affordable financial services. Whether you’re sending money home to support the family members who supported you, or you’re receiving money from your friends no matter where they are, the Novi wallet will make money work better for everyone.”

Some might wonder why Facebook is interested in digital currencies, and while there are of course many reasons, there are two which we think are most important.

Firstly, why not?

Facebook is a company which likes making money, and when there is an opportunity to make money, why shouldn’t it try. Entering into the financial services market would diversify revenues to create a healthier business. Every organisation wants to branch out into new areas, these are capitalist organisations after all.

Secondly, it adds more opportunity for the social media platform.

With Western markets largely reaching saturation point for advertising on Facebook’s core social media platform, new revenues will have to be sought from new regions. Some of those were there is potential lack traditional banking infrastructure. If they have access to digital infrastructure however, the introduction of digital currency means Facebook can make money off these users without traditional banking facilities.

The Libra mission is gradually making progress, and while it might not be the biggest of celebrations from Facebook, perhaps that is the best strategy. Fanfare brought unwelcome attention last year, so maybe it is a better idea to quietly go about business and make a fuss when the ‘point of no return’ has been passed.

MTS delivers solid Q1 but provides cautious outlook

Russian operator MTS saw revenues grow 9% in Q1 but believes the whole-year performance is likely to be flat.

MTS has delivered a financially solid Q1 with a total revenue of RUB 119.6 billion ($1.7 billion), up by 8.9% year-on-year. The company’s OIBDA grew by 1.6% to RUB 51.5 billion ($730 million), while net profit improved 0.8% to RUB 17.7 billion ($250 million) compared to the same period of 2019. The strongest growth comes out of its mobile and fixed telecom services, but about half of the top line growth comes from the adjacent businesses, including fintech, digital services, and retail.

“…this is an unprecedented time that is impacting billions of people around the world, including millions of our customers and thousands of our employees,” Alexey Kornya, MTS President and CEO, said during the earnings call. “Connectivity has never been more critical and we are proud to be helping our customers stay in touch with their friends and family as well as colleagues and classmates.

“Overall, I am deeply proud of the MTS team and would like to express my appreciation for their professionalism in this challenging environment. Looking ahead, I am cautiously hopeful for the future, and our strategic focus is clear: supporting our customers today while not losing sight of our goals for tomorrow.”

As Russia entered COVID-19 lockdown only at the end of March, its impact was not reflected in the Q1 results. However, MTS does provide a glimpse into the impact on April and the first half of May.

Similar to other operators that have witnessed during COVID-19, MTS has seen increased traffic but a big drop in retail with many shops are closed. Meanwhile, the operator has seen and expects increased digital activities, in communication, media, and in financial product consumption. In mobile, MTS has received the regulatory approval to implement self-registration SIM cards through an app.

“Looking ahead, we plan to prioritize this channel at the key level to lower subscriber acquisition cost,” said Inessa Galaktionova, First VP for Telecommunications. MTS is “also broadening our SIM-based infection tracking across all of our sales channels.”

“Now more than ever, consumers are shifting to digital-first banking from online customer service to virtual cards and contactless payments,” said Andrey Kamensky, VP for Finance, on the earnings call, suggesting there could be greater benefit for MTS.

Looking at the full-year expectations, MTS’s management is more cautious. Citing concerns including reduced number of retail outlets as well as the impact of lockdown on roaming income, the operator projects a 0% to 3% growth in total revenues and -2% to 0% OIBDA move, compared with 2019.

MTS is the latest of telecoms companies to show that the industry has withstood the uncertainties from COVID-19 well enough especially when it comes to coping with surging traffic, but it is certainly not immune to the impact. Factors ranging from reduced retail and roaming income due to lockdown to overall economic weakness are beyond the telecom operators’ control, but have or will have manifested on telecom operators’ quarterly and annual numbers.

KKR sets aside $1bn to muscle in on European data centre market

US investment firm KKR has outlined vague plans to fuel growth in the European data centre market with $1 billion for a build-to-suit and roll-up acquisition data centre platform.

While it is difficult to translate the overly enthusiastic PR and marketing language which dominates the press release, it does appear to be an effort to build more data centres in the European region.

“The data centre market in Europe presents a unique opportunity to invest behind the secular trend of increased cloud services adoption and demand for data,” said Waldemar Szlezak, MD of KKR.

The new company, which will be known as Global Technical Realty (GTR), will operate in two ways. First, a build-to-suit programme for the major cloud players. This segment will presumably have an anchor tenant dictating the location, before selling services on to additional cloud players.

Secondly, the team plan to execute a ‘roll-up’ acquisition strategy, a particularly effective business model when economies are facing tough trading conditions. This is a simple, albeit slightly predatory strategy, effectively identifying distressed assets for acquisition, before merging together in a single operation to benefit from scale.

“We are thrilled to have found an investor like KKR that shares our vision for the future of the data centre market,” said GTR CEO and founder Franek Sodzawiczny.

“KKR’s breadth of resources and tremendous expertise will allow GTR to fully participate in this growing market and provide a solid foundation for GTR’s future growth and success.”

Ultimately, KKR and GTR are attempting to capitalise on momentum towards the cloud. The major cloud players have their own data centre footprint of course, which is rapidly expanding, but there is only so much which can be done alone. The built-to-suit programme releases some of the risk associated with data centre investment, while the roll-up acquisition strategy is a quick win for a cash-rich company looking to muscle in on cloud momentum and create an immediate presence.

Today, trends are only heading in one direction. With more companies digitising business processes and workloads, the cloud computing segment is certainly benefiting from societal lockdowns and enforced digital transformation programmes. The big question is how many of these programmes will be returned as the world returns to some semblance of normality.

When we asked Telecoms.com readers how many thought their employers would retain remote working practices 50% said they would have to check into the office once or twice a week and 34% believed they would given the option to work as they please.

It does appear the enforced remote working dynamic has some sustainability in the long run, perhaps kick-starting a wider transformation programme. Nicholas McQuire, SVP and Head of Enterprise Research at CCS Insight told us there has been resistance to the cloud from traditional companies in the past, though once started it should provide a catalyst for greater things.

Aside from these very immediate and unusual drivers for cloud, trends have of course been gradually heading towards a more digitised and distributed world. Netflix, as an example, is very interested in caching as much content in edge data centres, to improve experience for customers, while cloud gaming could also provide greater demand for data centres.

Not only is the world become more digitised, super data centres will have to be supplemented by additional infrastructure to create a distributed cloud. This is an important element to reduce latency and remove choke points when attempting to improve customer experience.

The world is only heading in one direction though the pace of change is unknown for the moment. COVID-19 might have acted as an accelerator for digital transformation, and while this might only be temporary, this is an excellent time for KKR to be throwing money at data centre infrastructure.