Displaying items by tag: UK

eSOC platform to improve services for 32 million UK customers

Written on Thursday, 17 January 2019 08:20

Spanish telecom Telefonica has partnered with Nokia to deploy the Service Operation Centre (eSOC) platform in the UK. It is expected to improve customer experience and enable real-time monitoring services for its 32 million subscribers across its network.

The eSOC move was described as another step on its “customer-centricity journey” by Brendan O’Reilly, CTO at Telefonica O2 UK. It will focus on providing enhanced, tailored services to individual customers and allowing the company to make customer-led decisions. The eSOC platform provides a flexible way to interface with O2 UK’ s systems and data sources, while allowing the operator to monitor customer experiences and take recommended actions based on measured trends.  

Nokia has integrated a range of automation techniques into the eSOC, which incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning insights, allowing its operator partners to optimise their operations. The vendor will provide support to Telefonica from its SOC Office Consultancy on the re-engineering process required, with the service set to go live in Q4.

SOCs will allow the company to connect many systems and tools, such as Self Organising Networks (SON), to “allow us to make real-time decisions on our network”.

Tim Smith, VP of Nokia Software Europe said Nokia can help operators like Telefonica pounce on the advantages offered by 5G and bring services to market more quickly and with most operator services hard-coded across BSS, OSS and the network layer, it can take up to 14 months to launch a new service.

“If it takes you that long to launch a new service, how can you take advantage of all the digital opportunities 5G enables? You need to get to a very rapid release cycle to really exploit 5G. If you could do that in days or weeks, you can gain market share and increase profit.”

O’Reilly said the flexibility offered by SOC was another reason why the platform would be “vitally important” for the operator.

“By getting a launch timeline for new services down to days, the number of services we can offer our customers grows.”

“5G brings a huge amount of opportunities, and service isn’t going to be traditional as we know it today. Today, it is service from a tablet or a phone. In the future it can be cars and connected devices and the service we provide becomes more important, where some part of the human element is taken away.”

Telefonica has rolled out similar programmes in Germany, Chile and Argentina with different vendor partners.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Chinese telecommunications behemoth Huawei has moved swiftly to terminate the contract of an employee who has been arrested in Poland amidst claims he was spying for China.

Huawei executive Wang Weijing was detained by Polish authorities on Friday, following a lengthy investigation that was conducted by Poland’s special services. It is believed that Weijing is a director for the Polish branch of Huawei.

It’s the latest setback for Huawei’s brand globally following the high-profile arrest of the vendors’ CTO, Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in December. She is fighting extradition to the US, where she stands accused of fraud relating to business activity in Iran.

The Chinese vendor robustly defended its CTO following her arrest and demanded her immediate release from jail. However, Huawei has wasted no timing in trying to distance itself from this latest scandal in Poland by announcing it has fired the employee in question for harming the company’s global reputation.

In a statement given to the Global Times, Huawei said that Wang Weijing was arrested for ‘personal reasons’ and said the incident caused significant damage to the company at a time when it’s under intense scrutiny regarding security.

Huawei cited management rules in company contracts and said it was left with no decision but to terminate its employer relationship with Wang Weijing immediately.  Poland has claimed that they firmly believe the Huawei executive was spying for China.

China’s Foreign Ministry responded quickly to the claims made by Polish authorities and expressed that it was ‘highly concerned’ by the arrest. The latest controversy is something Huawei really could’ve done without.

US President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order which would ban US companies from working with Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei over the alleged risk both pose to national security.

In addition to this, Australia and Japan have blocked Huawei from participating in the construction of their super-fast 5G networks, whilst the UK and New Zealand are also considering banning the vendor from the rollout of its 5G networks.

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic refused to "speculate" when asked Friday if there were any concerns about Chinese retaliation.

"We are aware of the reports and we will be indeed in touch with the Polish authorities for further information," she told reporters. 

Published in Telecom Vendors

Two of the UK’s largest airports have invested in multi-million pound anti-drone systems, after an incident at Gatwick in December brought flights to a standstill.

Both London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports confirmed they have purchased high-tech systems to protect themselves from potential drone attacks.

It follows three days of chaos at Gatwick in December, after a reported drone sighting caused mass disruption and grounded nearly 1,000 flights during the busy Christmas period.

Flights were resumed after the British Army brought in Drone Dome equipment; reportedly manufactured by Israeli defense contractor Rafael, which allows operators to jam a drone’s radio signals and allow it to land safely. It is believed several airports have purchased their own ‘military-grade anti-drone apparatus’ to prevent future incidents which will provide a “similar level of protection,” after the army withdrew its equipment on January 3rd.

On December 19th, an airport security officer at Gatwick had witnessed two cross-shaped drones, flying over the south perimeter road with flashing lights. The sightings caused three days of flight cancellations, with over 140,000 passengers affected by the standstill; the biggest disruption since the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in 2010.

Two people were arrested after the incident in December, but as of yet no one has been charged.  

In July 2018, the UK government passed a law that banned drones from flying above 400ft and within 1km of an airport boundary, because of fears they could cause damage to aircraft windows during take-off and landing.  

Published in Gadget

Huawei caves in to UK 5G demands

Written on Monday, 10 December 2018 07:18

Huawei has pledged $2bn to overhaul its equipment and software in a bid to ease growing security fears.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Uber vows to stop using diesel cars in London by 2019

Written on Sunday, 17 September 2017 11:45

Global ride-hailing incumbent Uber has announced that it will cease using diesel cars in London by the end of 2019. City officials in the English capital are aggressively pursuing initiatives and programs aimed at reducing the number of diesel vehicles being driven in and around the city, with London recording alarming levels of pollution.

Uber have shown their support for this movement by vowing that they will be using no diesel cars for their services by 2019, with a spokesman for the firm claiming that by that stage the vast majority of rides will be in either hybrid or electric vehicles.

Uber says currently almost half of its fleet that embark on journeys in London are undertaken in greener vehicles on the company’s standard low-cost Uber-X service, which enables users to book their journeys on their smartphone device.

A number of leading car manufacturers has announced plans to electrify a large proportion of their new cars. The most notably automaker was Swedish giants Volvo, who earlier this year became the first manufacturer to set a date on when it was phasing out vehicles powered solely by the internal combustion engine.

The UK has followed the lead of France and cities such as Mexico City, Athens and Madrid by declaring that it will prohibit the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040. Uber, which has around 40,000 drivers based in London, has indicated that they will only offer hybrid or electric vehicles on Uber-X by the turn of the decade – but plans to roll-out the program on a nationwide basis by 2022.

Uber’s Head of UK Cities, Fred Jones said Uber shared the concerns expressed by city officials in London in relation to growing problem of air pollution, and said the US-based ride-hailing service was keen to its part.

Jones said: “Air pollution is a growing problem and we’re determined to play our part in tackling it with this bold plan. Londoners already know many cars on our app are hybrids, but we want to go much further and go all electric in the capital.

Uber has endured a difficult number of months with the firm being at the center of a number of salacious scandals ranging from sexual harassment to allegation of bullying, investor pressure eventually led to controversial and high-profile resignation of Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick.

However, Uber has also faced stinging criticism in London, and has been locked in legal rows with trade unions, lawmakers and traditional black cab drivers over working conditions and the legality of its operations. It has also been reported that Uber intend to appeal a decision by a British judge which ruled that the tech company should treat two of its drivers as employees and pay them the minimum wage and holiday pay.

In addition to this, Uber is also waiting on the decision by the capital’s transport regulator who will determine later this month how much the ride-hailing app will need to pay in order to renew its new license.

In Uber’s statement in relation to its phasing out of diesel cars, it also announced its plan to help drivers switch from diesel cars to greener cars with a £150 million-pound fund, which would pay up to 5,000 pounds per upgrade from a petrol or diesel vehicle. Uber will generate the funds for this initiative by taxing an each fare with an additional 35p in London.

Published in Apps

South Korean conglomerate Samsung have announced that its voice-based assistant entitled ‘Bixby’ is now available for Galaxy S8 users in over 200 countries worldwide following its release in the US last month.

The world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer had launched Bixby domestically and in the US, but now voice-assistant technology is available in countries such as the UK, Canada, Australia and South Africa. Samsung developed the feature in an attempt to catch-up with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.

Bixby currently only supports English and Korean, and issued a statement highlighting the fact that not all accents, dialects and expressions will be recognized. It stressed that it will take time for Bixby to adapt and understand regional dialects.

The statement read, “Natural language understanding allows Bixby to continuously improve its ability to interpret regional dialects. But since Bixby learns more frequently used command terms more quickly, it will take more time for Bixby to fully understand regional dialects that are used less frequently.”

The electronics colossus has revealed that Bixby’s features include Quick Commands which allows users to create a custom voice command to use instead of a sequence of one or more demands. In addition to this, Samsung’s voice-assistant can also grasp the understanding of cross-application commands and features deep learning technology which can improve over a period of time which can then recognize personal preferences and ways of talking.

The statement added that when an application becomes Bixby-enabled, the platform will support every task the application is capable of performing using voice, touch or text. EVP and Head of Research and Development at Samsung Electronics mobile, Injong Rhee has predicted that the emergence and evolution of Bixby will lead to a more seamless connection for users across a range of devices.

Rhee said, “The expansion of Bixby’s voice capabilities is an initial step in the continued rollout of Bixby functionality. In the future, Bixby will have the learning power to offer more intelligent and personalised interactions and seamless connections across more devices.”

It has also been disclosed that Samsung is intending on expanding Bixby’s voice capabilities to additional countries, languages, devices, features and third-party applications. Samsung first unveiled its voice-assistant back in March, but it suffered some teething problems when the launch of the English version of the product was delayed. It then targeted a launch date in May, but that was pushed back to the end of June, before Bixby was eventually launched in the US in July.

However, it now places Samsung amongst the ever-competitive AI voice-assistant market and analysts are predicting Bixby to be a biggest success for the South Korean colossus.

Published in Devices

South Korean multinational conglomerate Samsung and Chinese vendor ZTE have both adopted aggressive strategies in relation to investment for 5G infrastructure – and many analysts are predicting that this approach will both disrupt and threaten the traditional trio of networks players which include Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.

ZTE has focused largely on the development of 5G specifications in the last twelve months, which is much more than any of it previous forays in relation to mobile technology. The Chinese telecommunications equipment and systems colossus has doubled its R&D spending on 5G in 2016 to $400m – and has assigned 1,600 employees to work on the technology at four dedicated research facilities located in China, the US and Europe.

Director of Wireless Standardization, Wang Xinhui has claimed that ZTE’s inactivity with 2G, 3G and 4G was down to the fact that it lacked maturity, and declared it was now much better equipped for the forthcoming era of 5G. At a 5G Summit in Tokyo in May, he told Mobile World Live: “In the past we were simply less mature. With 2G and 3G, and even with 4G, we weren’t that big. But in the era of 5G, we were well prepared. We’ve spent a huge amount of money and devoted so much human resources, particularly towards the New Radio specifications.”

Chief analyst at Global Data Technology, Peter Jarich said it made perfect sense for an entity like ZTE to attempt to penetrate the 5G market, as the technology will require new expertise and infrastructure. He feels it’s a natural and logical progression from ZTE to invest heavily in 5G, as they recognize it as a phenomenal opportunity.

South Korean smartphone giants Samsung have also adopted a similar approach, and have been working on 5G since 2012, when it started its first mmWave research and development. It has previously stated that it firmly believes that strong 5G infrastructure will help ensure Samsung executes its mission which is to ‘connect everything’.

Samsung has boldly set its sights on becoming a top-three player in the 5G infrastructure market, and it has estimated that network equipment sales will treble to $8.6 billion in 2022. It has been disclosed that Samsung, which is the world’s largest smartphone maker plans to accumulate market share by moving swiftly and targeting the US market.

The reason behind its strategic targeting of the US market is that its Asian competitors such as Huawei and ZTE may face a ban on selling networking gear due to security concerns which have been raised by the government. In May, Samsung publicly announced that it had conducted the world’s first field trial of a multi-vendor, pre-standard 5G network with US telecommunications firm Verizon. In addition to this, more recently Samsung and UK communications firm Arqiva announced it had conducted the first field trial of 5G Fixed Wireless Access Technology in Europe that went live in Central London.

VP of next-generation business and products at Samsung Networks, Woojune Kim, has expressed his confidence they can become a top tier network player in 5G, citing the fact that its Finnish and Swedish competitors are currently struggling. This stark assessment of its rivals was evidenced by the CEO of Nokia, Rajeev Suri conceded that the fact 5G was accelerating much faster than originally expected, would almost inevitable create some near term risks for his company, with the timing and completion of certain projects now uncertain. 

Published in Telecom Vendors

Citizens of the United Kingdom will soon be able to force social media platforms to delete information about them, including content published during their childhood, due to government proposals that will bring data laws into line with new European regulations, Reuters reported.

Digital Minister Matt Hancock said Britons will be given more control over their data by having “the right to be forgotten” online and ask for their personal data to be erased. The new measures will force companies to seek permission to obtain personal data rather than rely on pre-selected tick boxes, which are often ignored, Hancock said.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to become enforceable from May 2018, tightens and extends the scope of data protection law in Europe, and the UK’s new rules will fall in line with this.

Despite the UK planning to leave the European Union, it will have to comply with GDPR, according to lawyers and tech experts, to avoid disruption to the data traffic that is essential to international business. The new rules would give the UK one of the most robust, yet dynamic, set of data laws globally, Hancock claims.

"It will give people more control over their data, require more consent for its use and prepare Britain for Brexit," he said, adding that the data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), will be given scope to issue higher fines (up to 17 million pounds), in cases of serious data braches.

Published in Government

British telecommunications colossus BT has announced that it will invest £600m in faster broadband services in rural parts of the United Kingdom. BT believe the investment will enable them to provide all households in Britain with access speeds of at least 10 megabits per-second, which will allow users to be able to stream content from OTT services such as Netflix and YouTube.

Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley has said that the UK government will take into consideration the voluntary offer from BT, whilst also weighing up whether a regulatory approach may be the best way of achieving its ambition to enhance broadband services to all homes and business in the UK.

The proposal tabled by BT consists of a plan from the telecommunications provider to fund the investment themselves, and it would recover costs by charging access to its local networks. BT’s chief executive, Gavin Patterson, claimed that he expected close to 95% of all homes and businesses in the UK would enjoy enhanced broadband speeds by the end of the year.

Patterson said, “We already expect 95 percent of homes and businesses to have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps or faster by the end of 2017. Our latest initiative aims to ensure that all UK premises can get faster broadband, even in the hardest to reach parts of the UK."

In addition to this, the UK government said that BT’s plan foresaw taking coverage of at least 10Mbps to around 99% of homes and businesses by 2020, with the project estimated to be completed within two years after that. However, the proposal was criticized by representatives of the UK government’s opposition, The Labour Party for not being ambitious enough and called for the proposal to be reexamined.

Published in Telecom Operators

Telecommunication operators Three and Vodafone are closing the gap on UK incumbent EE according to analysis conducted by Root-Metrics. The company carried out 646,230 tests across all of the United Kingdom. It assessed the operators in six categories, which ranged from reliability, speed, data, calls, texts and overall performance.

Whilst EE still came out on top as the strongest performer, it was highlighted that both Vodafone and Three had closed the gap considerably. EE was given four awards by Root-Score, while both Three and Vodafone received two awards each.

EE won the best overall category, and also emerged as frontrunners in speed and data. In addition to this, it shared joint-first with Vodafone for text messaging. Three won outright across the UK for its reliability, and shared joint-first with Vodafone for call performance. O2 came last in all categories apart from text quality, where it finished third.

However, this represents a significant and telling change across the telecommunications landscape, last year EE won all the awards on offer by Root-Score. The latest findings declared that whilst EE is the best-performing telco overall in the UK, Vodafone was No.1 in Northern Ireland, whilst Three dominated in Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland was the only region were 02 performed well.

General Manager of Europe for Root-Metrics, Scott Stonham, suggests that “the report only serves to reiterate just how competitive the UK telecommunications sector is,” he said.

“These latest results have really shaken things up and show the increasing competitiveness in the UK, particularly over the last six months. EE continues to lead the way, but Three and Vodafone are close behind. What is clear is that each operator showed strong performance in at least one particular country, while nobody was able to sweep the board at the four nation’s level. UK consumers have strong mobile options depending on how and where they use their devices most.”

A Senior Research Director on telecoms at HIS Markit said it was imperative that operators needed to invest in radio spectrum in order to succeed. “To succeed, mobile operators must secure sufficient radio spectrum and invest in the necessary equipment, sites and operational teams to ensure consumers enjoy fast reliable mobile broadband. With new UK spectrum allocations soon to be auctioned in the run up to 5G, these performance results provide a snapshot on the competitive balance between the UK mobile operators now, and highlight which operators most need to acquire new spectrum capacity if they are to be a future mobile performance winner.”

Fogg also stressed that the results which come ahead of a spectrum auction in September, could radically alter the balance of spectrum holdings, which would allow operators with smaller holdings such as Three and O2 to compete in a more efficient manner. 02 CEO Mark Evans, has already declared that he wants to see the auction commence soon and that it was compete ‘fiercely’ for spectrum allocation.

Published in Telecom Operators
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