Issues around infrastructure, delivery of autonomous service to slow mass uptake of aerial ridesharing by at least a decade: study

Despite Uber having selected Melbourne as its third aerial launch city for 2023 and the technical and current operational feasibility of e-air taxis, a new study has found that mass adoption is unlikely in the next 10 to 15 years due to infrastructure challenges and delays in delivering a fully autonomous service.

Key findings from the report – released by Boston-based management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting – include: 

Infrastructure. Current infrastructure is unlikely to be able to accommodate urban air mobility at scale. Achieving the 4,000-passengers-per-hour throughput required will need custom-built, large-scale infrastructure. While technically feasible, these structures would require prime real estate in densely populated urban environments.

Cost. With scale manufacturing techniques, autonomy and pool usage, Uber says aerial taxis could be cheaper than car ownership today, at $0.44 per passenger mile. L.E.K.’s analysis broadly aligns with these cost estimates. However, to meet these projections, it is necessary to assume a heavily utilised model at scale, with minimal infrastructure investment.

Public acceptance. Trust in any technology is critical to scalability. We expect early adopters being willing to try electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft while early flights are piloted. However, with scale, a fully autonomous solution will be needed — and when autonomous aircraft are introduced, considerable work will be needed to drive customer acceptance.

“Whilst Uber’s piloted commercial launch plans may seem aggressive at first glance, they are operationally and technically feasible, and are very much in line with the likes of other industry participants Lilium and Airbus,” said L.E.K. principle and report author Natasha Santha. “Delivering a fully autonomous solution, however, will take several years and will be contingent on millions of incident-free flying kilometres to match the safety standards of other passenger aircraft.”

Additionally, the report identifies four key aspects to ensuring mass-market pricing, including:

Maximising utilisation by minimising turnaround times (i.e., maximum turnaround time at c.8-10 minutes).

Ensuring high load factors through ridesharing and retaining an average passenger capacity per trip of at least c.2-2.5 passengers.

Minimising fixed network costs by using existing infrastructure and attractive other investors to keep initial capital costs below c.$5 million-$10 million per skyport (i.e., takeoff and landing zone).

Ensuring efficient vehicle manufacture by keeping vehicle costs within the range of $1 million-$2.5 million.

“In the 2020s, we are likely to continue to see rollouts in new cities, regulatory change and further technological improvements,” said L.E.K. partner and report author George Woods.


Africa and Middle East handset subs to hit 1.4 billion mark by 2023: GlobalData

Overall Africa and Middle East handset subscriptions are expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2023, up from 733 million last year according to new data released by data and analytics company GlobalData.

The research found that smartphones will account for 81% of handsets in 2023, which is up from 54.4% in 2018, while during the same period, feature phone subscriptions will decline at a CAGR of -11.7%.


“The massive growth in smartphone adoption will be largely driven by increasing penetration through lower priced handsets, more affordable device plans, 3G / 4G coverage expansion, growing OTT video adoption and larger data bundles,” said GlobalData senior technology analyst Jonathan Bachrach.

Cloud gaming tipped to be 25% of 5G data traffic by 2022

According to mobile operator executives attending Openwave Mobility’s Mobile Video Industry Council (MOVIC) Livecast, cloud gaming could represent 25% to 50% of 5G data traffic by 2022, based on the rapid progression of cloud gaming services in recent months.

That was one of the major findings from the online event with over 50 operators in attendance including Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Verizon, AT&T and Telefonica. Analysts from Analysys Mason, Strategy Analytics and ABI Research also contributed their own research to the event.

Openwave said 5G networks will support cloud game streaming, enabling consumers to play digital games on their handsets without the need to own or install a copy of the game. These subscription-based services will give consumers access to a high-end gaming experience without requiring additional hardware, it added.

“The recent emergence of cloud gaming platforms including Google Stadia, Apple Arcade, Microsoft xCloud and Snap Games has not escaped the attention of the operator community,” said John Giere, President and CEO of Openwave Mobility. “Over-the-top (OTT) players have ambitious plans to become the ‘Netflix for gaming’, hosting libraries of thousands of instantly accessible games that, ultimately, will consume three to four times the amount of bandwidth on 5G networks, compared to standard definition video traffic. Needless to say this will impact mobile operator data strategies.”

Giere concluded: “While 5G network rollouts are still in their infancy, OTTs are already planning Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality services, in addition to cloud gaming. Combined with the expected continued growth of streaming video, these services will rapidly eat into the additional bandwidth provisions of 5G.”

MOVIC was set up as a forum for mobile operator personnel to share data, best practice and strategies with their peers, relating to the growth of mobile video and other emerging forms of mobile traffic. The next MOVIC meeting will follow in the Autumn of 2019.


5G mobile industry to deliver A$65 billion boost to Australian economy by 2023

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association has called on the federal government to underpin the deployment of 5G, with a specific focus on the infrastructure component.

Commenting on new data released by AMTA and Deloitte Access Economics showing that with the fifth generation of mobile technologies the productivity benefits of mobile telecommunications look set to be worth A$65 billion to the Australian economy by 2023, the Association’s CEO Chris Althaus named Australia as a forerunner in terms of the rollout of 5G.

Chris Althaus, CEO, AMTA“However, we need the government to play a key role to support the deployment of infrastructure to enable an effective 5G future that benefits Australian business and society while keeping us a global frontrunner,” Althaus said.

The Mobile Nation 2019 – the 5G Future report unveiled that the mobile industry, which has grown by 43% over the last six years, is a key employer across a range of Australian industries.

“The mobile industry is an enabler of economic growth with the industry itself making a significant contribution to GDP and employment. But the full benefits are much broader as it provides new pathways for businesses to create value, supports productivity and even helps people join the labour force,” added Althaus.

The report found that the mobile sector already contributes significantly to the Australian economy, supporting about A23 billion of the nation’s GDP.  With the 5G mobile network set to kick off this year, it forecasts that the wider economic benefits of mobile will contribute more than the overall contribution of the agricultural sector – equivalent to A$2,500 value added for every Australian.

“5G will create a gradual transition to a more networked and connected society, it will shift the way Australians interact with the world and provide greater productivity benefits by streamlining businesses and transforming services to drive Australia’s economy forward,” the report authors said.

Other key findings of the report included:

  • Revenue generated by the mobile industry has also significantly grown over the last six years, up 15%, from A$22.0 billion in 2011-12 to A$25.2 billion in 2017/18.
  • Total value added to Australia’s GDP by the industry was A$22.9 billion in 2017-18, including A$8.2 billion contributed through direct activities, and A$14.7 billion supported through indirect activity in related sectors and across the broader economy.
  • The sector supports over 116,000 full-time equivalent workers, comprising over 25,000 employees directly employed by the industry and 91,200 jobs indirectly supported (nearly four more equivalent full-time roles (3.7) are supported in the economy for every one person directly employed by the industry).
  • The mobile industry is expected to account for 64% of Australian telecommunications service providers’ revenue in 2018-2019.


‘Mobile Nation 2019 – the 5G Future’ provides an economic analysis of the mobile telecommunications industry in 2017/18, using econometric modelling to estimate how the mobile industry contributes to the economy, both through its own activity and by fostering productivity more broadly. 

It also draws on findings of a bespoke nationally representative survey of over 1,000 individuals by Dynata undertaken in January 2019. Survey participants were asked about their use of mobiles, attitudes to mobile technology and their online behaviour.


NTT Communications’ software-defined capabilities, enhanced portfolio through integration with sister companies and its wide network and data center coverage has given the provider an edge to lead the telecom cloud market in Asia-Pacific (APAC), says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Cloud is a mature technology but the market landscape is evolving in APAC. While major web-scale players such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Alibaba are continuously expanding their portfolio and presence in the region, carriers are playing to their strengths by offering integrated network and cloud services to grab the growing market opportunity.

According to GlobalData’s report, ‘Competitive Landscape Assessment – Telco Cloud Services (Asia)’, NTT Communications is rated as the leader in telco cloud services in APAC with the highest overall score based on four main categories: cloud portfolio, data center footprints, software-defined infrastructure and supplemental services. This is followed closely by Telstra and Orange Business Services who have similar capabilities but are slightly behind with their footprints in the region. The other three leading providers in the region mentioned in the report (BT, CenturyLink and Singtel) still have some gaps in their regional presence and supplemental services compared to the top three.

Alfie Amir, Technology Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Cloud products offered by telcos are comparable in terms of technical capabilities and ecosystem partners. What differentiates NTT Communications from the rest is its wide footprint and presence in the region to address data residency and latency requirements, as well as its software-defined capabilities which offer better workload management and service orchestration. These advantages enable the provider to address the diverse needs of Asian enterprises. The integration with its sister companies also enables NTT Communications to enhance its system integration and service delivery capabilities, and therefore retain its lead in the market.”

However, other providers are catching up fast to close the gap. For example, Telstra partnered with Equinix for direct access to other facilities globally, while Orange Business Services (OBS) partnered with Huawei for expansion in the region, especially in China.

The initiatives by telco cloud providers to add software defined capabilities, expand their footprints and enhance service capabilities are in-line with enterprises’ digital transformation directions. Enterprises today are looking for cloud providers with extensive cloud portfolios, not just the traditional IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, but also cloud-based IT services such as IoT platform, UCaaS, security and marketplace that offer various horizontal and vertical applications.

Amir concludes: “The APAC cloud market is still growing fast as the market emerges, while the competition is getting more intense driven by the web-scale players. Telcos need to continue to leverage their network strengths and at the same time, include latest technologies such as self-service tools, analytics and AI in their offerings to gain competitive advantage.”

Telstra, Lexus showcase Australia’s first mobile V2X tech: Håkan Eriksson

By Telstra CTO Håkan Eriksson

In partnership with Lexus Australia, we’re about to start testing new life-saving communication technologies in cars on Victorian roads.

Powered by our 4GX network, the trials will test and demonstrate Australian-first Cellular V2X technology and advanced driver assist features to create a safer driving experience.

Technology has always been a catalyst for substantially improved driver safety.

From the introduction of seat belts and ABS to more recent advances in radar and sensing technology, technology innovations over the last half century have reduced both the regularity and severity of road crashes. I’m very pleased to announce that we, along with Lexus Australia, have been awarded grant funding under the Victorian Government’s Towards Zero program to trial a deployment of advanced communications technology in Victoria.

The project is called Advanced Connected Vehicles Victoria, or ACV2. You can read more about the grant program on the Victorian Government website.

What are we trialling?

Telstra and Lexus Australia will trial connected vehicle safety systems including emergency braking alerts, in-vehicle speed limit compliance warnings, right-turn assist for vulnerable road users and warnings when surrounding vehicles are likely to violate a red light.

The trial will deploy two Lexus vehicles equipped with Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology.

For instance, if a trial vehicle ahead performs an emergency brake, it will send this message to a V2X-equipped car following — potentially before a forward collision radar or driver notices the event. In these situations, mere milliseconds can make a huge difference.

We’ll also be investigating other applications, such as how to securely send speed zone, traffic light timing, and other signals to cars so all this information can be available just-in-time and help prevent road trauma.

What is Cellular V2X technology?

Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) is technology that lets cars talk to each other, and the environment around them, via our 4G mobile network and via direct short-range wireless links. The ‘environment’ around the car could be other cars and trucks, traffic lights, roadworks or even pedestrians and cyclists.


Previous trials in Australia have used Wi-Fi-like 802.11p technology for short range communications. This trial will be the first in Australia to make use of the very latest short-range 5.9 GHz radios based on advanced 4G Cellular V2X technology — with a pathway and compatibility to future 5G solutions too.

What if there’s no 4G coverage?

While a huge proportion of Victorian roads already have reliable mobile coverage, it’s not everywhere. However, the strength of Cellular V2X technology is that it combines both short range radios (which allows vehicles to communicate directly with one another using cellular technology, but without going via a cellular network) and wide-area 4G-based mobile communications when available. So, even in the case that there’s no mobile coverage, the most urgent safety messages will still get through and help to save lives.

How are we involved?

As Australia moves towards a society of automated vehicles, we are investing in developing cooperative intelligent transport technologies that will make road users safer by helping cars communicate with the things around them.

The strength of our 4G network and future 5G network will allow faster adoption of technologies such as this – ultimately helping make our roads a safer place. We will be creating a high-performance specialised link on our mobile network, so the Lexus vehicles can communicate with each other safely and reliably, even when beyond the distance of short-range radio.

This is the kind of “network slice” that will be commonly used in 5G to support a huge variety of applications with different performance requirements. We will also be testing a specialised vehicle cloud, which coordinates messages between vehicles and connects them to services nearby, based on technology from our 5G network partner Ericsson.

Well before autonomous vehicles are commonplace, communications technology is set to create an even safer experience. We’re really excited to be pioneering this technology in Australia.

  • This article first appeared here.

Tech skills shortages hampering Australian businesses: Nutanix

New data released by Nutanix has found that 63% of Australian businesses have trouble retaining IT talent and are scrambling to keep pace with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.

The firm’s first annual Enterprise Cloud Index, which polled IT decision makers in medium-to-large enterprises in Australia, revealed that almost 90% of Australian respondents were racing to reskill IT teams, and that AI and machine learning were the top skills IT departments are currently lacking, followed closely by blockchain.

The survey also found that, despite widespread concern over AI’s impact on jobs – recently highlighted by a Frost & Sullivan report that indicated 40% of high-routine and low-skilled tasks would be replaced by 2025-2030[1] – respondents welcomed the technology with almost three quarters reporting it was having a positive impact on their organisations. Only 4% reported a negative impact.

Nutanix ASEAN, ANZ & India VP  Neville Vincent

“The positive reaction towards the likes of AI and blockchain is testament to Australia’s propensity to react well to emerging technologies,” said Nutanix ASEAN, ANZ & India VP  Neville Vincent. “But the skills gap in successfully using these technologies is a major concern and could prevent Australia from capitalising on the boom markets they will bring. AI and automation alone are tipped to be worth potential trillions of dollars to the Australian economy over the next 15 years.”[2]

“While initiatives such as the Federal Government’s Inspiring All Australians in Digital Literacy and STEM measures show promise to normalise coding and digital skills among the workforce, they will take time to reap rewards, so the fact that organisations are embracing these technologies and training their workforce to get up to speed is reassuring” said Vincent.

Public cloud meeting requirements, but at a cost

The survey also revealed that Australian organisations were behind global peers in terms of cloud adoption but were moving faster in that direction. In the next two years, more than 80% public cloud adoption is expected, versus just over 50% now.

Satisfaction among public cloud users is high, with expectations either fully or partially being met among all respondents, with performance, data security and compliance the top benefits. However, almost 30% of organisations using cloud are breaking their budgets to get these benefits.

“All the signs point towards continued public cloud adoption among Australian enterprises, with other research predicting it will hit $5.6 billion by 2019,” added Vincent. “But there is a danger in costs spinning out of control.”

“Australian organisations are already paying a lot to enjoy the benefits of public cloud, and we can see from other regions ahead in the cloud race that this problem tends to worsen. With the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities, and a host of other IT-intensive, cloud-reliant digital innovation underway, organisations need to watch their step and not take a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to cloud investment” said Vincent.

The research highlighted that while public cloud was the current trend, businesses would actually favour hybrid cloud*, using at least one each of public and private cloud services working in tandem. Flexibility in choosing the right cloud for each application and the consolidation of cloud management and operations were the main reasons for this.

“This supports what we’re seeing in Australia and around the world,” said Vincent. “Local enterprises know hybrid cloud is the best mix, but while there is a gap in linking public and private cloud, organisations are favouring public and willing to pay over the odds for it.”

“The research shows that a lack of IT skills will continue to be an issue for Australian organisations, and so the underlying infrastructure needs to be kept simple to reduce that pressure and enable the businesses to be able to benefit from new technologies. The IT industry needs to make sure true hybrid cloud is available for businesses to maximise these benefits.”

[1] AI Disrupting Labor Ecosystems, Automation to Replace Human Element in Routine and Low-Skilled Jobs by 2030, Predicts Frost & Sullivan

[2] The Automation Advantage – AlphaBeta