NOKIA: WE’RE THE ONE STOP SHOP FOR 5G – AND WE’VE GOT IT RIGHT

Nokia has fronted up to MWC 2019 saying its got ‘the right strategy at the right time’ to win at 5G, and heralding a number of ‘world firsts’ in its Australian 5G rollout.

“Nokia arrives at Mobile World Congress as a world leader in 5G, with the industry’s only end-to-end portfolio that is available in all markets around the world,” says Rajeev Suri, Nokia president and chief executive officer.

“We are remarkably well-positioned with more than 20 5G contracts, and almost 100 5G engagements with customers in every region of the world,” Suri says.

“We also believe that there will be a virtuous circle of investment as networks are upgraded to meet the demands of 5G and Nokia has the right portfolio at the right time to meet that need.

The company made a slew of 5G announcements in the lead up to MWC and continued those announcements at the event.

The announcements include the launch of a fixed wireless access FastMile 5G Gateway, delivering 10 to 25-times the speeds of LTE to residential and business subscribers.

Optus is the first operator globally to deploy the indoor gateway in a live network and successfully launch a 5G fixed wireless access service using the 5G New Radio standard.

The plug and play gateway, which Nokia says can achieve twice the indoor coverage, three times the downlink capacity and five time the uplink capacity compared to traditional designs, was recently used to stream 4K video services to some residential customers in Australia in a trial.

Allen Lew, Optus CEO, says the gateway will play an important role in the telco’s commercial 5G fixed-wireless access service.

“With Nokia’s solution, we are able to effectively leverage our existing mobile footprint to quickly provide new ultra-broadband services to customers using 5G FWA.”

Meanwhile a partnership with Vodafone sees the two companies demonstrating two new massive Multiple Input Multiple Output options at MWC: A RFIC based mMIMO antenna and a machine learning powered scheduler for 5G massive MIMO.

The announcements also included the launch of new additions to its AirScale small cells portfolio to extend the performance of 5G indoors and outdoors and enhancements to its Anyhaul transport portfolio to deliver throughput speeds of up to 25Gbps to base stations.

Nokia logged net sales of EUR22.6 billion last finical year, down three percent on the previous year, with operating loss at EUR59 million, up 16 percent year on year.

Nokia is counting on 5G – and that much touted end to end portfolio – to further boost its sales over the coming year, though the company acknowledges that it expects the first half of the year to be ‘soft’ with 5G rollouts staggered over the course of the year.

In announcing the financials earlier this year, Suri said Nokia’s view of a ‘fast and meaningful shift to 5G’ remained unchanged.

While Nokia is banking on 5G, so to are telco operators according to the Nokia 5G Maturity Index, released this week.

The index shows two-thirds of operators expect 5G to create new revenue streams, while more than 70 percent of operators are focused on 5G to help improve existing consumer services.

The most popular 5G use cases identified by operators included multi-gigabit mobile connectivity, connected cars and autonomous vehicles, tactile internet experiences such as augmented and virtual reality, critical healthcare monitoring, smart city apps and smart home services.

OPTUS SWITCHES ON NEW 5G SITE IN SYDNEY’S NORTH-WEST

Australian telecommunications provider Optus has switched on a new live 5G site in Kellyville, in Sydney’s north-west.

The site, made live on Monday, is one of 50 sites to be built by telecommunications equipment manufacturer Ericsson across Sydney and Melbourne over the coming months as part of Optus’ 5G rollout, which has been delayed due to the Australian government’s ban of Chinese kit maker Huawei.

The new live 5G site in Kellyville follows Optus’ announcement last week of three live 5G sites located in Canberra and Sydney.

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Optus Networks MD Dennis Wong

“This is another significant milestone for Optus as we continue with our customer focused 5G roll-out plan,” said Dennis Wong, Optus’ managing director of its networks division. “We are further demonstrating that our multi-vendor approach to Optus 5G will help to deliver a more dynamic and innovative 5G network for the benefit of our customers,”

Using Ericsson’s 5G RAN equipment, Optus said the site was based on 3GPP standards, utilising a third-party customer premises equipment test device on Optus’ 3.5 gigahertz spectrum with a channel bandwidth of 60 megahertz.

“With our fourth live 5G site now live we are building towards a truly game-changing year for Optus and our customers,” Wong said. “Our next generation network build is now well and truly in full swing with site roll out planned over the coming months.”

Last week, Optus unveiled its plans for 5G home broadband and said it was working closely with Ericsson to conduct inter-operability device testing so that it could deliver a compatible 5G home broadband product to customers and open the Sydney site up as part of an expressions of interest campaign.

It said the offering would cost A$70-a-month for unlimited service with guaranteed minimum speeds of 50Mbps.

Upon completion of the rollout in March 2020, Optus plans to deliver 1200 5G sites across the ACT, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

It will announce the locations of the first 50 Ericsson sites over the coming months.

TELCO COMPLAINTS HIT THREE YEAR LOW

Complaints about telco services in Australia have dropped to the lowest levels since 2015, according to the Communications Alliance telecommunications industry body.

The Alliance says complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman for the October-December 2018 period, as a proportion of services in operation for the service providers who participate in the report, decreased for the fourth consecutive quarter, dropping to 6.0 complaints per 10,000 services.

That’s down from 8.7 for the same period a year earlier.

Optus continued to record the highest number of new complaints, at 6.9 per 10,000 services in operation – though that number was a drop from the previous quarter’s 7.7. Meanwhile, Telstra continued to hold its second spot, with 6.6 complaints per 10,000 services and was the only telco covered to record an increase, up marginally from 6.5.

Vodafone logged 3.0 new complaints per 10,000 services in operation, with Amaysim and Pivotel each on 0.5.

Not all service providers participate in the report, which covers complaints about mobile, internet and landline services from residential and small business customers.

Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton noted some of industry regulator ACMA’s new customer service focused instruments coming into effect halfway through the year of improvement, while others commenced towards the beginning of the most recent quarter.

“This has been a multi-faceted effort, and collaboration between industry, government and regulators has been an important part of this success,” Stanton said.

The revised Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code will expand the existing Complaints in Context report to include the top 10 recipients of TIO complaints, in addition to any providers who choose to voluntarily participate.

Optus to add US$23m to South Australian mobile network spend

Optus will invest a further US$23.6 million into its South Australian mobile network, planning to build some 40 new sites by the end of March 2019 to improve network coverage and faster download speeds for customers.

This builds on a US$45 million investment by the Singtel-owned firm across South Australia in the last 12 months.

‘In Adelaide today, Optus CEO, Allen Lew highlighted the company’s commitment to offering people across South Australia with increased telecommunications competition and choice.

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Optus CEO Allen Lew

“Our investment in South Australia reflects our commitment to provide people across Australia with a premium national mobile network,” said Optus CEO Allen Lew. “We want customers to have a choice when selecting their network carrier, which is why we have invested in over 70 new sites across South Australia in the last 12 months with more than 40 set to come online over the next four months.”

The new sites will be spread throughout the state, from Kangaroo Island up to Eyre Peninsula, covering major transport corridors, tourist areas and regional towns –  including a further six Federal and State Government Mobile Black Spots.

“The last 12 months has seen a real boost to our services in regional and rural parts of South Australia and this investment will continue with 50 percent of our new sites set to sit within a regional or rural location,” added Lew.

Optus ups mobile coverage of SW Victoria, flicks on 10 new sites

Optus has committed to keep improving mobile coverage across the Warrnambool, Moyne, Corangamite and Colac Otway regions in South West Victoria, after switching on ten new mobile towers.

The new sites will provide improved 4G mobile coverage and capacity for residents and visitors across the region to make and receive calls, texts and access mobile data.

Optus’ Territory General Manager for South West Victoria, Duane Dalton said, “this financial year, Optus has invested A$6.35 million in its mobile network across the region, working with local communities to improve mobile coverage in their area.”

“We’re committed to providing great coverage and great value to our customers, having switched on sites in Tyrendarra, Port Fairy Central, Warncoort, Chocolyn South, Pirron Yallock, Colac West, Warrnambool Breakwater, Warrnambool North, Beech Forest and the 12 Apostles

“The site at Port Fairy, will be a significant improvement for those locals and visitors attending the annual Port Fairy Folk Festival,” said Dalton.

“Looking ahead, Optus has plans to invest more than A$500,000 in its mobile network across the region, with plans to build a new mobile tower in Wye River.”

“Optus has shown its commitment to providing great coverage to our customers across South West Victoria, this significant investment will not only provide improved connectivity for local residents, but also improve mobile coverage for the thousands of tourists travelling along the Great Ocean Road every day,” he added.

Optus names 2018 Future Makers

A key selection of innovative technology services addressing social challenges around employment, education, health and wellbeing and female empowerment, have secured a share of A$280,000 in grant funding, after successfully pitching to an expert panel at the third annual Optus Future Makers event.

The Optus Future Makers program provides finalists the opportunity to build on their skills through mentoring, capability development workshops and networking opportunities to help reach their goals.

After completing a four-month accelerator program to develop their skills through workshops and mentoring, each finalist pitched their technology solution to a panel of judges comprising World Vision Australia’s Pam Rebecca, Thankyou Group’s Daniel Flynn, IAG’s Julie Batch and Optus’ Helen Maisano and Andrew Buay.

“As a leading technology organisation, it’s important for us to make a real and tangible contribution when it comes to driving technology innovation for social good,” said Optus Business MD John Paitaridis.

“We’re providing a$280,000 of grant funding along with access to Optus’ resources, mentors and expertise, to help these great social entrepreneurs make a difference for those most in need. To become the innovation nation, it’s crucial for established businesses to support Australia’s innovators and start-ups, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

“This year’s finalists have demonstrated is the wide range of social issues that technology can address – from domestic violence, immunisation, discrimination and employability – and it’s truly inspirational, “ said Paitaridis.

Future Makers Panel

Pam Rebecca, Chief Strategy, Innovation & Digital Officer, World Vision Australia
Daniel Flynn, Co-founder, Managing Director, Thankyou Group
Julie Batch, Chief Customer Officer, IAG
Helen Maisano, Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Optus
Andrew Buay, Vice President, Group Sustainability, Optus

2018 Future Makers Funding Recipients:

Rory Darkins (NSW) – $25,000
What’s Right – Thrive is a life coach-in-your pocket. The app empowers users to become the best version of themselves and helps removes barriers that prevent disadvantaged people from accessing the support they need to thrive. What’s Right’s AI technology aims to remove this affordability barrier by delivering world-class coaching through a fully automated yet personalised ‘virtual coach’.

Chris Boyle (QLD) – $30,000
Commsync harnesses the power of technology to eliminate domestic violence connecting vulnerable community members to their safety network, through the push of a button. Commsync create safety plans tailored to each individual based on their extensive knowledge of the risks inherent in the community services sector and use wearable technology (watches and pendants) and non-wearable (IOT devices) to ‘activate’ these plans. It provides real-time support at the touch of a button or using voice command.

Dr Stefan Schutt (VIC) – $10,000
vPlay is an online program that helps people with Autism who have trouble mastering social interaction and have difficulty finding jobs. vPlay provides people with Autism the necessary tools to practise both ‘people’ and ‘technical’ skills through simulated role plays with virtual characters, that can be accessed and edited via any web browser.

Chris Smeed (QLD) – $25,000
ImmCalc is an application that automates complex immunisation schedules for refugees, migrants and others needing catch-up vaccines, making it easier to ensure that vulnerable patients are protected against preventable diseases.

Michael Tozer (NSW) – $85,000
Xceptional is a technology services firm, which recognises the unique strengths of people with Autism such as pattern recognition, sustained concentration and precision that are often overlooked, helping them closely align with IT related roles.

Rick Martin (NSW) – $30,000
Equal Reality uses virtual reality to allow users to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to understand what it’s like to be discriminated against or harassed’. Equal Reality provides computer generated, interactive scenarios to help people understand and help deliver diversity and inclusion training.

Michael Metcalfe (QLD) – $75,000
Kynd is a mobile app based solution that matches disadvantaged locals with professional needs based support. As individuals have specific requirements or preferences when being cared for, Kynd helps users find a perfect professional match based on personality, location, budget, interests, skills, training and experience

Australian telco majors lauded for stance on sustainable packaging

Telstra and SingTel Optus have been named as winners at the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s (APCO) annual awards in Sydney, with the telcos being recognised for their “ongoing commitment to sustainable packaging.”

APCO celebrated the achievements of 14 Australian organisations representing a broad range of sectors, including manufacturing, retail, transport, hospitality, pharmaceutical and technology. [the_ad_placement id=”in-content”]/p>

APCO, the organisation charged by government to make all packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025, connects business, government and industry to find the best possible ways of managing packaging efficiency and sustainability in Australia.

The event recognised those Australian businesses deemed to be crucial allies in the war on waste by reducing the detrimental impact of packaging on the environment.

Winner of the 2018 Telecommunications Sector Award, SingTel Optus was praised for making significant improvements in its sustainable packaging and environmental performance. “Through regular governance meetings with internal stakeholders, suppliers and logistics partners, Optus has been able to identify a number of opportunities to reuse consumer packaging,” said APCO, noting that in 2017, Optus had managed to successfully recycle its SIM cards, which meant it could divert 1.47 tonnes of material from landfill.

“Our continued focus on building a strong strategy and better environmental outcomes across the business is demonstrated by tangible outcomes that have great economic and environmental outcomes,” said Nik Comito, Director, Environmental Sustainability, SingTel Optus.

Telstra was also awarded with the 2018 Telecommunications Sector Awardrecognised for making significant progress in its sustainability operations. Its SIM kits are now made using 90% recycled cardboard packaging material, and distribution packaging has been reduced by over 16 tonnes a year by optimising the size and thickness of plastic satchels.

“This achievement is due to the dedicated cross-company collaboration between our Retail, Procurement and Supply Chain teams to reduce the environmental impact of our packaging across the value chain,” said Pauline Gregg, General Manager, Environment, Telstra.

Finally, Samsung Australia, Panasonic Australia and Fuji Xerox Australia were shortlisted for their range of commendable sustainability initiatives.

For more information visit www.packagingcovenant.org.au