Reliance Jio secures $2 billion 5G loan


The loan will be used to help Jio purchase 5G equipment from Nokia, with the Indian operator racing to deploy the new technology  

India’s leading telecoms operator Reliance Jio has secured a loan of almost $2 billion to find its purchase of 5G equipment from Nokia. 

Reportedly arranged by HSBC, the loan is one the country’s biggest offshore loans for the 2024 financial year. The deal with Nokia was secured in October last year.

“The deal was concluded recently after talks over the past couple of months with HSBC as lead arranger… the loan quantum is around $1.5–2 billion, and it is structured in a way that carries with it an implied rate of interest arrived over the tenure of the loan,” reported the Economic Times. 

Reliance Jio has ambitious plans for its 5G deployment. During the firm’s Annual General Meeting in August this year, Chairman Mukesh Ambani promised to achieve nationwide standalone 5G coverage by the end of the year. If achieved, Ambani claims the 5G rollout will have been the fastest anywhere in the world. 

“With this massive reach and capacity, here is our promise: We know that every home, small and medium businesses, factories, schools, and hospitals across India would like to have 5G. From December this year, we will be able to promptly fulfil each and every demand for Jio 5G broadband connection across the country,” he said.  

Alongside Nokia, Jio is also working Ericsson and Samsung for 5G equipment. In September of this year, the Jio announced the arrangement of a similar $2 billion offshore loan to fund the purchase of 5G equipment from Ericsson, arranged by BNP-Paribas. 

Thanks to this huge investment, Jio is already making impressive progress with its rollout, having recently passed 50 million 5G subscribers. Jio also claims that it operates 85% of the country’s operational 5G cell sites. 

However, Jio is not the only operator making swift progress when it comes to 5G. Bharti Airtel, Jio’s main rival, said this weekend that it had also passed the 50 million 5G subscriber market. 

How is the 5G Standalone market evolving in 2023? Find out at this year’s find out at this year’s Total Telecom Congress, live from Amsterdam, 21-22 November 2023   

Also in the news:
Generative AI in the telco industry: Three waves of adoption
Sky Mobile network outages linked to removal of Huawei equipment
European telco CEOs pen open letter calling for ‘Fair Share’ legislation 

Generative AI in the telco industry: Three waves of adoption

Contributed Article

by Dr Ishwar Parulkar, Chief Technology Officer for the Telco Industry at AWS

Generative artificial intelligence (AI), a type of AI that is capable of producing new content such as conversations, stories, images, videos, music, and code, continues to make headlines on how it will transform industries – telco included.

Anticipated growth is substantial. In fact, our own survey of telco leaders, facilitated with Altman Solon, found that adoption of generative AI use cases will grow from the current 19% adoption to 48% within the next two years.

While there are many use cases for how telcos can embrace generative AI, we see adoptions occurring in three waves.


Telco use cases across three waves of adoption

The first wave will take advantage of foundation models and capabilities that exist today, largely in customer experience (CX). Telcos already leverage AI to enhance interactions and resolution speed, and according to our survey, almost all (92%) respondents selected customer service and chatbots as a high likelihood to implement. In fact, among those respondents, 63% said the deployment was already in production. Embracing generative AI can further this progress with interactive voice response and real-time call analysis to provide prompts and resources for agents to help resolve customer inquiries. Customer service agents will still play a key role in the process, but generative AI can improve every customer interaction.

The second wave will comprise fine-tuning foundation models for telco purposes using proprietary data. One early example of this is the work Snowflake and DigitalRoute recently showcased to combine data from billing support systems (BSS) and operational support systems (OSS). Using Llama 2, an open-source foundation model fathered by Meta, and trained using Amazon SageMaker, this solution can help telcos more easily pinpoint and resolve network performance issues impacting key customers.

This can also be applied to challenges such as revenue leakage or optimising profits. At TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World, Salesforce showcased a new demo that uses Amazon Bedrock and Amazon Sagemaker Jumpstart to fine-tune models and combine data for use cases including revenue assurance, employee dispatching, and empowering customer service agents with meaningful real-time insights.

The third and final wave will be focused on creating new industry specific foundation models trained on telco specific data, for example standards specifications and data from the network and its operations. While two-thirds of telcos (65%) anticipate training off-the-shelf models to meet their needs, a cohort of 15% indicated a desire to build foundation models in-house.

We see opportunities for independent AI software vendors and early telco adopters of this technology  to work together to use network data to build wholly new foundation models that can address network function software design, network design and configuration and network failure resolution related use cases. We’re already seeing some early movers in this space. For example, SK Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, e& and Singtel announced a Global Telco AI Alliance and collaboration with Anthropic to develop a new global telco-focused large language model. Not only will these efforts benefit the telcos and the industry, it also creates a new potential line of revenue for telcos to monetise their assets.

Generative AI begins with a data strategy

Regardless of which wave of use case telcos pursue, the most important piece is a solid foundational data strategy. Generative AI is only as good as the data it uses and the platform it is built on.  Our survey found that organisations ranking in the top 30% for data proficiency are outpacing their peers in using generative AI.

Yet equally important is protecting that data. For some generative AI use cases, telcos need to customise existing large language models (LLMs) using company proprietary data. In using these publicly available LLMs, there is concern that proprietary company data could be embedded into the public model itself, creating intellectual property risk. Two-thirds (61%) of surveyed telcos indicated concerns around data security, privacy, and governance. Business and IT leaders should therefore work hand-in-hand with their security, compliance, and legal teams to identify and mitigate these risks, ensuring the secure and responsible deployment of generative AI. Moreover, businesses should carefully plan for compliance with regulations and consider the ownership of the data used.

Before commercially deploying any kind of AI application, it is key that businesses consider their existing data organisation and data platform strategy, and assess the expected return on investment. Certain applications will deliver greater impact depending on the available data. That said, we firmly believe that AI represents the most profoundly transformative technology of our era, with generative AI opening doors to incredible new opportunities that every business in the UK can and should consider tapping into.

Want to keep up to date with the latest developments in the world of telecoms? Subscribe to receive Total Telecom’s daily newsletter here     

Also in the news:
Stonepeak buys minority stake in Cellnex Nordics
Telefonica Germany partners with Skylo for satellite-supported IoT
Sky Mobile network outages linked to removal of Huawei equipment 

Report Warns New BlueWalker 3 Satellite for Mobile is Too Bright

A new report has revealed that the prototype BlueWalker 3 satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which was launched by AST SpaceMobile to provide 4G and 5G mobile (broadband) coverage to regular handsets on the ground, is so big that it outshines 99% of the stars visible from a dark location on Earth – that’s […]

ISP TalkTalk Sells UK Business Division to its Own Shareholders

Broadband ISP TalkTalk has revealed that, following its recent demerger news (here), the group has finally sold their business division (TT Business Direct) to its own shareholders for £95 million – after seemingly being unable to turn earlier interest from Sky and Daisy Group into a tangible deal. As previously reported, the long-established internet and […]

Ashford Borough Council in Kent Reports on Broadband Progress

The Ashford Borough Council (ABC) in Kent, England, has published a review of the local area’s progress on improving broadband and have identified, perhaps unsurprisingly, that “more needs to be done” to ensure that all local residents and businesses benefit from access to “fast and reliable internet connections“. The report notes that “superfast” broadband coverage […]

AltNets Pickup Wins at UK WISPAs 2023 and Comms National Awards

A couple of separate industry award events have just recently been held – the UKWISPA Awards 2023 and Comms National Awards – both of which saw various UK alternative broadband network builders and ISPs picking up wins across various different categories. We’ll begin with UK Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, which holds an annual event […]

Havering Seeks Gigabit Broadband Network for Council Flats

The Council for the London Borough of Havering has this week announced that they are “seeking expressions of interest from broadband suppliers” to help extend the benefits of gigabit-capable connectivity (FTTP) to over 4,900 council-owned flats in the area, which are currently only served by “old copper broadband lines“. The council’s Expression of Interests form […]

nexfibre announce new CEO alongside rollout milestone


Nexfibre is a joint venture created between InfraVia Capital Partners, Liberty Global, and Telefonica 

This week, fibre network operator nexfibre has announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive Officer, Rajiv Datta. 

Datta, who has over 25 years’ experience in the telecoms and digital infrastructure industries, replaces interim CEO Bernardo Quinn, who will remain as an advisor to the board until the end of the year..  

Datta will assume the role immediately and will oversee nexfibre’s plans to reach five million homes and businesses UK wide by 2026. 

“With a fully-financed plan to invest £4.5 billion and a set of world-class shareholders and partners, nexfibre is incredibly well-positioned to be impactful at a pivotal time in the UK broadband market,” said Rajiv Datta in a press release. 

“The Board and I are delighted that Rajiv is joining the nexfibre team, and we look forward to working with him and our partners at Virgin Media O2 to create a national scale challenger, boosting wholesale competition, driving consumer choice and providing significant value to the UK economy,” said Andrea Salvato, Chairman of nexfibre. 

nexfibre, who is working in partnership with Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) to roll out FTTP to UK premises, has also announced today that the firm have reached 500,000 premises passed.  

Since its formation last year, the majority of VMO2’s fibre rollout has been via nexfibre’s wholesale network. In July of this year, nexfibre had reached 300,000 premises passed, meaning the company has added 175,000 premises in 2023 Q2 alone. 

Want to keep up to date with the latest developments in the world of telecoms? Subscriber to receive Total Telecom’s daily newsletter here     

Also in the news:
Stonepeak buys minority stake in Cellnex Nordics
Telefonica Germany partners with Skylo for satellite-supported IoT
Sky Mobile network outages linked to removal of Huawei equipment 

European telco CEOs pen open letter calling for ‘Fair Share’ legislation


The letter is signed by 20 CEOs from most of Europe’s largest telecoms companies

Today, the GSMA has published an open letter from 20 European telco CEOs calling on EU policymakers to overhaul the regulatory framework and mandate Big Tech companies to help contribute to telco infrastructure costs.

“A revision of spectrum policy, accepting the need for scale to avoid market fragmentation, and a fair and proportionate contribution from the largest traffic generators towards the costs of network infrastructure should form the basis of a new approach,” reads the letter.

The letter argues that data traffic will continue to grow at 20–30% each year, with this increase “primarily driven by just a handful of large tech companies”, but the operators are failing to see a corresponding return on investment from retail customers.

As a result, the telcos are calling on the EU government to introduce a special mechanism by which these big tech companies can contribute their financial “fair share” to the infrastructure they rely on to deliver their services. The parties suggest this mechanism would only target “the very largest traffic generators” and would include “accountability and transparency on contributions received so that operators invest directly into Europe’s digital infrastructure”.

“This measure would rebalance the market power along the value chain, while addressing the current asymmetries: Big tech companies pay today almost nothing for data transport in our networks, far from covering the costs needed to expand networks and achieve the ambitious EU targets. Telecoms providers cannot negotiate adequate prices for data transport; by contrast, some cloud providers today charge their customers up to 80 times as much for the onward transport of data from the cloud,” said the letter, which also noted that the was currently no economic incentive for Big Tech players to reduce unnecessary data traffic.

The 20 signatories of the letter are below:

Thomas Arnoldner, CEO, A1 Telekom Austria Group
Ana Figueiredo, CEO and Chairwoman, Altice Portugal
Edward Bouygues, Chairman, and Benoit Torloting, CEO, Bouygues Telecom
Philip Jansen, Chief Executive, BT Group
Andreas Neocleous, CEO, CYTA
Timotheus Höttges, CEO, Deutsche Telekom
Oliver Loomes, CEO, eir
Christian Salbaing, Deputy Chairman, Hutchison Europe
Mike Fries, CEO, Liberty Global
Joost Farwerck, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Management, KPN
Christel Heydemann, CEO, Orange Group
Guillaume Boutin, CEO, Proximus Group
Sigve Brekke, President and CEO, Telenor Group
Michel Jumeau, CEO, TDC NET
José María Alvarez-Pallete, Chairman and CEO, Telefónica
Kjell Morten Johnsen, President and CEO, Tele2 Group
Allison Kirkby, President and CEO, Telia Company
Pietro Labriola, CEO and General Manager, TIM
Victoriya Boklag, CEO, United Group
Margherita Della Valle, CEO, Vodafone Group

The so-called ‘fair share’ debate has been raging on for many months now, with the European Commission launching a consultation into the matter back in February that is still ongoing.

As outlined in this letter – as well as numerous calls to action spearheaded by the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) over the past year –  the operators argument for enforcing a ‘fair share’ contribution is clear enough: network usage is increasing, largely driven by traffic from a small number of major tech companies, and operators will struggle to keep up with demand without subsidies from these companies.

Detractors, however, suggest that this is merely an attempt by the operators to be paid twice for delivering data – once by the sender (e.g., Netflix or Google), and once by the receiver (the end-user of the content).

“It’s no different to the same nonsense they’ve been peddling about the (un)fair-share concept (aka Internet Traffic Tax) for the last year,” explained industry analyst Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis. “It includes the well-established lie / myth of the “large traffic generators”. As many observers – including various European regulators – have pointed out, most traffic is generated by user request, not by a company “sending” a movie or streamed video.”

“The €174 billion investment figure [‘the EU estimated that at least €174 billion of new investment will be needed by 2030 to deliver the connectivity targets’] is also irrelevant – it’s almost entirely about building out network coverage, plus upgrading to FTTH & 5G, not adding incremental capacity. Almost all the investment would still be needed even if resultant data traffic was zero,” he added.

Critics have also suggested that implementing such a tax could infringe on the Net Neutrality principles held by the EU, which ensure that all data traffic is treated equally regardless of content or origin. Today’s open letter does briefly touch upon this topic, noting that any payment mechanism would need to be “implemented in full compliance with Net Neutrality rules”.

Ultimately, this open letter does not really add anything new to the debate that has not already been said. Lobbying on the topic will no doubt continue for many months – perhaps even years – both by those for and against the introduction of such a tax. For now, there appears to be no sign of a conclusion from the European Commission.

Want to keep up to date with the latest developments in the world of telecoms? Subscriber to receive Total Telecom’s daily newsletter here     

Also in the news:
Stonepeak buys minority stake in Cellnex Nordics
Telefonica Germany partners with Skylo for satellite-supported IoT
Sky Mobile network outages linked to removal of Huawei equipment 

Gov to Review UK Rural Broadband Options and 10Mbps USO

The UK Government has today launched two interesting new consultations, including one that is seeking views on a looming review of the legally-binding 10Mbps+ Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband and another that will help better understand how to improve broadband for “Very Hard to Reach” areas. We’ll start with the somewhat maligned USO. The […]