Vodacom is to advance its position as a digitisation pioneer within Vodafone by experimenting with new artificial intelligence use-cases, and ramping people and technology.

  • Competitor pricing intelligence and customer insight among potential applications.

Shameel Joosub, Chief Executive (CEO) of Vodacom Group, talked up the operator’s push to bring artificial intelligence (AI) to bear on its commercial activities, beyond “tailor-madeJust 4 You mobile allowances.

Joosub said the South African group – which is presented as one of the OpCo leaders of the Group’s Digital Vodafone transformation programme (Vodafonewatch, #156, #159, and #160) – is “now starting to experiment with some additional use-cases” in big data and machine learning, having “proven the concept through Just 4 You”.

In a nod to customer support automation techniques being rolled out elsewhere in Vodafone, such as via chatbots in Italy and the UK (Vodafonewatch, #152 and #155), Joosub said applications Vodacom is exploring include “using voice recognition to classify calls to the call centre in order for us to more accurately address multiple call problems”.

Other use-cases include automatically gathering competitor pricing information from comparison websites, and “combining customer information and linking this to perform deep analytics, which can be used in instances such as insurance, M-PESA, and loan assessments”, he added.

In terms of skills (a key AI and analytics challenge) and technology, Joosub added that Vodacom had been investing to expand capabilities. It had “now enhanced our capabilities to accelerate deeper learning, firstly by spending on the platform capabilities and power, and also by spending on the team of… data scientists that we have”, he said. He did not reveal details of Vodacom’s enabler partners on AI.

C-suite buy-in

  • Vodacom’s Just 4 You initiative came to market in 2016, and has been gaining attention having been referenced as a “poster child” of Vodafone’s push into data analytics and AI by Group CEO Vittorio Colao.
  • It offers individualised data and voice bundles to customers by tweaking volume, validity period, and access to specific applications and URLs to suit their needs. Vodacom sees the service as a means to drive usage among prepaid customers by effectively offering them cheaper mobile data access – it claims to have helped expand the number of customers using bundles to more than 18 million at 30 September 2017, up 20% from a year earlier.
  • Vodacom South Africa (VdSA) pioneered the offering, but Vodacom has said the underlying platform is being expanded to its other businesses. Vodafone has yet to announce adoption by an OpCo beyond the Vodacom family, however.
  • In July 2017, Colao trumpeted VdSA’s “incredible ability to deliver, on a daily basis, personalised offers”. He pointedly added that “we want to approach the future of data in this way, and I’m very optimistic, personally, that this is the modern digital telco – as opposed to the old telco that says ‘unlimited’ and then tries to raise price with inflation once every now and then”.

Digital dreams

Digital Vodafone was fully unveiled for the first time in November 2016, and envisages deployment of a fresh wave of digital, data-driven techniques, such as AI and machine learning, to bear on customer experience and distribution, and extend them to other internal operations and network rollout, via an initiative called “Smart Capex”.

Across the Group, Vodafone has indicated it has an addressable cost base of EUR5bn (£4.4bn) to target through digitisation of customer management activity, including retail, distribution, and customer support. On the operational side, automation and simplification techniques are tabled to have a EUR3bn base to address.

Image: Yeshi Kangrang / Unsplash.

Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE BRIEF

GROUP

Deals

CytaHellas to join Vodafone Greece’s quirky M&A family [p6]

  • Not a done deal yet
  • Distressed asset
  • Change of plan
  • Rival deal making ripples the pond in Europe

Vodafone strikes late-hour deal to sell Invitation Digital [p9]

  • Vodafone escapes from lock-in, but at what cost?
  • IDL escapes Group shackles
  • For ‘IDL’, read ‘Zyb’ and ‘Wayfinder’

Table 1: People movement highlights

Table 2: Partner/supplier people movement highlights

Group Technology

Vodafone goes with industry flow on 5G NR [p14]

  • What about standalone 5G NR?
  • A halfway house

Vodafone extends trials of MEC [p16]

  • Other recent MEC activity around the Group

EUROPE

Albania

VfA picks up spectrum from defunct rival Plus [p18]

Germany

Germany (at last) joins Group push on NB-IoT [p19]

  • Rival Telekom ahead on Things
  • Table 3: Vodafone on the NB-IoT trail: Group highlights, January 2018

Hungary

Vodafone Hungary eager to enact wireline plans [p22]

  • Figure 1: Hungary broadband market share comparison, 30 September 2017
  • Local-regional complications
  • Vodafone’s convergence jigsaw is far from complete
  • Table 4: Vodafone Europe Region OpCo mobile-wireline broadband user base weighting, at 30 September 2017 (‘000)

Ireland

SIRO deepens Huawei ties with XGS-PON trial [p25]

  • SIRO snapshot
  • Table 5: CityFibre’s “Gigabit Cities” footprint

UK

CityFibre and VfUK pick Milton Keynes for debut [p26]

  • Avoiding stepping on Virgin’s toes
  • Main duo still playing hard-to-get, despite VfUK’s Cityfibre flirtation

VfUK sees tide turn on 2.3GHz/3.4GHz auction [p28]

  • Yet another UK spectrum snafu
  • Table 6: Spectrum holdings of UK mobile network operators (MHz)
  • What happens now?
  • 5G ‘standalone’ first, using 3.5GHz

AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST, AND ASIA-PACIFIC REGION

Australia — Vodafone Hutchison Australia

VHA misses another chance to play spectrum catch-up [p32]

  • Table 7: Battle of the bands: VHA plays second fiddle to Telstra in multiband auction
  • Are you serious, VHA?
  • VHA joins 5G working group

Vodacom Group

Joosub to put beady AI on rivals [p35]

  • C-suite buy-in
  • Table 8: Digital Vodafone initiative, key tenets
  • Digital dreams

FURTHER READING

INDEX

Index

Symbols

3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 14, 15, 21, 30

A

Aditya Birla Group 6
Idea Cellular 6
Africa 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 21, 31, 35
Egypt 11, 12, 33
– Kenya 36
– South Africa 16, 21, 35
Department of Communications (DOC) 34
Sub-Sahara 11
– Tanzania 11
Afrimax Group 9
Agile Software Inc. 36
Albtelecom 18
Alcatel-Lucent 8, 14
Altice Group
Cabovisao SA 12
Amazon.com Inc. 28
Americas
Argentina 21
– Canada 12
– USA 8, 14
Apax Partners 12
Apple 11
Asia-Pacific 9, 11, 31
Australia 11, 21, 32, 33, 34
Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) 32, 33
– – National Broadband Network (NBN) 32
China 16
– Hong Kong 6
– India 6, 11, 19, 33
Licence Circles
Delhi 33
– – – Gujarat 33
– – – Karnataka 33
– – – Kolkata 33
– – – Mumbai 33
New Zealand 21
Axiata Group Bhd (TM International)
India (Idea Cellular, see also Aditya Birla) 6

B

Bharti Group 33
Airtel 33
Bité Group 9
British Airways 12
British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) 28
BT Group 27
Openreach 27

C

CeBIT 20
CGI Group Inc. 11
Cisco Systems 14
CityFibre 26, 27
Conexus Mobile Alliance 9
C.P.A. Czech s.r.o. 36
Cyprus Telecommunications Authority 6, 7, 23
CytaHellas 6, 7

D

Dell 12, 14
Deutsche Bahn 19, 20
Deutsche Telekom 8, 11, 15, 19
Europe
Austria 8
– – Greece (see OTE) 7
– – Hungary (see Magyar Telekom) 22
– – UK (EE) 28, 29
Germany 19
– Systems Solutions
T-Systems 11
USA 12
DHL Worldwide Express 19, 20
DIEHL Metering 19, 20

E

EE (see DT, FT) 28, 29
Electricity Supply Board (Ireland) 25
Emblaze Group
European Telecom 16
EMC 14
Ericsson 15, 19, 20, 21, 28, 30, 34
Europe 8, 11, 12, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23
Albania 18, 22, 23
Electronic & Postal Communications Authority (AKEP) 18
Austria 8, 19
– Cyprus 6
– Czech Republic 11, 20, 23, 33
– France 8, 12
– Germany 11, 19, 20, 21, 23, 33, 36
Länder
Berlin 19
– – – North Rhine-Westphalia (Düsseldorf) 19, 20, 21
Greece 6, 7, 8, 20, 23
Government 7
Hungary 11, 12, 18, 22, 23
Gazdasagi Versenyhivatal (Competition Authority/GVH) 18
Ireland 8, 14, 20, 23, 25, 33
– Italy 8, 12, 20, 21, 22, 23, 33, 35
– Latvia 9
– Lithuania 9
– Malta 11, 18, 22, 23
– Netherlands 8, 12, 16, 19, 20, 23, 27, 33
– Poland 19
– Portugal 12, 23, 33
– Romania 12, 20, 23
– Spain 12, 16, 20, 23, 27
– Turkey 33
– United Kingdom (UK) 8, 9, 12, 14, 15, 23, 26, 28, 29, 30, 33, 35, 36
Office of Communications (Ofcom) 28, 29, 30
European Telecommunications Standards Institute 16
European Union 7, 15, 25, 30
European Commission 15

F

FireEye 12
Football Association
Premier League 27
Formula One 27
Forthnet 6, 7
Fortino Capital 12

G

Gemalto NV 21
Google 11
GSM Association (GSMA)
Mobile World Congress 14, 15

H

Huawei Technologies 16, 19, 20, 21, 25, 34
Hutchison Whampoa 11, 21, 32, 34
Hutchison 3G Australia Pty Ltd 34
– Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Ltd (Hutchinson Telecom/HTHKH/3 Hong Kong) 34
– Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd (VHA, (see Vodafone) 11, 21, 32, 33, 34

I

IBM 11, 14
Iliad 8
Intel 21
International Telecommunications Union 25
Invitation Digital 9

K

KPN 8

L

Largo Ltd
WIND Hellas 6
Liberty Global 8, 23, 26
Virgin Media 26, 27, 28
– Ziggo 8, 27

M

Magyar Telekom (see DT) 22
Market segments
Mobile data 35
– Network-sharing 7
– Over-the-top (OTT) 10
– Voice 7, 33, 35, 36
McKinsey & Co 12
MediaTek Inc. 21
mFormation Technologies 14
Micromuse 14
Microsoft 12, 21
Middle East 9, 11, 12, 14, 31
Egypt 11, 12, 33

N

Netflix Inc. 28
Neul 21
Nokia 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 34

O

OMV Aktiengesellschaft 20
Oracle 14
Orange
Orange 15
– UK (see EE) 28, 29
OTE (Hellenic Telecom. Org. SA, see DT)
Cosmote 7
Greece 7

P

Panasonic 19, 20
PCCW 6
Petrom, Romania 20
PwC 6

Q

Qualcomm 15, 21, 29

R

RCS & RDS SA 23
Rogers Communications 12
RWE AG 20

S

Safaricom 11, 36
M-PESA 10, 12, 35, 36
Samsung 21, 34
Sequans Communications 21
Singapore Telecom
Optus (Australia) 32, 34
Sonaecom
Oni 12
SpiderCloud Wireless 16
Spreadtrum Communications Inc. 21
Sprint Nextel 11, 12

T

Techem 19, 20
Technology
2.5G 34
– 2G 34
– 3G 15, 28, 30
Evolved HSPA (HSPA+/I-HSPA)
MIMO 15
4G 16, 20, 30, 33, 34
Long Term Evolution (LTE) 15, 33
– – VoLTE (Voice-over-LTE) 33
5G 14, 15, 16, 28, 30, 32, 34
– Cloud computing 9, 12, 14, 21, 36
– Fibre 6, 7, 25, 26, 27
FTTP 26, 27
M2M 20
– Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) 19, 20, 21
– OTA 15
– R&D 14, 16
– SIM 21
– Smartphone 16
– SMS 22, 30
– Spectrum 8, 15, 18, 19, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34
700 MHz 34
– – 800 MHz 18, 19, 20, 29
– – 850 MHz 34
– – 900 MHz 18, 21, 29, 34
– – 1000 MHz 18, 34
– – 1800 MHz 18, 29, 32, 33, 34
– – 2100 MHz 18, 29, 32, 34
– – 2500 MHz 34
– – 2600 MHz 18, 29
– – 3500 MHz 15, 28, 30
– – Digital dividend 18
Tablet 16
– VDSL 7
– W-LAN 16, 33
Tele2 8
Netherlands 8
Telecom Egypt 12
Telecom Italia 22
Telefónica Group 12, 15, 27, 28
Europe 28, 29
España 27
– – UK 28
Movistar 27
Telekom Austria Group 8
Austria
A1 8
Telit 21
Telstra 32, 34
Texas Pacific Group (TPG) 32
T-Systems 11

U

u-blox 21
UEFA 27
Champions League 27
UEFA European Super Cup 27
Unilever 11
Unitel 12
UPC 8, 22, 23

V

Verizon Communications 25
Vodacom Group 11, 16, 21, 35, 36
Group 11, 35, 36
– South Africa 16, 21, 35
– Tanzania 11
Vodafone
Africa, Middle East, and Asia Pacific Region (AMAP) 31
Africa 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 21, 31, 35
– – Asia 9, 11, 31
– – Australia 11, 21, 32, 33, 34
VHA Pty. Ltd (see Hutchison Whampoa) 11, 32, 33, 34
Egypt 11, 12, 33
– – India 6, 11, 19, 33, 34
– – Kenya (see Safaricom) 11, 36
– – Middle East 9, 11, 12, 14, 31
– – New Zealand 21
– – Pacific 9, 11, 31
– – South Africa (see Vodacom) 11, 16, 21, 35, 36
– – Turkey 33
Europe Region 12, 18, 22, 23
Albania 18, 22, 23
– – Cable & Wireless Worldwide 8
– – Czech Republic 11, 20, 23, 33
– – Germany 11, 19, 20, 21, 23, 33, 36
KDG Holding GmbH (Kabel Deutschland) 11
Greece 6, 7, 8, 20, 23
Hellas On Line (HOL) 7
– – – Victus Networks 7
– – – Zelitron 20
Hungary 11, 12, 18, 22, 23
– – Ireland 8, 14, 20, 23, 25, 33
SIRO 25
Italy 8, 12, 20, 21, 22, 23, 33, 35
– – Malta 11, 18, 22, 23
– – Netherlands 8, 12, 16, 19, 20, 23, 27, 33
VodafoneZiggo 8, 23, 27
Portugal 12, 23, 33
– – Romania 12, 20, 23
– – Spain 12, 16, 20, 23, 27
– – UK 8, 9, 12, 14, 15, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 33, 35, 36
Executives
Atkinson, Sean 25
– – Bateson, Emma 11
– – Bordeianu, Ana 11
– – Carioca, Paula 12
– – Carra, Anita 11
– – Colao, Vittorio 35
– – Dawar, Manish 11
– – Dhillon, Arjun 11
– – Dvorak, Petr 11
– – El Beltagy, Mostafa 12
– – Gastaut, Stefano 11
– – Gupta, Saurabh 11
– – Hellemink, Frank 11
– – Ibbetson, Luke 14
– – Jeffery, Nick 27, 28
– – Joosub, Shameel 35
– – Kong, Eric 11
– – Kraus, Andrea 11
– – Mahmoud, Hany 33
– – Maseko, Raphael 11
– – Neal, Adrian 16
– – Nelson, Amanda 22
– – Reif, Nils 11
– – Reisten, Thomas 11
– – Rossini, Andrea 12
– – Stanica, Gabriela 12
– – van Graan, Errol 11
Ex-executives
Combes, Michel 12
– – Geldmacher, Jan 12
– – Laurence, Guy 12
– – Rook, Ivo 11, 12
– – Showell, Steve 12
– – Tennyson, Richard 12
Group 11, 12, 14
Americas (see Verizon Wireless) 12
– – Headquarters 19
– – Marketing
ZYB (Imity) 10
Partner Markets 6, 9, 11, 14
Africa (Afrimax) 9
– – – Austria (A1/Telekom Austria) 8
– – – Hong Kong (Hutchison Telecom) 34
– – – Kenya (Safaricom) 11, 36
– – – Latvia and Lithuania (Bité) 9
R&D 14, 16
– – Vodafone Carrier Services 8
– – Vodafone Global Enterprise (VGE) 11, 12, 14
– – Vodafone Ventures 9
SpiderCloud Wireless (see separate) 16
Wayfinder Systems 10
Products
Europe 18, 23
– – Liberty (Malta) 8, 23, 26
– – Terminals
236 23
V by Vodafone 19
– – Vodafone TV 7, 27
– – ZYB 10

W

Walt Disney Company, The 27

Z

Zain (MTC) 9

About

About Vodafonewatch

Report: #161
Published: January 2018
Next report: February 2018
For more information visit: Vodafonewatch