Robot on a desk


Vodafonewatch
This release
: #174
April 2019: 66pp
Releases/year: 10+
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EXECUTIVE BRIEF

GROUP

Deals: Vodafone extends network reboot to Spain [p.6]

  • Mobile: reach trebled
  • Fibre: friends reunited
  • Options remain open on asset sales
  • Table: Vodafone Europe Region tower assets, selected

Finance: Vodafone feels squeeze in German 5G auction [p.9]

  • An untimely extra drain on central coffers
  • Huawei still on the 5G dancefloor

Network: NB-IoT footprint continues to spread [p.11]

  • The state of Things
  • Moves in Czech Republic and Germany
  • Group extends NB-IoT reach to Malaysia

Partnerships: Arch 2019: Vodafone's 'global innovation event' [p.15]

  • Ericsson bags Supplier of the Year 2019
  • Table: Vodafone Supplier Awards 2018/19 winners

People [p.18]

  • Table: People movement highlights

Products and Services: V by Vodafone family gets on bike [p.21]

  • Tracking lacking

Supply Chain: Software AG bags Vodafone IoT platform tie-up [p.22]

  • Table: Partner/supplier people movement highlights

Technology: Vodafone eyes AI to get up-to-speed on TV intelligence [p.24]

  • Diving in at the deep end
  • Vodafone TV Analytics expansion project
  • AI in the sky
  • Armchair expertise
  • Seven on board; Czech and New Zealand next up

EUROPE REGION

Germany: Analogue switchover wrapped up [p.32]

Netherlands: VfZ ties with Ericsson for Eindhoven 5G tests [p.35]

Subex joins in on Dutch billing revamp [p.36]

  • Easy as ROC

Portugal: VfP makes another preparatory 5G step [p.37]

Spain: EUR10m funding for 5G pilot in Andalucía [p.38]

UK: CEO roles highlighted in Phones 4u collusion claims [p.40]

  • Bad news 4U

REST OF THE WORLD REGION

Australia: Hutch lukewarm on VHA prospects, amid flux [p.44]

  • False modesty?
  • Regulatory pain-points on show
  • Warm up for mmWave race
  • Huawei hoo-hah

Egypt: VfEg deploys Red Hat's Cloud Suite to upgrade website [p.49]

India: Vodafone Idea picks Cisco for NFV multi-cloud network [p.50]

  • Group strategy tweak

Turkey: TOBi goes to Turkey [p.52]

  • TOBi: going global
  • TOBi, aka Amelia

Vodacom Group: Vodacom looks at wholesale options to fast-track 5G [p.54]

  • Rain starts play
  • Liquid refreshment
  • Why the heel-dragging?

Safaricom upgrades backbone network with Huawei [p.57]

  • Capacity crunch

VdT MD freed after fraud arrest [p.58]

FURTHER READING

INDEX

A

Accenture 22

Africa 58

 - Egypt 14, 23, 48, 49, 62

 - Kenya 20, 59

  --  Government 59

 - South Africa 12, 20, 23, 54, 55, 62

   --  Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) 54

 - Tanzania 58, 62

Agile Software Inc. 49

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd 59

 - Alipay.com Co., Ltd 59

Altran Technologies, SA 37

Amazon.com Inc. 26, 51, 53

 - Amazon Web Services 26, 51

Amdocs 36

Americas

 - USA 53

Apple

 - iOS 29, 39

Asia-Pacific

 - Australia 12, 19, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 59, 62

   --  ACMA 46, 48

  --  Competition & Consumer Commission 45

  --  NBN 45

 - China 11, 47, 57, 59

 - India 12, 19, 36, 39, 50, 51, 62

 - Indonesia 14

 - Malaysia 14, 60

 - New Zealand 12, 19, 29

 - Singapore 14

 - Sri Lanka 14

Astorg Asset Management

 - M7 Group 33

 - Skylink 33

AT&T 22

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) 45

Axiata Group Bhd (TM International) 14

 - India (Idea Cellular, see also Aditya Birla) 12, 14, 19, 50, 51, 62

 - Malaysia (Celcom (Malaysia) Bhd) 14

Axis Bank 19

B

Bank of America 34

 - Merrill Lynch 34

BlackBerry

 - BlackBerry 9000 Storm (Vodafone-VZW) 19

BMW Group 51

Boston Consulting Group 20

British Standards Institute (BSI) 11

BT Group 34, 41

 - BT Global Services 34

BT Mobile 41

C

Capgemini 53

Ciena Corp. 57

Cisco Systems 50, 62

CK Hutchison Holdings 44, 45, 62

 - Hutchison 3G Australia Pty Ltd 44, 62

 - Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Ltd (Hutchinson Telecom/HTHKH/3 Hong Kong) 44, 62

 - Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd (VHA, (see Vodafone) 29, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 59, 62

Consumers' Association

 - Which? 41

Coriant 23

Corporacion de Radio y Television Espanola (RTVE) 39

D

Dell Technologies

 - VMware 50

Deutsche Telekom 9, 21, 22, 40, 60

Europe

 - Serbia (see Telekom Srbija/OTE) 13

 - UK (EE) 40

  --  Systems Solutions

  --  T-Systems 22

Device Insight 22

DIEHL Metering 41

Drillisch AG 9

E

eBay

 - PayPal 59

Econet Wireless Group

 - Liquid Telecom 54, 55, 62

EE (see DT, FT) 40

Electricity Supply Board (Ireland) 19

EMC

 - VMware 50

Ericsson 9, 16, 34, 35, 37, 47, 50, 60

Ernst & Young 59

Europe 8, 9, 10, 13, 18, 23, 31, 61

 - Czech Republic 10, 12, 13, 23, 24, 29, 33, 53, 61

 - Denmark 14

 - France 8

 - Germany 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 32, 33, 34, 53, 60, 61

  --  Bundesnetzagentur für Elektrizität, Gas, Telekommunikation, Post und Eisenbahnen (BNetzA, RegTP, FNA, or German Federal Network Agency) 11, 60

   ---   Länder

  --  Baden-Württemberg (Stuttgart) 32

  --  Bavaria (Munich) 32

  --  Berlin 9

  --  Hesse (Wiesbaden) 32

  --  Saxony-Anhalt (Magdeburg) 32

  --  Saxony (Dresden) 32

 - Greece 8, 10, 12, 21, 33, 61

 - Hungary 10, 14, 18, 24

 - Ireland 8, 12, 19, 21, 34, 53, 61

  --  Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) 34

 - Italy 8, 10, 12, 19, 21, 53

 - Luxembourg 15, 28

 - Malta 12

 - Netherlands 8, 10, 12, 19, 20, 24, 34, 35, 36, 61

 - Norway 14

 - Portugal 8, 12, 19, 21, 26, 27, 37, 61

  --  ANACOM 37

 - Romania 10, 14, 19, 23, 24

 - Serbia 13

 - Spain 6, 7, 8, 12, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 29, 38, 39, 53, 60, 61

 - Switzerland 8

 - Turkey 12, 13, 19, 21, 52, 62

 - United Kingdom (UK) 8, 12, 14, 18, 19, 21, 23, 33, 34, 40, 41, 53, 59, 61

  --  BSI 11

  --  Ofcom 33, 41

European Union 21, 33, 38

European Commission 34

F

Facebook 23

G

Gamesys Ltd 20

Giesecke & Devrient 16

Google 16, 39

 - Android 29

 - Google Play 39

GSM Association (GSMA) 12

H

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise 28

Huawei Technologies 11, 15, 16, 38, 39, 44, 47, 50, 57, 60, 62

Hyundai 51

I

IBM 53

IPsoft 53

J

Juniper Networks 50

K

Kathrein-Werke 16

Kia Motors Corp. 51

KPN 20

L

Liberty Global 24, 32, 33

 - UPC Germany GmbH

 - Unitymedia GmbH 32

 - Virgin Media 41

 - Ziggo 34

M

Market segments

 - Fixed broadband 45

 - Mobile data 33, 57

 - M-payment 59

 - Network-sharing 6, 7, 60

 - Outsourcing 7

 - Over-the-top (OTT) 25, 51

 - Voice 51

Microsoft 19, 20, 52, 53, 62

Middle East

 - Egypt 14, 23, 48, 49, 62

 - Saudi Arabia 48

Mirambo Ltd 58

Mirantis 50

MTN 55

 - South Africa 55

N

Nokia 16, 22, 47, 50

 - Nuage Networks 50

Novabase SGPS SA 26

O

OnMobile Global Ltd 39

Orange

 - Kenya (Telkom Kenya, see separate) 20

 - Orange 6, 7, 8, 21, 38, 40, 60

  --  Business Services 21

 - Spain 6

 - UK (see EE) 40

OTE (Hellenic Telecom. Org. SA, see DT)

 - Serbia (see Telekom Srbija) 13

P

Philips 35

Phones4U 40, 59, 61

PwC 59

R

Red Hat 49, 62

S

Safaricom 19, 20, 57, 59, 62

 - Executives

  --  Rerolle, Thibaud 57

 - M-PESA 57, 59

Samsung 21

SGS S.A. 20

SIAE MICROELETTRONICA 16

Singapore Telecom

 - Optus (Australia) 19, 47, 48

Sistema

 - Mobile TeleSystems 13

Sky Network Television 19

Software AG 22, 60

South East Water 41

Subex 36, 61

Swisscom 20

T

TalkTalk Telecom Group plc 18, 41

TCL Communication 16, 21

TDC 14

Technology

 - 2G 13

  --  GSM 12

 - 3G 6, 10, 35, 48, 55, 61

 - 4G 13, 48, 54, 55, 61

  --  Long Term Evolution (LTE) 12, 13, 55

 - 5G 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 45, 46, 47, 48, 54, 55, 60, 61, 62

 - AI 19, 24, 27, 52, 53, 62

 - Billing 19

 - BSS 23, 36

 - Cloud computing 16, 22, 26, 28, 49, 50, 51, 52, 58, 59, 62

 - CRM 19

 - DSL 18, 61

 - DTH 33

 - Ethernet 29, 57

 - Fibre 6, 7, 18, 19, 57

 - FTTP 7

 - GPS 21, 61

 - IoT 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 33, 38, 41, 52, 58, 60

 - IP 50, 57

 - Linux 49

 - M2M 51

 - MPLS 50

 - Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) 12, 13, 14, 41, 60

 - OSS 23, 36

 - PC 60

 - RBT 39

 - R&D 35

 - SIM 13, 55, 58, 60

 - Smartphone 12, 21, 28, 33, 37, 39, 48, 53, 55

 - Spectrum 7, 8, 9, 10, 34, 35, 37, 39, 46, 48, 54, 55, 60, 62

  --  700 MHz 10, 34, 37

  --  800 MHz 10, 54

  --  900 MHz 37

  --  1000 MHz 46, 48

  --  1800 MHz 37, 55

  --  2100 MHz 10, 34, 37, 48

  --  2600 MHz 10, 34, 37, 55

  --  3500 MHz 35, 55

  --  Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) 26

 - Tablet 39

 - WAN 12

 - W-LAN 29

Telecom Infra Project 15, 23

Telecom Italia 8, 19

Telefónica Group 7, 8, 9, 38, 39, 40, 41, 61

 - Europe

  --  España 7, 38, 39

  --  UK 8, 40, 41

 - Movistar 61

Telekom Austria Group 13

 - Austria

   --  A1 13

Telekom Srbija 13

Telenor ASA 13

Telkom Kenya Ltd (Orange Kenya) 20

Telkom South Africa 55

Telstra 47, 48

Texas Pacific Group (TPG) 45, 46, 48

Thomson Reuters Corp. 60

Thomson SA 60

TomTom 51

TransferTo 59

T-Systems 22

Twenty-First Century Fox 34

U

Usaha Tegas Group Holdings Bhd

 - Maxis Communication, Malaysia 14, 60

V

Veolia Environnement SA 13

Virgin Group

 - Virgin Mobile 41

Vocus Communications 45

Vodacom Group 20, 54, 58, 59, 62

 - Gateway Communications 27

 - Group 20, 54, 58, 59, 62

 - South Africa 12, 20, 23, 54, 55, 62

 - Tanzania 58, 62

 - Vodacom Business 58

Vodafone

 - Africa, Middle East, and Asia Pacific Region (AMAP)

  --  Africa 58

  --  Australia 12, 44, 45, 47, 48, 59, 62

   ---   VHA Pty. Ltd (see CK Hutchison Holdings) 44, 45, 46, 47, 48

  --  Egypt 14, 23, 48, 49, 62

  --  India 12, 19, 36, 39, 44, 50, 51, 62

  --  Kenya (see Safaricom) 19, 20, 57, 59, 62

  --  New Zealand 12, 19, 29, 53, 57

  -- Qatar (see Vodafone and Qatar Foundation and Vodafone Qatar) 19

  --  South Africa (see Vodacom) 12, 20, 23, 54, 55, 58, 59, 62

  --  Turkey 12, 13, 19, 21, 52, 53, 62

 - Board of Directors

  --  Kleisterlee, Gerard 23

 - Europe Region 31, 61

  --  Czech Republic 10, 12, 13, 23, 24, 29, 33, 53, 60, 61

  --  Germany 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 29, 32, 33, 34, 53, 59, 60, 61

   ---   KDG Holding GmbH (Kabel Deutschland) 32

  --  Greece 8, 10, 12, 21, 29, 33, 61

   ---   Vodafone Innovus 33

   ---   Zelitron 33

  --  Hungary 10, 14, 18, 24, 29

  --  Ireland 8, 12, 19, 21, 29, 34, 53, 61

   ---   SIRO 19

  --  Italy 8, 10, 12, 19, 21, 29, 53

  --  Malta 12

  --  Netherlands 8, 10, 12, 19, 24, 34, 35, 61

   ---   VodafoneZiggo 8, 12, 19, 29, 34, 35, 36, 61

  --  Portugal 8, 12, 19, 21, 26, 27, 29, 37, 60, 61

   ---   CelFocus (see Novabase) 26

  --  Romania 10, 14, 19, 20, 23, 24, 29

  --  Spain 6, 7, 8, 12, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 29, 38, 39, 53, 60, 61

   ---   Grupo Corporativo Ono (ONO) 7, 29

  --  UK 8, 12, 14, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 33, 34, 40, 41, 53, 59, 61

   ---   Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd 8

 - Executives

  --  Akay, Hakan 18

  --  Ametsreiter, Hannes 13

  --  Berroeta, Inaki 45

  --  Budai, Gergo 18

  --  Colao, Vittorio 21, 40

  --  Cullen, Mairead 19

  --  Hendi, Hisham 58, 62

  --  Joosub, Shameel 20, 54

  --  Kelemen, Balint 18

  --  Mbundu, Nkuli 20

  --  Mendes, Jorge 20

  --  Milea, Romeo 19

  --  Millroy, Kevin 48

  --  Mulinge, Sylvia 58

  --  Nascimento, Joao 37, 61

  --  Nelson, Amanda 18

  --  O'Neill, Myra 19

  --  Pennell, Sarah 18

  --  Read, Nick 8, 25

  --  Vishant, Vora 50

  --  Wibergh, Johan 15

  --  Wilson, Ninian 15

 - Ex-executives

  --  Beck, György 18

  --  Brunet, Karine 53

  --  Fouladi, Babak 20

  --  Tombleson, John 19

  --  Williams, Matt 19

 - Group 18, 40, 45

  --  Partner Markets 12, 13, 14, 20

   ---   Austria (A1/Telekom Austria) 13

   ---   Hong Kong (Hutchison Telecom) 44, 62

   ---   Iceland (Vodafone Iceland) 14

   ---   Kenya (Safaricom) 19, 20, 57, 59, 62

   ---   Malaysia (Celcom) 14

   ---   Russia and CIS (MTS) 13

   ---   Scandinavia (TDC) 14

   ---   Serbia (Vip mobile/Telekom Austria) 13

   ---   Switzerland (Swisscom) 20

 - R&D

  --  Competence Centre 20

  --  Vodafone Carrier Services 18, 23

  --  Vodafone Global Enterprise (VGE) 18

  --  Vodafone Procurement Company (VPC) 15, 18

   ---   Tomorrow Street 15, 16

  --  Vodafone Ventures

   ---   Device Insight (see separate) 22

 - Products

  --  Business 22

  --  Europe 8

  --  Liberty (Malta) 24, 32, 33

  --  My Vodafone 53

  --  Red 49, 62

  --  Start 39

  --  Terminals

   ---   540 34

  --  V by Vodafone 21

  --  Vodafone Pass 33

  --  Vodafone TV 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29

 - Western Europe 13

Vodafone Iceland 14

Vodafone Qatar Q.S.C. 19

Volkswagen 51

W

Weather Investments

 - Orascom Telecom 48

Western Union 59

WPP 23

Z

Zee Telefilms 51

ZTE Corp. 15

  • Vodafone partners with Microsoft for a Turkish TOBi version.

Vodafone is further advancing its ‘TOBification‘ strategy (Vodafonewatch, #170) after reports indicated that Vodafone Turkey (VfT) plans to release the artificial intelligence (AI)-based TOBi digital assistant for automated responses to customer queries from summer 2019.

The announcement appeared on the Microsoft Telecommunications Industry Newsletter for March 2019, which in turn was posted on Slideshare.net by Rick Lievano, Worldwide Director of Industry Technology Strategy for the Microsoft Telecommunications Sector.

It seems that VfT will be working with Microsoft to develop TOBi for the Turkish market based on the latter’s Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS), while also relying on the expertise of Turkish engineers. LUIS was launched by Microsoft in 2017 as a cloud-based API service that is designed to build natural language into applications, bots, and Internet of Things devices through the application of machine-learning intelligence.

Murat Kansu, General Manager at VfT, said this is the first time Microsoft’s LUIS has used Turkish as a factory-default language, according to the Hürriyet Daily News. He added that TOBi will initially be used for text-based exchanges with customers, followed by speech recognition in the next phase.

TOBi: going global

The TOBi digital assistant for customer support is already present in a number of Vodafone markets, including the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, and the UK (Vodafonewatch, #155, #158, #165, #167, and #168). While the Czech, German, and UK OpCos indicated that their versions of TOBi are based on IBM’s Watson technology, Vodafone Italy (VfIt) and VfT have both partnered with Microsoft. It also seems that TOBi has been piloted in Ireland and Spain.

VfIt unveiled TOBi in April 2018, and then announced in July 2018 that it was collaborating with Microsoft on the further development of the AI-based service. The aim was to reach around ten million contacts with customers-per-month by the end of 2018 through the implementation of cognitive services, business intelligence, and analytics tools from the software and computing giant. VfIt has also now integrated TOBi with the Amazon Alexa smart speaker.

Furthermore, it has since transpired that Vodafone New Zealand (VfNZ) has added TOBi to its “AI family” as a new chatbot service. The service is again based on Watson, and has been framed as “complementary” to VfNZ’s existing customer service team. The aim is to add TOBi to the My Vodafone smartphone application in future.

It is not entirely clear why VfNZ chose to launch TOBi only two months after unveiling a digital assistant called Kiri, which is also based on Watson, as well as machine learning-based animation technology from AI specialists FaceMe (Vodafonewatch, #170). The explanation could be that Kiri, which has been given an eerily lifelike digital form, is to be primarily deployed in Vodafone stores, while the more robot-like TOBi is used in online environments.

TOBi, aka Amelia

Vodafone’s TOBi appears to have its roots in the Amelia chatbot solution from USA-based AI and cognitive technology specialist IPsoft. It seems that Vodafone deployed the Amelia chatbot from early-2016, to deal with the support requests of its internal IT service helpdesk. The use of the chatbot has since been extended to support various internal employee functions including finance, human resources, and facilities, as well as being part of Vodafone’s omni-channel customer support strategy.

Karine Brunet, previously Director of Technology Shared Services at Vodafone and now Chief Operating Officer at Capgemini, spoke about the deployment of Amelia and the early collaboration with IPsoft at the Digital Workforce Summit in 2018. At the time, she said Amelia was present in seven Vodafone markets, supported English, German, and Spanish, and had assisted 58% of employees who had contacted the service desk.

We made the decision that Amelia was going to be renamed TOBi,” she said, without going on to explain why (although the reason could be that Amelia is an IPsoft brand). Furthermore, Vodafone is concerned that employees, and customers, should know they are talking to a robot and not a real person in case they are not comfortable with the machine-to-human process. “We don’t want our employees to have the feeling they’re talking to a human when they are interacting with a bot, so that’s a very important principle for us,” Brunet said.

Image: rawpixel.com / Pexels

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