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How telcos have to wake up

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The telecommunications industry is changing at an exponential rate as new challenges emerge, customer expectations rise and the competition, new and old, piles on the pressure and telcos seeking to respond to these challenges face a slew of bewildering trends and high levels of uncertainty.

Against this background, Deloitte has identified four possible future scenarios for the industry, providing telco players with an invaluable guide as they plan their next moves.

Arun Babu, Africa Telecommunications Leader at Deloitte says that when clustering the drivers shaping telcos’ future, Deloitte found that two clusters have the greatest impact. These are ownership of the network technology layer – which is owned either by telcos, vendors or other tech players – and dominance of the customer relationship – which is held either by telcos, providers such as over-the-top content providers (OTTS) or device manufacturers and technology companies.

“Based on our scenario methodology, we developed four extreme, yet plausible scenarios,” says Babu. The scenarios are detailed in a report titled To be or not to be: The future of the telco business model.

In Scenario one, “The engineer strikes back”, telco companies own the network technology domain and infrastructure as well as the customer relationship.

“This is where telcos come from and where they hope to end up,” Babu explains.  “They drive network innovation with their technological competence and have the ability to maintain and operate their assets. The telco players furthermore master the customer relationship and can thus focus on the whole value chain. They own the revenue control points, having direct access to their B2B and B2C customers.”

In Scenario two, “The new wholesale truth”, telco companies have finally lost the end-user control points they cherished for so long. To remain relevant, telcos have gone back to taking over full control over the network technology where they still have their core competencies.

According to Scenario three, “The virtual telco”, telcos remain the primary customer relationship holders but are displaced from the network layer as they transfer tech domain sovereignty fully to vendors and other players who move into the network by becoming new infrastructure players.

Scenario four, “A vendor brand”, is the least promising, with telco players having been driven out of both domains, customer relationships and technological mastery. “They focus on their few remaining capabilities, trying to find their sweet spot in the market to maintain their relevance,” says Babu. “Telcos are mere ghosts of their former selves, and serve as the wholesale sales and service teams of their parent tech companies for B2B customers.”

Neville Hounsom, Director –TMT Strategy & Operations, Deloitte, urged telco players to take proactive steps to prepare for these potential scenarios as a matter of urgency. He advises that despite all these questions and uncertainty, there are some “no regret” moves telcos can easily execute that will help to favourably position them for changes to come.

These include continuous participation in regulatory discussion by active lobbying, since connectivity will be seen as a low-involvement commodity in future, and developing virtual platforms that are open to external developers and partners as well as implementing new and innovative offerings.

Other steps telcos should consider are adapting the latest artificial intelligence-based technology to automate as many tasks as possible, significantly reducing operating costs in the medium to long term and strengthening their position as appealing employers, while updating the required skillset of their workforce in an ongoing process to attract and retain the best talent in the market.

“We can see trends and changes taking place right now which could take us into any one of these futures. Our question to telecom industry decision makers is, how will you set your priorities and which bets do you already have to make today?” Hounsom says.

Cars

LHI is coming to save your car from hazards

Local Hazard Information will give drivers advance warning of potential dangers lurking around the corner

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There are many times when knowing what is around the corner could be useful. But for drivers that knowledge could be critical. Now, thanks to Ford’s new connected car technology, it is also a reality.

Local Hazard Information (LHI) marks a significant step on the journey towards a connected transport infrastructure by helping drivers prepare for and potentially avoid dangers on the road. When drivers ahead encounter sudden tailbacks, accidents or spilled loads, the driver behind – and possibly out of sight – is given advance warning. This could also apply to everything from freak hailstorms, to sudden flooding, or even landslides.

The triggers for the system come from what is happening in the cars ahead. It could be that airbags have been activated, hazard warning lights are flashing, or windscreen wipers are in operation. Previous traffic incident alert systems have relied on drivers to input information in order to generate alerts. LHI works autonomously, without the need for any driver interaction, to generate information and issue warnings.

Hazards are only displayed – via the dashboard display – if the incident is likely to impact on the driver’s journey. LHI is designed to be more beneficial to drivers than hazard information from current radio broadcasting systems, which often deliver notifications not relevant to them.

Already featuring as standard and free of charge for the first year on the new Ford Puma, LHI technology is being rolled out across more than 80 per cent of Ford’s passenger vehicle line-up by the end of this year. Crucially, the benefit will not be limited only to those travelling in Ford vehicles. Information sent can be used to alert drivers of other manufacturers’ vehicles, and vice-versa.

“What makes Local Hazard Information different is that it is the cars that are connected – via the Internet of Things. There is no reliance on third party apps. This is a significant step forward. Warnings are specific, relevant and tailored to try to help improve your specific journey.” Joerg Beyer, executive director, Engineering, Ford of Europe

How it works

Sensors monitor activities including emergency braking, fog lights and traction control to detect adverse weather or road conditions. Data from these activities is then computed to determine the hazard location and whether a traffic incident has occurred.

The vehicle automatically provides updates through a secure connection to “the cloud” using the Ford Pass Connect modem. Ford’s technology partner HERE Technologies operates the central cloud-based platform that collates information from multiple vehicle brands, governed by a business-to-business agreement.

The more cars are connected to the network, the greater the efficiency of the system. When many vehicles generate the same warning, others in the vicinity receive incident information from the cloud via the cellular network, enabling drivers to reduce speed or take appropriate action.

Additional information is sourced from public authority incident databases and traffic reports to provide drivers with further advance warnings including approaching vehicles driving on the wrong side of the carriageway, animals or people in the road ahead, and roadworks.

The on-board modem will be connected at the time of vehicle delivery. Customers may choose to opt in/opt out of certain data sharing.

Local Hazard Information data provided by HERE Technologies.

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Bundesliga plans to “revolutionise football viewing”

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Germany’s Bundesliga football league has selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its official technology provider to deliver more in-depth insight into every live broadcast of Bundesliga games and enable personalised fan experiences. 

Bundesliga says it will use AWS artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), analytics, compute, database, and storage services to deliver real-time statistics to predict future plays and game outcomes. It will also use the technology to recommend personalised match footage across mobile, online, streaming, and television broadcasts.

Using AWS technology, Germany’s premier national football league will build new cloud-based services that automate processes, increase operational efficiency, and enhance the viewing experience for the league’s rapidly growing global fan base. By developing a new, next-generation statistics platform on AWS, using Amazon SageMaker, a fully managed service to build, train, and deploy ML models, Bundesliga will offer fans real-time predictions on when a goal is likely to be scored, identify potential goal-scoring opportunities, and highlight how teams are positioning and controlling the field, based on live data streams and historical data from over 10,000 Bundesliga games. Bundesliga also plans to leverage AWS ML services, such as Amazon Personalize, an ML service to create real-time and individualized recommendations, to offer fans personalized game footage, marketing promotions, and search results based on their favourite teams, players, or matches.

Using other AWS ML services, including Amazon Rekognition, an intelligent image and video analysis service, Bundesliga will build a cloud-based media archive that will automatically tag specific frames, from its more than 150,000 hours of video, with metadata such as game, jersey, player, team, and venue, so that the league can easily search historical footage and surface pivotal plays for in-game broadcasts, in more than 200 countries. This archive will enable Bundesliga to search across its entire history of football footage to provide a more enhanced viewing experience for fans and automate the current manual process of searching and tagging match highlights.

“We are extremely excited to be working alongside AWS to develop the next generation of football viewing experience,” said Christian Seifert, CEO of Bundesliga. “Innovation means challenging the status quo. Working closely with AWS, as one of the most innovative technology companies in the world, significantly enhances the investment we’ve made in innovation over the past two decades, all of which contributes to us being able to deliver a world-class football experience for our fans.”

“As the league with the highest average number of goals per game, and the highest stadium attendance globally, the Bundesliga is one of the most entertaining sports leagues in the world,” says Andy Isherwood, Vice President and Managing Director EMEA, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “We are thrilled to work with the Bundesliga and help them use cloud technology to give football fans around the world a more engaging match day experience and look forward to helping them leverage our deep portfolio of ML and AI services so they can deliver even greater insight into the world’s favourite game.”

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