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5G Factor: 5G Sustainability and GenAI Meet

5G Factor: 5G Sustainability and GenAI Meet

In this episode of The 5G Factor, our series that focuses on all things 5G, the IoT, and the ecosystem as a whole, I’m joined by my colleague and fellow analyst, Todd R Weiss, for a look at the top 5G developments and what’s going on that caught our eye including a review of the top market shapers in the 5G sustainability realm, why we see Ciena, Cisco, Ericsson, Juniper, and Nokia offer the mobile network portfolios that fulfill the topmost 5G sustainability objectives, and how the new Vodafone Microsoft alliance focused on generative AI, cloud, and digital services can improve Vodafone’s customer experience and sustainability profile.

Our conversation focused on:

5G Sustainability Market Shapers. 5G network equipment providers (NEPs) are prioritizing the fulfillment of their organization-wide sustainability goals. NEPs are making tangible, measurable progress, including attaining science-based targets (SBTs) and developing ways to reduce waste and responsibly managing the lifecycle of their products. We assess how mobile ecosystem suppliers are embedding energy efficiency advances in product design and portfolio development across silicon, software, and systems from inception and throughout the entire lifecycle management in full alignment with energy orchestration and green operations.

Ring of Honor: Top 5G Sustainability NEPs. We identified and reviewed what we believe are the top five network equipment provider 5G sustainability portfolios across the mobile ecosystem today, noting why the players are selected based on our analytical perspective, their ability meeting the top sustainability strategy goals and capabilities, as well as their ecosystem-wide influence in powering ecosystem cooperation and support. The top players who made our Ring of Honor include Ciena, Cisco, Ericsson, Juniper, and Nokia.

Vodafone and Microsoft – New Ten-Year Alliance Spotlights GenAI: Vodafone and Microsoft formed a ten-year strategic alliance with the topmost objectives of transforming Vodafone’s customer experience using Microsoft’s generative AI acumen, hyperscale Vodafone’s managed IoT connectivity platform, develop new digital and financial services for businesses – especially small/medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Europe and Africa – and overhaul Vodafone’s global data center cloud strategy. Vodafone will invest $1.5 billion over the next 10 years in cloud and customer-focused AI services developed in concurrence with Microsoft. We examine why the new Vodafone and Microsoft alliance can broaden their channel influence across the digital ecosystems of Europe and Africa, especially across the opportunity-rich SME realm by using generative AI and hybrid cloud flexibility to uplift the customer experience and improve energy efficiency and sustainability performance across mobile networks, especially within data center environments. Now the partnership can demonstrate the full ecosystem benefits that are emerging from tighter collaboration between telcos and hyperscalers.

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Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Transcript:

Ron Westfall: Hello and welcome everyone to The 5G Factor. I’m Ron Westfall, Research Director here at The Futurum Group, and I’m joined here today by my distinguished colleague Todd R Weiss, our team analysts focused on key areas such as communication networks and 5G of course. And today we’re going to hone in on the major 5G ecosystem developments that have caught our eye with a special focus on sustainability. And so with that, Todd, welcome back to The 5G Factor and many thanks for joining today. How have you been bearing up between episodes?

Todd R Weiss: I’ve been doing great. Thanks for having me again. I always enjoy getting together with you for The 5G Factor.

Ron Westfall: All right, well hey, with that, let’s kick off our discussion.

Todd R Weiss: Sounds great.

Ron Westfall: Yes indeed. We’re looking at the 5G sustainability realm and how it will help define the evolution of 5G in 2024, which is especially important with Mobile World Congress 24 on the horizon

Todd R Weiss: Sure.

Ron Westfall: And specifically, the network equipment provider 5G sustainability market. To help set the conversation here is good to have a definition and basically we’re defining as encompassing the strategic commitment that vendors are making to fulfill their organization wise sustainability goals. And for the purposes of our discussion, we’re using the UN World Commission on environment and development definition of sustainability. And that is sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. So I think we all understand why this is important and why this is a strategic objective for the players out there throughout the 5G ecosystem and the equipment providers are no exception. And-

Todd R Weiss: I want to add something. I want to add something.

Ron Westfall: Sure.

Todd R Weiss: Defining this, Ron, is so helpful because everyone hears the term sustainability and I really believe that many times people hear it, they don’t exactly know what it means. They don’t know exactly what it is, but they’re too afraid to ask about it. So I think it’s really good that we point out and through our discussion today, we’re going to talk about where sustainability fits in and what it means in that case. So this is a really helpful discussion, I think, when we talk about it in these ways. I really do.

Ron Westfall: I agree Todd. And yes, I think that’s setting the tone. I think sustainability is clearly important and let’s delve into why that is.

Todd R Weiss: Yeah.

Ron Westfall: And when we’re looking at the 5G communication suppliers, what we see them doing are implementing and expanding their 5G sustainability initiatives on a global basis. And with that in mind, we believe this trend is key to assuring these sustainable practices improve not only their ability to advance 5G deployments, but also uphold their organization-wide environmental, human, and economic outcomes. And as such, we find them making tangible, measurable progress, specifically including science-based targets, which are certainly important because it provides an objective goal here. We’re not just drinking our own Kool-Aid and saying, yes, we like sustainability. It’s like we are making a strategic commitment to sustainability and this is how we’re doing it and it’s aligning with science-based targets. So I think we’ll elaborate on that more.

Todd R Weiss: I was just going to say, and in fact we’re going to talk about that because one of the most amazing things about this whole area right now is that we’re seeing the idea of sustainability actually help companies, all these tech vendors, look at their products in new ways in saying, wow, how can we make this from less materials using less energy and do more with less physical stuff? And that is helping them meet these sustainability goals. So we’re going to talk about that through our discussion today, but we have to keep that in mind. It’s amazing, I think, that we’re talking about actually physically making devices, new devices come out with environmental thoughts and afterthoughts for when they’re done is part of the process. I think this is really incredible.

Ron Westfall: Yes, great minds, they think alike. And that is really segues into my next observation and that is how the equipment providers embedding in their product design and portfolio development across silicon software and systems from the inception and throughout the entire lifecycle management in full alignment now with their energy orchestration and green operations. So this is now just part of the DNA, you have to have a filter.

Todd R Weiss: It’s really amazing and it’s something all of us are going to watch and be amazed with because this is a big giant shift. It’s a shift in how we look at products and making products and designing products. And I think it’s finally going to take hold, I really do.

Ron Westfall: Yes. And it has different moving parts. And so I’m going to kick off this next segment here by talking about 5G standalone implications as well as why AI is important.

Todd R Weiss: Great.

Ron Westfall: And as we know, the commitment to 5G standalone networks is again, fundamental, and that is the operators, when they first deployed 5G basically had to leverage their existing 4G LTE assets. There was no way around it. There were a couple exceptions with greenfield buildouts, but again, those were exceptions. For the vast majority of operators out there, that is the reality. And as we see in the spectrum frequency domain, the transition from 4G to 5G brought in a more flexible use of spectrum. And that is, they built it to support multiple different sub carrier spacings that join and mix different bands to create much larger channel capacity. And we addressed this when we talked about, for example, the 5G carrier aggregation moves by operators such as T-Mobile.

And with that, this has created a high peak to average power ratio challenge. And that’s particularly true at higher carrier frequencies such as millimeter wave. Now what is going to make a difference here is that they’re on the horizon’s 5G advanced and future generation technology such as 6G, which are going to specifically aim to enhance waveform flexibility. And as such, networks can improve the energy efficiency of the system and enable the coexistence of different waveforms serving many different purposes. Well, how about today and how can that align with 5G advance and ultimately 6G focus on energy efficiency? Well, AI. AI As we know is the hottest topic of the beginning of 2024. And in this context, what we’re seeing is that the equipment suppliers are dramatically increasing the integration of, well, first of all, machine learning processes, which are typically aligned with AI enabled engines that support purpose-built energy management platforms, which of course are designed to decrease mobile network energy consumption costs say up to 30%. But any improvement certainly is welcomed without, and this is the important part, diminishing network performance throughout increasingly highly distributed 5G infrastructures.

And by enabling sustainable operations, sustainable systems and sustainable architectures, I see the mobile ecosystem becoming better positioned to deliver sustainable business outcomes across 5G networks using the technology that the equipment providers are supplying. With that, Todd, what from your view is standing out about how the equipment providers are pursuing their 5G sustainability objectives?

Todd R Weiss: As you were just talking, I was writing something down. All of this to me is an example of revolution that can only happen through evolution and what you just talked about.

Ron Westfall: I love it.

Todd R Weiss: The 4G networks having to do what they had to do until the 5G network started being built and started being greenfield and created. You had to do what you had to do. And what we’re seeing is we’re finding ways of making the next thing big by growing it off of the old thing, which is I think an incredible way to do this. And also it doesn’t mean that anything’s blocked out. So if things are backward compatible, as we know in technology, it’s always a better way to do things because people are still using the last big thing. So in my view, I think this is all huge. This is just huge.

And as 5G suppliers support the mobile ecosystem transition to 5G standalone networks, they’re enabling mobile network operators to deploy the 5G core and 5G RAN and 5G mobile edge computing and 5G transport. Domain technologies that are critical to fulfilling both organization-wide and mobile ecosystem 5G sustainability targets. This is huge. And I guess one of the other things is, to me, the major market shapers include hardware circularity, it’s called. Where the 5G equipment suppliers are increasingly prioritizing opportunities to advance hardware circularity in alignment with administering the reuse and sourcing of materials. What this means is amazing, and you and I have talked about this and I’ve been writing about it elsewhere for the company. What we’re seeing is now instead of just sustainability being a word, what we’re doing is we’re seeing companies say, hey, we can do more with less equipment, less hardware, we can do more with software, we can use software to enable hardware.

That means we can use 10 different software applications to enable the same hardware. What that means is we need less things, we need less hardware because hardware of the future, hardware that’s coming will be able to run multiple applications, do multiple things with one piece of equipment, one actual physical piece of hardware instead of 10 or 20, which use more resources to build them, to make them, to manufacture, more energy, more materials, more things to recycle later. This is where sustainability is really becoming something where technology and physical manufacturing are actually, I think merging where we can do less manufacturing and enable more with the same piece of equipment. And that is like the ultimate sustainability, I think. So I-

Ron Westfall: At least more efficient manufacturing, that.

Todd R Weiss: Well, yes, more efficient manufacturing. This is incredibly, incredibly exciting I think, and it will be really interesting to follow. It’s being done already and we’ll see much more of this. So you can’t replace every single thing, but there’s going to be maybe a huge decrease in waste of things. Energy waste, materials waste, things like that. So this part of sustainability using 5G and using hardware with multiple applications is absolutely amazing.

Ron Westfall: I agree. And I think cloud also has a key role here.

Todd R Weiss: Oh yeah.

Ron Westfall: And that is helping decarbonization, resource efficiency, and safety. So safety first, as we know, is required in say the automobile segment of the 5G connectivity ecosystem. And so as we’re seeing, this is also entailing enlistment of DevOps frameworks and how to assure more flexible energy management as well as the sustainable systems and operations that you prioritize right there, Todd. And with that, hey, let’s look at who are the players from our view that are making the most strides, that are having the most impact with their 5G sustainability strategies. And with that, I’m going to start with Nokia. From my view, Nokia’s 5G sustainability portfolio, which is embedded in its fundamental ESG strategy, is focusing on acknowledging that ESG itself can be a driver in value creation as well as revenue stream diversification.

And this includes attaining first mover recognition to create new opportunities that also create tangible environmental and social benefits. So already it’s built in to how companies are not only driving their portfolio development, also marketing themselves across the entire ecosystem. And specifically Nokia’s five areas of ESG focus directly on its influence across industrial digitalization. Ooh, that was a tongue twister.

Todd R Weiss: That was.

Ron Westfall: Digital defied, security and privacy, as well as natural business considerations. Now from my view, Nokia’s approach is combining its handprint, which basically consists of the company’s technology including, for example, decarbonizing industries, developing digital skills and so forth alongside its footprint, which minimizes the negative impacts of its technology with customers and partners across the entire value chain naturally. And I think we’ve already touched on that in terms of how sustainability is measured in terms of not just the vendor itself reducing energy consumption, but also how it’s impacting its partners and ultimately across the entire ecosystem.

Next up is Juniper. And what I find intriguing about their 5G sustainability strategy is that it’s purpose aligned with the company’s Cloud Metro portfolio. And to look at it in terms of the Juniper Cloud Metro portfolio, it’s developed specifically across sustainable operations, sustainable systems, and sustainable architecture. All these domains are aimed at driving sustainable metro business growth. And to add to that, for sustainable operations, Paragon Automation technology is delivered with AI enabled and cloud delivered as a service capability that fulfills these growing 5G operator demands for experience first outcome driven and intuitive solutions. And to really top it off, as we know, Juniper Networks is in agreement on a $14 billion deal to merge with HPE. And that’s just more good news on the sustainability front because as we know, HPE GreenLake is the hybrid cloud platform that can definitely leverage Juniper missed AI capabilities to really drive home Juniper’s Metro Cloud benefits in terms of sustainability.

Todd R Weiss: And of course there’s HPE sustainability programs as well, which are incredibly impressive.

Ron Westfall: Oh, yeah. Yeah, it’s embedded in GreenLake itself and across the entire.

Todd R Weiss: Across the company.

Ron Westfall: HPE portfolio, including Aruba, for example. And we-

Todd R Weiss: Exactly. That’s a huge commitment by HPE and it’s very amazing in the world of technology and the environment.

Ron Westfall: Yes. And we did a webcast just on the HPE Juniper deal, and so there are more details there. And I think it’s also important to mention that Cisco, a key rival of the newly emerging HPE Juniper is also on top of this.

Todd R Weiss: Oh, sure.

Ron Westfall: Yes. In fact, Cisco’s people, policy, and purpose organization is leading its social investment programs and it’s championing its commitment to, again, ESG performance and transparency. Now the organization’s responsibilities consist of setting and driving Cisco’s reporting strategy through multiple inputs, including analysis of internal and again, external stakeholder priorities across the ESG landscape as well as naturally Cisco’s business vision. Also, the unit steward’s Cisco’s ESG materiality process, coordinating ESG, alignment and reporting as well as researching and monitoring ESG trends. So as a result, from my perspective, Cisco’s strategy and governance is comprehensive by again, emphasizing the stakeholder engagement and ESG materiality goals along with maximizing social and environmental impacts.

And I believe that these goals can positively impact 1 billion people. For example, as we know, we’re up to about 8 billion people on the planet, through its social impact grants as well as signature programs by say 2025. And so in a nutshell, the Cisco cloud to client approach is aiming to unify multi-vendor mobile solutions into that open cloud native architecture that enables 5G network builds on a sustainable and trustworthy basis, including of course cost-effectiveness.

Todd R Weiss: Sure.

Ron Westfall: And with that, Todd, from your perspective, who else do you see in terms of the equipment providers that are really hitting it out of the ballpark in terms of 5G sustainability?

Todd R Weiss: Well, I’ve got some other ones to mention too, of course, Ericsson.

Ron Westfall: Oh, God.

Todd R Weiss: Ericsson is a trendsetter in the 5G network equipment provider sustainability realm. They’re doing a lot of different things. We’ve been talking about Ericsson for a number of episodes here and they publish an annual sustainability and CR report. And in that they talk about their vision. Ericsson’s vision is to make sustainability central to the company’s purpose and vision, and they embed these ideals and these processes across their value chain, which we’re seeing, we’re seeing it, they’re proving it every month. Their strategy has three pillars. Like everybody’s strategy, they’re built on pillars. Ericsson’s are environmental sustainability, digital inclusion, and responsible business. And again, we’re talking about definitions, Ron. So let me define what those mean. For environmental sustainability Ericsson is saying that they’re focused on continuously improving the portfolio energy performance, transitioning to a circular economy model, decarbonization across industry sectors, which is a incredibly popular discussion for sustainability for many companies and implementing an in-house sustainable operations and supply chains within Ericsson, those are really lofty goals and they’re really important goals. So for them to be focusing on these I think is huge.

Now, digital inclusion according to Ericsson, is stressing developing affordable internet access solutions using partnerships to scale meaningful connectivity, advancing digital literacy, and that’s around the world, and expanding financial inclusion through scalable technologies. Again, very laudable goals. When it comes to responsible business, Ericsson defines that as being committed to conducting business with integrity, to mitigate risks, embed robust risk management practices, avoiding technology misuse, which that is a giant topic in this world. And that’s one that it’s really interesting that they mention that, I hadn’t seen that mentioned by other companies at this point. And practicing transparent reporting on par with global best practices, which again is really important. And then another company that I’m sure, well we have talked about before, is Ciena.

Ron Westfall: Yes, i know.

Todd R Weiss: Yeah, that’s a very impressive company. They have a 5G sustainability strategy. They start with focusing on decarbonization again, we talked about. Where the company can make a significant impact, that’s something they can address. Particularly across its real estate portfolio, supply chain and product innovation aspects. Like every other company, when you go after the things you can go after, the first things you can go after, when you go after the things that you can control, that’s where you can have the greatest impacts. It’s the things that are harder to control later in the process of sustainability, that’s where it’s harder. So do what you can with the big stuff that you can deal with. That is part of Ciena’s strategy, which is a really good one. Also, I’m encouraged by Ciena’s prioritization of transitioning toward renewable energy through local grid and onsite projects. This is a really big deal for companies to do this in their local areas where they are, where their facilities are is a really, really important thing.

They can make great strides when they do that. And for sustainable supply chain advances, Ciena is also working on that. They’re looking to digitize solutions that enable more efficient shipping of products and improve waste reduction. Again, find the places where you can make a difference, where you can make an impact and focus on them. And then the other things that are harder, you work on those, but they’re going to take longer. So I also find Ciena has what they call a adaptive network approach, which helps drive the deployment of 5G network solutions including 5G and 4G, xHaul routers, coherent optics, analytics driven automation and professional services that all promote sustainable outcomes. From my view, fronthaul, midhaul, and backhaul transport networks constituting the xHaul product category are going to be vital for achieving 5G sustainability goals as the xHaul transport networks interconnect the radio access network, including the radio unit, distributed unit, and centralized unit to the 5G core. There’s so many things going on at once, but companies like Ciena are paying attention to all those.

Ron Westfall: They have to tie it together. Yes.

Todd R Weiss: Yeah, they have to. Exactly. They have to be tied together and it’s as important for companies to tie these things together within their own operations and then they all start tying together in the global operation. So I really think this is a really, really amazing process

Ron Westfall: And yes, with Mobile World Congress 24 around the corner, as we know in the EU region, this is something that is fundamental and strategic and that sustainability will be a key part of any 5G operator strategy, let alone the 5G equipment providers. And with that in mind, let’s look at something that will be a huge driver and shaper of 5G sustainability goals, and that is AI technology. As we promised at the top of our conversation that we’ll look at AI and what better way to do that than the huge deal that Vodafone and Microsoft have entered with an AI focus. And to level set this-

Todd R Weiss: Absolutely.

Ron Westfall: Yeah, indeed. They have formed a 10 year strategic alliance with the goal of transforming Vodafone’s customer experience using Microsoft’s generative AI as well as hyperscaling Vodafone’s managed IoT connectivity platform and developing new digital and financial services for businesses, especially the small to medium enterprises across Europe and Africa, as well as overhauling Vodafone’s global data center cloud strategy. And so we see right away that data center energy efficiency is a hot topic, no pun intended, because that’s where a lot of energy consumption conservation is going to have to happen.

Todd R Weiss: I think you meant that pun, don’t lie.

Ron Westfall: Fair enough. I’ve been called out. But in terms of the key details, Vodafone, what it’s doing is investing $1.5 billion over the next 10 years in cloud and customer focused AI services developed in concurrence with Microsoft naturally.

Todd R Weiss: Think about that, customer focused AI services and cloud over the next 10 years, both which are huge and are only getting bigger. And so that investment is a brilliant investment at this time in place in doing all these things. I mean this matchup of these two companies, this is going to do some really incredible things. It’s a really big deal

Ron Westfall: Yes. And it certainly is in terms of will the mobile operators partner more closely with the cloud providers? And as we know it’s going to be an operator by operator case, especially amongst the top tier operators. However, we’re seeing is that this combination will become increasingly in play and it’s up to the partnerships to decide how to strike the balance. And in this case, what we’re seeing is that Microsoft will use Vodafone’s fixed and mobile connectivity services and also is looking to invest in Vodafone’s managed IoT connectivity platform, which will become a separate standalone business by April of this year. And what that new company will seek is to attract new partners and customers, of course while driving growth and applications and growing the platform to connect more devices, vehicles and machines. Again across the board, 5G ecosystem impact with all kinds of sustainability impacts.

Todd R Weiss: Ron, I want to add something.

Ron Westfall: Sure.

Todd R Weiss: You had just talked about a minute ago about these two companies doing this and that smaller operators will have decisions to make, things like that. This is one of those cases where those smaller operators, if they want to become bigger operators, they’re going to have to start joining things like this or following things like this or doing their own programs like this. Because I always say, you hear me say this all the time, if you stay behind and don’t do these things that are being sought by customers, you’re going to be the one not having the customers. The customers are going to go where the value is, the customers are going to go where the features are that they need to make 5G and their networks and everything work. So these kinds of things, when they will show success and show value, the smaller operators are going to have to get on the ball and make these things happen or get into these things as well. I think this is just a huge part of the business world. If you stand behind, you just watch your opportunities go away.

Ron Westfall: And I think that’s a very cogent point because Vodafone has explicitly stated, for example, with this open RAN initiative that they’re looking to set a tone, a blueprint, if you will, for how other operators can basically get on board and take advantage of these capabilities. And here are some valuable takeaways.

Todd R Weiss: Ultimately it helps them because they sell more to those other operators, even though those operators have other customers, it all builds whether you’re serving the operators or the customers, it’s money, it’s revenue.

Ron Westfall: And it’s straightforward, it’s MVNOs and naturally it’s an ecosystem play. We need as many players on board to drive the technology in the right direction that have more resources and so forth. So it’s truly beneficial across the board, I believe.

Todd R Weiss: Absolutely.

Ron Westfall: And both Vodafone and Microsoft have identified five key areas of collaboration, and that includes, of course, the generative AI component, scaling the IoT, the Africa digital acceleration, which I think is very important because we’re seeing a lot of innovation in the African market when it comes to, for example, mobile financial transactions. And this is something that’s kind of under the radar, but I think will become more in the forefront as mobile transactions become increasingly strategic. Something we touched on our last conversation with now smartphones being the predominant way to do online purchasing as we talked about, as well as enterprise growth and cloud transformation. And for generative AI specifically, both companies will apply Microsoft Azure open AI to deliver the goal of having real time proactive and hyper personalized experiences across all Vodafone customer touchpoints, including its digital assistant TOBi, which is available in 13 countries today.

And for me, by infusing TOBi with augmented AI capabilities, Vodafone can uplift that customer experience through a more intuitive and user-friendly digital assistance technology. And the assimilation of AI can enable TOBi to handle queries with improved accuracy, learn from interactions to provide more personalized responses over time and offer solutions in real time, bolstering the customer experience, but also guess what? How to make the personal experience more energy efficient aligned with the sustainability goals. It could be, for example, just the individual trying to figure out how to make, for example, heating during the winter more efficient. And this is a technology that can help in that regard. But more importantly, or equally important I should say, when it comes to small businesses and enterprises, this is something that can be applied across the entire network in terms of not just design but ongoing operations and so forth.

So that’s why this is a big deal in terms of what are the sustainability implications. And also in terms of global reach, the standalone global IoT managed connectivity platform already connects 175 million devices. And as such, I can see that Vodafone will have, I think, more success in becoming part of that Azure ecosystem, making the IoT platform available to simply a broader array of developer and third party communities that are using those open APIs to improve, for example, the customer experience, but also to help fulfill those energy efficiency and sustainability objectives. And with that, Todd, what else about this deal is coming to your attention?

Todd R Weiss: Well, I agree with you. You were just talking about how Vodafone is working with Microsoft. This is a huge benefit to Vodafone because it will help having one of the world’s largest, most successful technology companies to help them do more, drive more, bring more value to their customers at Vodafone. So I think that’s an amazing thing. In fact, as part of that, M-PESA is a financial technology platform in Africa, and it’s something that’s going to be housed on Azure. It’s going to be enabling the launch of new cloud native applications. It’s going to be something that can help drive growth and drive opportunity in places like the African continent. The companies are also working together to launch a purpose led program that seeks to enrich the lives of 100 million consumers and 1 million small and medium enterprises across the African continent, this is huge.

Africa is one of those places that there’s still not as much development as the rest of the world, and there is people there who need jobs, they need ways of being able to survive. And this is all aimed at enhancing digital literacy, bringing new skills, youth outreach programs, offering digital services to underserved small and medium markets, these kinds of things. I mean, this could be a huge thing to help Africa do more and help the people who live there. The partnership aims to boost financial services innovations, and they’re also planning on, by doing all this investment, by doing all these things to also build a community of certified developers who will go on to help Africa even more.

Ron Westfall: That’s key.

Todd R Weiss: Yeah, it’s really a giant thing. I mean, there’ve been so many companies and governments talking about helping Africa. Well, these are two companies that are trying to do something that they think is going to be a successful project.

And in addition, Vodafone’s going to extend its commitment to distributing Microsoft services, including Azure and security things and work offerings such as Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile as part of the strategy to become a top tier platform for Europe’s business. Again, Vodafone is going to be… Where they’re already established in Europe, they’re going to be looking to Microsoft to help them bring in more things that will add value to their customers, that will bring in new customers, those kinds of things. These kinds of clients.

Ron Westfall: It’s a target rich…

Todd R Weiss: Yeah, what enterprises aren’t using Microsoft products? Tell me five, it’ll be a challenge.

Ron Westfall: It’s a target rich market in Europe, as we know, 24 million small to medium enterprises that have got Microsoft

Todd R Weiss: And it’s an established one and making it easier for them to get services.

Ron Westfall: Remarkable.

Todd R Weiss: And even bring in Microsoft things is a really good idea. So I was going to say this enables these customers to deploy more Microsoft services, especially cloud-based services, things like that, like you just said. And lastly, Vodafone’s also accelerating its cloud transformation by modernizing its data centers on Microsoft Azure. Again, this tie in between a company like Vodafone, it’s already a company that’s successful that wants to get bigger and more successful. Gee, what do you do? Oh, sure. Tie in with a company like Microsoft, one of the biggest technology vendors. How can you go wrong to help bring improvements in your services to your customers? So I think by doing that, by Vodafone working with Microsoft, by modernizing data centers using Azure, things like that, it’s going to improve Vodafone’s responsiveness to their customers, simplify and reduce operational costs for Vodafone, it’s going to increase efficiencies. And you only do that by partnering with the companies that already know how to do that. So I think that’s great.

And Vodafone says that they’re going to be able to replace multiple physical data centers with virtual data centers across Europe. That’s huge. That’s expenses, that’s cost savings for power and everything else. Basically, it’s going to simplify and reduce the operational costs of the IT real estate of Vodafone, which is huge.

Ron Westfall: Definitely. And that hits the nail on the sustainability head. Why is AI so essential? To how the players out there can meet these 5G sustainability goals and make sure it happens on an ecosystem wide basis. And with that, thank you so much, Todd, for joining today’s webcast.

Todd R Weiss: Thanks for having me as always. I love doing these webcasts with you.

Ron Westfall: Yes, and I’m already looking forward to the next one. There’s plenty of material between now and Mobile World Congress 24, that is for sure.

Todd R Weiss: I’m sure we’ll stay busy.

Ron Westfall: And again, to our viewing audience and our listening audience, thanks again so much for joining us. Please be sure to bookmark The 5G Factor. And with that, everyone have a good 5G day.

Todd R Weiss: See you next time.

Other Insights from The Futurum Group:

Market Insight Report: 5G Sustainability for Network Equipment Providers

5G Factor VRN: Vodafone 5G is Testing GenAI Waters

5G Factor: T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange, and Telefonica Shine at 5G Sustainability

Author Information

Ron is an experienced, customer-focused research expert and analyst, with over 20 years of experience in the digital and IT transformation markets, working with businesses to drive consistent revenue and sales growth.

He is a recognized authority at tracking the evolution of and identifying the key disruptive trends within the service enablement ecosystem, including a wide range of topics across software and services, infrastructure, 5G communications, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics, security, cloud computing, revenue management, and regulatory issues.

Prior to his work with The Futurum Group, Ron worked with GlobalData Technology creating syndicated and custom research across a wide variety of technical fields. His work with Current Analysis focused on the broadband and service provider infrastructure markets.

Ron holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from University of Nevada — Las Vegas and a Bachelor of Arts in political science/government from William and Mary.

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On this episode of The Six Five In the Booth, hosts Daniel Newman and Patrick Moorhead welcome Stephen Rose, General Manager for Global Industries at IBM and Alex Sinclair, CTO at GSMA at MWC 2024 for a conversation on generative AI adoption in the telecom industry.
HPE Provides an Update on Its Vision to Ensure Telcos Are Ready for 6G, AI, and Beyond with Focus on Network Modernization, Convergence, and AI Innovation
The Futurum Group’s Ron Westfall and Steven Dickens assess how HPE is demonstrating the 5G/6G and AI portfolio development and marketing focus key to empowering telecom operators to navigate the intricacies of this digital era and thrive within it.
Qualcomm’s New AI-Optimized Connectivity System Rings in the Era of On-Device AI, Multi-Device Connectivity, and Wi-Fi 7
The Futurum Group’s Olivier Blanchard highlights features, benefits, and industry firsts packed into Qualcomm’s new FastConnect 7900 and discusses how Wi-Fi 7 joins on-device AI to reset refresh cycles for the mobile handset space.
CEO Sundar Pichai Takes Responsibility and Focuses Efforts on Fixing Guardrails
Keith Kirkpatrick, Research Director at The Futurum Group, covers Google’s challenge with implementing generative AI guardrails and discusses how the company can rebound with a solid, enterprise-grade offering.