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Cisco Telenor Partnership is All About Addressing the Digital Divide and Spurring Digital Transformation

In this video vignette from an episode of The 5G Factor, a Futurum Research Production that focuses on all things 5G and the rapidly growing 5G ecosystem, analysts Shelly Kramer and Ron Westfall discuss the extension of the Cisco Telenor partnership and how it’s intended to spur digital transformation in myriad ways as well as address the digital divide.

Some quick background: Cisco and Telenor first established a joint partnership agreement in 2018, focused on supporting digital transformation initiatives, expanding services for their mutual enterprise customers, and developing security solutions for today’s workforce, which is even more distributed these days than it was four years ago, when this partnership was first formed.

Cisco and Telenor just signed the fourth iteration of their JPA, working to help companies leverage innovative internet and mobile technology, which will help speed their digital transformation journeys, and also helping to close the digital divide.

Pilot Programs are the Name of the Game

This particular iteration of the agreement between Cisco and Telenor involves piloting projects through Cisco’s Networking Academy, which is about empowering all people with career possibilities, and Telenor’s existing sustainability programs, with pilots taking place in Thailand and Bangladesh. The companies will also target the Norwegian market with service solutions, along with some enhanced services for business customers.

The overarching goal here is to take information and learnings from these pilots and apply them, of course, to Telenor’s global operations. Telenor is also joining Cisco’s accelerator program, which will enable its customer-facing team to master Cisco’s products and ensure closer collaboration between the two companies to better and more quickly innovate and create value.

This continuation of the partnership between Cisco and Telenor is all about delivering well beyond simply connectivity. This partnership is also designed to champion cybersecurity, help enhance digital capabilities, and speed companies’ digital transformation journeys. That, combined with offering programs that help with the development and fine-tuning of advanced skills, which are sorely needed in the marketplace today, make it something to stay excited about.

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Shelly Kramer: And something that caught my eye this week is a partnership between Cisco and Telenor, which is a continuation. The two companies first established a joint partnership in about 2018. And this has been focused all along on supporting digital transformation initiatives, expanding services for their mutual enterprise customers, developing security systems, which are incredibly important for the modern workforce and the modern distributed workforce, which is of course even more distributed these days than ever before.

So, the companies just signed their fourth iteration of their joint partnership agreement. And they’re working to help companies leverage internet, mobile technology, and help me to close the digital divide. I thought that part of… What was interesting here is that this particular iteration of the agreement involves piloting programs through Cisco’s networking academy and Telenor’s existing sustainability programs with pilots are taking place in Thailand and Bangladesh.

The companies are also going to target the Norwegian market, providing some enhanced services for business customers and offering as a service solutions, which are becoming more and more attractive as it relates to meeting customer needs. So, the overarching goal here for Cisco and Telenor is to take information and learnings from these pilots. And of course, apply them to Telenor’s global operations. I noted that Telenor is joining Cisco’s Accelerator program, and this will enable Telenor’s customer facing team to better master Cisco’s products and ensure closer collaboration between the two companies and that is intended to spur innovation at a more rapid pace and to create value at a more rapid pace.

We talk a lot about cybersecurity around here these days. And this is really, I see this as being all about championing cybersecurity, enhancing digital capabilities and spurring digital transformation efforts. Also, allowing, at a time when highly skilled tech talent is… There is very much a dirt of that. I think that having programs like this that are devoted to helping develop and fine tune these advanced skillsets and then fostering collaboration between these two companies is, I think, a big deal. And this is designed to bottom line allow the companies to deliver more are value to customers beyond just connectivity. So, I think that is an interesting, I’m glad to see this partnership continue. I’m glad to see the objectives here. I don’t know if you had a chance to take a look at that at all, Ron, and have any thoughts on it, but I’m always a fan of anything that we can do to address the digital divide and closing that gap where we can.

Ron Westfall: No, it’s a very important issue. And I think both Cisco and Telenor have been at the forefront of addressing how to solve the digital divide. For example, Cisco has been developing the Rural Broadband Innovation Center in North Carolina. So, that is targeted specifically at this very challenge. What I think is an important outcome from that, or it’s certainly something that is going to improve the ability of anybody who lives in a rural area or has limited internet access. It doesn’t matter what the scenario is. But it can boost their outcomes in education, healthcare, economics and so forth.

We’ve already talked about, again, the digital workforce and more work from home capabilities. And it’s essential to have that internet connection. So, you’re not having to commute to the office two hours in a round trip, for example. That helps the environment, it certainly boosts work productivity and morale. So, yeah, this is something that’s very important. And I think it’s also key to enabling the ecosystem to really up its game. That is, we can use things like LEO satellites to really get to hard-to-reach customers. But also become smarter about how we get 5G to people who are living in suburbs and other areas, where-

Shelly Kramer: Well, and across the world, not just in the United States.

Ron Westfall: Exactly, exactly. So, I think, yeah, Telenor, as we know, has a presence in the Nordics, but also has presence in South Asia and, yes, Bangladesh, Grameenphone phone is the Telenor operation there. And likewise, Thailand, dtac is the Telenor operation there. And I think this will demonstrate the ability to really address those challenges. And I think what’s important is that Telenor has been doing this in the Nordics, for example, using 5G fixed wireless access technologies. And those hard-to-reach area is in the Nordics. So, 5G FWA, I think, is going to be a key part of how do we solve this? Yes, we can use satellites in some scenarios, but it’s not going to be applicable in some areas. And we can use fiber in some areas, but we know that it’s very expensive to roll it out to these hard-to-reach areas. But 5G fixed wireless access can be a key player in addressing these digital divide challenges.

So, it’s really about bringing these different technologies together and enabling it. Certainly, Cisco brings key pieces in terms of streamlining routing, making the networking more accessible and more affordable upfront. Because one problem with the digital divide is just being able to spend the right funds on it. And that’s why, over the last couple years, we’ve seen a lot of allocation by the US Congress, for example, but also in other countries in the world to address this, and part of that was fueled by the pandemic, when people were in lockdowns and it’s like, “Well, geez, how am I going to be able to work effectively?” and now we know.

Shelly Kramer: Now we know. Now we know.

Ron Westfall: It’s through robust connectivity and certainly 5G is going to be essential to all of this. So, it’s good to see this.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah, I agree. I agree. And I think that what Telenor and Cisco learn as a result of the pilot programs that they’re doing in Thailand and Bangladesh and in the Nordics, they’ll be applicable in other areas. So, I’m really looking forward to that. I think that’s great. And we’re going to keep talking about the digital divide.

Author Information

Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”


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