France-based Bouygues Telecom is collaborating with IBM to help enterprise customers develop services that exploit the capabilities of new 5G networks.
The partners plan to create an "Open Lab 5G" that will enable enterprises to test and develop new 5G-based use cases. The aim is to combine the telecoms experience of Bouygues with IBM's technology and expertise in fields such as hybrid cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing.
A particular focus will be placed on the development of use cases in various vertical sectors, including manufacturing, transport, health, energy and utilities, retail and smart cities. Bouygues will provide enterprises with 5G-enabled test sites and a 5G device kit.
The partners intend to help nurture the solutions until they reach the stage of a minimum viable product, with further support to evaluate return on investment (ROI) and the eventual industrialization of chosen ideas.
Bouygues Telecom has yet to launch commercial 5G but has clearly taken on board the expectation that enterprise use cases will present the biggest opportunity in the 5G era. The French operator indicated that it will soon open its 5G network, stressing that the adoption of 5G by companies is strategic.
François Treuil, CEO of Bouygues Telecom Enterprises, said: "Networks are key to the digitalization of businesses and the contributions of 5G will be considerable. It is therefore important for our customers to be able to start now to assess the tangible benefits of 5G, which will promote their own competitiveness. This is the spirit of the approach we are putting in place with IBM to support our customers."
Big push for Big Blue
IBM has already indicated it is officially joining the likes of Amazon and Microsoft in chasing 5G operators' cloud business, and has assembled a team of partners to do it. The tie-up with Bouygues Telecom is also the latest in a string of new projects with operators.
For example, IBM has announced its edge computing service will work on AT&T's 5G network via a new partnership between the two companies. India's Vodafone Idea extended a deal with IBM for the end-to-end rollout and management of a big data platform, and Verizon and IBM said they would work together to develop enterprise products and services using edge computing and 5G.
In early 2019, IBM and Vodafone Group struck a strategic business partnership to provide European enterprises with access to a growing range of cloud and network services.
At the heart of the relationship is a $550 million, eight-year outsourcing deal that sees Vodafone hand over the management and development of its cloud and hosting business to the cloud and technology services and products giant.
Vive la 5G
Meanwhile, France is on the starting line to enter the commercial 5G era, albeit somewhat later than some of its European neighbors. It recently completed its 5G spectrum auction, when all four of the market's operators picked up frequencies in the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band.
Orange France has indicated it is on course to offer 5G services from December. Regulator Arcep has authorized all four operators (Bouygues Telecom, Iliad, Orange and SFR) to begin using their newly acquired frequencies in the 3.4-3.8GHz band from November 18, 2020.
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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading