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Lucky La Riccia, Head of Digital Services at Ericsson Middle East & Africa

Inside Telecom Staff

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Lucky La Riccia - Inside Telecom

Has the IoT industry been impacted by the pandemic? How are IoT applications in this digital ecosystem serving complex needs in the crisis?

Massive IoT technologies continue to be rolled out around the world. 2G and 3G connectivity still enable the majority of IoT applications, but during 2019, the number of Massive IoT connections increased by a factor of 3, reaching close to 100 million connections at the end of the year according to the recent Ericsson Mobility Report figures.

ICT has helped consumers handle the uncertainties of the COVID-19 crisis, with more and more activities carried out and time spent online. Given this, both fixed broadband and mobile networks are experiencing greater demand than ever seen before. Critical IoT is used for time-critical communications in both wide- and local-area use cases that require guaranteed data delivery with specified latency targets. Critical IoT will be introduced in 5G networks with the advanced time-critical communication capabilities of 5G NR.

What are some of the challenges you face in terms of network capacity, performance levels, during COVID-19?

There have been drastic shifts in data traffic globally due to COVID-19. For instance, we’ve seen major shifts in data and voice traffic moving from downtown to suburban and residential areas, as a result of lockdowns and less mobility and movement in cities. We’ve also seen a significant rise in mobile voice calls, as well as bi-directional services, such as video calls and tools for smart working.
The massive disruption caused by COVID-19 has demonstrated the criticality of the network in today’s society and we are currently working closely with our customers to keep their networks running. During this period, our supply and service delivery has worked with limited interruption.

What are some of the trends that have emerged since the current crisis? Do you see some of these trends having future impact on your industry or IoT?

With more and more activities being carried out online, and greater numbers of hours spent connected to both fixed and mobile broadband, the internet has become a fundamental part of daily life – as critical as access to food and electricity. The fastest-growing mobile app categories during the COVID-19 period have been those related to the crisis, remote working, education/e-learning and wellness.
Multitasking between devices and networks while staying at home, for everything from work to socializing, caused the amount of data consumed on smartphones to increase. The daily time consumers spent connected to fixed broadband increased by two and a half hours during the crisis, while the time spent connected to mobile broadband increased by an average of one hour per day. As many as 46 percent have spent significantly more time on fixed broadband, while 16 percent have done the same on mobile broadband. Ericsson Mobility Report figures.

Digital contact tracking service grow very fast in Asia using IOT connected devices (cell phones, cameras). Mobile Operators and government collaborated to launch theses services to manage the spread of COVID 19. Mobile operators ensured they have excellent nationwide coverage and ability to collect and manage IOT data to launch this service.

With 74 percent of respondents in a survey conducted by Ericsson Consumer Lab saying that mobile networks were performing better or the same than pre-crisis, it is safe to say that despite all odds, they have managed to meet consumer expectations. But additional capacity offered by 5G would definitely have helped.

What are some of Ericsson’s plans regarding 5G and IoT after the pandemic ends?

From improving employee productivity to implementing IoT for smart buildings and production lines, our research shows that enterprises see potential in private mobile networks. The first 5G NR-capable IoT platforms have recently been released. Modules from several vendors are available, as well as tailored platforms for PCs and advanced wearables. In the second half of 2020 and during 2021, this is expected to expand to include use cases involving personal and commercial vehicles, cameras, industry routers and gaming. Such devices will initially support mobile broadband capabilities, but performance is expected to evolve towards time-critical communication capabilities where needed, via software upgrades on devices and networks.

How has Ericsson’s supply chain been impacted by the current crisis? Are there plans in place to remedy the impact?

Ericsson has a global supply chain set up, which ensures the company works close to customers through its European, Asian and American operations. Our main production facilities are in Estonia, Poland, China, India, Brazil, Mexico and the US. All main Ericsson production sites are currently in operation. Ericsson continues to follow the situation of the novel Coronavirus and recommendation from the local authorities and WHO, as the company assesses its supply chain.

Ericsson delivered a solid result during the first quarter, with limited impact from the Covid-19 pandemic. For Q2 2020, our assessment remains that we can cover currently forecasted demands, considering known implications and expected outcome from mitigations made following the outbreak.

Privacy/data security is a growing concern for many. What are the security factors related to IoT implementation in the MENA region today?

By 2025, we’re going to have more than 24.6 billion IoT connections in the world based on Ericsson Mobility Report figures. It’s a vast opportunity but it also brings vast risk. How do you keep billions of devices secure? How about the networks they run on? How do you make sure the data from all those devices isn’t compromised?

When it comes to IoT, security requirements are unique. Connecting devices is different from connecting individual people and personal computers. To verify its identity, an IoT device can’t simply enter a password as a person would. Similarly, the systems that run our PCs are regularly updated, but IoT has to work all the time.
A reliable infrastructure is a must, and this is especially true for mission-critical applications. 3GPP technologies provide this reliability. The IoT expands rapidly, and security must be end-to-end.

What are some of the obstacles/challenges you might face when implementing IoT in the MENA region?

When talking about the challenges that companies are likely to face when starting their journey within Machine Learning and IoT, trust is a key component. Handling the IoT product lifecycle is very complex, and requires trust in three dimensions; internally, between the company and the end user, and lastly across your partners – the ecosystem needs to align and take a more active role in the co-creation process.

Furthermore, it is important to have a product mindset – to focus on the business problem you are trying to solve and work together with the ecosystem to bring the greatest possible value to your end customer.

How long will it take for the infrastructure to fully accommodate an IoT transformation? What countries in the region are leading the way?

To drive IOT transformation you need connectivity everywhere to collect data from devices, sensors, things, etc. In some countries in the region like GCC, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and others, the nationwide coverage is almost there. Thus, IOT transformation is taking place with solution for smart offices, smart malls, smart bus stops, healthcare apps and others.

The biggest impact of COVID 19 was on the human capital in several industries and enterprises. This caused a rise in demand for automation using industrial IoT for Factories, Ports, Oil & Gas, Transportation, and Mining. To drive industrial IoT you need a 5G connectivity due to the industrial requirements for ultra-low latency, high speed bandwidth, data security and edge computing.

There are several countries in the region that are starting to lead industrial IoT transformation like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. These countries have 5G coverage in major cities and are offering private 5G network for industries. I think you will see world class industrial IoT use cases implemented in the region.

Has the virus hindered your plans for 5G deployment?

While in some markets 5G subscription growth has slowed as a result of the pandemic, this is outweighed by other markets where it is accelerating, leading us to raise our forecast of global 5G subscriptions at the end of 2020. However, the success of 5G cannot be measured in subscriptions alone. The value 5G brings will be determined by the success of new use cases and applications for consumers and businesses.

We expect our industry to show resilience throughout the pandemic and we are well positioned with a competitive 5G product offering and cost structure. There is near-term uncertainty around sales volumes due to Covid-19 and the macroeconomic situation, but with current visibility we have no reason to change our financial targets for 2020 and 2022.

How is Ericsson working with telco’s and tech companies to ensure that IoT works seamlessly and securely during the pandemic?

Ericsson’s Cellular IoT solution addresses diverse use cases ranging from the more basic use cases such as asset tracking and smart metering to more advanced use cases such as drones, AR/VR, to even higher demanding use cases such as autonomous vehicles and collaborative robotics.

For enterprises, cellular IoT turns concepts into realities with shorter development times for IoT solutions, fast and simple deployment, and profitable growth at any scale. For service providers, it scales their IoT business by making it easy for their enterprise customers to connect and manage IoT devices locally and globally. And for ecosystem partners, it enables faster time to market a seamless integration into any ecosystem, supported by an existing global ecosystem that provides coverage in over 104 countries.

We are proud to partner with so many communications service providers (CSPs) who have selected our leading platform to provide IoT services to more than 4,500 enterprises around the world.

With IoT on the rise, what kind of role will Mobile Network Operators have?

The IoT market is rapidly growing and this indicates a substantial business potential for communications service providers, industries and enterprises. In Ericsson’s Mobility Report June 2020 , it is forecasted that there will be 5.2 billion Cellular IoT connections by the year 2025. Our report, the 5G Business Potential, shows that this is an USD 619 billion revenue opportunity for telecom operators by 2026. End-to end-solutions from Ericsson are supporting the MENA region’s telecommunications service providers as it accelerates its drive to digitalize business, industry and society. We empower both government and private sectors’ journey towards digital transformation, as well as accelerating the deployment of digital services, and expanding Internet of Things (IoT) usage.

Is Ericsson taking part in any social initiatives to implement IoT for those without access? (For example, education initiatives).

Working with our partners to develop IoT use cases for education has always been in focus for Ericsson. In fact, in response to how the global COVID-19 Pandemic has disrupted education and learning around the world, Ericsson has joined the UNESCO-led Global Education Coalition and launched Ericsson Educate which is a digital program delivering online learning content focused on improving digital skills for students in secondary schools and universities. This digital learning program has the potential to benefit students all around the world who are currently disadvantaged due to lockdowns and home quarantines. The program includes different learning paths, customized to the educational needs and maturity level of the target audience, and can be accessed free of charge via web portals specifically created by Ericsson.

We’re a diverse group of industry professionals from all corners of the world. Our desire is to provide a high-quality telecoms publication that caters to an international market, offering the latest and most relevant telecoms information to businesses, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts.

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Stefano Linari, Founder & CEO of Alleantia

Karim Hussami

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Internet of Thing (IoT) is a technology that will transform daily life. How does ISC software and Plug & Play integrate with any device?

What we agreed on since our inception in 2011, is an IoT integration platform, creating the tool needed to integrate industrial devices with enterprise application and cloud. It is a pretty unique proposition in the market because we neither produce data nor use it, but we are a gateway in the middle for the purpose of making the integration process as simple, fast, and as inexpensive as possible.

This can be done by creating the driver concept in an industrial space, like when you buy a $50 printer, you receive the driver inside the package or directly from a website. Every application can use this physical resource to the driver, and before Alleantia, the concept of drivers was aimed at commercial hardware not for an industrial one. Thus, we decided to propose our standard for this XPANGO format, meaning a driver which needs communication, semantics, commands, and other information that allow every application to use this industrial device independently from vendors and technology.

How does IoT help data acquisition and connection between machines? Increase speed and efficiency of applications?

This is the main objective for IoT: reducing the data input from humans, whilst someone can obtain precise and fast data about your production. As such, this is the first stage in which we are replacing human input with an automatic one. The second stage is trying to transfer massive quantity of data that humans are not able to acquire – creating big data whilst learning to understand how the machine can be optimized and how one machine can be integrated with others along the supply chain, up to predictive maintenance.

I don’t see that real implementation of predictive maintenance is able to predict a lot of failures, but the reason is not because the model is not running, but because you have to see when machines breakdown more often to configure items. It’s just a matter of time before we can accumulate our statistics and for this reason, which is our third rule, IoT can improve production by creating the database, which many companies are accumulating production data for.

Can you explain more about IoT apps and the way it helps connect IoT edge with any business application via cloud?

Let’s simplify it, we can consider our ISC software to be like the Android operating system and the gateway that ISC runs inside a machine to be like the smart phone carrying that OS. What we allow for our partners, is mainly independence of their vendor or software.

The app can be installed over the gateway together with our ISC accessing certain subsets of the whole data; just like when people install any app on their phones and it requests accessing the contacts, pictures etc. This is what Alleantia does. Then this data is streamed through this application.

The main advantage of this approach is you don’t create an umbrella environment when you get the gateway cloud platform or analytics from one tender but creating something that is more scalable. In this case, you can install an app for each specific usage.

Can IoT software prevent errors and problems from happening? And if problems are present, how can they be solved immediately?

IoT can prevent a certain set of mistakes. Thanks to a proper IoT app, when you launch a production of a certain material, all the recipes needed along the production chain are uploaded to each machine, thus the system is ready to prevent errors.

Another important thing is that what you can prevent is not really an error in terms of production but error in terms of procedure for cyber security. So you can upload files directly from the cloud to the machines.

“One click is enough to create a real revolution.” Give us more insight about the benefits of digitizing our activities?

What we are looking for is to create a simple solution that allow machines to speak with IT words in 60 seconds, in just one click. People have to select a name and an item from our catalogue then insert and click connect.

The first exercise that we suggest to our customers is when you have plenty of data from your machines, just take two of those and automatically fill them into our ISC software – that usually comes later. By just saving the data entry, which is possible in a few minutes, you can start to use other handles of data that you have. Ultimately, with a few clicks, you will change your organization.

Tell us about the XPANGO technology?

XPANGO technology is the idea from which Alleantia was born because we wanted to create a solution that really sets the standard, for the mere fact that every institution is focusing to create a common language in terms of “bit and bite”, to connect industrial devices together then connect them to the app.

No one at the moment is taking care of the semantic data, the usage of a certain value has to be treated in a certain way and this number translated from one unit to another, later transferred to all machines. All this information is addressed by XPANGO which is not just a matter of data exchange but information exchange.

How do we use the XPANGO driver?

When we have to connect the device, you have to select the proper driver like a printer for your pc and click connect; that’s it. If you have to connect to a new device that has never been connected to Alleantia, we provide driver editor and online tools for free, thus creating and distributing your driver over our public library. We are working on an ecosystem and promoting it to create drivers that are freely available.

What are the key IoT trends defining Industry 4.0?

Increase productivity for the end user and for factory owners, increase the OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency), reduce time and activate a predictive maintenance strategy.

IoT is used to increase the topline of your balance sheet, increase revenue, save money by reducing the number of employees in factories due to the coronavirus and enabling better remote ability and enhanced maintenance.

There are even banks that are interested in this process because if you have a smart product, you would pay in a smart way. If the machine is an industrial device, you need a financial institution that helps you create a sort of labor use. Many banks are integrating IoT in their financial services.

Data security and privacy is a growing concern. What is your company’s guarantee for protecting data?

We usually address and solve such problems, but there is always the risk of data theft by cyberattacks which requires adding multiple fire walls and many tools to prevent such malicious activities.

The main problem is data ownership. When one customer decides to use Alleantia, he/she is deciding to choose “access rights” when using IoT apps and who sees the data– similar to installing an app on your mobile.

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Nigel Bayliff, CEO of AquaComms

Inside Telecom Staff

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Nigel Bayliff, CEO of AquaComms

Based on your many years of experience in the subsea cable industry, what are some of the most prevalent trends? What disruptive trends might affect your operations in the future?

The industry has seen a move away from Carrier Consortia towards smaller private consortium models, with one or two carriers. A number of ‘traditional’ system investors have moved to an asset light model, especially those based in Europe, where hyper-competition in home markets has forced a re-focus. On technology, open systems with more fibre pairs per cable (following a fibre pair investment unit model) are now the norm – they are simple to establish, straightforward to operate and allow quick decision making and flexibility. These changes support our move into offering professional services that range from the planning and design phase of a new cable project, to being the landing party through to operating the cable system to a fully outsourced model on behalf of the investors. 

You recently stated that different elements in the supply chain have had different levels of innovation. What new opportunities in technology today would you like to utilize the most?  

By way of example, repeater housing design has remained static for a few decades, with the exception of some new contender designs; more innovation is needed to create larger bodies with more compact amplification designs.  Also, vessel service life and relative infrequent new building has meant that we largely use the same techniques as ever for laying the cable; accuracy is better, but apart from surveying (with autonomous vessels) the model is still highly weather and people dependent.

The forecasted annual traffic growth for the Trans-Atlantic market in 2020 is an impressive 50%. How does Aqua Comms plan to capitalize on this growth?

Aqua Comms owns/operates two strong Atlantic routes; AEC-1 and AEC-2, we have started the process of enabling AEC-3 (more details to come throughout next year) and have plans in place for a possible AEC-4.  The huge growth rates and general market growth support a small number of independent players in this sector and we strive to be the best in both efficiency, route diversity and quality in the North Atlantic market.

In an earlier virtual roundtable, Aqua Comms directly addressed the challenges affecting telecoms during the coronavirus pandemic. Can you brief us on the main content of the roundtable? What alternative solutions have you proposed to cope in these challenging times?  

Aqua Comms established from the outset as an organization able to operate efficiently in a multi-remote scenario.  Our model combines the decades and decades of experience of our executive and management teams, with flexibility and efficiency of automation, outsourcing and remote management enablers.  We designed an organization and processes that support this, with no dependency on physical location, time zone or specific human resource.  This meant our response to the pandemic was just another simple step in this model – we did have a headquarters office, but less than 50% of the company worked there weekly.  All our team have home-office capability and we have a wide range of tools to ensure connectivity and connected-ness internally within our team, with our support partners in technology and remote activity roles and with our customers and partners.  We were able to expedite orders and deliver multiple terabits of capacity during the main lockdown period in record time to service urgent market needs using this remote-capable, efficient operating model.

How has COVID-19 affected the subsea cable industry in general? What is the economic impact of delays in deployment?  

For projects in final implementation stages (cable in ships, being laid) delays have been minimal with some inevitable disruption due to quarantine routines which has affected crew changeovers.   For projects in manufacturing stages, these seem to have seen delays due to factories closing during harsh lockdown periods but are maybe only delayed by a few months.  Projects which are in the early phases have made some progress, but physical location visits and planning for shore activity has obviously been affected. The unknowns are the projects that are aiming to get to a contractual close – typically these involve many multi-faceted whole group meetings, which have not been easy to hold virtually, to bring all factors to a conclusion so we may expect a quarter delay in this area.  By and large, the industry and our sub-sector seem to have fared very much better than many other sectors (transport, leisure, hospitality, etc.) because internet access is all the more crucial in a remote world, as caused by the pandemic.

Your North Atlantic loop offers an array of diverse services between the US and Northern Europe. Can you tell us more about the services offered with the loop and the benefits that each service yields?

The North Atlantic Loop offers connectivity services, typically 10G and 100G wavelengths, with 400G waves on the horizon, between multiple locations in the US and Northern Europe. This includes core routes such as New York to London, New York to Dublin but also now connecting New York and New Jersey to Denmark, as well connecting Ireland to the UK and Denmark on new, diverse and unique routes. These routes support the major data centre and traffic hubs across the US, the UK, Ireland and the Nordics, all of which are seeing significant growth from the content, cloud and carrier businesses.

Aqua Comms has maintained a presence in recent industry events – as seen from your participation in Subsea World. What significant insights have you gained and how did you apply them? 

As previously mentioned, it’s been gratifying to see that many of our colleagues in other companies are also coping with a remote world well, our sector is generally buoyant based on a realization that connectivity is even more important in a pandemic.  It’s been interesting to see different approaches – some companies who have enormous headcount, generally focused in many large offices, have completely reversed their policies and expect homeworking to be the new normal for them – others are aiming to go back towards an office environment more quickly.  These changes and policies need to be supported as a cultural transition, as the physical set-up often dictates how things are done culturally in such cases.  Because we established ourselves with the goal of being multi-country, a remote working enterprise with a flat structure and rapid decision lines, we have that cultural trait embedded in our core.  One other change likely is that our cooperative culture – enabling many parties to come together to build these large infrastructure projects – is also going to have to modify because the reliance on physically meeting each other a few times a year in far-off destinations is certainly suspended for the next half-year or so (still), and may never return to the way it was in the past.  The longer we operate (and cooperate) successfully in a remote model, the less likely that the past model will return to the same extent.

Your flagship product is FOCUS – Fibre Optics Cables Under the Sea. How has your product developed over the years? In what ways do you expect to see it grow in the future?

This strapline is more our philosophy, than a product in itself.  Fiber Optic Cables Under the Sea. It signifies that we choose to focus on a specific segment/layer of the telecommunications industry – that of undersea fibre optic cables, connecting countries.  We don’t focus on terrestrial fibre infrastructure, we only obtain what we need from others, to connect the sea landings to the major cities and distribution hubs.  We don’t sell any IP services, telephony services or services below a pure transport capacity.  We believe in being the very best at the very specific thing that we choose to do and never competing with our customers.

What are the implications of having Aqua Comms now directly available at 1025Connect’s colocation facility?

We have had presence at 1025 for a couple of years as a pass-through location on our backhaul towards New York.  As major users start to move away from Manhattan as a service location, we have augmented and substantiated our presence there, given its proximity to multiple cable landings, no MRC cross-connect model and carrier-neutral status. 

What are the implications of installing SMART cables? Do you think they are the future?

The SMART cable initiative is intended to gather some basic situational data from telecommunciations cable systems (temp and pressure at amplifier housings), along with derived information (vibrational analysis due to subsea earthquakes/sea level changes) inherent in the optical signals and structure of the cable to provide long-term measurement of such items for the scientific and governmental institutes. This enables one to better understand ocean parameters, enabling better prediction and notification of major events (tsunami/earthquakes) and better modelling of our changing climate and oceanic activity.  As with any new technology in submarine, this will require demonstrator projects (some of which have started), development and standardization of new sensors and adoption of the requirement by the operator and developer community.

Many predict that the future of Subsea cable deployment will be taken over by tech giants such as Facebook and Google. What are your thoughts on this projection? And what would that mean for Aqua Comms?

Throughout my career it has been apparent that the people who need submarine cables most are the people who then get together to develop and build them. It was voice cables in the 80-90’s, so the PTTs were the dominant force in building. Later in the 90’s, it was for data and internet, and private companies consolidated and aggregated demand to build systems.  Then, larger ISPs (L3, GX, etc.) also built their own private cables whilst the PTT/Carrier consortia lessened. The 2010-20’s sees large private companies building for their own needs (same as during the 2000’s) but alongside some private developers (like ourselves) who aggregate smaller demands together with those carriers with large infrastructures.  So my answer would be that those with the biggest need for capacity will always look to build at an infrastructure level for best cost, and there will always be space for those, like Aqua Comms, who choose to FOCUS on serving the needs of the rest of the market.

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Roya Ghafele, Executive Director of Oxfirst

Inside Telecom Staff

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Roya Ghafele, Executive Director of Oxfirst

The Supreme Court has held that the English courts do have jurisdiction to determine the FRAND terms of a global license to standard essential patents (SEPs).

Tell us more about Standard Essential Patents. What does this ruling mean for SEP holders?

The Supreme Court of England and Wales and lower Courts before, have done their best to issue a multifaceted and rich judgment. But there may be a couple of issues with this judgment. For me, this judgment once more emphasizes the need to come to grips with the novel market dynamics presented by international economic integration. The borderless world is a business reality, but the law has yet to catch up with it.

The standards, which this ruling addresses, are core to the telecom industry. 3G, 4G/LTE but also WiFi (which this judgment does not address) have paved the way for real time interaction across the globe. Where the further evolution of such standards will take us, remains yet to be seen. For sure, 5G will be instrumental for next generation technologies such as the Internet of Things.

Patents that read on standards, also called standard essential patents, are subject to the FRAND commitment. This is because they can be prone to anticompetitive behavior. FRAND stands for ‘fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory.’ In the case at hand, the IPR policy of ETSI, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute played an important role. This policy seeks to set out how patents that read on ETSI standards are to be treated.

In this case, the Court adequately recognized the commercial tensions that prevail in this sector. As such, the Court argued that FRAND is a balancing mechanism. On the one hand side adequate access to standards need to be assured, on the other hand side patented inventions should also be incentivized. Royalty stacking was also recognized as a key aspect of FRAND. Royalty stacking can be described as the risk of a cumulative royalty payment a downstream innovator may be faced with. This is explained by the fact that there are many different patent owners who claim their stake on a standard.

I tend to think that the ruling will attract litigation into the U.K. This will be good news for the local litigation industry, but may have adverse effects on the larger economy. In the difficult times we currently face, the UK needs to assure it does its best for its consumers, its start-ups and scale ups, SMEs and local industry. The UK also cannot neglect its international trade position.

What are the repercussions for the licensing of intellectual property in the telecoms sector?

This sector has experienced a lot of litigation over standard essential patents. The press has labelled these disputes as ‘patent wars.’ For both the licensor and the licensee, the commercial stakes are significant. After all, these standards formed the baseline of a novel way of doing business around the world. It comes hence as no surprise that Court awarded damages have been significant.

How will this jurisdiction affect consumers?

Consumers in the UK may be faced with less choice. This is because technology companies may be carefully considering whether to expose their global licensing requirements to the scrutiny of the UK. 

What would have been the implications if the decision went the other way?

The decision rightly points to a host of unresolved issues. It points out how highly complex today’s international business relations are. Had the British Courts decided that they can only issue a national licensing rate, existing market practice of pursuing legal disputes in a couple of key jurisdictions would have continued.

How will the decision impact implementors?

Downstream innovators need to be able to adequately access standards. Patents should not be an obstacle. The decision shifts the burden of proof and this is very expensive. Also, the decision sanctions a global FRAND licensing rate with an injunction in the U.K. Downstream innovators may carefully weigh risks and benefits against each other.

How will the ruling help turn the UK into a global hub for patent litigation?

That the UK is in a position to issue global FRAND rates, is an important value proposition for a patentee. It appears that this will now not be necessary as the UK is in a position to issue global FRAND rates. If and to what extent other countries will accept this remains to be seen.

Do you think technology companies will be prompted to reconsider their market position in the U.K?

This may be a possibility.  In TQ Delta vs Zyxel, the defendant declared it would rather accept an injunction and exit the UK market than accept a global FRAND rate set by the English Court. (See: TQ Delta vs Zyxel. Case No: HP-2017-000045. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2019/562.html, Skeleton Argument on behalf of Zyxel. Claim Numbers: HP-2017-000045 and HP-2019-000009, p. 11 as well as hearing on April 17 2019, p. 97-99 and hearing on March 18, p. 51- 52)

How will this affect negotiations over Brexit?

There are 25 European countries that are trying to set up a Common Court for cross border patent enforcement, called the UPC (Unified Patent Court). The UK left UPC in July 2020. If and to what extent the UK will need to find its own governance structures once it has rejected the acquis communautaire remains to be seen.  I foresee here a potential for conflict. I await with interest the further evolution on this topic.

Do you see more FRAND litigation on the horizon? 

I do not expect this sector to come to peace any time soon. The commercial stakes are important and the sector is traditionally very litigious. Unless the underlying business SEPs protect diminishes significantly, I see no end in sight to the disputes over standard essential patents.

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