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What’s up with… Iliad, Apple & the metaverse, Open RAN growth, Access Evolution

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Iliad’s ongoing appetite for expansion, Apple’s reality check, and encouragement for the Open RAN tech community lead the way in today’s industry news roundup.

Aggressive European altnet Iliad would still be interested in growth through M&A in Italy, the operator’s CEO Thomas Reynaud stated today while commenting on the company’s impressive first quarter financials. Iliad teamed up with Apax Partners earlier this year to make an audacious €11.25 billion offer for Vodafone Italia, which was summarily rejected. Iliad, which has operations in France, Italy and Poland, reported a 4.8% year-on-year increase in first quarter revenues to €1.93 billion and a 6.1% increase in earnings before taxes, depreciation and other costs. It ended March with 13.7 million mobile and almost 7 million fixed broadband customers in France, just over 8.8 million mobile users in Italy, and almost 12.5 million mobile and 293,000 fixed broadband customers in Poland. Read more

Apple is believed to have made significant progress in developing its mixed reality augmented/virtual reality headset product and associated software and the latest prototypes have been presented to the board, according to a Bloomberg report. As this essentially represents Apple’s approach to what is generally being called the metaverse, this development  is interesting in itself, of course, but just as interesting is the analysis on Apple’s metaverse position by investment and technology sector analyst Richard Windsor, who equates Apple’s position to that of Nokia about 15 years ago when it had to decide where to focus its R&D investments – check out Windsor’s analysis here.  

The Open RAN technology market could be worth as much as $2 billion this year if sales reach the upper end of a new market projection from analyst house Dell’Oro. The company noted in a new press release that sales of Open RAN technology (radio and baseband elements) “surged” during the first quarter of this year and that the market could be worth between 3% and 5% of the total radio access network (RAN) equipment market in 2022. That market, based on previous announcements and numbers shared by Dell’Oro, is set to be worth more than $40 billion this year, which puts the projected size of the Open RAN tech market at between $1.2 billion and $2 billion. That’s good news for the likes of Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, Rakuten Symphony and the growing number of Open RAN tech specialists that are entering the market.  

About 66% of homes (19.3 million) in the UK now have access to a Gigabit broadband connection, up from just 37% a year ago, according to regulator Ofcom. “This progress comes as a number of competing companies continue to roll out faster networks across the UK. This includes in hard-to-reach areas, with the number of premises unable to get a decent connection – classed as offering download speeds of at least 10 Mbit/s and upload speeds of 1 Mbit/s – now falling to just under 100,000,” noted Ofcom in this announcement. It also noted that a 4G signal is now available across 92% of the UK’s land mass. The statistics come from the Connected Nations update report, which can be accessed here.  

​​Google’s subsidiary in Russia is tipped to file for bankruptcy after local authorities froze its bank account, therefore leaving the company incapable of continuing its operations and unable to pay staff and suppliers. Reuters cited a company representative as saying that the move by the Russian officials made it “untenable” to run its office in the country and that it has already published a notice of its intention to go bankrupt. The company has been targeted by the government for months after it was found not to comply with orders to take down certain content deemed by authorities as illegal, and for restricting access to some local media on video platform YouTube. Access to free services, such as Google’s search engine, Gmail, Maps and YouTube, will not be stopped despite the bankruptcy move, according to the report. The company was previously hit with fines totalling more than RUB7.7 billion (approximately $122 million) since the end of 2021 for failing to delete content considered as unlawful. As per estimations by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, the Russian market represente 1% of its revenue in 2021. The bankruptcy move comes at a time when the Russian government continues a military conflict with its neighbouring country Ukraine.

– The staff, TelecomTV



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Mogul Productions and Trace Network partner to drive NFT adoption

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Mogul Productions, the decentralized platform that seeks to promote NFTs and DeFi in the movies and entertainment sector, is going big on the move with a new partnership. 

As announced on Friday, the firm has signed a major partnership with Trace Network Labs to help bring the movie experience to the metaverse.

Growth in the NFTs and Metaverse sector

Blockchain technology has completely changed the landscape when it comes to digital avatars, whose growth trajectory, to state the least, has been on an upward trajectory since the 70s.

Today, digital avatars and the non-fungible token (NFT) and metaverse space are shaping interactions virtually across every aspect of life.

According to an industry expert’s observation highlighted by CoinJournal, “The metaverse will bring true value for digital assets, mainly in the form of NFTs. It will give people the ability to recreate themselves in any shape or form they would like and to reinvent their identity altogether. It will bring to life digital pets of all kinds.”

Mogul Productions and Trace Network want to drive the next level of growth in this sector through their partnership. Essentially, Mogul wants to bring the movie experience and movies to the metaverse.

Use NFTs to experience the Metaverse

Some of the most popular NFT collections in the world today have seen millions of dollars in sale volumes, with the creators of blockbusters such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club, CryptoPunks, and Azuki helping unlock a whole range of success stories.

Alongside this, there has been the steady drive towards the reality of the Metaverse, a virtual world where real-life humans can interact and do pretty much everything else via avatars. 

While tech giants such as Meta Platforms, Apple Inc and Google are all working on delivering the metaverse, the entertainment space is already seeing events in the virtual world

Mogul wants to use its partnership with Trace to help drive this to the next level, with NFTs at the heart of it. Notably, the platform wants to allow individuals to mint their own avatarsand use them in the metaverse to experience events such as film premieres.

The collaboration will also see Mogul’s Cinematic Metaverse expand to provide users with new features such as branded wearables and other Mogul products.

With these, users can unlock several exciting experiences, including access to exclusive “Behind The Scenes” events – all in the metaverse.



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Metaverse News: Metaverse crimes challenging, say legal experts

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As a small but growing number of Indian users of the Metaverse– a virtual three-dimensional world that is termed as the next frontier of the internet–report cases of assault and sexual violation of their digital avatars, it is stoking consternation amongst legal experts confronted by new-age crimes that are not covered under existing laws.

Earlier this year, a young woman based in one of the country’s top metros sought legal recourse for what she termed as “violation” of her avatar on the virtual reality platform. But criminal and judicial systems in India, and even world over, are still not ready to handle the challenges thrown up by the Metaverse, according to lawyers being approached to handle such issues.

Avatars represent the virtual identity of individuals while on the Metaverse with all actions conducted through these digital representations.

“There is a need for a new legal framework,” said cyberlaw expert Pavan Duggal, who is a part of the Metaverse Law , a global body working towards bringing in common guidelines on how to manage such virtual conflicts.

Pointing out that “the current law doesn’t recognise (digital) avatars,” Duggal said the problem is exacerbated by the Metaverse being a “global ecosystem, which makes it hard to litigate.”

“Attribution of identity and jurisdiction are some of the challenges at present,” he added.

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While still at a nascent stage, there is rising interest in the virtual 3D platform that combines social interaction with virtual and augmented reality, allowing users to live different experiences virtually.

Gartner reports that 25% of people will spend an hour per day in the Metaverse by 2026 for work, shopping, education, and entertainment, while 30% of organisations will have products and services ready for metaverse. Late last year, Facebook renamed itself Meta Platforms and said that it would invest $10 billion in the business, given the huge potential it sees in the space. Several brands and individuals have started investing in buying land virtually and building their virtual worlds.

Goldman Sachs predicts the Metaverse market size will be worth $1-12 trillion, while not specifying a time period for the same.

This influx of activity is drawing brands and consumers to the virtual world and is also leading to instances of cyber bullying and harassment, as well as financial crime, point out industry experts.

Mukul Shrivastava, Partner, Forensics and Integrity Services, EY said “this is a very fragmented space with no centralised set up. Several of the platforms are not based in India so that makes it harder when trying to litigate.” he said.

The inability to apply the same regulations applicable to such crimes in the real world is a major challenge, as well. “In the case of non-economic crimes, you have to prove that you are connected to the avatar that was harmed in the virtual world,” said Abhishek Malhotra, founding partner of TMT Law Practice. And when it comes to financial or economic crimes, it is still a grey area since the foundation is cryptocurrency, which is still not legal in India.

Tech-based remedies

Noting that prevailing laws cannot be invoked to deal with virtual crimes of assault and molestation, Supreme Court advocate NS Nappinai said one must “look for remedies based on the mode and manner of commission of crimes.”

“ For instance, in a case of rape of an avatar on Metaverse, or even in an online game, whilst Section 376 IPC will not be applicable, other offences such as hacking and tampering with source codes and even publishing and transmission of obscene or sexually explicit content punishable under IT Act can be invoked,” she said.

However, the first step, is to take it up with the platform itself according to Nappinai who also runs the CyberSaathi Foundation,

Platforms strengthen screening

Rajat Ojha, Founder & CEO, Gamitronics, which runs the PartyNite metaverse platform said that they have set up predefined emotes and movements to ensure that the system is protected for any ‘physical or sexual’ gestures.

At a recent public event, PartyNite mandated users to undergo a KYC to go to a bar area, as it helps to associate digital identities with real world identities. “That gave us enough insights and adoption metrics and we are currently working on our learnings from that,” said Ojha.

Some Metaverse platforms offer built-in safety features like safe zones, or methods to not allow strangers within a certain radius of your avatar.

“At this moment, every public event has our policing, and we warn the person if an issue is raised. We have features to kick the offender out, but we know it’s not sufficient, so we focus a lot on letting our attendees know how to reach out to us and we then go case by case basis,” Gamitronic’s Ojha said.



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Metaverse at Cannes—marketers show off virtual worlds on the Croisette

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The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity may be in person this year for the first time since 2019, but that hasn’t stopped brands and agencies from thinking virtual. Not only are some marketers making Cannes sessions available in virtual real estate platforms, but parties and activities outside of the normal programming are also being offered in the metaverse. 

A common theme running through many of these activations is democratizing what has hitherto been an inaccessible event for many in the industry. The ticket price for Cannes is steep, not to mention fees for transportation and a hotel. But through virtual experiences, which can be accessed from anywhere using only a desktop or sometimes a mobile phone, more of adland can celebrate creativity in the industry.

Of course, not all the metaverse activations at Cannes are designed specifically with this goal in mind, yet the democratizing effect is still there. Marketers may be realizing that the virtual tools they use to reach consumers can also help them reach each other.

Here are some of the ways that marketers are activating in the metaverse during Cannes.



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