Telecom Review Asia interviews Dr. Ong Geok Chwee, CEO, Bridge Alliance, to gather insights on its partnerships and initiatives with member operators to jointly navigate a smoother, more successful 5G journey.
Can you share with us more about Bridge Alliance’s developments over the years?
Bridge Alliance is an alliance of 34 member operators serving more than a billion customers across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Among our member operators, there are many different areas of key focus. Established in 2004, Bridge Alliance started with a focus on roaming to ensure seamless roaming experiences for consumers. Since then, we have expanded into areas like enterprise mobility, the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G.
Globally, many of our member operators have already rolled out 5G networks. Bridge Alliance serves as a good platform for operators to facilitate cross-learning to effectively shorten the learning curve and supports the formation of different work groups – such as 5G consumer and 5G enterprise workgroups – for key experts and business drivers to come together to interact and spearhead regional initiatives.
Can you elaborate on some of these initiatives undertaken and partnerships forged in the APAC region?
One of our 5G initiatives is the development of a Federated Edge Hub (FEH). Many of our member operators are already rolling out MECs (Multi-access Edge Computing) in their regions. In order for these solutions to be assessed by application providers and solution partners, close collaboration is needed among telcos in the region.
Bridge Alliance works with our member operators, including SK Telecom and Singtel, to set up a Federated Edge Hub (FEH), a platform that allows application providers to discover, make provisions and monitor edge resources across different markets. This initiative will harmonize the way different edge resources can be accessed across markets to enable multi-market services delivery, versus how interconnections had to be performed between operators on a one-on-one basis, making it difficult to scale the edge coverage. This removes friction for application providers and solution partners and allows for easier onboarding on edge platforms.
How does Bridge Alliance continue to expand the ecosystem and deliver value to its members?
Bridge Alliance is also focused on IoT. One key vertical for IoT use cases is automotives, where the industry has made great advances. However, Asia is a very fragmented market. In order for connected vehicles to work and scale across multiple countries, Bridge Alliance has established a common platform for member operators to provide a harmonized solution. This simplifies the way business is conducted such that one lead operator is able to champion a contractual relationship with car manufacturers, reducing the complexity of doing business across multiple markets while leveraging on a single platform to manage all their IoT connectivity. In addition, customers will also enjoy the strong in-country support from each of Bridge Alliance’s member operators that brings with them in-depth market knowledge and expertise.
Learning from our past experience, we bring together operators to work together to deploy solutions that can address the pain points of customers to leapfrog members into the 5G age, where more solutions can be co-created with the ecosystem of partners.
Across regions such as Asia, the Middle East and Africa, markets are very different. Yet, there are commonalities in terms of how enterprises are leveraging the same technology. Just last week, our 5G consumer workgroup members gathered in Seoul to explore regional collaborations. These sessions provide opportunities for members to learn from one another, build synergy, and deploy solutions with faster go-to-market and derive cost advantages through collective scale.
How can operators optimize 5G investment to spur growth in today’s increasingly connected landscape?
There is no silver bullet for this challenge. Having said that, all the operators have already embarked on this journey and focused on different areas to capture growth.
SK Telecom, for instance, is investing heavily in the metaverse to create a full-stack, forward-looking virtual world where consumers will interact and socialize – what SK Telecom imagines our world will become. Other operators are taking a different approach. Taiwan Mobile, for instance, is delivering platform-as-a-service for gaming to achieve low-latency gaming experiences in the cloud.
At this stage, the journey of digital transformation is still unfolding, but we’re already seeing snippets of success across member operators. The key is really about delivering seamless experiences. And this is the essence of what Bridge Alliance does – to simplify processes, remove friction and accelerate 5G adoption among mobile operators.