As telecoms networks continue to expand their services, what even counts as a strategic investment these days? A selection of industry figures tell Global Venturing it can include Web3, ESG and 5G-related technologies.

Once upon a time telecommunications meant phone networks, but as connectivity has become ubiquitous telecoms companies are looking for ways to become more than just utilities or sets of ‘dumb pipes’ and the scope of their venture investments has expanded accordingly. So what exactly is strategic for a telecoms firm in 2022? “What is relevant in the telecom space today is not what was relevant 10, 15, 20 years ago,” says Mario Mele, vice-president of corporate planning and strategy for Telus Ventures, the investment arm of Canada-based Telus. Photo courtesy of Singtel “Things like basic connectivity are more than just table stakes now, but it’s ‘what’s that next level of connectivity in terms of the internet of things and the specific areas of the internet of things (IoT)’?” Telus Ventures is typical of the new breed of strategic telecoms investor, exploring not only core telecoms and network technology but areas as diverse as digital health and agriculture technology, reflecting the areas into which Telus itself has entered, as IoT technology expands the realm of connected technology. Singtel Innov8 has invested on behalf of Singapore-headquartered telecoms group Singtel since 2010, backing companies in a range of consumer-facing sectors and in particular online services providers. Singtel has begun offering entertainment content and mobile financial services to customers and that feeds into Innov8’s strategy, along with technology that can protect the increasing amount of customer data those added services require. In the full telecoms report: 5G starts to pull telecoms sector out of investment doldrums (free to read)Web3 is a ‘game changer’ for telecoms says Telefónica Ventures (free to read) Singtel on the hunt for new 5G tech with extra $100m (free to read)For subscribers: What is strategic investing for a telecoms company in 2022?Investments in telecoms startups halved in value last yearTelecoms incumbents part of $50bn worth of exits in 2021A resurgence in telecoms funds?Fundraising by university telecoms spinouts picks upSoftBank creates ripple of job moves in telecoms sector “We’re looking to invest in the next generation of digital services and platforms that could potentially be partners for members of the Singtel group,” says Innov8 founder and CEO Edgar Hardless. “Digital economy is a trend we’ve been investing in for many years and that’s just going to evolve if not accelerate. Cybersecurity is also something we’ve looked at for many years and will continue to be very important going forward. Customer data privacy is something near and dear to our heart, and…

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Robert Lavine

Robert Lavine is special features editor for Global Venturing.