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New Merger Creates Middle East’s Biggest Telecom Company

Saudi Arabia’s PIF and stc Group have combined resources, in a move that will significantly boost network coverage and customer experience.

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new merger creates middle east's biggest telecom company

Saudi Arabian wealth fund PIF has agreed to purchase a 51% stake in Tawal, the country’s biggest telecommunications infrastructure company, with an enterprise value of $5.85 billion. The stake was formerly owned by the Saudi Telecommunications Company (stc Group).

PIF and stc Group will now merge Tawal and Golden Lattice Investment Company (GLIC) into a new entity, forming the “largest regional company in the telecommunication infrastructure sector” with over 30,000 mobile tower sites and annual revenues surpassing $1.3 billion.

The new company will be owned 54% by PIF and 43.1% by stc Group, with GLIC minority shareholders owning the rest of the issued share capital.

Raid Ismail, Head of MENA Direct Investments at PIF said: “Today’s announcement is a significant milestone for the telecommunications industry in Saudi Arabia and the wider region. By bringing together the assets of GLIC and TAWAL, we will establish a consolidated platform on which the telecommunications sector can flourish and give people a better experience to best connect communities and businesses. It is also in line with PIF’s strategy and the Saudi Vision 2030”.

Also Read: Microsoft Invests $1.5 Billion In Abu Dhabi AI Tech Firm G42

Combining Tawal and GLIC is seen as a positive stepping-stone to consolidating Saudi Arabia’s tower market and increasing operating efficiencies and excellence to deliver a better experience for customers.

Once operational, network coverage should see a welcome boost, while general connectivity and internet speeds will also be improved.

The merger follows Tawal’s purchase of infrastructure in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia, making this “Saudi national champion” the region’s biggest independent tower company.

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Truecaller To Use Microsoft Azure AI Speech For Call Answering

The new service features a powerful speech generation tool to allow users to create AI versions of their voices.

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truecaller to use microsoft azure ai speech for call answering
Truecaller

Truecaller, a well-known app for identifying and blocking spam calls, is enhancing its services by allowing users to create AI versions of their voices. The new feature, available to those with access to Truecaller’s AI Assistant, stems from a partnership with Microsoft and its Azure AI Speech tool, allowing the generation of realistic AI voices that accurately mimic users’ speech patterns and tone.

“This groundbreaking capability not only adds a touch of familiarity and comfort for the users but also showcases the power of AI in transforming the way we interact with our digital assistants,” explained Truecaller product director and general manager Raphael Mimoun in a recent blog post.

The AI Assistant in Truecaller screens incoming calls, informing recipients of a caller’s purpose. Based on this information, users can decide whether to answer the call themselves or let the AI Assistant handle it.

When the feature was introduced in 2022, users could only choose from a collection of preset voices. The ability to record one’s own voice represents a significant step towards the complete personalization of the service.

Also Read: Getting Started With Google Gemini: A Beginner’s Guide

Azure AI Speech, showcased during the last Build conference, only recently added a personal voice feature that lets people record and replicate voices. Microsoft explained in a blog post, however, that Personal Voice is available on a limited basis and only for specific use cases like voice assistants.

To maintain ethical standards, Microsoft’s Azure AI Speech automatically adds watermarks to AI-generated voices. Additionally, a code of conduct requires companies to obtain full consent from individuals being recorded and prohibits impersonation.

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