In today's EMEA regional roundup: Altice starts offloading non-core assets; Deutsche Telekom gets busy with fiber; Elisa and Nokia demo 5G in Espoo; Telecom Italia CEO emphasizes need for 'gigabit' networks.
European cable group Altice is reportedly planning to sell its business in the Dominican Republic in an effort to reduce debts, after its share price halved this month because of investor concern about its financial situation. According to a report from the Financial Times (subscription required), which cites sources familiar with the plans, the company hopes to sell the Dominican business during an auction process. It acquired that asset from France's Orange (NYSE: FTE) in 2013 for €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion). The news comes after Altice last week said it would refrain from further costly deal-making and look at disposing of non-core assets. It has already started a process to sell its mobile masts in Europe. Altice's debts now equal about 5.5 times the company's annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. (See Altice Moves to Stem Investor Panic.)
Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) is to speed up its deployment of fiber-optic networks in its domestic market, it said this week. The German operator, which has faced criticism over its reluctance to invest in higher-speed fiber connections, will add 40,000 kilometers of fiber in Germany this year, 10,000 kilometers more than it had previously planned, according to the statement. Next year, it aims to lay another 60,000 kilometers of fiber. What this means in terms of availability for consumers and business remains unclear, but relatively few of Deutsche Telekom's subscribers currently benefit from full-fiber connections. Instead, the operator has been using a copper-fortifying technology called vectoring to improve last-mile connections. In a statement, Niek Jan van Damme, the head of the operator's German business, said that regulations would have to "change" to persuade Deutsche Telekom to bring fiber right up to homes and businesses. "We are doing everything we can to equip Germany with vital state-of-the-art broadband infrastructure needed for digitization. But our competitors, the regulators and the policymakers must also do their bit," he said. (See DT Preps CORD Effort to Slash FTTB/H Costs.)
Finnish telco Elisa Corp. claims to have recorded connection speeds of 1 Gbit/s during a demonstration of 5G technology with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK). During the tests, which took place in the city of Espoo, a 5G signal was sent from a basestation on the roof of a building to a test participants located in an office. Thanks to 5G's high data transfer speeds and low latency, those participating in the demonstration were able to use a virtual reality (VR) headset to watch footage of a music concert recorded using a VR camera, said the companies.
Telecom Italia (TIM) CEO Amos Genish said the rapid pace of change in new technologies justified investments in much faster, "gigabit" networks over the next few years. Speaking at one of the Italian operator's research facilities in Turin, Genish said that prices are halving and performance is doubling annually in the fields of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robotics, forcing operators to increase spending on higher-speed broadband infrastructure. Telecom Italia has been rolling out more fiber-based networks in the country but now faces competition from Italian energy utility Enel, which last year unveiled plans to invest €2.5 billion ($3 billion) in a fiber-based wholesale network. (See Cattaneo Spearheads Telecom Italia Revival.)
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