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Eurobites: Sky Set Fair in Q1 Despite UK Headwinds

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia lands networks deal in Iraq; Ericsson surveys 5G readiness; LoRaWAN collaboration.

  • Sky (NYSE, London: SKY), the pan-European pay-TV giant, saw like-for-like revenues rise 5% to £3.3 billion (US$4.3 billion) in its fiscal first quarter, while EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) rose 11% to £582 million ($764.8 million). This was achieved, says Sky in its earnings statement, despite "headwinds" in the UK advertising market. The company claims its increased investment in fresh content is paying dividends, with customer viewing on Sky's pay channels up 10%. (Game of Thrones helped in this department.) Looking ahead, Sky plans to launch its Sky Q set-top box in Italy, Germany and Austria, as well as increasing its investment in original programming by 25% this year. Overarching all the numbers, however, is the uncertainty over whether 21st Century Fox 's bid for Sky will get the go-ahead from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority: All necessary clearances from other authorities have been received, but the deal could still fall at this final hurdle. (See Eurobites: EU Gives Blessing to Fox-Sky Deal.)

  • Industry chatter might make you think otherwise, but it isn't all about 4G and 5G. Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has landed a deal in Iraq to modernize Zain Group 's 2G and 3G networks across Karbala, Najaf and Basra, with a special focus on the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf as they prepare for an expected surge in voice and data traffic during Zeyara, a time of religious pilgrimage.

  • But meanwhile… a "5G Readiness" survey from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has found that operators are much further along the road to 5G preparedness than they were a year ago. Seventy-eight percent of respondents -- more than double last year's figure -- said that they were currently in the throes of full-on 5G trials, with concurrently fewer stuck at the base camp of the 5G mountain just thinking about the implications of the technology. And the timelines seem to be getting shorter: The number of operators believing that they will deploy 5G commercially in 2018 has risen to 28%, from 18% last time round.

  • Germany's Giesecke & Devrient 's Mobile Security unit has teamed up with Senet of the US to offer a cloud-provisioning solution that, the companies claim, enables improved levels of security when using LoRaWAN connectivity across the IoT ecosystem. LoRaWAN is a low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) specification intended for wireless battery-operated devices in regional, national or global networks.

  • OK it's dry stuff, but it's probably important stuff: The Estonian presidency of the EU's European Council has been granted a general mandate to begin negotiations with the European Parliament over new rules for the telecom sector, a set of rules that are known collectively as the European Electronic Communications Code, and cover areas such as consumer right and operators' access to rivals' networks. The legislative process relating to the Code has already raised the concerns of the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO) , which believes that, among other complaints, measures intended to encourage investments in high-capacity networks have been weakened as the Code begins its passage through the EU's law-making labyrinth.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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