Portuguese mobile operators Vodafone and NOS sealed a network-sharing agreement aimed at slashing costs while they roll out higher-speed technologies. The tie-up entails the sharing of basestation equipment in rural and less densely populated areas, but only the supporting site infrastructure in urban areas. Mário Vaz, Vodafone Portugal's CEO, said the agreement came at a "challenging" time for the sector "due to the size and urgency of the investments that are required of operators." Network-sharing deals have taken off throughout the region as operators try to combat debt and boost profitability while they continue to invest in mobile networks. Vodafone Group now has agreements in place in several of its main European markets and is also spinning off its towers business to raise capital. An initial public offering in Frankfurt is planned next year. (See Disadvantage Towers? Vodafone plays game of risk.)
Energy giant Shell is said to be fighting UK broadband operators TalkTalk and Sky over broadband assets owned by the Post Office, according to a report from Sky News. Serving about half a million customers, those assets are currently up for sale in an auction and expected to raise close to £100 million ($131 million), says the report. Better known for pumping oil and overcharging drivers, Shell apparently serves about 130,000 broadband customers in the UK following a 2018 takeover of First Utility, a small player in the residential broadband sector.
Nokia is providing G.fast technology to NetCologne, a German broadband operator with about 28,000 kilometers of fiber deployed in the city of Cologne and surrounding areas. G.fast is designed to boost signal strength over short copper lines and will, in this case, support upgrades for about 30,000 installations, said Nokia. The Finnish operator. The Finnish equipment vendor said it would take advantage of automation to reduce deployment costs and hasten rollout. "Nokia delivered a highly customizable solution that is ideal for the next step in our network plans: bringing gigabit connectivity cost-effectively into buildings," said Horst Schmitz, NetCologne's head of technology.
Commentators are fond of grumbling that 5G still lacks many useful applications in the industrial space. Now Orange has come up with a few new ones in Belgium, where its local subsidiary has built what it calls an "Industry 4.0 campus" at the Port of Antwerp. Top of the list is a connected tugboat, allowing the ship to stream real-time images and other data to a control room for improved efficiency and safety. Orange also set up a 5G system for Covestro, allowing field operators at the hi-tech polymer manufacturer to access real-time information through the use of tablets or smart glasses. Borealis, another chemicals company, is using a 5G network to connect plant equipment to quality-control systems powered by artificial intelligence. It lacks the excitement of a self-driving car but it could turn out to be a lot more important (and realistic). (See Orange to lure 5G customers with data bonanza.)
Telecom Italia named a host of Italian firms as the suppliers of fiber-optic cables for its planned fiber-to-the-home rollout. Contracts covering the needs of its FiberCop subsidiary for the next two years have been awarded to Ecotel, Metallurgica Bresciana, Prysmian, Technikabel and Tratos, it said in a statement. The operator said the move confirmed "its commitment in support of the country and its entrepreneurial fabric." (See EU could oppose Italy's single fiber network plan – report.)