Eurobites: KPN unclogs its 4G network, launches 5G

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telekom Slovenije fires up 5G; Orange takes its bank to Africa; Euskaltel shows growth.

  • Dutch incumbent operator KPN is switching on its revamped mobile network on Tuesday (July 28), offering about half the population access to zippier 4G services and, for those with the appropriate device, 5G. The operator reckons that by the end of the year two-thirds of the Dutch population will be reached by the improved network, while in 2021 the network will go truly nationwide. KPN bagged 20MHz of 700MHzspectrum in the recent Dutch spectrum auction, which went ahead despite the turbulence caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The operator also raised eyebrows by throwing in its 5G lot with Huawei, the Chinese vendor that is gradually being frozen out of networks in other parts of the world. (See Dutch €1.23B auction is latest 5G debacle.)

  • Also flicking the 5G switch is Telekom Slovenije, though the Slovenian operator will use existing basestations and the 2600MHz frequency it already runs its 4G services on for the new launch. Telekom Slovenije has already upgraded 150 basestations, offering approximately 25% coverage, and it hopes to push this figure beyond 33% by the end of the year. It also needs to start selling phones that support 5G – it says this will happen "soon."

  • French operator Orange is taking its banking operation to Africa, teaming up with insurance company NSIA to set up shop in Côte d'Ivoire. Orange Bank Africa, through its Orange Money service, will offer a range of savings and "micro credit" services allowing customers often excluded from mainstream banking to borrow money using their mobile phone. For more details, see this story on our sister site, Connecting Africa. (See also Should Telcos Become Banks? and Orange Bank Job Is Going Europe-Wide.)

  • Euskaltel, the Spanish operator that has its roots in the Basque Country, saw second-quarter revenues inch up 0.3% year on year, to €171.6 million (US$198.8 million). EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) grew 3.7% to €87.5 million ($101.3 million), including the cost of launching its new brand, Virgin Telco. During the period, Euskaltel gained 11,300 new customers, 4,800 in the Group's traditional markets and an impressive 6,500 from Virgin Telco.

  • Sky, the UK-based purveyor of pay-TV and more, is to team up with TV measurement company TVSquared to enable advertisers to find out if their ads are leading to website visits and, ultimately, product sales. As Reuters reports, the tool is timely as media companies fret about losing advertising spend during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Vodafone has used an existing O2 site to expand its 4G coverage to the rural community of Longnor in the UK's Peak District, the second site to go live under the new UK Shared Rural Network mast-sharing initiative, which the British government optimistically describes as a "£1 billion deal to make poor and patchy rural phone coverage a thing of the past."

  • Belgium's Proximus has signed a five-year deal with Eleven Sports under the terms of which Eleven will use Proximus' Media House to produce live coverage of Belgian soccer.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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