Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: South Africa sounds profit warning over Nigerian woes; ITV bails out of BritBox; Cellnex full-year earnings up 14%.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

March 1, 2024

3 Min Read
Field of crops being sprayed
The use of 5G SA in agriculture could massively cut labor costs, claims Vodafone's report.(Source: Adriana Dogaru / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • A new report from Vodafone claims that small businesses in the UK could be missing out on up to £8.6 billion (US$10.8 billion) a year in productivity savings due to the slow rollout of 5G standalone (5G SA). As an example, the report cites the case of agriculture, where it says that the use of 5G SA for activities such as real-time data monitoring and AI-based forecasting could help those laboring in the industry save on average at least 6% of their working hours. Lurking in the background of this report, of course, is Vodafone's desire to push through its proposed merger with Three, a deal that would allow Vodafone to rollout a nationwide 5G SA network. Indeed, the report posits that a merger with Three would lift Vodafone from fifth to second place in a "European Index" that compares and ranks the competitiveness of each country’s 5G offerings for small businesses across 17 countries.

  • South Africa's MTN has warned that its profits for the full year ended December 31, 2023, could fall by up to 80% year-over-year due to a huge devaluation in the Nigerian naira, which hit its business there. In a statement, MTN maintained that the company still recorded a "solid underlying operational performance."

  • UK broadcaster ITV has sold its 50% stake in streaming service BritBox to the BBC, its partner in the joint venture, for £255 million ($322 million). ITV says that the sale reflects its "strategy of focusing on supercharging its UK advertiser-funded streaming service, ITVX and growing its global Studios division." Under the terms of the deal, ITV will continue to receive a revenue stream from BritBox similar to current levels for the use of ITV content under new licensing agreements.

  • Spanish towerco Cellnex saw full-year adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) rise 14%, to €3 billion ($3.24 billion), on revenue that climbed 15%, to €3.66 billion ($3.96 billion). In November, Cellnex closed a deal with Stonepeak for the sale of a 49% stake in Cellnex Sweden and Cellnex Denmark for €730 million ($790 million), and has also agreed to sell its private networks business to Boldyn Networks. Other deals may be in the pipeline, hints CEO Marco Patuano, who coyly tells investors that there "will be more to share in a few days."

  • Virgin Media is to start offering the ad-supported DAZN Women's Football channel on its pay-TV platform – the first UK pay-TV provider to do so. It will be available to Virgin TV customers via their set-top box at no extra cost. The channel offers live coverage of the UEFA Women's Champions League, which features a number of UK-based stars such as Bayern Munich's Georgia Stanway.

  • Several digital banks in South Africa have gone live on Eutelsat OneWeb's low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite service, bringing additional operational and customer-facing capabilities. Access to the new connectivity is being provided by Q-KON, which incorporated OneWeb satellites into its Twoobii Smart Satellite Services product offering.

  • A new "social rate" for telecom services has taken effect in Belgium after an agreement was reached between operators and the government. Following the new guidelines, incumbent operator Proximus has introduced a 30Mbit/s broadband package for €19 ($20.56) per month and a TV bundle for €40 ($43.28) per month.

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About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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