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Eurobites: TIM, Inwit combine on small cells for 5G boost

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: CityFibre announces £1.5 billion investment; Telefónica spins out digital mental healthcare provider; Arcep's 5G observatory.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) and towers company Inwit have begun a joint project to deploy small cells in some of Italy's major cities to boost 5G coverage. The collaboration, which forms part of an agreement signed in March between the two companies, will begin in Milan and Genoa, where it is expected that around 100 small cells will be installed. TIM and Inwit have already run underground trials in several municipalities, with, for example, small cells inserted into manholes under the road to improve coverage without spoiling the view.

  • UK altnet CityFibre has announced a £1.5 billion (US$1.9 billion) investment in its full-fiber rollout, awarding construction contracts across 27 towns and cities that will help the company reach around 3 million premises and create more than 3,750 construction jobs. CityFibre expects to launch the second phase of its ongoing build-tender program before the end of the year, which will cover another 3 million premises. The rollout is being partly overseen by Bechtel, a large engineering company.

  • Koa Health, a digital mental healthcare provider, has been successfully spun out from Alpha, which Telefónica describes as its "moonshot factory." The startup has secured more than €14 million ($16.5 million) in initial funding from investors corralled by Ancora Finance Group and Wellington Partners in a Series A funding round, that will ultimately total up to €30 million ($35.4 million). Koa Health's debut product is Koa Foundations, a mental wellbeing app that is intended to help organizations better support their teams by tackling stress and poor sleep patterns, among other things.

  • Arcep, the French communications regulator, is to set up an "observatory" to monitor the progress of 5G network rollouts, keeping track of such things as the number of 5G cell sites that each operator has activated and the frequency bands they use. The regulator expects the observatory to be completed in early 2012, with all information made available as open data.

    Alongside this, Arcep has also set out the particular obligations that must be fulfilled by each operator that was a winning bidder for 3.5GHz band spectrum: Each such operator must, for example, deploy 3,000 cell sites in 2022, 8,000 in 2024 and 10,500 in 2025, using 3.4-3.8 GHz band frequencies.

  • Vodafone Egypt has acquired 40MHz of 2.6GHz TDD spectrum from its regulatory authority. The spectrum will enable the operator to expand network capacity to help meet the growing demand for reliable voice and data services. The spectrum acquired has a ten-year license term, with payments phased over three years: an initial payment of $270 million upon receipt of the spectrum and two further payments of $135 million due in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

  • Cable operator Virgin Media is banging the drum about what it claims is the UK's "biggest ever gigabit switch-on," with nearly 3 million homes in London and across Northern Ireland newly within reach of its Gig1 broadband tier offering average downlink speeds of 1,104 Mbit/s. The new launches take Virgin's total gigabit footprint to 6.8 million homes, or 45% of its network. The company hopes to bring gigabit broadband to its entire network of 15 million homes by the end of 2021.

  • Third-quarter revenue at Switzerland's Sunrise slipped 0.5% year-on-year, to 471 million Swiss francs ($519 million), though EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) inched up 1.2%, to CHF320 million ($352 million). The postpaid mobile segment was a highlight, with Sunrise achieving what it says was its strongest growth in ten years: 46,300 net adds in Q3.

  • Deutsche Telekom has entered into a sales agreement with Zoom, the all-conquering, nay, iconic videoconferencing/online pub quiz platform. The hook-up means DT's business customers can obtain Zoom's service directly from the operator and draw on the expertise of specialized customer teams if required.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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