Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ooredoo makes 5G claims in Qatar, while Vodafone beats a retreat; network slicers come together; Bouygues trials 5G in Bordeaux.
Telecom Italia (TIM) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) say they have begun work on virtualizing the operator's nationwide radio access network, starting the project in the northern city of Turin. The vRAN technology deployed supports, say the pair, the transformation of TIM's network into a cloud platform that could help introduce more automation and reduce costs.
Middle East operator Ooredoo is claiming to have the world's first 5G deployments, in its home market of Qatar, using 3.5GHz spectrum and offering speeds of 2.3 Gbit/s combined with 3.5 ms latency.
Meanwhile, Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is getting out of Qatar, selling its stake in Vodafone Qatar to its joint venture partner, Qatar Foundation LLC, for QAR 1.35 billion (US$370 million). However, under the terms of a partner market agreement, Vodafone Qatar will continue to use the Vodafone brand for at least five years.
Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and TIM are the first European operators to sign up for the "5G Slicing Association," which has just been inaugurated. Other familiar names in the founding line-up include Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd , Volkswagen and Tencent Inc. . The group will look at potential use cases of so-called network slicing and help to set up trials to verify what the technology can do.
French operator Bouygues Telecom has teamed up with Huawei to trial 5G technology, initially in the city of Bordeaux. The two companies have form: In 2012, they collaborated on the launch of Bouygues' 4G network.
Mobile operator Three UK has struck a deal with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) that will see the US giant re-selling Three's wireless services to its business customers in the UK as "part of the ecosystem for Internet of Things." The IoT element of the deal will include fleet management and asset tracking.
UK regulator Ofcom has announced which companies have qualified to take part in its forthcoming spectrum auction. All of the obvious names are there -- EE , Three, Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) and Vodafone -- as well as two lesser known outfits, namely US-based Airspan Spectrum Holdings and Connexin, which has been supplying broadband services to the northern city of Hull. Up for grabs in the auction will be 40MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band and, more significantly perhaps, 150MHz of spectrum in the 5G-appropriate 3.4GHz band.
The Small Cell Forum Ltd. has given its backing to a report from Rethink Technology Research that calls for greater urgency and innovation in the development of Europe's communications infrastructure. David Orloff, chair of the Small Cell Forum, says that his organization recognizes the growing potential in Europe to "accelerate densification."