Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: big guns team up for LTE-M roaming; Cellnex buys rights to 22 BT towers; Macquarie emerges as front-runner for KCOM sale.
Donald Trump appears to have taken his foot off the throat of the UK, for the time being at least, regarding the use of Huawei equipment in its 5G networks. As Bloomberg reports, the US president wheeled out some trademark adjectives during his joint press conference with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May, possibly indicating that he is softening his stance on the issue: "We are going to have absolutely an agreement on Huawei and everything else. We have an incredible intelligence relationship and we will be able to work out any differences … This is a truly great ally and partner and we will have no problem with that." Of course, whether this word-soup actually means anything is open to debate: During the ongoing state visit to the UK Trump has already flatly contradicted himself regarding the possible opening up of National Health Service contracts to US companies, so who knows what the prez is really thinking. If indeed he is thinking. (See Eurobites: Trump to Use UK State Visit to Bang On About Huawei.)
Meanwhile, Matt Hancock, the current UK Health Secretary and 50/1 outsider to be the next prime minister, is to use a speech today to opine that the UK cannot impose a ban on Huawei until it has developed its own "viable replacement," The Sun reports.
European operators Orange, KPN and Swisscom have teamed up with AT&T to activate LTE-M roaming across their respective IoT networks, allowing, they say, IoT low-power devices to operate efficiently on numerous networks across North America and Europe. LTE-M is a variant of LTE that uses licensed spectrum to facilitate a range of IoT applications.
Spain's Cellnex has agreed a 20-year deal that sees it acquire the operating and marketing rights of 220 high towers in the UK that are currently owned by BT, Reuters reports. The deal is worth around £100 million (US$127 million).
A subsidiary of Australian private equity firm Macquarie has been named as the front-runner to buy UK operator KCOM. Under the terms of the deal, MEIF 6 Fibre proposes to pay £563 million ($715.6 million). In light of this, KCOM has withdrawn its recommendation of the offer made by Humber Bidco, a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
Nordic industrial giant ABB is using its Helsinki plant to pilot what is claimed to be the world's first industrial artificial intelligence (AI) application using 5G, using the 5G know-how of Telia in combination with software firm Atostek. The AI application will be used to monitor the assembly of drives at the plant by camera and ensure they are correctly put together.
In other IoT news, Spain's Telefónica has been carrying out a pilot involving connected drones and the operator's own towers equipped with thermal sensors that can work together to help detect forest fires before they get out of control. The drone stays in a "hangar" inside the tower, and when a particular tower detects a fire it sends an alert to the drone, which then flies autonomously to where the fire may have start to collect optical and thermal images that are then relayed to the emergency services.
BT has named the first eight locations for its "future fit" office buildings that form part of its "Better Workplace Programme." This strategy intends, by 2023, to shrink the more than 300 BT office locations in the UK down to around 30, all of them housed in modern buildings that have access to 5G. The eight locations selected are Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Ipswich (Adastral Park), London and Manchester.
Ogero, the Lebanese fixed network services provider, is to commercially trial Nokia's Fixed Access Network Slicing (FANS) offering. As its name suggests, FANS is intended to create several discrete network "slices" that can be independently run by other service providers over Ogero's existing fiber-to-the-home network.