Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Three makes progress in Q2; Brits love smartphones, but not for talking into; telcos and e-sports.
Shares in Altice Europe hurtled south by as much as 15% in Paris trading following the release of the operator's second-quarter earnings, which, as Bloomberg reports, showed it has paid a high price for recent subscriber growth. Earnings fell 10% year-on-year to €1.32 billion (US$1.53 billion), while its heavy discounting led its average-revenue-per-user figure to fall to €22.6 a month, from €25.2 a year earlier. Last month Altice announced it was selling stakes in its tower businesses in France and Portugal for €2.5 billion ($2.9 billion) as part of a plan to address its growing debt pile, which currently stands at €32 billion ($37.1 billion). (See Altice to Sell French, Portuguese Towers for €2.5B.)
There was nothing to frighten the horses in Three UK 's second-quarter results, which showed earnings up 7% year-on-year to £364 million ($476 million) on revenue that climbed 2% to £1.19 billion ($1.55 billion). The operator is in the throes of a network "transformation" program, which includes significant investment in its core network and data centers. It also plans to begin 5G trials within the next six months, after signing a contract with China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd . (See Digging Deeper Into Three UK's Transformation Program.)
The amount of time Brits spend making voice calls from their smartphones has fallen for the first time, as over-the-top messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger negate the need to actually, y'know, talk to people. That is one of the more interesting tidbits to emerge in Communications Market Report, a new study from UK telecom regulator Ofcom. Many of the figures quoted in the report just serve to confirm what we already knew -- that the Internet in general and smartphones in particular are increasingly becoming seen as a "must-have" in our everyday lives. Folk in the UK now check their smartphones, on average, every 12 minutes during waking hours. The World Looks Down, indeed…
E-sports, that's organized, jazzed-up video gaming to you and me, is becoming a thing for telcos. Nordic operator Telia is today hosting what it says is "the biggest computer cultural event in Finland," bringing its 5G know-how to a "parents versus parents" gaming tournament, using a Nokia basestation and an Intel 5G mobile trial platform. In Belgium, meanwhile, Proximus is inviting people to its e-sports "cave" in Antwerp, where gamers can take part in workshops with "pro players." And for those for whom e-sports aren't sufficiently removed from actual sport, there is a lounge offering Esport TV, the channel that, as its name suggests, enables people to just watch. Maybe Eurobites Towers is just stuck in the past but, as fun goes, it's all a long way from impromptu soccer in the park and jumpers for goalposts.
Altice It is always worth looking at share price plunges in context. Yes, Altice is down 10% today but it is up 120% since May when they delivered strong subscriber numbers and speculation mounted that the French regulator might allow Bouygues to buy SFR from heavily-geared (over-extended) Altice. Previously both Iliad and Altice have tried to buy Bouygues but the tables have now turned and Bouygues is in the healthier position. Altice's shares have doubled since IPO in 2014 (the European IPO not the US subsidiary) but it has been a rollercoaster and looks set to remain so.