Eurobites: News from the EU

As the U.S. stocks up on supplies of Pepto Bismol today following the annual Thanksgiving gorgefest, its business as usual across the pond in Europe. For those of you with room for dessert, Unstrung brings you the finest selection of titbits this side of the Atlantic.

PCCW Slows U.K. Network Launch
PCCW Ltd.'s (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008) plans to roll out a U.K. wireless broadband network have taken a hit this week following reports that the nationwide launch of its Netvigator service -- from local subsidiary UK Broadband -- has had to be scaled back.

Deploying kit from startup vendor IPWireless Inc., the venture launched a trial service in May and claimed it would follow with “national rollout plans for this new generation service in the UK and Northern Ireland.” (See PCCW Fixes UK Wireless and IPWireless Powers PCCW.)

PCCW now appears to have reneged on its earlier bullish ambitions. “We will take a step-by-step approach... after evaluating the market environment in the U.K. and studying the learnings of the initial soft launch period,” the company told the Financial Times.

Easy Money?
Anglo-Greek entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou is believed to be on the verge of inking a network deal with T-Mobile (UK) that will push the easyMobile brand into the U.K. market.

In August, easyGroup signed a deal with Danish operator TDC A/S, with the carrier providing billing and customer service for easyMobile as the venture is rolled out across Europe (see TDC to Launch Easy MVNO). It now looks increasingly likely that T-Mobile will provide the wholesale services and network capacity for the U.K. launch.

The partnership aims to sell cheap SIM cards online to users who already have a handset. An interesting idea, but analysts reckon the deal will leave rival carriers fretting over a price war.

“Given easyGroup’s intention to roll out its service in ten European countries, there must be lots of nail-biting going on at the various network operators,” note Ovum Ltd. analysts Daniel Bieler and Carrie Pawsey in a research note. “By facilitating such a deal T-Mobile will not have made many friends.”

Finnish 3G: One In, One (Maybe) Out
Employees at Finnish carrier Elisa Corp. will be partying hard this weekend following the company’s successful launch of commercial 3G W-CDMA services (see Elisa Launches 3G). The Elisa network is the second commercial 3G network to be launched in Finland following TeliaSonera AB's (Nasdaq: TLSN) rollout last month (see Sonera Set to Launch UMTS).

Meanwhile rival Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO) might be found drowning its sorrows in a bottle of local Finlandia following a threat from the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications to revoke the carrier’s 3G license if it doesn’t demonstrate plans for investment by January 7, 2005.

DoCoMo Eyes MMO2
NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) is believed to have struck a deal with mmO2 plc to launch its i-mode service in the U.K. market.

Let’s hope mmO2 is more successful at launching the service than previous European carriers. Despite a 42 million-strong fanbase in its home Japanese market, European launches of i-mode in 10 European countries have to date attracted only around three million subscribers.

BT: Clutching at Straws?
BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has again been busy touting its £1 ($1.90) hotspot service package in an effort to boost subscriber figures, this time extending the deal to BT Mobile business customers following an earlier offering to corporate and consumer broadband customers (see BT Extends £1 WiFi Offer and BT Touts £1 WiFi).

Cynics will sneer that this is simply a last-ditch effort to save the service following the failure of public access wireless LAN to become a serious revenue generator, despite earlier massive hype surrounding the launch of hotspot services (see 802.11 Hotspots: A Burst Bubble?).

For its part, BT Openzone declines to divulge exactly how many subscribers it has signed up.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

convert 12/5/2012 | 3:23:09 AM
re: Eurobites: News from the EU Heard that PCCW is one of IPWireless investors. This could be the reason PCCW is supporting IPWireless technology. They have no choice but to support IPWireless.
I tested out the service that Woosh/IPWireless is offering in New Zealand and it's very bad. The damn thing was too slow and it's not user friendly at.
wireless_guru 12/5/2012 | 3:23:06 AM
re: Eurobites: News from the EU Would have to agree with you. I have also used the IPWireless equipment and doubt that they can make it work. I to heard that the only reason they are still in PCCW is due to the investment. Last update was atleast 1 software update a week to try and make it work. Still not working!
convert 12/5/2012 | 3:22:59 AM
re: Eurobites: News from the EU Indeed, spoke to the people at Woosh and they said tones of bad things about IPWIRELESS equipment. They showed me three full cabinets of CPE's returned from their customers.
Even their general manager left the company few weeks ago because the chap didnt believe in Woosh future and IPWIRELESS technology.
freetoair 12/5/2012 | 1:02:25 AM
re: Eurobites: News from the EU
Noting the PCCW statement:
"We will take a step-by-step approach... after evaluating the market environment in the U.K. and studying the learnings of the initial soft launch period,GÇ¥

I have to wonder how about the "learnings of the initial soft launch period" and if the results were not as hoped? or if in comparing this to the "market environment" that the concern is the U.K. market will not accept the service levels - at pricing levels - necessary to support a viable business model?

Wonder how this compares with the experiences at Sentech (South Africa) & Woosh (New Zealand)?

Both relatively immature markets compared to the U.K. market which I suspect would be much less tolerant of performance, quality and service issues (especially as there are many more broadband options available in the U.K.).

Not to beat on IPWireless but from the Sentech/Woosh feedback I have heard - I have to wonder if "PCCWs putting on the brakes", as it would appear, are related directly to the performance of IPWireless' products?

Anyone else have any insights?
wireless_guru 12/5/2012 | 1:00:30 AM
re: Eurobites: News from the EU Would have to agree with your comments as none of the markets referenced are going well for IPW. It would be really hard to make a business case around a technology that provides inconsistant coverage and throughput. Also, it would be really hard to run a network that requires weekly software upgrades to try and make it stable. Sounds to me like they are using their customers as test cases as they are not ready for prime time.
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