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Eurobites: O2 UK Flips the 5G Switch

Paul Rainford
10/17/2019

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Toob turns to Adtran for gigabit gubbins; revenue flat but earnings up at Tele2 in Q3; Huawei shares the love in Brussels.

  • Telefónica UK, which trades under the O2 brand, has launched 5G service in "busy footfall areas" of six cities, offering data tariffs for the same price as their 4G equivalents, including an unlimited data tier for £40 (US$51) a month, exclusive of device cost. For those prepared to shell out more, it has also hooked with virtual reality companies Oculus and MelodyVR to offer music fans access to a "new kind of live music experience" in which they can "attend" live gigs without getting off their sofa, as long as they don't mind looking daft in an Oculus headset. O2 has committed to switching on 5G in 20 towns and cities by the end of the year, and in 50 locations by summer 2020.

    Commenting on the O2 launch, Paolo Pescatore, a telco, media and tech analyst at PP Foresight, said: "The move to unlimited [5G data] so quickly is a worry. This is a challenge to all and poses considerable financial pressures given the further investment needed in acquiring spectrum and building the 5G network."

  • Toob, another UK full-fiber challenger outfit, has turned to Adtran for help with the rollout of gigabit services, initially in the southern coastal city of Southampton. Adtran wheeled out its TA5000 gigabit services platform to enable Toob to prepare its core, transport and access network to deliver 900Mbit/s average upload and download speeds. Toob is hoping to pass 100,000 premises by the end of 2021, and more than 1 million during the next decade.

  • "Flat" third-quarter revenue of 6.9 billion kronor ($709 million) at Sweden's Tele2 somehow translated into 5% growth in underlying EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization), to SEK2.5 billion ($257 million). Financial guidance remains unchanged for end-user service revenue and underlying EBITDA, though capex 2019 is lowered to SEK2.3-2.6 billion (previously SEK2.6-2.9 billion).

  • BT teamed up with Casa Systems to land the Best New 5G Technology award for their Converged 5G Core proof-of-concept offering at this week's Broadband World Forum. BT and Casa's handiwork supports video and enterprise VPN services by combining the wireless user plane with the 5G core, allowing subscribers to flip between mobile and fixed connectivity without frightening the horses.

  • Huawei is on a charm offensive in Europe, attempting to persuade the European Parliament that, despite all the claims to the contrary from the Trump administration, they come in peace and without spyware. As Reuters reports, Huawei's representative to the European Union, Abraham Liu, told those attending a Brussels debate: "We have to find a 'European way.' So let's do it together." Aw, shucks -- you Huawei guys…

  • UK mobile operator Three suffered a massive loss of service last night (Wednesday) which, at the time of writing, it is still trying to fix. Millions of users are basically unable to make calls, send texts or use data.

  • We've had FTTP, FTTC and FTTx for years. So it's about time we had a new one: Let's hear it for FFK-H! WTF? It's "Fiber for Knokke-Heist," of course, courtesy of Belgium's national operator Proximus. For those a bit rusty on their Belgian topography, Knokke-Heist is a seaside resort (with 50 art galleries -- count 'em!), and it's the latest Belgian location to welcome the Proximus fiber rollout, as part of the operator's ten-year "Fiber for Belgium" program.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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