Eurobites: Fridman investment vehicle backs UK fiber upstart

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telefónica completes towers sale; Virgin Media O2 CEO raises prospect of BT joint venture; Ericsson digs into private networks.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

June 2, 2021

4 Min Read
Eurobites: Fridman investment vehicle backs UK fiber upstart

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telefónica completes towers sale; Virgin Media O2 CEO raises prospect of BT joint venture; Ericsson digs into private networks.

  • A new broadband infrastructure company with fiber rollout ambitions in eastern England has attracted the attention of Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, according to a Financial Times report (paywall applies). Upp, which hopes to find a market in the new army of post-COVID-19 homeworkers, plans to reach 1 million premises in the region by 2025. LetterOne, an investment group controlled by Fridman, is supporting the £1 billion (US$1.4 billion) project and, according to the report, has committed to around £300 million ($423.7 million) of equity financing alongside Upp's management team and board of directors.

    • Telefónica has completed the €6.2 billion ($7.5 billion) sale of its Telxius tower business to American Tower Corporation (ATC), following regulatory approvals in Spain and Germany. The transaction will reduce the company's net debt by approximately €3.4 billion and present something of a challenge to Cellnex, which has until now been the dominant towers player in Europe. (See Telefónica goes towerless with €7.7B sale to ATC.)

    • UK competition regulators could be getting twitchy after the CEO of newly merged Virgin Media O2, Lutz Schüler, refused to rule out becoming a co-investor in BT's fiber rollout, claims a report in the Telegraph. Last month BT announced it was looking to upgrade 25 million premises to full-fiber broadband by the end of 2025, a hike of 5 million on its previous goal, adding that it was in the market for joint ventures to help make it happen. (See BT ups FTTP target to 25M premises by 2026.)

    • Ericsson is pushing a new private networks platform aimed primarily at heavy-duty industries such as mining and manufacturing. Ericsson Private 5G, as the platform is called, offers cloud-based network management and keeps sensitive data in-house, says the Swedish vendor. Ericsson claims that it can be "easily installed within hours at any facility."

    • Telia Company has completed the sale of its international carrier business, Telia Carrier, to Polhem Infra for 9.45 billion Swedish kronor ($1.13 billion). The deal, announced in October 2020, was apparently prompted by a desire for Telia Company to focus on its core Nordic and Baltic footprint. (See Telia flogs international carrier business for $1.1B.)

    • Belgium's Proximus has been the given the green light by its domestic competition regulator for its proposed acquisition of Mobile Vikings, which also includes the JIM Mobile brand, in a deal worth €130 million ($158.2 million). In 2020, Mobile Vikings generated €50 million ($60.8 million) in revenue and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) of €15 million ($18.2 million).

    • Telenor has appointed Kaaren Hilsen as the CEO of its newly established tower company, Telenor Tower Holding AS, effective September 1. Hilsen has served as CEO of Telenor Sweden since March 2019.

    • Irish operator Eir has launched a new 5G fixed wireless access broadband service for homes and businesses that cannot yet receive high-speed wired broadband. Customers can connect up to 20 devices within their home to the service, which costs €44.99 ($54.76) a month for an unlimited 5G data plan on a 12-month contract, with a one-off cost of €99 ($120.5) for the Huawei-made router that it is using for the service.

    • Deutsche Telekom has teamed up with Continental, manufacturer of tires and more, to develop a system that warns of potential collisions between connected vehicles and cyclists or other vulnerable road users such as scooter riders and pedestrians. Using a combination of GPS, mobile communications and cloud computing, the system calculates the paths taken by the various road users and warns them if they are stand a good chance of being flattened. The results of the collaboration will be shown at the ITS World Congress in Hamburg in October.

    • UK altnet Hyperoptic has unveiled a new "site-wide Wi-Fi" product that it says has been specifically developed to address the needs of build-to-rent (BTR) investors and operators. It uses a series of access points positioned throughout a development, which means that as residents roam around the development, their devices remain connected to their own individual network. The product also includes other features such as footfall analytics, which offers insights into how people are moving around and engaging with their building, and a management portal that enables BTR operators to easily activate and "onboard" new residents to their Wi-Fi connection.

      — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like