Eurobites: Not So G.fast, Says Vodafone to BT

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodafone hit by foreign exchange movements; Proximus tests 5G with Huawei; Ericsson predicts the 5G future.

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is attempting to derail BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s G.fast strategy by complaining to Ofcom that BT's trials of the copper-boosting technology breach the UK regulator's guidelines on network investment, the Financial Times reports (subscription required). The mobile giant is calling for a consultation on the matter, a move that would potentially allow Vodafone and others to halt BT's plans, which they view as an unsatisfactory "halfway house" compromise that falls short of a full-fat fiber-based network upgrade.

  • Vodafone's letter of complaint to Ofcom coincides with the release of its half-year earnings statement, which shows group revenue down 3.9% year-on-year to €27.05 billion (US$29.12 billion) and an operating loss of €4.7 billion ($5.06 billion), attributed chiefly to foreign exchange movements. The group took a major hit at its Indian operation, which recorded a non-cash impairment of €5 billion ($5.38 billion) as a result of increased competition affecting its projected cash flows. Discounting the effect of currency movements, EBITDA increased by 4.3% to €7.9 billion ($8.5 billion).

    Table 1: Vodafone's H1 (€M)

    2016 2015 Growth % (reported) Growth % (organic)
    Group revenue 27,054 28,151 -3.9
    Regional revenue
    Europe 17,543 18,240 -3.8
    AMAP 8,896 9,184 -3.1
    Operating loss/profit -4,702 1,115 n/a
    Loss for the financial period -5,003 -2,344 n/a
    Basic loss per share (18.38c) (9.43c) n/a
    Interim dividend per share 4.74c 4.65c 1.9
    Alternative performance measures
    Group service revenue 24,805 25,601 -3.1 2.3
    Europe 16,319 16,813 -2.9 0.6
    AMAP 7,991 8,181 -2.3 7.4
    EBITDA 7,906 8,039 -1.7 4.3
    Adjusted operating profit 2,283 2,281 0.1 11.4
    Adjusted earnings per share 3.08c 3.50c -12
    Free cash flow 15 -756 n/a
    Source: Vodafone

  • Belgium's Proximus claims it has achieved speeds of up to 70 Gbit/s in tests of 5G technology with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. In the run-up to the introduction of 5G proper, Proximus says it will roll out "4.5G" in a number of places in 2017, offering peak speeds of 450 Mbit/s.

  • And talking of 5G, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s latest Mobility Report predicts that by 2022 95% of mobile subscriptions in western Europe will be 4G- and 5G-based, though North America will lead the way with 550 million 5G subscriptions by the same year.

  • UK broadband and pay-TV provider TalkTalk appears to be back on track after its cybersecurity nightmare of a year or so ago when a substantial number of its customers reported that their bank accounts had been accessed after a cyber attack, and its share price plummeted as a result. In its latest half-year results, TalkTalk reports a 44% year-on-year growth in EBITDA to £130 million ($161.3 million), though revenue was actually down 1.1% to £902 million ($1.11 billion). (See TalkTalk Plummets on Security Woes.)

  • BT is targeting the enterprise with a couple of new launches. BT One Cloud Mobile is, as the name suggest, a cloud-based service that BT says allows those on the move secure access to the same collaboration tools as their office-bound colleagues, available on a "pay-per-user-per-month" basis. BT One Mobile Anywhere is based on a single EE SIM card and is intended to help organizations manage roaming costs clocked up by those on their payroll who are using data abroad for business purposes.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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