Eurobites: BT Attacks 'Orwellian' Rivals

In today's EMEA regional round-up: BT's CEO disses his broadband rivals; Sky launches superfast broadband; HMD Global recruits Rantala as CMO; EU proposes spectrum-licensing changes; Argela demos network slicing.

  • Tension between BT and the UK's other broadband players continues to mount. Gavin Patterson, the CEO of BT BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), is said to have lashed out at the tactics of Sky , TalkTalk and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) in a letter seen by the Financial Times.

    Patterson appears to have written to his rivals complaining about the "Orwellian" nature of a recent advertising campaign in which the three companies accused BT of spending billions on rights to screen top-flight soccer matches while neglecting broadband infrastructure. According to the FT, BT's rivals have hit back in their own letter to Patterson, pointing out that the UK lags behind countries -- including Turkey, Mexico and Poland -- on fiber deployment. BT continues to face calls for a "structural separation" that would divide its Openreach infrastructure arm from the rest of its business, although regulators recently ruled out such a drastic move. (See BT Clings On to Openreach – Just.)

  • Sticking with UK broadband, Sky has launched a 76Mbit/s fiber-based service that puts it on a par with BT when it comes to connection speeds. Like most of the UK's other big broadband players, Sky relies on its wholesale relationship with Openreach, BT's access networks business, to provide broadband services, but has been among the fixed-line incumbent's fiercest critics. The 78Mbit/s service is twice as fast as Sky's previous top-of-the-range offer and comes with no restrictions on usage.

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) devices licensee HMD Global has appointed Pekka Rantala as its new chief marketing officer. Rantala was formerly CEO of Rovio Entertainment, the company behind the popular Angry Birds game, and will initially focus on recruiting a marketing team that can popularize the Nokia brand among a new generation of device users. Based in Finland, HMD secured a major deal with Nokia earlier this year that will see it market and sell a range of gadgets bearing the Nokia brand.

    The move was heralded as something of a return to the handset business for Nokia -- which quit that market in 2014 through the sale of its devices business to Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) -- although Chinese hardware giant Foxconn Electronics Inc. will be the manufacturer of the phones that HMD sells. Besides having led Rovio, Rantala previously spent about 17 years at Nokia's mobile phone business. (See Nokia Plays It Smart With Major Mobile Devices Brand Deal.)

  • Spectrum licenses awarded across the European Union could be valid for at least 25 years in the future under new rules, according to a report from Reuters. The proposal appears aimed at improving certainty for investors and is due to be published next month, says the report. Although it could be endorsed as soon as 2018, it risks hitting resistance from EU member states keen to avoid giving up control of spectrum resources, which they have previously sold for lucrative sums during auctions. Nevertheless, such rules could help to improve coordination between European countries amid concern the region could fall behind North America and Asia in the 5G era.

  • Turkey's Argela claims to have carried out a successful demonstration of 5G network slicing based on its M-CORD reference platform. Having participated in ON.Lab 's M-CORD (mobile central office rearchitected as a datacenter) initiative, the company has developed an M-CORD operational rack that it used during a network slicing proof of concept. Network slicing takes advantage of software and virtualization technologies to support different on-demand offerings over a single network.

    "It is crucial to develop 5G to appear as a 'single system' that can meet diverse requirements and also ensure the network remains profitable for the operator," said Bülent Kaytaz, Argela's CEO, in a statement. The company's announcement comes after telco giants Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) this week announced an extension of their 5G partnership that will include collaboration in the M-CORD area. (See Verizon, SK Telecom Extend 5G Partnership.)

    — Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

  • Mitch Wagner 8/16/2016 | 4:48:37 PM
    "Orwellian" Not seeing how the claims are "Orwellian," but whatevs, as the young people are no doubt no longer saying. Hate to let precision of language get in the way of marketing hype. 
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