Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodafone going steady; Nokia's reasons to be cheerful; eir pulls out of Ireland's National Broadband Plan.
BT's Openreach is responding to the challenge from the likes of CityFibre, Gigaclear and Virgin Media by launching what it's calling its Fibre First program, which will see it increase its existing fiber-to-the-premises target by 50% to reach 3 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020. It also says it could go "significantly beyond" its pre-stated aim of having a 10-million-strong FTTP footprint by the mid-2020s, but only "if the conditions are right," which still leaves some wriggle room. Initially, building work will begin eight cities, namely Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.
It's steady as she goes at Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), which has reported a 3.6% dip in fiscal third-quarter revenues to €11.8 billion (US$14.6 billion). That dip was mainly due to the deconsolidation of Vodafone Netherlands, which is now in a joint venture with Ziggo, and a negative impact from foreign exchange movements. Organic service revenue (with deconsolidation and FX impacts stripped out) grew 1.1% to €10.2 billion ($12.6 billion). "An improved performance at Vodacom helped to offset a more promotional quarter in some European countries, particularly in Spain," said group CEO Vittorio Colao. "While the competitive and regulatory environment in India remains intense, we continue to make good progress in securing the required approvals for the merger with Idea Cellular, and we have taken steps to strengthen the combined company’s financial position. Overall, this consistent performance underpins our confidence that we will meet our guidance for the full year." See Vodafone's press release for the full details.
It was a mixed picture for Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) in its fourth-quarter financials, with reported revenues falling 1% to €6.67 billion ($8.26 billion) but a rise in the vendor's operating margin to 15.1% and other reasons for Nokia to be cheerful across its many and varied lines of business, not least in the mobile broadband department. (See Nokia Outperforms Ericsson in Mobile but Sees Margin Pressure.)
Irish incumbent eir has pulled out of the tender process for the country's National Broadband Plan (NBP), saying that, in the face of increasing complexity and growing uncertainty on a range of regulatory issues, "the risks are too great" for its continued participation in the project. The operator says it will, however, continue to support the NBP process through enabling commercial access to its infrastructure.
Telecom Italia (TIM) has hooked up with Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) to collaborate on the development of an "innovative cloud-oriented infrastructure," that will draw on the principles of automation and virtualization. The operator is hoping in particular that the partnership will help prepare its FutureNET and Ultrabroadband customer network platforms for the advent of 5G and IoT.
Denmark's TDC Group saw full-year EBITDA fall 3.5% to 8.2 billion Danish kroner ($1.3 billion), on revenue that fell 3.3% to DKK20.3 billion ($3.4 billion). Despite the slippage, Group CEO Pernille Erenbjerg declared herself satisfied with the results, and pointed to the growth of TDC's mobile business on its home turf -- 56,000 mobile customers were added during the year.
TDC has also announced its merger with MTG Nordics, bringing channels such as YouSee, Get, Viasat, TV3 and Viaplay into the TDC fold. The transaction values MTG Nordics at 19.55 billion Swedish kronor ($2.4 billion). Pernille Erenbjerg will be group CEO for the combined company, while Anders Jensen of MTG Nordics will be her deputy.
MTS subsidiary VF Ukraine, which operates as Vodafone Ukraine, has secured a 4G license in the 2510-2520MHz/2630-2640MHz band in the national auction. The operator anticipates being able to launch 4G services in Ukraine's largest cities by the end of March.