Eurobites: Sky Prefers Openreach to Ducts, Says BT CEO

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ericsson upgrades MTN in Ghana; Vodafone drives online learning in Africa; webmail mega-hack in Russia.

  • UK pay-TV giant Sky has expressed little interest in building its own fiber network using BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s ducts and poles, preferring to maintain its wholesale arrangements with the telecom incumbent, according to BT CEO Gavin Patterson. "Sky said in its own results that using Openreach [BT's access networks business] was probably the right way forward and that DPA [ducts and poles access] was probably not right for them," Patterson told analysts during BT's Capital Markets Day earlier today. "We'll make it available at the right price point and make it more serviceable but if people don't take it up it's probably because the alternatives are better." Hoping to mollify regulatory authorities that want BT to offer both DPA and dark fiber products under more favorable terms, the operator today promised to invest £6 billion ($8.7 billion) in the rollout of high-speed fixed and mobile networks over the next three years, including the deployment of fiber-to-the-premises technology to around 2 million homes. Patterson said BT had "not been bowled over by demand" for DPA since launching it five years ago, insisting this was because BT's wholesale fiber offer was more attractive to rivals but acknowledging that service improvements needed to be made on the DPA side. BT's latest investment announcement has already met with a hostile reception from rivals including Sky, which is still urging regulators to carve up BT, and fiber network operator CityFibre . "This announcement is simply a reluctant response by a sluggish incumbent to the tightening noose of regulatory scrutiny," said Greg Mesch, CityFibre's CEO, in an emailed statement. "While intended to grab headlines on infrastructure commitment, BT's announcement is largely signposting continued deployment of outmoded technology." (See BT to Cover 2M Homes With FTTP in $8.7B Plan.)

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has got the nod from MTN Group Ltd. for the deployment of a new LTE network in the Greater Accra region of Ghana. Under the terms of the agreement, Ericsson will install its mixed-mode radio technology, which supports GSM/EDGE, WCDMA/HSPA and LTE. MTN Ghana has around 16 million subscribers.

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), through its Vodafone Foundation, has launched its Instant Schools for Africa initiative, offering millions of young people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania free access to online learning materials. Children, educators and others who are customers of Vodafone or its African subsidiaries will not incur any mobile data charges when accessing the program's educational resources.

    Having fun while learning in a Vodafone Foundation Instant Classroom.
    Having fun while learning in a Vodafone Foundation Instant Classroom.

  • On a less heartwarming note, Reuters reports that Russian criminals are trading hacked logins and passwords from more than 272 million webmail accounts, according to a security expert. Alex Holt, founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security, says that the majority of the users of Mail.ru, Russia's favorite email service, are affected, while a significant number of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft webmail users have also been targeted.

  • Sigfox , the French IoT connectivity specialist, is extending its global network to 100 US cities before the end of the year. The company, which relies on low-power, wide-area (LPWA) technology, has done deals with the owners of a variety of sites across the country, including tower, rooftop and billboard sites, to facilitate the positioning of the necessary infrastructure. (See The Wolf at Sigfox's Door.)

  • Ziggo B.V. , the Dutch cable operator, has added Chromecast and Airplay to its Horizon Go app, reports Broadband TV News. The move will allow users to stream Horizon Go's live channels to their TV sets.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • Joe Stanganelli 5/7/2016 | 8:27:53 AM
    Gonna take me a lot to take me away from you Africa is really a terrific emerging market for new connectivity and communications services -- and, in particular, has an increasingly huge IoT demand because of industries like oil & gas.  Compared to the overburdened-by-regulation EU, I think the African market will continue to be very exciting and full of opportunity.
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