Eurobites: Ericsson & Friends Put Their 5G Foot Down

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telefónica and Huawei explore 5G UCNC; Virgin buys Irish broadcaster; MegaFon in talks to buy Mail.ru.

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has cranked the handle on a "5G motorway" project that sees the vendor teaming up with other operators and car makers to create a dedicated 5G test network in in the 700-MHz band along Germany's A9 motorway and the high-speed rail track between Nuremberg and Greding. The infrastructure is already completed in some sections, so live tests can begin immediately.

  • Telefónica 's plan to sell stakes in its O2 UK mobile network and Telxius towers business could be back on track following the Spanish giant's reduction of its dividend last month. As the Financial Times reports (subscription required), the move has strengthened its hand with potential investors, though Ángel Vilá, Telefónica's chief strategy and finance officer, told a conference in Barcelona that the operator wouldn't be rushing into anything. Telefónica is one of the most heavily indebted operators in Europe, and had hoped to address this problem partly through the planned sale of O2 UK to Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (Hong Kong: 0013; Pink Sheets: HUWHY), but the deal was blocked by European regulatory authorities. (See Telefónica Cuts Payouts to Combat Debt and Brexit Batters Telefónica's O2 Sale Plans.)

  • Away from the accounting department, Telefónica is trumpeting what it says is the world's first proof-of-concept test of 5G UCNC (user centric and no cell) RAN (radio access network) architecture. The test was carried out with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. in their 5G Joint Innovation Lab. According to Telefónica, UCNC can "dramatically reduce the over-the-air protocol signaling overhead and the access protocol latency."

  • T-Mobile Netherlands has begun rolling out three-band carrier aggregation, in which half of 3G spectrum is used for 4G services, making speeds of up to 300 Mbit/s possible. Another 450 towers have been deployed as part of the rollout.

  • UK-based cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) has been given the regulatory go-ahead for its acquisition of UTV Ireland, the republic's newest free-to-air broadcaster. The move follows Virgin's acquisition last year of TV3, another Irish broadcaster.

  • Russian operator MegaFon is in talks to buy a stake in Internet company Mail.ru, Bloomberg reports. The report adds that the pair have been discussing the possibility of jointly developing products for mobile subscribers.

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has announced updates to its Motive Customer eXperience Solutions (CXS) OSS software, tweaks which it says provide communications service providers with "advanced machine learning capabilities" that will help them shave costs and keep their customers satisfied. Motive SMP 7.0 helps providers determine the ideal sequence of tasks for resolving billing matters, while Motive CAL 2.0 identifies call anomalies.

  • The UK's Advertising Standards Authority is calling for a change in the way potential broadband speeds are advertised, citing new research which it says reinforces its belief that customers are being misled by "up to" claims from broadband providers. A separate body, the Committees of Advertising Practice, is to review its guidance on the issue, and will report its results in spring 2017. So one day something may happen.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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