Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Virgin Media fears repercussions of BT/EE merger; French auction bid details; fiber-to-the-second-home?
Orange (NYSE: FTE) has provided an update on its plans for the Internet of Things (IoT), revealing that its LoRa (Long Range) network, which is tailored to IoT applications, will be deployed in 17 urban areas during the first quarter of 2016, ranging from Lens in the north to Marseille in the south. The French giant has also committed to IoT network trials with Ericsson, focusing on how to achieve coverage in difficult areas, such as basements, and on sensor life. There will be two parallel trials, one involving EC-GSM (Extended Coverage) technology, and the other, in partnership with Sequans Communications , using low-cost, simple devices and half-duplex LTE FDD. Earlier this year Orange was one of a group of operators investing in Actility , a company developing OSS and BSS tools for managing and monetizing LoRa IoT networks and services (See Eurobites: Orange Backs LoRa for IoT Network and Telcos Invest in IoT Tech Startup.)
UK cable giant Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) is worried that BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and EE will jack up their mobile wholesale fees following their £12.5 billion ($18.8 billion) merger early next year, according to a report from The Telegraph newspaper. In a submission to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority, the Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) subsidiary accused authorities of failing to recognize the risks of that deal to an MVNO such as Virgin Media, which rents space on EE's network to provide services. The complaints come several weeks after Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media's CEO, said the BT/EE merger would leave too much valuable spectrum in the hands of one company. They could also increase the pressure on Virgin Media to find alternatives to its MVNO relationship with EE. Eager to wean itself off MVNO deals where possible, Liberty Global recently agreed to buy KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN)'s Belgian mobile subsidiary and entered into asset-swap talks with Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD). While those proved fruitless, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has recently hinted the door remains open to a future negotiation. (See Vodafone Rules Out Emerging-Markets Spin-Off, Vodafone, Liberty Call Off Asset-Swap Talks, Vodafone in Asset-Swap Talks With Liberty, Liberty Global Keen on Vodafone Tie-Up – Report, Telenet Buys KPN's BASE in $1.4B Deal, Virgin Media Boss Attacks BT/EE Deal and BT Locks Down £12.5B EE Takeover Deal.)
French regulator Arcep has published the full "who got what and for how much" stats regarding the just-completed 700MHz auction. The results, in order of bid size, are as follows: Free Mobile got two blocks of 10MHz for a bid of €932,734,001 ($987.3 million); Orange got two blocks of 10MHz for €933,078,323 ($987.6 million); Bouygues Telecom got two blocks of 5MHz for €467,164,000 ($494.4 million); and SFR got two blocks of 5MHz for €466,000,000 ($493.2 million). The 700MHz spectrum, used for 4G services, is prized for its ability to carry mobile traffic over long distances and inside buildings.
Irish operator eir (formerly eir ) appears to be back on the straight and narrow after some tough times: Fiscal first-quarter revenues were up 4% year-on-year, to €325 million ($344 million), while EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) rose 6% to €120 million ($127 million), in what is the third consecutive quarter of EBITDA growth for the operator. During the quarter eir launched FTTH services offering downlink speeds of 1 Gbit/s.
Gigaclear , the UK fiber infrastructure company, has launched what it claims is Britain's fastest broadband service for homes and businesses, with downlink speeds of 5 Gbit/s. The service, which is currently in trials and will be made available to all Gigaclear customers in early 2016, will cost £399 ($602) a month for households and £1,500 ($2,262) a month for businesses. Gigaclear has more than 25 rural villages live across the UK, predominantly in the Midlands and the South East. But which rural households will pay that sort of money? Is this, perhaps, FTT2H (fiber-to-the-second-home), for wealthy city-dwellers at their weekend bolt-holes? (See UK's Gigaclear Raises $46M for Rural Gigabit.)
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has announced a cooperation agreement with the Car Connectivity Consortium, under the terms of which ETSI will formally explore adopting the consortium's MirrorLink car-smartphone connectivity technology.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading