Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodafone's 'Gigafast' broadband is switched on in Milton Keynes; Orange and Huawei trial 5G in Poland; Ofcom nabs BT boffin.
Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is planning to double the number of European cell sites in its 5G NB-IoT network footprint by the end of 2019 to keep up with demand from its enterprise customers. Once this phase of expansion is complete, the network will be available in ten European countries (at the moment it's in seven). Outside Europe, the operator will also expand its existing NB-IoT networks in South Africa and Turkey.
In other Vodafone news, the operator's previously announced near-gigabit broadband service in the UK city of Milton Keynes is being made available as from Friday. Initially, the "Gigafast" service, which rides on the network built by altnet CityFibre , will be able to serve more than 3,700 homes in the city, offering download speeds ranging from 100 Mbit/s to 900 Mbit/s. Prices will be slightly cheaper for Vodafone's existing mobile customers -- they will be able to get the top tier for £43 (US$56) a month, as opposed to £48 ($62) for everyone else. (See Vodafone Gets Set for Gigafast Assault on BT.)
On a less positive note, Vodafone has had its latest range of TV and radio broadband ads banned by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK. As the BBC reports, the standards body considered the ads made false promises regarding the service in terms of download speeds and compensation if the quality of service fell below expectations. A spokeswoman from Vodafone said that the ASA had "misunderstood" the ads.
Orange Polska and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd are working together on real-world 5G trials, using massive MIMO technology. The trials, based in the Polish city of Gliwice, are significant because the Chinese vendor had not been named as an Orange 5G partner in trials until now.
Ofcom , the UK telecom regulator, has appointed former Mansoor Hanif as its new CTO. Hanif was most recently director of the Converged Networks Research Lab at BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), though before that he had spells at Vodafone and Orange.
Telecom Italia (TIM) has announced that its chief commercial officer, Pietro Scott Jovane, is leaving the company for "personal reasons." Jovane has undertaken not to carry out activities in competition with TIM's business for a specific period of time.
UK pay-TV giant Sky (NYSE, London: SKY) has struck a deal with broadcaster Channel 4 that will see highlights of all Formula 1 motor racing and live coverage of the British Grand Prix appearing on Channel 4. For its part, Sky will get access to full "box sets" of selected Channel 4 and "Walter Presents" foreign-language drama series.