Eurobites: MTS Claims LTE-A Pro World First

In today's roundup: MTS ups the 4G ante; Ericsson strikes 5G NR partnership; Vivendi gives Mediaset's stock a boost; ECI lands Dutch optical deal; and Reynolds joins eir's board.

  • Russian operator Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) is claiming to be the first in the world to offer mobile broadband services over an aggregated FDD and TDD network with the launch of LTE-A Pro (4.5G) network capabilities in four cities (Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Ufa and Yakutsk). The operator says its 4.5G services will be able to deliver speeds of up to 700 Mbit/s thanks to the aggregation of LTE FDD 1800 MHz + LTE TDD 2600 MHz frequencies, the deployment of 4x4 MIMO antennas and the use of 256 QAM modulation. So the networks are ready but as is often the case the device manufacturers are playing catch-up, as MTS is not expecting smartphones that support LTE-A Pro to hit the streets until 2017. Find out more by reading the MTS launch blog and the coverage on our sister site Telecoms.com -- MTS launches 700 Mbps LTE-A Pro. With 5G still years away, the deployment of LTE-A Pro capabilities is set to be widespread: Italian operator TIM recently announced Europe's first 4.5G network launch, noting that the Sony Xperia XZ was ready to support its service. (See Nokia Boasts 4.5G Momentum With 110 Deals and 5G on Track but Fragmentation Still a Concern.)

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) is teaming up with South Korean operator SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) and chip giant Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) to "conduct interoperability testing and over-the-air field trials" based on the 5G New Radio (NR) specifications currently under development by the 3GPP. The Swedish vendor recently boasted it had developed the first radio access network equipment that will conform to the NR specs. (See Qualcomm, Ericsson, SKT Team on 5G NG Trials and Ericsson Kickstarts 5G RAN Arms Race.)

  • French media giant Vivendi has increased the pressure on the board of Mediaset S.p.A. by increasing its stake in the Italian broadcaster to nearly 30%. The two companies had agreed a "strategic and industrial partnership" earlier this year but that turned sour, according to this announcement from Vivendi. As an alternative, the French company is boosting its stake in Mediaset up to the 30% mandatory bid limit. Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who founded Mediaset and whose Fininvest company owns a 40% voting stake in the broadcaster, has condemned Vivendi's move as hostile, according to this Bloomberg report. Vivendi's aim is to become one of the giants of European digital media, but that plan has been hard to implement during 2016. And Mediaset's stock is getting more expensive as Vivendi's increases its stake: The Italian broadcaster's share price is up 18% Tuesday morning to €4.25. (See Vivendi Still 'Hopeful' of Becoming Europe's Netflix.)

  • ECI Telecom Ltd. is to supply SURFnet , the Dutch National Research and Education Network, with its "Apollo high speed optical transport solution coupled with a 100G blade and new collector ROADMs" for deployment in 2017. (See ECI Chosen to Provide New Optical Layer for the SURFNet Network.)

  • Ireland's national operator eir is adding new board members ahead of its plans for a possible IPO, reports The Financial Times. The operator, though, is still working on improving its financial situation and doesn't expect to be offering any shares until 2018. Among the new board members is Paul Reynolds, former CEO of Telecom New Zealand and CEO of BT Wholesale. (See Reynolds Leaving BT to Run TNZ.)

  • Telia Carrier has struck a deal with German IT and comms services specialist Savecall, which will provide brokering and consulting services and act as a reseller of Telia Carrier's complete suite of IP, Wavelength and Ethernet services in Germany. "Savecall's expertise in the distribution of wholesale telecommunications service makes them the perfect partner for Telia Carrier," stated Phuong Nguyen, Channel & Business Development, Telia Carrier, in an official statement.

    — Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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