Eurobites: Nokia Lands Major 4G Deals

Also in today's roundup: Sky bangs the 'split BT' drum; operators talk of mixing open source with proprietary cloud technology; an update on 3's profitability.

  • Nokia Networks has snagged major 4G deals with China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) and Qatari incumbent Ooredoo ahead of its €15.6 billion (US$17.8 billion) takeover of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), which it expects to complete in the first half of 2016. Under the China Mobile deal, the Finnish vendor will provide TDD-based LTE-Advanced technology, which supports faster connection speeds than LTE. China Mobile aims to have deployed 1 million base stations by the end of this year as it looks to maintain its 4G lead over competing service providers China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU) and China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA). Nokia appears to have beaten off competition from rival Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) to become China Mobile's biggest vendor from outside China and may be an even bigger force in China following its acquisition of AlcaLu. The five-year framework agreement with the Ooredoo Group is for the provision of mobile broadband infrastructure and professional services across the operator's footprint in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. (See Nokia Sees Off Non-Chinese Rivals for China Telecom 4G Work and Nokia Faces Mobile Shakeout Post AlcaLu Deal.)

  • UK pay-TV giant Sky has urged Ofcom to consider the structural separation of fixed-line incumbent BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) in its response to the regulator's strategic review of the communications market. In a lengthy paper published on its website, Sky listed various benefits of splitting BT's Openreach access networks business from its retail arm, arguing it might give alternative operators an incentive to invest in FTTH networks, lessen the need for so much regulatory oversight and boost broadband competition. Last week, BT said its structural separation would have dire consequences for the UK's digital economy, threatening to withhold investments in higher-speed broadband technologies unless regulation remains to its liking. Ofcom is conducting the first major strategic review of the market in a decade in response to recent takeover moves and the rollout of higher-speed broadband services. (See No Case for Openreach Separation – BT.)

  • During discussions about SDN and NFV at this week's SDN Openflow World Congress in Dusseldorf, Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) emphasized the importance of being able to continue using proprietary technologies in the products they will provide over new open-source infrastructure. "We have to be able to differentiate," said Axel Clauberg, Deutsche Telekom's vice president of aggregation, transport, IP and fixed access. David Amzallag, Vodafone's head of virtualization, NFV and SDN, echoed those sentiments, saying the operator had "no plans to have open-source-based products." Open source communities and the need for NFV and SDN technologies that allow operators to avoid being locked into a single vendor's products have been a major topic of conversation at the event.

  • Hutchison Whampoa-owned 3, the smallest of the UK's four network operators, was reported by the Financial Times (subscription required) to have grown its pre-tax profits by more than one third last year, to £282 million, after abandoning a strategy of luring customers to low-cost packages including generous data allowances. The operator is hoping to complete a £10.25 billion takeover of rival Telefónica UK, the country's second-biggest mobile operator, but the deal has yet to secure the approval of competition authorities.

  • Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) has announced plans to switch off its 2G mobile network in 2020 "in order to obtain sufficient frequencies and capacity for future customer needs with regard to telephony and data communication."

  • Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. says it has completed Virtual CPE Proof of Concept (PoC) testing in BT's NFV lab at Adastral Park, UK, and will now move to live testing with the UK operator. For more details, see this press release.

    — Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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