Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telekom Austria disappoints; Czech developments; SFR puts brakes on Viviendi.
Project Spring is in the air for Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), which has landed a five-year network upgrade contract with Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) as part of the operator's seasonally monikered investment program. The contract includes a revamp and extension of Vodafone's 2G and 3G networks as well as a build-out of 4G services. Various support services will also be included as part of the deal, the financial details of which were not revealed. Following Vodafone's announcement that it was selling its stake in Verizon Wireless for US$130 billion, the mobile giant said it would set aside more than $11 billion for a three-year capital expenditure splurge. (See Vodafone Ups 'Project Spring' Capex to $11B+.)
Telekom Austria AG (NYSE: TKA; Vienna: TKA), which is being eyed by Mexican telecom billionaire Carlos Slim, has posted fourth-quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) down 18% year-on-year to €262.3 million ($360.5 million), reports Bloomberg. The operator, which is still partly state-controlled, has faced regulatory pressures at home and challenging conditions in its Eastern European markets.
It's all happening in the Czech Republic, reports Reuters: Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF)'s Czech unit and T-Mobile Czech Republic a.s. are in talks about sharing their 4G networks nationwide (apart from the cities of Prague and Brno), while China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is to build new 4G networks for all three Czech mobile operators, including the two aforementioned plus Vodafone Czech Republic a.s. .
Shares in France's Vivendi fell more than 5% Tuesday reports the Financial Times (subscription required) following full-year figures that showed that its mobile unit, SFR , was still struggling in the face of competition, not least from cut-price rival Iliad (Euronext: ILD).
The UK government, which has come in for a lot of flak for the way in which it has handled the rollout of high-speed broadband, has announced how it intends to spend the £250 million ($417 million) it had set aside to improve broadband services in remote rural areas, reports the BBC. Local councils will have a month to decide how they are going to spend their share, which doesn't sound long. (See Euronews: UK's Broadband Plan Gets EU Nod and Great Britain? I Don't Think So.)
As from today, the video-streaming service LoveFilm is to be merged into Amazon's UK website, as part of its Amazon Prime fixed-price delivery service, and be re-branded Prime Instant Video. Existing subscribers to Amazon Prime will now find they have access to the LoveFilm roster of movies and TV content -- but on the downside, they will find that the price of their annual subscription to the Prime service, which frees them from paying individual postage costs on most Amazon orders, has been hiked from £49 ($82) to £79 ($132) when they come to renew their Prime subscriptions in February 2015. Consumer radio programs in the UK have already been crackling to the sound of disgruntled Prime users. Amazon took control of LoveFilm in 2011.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading