Also in today's regional roundup: The battle for SFR heats up; LTE expansion in UAE; mobile tower funding in Africa; and Middle East action for TeliaSonera IC.
BASE , the Belgian subsidiary of KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN), has conducted a field trial of LTE-Advanced, achieving downlink speeds of more than 250 Mbit/s, the operator has announced. Working with its radio access network (RAN) technology supplier ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763), BASE used 2x20MHz Carrier Aggregation along with 2x2 multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) smart antenna technology. For customers, such speeds mean a 10 MBytes file can be downloaded in less than one second, compared with the 90 seconds it would have taken 30 months ago, stated BASE CTO Suzanne Kelder in an official announcement. Europe is, in general, trailing Asia/Pacific and North America in terms of 4G rollouts and developments, and the same applies for LTE-Advanced, with BASE being one of the first operators in Europe to trial the next generation of 4G. (See BASE Launches 4G in Belgium, EE Switches On LTE-Advanced in UK, CSL Ramps Its LTE-A to 300 Mbit/s , Verizon Gearing Up for LTE-Advanced Services? and SK Telecom Claims 225Mbit/s 4G LTE.)
French cable operator Numericable-SFR and its parent Altice are preparing to offer Vivendi €11 billion (US$15.2 billion) in cash as part of an offer that would see Numericable merge with French telco SFR , according to this Bloomberg article. Numericable isn't the only company interested in SFR's fixed and mobile services business, as Iliad (Euronext: ILD) (best known for its Free brand in France) and Bouygues Telecom are also believed to be considering an offer.
Etisalat is expanding the reach of its 4G radio access network with gear from Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). The United Arab Emirates (UAE) operator plans to introduce evolved Multimedia Broadcast Service (eMBMS) and cloud services over its 4G network during 2014, following the network expansion. The two companies first announced their 4G relationship in late 2011. (See Etisalat Expands 4G with Alcatel-Lucent and Euronews: Etisalat Tunes to AlcaLu's lightRadio.)
IHS Holding Ltd., which manages and leases mobile towers across Africa, has raised $490 million -- through the sale of equity ($420 million) and securing debt ($70 million) -- to fund its expansion. The company, which has raised $1.5 billion during the past 12 months, further expanded its network in December 2013 through the acquisition of 1,228 towers in Rwanda and Zambia from MTN Group Ltd. , and will use its new funds for further acquisitions and to build new towers. (See France Telecom Outsources African Towers.)
Telia Carrier is adding two new points of presence (PoPs) to better meet growing demand for connectivity to and from the Middle East and Africa. One PoP is in Dubai, in a facility run by datamena, a carrier-neutral datacenter set up in 2012 by Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. (du) . TIC has also forged a partnership with Ooredoo, which will operate and manage a PoP in Doha, Qatar, for TIC.
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading