Eurobites: EE Tops UK Mobile Test, but Vodafone Snaps at Its Heels

Paul Rainford
1/14/2020

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodacom in talks with Cell C over prepaid customers; Openreach lowers free FTTP threshold for housebuilders; Boris Johnson talks Huawei.

  • Vodafone and EE are scrapping over the laurels of a mobile network test in the UK carried out by Umlaut, a (guess what?!) German consultancy. EE, owned by BT, wins the overall plaudits, being named "Best in Test" and taking the lead in all three categories, covering voice, data and "crowdsourced data" (the latter supposedly reflecting real user experience). Generally speaking, EE performed best in London and the other major cities. Vodafone, however, points out that it came top in Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester, and draws attention to the fact that the study showed it beat EE in city-based "walk tests" of mobile data use. O2 and Three, the other two main UK mobile operators, came third and fourth respectively.

  • South Africa's Vodacom is in discussions with struggling smaller rival Cell C about taking on its postpaid mobile customers, according to a Bloomberg report. Cell C has just over 1 million postpaid customers and the deal, if it goes ahead, would consolidate Vodacom's position as South Africa's number one mobile operator.

  • Good news for UK housebuilders: Openreach, the quasi-autonomous network access arm of BT, has lowered the threshold of qualification for its free fiber installation. Previously, only new housing developments of 30 houses or more qualified for Openreach's free FTTP installation; this has now been reduced to developments of 20 houses or more. According to Openreach, 99% of qualifying sites have registered for free FTTP installation since the scheme's launch in 2016.

  • In the latest twist of the UK's take on Huaweigate, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that those who have a problem with Britain letting Huawei loose in its 5G network -- i.e. the Trump administration -- need to come up with viable alternatives to the problematic Chinese vendor. "The British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology … If people oppose one brand or another then they have to tell us what is the alternative, right?" Johnson said in a TV interview with the BBC. Yesterday (Monday), a US delegation led by Matt Pottinger, the National Security Advisor, presented the UK government with a dossier of what it claimed was new evidence about the supposed risks posed by Huawei. (See Letting Huawei Into 5G Is 'Madness,' US Warns UK – Reports, Huawei Ban in UK Still on the Table and Eurobites: UK's Spook-in-Chief Isn't Frightened of Huawei Effect.)

  • Italy has its first "5G Academy," courtesy of Capgemini and the University of Naples Federico II, with a little help from TIM (Telecom Italia) and Internet of Things specialist PTC. The six-month course will offer places to 30 undergraduates and graduates from different disciplines, and those who shine will have the opportunity to be hired within Transformation Consulting, Capgemini's business unit in Italy dedicated to the dark arts of digital transformation.

  • UK-based Colt Technology Services has extended its collaboration with Microsoft and Interxion, adding support for Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute connectivity capabilities to the "Amsterdam2" point of presence (PoP), located at the Interxion data center in the Netherlands. The expansion is targeted primarily at SAP customers migrating their on-premises environments to the cloud.

  • German FTTH specialist Deutsche Glasfaser has expanded its debt financing facilities to €1.8 billion (US$2 billion), attracting the support of 16 institutions. The funds will finance its ongoing fiber rollout program, which will see it pass more than 1 million premises this year. The operator, which focuses mainly on non-urban areas and offers a range of broadband service packages with speeds of between 300 Mbit/s and 1 Gbit/s, has already passed 630,000 German households in more than 400 German municipalities and connected and activated service for more than 5,000 businesses. For more details, see this press release (in German).

  • MLL Telecom, which provides managed network services for the UK public sector, has appointed Shaun Ledgerwood as its new CEO. He succeeds Gary Marven, who is retiring after ten years' service with the company but will remain a director. Ledgerwood has worked in the telecom sector for 20 years in Europe, Asia and North America.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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