Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ericsson, MTN extend mobile-money partnership; CityFibre appoints new chief operating officer; extra protection for UK broadband buyers.
Germany is sending signals that it, unlike a number of other European countries, might be cool with Huawei playing a part in the rollout of its 5G networks. As the Financial Times reports (subscription required), Arne Schönbohm, the head of Germany's national cybersecurity agency, has suggested that Germany could allow Huawei to supply gear for the country's 5G rollout on condition the Chinese authorities give some further assurances on data security -- what is being dubbed a "no spy" deal. (See Where Huawei Fears to Tread.)
Ericsson and MTN have extended their mobile-money partnership for another five years, with a view to launching new products and managed services throughout MTN's markets in Africa and the Middle East. Among these will be the Ericsson Wallet Platform, which allows users to store, transfer or withdraw money, pay bills and take out loans via their smartphones.
UK fiber network operator CityFibre has appointed former Goldman Sachs partner Simon Holden as its group chief operating officer. While at Goldman, Holden held a number of top jobs in its Telecom, Media and Technology banking team. CityFibre is thinking big: In December it secured a £1.12 billion (US$1.48 billion) debt package from seven financial institutions to expand its existing fiber networks in 37 UK towns and cites as part of a wider £2.5 billion ($3.3 billion) investment plan. (See Eurobites: CityFibre Secures £1.12B for Fiber Rollout.)
As from today, those shopping around for broadband in the UK must be told how fast -- in realistic, not vague "up to" terms -- their service will be before they sign a contract, and if the service fails to live up to the advertised speed customers will be free to walk away from the contract without incurring a penalty. This "right to exit" also applies to landline and TV packages bought at the same time as broadband. The new protections form part of a new Code of Practice introduced by communications regulator Ofcom.
The latest broadband "scoreboard" released by French regulator Arcep reveals that fiber is making good headway, with the number of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connections rising by 485,000 in the fourth quarter of 2018. As of December 31, 2018, the number of end-to-end fiber access lines in France totaled 4.8 million, 1.5 million than the year before.
Belgium's Proximus saw full-year 2018 EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) rise 2.4% year-on-year, to €1.86 billion. Over the course of the year it added 43,000 fixed Internet customers, 50,000 new TV customers and 134,000 mobile postpaid customers, but lost 108,000 fixed voice lines.