Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Orange agrees towers deal for rural France coverage; Ofcom proposes "locked" phones ban; Ericsson claims breakthrough with VoNR trial; Deutsche Telekom acquires chunk of gaming company.
Is Huawei about to be eased out of Telefónica's European 5G core networks? That's the suggestion of a Reuters report, citing the Spanish operator's CTIO, Enrique Blanco, which says that Telefónica is to massively reduce the amount of Huawei gear it buys in the future, turning more to the Chinese vendor's rivals instead. Blanco, however, is playing down the political aspects of the strategy, claiming that the move away from Huawei is a "purely technical decision," adding that when "the core comes from a single vendor, the probability is high that a failure in one part stops the whole network." (See Trump is losing the European war against Huawei.)
Orange has agreed a five-year deal with ATC France, a subsidiary of American Tower Corporation, for the deployment of between 900 and 2,000 new mobile network sites located mainly in rural areas and along transport routes. The deal represents an extension of an existing arrangement between the two companies, which have been working together since 2012. Orange currently has 25,000 mobile radio sites in France, including 17,000 on fully owned infrastructure.
Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, is proposing new rules that would ban the sale of "locked" phones. Several companies, BT/EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone among them, still sell handsets that cannot be used on other networks unless they are "unlocked," which can cost around £10 (US$13) and be an irksome process. Ofcom's research found that nearly half of all customers who try to unlock their device find it difficult, with long delays, dodgy codes and loss of service not uncommon. For more on what this could mean for the UK's mobile operators, see this story on our sister site, Telecoms.com.
Ericsson is claiming an industry first with what it says was the successful completion of a voice-over-New-Radio (VoNR) interoperability test in combination with MediaTek. The test was carried out at the Ericsson Lab in Kista in early December, using bits and bobs from Ericsson and a Dimensity 1000 commercial chipset from MediaTek deployed on a 3.5GHz TDD band.
Deutsche Telekom is pouring more money into gaming (or "e-sports" if you prefer), with the acquisition of a 25% holding in Cologne-based SK Gaming. According to the operator, this is the first time a telco has invested directly in an e-sports company.
Next Layer, an Austrian communications service provider, has gone with Smartoptics' DCP-M40 open line system in preparation for a 400G network upgrade in 2020.
Belgium's Proximus has renewed its partnership with broadcaster VRT via the operator's unpronounceable Pickx digital TV platform. Paul Lembrechts, CEO of VRT, said in a statement: "With its offer, the VRT wants to reach all Flemings in the best and most user-friendly way possible." That's this guy's holiday viewing sorted.