Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Deutsche Telekom tells Nokia to shape up; Orange to spend €1.5 billion on retraining exercise; Cellnex boosts coverage at Etihad Stadium.
The UK/US "special relationship" took a bit of a battering last week, it has emerged, as Donald Trump used a phone call to give UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson both barrels over the UK's decision to allow Huawei into its 5G networks, albeit in a limited way. According to the Financial Times (paywall applies), Trump was "apoplectic" with his fellow blond rabble-rouser, and UK officials were said to be taken aback by the steam emerging from the White House. The Trump administration, of course, regards Huawei as a security risk, and has spent the last few months trying to persuade other countries to share this view. (See Only One Clear Winner From UK's Huawei Ruling – China, Tough UK Limits on Huawei's Role in 5G Threaten Telco Plans and Eurobites: Pompeo Flies in to Bend Boris's Ear Over Huaweigate (Again).)
And in not unrelated matters, Reuters reports that Deutsche Telekom has told Nokia that it needs to pull its finger out if it wants to win back more 5G network contracts from the German incumbent. According to internal management documents seen by Reuters, Deutsche Telekom has, in the face of restrictions on its use of Huawei, decided to give Nokia another stab at fixing their working relationship. The German government has to date been wavering in its attitude to Huawei, repeatedly failing to reach a decision on whether it thinks the Chinese vendor is a threat to national security or not. (See Germany Keeps World Guessing on Huawei.)
Orange is to invest €1.5 billion (US$1.6 billion) in a retraining program for its 148,000 employees worldwide. The operator wants to beef up its tech expertise in areas such as network virtualization and artificial intelligence, and give every employee the opportunity to develop their "soft skills." In a worrying sidenote for Orange's middle-aged employees, the company says that by 2025 its workforce will be "more international, more focused on B2B and younger."
Spain-based Cellnex, which capped an eight-month M&A blitz with the acquisition of Omtel from Altice Europe last month, has deployed a distributed antenna system (DAS) at the Etihad Stadium, home to English soccer royalty Manchester City. It is hoped that the new infrastructure will improve the 4G experience for Vodafone and O2 customers visiting the stadium. (See Cellnex Emerges as Euro Mobile Tower Power Player.)
Vodafone Ireland has launched an SD-WAN offering for the enterprise sector. The company has already signed an SD-WAN contract with airline Ryanair, which, according to Vodafone, gives Ryanair the ability to set up a new airport network site in ten days.
UK altnet CityFibre has been awarded a 20-year contract to connect up 170 public sector sites in Wolverhampton, a city in England's West Midlands region. The project is benefiting from the government's Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) Challenge Fund, which provides local authorities with an opportunity to develop gigabit-capable connectivity.
Another day, another UK network coverage study: This time it's the turn of price-comparison website uSwitch, which has awarded O2 with the gong for "Best Network Coverage" for the third year in a row. Earlier this week O2 also came up smelling of roses in a survey by Global Wireless Solutions, though another overview, carried out by Rootmetrics, named rival operator EE as the pick of the bunch.
It's a case of compliance headaches ahoy for UK broadband, landline and pay-TV providers, as new rules forcing them to tell customers, at least ten days before their contract ends, how much they were paying on their old contract and how much they will have to pay on their new contract should they decide to stay, come into force on February 15. As the Guardian reports, communications regulator Ofcom came up with the new rules after it concluded that 20 million UK households were overpaying as a result of their being put onto a new contract after their initial contract expired without, in a lot of cases, them even noticing.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading