Eurobites: BT Jumps Into Mobile With MVNO

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Zain deploys small cells; Ethiopian operator uses AlcaLu's CEM; UK telcos push for cheaper mast rental.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) isn't waiting until its ₤12.5 billion (US$18.6 billion) acquisition of EE is complete before it starts a mobile service, according to a Financial Times report (subscription required). The report says that BT will opt initially for the MNVO route, using EE's mobile network under the wholesale agreement it struck back in 2013, and that its mobile offer will be aimed primarily at existing BT customers. (See BT & EE Spur UK Sector Shake-Up, BT, EE Put Squeeze on Broadband Rivals and Euronews: BT Signs 4G MVNO Deal.)

  • Zain KSA (Zain Saudi Arabia) has deployed Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. 's LampSite small cell system to boost in-building 3G, 4G and WiFi coverage in "hot zone" areas such as airports and shopping malls, according to the operator.

  • Another Middle East operator, Etisalat , is to deploy Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s CEM (customer experience management) software in its contact centers, reports Trade Arabia.

  • The Mobile Operators Association, which represents the UK's big four in matters of mast planning issues, among other things, is hoping a report it commissioned from consultants Deloitte could help massively reduce the amount of rental it has to pay to landowners for the right to locate mobile masts on their property. According to the Daily Telegraph, the report claims that the average annual rent for a rural mobile mast could tumble from ₤7,500 ($11,200) to less than ₤240 ($358), if, as the operators are demanding, their infrastructure buildout needs are treated in the same way as those of utility companies such as energy and water suppliers. If the operators get their way, it would be bad news for farmers, a good number of whom supplement their income from mobile mast rentals.

  • Ethiopia Telecommunications Corp. , Ethiopia's state-run monopoly operator, has launched a 4G in service in Addis Ababa, reports Reuters. The service, which serves around 400,000 subscribers, is the result of a $1.6 billion deal the operator signed with Huawei and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) two years ago.

  • Beleaguered Russian operator Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) has launched LTE services in the Krasnodar region, in the south of the country. MTS has now launched LTE services in 77 of Russia's 85 regions. (See Eurobites: MTS Income Hit by Bust Bank and MTS Braced for Ruble Trouble.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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