Eurobites: Mobile Subs Slide in Russia

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: bidding passes €4.7 billion in German spectrum auction; NokiaLu gets US approval; more broken broadband promises.

  • Things are looking bleak for mobile operators in Russia, with subscribers well down, according to new figures from consultancy Advanced Communications & Media (AC&M) . According to the research, cited by Reuters, mobile subscriptions in Russia stood at 238.4 million at the end of the first quarter of 2015, down 2 million sequentially and 3 million year-on-year. The most recent quarter was the first on record that all the Russian mobile operators posted net subscriber losses, added AC&M. (See MTS Braced for Ruble Trouble and Eurobites: Ukraine Crisis Hits MTS Hard.)

  • Bidding in Germany's multi-band spectrum auction has now risen to nearly €4.77 billion (US$5.43 billion), beating the €4.4 billion ($5 billion) generated by the 4G auction held five years ago. Existing mobile operators Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Vodafone Germany and Telefónica Deutschland GmbH are competing for airwaves in the 700MHz band, currently used by broadcasters but earmarked for mobile broadband services throughout the European region. Operators are also bidding for 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum -- with a number of licenses for this band set to expire next year -- as well as 1.5GHz airwaves. Bidding for licenses in the flexible 1800MHz band currently accounts for nearly half of the overall amount. (See German Spectrum Auction Bidding Hits $2.2B.)

  • The US Department of Justice has given its blessing to Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s proposed acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), granting early termination of the US antitrust "waiting period." The deal has already obtained the equivalent permissions in Brazil and Serbia, though it is still subject to approval by Nokia shareholders. (See Nokia & Alcatel-Lucent: What's Going On? and Nokia Makes €15.6B Bid for Alcatel-Lucent.)

  • BICS , the international wholesale division of Belgacom SA (Euronext: BELG), says the volume of LTE roaming traffic on its network has been growing at a month-on-month rate of 25%. The operator has been investing in IPX transit capabilities to support LTE roaming and claims to have been involved in service launches in countries including France, Poland, Rwanda, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the UAE. (See BICS Sees Explosion of LTE Roaming Traffic and BICS Looks to MVNOs, OTTs for Growth.)

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) is set to price shares for its IPO of towers unit INWIT at €3.65 each, according to a Reuters report. If this prediction holds true, Telecom Italia will raise €796 million ($907 million) from the sale.

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) has announced that its two Macedonian companies, Makedonski Telekom and T-Mobile Macedonia, are to become one on July 1. The combined company will be led by Andreas Maierhofer, the current CEO of Makedonski Telekom.

  • A survey by Which?, the influential UK consumer rights organization, has found that 15.4 million British households aren't getting the headline speeds they were promised on their broadband subscriptions. Drilling down into some detail, just 1% of subscribers to BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s 76Mbit/s deal received the top advertised speed, and only 4% of TalkTalk customers got the full 17Mbit/s speeds they were promised on their package. Earlier this month UK regulator Ofcom announced a new Code of Practice, which in theory enables customers to exit broadband contracts without penalty if they don't receive the speeds they were promised at sign-up.

  • Competitive UK operator CityFibre has completed the first phase of its gigabit fiber network in the northern English town of Huddersfield. Abzorb will be the first service provider to deliver services over the network, but more are expected to be announced soon. (See CityFibre Aims for BT's Wholesale Business.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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