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Eurobites: Telefónica Tiptoes Toward 5G With 4.5G Moves

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Orange and KPN claim LoRa breakthrough; digital education in Africa; Nokia's "Conscious Factory in a Box"; 5G fanfare from DT, Huawei and Intel.

  • Spain's Telefónica is taking steps toward a 5G launch, unveiling plans to roll out 4.5G networks in parts of Latin America and setting up a trial 4.5G network in Germany. The operator is working with Chinese equipment vendor Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. on the 4.5G rollout, which will make use of performance-boosting technologies including 4x4 MIMO, carrier aggregation and 256 QAM. In Latin America, Telefónica is building 4.5G networks in Bogotá (Colombia), Monterrey (Mexico) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Its German subsidiary, meanwhile, is testing 4.5G services that could eventually be used in a 5G environment. Based on its experiences in Latin America and Germany, the operator will consider more extensive 4.5G investments in the next few months, it said. "4.5G evolution is a key step on the road to 5G," said Juan Carlos Garcia, Telefónica's technology and architecture global director, in a press statement. "In the past two years, Telefónica and Huawei jointly achieved several industry first innovations under these technologies. Now it's time to transfer the innovation results to commercial, bringing the best user experience to our customers."

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) and KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) are claiming an IoT breakthrough with what they say was the first successful field test of "actual roaming" between nationwide public IoT networks under the latest LoRa Alliance specifications. In conjunction with connectivity platform supplier Actility , the pair set up a secure roaming interface between their Actility network server platforms, and tested Orange devices operating on the KPN network in the Netherlands and KPN devices operating on the Orange France network. This opens up the possibility of connecting sensors or trackers that move between different countries, potentially simplifying international business applications.

  • Orange is also getting more involved with digital training in Africa, and has signed a partnership deal with OpenClassrooms, a provider of French-language online education. Under the deal, students will have access to OpenClassrooms courses via Orange's mobile network, and a number of digital training centers with a "guaranteed employment" commitment will be set up.

  • "The Conscious Factory in a Box." Yes, it sounds like Soft Machine's difficult third album, but it's actually the name given by Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) to an "Industry 4.0" concept that aims to build a single electronics manufacturing line using cargo containers that can be moved to different locations as demand dictates. Nokia is leading the project, but it also involves 12 electronics industry players, DHL, Fuji and Isoloc among them. The concept, which draws on the potential of cloud services and robotics, will be demonstrated at the Hanover Messe show in April.

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd are doing their bit to maintain the pre-MWC 5G ballyhoo with news of what they say was a successful test of 5G interoperability based on the 3GPP R15 Standard, using a commercial basestation in an operator lab environment. The test, which sounds very similar to one carried out in Shanghai in January, was carried out in Bonn. The test configuration used by the three partners is based on the largest C-band cell bandwidth defined by the 5G NR standard. For more details on the test, see this story on our sister site, Telco Transformation. (See Deutsche Telekom, Intel, Huawei Claim 5G NR Interop Success.)

  • Ireland reckons that the final bill for back-taxes that it must present to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) at the behest of the European Commission will fall somewhere in the region of €13 billion ($16 billion), Reuters reports. In 2014, the Commission concluded that Apple was in effect a recipient of state aid because of the favorable arrangements it reached with Ireland's tax authorities. Both Apple and the Irish government are appealing the Commission's decision. (See Eurobites: EC to Charge Apple With Illegal Tax Deals in Ireland and Eurobites: Irish Cabinet Decides on Apple Tax Tactics.)

  • In related matters, the Daily Telegraph reports that the UK Treasury is considering taking a chunk out of tech giants' revenues, rather than just taxing their profits, as is traditionally the case. Mel Stride, the Treasury's financial secretary, said that a levy on revenue was the "potentially preferred option."

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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