Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ericsson and Vivacom do VoLTE in Bulgaria; Telefónica's Aura gaining users; Brit Internet trends.
Africa and Middle East powerhouse MTN Group Ltd. is facing some tough challenges across its broad portfolio of operations but is managing to grow its customer base and add new users to important services such as its mobile money offering, the operator announced Wednesday morning as it unveiled its financials for the first half of 2018. Revenues for the first six months of the year totaled 62.8 billion South African Rand (US$4.7 billion) and its customer base inched up to 223.4 million, but having recently agreed to sell its business in Cyprus, further divestments may be on the cards as the operator is carrying a lot of debt and is facing uncertainty in markets such as Iran, Syria and South Sudan. For the full story, see Mixed Bag for MTN in H1.
Bulgaria's Vivacom is introducing voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) and WiFi calling services with the help of Ericsson's Fast VoLTE Launch offering, a bundle of products including virtual its Mobile Telephony Application Server (vMTAS), virtual Session Border Controller (vSBC), virtual Call Session Control Function (vCSCF), virtual Media Resource Function (vMRF) and virtual IPWorks. The move builds on an existing relationship between the two companies, which has seen Vivacom using Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)
's Evolved Packet Core network.
Telefónica 's Aura, a digital assistant it initially launched in February as its response to Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa, has picked up more than 470,000 users in the three months since its integration into the operator's Movistar TV app, El Boletin reports. Aura, which Telefónica bills as being powered by "cognitive intelligence," allows Movistar users to perform voice-activated searches for content on a range of criteria, such as title, genre or director, among other tasks. (See Telefónica's Answer to Apple's Siri: Aura and Telefónica Takes Aura AI Tool Into 6 Markets.)
The number of Brits watching videos on demand from commercial services has soared over the last couple from years, up from 29% of adults in 2016 to 46% in 2018. That's one of the findings from the latest Internet access – households and individuals, Great Britain report, published by the Office for National Statistics. Surprisingly, perhaps, email remains the most popular activity on the Internet, with 84% of adults still @ it. See the full report for more details and a ton of graphs.