Euronews: BT Signs 4G MVNO Deal

Also in today's EMEA roundup: Ofcom's UK spectrum fees shocker; Vodafone's Vittorio done good; Telecom Italia considers Brazil bail-out; Kabel Deutschland trims revenue forecast.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has struck a preliminary mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deal with the UK's largest mobile operator, EE , on an exclusive basis. Financial details were not disclosed as final contract details have yet to be decided. EE will provide mobile services to BT's 88,000 staff and the national operator's customers. BT, which has a long-standing MVNO deal with Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) for enterprise mobile services, says it will "carefully manage the change from the current MVNO to EE to ensure a seamless transition for customers." Once the deal is finalized and service packages agreed, BT will be able to offer its customers a full range of fixed and mobile services for the first time since 2001. The operator, which notes that it also intends to further develop its public WiFi services, earlier this year acquired three chunks of spectrum in the 2.6GHz band for the development of enterprise wireless broadband services. (See Euronews: BT Seeks 4G Partner and Euronews: BT's Back in Wireless.)

  • UK mobile operators got a nasty surprise today when regulator Ofcom issued its proposals for revised annual license fees for the 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum bands. The operators -- Vodafone, Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2), EE, and Three UK -- currently pay a combined total of £24.8 million (US$39.5 million) a year for 900MHz spectrum and £39.7 million for 1800MHz, but under the new proposals these would rocket to £138.5 million and £170.4 million respectively. Expect to hear plenty from the operators on the matter during the consultation period, which closes on December 13.

  • A stock market filing from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) shows that Vodafone boss Vittorio Colao managed to squeeze an additional $35 billion out of the US operator for Vodafone's 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless , reports the Daily Telegraph. Eight months before the $130 billion deal was sealed, Colao rejected an offer of $95 billion -- and also suggested a full merger. (See Vodafone Agrees to $130B Verizon Stake Sale.)

  • Back on its home turf, meanwhile, Vodafone has signed up 100,000 subscribers to its 4G network, which was switched on seven weeks ago, reports The Guardian. That works out at about the same take-up rate as EE has experienced with its 4G offer. (See Euronews: Vodafone, O2 Begin UK 4G Rollouts.)

  • Yet more Telecom Italia (TIM) news: The debt-laden operator, which has just put a new man in charge and seen its stock downgraded to "junk" status by Moody's Investors Service , is considering selling its 67 percent stake in Brazilian operator TIM Participacoes, reports Reuters. (See Euronews: Telecom Italia Boss on the Brink.)

  • Kabel Deutschland GmbH , which is soon to be acquired by Vodafone, has cut its revenue forecast for the current fiscal year, reports Reuters, partly as a result of anticipated financial fallout from the Vodafone deal. The cable operator is now predicting revenue growth of 5-6 percent in the year ending March 31, 2014, as opposed to the 8 percent growth it originally forecast. (See Euronews: Vodafone Clears Hurdle to Kabel Bid.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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