Also in today's EMEA roundup: Zain chooses Ericsson for 5G buildout in Bahrain; Sky and the BBC get cozy; Vodacom profits up; Africa's broadband future.
Vodafone UK has struck a deal with Openreach, BT's quasi-autonomous network access division, to take its "Gigafast Broadband" FTTP service to Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool from spring 2020. It is envisaged that the service will be available to 500,000 premises in these cities by mid-2021. Despite its name, Gigafast Broadband offers download speeds of up to 900 Mbit/s, though that is still 20 times faster than the average home broadband connection in the UK, according to Vodafone. Vodafone has previously announced 12 other fiber rollouts under its agreement with CityFibre, the ambitious wholesale altnet.
Zain has chosen Ericsson to help build its 5G network in Bahrain, with commercial services expected to go live by the end of this year. Under the terms of the contract, Ericsson is providing 3GPP standards-based 5G New Radio (NR) hardware and associated software, including a dash of Massive MIMO.
Sky, the UK-based pay-TV player, has agreed a new partnership with the BBC that will see the two companies collaborate on content and technology. Sky gets the BBC's popular iPlayer catch-up service on its Sky Q set-top, while the BBC may use Sky's AdSmart targeting technology to push "personalized" promotion content to BBC viewers, meaning that viewers in different households could be shown different trailers for BBC content that are deemed "more relevant" to their interests. (Which kind of assumes all members of the household are interested in the same things… hmmmm.)
South Africa's Vodacom's half-year profits rose 18.9% year-on-year on group revenue that was up 3.9% to R44.4 billion (US$3 billion). The group added 2.7 million customers in South Africa and its international operations, and another 2.7 million from Safaricom during the period, and now claims a combined customer base of 115 million across the group. For more details on this, see this story on Connecting Africa, our sister site.
The number of mobile broadband connections in Africa is expected to reach 1.08 billion by 2024, according to new research from Ovum. On the fixed side, Ovum expects the number of FTTx subscriptions on the continent to grow strongly during the next few years, from 1.28 million at the end of 2019 to 4.07 million at the end of 2024. For more details, see this story on Connecting Africa.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading