In today's regional EMEA roundup: CityFibre celebrates fiber funds; BT revamps its CEO bonus assessment scheme; ETSI launches a blockchain group; and more.
Alternative wholesale fiber access network operator
CityFibre has secured a debt package of £1.12 billion from seven major financial institutions including ABN AMRO, Deutsche Bank, Lloyds Bank plc, Natixis, NatWest, Santander and Société Générale. The proceeds will be used to expand its existing fiber networks in 37 UK towns and cities, with plans to reach 2 million homes and businesses in what will be the first tranche of CityFibre's £2.5 billion investment plan. Ultimately, the company, which is pitching itself against BT's quasi-independent
Openreach access network operation, aims to take its fiber, which can be used by any third party to offer retail or wholesale capacity services, to 5 million UK homes and businesses by 2025. The operator is also keen to spread the wholesale fiber story further afield: CEO Greg Mesch believes the model has legs in many markets, including the US. (See CityFibre Model Heading to US, Says CEO and Eurobites: UK's CityFibre Announces $2.5B FTTH Investment Plan.)
Bonus payments to the CEO at BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) will come under greater scrutiny in the future following a meeting between the head of the operator's remuneration committee and disgruntled shareholders, who got the hump earlier this year when the then CEO Gavin Patterson received a sizeable bonus despite presiding over a disappointing financial year. BT now says "the Remuneration Committee will take steps to implement a more structured process to help it step through the application of its discretion in the future. This will include taking into consideration a broader range of performance factors and wider circumstances when coming to a decision on pay outcomes." Cue gritted teeth at the home of Philip Jansen, who will take over from Patterson in the new year. (See Eurobites: Worldpay's Jansen Lands BT Top Job, BT's Patterson Gets Tasty CEO Bonus as Troops Suffer and BT Waves Goodbye to Gorgeous Gavin.)
European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has launched a new Industry Specification Group on Permissioned Distributed Ledgers (ISG PDL), which in common parlance refers to blockchain technology. The founding members of the ISG include Alastria, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Mineco, NEC, Telefónica, Vodafone. Blockchain is becoming an increasing focus of attention for network operators and looks set to play a role in the automation strategies that will be important in a 5G world. (See Eurobites: Telefónica & IBM Explore the Telco Potential of Blockchain, BT's CTIO on CPE, Blockchain & More, AT&T Unveils Blockchain Solutions and Colt Ramps Its Blockchain Efforts, Explores SDN Federation Use Case.)
British regulator Ofcom is considering the inclusion of rural coverage terms and conditions for its next spectrum auction, which will include valuable capacity in the 700 MHz and the 3.6 GHz – 3.8 GHz bands. For more, see what our workplace siblings at Telecoms.com have to report on the matter: Ofcom eyes rural coverage for next spectrum auction.
Mobile Financial Services (MFS) have proliferated in Europe during the past five years, but the growth has been driven by traditional banks, retail companies and tech firms (Google, Samsung) rather than telcos, according to research house GlobalData. However, there are signs that telcos are making progress in the MFS market" with services like savings, credit, insurance, and international remittances, in-partnership with local financial institutions," states GlobalData. As an example, it cites Telekom Romania, which has teamed up with Alior Bank to offer savings and current account, debit card, and micro-finance services such as personal loans and overdraft facilities. Orange, of course, is ahead of its peers when it comes to leaping wholeheartedly into the broader financial services sector. (See Orange Bank Job Is Going Europe-Wide.)
San Marino has almost complete 5G coverage, according to Telecom Italia (TIM) , which has been using the tiny European state as something of a next generation mobile network test bed, using gear from Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), while also giving it something to crow about. But don't get too excited -- San Marino isn't just small, it's VERY small and also very densely populated, as our brethren over at Telecoms.com have pointed out in its news item, TIM flips on the 5G switch in San Marino. The 99% geographic and population coverage has been achieved with just eight macro basestation sites, some with 3500 MHz antennas, others with 26 GHz antennas. These will be supplemented by "5G prime small cells will be installed to increase the coverage in areas where there is a strong presence," notes TIM.
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading