Eurobites: Ireland's eir Plows €500M Into Fixed-Line Network

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: TIM collaborates with Corning; Tele2's Q4; prepaid mobile in developing economies; Kudelski forges IoT partnership.

  • Irish operator eir has announced a €500 million (US$565.8 million) investment in its fixed network, with plans to pass an additional 1.4 million premises with FTTH connections offering speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s. The investment, which will be spread over five years, will bring fiber within reach of 180 towns and cities, including every town in the country with more than 1,000 premises. The operator also plans to bring its broadband customer care services back in-house, creating 750 new jobs at its regional hubs in Sligo, Cork and Limerick. Last year eir became part of Xavier Niel's Iliad (Euronext: ILD) empire, with Niel's private holding company, NJJ, acquiring a 32.9% stake in the Irish incumbent for an estimated €330 million ($391 million), while Iliad acquired a 31.6% stake for €320 million ($379 million). (See Iliad's Owner Swoops on Ireland's eir.)

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) has entered into an agreement with US optics company Corning to "explore innovations" in fiber and 5G, focusing on how infrastructure and broadband customer network platforms can be developed to better suit the demands of the Internet of Things, smart cities and artificial intelligence.

  • Underlying fourth-quarter revenue at Sweden's Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO) rose 3% year-on-year, to 7.1 billion Swedish kronor ($772 million), while underlying earnings were up 11% to SEK2.2 billion ($239 million). Last year was a busy one for the operator, with the conclusion of its merger with Swedish cable operator Com Hem and the merger of its Dutch unit with T-Mobile Netherlands. (See EC Signs Off Tele2, T-Mobile Merger in Netherlands and Sweden's Tele2 to Swallow Com Hem in $3.3B Deal.)

  • A new report looking at the prepaid mobile market in developing economies has concluded that, among other findings, customer "churn" is so high in South Africa that operators must replace their entire prepaid subscriber base every 18 months. However, contrary to the received wisdom, the report's authors maintain that prepaid is a strong source of profitability for mobile operators in such markets. The prepaid sector still accounts for 94% of connections and 80% of revenue in Africa, according to the report, which is the work of Strategy Analytics and Juvo.

  • Switzerland's Kudelski Group has teamed up with augmented reality specialist Idemia to offer manufacturers and service providers a platform for managing the network connectivity and security of cellular IoT devices. Specifically, the partnership combines Idemia's Dakota and TSM software with Kudelski's IoT security platform.

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has landed a cloud RAN contract with Rakuten Inc. , which could be described as Japan's answer to Amazon. Rakuten's new mobile network will be deployed right across Japan, and will include the major cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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