Eurobites: Openreach Seeks Feedback to Further Full-Fiber Plans

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Google makes it a hat-trick of EU mega-fines; data-mad customers drive Three UK's growth; Ericsson wins role in South Korean 5G bonanza.

  • Openreach, the semi-autonomous network access arm of UK incumbent BT, has launched a consultation seeking ideas from its wholesale customers -- BT, TalkTalk and Sky among them -- on how best to move their retail customers onto fully fledged fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology. It is looking for thoughts on three key areas: how it builds the FTTP network; how the industry should migrate customers onto the network once it's built; and how Openreach should go about "retiring" the existing copper network. Under its Fibre First program, Openreach says it's on track to make FTTP connectivity available to 3 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020, but maintains it would like to go much further -- to 10 million premises "and beyond" under the right conditions. This is the second consultation Openreach has launched around this topic -- in 2017 it tried to gauge its customers' appetite for full fiber investment in a similar exercise. (See Eurobites: Openreach Finally Puts 'Fibre First' and Eurobites: UK Fine-Tunes Its Full-Fiber Future.)

  • Sticking with BT, the UK incumbent has called for an end to the exclusive arrangements between mobile operators and local authorities over access to so-called "street furniture" when building mobile networks. The contracts that many local authorities have signed with individual operators force other service providers to pay hefty wholesale fees to those operators for the right to put site equipment on lampposts, CCTV poles and suchlike. That could hinder the rollout of 5G networks, which are likely to use street furniture to provide small cell coverage in urban areas. In the spirit of practising what it preaches, BT says it has already handed back its own exclusive street furniture contracts with nine UK cities. Urging rivals to follow suit, it will hold a workshop with local authorities and mobile operators next month to explain the benefits of the open access approach it advocates. Under its preferred system, all operators would pay a low-cost flat fee to the relevant local authority.

    Is This What You Meant, Boss?
    Some street furniture, yesterday.
    Some street furniture, yesterday.

  • Google has notched up its third major fine in two years from the European Commission, this time for what have been deemed "abusive practices in online advertising." According to the Commission, the search giant abused its market dominance between 2006 and 2016 by imposing restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites which prevented Google's rivals from placing their search adverts on these websites and leaving Google's AdSense platform to clean up. Google has been fined €1.49 billion (US$1.69 billion) this time around, equating to 1.29% of its turnover in 2018. (See Eurobites: EU Fines Google $2.7B Over Shopping Shenanigans and Eurobites: EU Socks Google With $5B Monster-Fine for Android Control-Freakery.)

  • Three UK saw its full-year 2018 EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) grow 7% year-on-year to £752 million ($986.2 million), on revenue that was up 1% to £2.4 billion ($3.14 billion). Contract customer numbers were also up 1%, to 7 million, and many of these customers clearly like their data -- Three UK's average monthly data usage per customer stands at a hefty 8.3GB, which the operator claims is 3.5 times the industry average.

  • Wholesale and enterprise connectivity service provider Colt Technology Services Group is deploying Cisco's segment routing and Ethernet VPN technology in its IQ network in an effort to differentiate its backhaul offering to mobile operators as they transition to 5G. UK-based Colt is hoping to pick up backhaul capacity contracts from mobile operators as data traffic volumes grow and in February appointed Mark Gilmour as its head of mobile connectivity solutions. (See Colt Deploys Cisco Gear to Bolster Its 5G Backhaul Offer.)

  • Ericsson has landed a 5G commercial deal with KT, the South Korean operator, in what forms part of a multi-operator plan to launch nationwide 5G services in South Korea before anyone else in the world. Under the terms of the contract, Ericsson is providing KT with 3GPP standards-based 5G New Radio (NR) hardware and software to cover KT's 3.5GHz Non-Standalone (NSA) network. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The nationwide 5G launch had initially been scheduled to start this month, but this has now slipped into April. (See South Korean 5G Launch Expected to Be Delayed Until April – Report and 5G Will Arrive in South Korea in March 2019.)

  • Russian operator MegaFon has had a decent 2018, raising net profit by 2.7% year-on-year to 21 billion Russian rubles ($329 million) on revenue that increased 4.3% to RUB335.5 billion ($5.26 billion) -- this despite its number of mobile subscribers actually falling by 0.3% to 76.9 million.

  • For the second time, Germany's ADVA has won BT's Game Changing Challenge awards scheme, which recognizes innovation in the "sustainability" sphere. ADVA's FSP 150-GE102Pro Series Carrier Ethernet demarcation offering got the gong this time, for its use of "AI-powered predictive maintenance" and components that can be manually disassembled and reused. One day, my child, all Carrier Ethernet demarcation devices will be built this way.

  • The ETSI Multi-access Edge Computing group (MEC ISG) has released its first set of Phase 2 specifications, which "defines the requirements for Multi-access Edge Computing with the aim of promoting interoperability and deployments," with a particular focus on alignment with NFV deployments. The specs also include details related to "architecture and framework" and " general principles for service APIs." (See ETSI MEC Group Releases Phase 2 Specs.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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