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Eurobites: UK Fiber Challenger Looks to Raise £1B for Network Buildout

Paul Rainford
4/29/2019
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Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Exponential-e teams up on data storage; small-cells M&A; T-Systems goes all-in with Azure; China's ambassador to UK sticks up for Huawei.

  • UK incumbent BT faces a fresh challenge on the fiber front with the news that Sir Charles Dunstone, owner of broadband operator TalkTalk, is looking to raise £1 billion (US$1.3 billion) from investors to fund a new "ultrafast" broadband network being rolled out by FibreNation, the infrastructure company set up by TalkTalk in 2018. As the Daily Telegraph reports (paywall applies), citing sources in London's financial district, the venture aims to connect 3 million homes and business in midsized towns and cities across the UK, liberating TalkTalk from the need to use BT's copper lines.

  • UK-based Exponential-e, which provides connectivity, data center, security and cloud networking services to enterprises, has teamed up with CTERA Networks, a distributed data storage platform specialist, to offer companies a secure way to store, access and manage their data assets. Exponential-e will integrate CTERA's technology into its S4 Cloud Object Storage platform, enabling enterprises to reduce their storage costs with a "scalable solution that provides users with local access to their 'hot' files, while moving other data to S4 buckets for effective Information Lifecycle Management (ILM). The private, dedicated and multi-tenant cloud architectures help better serve customers that are highly concerned about their data privacy and data sovereignty to transform to the cloud," says Exponential-e.

  • iWireless Solutions, a British small-cell service provider, has been acquired by investment firm Digital Colony. Digital Colony believes the acquisition will bring outdoor small-cell capabilities to StrattoOpencell, the in-building mobile business that it already owns. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

  • T-Systems, Deutsche Telekom's IT services business, is now offering managed cloud services for Microsoft Azure users. The offering, which sets out to transfer all the complex and critical processes in cloud operations to T-Systems, is aimed at both newcomers to the Azure public cloud and existing customers.

  • China's ambassador to the UK has defended Huawei, telling Brits that they should resist pressure from other countries when it comes to making decisions about who is allowed to help shape their future communications networks. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph (paywall applies), Liu Xiaoming said: "Countries of global influence, like the UK, make decisions independently and in accordance with their national interests … When it comes to the establishment of the new 5G network, the UK is in the position to do the same again by resisting pressure, working to avoid interruptions and making the right decision independently based on its national interests and in line with its need for long-term development." Last week an apparent leak from Britain's National Security Council revealed that Huawei had been given the go-ahead to play a part in the building of "non-core" elements of the UK's new 5G network. (See Eurobites: UK Gives Huawei the Nod on 'Non-Core' 5G Network Elements.)

  • Virgin Media is hoping to entice both residential and business customers with the launch of new offerings based on broadband speeds of up to 500 Mbit/s. Residential customers can sign up for a bundle that comprises the aforementioned speedy broadband, add a mobile SIM to any broadband bundle, and build their own "personalized" TV service with a choice of new channel packs which can be changed every month. The whole caboodle will cost £99 ($128) per month for new customers on a 12-month contract, £139 ($179) thereafter. Business customers, meanwhile, will be offered "Voom 500," a broadband tier that promises (up to) 500 Mbit/s download and 35 Mbit/s upload. Voom 500 is available from £62 ($80) per month. "The premium all-singing-and-dancing bundle is very punchy compared to rivals in terms of value," notes industry analyst Paolo Pescatore in emailed comments sent to Light Reading. "This will put pressure on BT and Sky to integrate more services into a convergent bundle, more so given the huge focus on retention and reducing churn," he added.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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