Eurobites: Telecom Italia loses government support for single network plan

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Airspan to open lab in Slough; Three's revenue rises in Q1; Openreach trials digital migration in Suffolk.

  • It was a story that already had more twists than a forkful of spaghetti, and now it's taken yet another turn. Telecom Italia (TIM) looks set to lose the support of the Italian government for its plan to create a single national fiber network with state-backed Open Fiber. According to a Bloomberg report, "people familiar with the matter" say that Prime Minister Mario Draghi will not follow through with the single network plan agreed by his predecessor following pressure from the European Union for Italy to encourage competition in return for post-COVID-19 recovery funding from Brussels. (See FiberCop is go after KKR and Fastweb firm up stakes, Italy's TIM seeks co-investors to share cost of FTTH and EU could oppose Italy's single fiber network plan – report.)

  • Airspan Networks, the US-based 5G network software company which has recently raised its profile through its work with Japan's Rakuten, is to open a 5G Innovation Lab in the UK town of Slough, just west of London. The lab will, among other goals, look to accelerate the adoption of open RAN technology. (See Airspan to go public with $166M in pursuit of open RAN, 5G.)

  • Three UK saw total revenue rise by 2% year-on-year to £581 million (US$807 million) in the first quarter, despite lockdown measures significantly reducing its number of prepaid customers during the period – they were down 6.5% year-on-year. Capex spend in the year to date is 55% higher than this time last year, reflecting the operator's investment in 5G rollout and 4G network improvements. A few weeks ago Three won two 10MHz blocks of low-frequency spectrum at the auction, tripling the amount of low frequency spectrum it owns.

  • Openreach, the semi-autonomous network access arm of BT, has been trialling the migration of its landlines from analogue to digital in the sleepy Suffolk town of Mildenhall. Mildenhall was chosen, says Openreach, as it's a typical exchange area in terms of geography and the range of communications providers offering Openreach services and its mix of businesses and consumers. On the strength of the trial results, Openreach is now moving ahead with the Mildenhall upgrade. Openreach has committed to shifting all of the UK's 14 million landlines to "new digital services" by December 2025.

  • HMD Global, the Finnish firm that now makes and sells Nokia-branded phones, has launched its own mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the UK, HMD Mobile, on EE's network. Plans start at £13 a month for 10GB of data.

  • Finland's Nokia is hoping to improve 5G mobile indoor coverage with the launch of its Smart Node femtocell which, according to the vendor, "supports traffic management by reducing core network load and optimizing macro resource allocation."

  • BT is extending its "Skills for Tomorrow" digital education program, with the aim of reaching 25 million people in the UK by the end of March 2026. The operator says the program has already helped 10 million people brush up their digital skills since its launch. The program is free and offers a range of courses and webinars.

  • TalkTalk's fiber rollout has reached the UK city of Coventry, bringing average top speeds of 506 Mbit/s to some of its inhabitants.

  • Users of Sky's flagship set-top box, Sky Q, will soon be able to enjoy on-screen shouts of "you got this!" and sweat on the carpet as the Peloton home-gym app is being integrated onto the video platform. After a 30-day trial, the service will cost £12.99 (£18.05) per month.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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