Eurobites: Vodafone calls for 'Connectivity Union'

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: ETNO disagrees with Commission competition treatise; Tubi launches in the UK; TIM/KKR deal reaches completion.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

July 2, 2024

3 Min Read
Vodafone logo on shop window
(Source: Paul Rainford/Light Reading)
  • Vodafone has called for a "Connectivity Union" in Europe to, in its words, "close the 5G investment gap." In a statement, Vodafone's chief external and corporate affairs officer, Joakim Reiter, said: "The EU cannot reclaim its digital competitiveness and retake a leadership position without an urgent reset of Europe's telecoms policy regime." And what does that reset involve? Well, it's familiar stuff: level playing fields, the encouragement of more in-country mobile consolidation (Vodafone wants to swallow rival Three in the UK, remember) and a more helpful (to telcos) policy on spectrum, among other things. There's a new European Commission due to be installed before too long so this can be viewed as the drawing of an early line in the sand by Vodafone, as well as a response to the Commission's recent white paper, How to Master Europe's Digital Infrastructure Needs.

  • On a similar tack, telco lobby group ETNO has criticized the European Commission's latest treatise on competition in telecom markets, reiterating the ETNO line that "in-market consolidation and three player markets yield more investment, which means that consumers will be paying for better quality products and services." Predictably, it also disagrees with the Commission's view that consolidation in the mobile sector tends to lead to higher prices for users, arguing, somewhat confusingly, that the ARPU (average revenue per user) figure cited in the Commission study "ignores the amount of data traffic consumed which is a critical element in assessing the quality of consumer products and services."

  • Tubi, the Fox-owned, ad-supported streaming service, is launching in the UK, promising a mix of free movies, TV series and Tubi original content. Tubi claims to have nearly 80 million monthly active users and says it has established itself as the fastest-growing US streaming service since its debut on the Nielsen Gauge just over a year ago. Fox paid $440 million to acquire Tubi in 2020, which was founded in 2011. (See Fox turned away big deals for Tubi streaming service – report.)

  • KPN, Odido and VodafoneZiggo have all acquired spectrum in the Dutch regulator's latest 5G auction, which raised more than €174 million ($186 million) for the government coffers. A total of 15 licenses were distributed in the 3,450-3,750MHz band.

  • Relax everyone: After two and half of years of jaw-jaw, the sale of Telecom Italia's fixed-line network (or "NetCo") to US investment firm KKR – for €22 billion ($23.57 billion) – has finally reached completion. Following the transaction, Telecom Italia's total headcount will plunge from 37,065 to 17,281. In a statement, the shrunken operator said that the deal provides it with the "opportunity to adopt a new business model" that will allow it to "compete more effectively in the consumer and enterprise markets in Italy, thanks to a stronger focus on the industrial and commercial aspects of its business."

  • Nokia has deployed an AI-enriched version of its "self-organizing" network management software at Saudi Arabia's STC. MantaRay SON, as the software is called, is a network optimization and automation platform that uses "self-configuring" modules to improve network performance and efficiency.

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About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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