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Eurobites: TIM takes open RAN into the mountains

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Arm/Nvidia deal faces closer scrutiny; open RAN in the mountains; Vodacom's H1.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) is bringing the joy of open RAN to Saluzzo, a town high up in the Italian Piedmont region, working with JMA Wireless (for RAN software components), Microelectronics Technology (for radio-frequency equipment), Dell Technologies (for the hardware) and Cisco (for transport to the site) to make it possible. TIM has previously run open RAN lab tests in Turin as well as field tests of the technology in Faenza and Matera.

  • Nvidia's proposed $40 billion takeover of UK chip designer Arm is likely to face a gloves-off "phase two" investigation by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), according to a report in the Times (paywall applies). The investigation will consider national security issues as well as antitrust matters, the report says. The decision is not a huge surprise as the CMA's "phase one" investigation found that the proposed deal raised "serious competition concerns." (See UK watchdog growls at Nvidia's Arm deal.)

  • Group EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) at South Africa's Vodacom grew by 3.3% year-on-year in the six months to September 30, to 20.07 billion South African rand (US$1.32 billion), on revenue that was up 4.2% to ZAR49.85 billion ($3.28 billion). Customer numbers on the operator's home turf, including both prepaid and contract, rose by 6% year-on-year, to 45,428,000, though the monthly average revenue per user figure was down 8.2%, to ZAR90 ($5.92).

  • Could Vodafone merge with UK rival Three? That's one of the possibilities raised by a Times interview with Vodafone CEO Nick Read, cited here by the Irish Times. Read believes more consolidation is needed in European telecom if it is to compete successfully against other parts of the world: "In Europe we have more than 100 operators competing in a very fragmented way – as opposed to the US, which has three scale players," he told the Times. "China has three; India has three. And in those other markets, you have heavy investment but reasonable returns for shareholders."

  • Virgin Media O2, the recently "converged" operator, is opening up the Priority rewards scheme – previously the preserve of its O2 mobile customers – to its Virgin Media cable and landline customers too. The scheme gives customers the usual if-you-can-be-bothered perks, such as loyalty points from high street retailers and early access to tickets for pop concerts and the like. Last month Virgin Media O2 launched its first converged bundle, dubbed "Volt," offering faster broadband speeds and more data to those who sign up to both broadband and mobile services from the company. (See Virgin Media O2 sparks into converged life with Volt.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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