Crunch Time for Europe

2:00 AM -- Sweaty palms will be the order of the day in Europe's telecom sector following the August break, as carriers and vendors find out whether the impact of the global financial meltdown has bottomed out or is set to get even worse.

Based on hazy memories of previous downturns, and gut feel, the next four months should provide a decent indication as to 2010's prospects, and it'll largely come down to the business confidence of the large carriers. If they feel confident to start investing again in projects that aren't mission critical -- that is, not tied to immediate revenue-generating gains or cost-cutting programs -- then that will not only lift confidence across the carrier community but also cheer their suppliers. That, in turn, could stem the job losses from the vendor community, reignite R&D programs, and make 2010 a less troubled year than 2009.

So it'll be interesting to gauge the mood at the upcoming Broadband World Forum Europe in Paris, and even at the ITU Telecom World 2009 event in Geneva.

The former will, we expect, provide some insight into the mood at operators such as Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Orange (NYSE: FTE), and Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), and vendors including Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , and Nokia Networks as they all gain greater visibility into their third and fourth financial quarters. The latter should provide some sort of macro-view into the trends in growth regions such as Africa, Asia/Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East.

EuroBlog will be at both those events (and others before the end of the year), and will be crossing fingers, toes, eyes, and anything else that's possible, in the hope there's something positive to report. We'll tell it how it is, though, whatever the outcome.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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