Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Orange Bank opens for business; fixed-line decline dents Swisscom's Q3; Virgin buoyant on broadband, not so much on mobile.
Investment in sports rights, higher pension costs and problems at its Global Services division once again ate into BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) 's bottom line in the operator's fiscal second quarter, with adjusted EBITDA down 4% year-on-year to £1.81 billion (US$2.37 billion) on reported revenues that slipped 1% to £5.95 billion ($7.81 billion). At its Global Services unit earnings fell 39% year-on-year, on revenue that was down 10%. On a more positive note, monthly mobile ARPU was up 9% to £20.9 ($27.4), while fiber connections totaled 505,000, with fiber broadband now passing 27.1 million UK premises. Despite the black spots, there was enough positive stuff for BT to announce that its full-year outlook would be maintained.
It was meant to have happened several months earlier, but as from today, Orange (NYSE: FTE) is now also a bank, albeit a 100% mobile-based one. The operator claims Orange Bank will be the only French bank to offer a free service providing real-time balances, mobile payment and a "virtual adviser" that is available 24/7. It is envisaged that in time further elements will be added to the Orange Bank mix, including personal loans and even mortgages. (See Hold-Up at Orange Bank: Launch Hits Buffers.)
The continuing decline in traditional fixed-line telephony and increasing market saturation were largely responsible for a 2.6% year-on-year decline in Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM)'s revenue from telecommunications services in the first three quarters of 2017. Cost-cutting measures, including a 2% reduction in headcount, meant that the operator was still able to record a 1.4% rise in EBITDA, to 3.35 billion Swiss francs ($3.35 billion). Its outlook for 2017 remains unchanged.
UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) saw rebased year-on-year revenue growth of 1.5% in the third quarter, to £1.23 billion ($1.61 billion), despite monthly cable ARPU slipping 0.4% to £49.92 ($65.46). Virgin recorded 57,000 broadband RGU net additions in the third quarter, with 64% of its broadband subscriber base now signing up for speeds of 100 Mbit/s or more, up 51% from a year ago. Things were not so rosy on the mobile front, with postpaid net additions of 15,000 being more than wiped out by the loss of 31,000 lower-value prepaid subscribers.
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has established a new Industry Specification Group (ISG) focused on helping those in charge of cities procure technologies that will help them make their cities smarter. The "City Digital Profile" will initially focus on applications covering healthcare, social care, connected homes, urban lighting, waste management, transportation and environmental issues.