Eurobites: Proximus sees revenue slip 2.3% in 2020 as pandemic bites

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Cellnex grows revenues 55% in 2020; Three UK updates on network upgrades; Brexit threatens UK's fintech future, says government-led report.

  • Those by-now familiar "COVID-19 related headwinds" took their toll on Proximus' full-year 2020 results, with the Belgian operator's domestic revenue falling 2.3% year-on-year, to 4.28 billion (US$5.17 billion), as roaming charges more or less dried up. Proximus was, however, able to limit the underlying EBITDA decline to -0.7%, bringing its full-year EBITDA to 1.70 billion ($2.05 billion). CEO Guillaume Boutin expects more of the same in 2021, anticipating a return to profitable growth domestically from 2022. On the subscriber front, the operator added 174,000 mobile postpaid customers, 48,000 Internet customers and 36,000 TV customers during the course of the year.

  • There were few headwinds buffeting Cellnex, the Spanish towers company, which saw its full-year 2020 revenues grow 55% to 1.60 billion ($1.93 billion). The company entered five new countries Austria, Denmark, Poland, Portugal and Sweden and consolidated in key markets such as France, Italy and the UK. EBITDA climbed 72%, to 1.18 billion ($1.42 billion). This week Cellnex announced a new agreement in Poland to acquire Polkomtel Infrastruktura, which operates both passive and active infrastructure. (See Cellnex market power grows with new 5.2B deal, Cellnex forms Dutch tower venture with DT and Europe's towercos are building on shaky ground.)

  • Three UK, the mobile operator that is part of the CK Hutchison group, has been updating on the progress of its network overhaul. It now has 1,250 5G sites in 193 towns and cities, up from 1,000 sites at the end of 2020. Three's 5G fixed wireless broadband coverage has now reached 1.6 million households. On the 4G front, Three has added 20MHz of 1400MHz spectrum to 1,500 sites in its portfolio, increasing download speeds by up to three times, says the operator. As for backhaul, Three has upgraded 3,200 sites to 10 Gbit/s transmission, a claimed 20-fold increase in capacity.

  • As if the ravaging of agriculture and the fishing industry weren't enough, Brexit is now threatening the UK's position at the forefront of fintech (financial technology), according to a government-backed review headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of Worldpay. As Reuters reports, the review warns that a number of measures the fast-tracking of work visas for fintech aces among them are needed quickly if the UK is to stay competitive in the fintech field.

  • Fiber-to-the-Geordie: Residents of Newcastle, in north-east England, have started to sign up to CityFibre's gigabit network, using broadband supplied by Zen Internet, the first ISP to offer services on the network. CityFibre expects to complete the Newcastle rollout in 2023.

    Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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