Bouygues Telecom in talks to buy La Poste MVNO for €950 million 


News 

The deal is expected to begin around 2026 

Bouygues Telecom, the telecoms unit of French conglomerate Bouygues, has announced that it has signed an exclusivity agreement with La Poste Group, to purchase La Poste Telecom for €950 million.  

This total is set to be adjusted according to the timing of the transaction itself, with current estimates sitting at approximately €963.4 million. 

Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) La Poste Telecom is currently 51% owned by La Poste Group, with the remainder (49%) owned by Bouygues rival French telco SFR. 

Bouygues will buy 100% of the company. 

La Poste Telecom currently serves 2.3 million customers, generating roughly €300 million in annual sales, via a wholesale agreement with SFR. This agreement is set to expire at the end of 2026, at which points the La Poste Telecom customers will be migrated to Bouygues own mobile network. 

According to Bouygues, while this will entail integration costs, it will not require the deployment of additional network capacity. 

Bouygues Telecom currently has over 23 million mobile customers, which the company expects to grow as a result of the new deal by leveraging La Poste’s distribution network and benefitting from a brand that is strong and recognised for its values of “trust and proximity.”  

“Thanks to this agreement, Bouygues Telecom will be able to increase its customer base and strengthen its position in both mobile and fixed services drawing on La Poste’s distribution network throughout the country,” said Benoît Torloting, CEO of Bouygues Telecom in a press release. 

“Bouygues Telecom will bring its expertise and the quality of its fixed and mobile infrastructures to La Poste Mobile, on which La Poste Mobile will be able to draw to continue its development,” he continued. 

The transaction is subject to standard regulatory approval, and is expected to close by the end of the year. 

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The 5G Landscape in Europe: Lessons for Emerging Markets

A new report from connectivity testing company MedUX has found that London’s 5G network speeds and performance fall significantly behind those of other major European capitals.

The 5G Quality of Experience benchmarking study reveals that in 2023, out of 10 cities tested, London ranked last across key metrics such as speed, reliability and overall user experience.

The report shows that Londoners suffer from both lower download and uplink speeds compared to their European counterparts. The city’s average download speed of 143 Mbps is 75% lower than best-in-class Lisbon at 528 Mbps, and considerably lower than that of its European peers with Porto at 446 Mbps and 326 Mbps for Barcelona. Munich in Germany, the second-worst city for 5G download speeds, had average download speed of 259 Mbps.

The company also adds that London has the second lowest reliability (service consistency) and accessibility (time-to-content) scores across Europe. This means that for 5G users in London, accessing websites will take longer than in Europe, watching movies on the go is more likely to result in lagging and drop outs and anyone gaming is more likely be frustrated by slow response times.

This is in stark contrast to Berlin, which has emerged as Europe’s 5G performance leader. Berlin’s success in 5G deployment is attributed to several factors, with the report giving the German capital an overall Quality of Experience (QoE) score of 4.69 out of 5.

MedUX says the city boasts the highest 5G coverage among European cities, with 89.6% of its population having access to 5G. This extensive coverage is complemented by Berlin’s network consistency and low latency. Its 5G infrastructure provides Europe’s best overall 5G streaming experience, with an average latency of less than 40 milliseconds.

MedUX Chief Marketing Officer Rafael Galarreta pointed to the UK’s decision to ban Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from its 5G infrastructure as a possible reason behind London’s lagging 5G network.

“This delayed deployment has likely affected overall coverage, availability, and user experience, particularly considering that the Huawei ban came after the initial rollout had already commenced,” Galarreta told CNBC.

UK telecoms operator BT Group estimated it would cost around £500 million over 5 years to remove existing Huawei gear and replace it with other vendors’ equipment. The lack of suitable vendors and the right equipment to replace Huawei gear has been a major issue. Such added capital costs and distractions for telecom operators like BT and Vodafone appear to have slowed London’s 5G rollout at a critical time. In contrast, Germany has based its decisions on which vendor to use in its networks on the equipment’s technological capabilities and internationally recognised security standards.

German operator Deutsche Telekom has also won the Mobile network test in Germany for the thirteenth time, with an outstanding rating. The annual test held by German magazine Connect, in partnership with Umlaut (an Accenture company) is regarded as one of the most important and widely recognised benchmarks in the industry. Deutsche Telekom led in all urban and rural regions in all categories bar one, hitting 99% and over in all categories.

More broadly across the continent, the EU has set up a program called the ‘2030 Digital Compass’, which sets out a vision for the EU to successfully achieve a digital transition by 2030. As part of the proposal, it stipulates that by 2030, “All European households will be covered by a Gigabit network, with all populated areas covered by 5G.”

The EU’s Digital Compass is an ambitious plan for digital transformation and inclusion. Faster data speeds, lower latency, and increased connectivity are essential to achieving almost every goal outlined in the plan. The mechanism for tracking the progress of this ambition is a system looks at “a structured, transparent and shared monitoring system based on the European Union’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) to measure progress towards each of the 2030 targets.”

However, using the EU’s own measure, on the DESI chart showing overall 5G coverage, the bottom 5 ranking countries are all countries which have placed some degree of restriction on Huawei.

DESI Chart 1

Source: EU Commission, 2023. DESI 2023 dashboard for the Digital Decade. https://digital-decade-desi.digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/datasets/desi/charts

DESI Chart 2

The 19th European 5G Observatory report, a website supported by the European Commission, which analyses the latest figures measuring achievements towards EU 5G targets, also shows these 5 countries at the bottom of their ranking table.

Fair Competition or Further Delay?

Restricting fair competition goes against the EU’s rules, whereas competition between companies benefits customers and spurs companies to innovate. The right for mobile operators to choose the equipment used in their networks, based on its technical capabilities and verified security standards is essential to ensure that they can offer customers the best quality of user experience, no matter where in Europe they are.

Ongoing Huawei restrictions continue to hold back the UK’s 5G roll-out with additional costs and delays looking likely. That leaves Londoners suffering the consequences, facing slow and unreliable service. So, whether it’s video calls with friends, online shopping, navigating with augmented reality maps, streaming content or gaming on the move, Londoners are getting a raw deal.

The report highlights the impact on users that politically motivated and overly restrictive regulation can produce. This goes a long way to explaining why many European commentators view London as cautionary tale for future 5G delivery.

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Verizon to deploy private 5G network at Audi test track


Press Release

Verizon Business and Audi AG today announced a partnership to build a state-of-the-art private wireless network and tech-testing environment at Audi’s automotive test track in Neustadt, Germany. The dynamic, multi-core wireless network is designed to duplicate network conditions in key markets around the world, with custom-built replicas of Verizon’s U.S. public network, local European networks, and the roaming network of Audi’s MVNO partner in Asia-Pacific. Audi and other brands from the Volkswagen Group have access to the track and network.

As the automotive industry continues its evolution toward software-defined vehicles, the geographic flexibility of the Neustadt test-track network gives Audi a competitive advantage in the global market by streamlining its multi-territory R&D test cycle, better replicating driver/passenger experiences around the world, and providing access to the latest network and application technology. Testable applications include voice, video, safety, autonomous mobility, vehicle-to-cloud communication, OEM-customer interactions, cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) features and functionalities, and more.

To achieve this blend of geographic flexibility and technological capability, Verizon Business tapped into a robust ecosystem of partners. The network uses a dual 5G and LTE Modular Private Wireless platform from Nokia, C-V2X and private MEC infrastructure utilizing AWS Outposts from Amazon Web Services, and real-time video and data-transmission technology from Smart Mobile Labs (stream management and distribution, full HD streaming, push to talk, push to video, stream recording, et. al.).

“Our needs for this test track were complex and multi-dimensional, encompassing many technologies, geographic network conditions, and industry trends. Verizon Business was able to provide a complete solution that will take time and cost out of the testing cycle and give us a competitive advantage in the global marketplace,” said Petr Kozak, Head of Development Infotainment, Connectivity, Data Management and Artificial Intelligence, Audi AG.

“This is about much more than equipping a work site with a private network. This is about bringing network conditions from around the world to one test facility, allowing Audi to exceed the already lofty demands of the mobility market looking years into the future,” said TJ Fox, SVP of IIoT and Automotive, Verizon Business. “Increasingly, vehicles are not just about transportation, but a means of communication, entertainment, education, and work — effectively, rolling cell phones and high-powered computers. That means the vehicle of the future will be packed with technology that needs to work under many different sets of network conditions, and Audi and Verizon Business are solving for those needs with this state-of-the-art facility.”

Verizon Business has end-to-end responsibility for the delivery and support of the high-performance, stable and secure private LTE/5G network, which can be adapted to the developments of the 3GPP standard over time.

Want to keep up to date with all of the latest developments in the German telecoms market? Join the industry in discussion at Connected Germany live in Munich

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Intracom Telecom brings energy-efficient data centre solutions to MWC 2024

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The future of routers requires no planned outages

The future of routers requires no planned outages

This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Vinai Sirkay, VP Business Development, IP Networks, Nokia

If, like me, you have been in the telecommunications field for some time, you will remember that networks were traditionally architected to deliver to a service level. We used complex calculations to derive measurements such as 99.999 percent or “five nines” availability, which became the basis for … [visit site to read more]

BT launches new NB-IoT network in smart cities push 


News 

The rollout will allow for widescale efficiency and cost-savings in a variety of industries 

This week, BT has announced the launch of its new Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network to aid its development of UK smart cities. 

The network, which according to BT covers 97% of the population, is underpinned by EE’s mobile network and will allow for widescale IoT use across various industries, such as agriculture and manufacturing. 

A NB-IoT network is a type of low power wide area network specifically designed to connect low power IoT devices, such as streetlights, sensors, or meters. According to BT, this will allow IoT devices to be managed automatically over a smart network, enabling, for example, broken streetlights to be automatically identified, thereby increasing energy efficiency and reducing costs.  

BT says that the new network will enable it to “fast-track” smart cities’s development, enabling new use cases focussed on monitoring and optimising energy use, storage, or distribution. 

“Growing numbers of businesses are beginning to realise the benefits of IoT applications, and our UK-wide NB-IoT network opens up a wide range of connectivity solutions for monitors, sensors, and other smart devices,” said Chris Keone, BT’s MD of Division X in a press release 

“Whether it’s building the smart cities of the future or reducing carbon emissions, our network will provide customers with the reliability and efficiency they need,” he continued. 

This NB-IoT network will not only find use in urban settings. In fact, BT is already trialling the technology for the agricultural industry, using sensors to monitor haystack temperature and prevent fire risks, and safekeeping of livestock through gate sensors. 

Catch BT at this year’s Connected North, 22-23 April in Manchester – book your tickets now! 

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Indian government plans to develop a home-grown mobile phone brand

The Indian government is working on developing an Indian mobile phone brand, a minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, whose portfolio includes communications, said this week.

He suggested that the government would also work on creating the entire handset ecosystem in the country, arguing that the success to date of large-scale mobile manufacturing would benefit the project, encouraging ecosystem partners to come to India in the next five years.

This follows a similar initiative relating to semiconductors which has seen a Micron plant under construction and, the minister suggested, more approvals on the way. Quoted by India’s Economic Times, he apparently said: “In that sense, we are moving from the design ecosystem to fab and ATMP (assembly, test and packaging) ecosystem.”

An indigenously developed app store – Indus Appstore – has also been developed, with apps accessible in 12 Indian languages.

Of course, India does already have a home-grown mobile handset company. It’s called Lava and is a manufacturer of smartphones, feature phones, tablet computing devices and laptops or notebooks, with operations in Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, the Middle East and Russia as well as India. It says it is now the only mobile handset company that makes truly ‘Make In India’ phones with complete control on design and manufacturing within India. 

Preparations are also being made to launch indigenous operating system BharOS-based smartphones on the Lava smartphone.  In the next six months there will be about 500 Lava-designed and manufactured phones in India, which will work on BharOS. 

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Türk Telekom adds xApps, 5G massive MIMO to Open RAN trial

Open RAN vendor Parallel Wireless says it has expanded its collaboration on Open RAN initiatives with Türk Telekom to include its energy-saving xApps solution and AMD-based 5G massive MIMO solution in the operator’s trial cluster.

Türk Telekom has already integrated Parallel Wireless’s Open RAN 2G, 3G, 4G technology within its field trial infrastructure, with 5G technology currently under lab evaluation.

The expansion includes the addition of Parallel Wireless’s GreenRAN xApps, which are designed to help network operators optimise power consumption by adapting to fluctuating traffic demands. Parallel Wireless says the GreenRAN suite provides companies with power-saving applications as an additional layer, running on an O-RAN-compliant near real-time radio intelligence controller (RIC) platform.

This enables Türk Telekom to enhance network performance, coverage, and energy efficiency while maintaining network performance and end-user QoE, said Steve Papa, founder and CEO of Parallel Wireless.

“Layering our GreenRAN xApps technology on top of what’s currently deployed allows us to support Türk Telekom in their journey to test and implement innovative industry developments,” Papa said in a statement.

Türk Telekom is an early adopter of Open RAN technology. In 2022, it launched a multivendor Open RAN initiative with Parallel Wireless and Juniper Networks to put together a trial Open RAN solution for testing in Türk Telekom’s Innovation Centre, as well as field environments. Juniper supplied the RIC for that initiative, while Parallel Wireless provided the Open RAN software.

“As our network grows, we are always looking for new industry developments and the best technology to allow us to stay at the forefront of advancements, to ensure superior optimization and scalable operations, while enhancing the experience for our users,” said Türk Telekom CEO Ümit Önal. “This opportunity is a win for operators who can use Open RAN to optimize network coverage and power consumption.”

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Vodafone shows off ‘pick and mix’ nature of Open RAN with NEC


News

The operator has upgraded one of its existing Open RAN masts in Devon with NEC equipment, demonstrating the benefits of interchangeable RAN components

Today, Vodafone has announced the deployment of NEC’s Massive MIMO technology to one of their live 5G Open RAN sites in Devon.

The deployment is notable for being one of the first examples of Open RAN components being swapped in a live commercial network deployment – a fact which Vodafone says exemplifies the flexibility of Open RAN.

“Massive MIMO is the cherry on top of any 5G installation,” said Vodafone UK Chief Network Officer, Andrea Dona. “It dramatically improves the efficiency of the site, and as a result, provides an enhanced mobile experience for our customers. This is an exciting development because it proves the benefits of OpenRAN. Here, we have replaced a component of a live mobile site with one from a different vendor, without operational complications, and it is running on software from Samsung. This is interchangeability and interoperability in action.”

While the components being swapped out for NEC kit are not specified, it seems likely to be Samsung equipment, given the South Korean vendor was announced as the company’s radio partner for the Open RAN deployment back in 2022. Vodafone also notes that the new NEC equipment is continuing to be run on Samsung software.

NEC has been one of Vodafone’s key partners on Open RAN since 2021, alongside the likes of Dell Technologies, Samsung, Wind River, Capgemini Engineering, and Keysight Technologies.

“We now have NEC Massive MIMO working in tandem with Samsung Networks radios, both of which are powered by Samsung management software. Underneath the hood, we have Dell Technologies servers with Intel chips, supported by the Wind River container-as-a-service software,” said Dona in a LinkedIn post.

Vodafone says it will use this new RAN configuration for the 2,500 Open RAN sites it aims to have deployed in th UK by 2027, primarily in Wales and the South West of England.

When the concept of Open RAN first hit the international stage around 2020, it came with the promise of a far more diverse vendor ecosystem, where interoperable RAN components from multiple providers could coexist happily within a single base station. Part of the motivation was to wean operators off their reliance on single RAN vendor giants – particularly Huawei –

Since then, however, this promise has gone largely unfulfilled. There have been relatively few commercial Open RAN deployments, and those that do exist are still typically reliant on a small number of players – far from the vibrant vendor tapestry vaunted at the start of the decade.

To further complicate matters, major vendors like Nokia and Ericsson are playing an increasingly significant role in the Open RAN ecosystem. Despite initially claiming that Open RAN could never contend with the capabilities of their single RAN solutions, both companies notably joined the O-RAN Alliance and have been gradually increasing their commitment to the concept of interoperability.

Indeed, we only need to look at AT&T’s decision to partner with Ericsson in a $14 billion Open RAN deal late last year to see that an Open RAN future for the telecoms industry need not necessarily mean a reduction in the network presence of the vendor giants.

The good news is, as proven by Vodafone’s announcement today, that this need not be the case forever. As Open RAN technology grows in popularly and maturity, component switching will become an even simpler process, potentially allowing operators greater opportunity to experiment with smaller vendors in live networks.

Whether this will be enough to persuade them to diversify significantly, however, remains to be seen.

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From humble beginnings: The amazing journey of Hormuud Telecom CEO Ahmed Mohamud Yusuf