Displaying items by tag: BT

The US-led campaign against Chinese telecommunications behemoth Huawei is now facing resistance from a number of major European operators.

Washington has been engaged in a sustained offensive attack on China’s major telecommunication vendors Huawei and ZTE over the last number of years.

However, that has heightened in recent months, with the United States labelling Huawei and ZTE as a severe threat to national security. US President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order later this week which would prohibit both Chinese vendors from being involved in wireless networks in the US.

In addition to this, lobbyists on behalf of the US convinced its allies Australia and New Zealand to prevent either company from participating in the rollout of their respective 5G networks. The US is now pressuring Europe to follow suit.  Earlier this week, comments by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added further fuel to the ongoing saga when he said that countries that use Huawei technology could hurt their relationship with the United States.

However, that has been met with resistance from major European operators who have discovered that they will have to fork out more to replace equipment from Huawei and ZTE, and that a blanket ban on both companies would significantly impact its ability to launch 5G services in the next twelve months, as Huawei is the global leader on 5G equipment.

A number of prominent executives from Europe’s top operators told The Wall Street Journal that Huawei hardware was much better than the rest on offer and often cost less; not using it could well mean that Europe would lag Asia and countries in other regions that use gear from Huawei for their 5G rollouts.

In addition to this, Nick Read, chief executive of Vodafone Group, was quoted as saying in January that a total ban on the carrier's use of Huawei equipment “would have significant financial cost, would have significant customer disruption and would delay 5G rollout in several countries”. The UK's four major wireless operators — Vodafone, BT Group, Telefonica and CK Hutchison Holdings' Three — were all against a ban.

But it is not only big carriers who prefer Huawei equipment, with Jersey Telecom, a publicly-owned company operating in the Isle of Jersey, also expressing a preference for Chinese equipment.

The company sought bids from both Chinese and Western companies in 2014 for its wireless network and while Huawei's bid 20% below the lowest Western offer, ZTE was 40% cheaper. Jersey Telecom chief executive Graeme Millar went with ZTE, and commented: "I have a genuinely high-class, low-cost supplier with ZTE, who haven’t let me down yet.”

The US stands accused of using Huawei and ZTE as political pawns in the ongoing trade war standoff between Washington and Beijing.

Published in Telecom Operators

British operator announces that CEO will depart

Written on Sunday, 10 June 2018 12:54

British telecommunications operator BT has announced that current CEO Gavin Patterson will depart from his role later in the year after weeks of speculation regarding his position.

Patterson has been subjected to intense scrutiny from BT shareholders who expressed concern at the direction of the group under his leadership. Chairman of BT Jan du Plessis confirmed the CEO’s departure via a statement, citing that recent results indicated that it was clear change was needed to address the slump.

In the statement, du Plessis said, “The board is fully supportive of the strategy recently set out by Gavin and his team. However, the ‘broader reaction’ to recent results has demonstrated to Gavin and me that there is a need for a change of leadership to deliver this strategy".

BT announced last month that it plans to axe over a thousand jobs in a bid to offset cash problems and also confirmed it would relocate its headquarters and move out of its famous London base. BT has in recent years launched a costly push into broadcasting live Premier League football matches, hurting the group's bottom line.

In addition to launching BT Sport during his five years as CEO, Patterson also purchased mobile operator EE from Deutsche Telekom and Orange in a £12.5-billion ($16.8-billion, 14.2-billion-euro) deal.

Following Friday's announcement, BT's share price was down 0.44 percent at 202 pence on London's benchmark FTSE 100 index, which was down 0.8 percent overall in early deals.

   "Since 2016, BT's share price graph resembles something of a black run; pretty much always on a downward trend and with a few nasty cliffs here and there," noted George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. Shareholder confidence has followed the share price down," he added.

Published in Telecom Operators

BT aims to reduce carbon emissions 87% by 2030

Written on Tuesday, 19 September 2017 11:32

British telecom giant BT said it aims to reduce its carbon emissions 87 percent by 2030, setting itself on a path to help limit global warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century. As part of the transition to a low carbon business model, BT had previously set itself a target in 2008 of an 80 percent reduction of its carbon emissions by 2020.

After reaching this target four years ahead of schedule, BT has set a new 2030 target, approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative, which is aligned with the most ambitious aim of the COP21 Paris Agreement. This aim seeks to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it even further to 1.5°C by the end of the century.

To meet this ambitious goal BT will be targeting innovative ways to further reduce its dependency on fossil fuels, for example through the adoption of low carbon vehicles in its fleet and reducing the carbon intensity of buildings.

“The role that technology can play in creating a more resource efficient world is both profound and exciting,” said BT Chief Sustainability Officer, Niall Dunne, announcing the target. “The benefits of leading climate action extend to our customers, suppliers and people. Our commitment to this 1.5°C target will help create partnerships and coalitions that continue the unstoppable momentum enabled by the Paris agreement.”

As part of its wider energy program, BT has made strides in reducing its end-to-end carbon footprint which has helped to deliver a total of £221m of energy savings since 2009/2010. BT is also well on its way to achieving its commitment to purchase 100 percent renewable electricity for its operations by 2020, where markets allow, the company said, sourcing 82 percent renewably last year.

In addition, BT promotes energy efficiency by providing products and services that enable its customers to reduce emissions. As part of its 2020 ambitions, BT aims to help its customers cut their carbon emissions by at least three times its own end-to-end carbon impact. So far it has reached 1.8 times, enabling customers to avoid 10 million tons of carbon in 2016/2017, up 32 percent on the previous year.

These carbon-abating products and services represented £5.3bn, or 22 percent, of BT’s total revenue last year. BT’s commitment to reducing its carbon intensity could help the UK Government meet its carbon reduction targets. International climate negotiations will continue at COP23 in Bonn, Germany, this November.

UK telecommunications incumbent EE has threatened Ofcom with legal action if it doesn’t reverse its decision to set a spectrum cap on forthcoming 4G and 5G auctions. EE has been backed by rivals O2 UK as the fallout from the decision shows no signs of abating.

The UK regulator announced in July that it intended to impose a cap of 340MHz on all operators for spectrum expected to be usable by 2020, which was proposed in an effort to reduce the share held by EE, which is the country’s largest asset holder, and its parent company BT.

At the time of Ofcom’s announcement, both 02 UK and 3 UK expressed that the measures proposed fell short in their expectations, whilst EE believed the strategy was ‘unnecessary’. In addition to this, it was disclosed earlier this month that 3 were preparing to initiate a legal challenge, stressing that the regulator had failed to address competition concerns raised by the operator.

3 UK has been a long-term critic of the division of spectrum in the UK, and has vehemently opposed the current policy approach in relation to spectrum allocation. It has previously threatened legal action if Ofcom refused to address the market dominance currently enjoyed by both BT and Vodafone with its auction rules.

Analysts have now predicted that with legal challenges now likely, the 4G and 5G auctions for spectrum which were due to take place at the end of 2017, it will now be delayed until the issues raised have been resolved either through dialogue between Ofcom and the operator or through the courts. EE accepted the regulators decision on 4G, but stressed it wanted to be able to participate in the auction for the most of up-to-date 5G spectrum.

A spokesman for EE said it was reluctant to take legal action, but feels it has no other option to do so, citing that it had an obligation to protect its customers’ mobile experience. The EE representative said, “In response to 3’s action, we have made the difficult decision to challenge the proposed structure of the next auction of mobile spectrum. We need to protect our customers’ mobile experience, and help build the platform for the UK to have the highest quality 5G networks.”

Reports in The Financial Times suggest that Ofcom have declared that any legal action will put the future of mobile data at risk – and issued a warning that it could potentially have a knock-on effect on the rollout of 5G services.

O2 CEO Mark Evans declared that legal action would inevitably delay the auction, and criticized the approach that has been taken.  The CEO said, “Legal action will inevitably cause delay to the auction and gives no thought to the impact and harm this will have to UK customers, companies and economic growth. This country desperately needs more mobile airwaves. It is possible to hold the 2.3GHz auction now and grant immediate access to the newly-available spectrum. Ofcom can and must act,” he added.

Published in Telecom Operators

BT announced the launch of a new project with See.Sense, an innovative cycling company from Northern Ireland, to provide sensor-enabled and connected bike lights to up to 180 cyclists across Manchester as part of CityVerve, the UK’s smart city demonstrator.

The See.Sense light sensors, known as ICONs, connect via Bluetooth to an app on Android phones. The app will transmit anonymised data on the cyclist’s environment – such as the quality of the road surface, light levels, as well as cycling routes, collisions and near-miss events - back to BT’s Internet of Things (IoT) data hub.

Many thousands of IoT data feeds are collated by the BT hub and presented in a uniform way for innovators and city planners working with CityVerve. By acting as an information broker, the hub lowers the barrier to participation in the IoT ecosystem. Easy access to the data will help developers turn innovative ideas into applications in many areas, including planning ways to improve cycling infrastructure, and creating policies to promote cycling in the city.

See.Sense were crowned winners of a BT competition last year and received a £15,000 prize fund to help with their project. The award-winning lights are designed specifically to be daylight-visible, enhancing cyclist safety in all lighting conditions, while flashing brighter and faster in riskier situations such as round junctions and roundabouts. They were also recently voted ‘Best Bike Gadget’ by readers of road.cc, the UK’s biggest online cycling website.

Professor John Davies, Chief Researcher of Future Technologies at BT, said: “This is an exciting project to be working on with Manchester City Council and CityVerve. There are wide range of opportunities emerging from the real-time data collected from the lights and other sources stored in our platform, bringing valuable insights for the city’s infrastructure and policies, and helping develop a safer and better cycling experience for the people of Manchester.”

Irene McAleese, Co-founder of See.Sense, said: “This project is providing us with an opportunity to have a closed trial for data collection at scale, and show how our unique crowdsourced data can be used to reduce barriers to cycling, particularly around safety. Better data will help to make cycling more visible to policy makers, and allow cities to take adaptive, data-driven decisions. This will also provide the opportunity for improved integration of cycling into the city’s mobility plans.”

The app which tracks the lights is only available via Android phones. The trial will run from the 14th of August until the end of the CityVerve project, and the cyclists can keep using their lights at the end of the trial.

Published in Internet of Things

British telecommunications colossus BT has announced that it will invest £600m in faster broadband services in rural parts of the United Kingdom. BT believe the investment will enable them to provide all households in Britain with access speeds of at least 10 megabits per-second, which will allow users to be able to stream content from OTT services such as Netflix and YouTube.

Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley has said that the UK government will take into consideration the voluntary offer from BT, whilst also weighing up whether a regulatory approach may be the best way of achieving its ambition to enhance broadband services to all homes and business in the UK.

The proposal tabled by BT consists of a plan from the telecommunications provider to fund the investment themselves, and it would recover costs by charging access to its local networks. BT’s chief executive, Gavin Patterson, claimed that he expected close to 95% of all homes and businesses in the UK would enjoy enhanced broadband speeds by the end of the year.

Patterson said, “We already expect 95 percent of homes and businesses to have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps or faster by the end of 2017. Our latest initiative aims to ensure that all UK premises can get faster broadband, even in the hardest to reach parts of the UK."

In addition to this, the UK government said that BT’s plan foresaw taking coverage of at least 10Mbps to around 99% of homes and businesses by 2020, with the project estimated to be completed within two years after that. However, the proposal was criticized by representatives of the UK government’s opposition, The Labour Party for not being ambitious enough and called for the proposal to be reexamined.

Published in Telecom Operators

The UK’s telecom regulator Ofcom announced that later this year it will auction licenses to use 190 MHz of spectrum in two frequency bands, to increase the airwaves available for mobile devices by almost one third. Ofcom said it is helping meet strong demand by releasing extra spectrum, allowing mobile operators to increase their networks’ capacity.

However, UK operator Three publicly disapproved of Ofcom’s announcement in a statement, saying Ofcom’s proposal is “a kick in the teeth for all consumers and in particular for the near-200,000 people who signed up to the ‘Make the Air Fair’ campaign.”

Three launched the campaign in late 2016 calling on consumers to help it fight for a 30 percent spectrum cap before the spectrum auction. The campaign aimed to tackle rival operator BT/EE’s alleged “spectrum dominance”. BT/EE own more than 40 percent of the UK’s available spectrum, and Three has expressed concern that the upcoming auction will enable the two operators to gain more spectrum, thus increasing their dominance.

“By making decisions that increase the dominance of the largest operators, Ofcom is damaging competition, restricting choice and pushing prices up for the very consumers that it is meant to protect,” said Three’s statement. “The mobile market is imbalanced and failing customers. Ofcom has shown little interest in tackling the problem. We will consider our response as a matter of urgency.”

40 MHz of spectrum will be auctioned in the 2.3GHz band by Ofcom. This band is already supported by mobile devices from manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung. These airwaves could be used immediately after release to provide extra capacity, meaning faster downloads and internet browsing for mobile users, according to Ofcom.

In addition, 150 MHz of spectrum will be auctioned in the 3.4GHz band. These airwaves are not compatible with most current mobile devices, but are expected to be usable by future phones and tablets. The 3.4GHz band has been identified as central to the rollout of 5G mobile across Europe.

Ofcom has expressed its intention to reduce BT/EE’s overall share of mobile spectrum by imposing two different restrictions on bidders: “These will limit the amount of spectrum operators can win in the 2.3GHz band; and place overall limits on the spectrum an operator can win across the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands in aggregate,” said the regulator in a statement.

Ofcom said it will place a cap of 255 MHz on the “immediately useable” spectrum that any one operator can hold as a result of the auction. This cap means BT/EE will not be able to bid for spectrum in the 2.3GHz band. In addition, Ofcom will place a new, additional cap of 340 MHz on the overallamount of mobile spectrum a single operator can hold as a result of the auction. This cap amounts to 37 percent of all mobile spectrum expected to be useable in 2020, which includes not only the spectrum available in this auction but also the 700MHz band.

“Taken together, the effect of the caps will be to reduce BT/EE’s overall share of mobile spectrum; the company can win a maximum 85 MHz of new spectrum in the 3.4GHz band,” said Ofcom. “The overall cap also means that Vodafone could gain a maximum 160 MHz of spectrum across both the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands.”

Philip Marnick, Ofcom’s Spectrum Group Director, said: “Spectrum is a vital resource that fuels the UK’s economy. We’ve designed this auction to ensure that people and businesses continue to benefit from strong competition for mobile services.”

Marnick added: “We want to see this spectrum in use as soon as possible. With smartphones and tablets using even more data, people need a choice of fast and reliable mobile networks. These new airwaves will support better services for mobile users, and allow operators to innovate and build for the future.”

Published in Telecom Operators

French telecom giant Orange announced it has launched the sell-down of approximately 133 million shares that its subsidiary Atlas Services Belgium owns in BT, representing around 1.33 % of the share capital of BT, through a private placement by way of an accelerated bookbuilt offering.

BT will acquire up to GBP 200m in the placement of BT shares, part of which for the benefit of its Employee Share Ownership Trust, at the placement price. Such order will be fully allocated by Orange.

Simultaneously, Orange announced it has launched an offering of bonds exchangeable into BT shares due 2021 for a nominal amount of approximately GBP 520 million, at a premium of 35% to 40% above the share placement price carried out by way of a private placement.

Orange would initially retain a 2.66% stake in BT. In case of exercise in full of the exchange rights underlying the bonds, Orange would retain a 1.33% stake in BT.

The exchangeable bonds, with a maturity of 4 years (except in the case of early redemption), are issued in GBP. They will bear a coupon between 0% and 0.375% and will have negative interest rate after hedging in euros. They will be offered at an issue price of between 100.5 % and 100 % of the principal amount, corresponding to an annual yield to maturity of between -0.125 % and 0.375 %.

The exchangeable bonds are expected to be issued in principal amounts of GBP 100,000 per bond and will be redeemed at par at maturity (except in the case of early redemption).The holders of exchangeable bonds may exercise their exchange right at any time from 7 August 2017 until the 55th calendar day before the maturity date of the bonds. Orange will have the flexibility to settle in cash, deliver ordinary shares of BT or a combination thereof.

The underlying exchange property (being initially only BT shares) will be subject to customary adjustment upon the occurrence of certain corporate events pursuant to the terms and conditions of the bonds.

The final terms of the placement and of the exchangeable bonds issue are expected to be announced on 20 June 2017 at the latest. Settlement for the placement of the BT shares and the exchangeable bonds issue are expected to take place on 22 June 2017 and 27 June 2017 respectively. An application will be made for the exchangeable bonds to be admitted to trading on the Marché Libre d’Euronext Paris.

Orange will agree to a 90-day lock up for its remaining shareholding in BT, subject to waiver from the joint bookrunners and certain exceptions, in particular the possibility to sell BT shares to a strategic investor (provided that this investor agrees to be bound by a similar lock-up commitment) or to monetize scrip dividend.

The proceeds of these transactions will be used for the general corporate purposes of Orange.

The placement of the shares and the exchangeable bonds issue are targeted at eligible institutional and qualified investors. The definitive terms will be determined following the completion of the accelerated bookbuilding process. There will be no public offering in any country.

Published in Finance

British energy giant SSE is reportedly looking to expand its scope by investing in ultrafast broadband infrastructure, accelerating its move into telecoms, and threatening firms such as BT and Virgin Media. SSE is said to be exploring the business case for laying new fiber optics to homes and businesses that would provide more efficient internet connections than copper lines or cable.

The company has been working towards infrastructure investments “all the time” according to David Walter, director of SSE’s broadband business, to establish itself in the telecoms sector, The Telegraph reports. However, at this stage no concrete decisions have been made by SSE and no investment is currently pending.  

SSE’s move into telecoms infrastructure laying could be viewed as a sign of confidence in the growing links between broadband and the utilities sector. SSE and its energy industry rivals are increasingly expanding their scopes to provide thermostats and other technology that requires an internet connection, thus closing the gap between utilities and communications. The move would also be welcomed by regulators that want more competition at the infrastructure level.

However, SSE’s move could also be seen as threatening and disrupting the marketplace with its investment, says Mimosa Networks CPO Jaime Fink. “To compete with BT and Virgin Media, SSE will need to select the right tools for the job,” he said. “Whilst the industry will always rely on deep fibre to feed bandwidth into neighbourhoods and urban areas, fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) is not cost effective and is disruptive to deploy.”

Fink believes SSE should “take lessons from internet providers in the US and use fixed wireless to deliver broadband to the home, which offers speeds akin to FTTH, at nearly one-tenth of the cost.”

Fink added, “New US broadband market entrants such as Google and Facebook are leveraging fixed wireless, with established players such as AT&T and Verizon also considering this approach for rapidly commercialising 5G. The technology could help SSE serve all environments efficiently across the UK, undercutting the market with the speed and price of its service.”

It’s likely that SSE’s investment in new fibre optics would be with partners, according to Mr. Walter. The cost of building the new connections, he said, could be shared with retail rivals, and SEE could use existing backbone networks in the UK, like those owned by CityFibre and Vodafone.

A similar project by TalkTalk in York has caught the attention of SSE to watch how things pan out. Mr. Walter hasn’t ruled out a major acquisition such as TalkTalk as a way of shortcutting SSE’s way to high status in the industry, but he said the company had a “clear idea of [what] multiple broadband subscribers are worth.”

Published in Infrastructure

British telecoms giant BT announced a contract with Bridgestone Europe for new network infrastructure and managed cloud services connecting more than 200 sites across 20 countries in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Bridgestone Europe, with headquarters in Brussels and serving markets across EMEA, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest tyre and rubber company.

BT will securely connect 150 retail stores and more than 50 offices, manufacturing plants and testing facilities using both BT’s global IP Connect virtual private network and its high performance internet service. BT’s Connect Intelligence service will ensure high performance of Bridgestone’s business critical applications.

Leveraging the new network infrastructure, Bridgestone will deploy BT’s One Cloud Cisco portfolio of secure, cloud-based communications to enhance collaboration between employees as well as with customers and suppliers. Employees will also have access to powerful collaboration tools, such as Cisco WebEx, and enjoy high definition audio-conferencing services, all managed by BT.

Across Europe, call centre agents will benefit from using BT’s Cloud Contact Cisco. The omni-channel contact centre service will allow customers to interact with Bridgestone agents through a wide variety of channels, including voice, e-mail, SMS, web chat and social media.

Chet Patel, president Continental Europe at Global Services, BT, said: “I am proud that Bridgestone Europe has entrusted us with the strategic building blocks of their ICT operations. At BT, we see digital transformation as empowering people – customers, businesses and employees – to do amazing things. We call this making the Digital Possible.”

BT will also manage Bridgestone’s in-office - and in-store - fixed and wireless local area networks to enable employees to securely access the corporate network.

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