Displaying items by tag: Telecommunications

Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica confirmed it will be selling up to 40 percent of its infrastructure unit Telxius to US investment fund KKR for 1.27 billion euros ($1.35 billion). The company, which is burdened by heavy debt, failed last September to float the unit after not being able to attract enough demand for the share sale.

Telefónica said it will keep a majority stake and operational control of Telxius, which operates telecommunications towers and subsea fiber optic cables, and would continue to consolidate it into its accounts. The subsidiary manages 16,000 telecoms towers in five countries as well as 65,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) of submarine fiber optic cables.

Telefónica, under the agreement, will sell a 24.8 percent stake of Telxius to KKR for 790 million euros. KKR will then have the option to purchase an additional 15.2 percent stake in Telxius for at least 485 million euros. The transaction values Telxius at 3.2 billion euros or 12.75 euros per share.

KKR’s head of Spain, Jesus Olmos, said in a Telefónica statement: “The combination of Telefónica’s industrial expertise and KKR’s financial and operations support will help Telxius as it continues to scale and grow.”

Telefónica had asked for 12-15 euros per share for Telxius when it tried to float the unit last year but the offers it received were too low. The move seems to be the “most logical outcome given the great difficulties in finding investors for the subsidiary in the past, combined with Telefónica’s refusal to sell it at any price,” said Bankinter, a Spanish bank, in a research note.

Telefónica’s debt was at 49.9 billion euros at the end of October last year, according to an AFP report. Therefore, the company is eager for cash, hence the sale of its infrastructure subsidiary, and is also considering a possible listing of its British unit 02, after the European Commission blocked its sale to Hong Kong group Hutchison.

Published in Finance

A leading Japanese telecommunications company is believed to be weighing up an investment of more than $1 billion in office-space start-up ‘WeWork’ – according to speculation circulating from the region.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that SoftBank Group Corp, which is headquartered in Tokyo, is keen on the investment which would represent the first deal from its $100 billion technology fund. Both organizations declined to comment on the speculation which simply added fuel that negotiations in relation to the proposed investment has begun.  

WeWork which is based in New York City is a company that provides shared workspace, community and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, start-ups, and small businesses. The firm which was founded in 2010 by Adam Neuman is currently valued at around $17 billion – and has over fifty co-working locations across the US, Europe and Israel – with further expansions detailing its ambition to reach every continent. It was also named among the ‘most innovative companies’ of 2015.

It has been disclosed that SoftBank had previously initiated primary discussions with WeWork, but at that stage no deal was brokered between the two organizations, so it has been suggested that there is no guarantee a deal will be struck this time either.

It has also been reported that a number of SoftBank executives have queried whether the WeWork deal is over-valued – citing that a company involved in office space is far removed from tech-focused investments. SoftBank have held discussion with global ride-hailing service Uber Technologies in recent times, but it has not been revealed whether or not an investment agreement was reached between them.

Any investment in WeWork or other companies wouldn’t happen until the SoftBank fund is finalized, which is expected in mid-February, according to people familiar with the matter.

Published in Finance

Nokia has acquired Eta Devices, a U.S.-based start-up specializing in power amplifier efficiency solutions for base stations, access points and devices. Eta Devices will bolster Nokia's push to enhance base station energy efficiency, an increasingly important area for operators on the path to 4.9G and 5G.

The demand for data from consumers and businesses is surging, as is the number of connected devices and things, with operators increasingly needing power that is delivered both cost-effectively and sustainably. Eta Devices' unique ETAdvanced power management technology can reduce heat waste drastically through the use of a new amplifier that works like an automated gearbox, adjusting energy usage by constantly providing just the right amount of power required for a radio signal. This translates to savings for operators that can be invested as 4.9G and 5G approach.

Eta Devices' technology reduces the need for backup power, translating into smaller base station cabinets and reduced equipment breakdown rates, and supporting Nokia's target to continuously strengthen the base station power efficiency of its products.

The acquisition of Eta Devices underlines Nokia's commitment to invent, design, and deploy sustainable technologies that make a real difference to people's lives, and take responsibility for the impact we make in the world. Nokia already offers a Zero Emission base station solution that reduces site energy consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 70 percent.

Eta Devices is a private start-up company founded in 2010. The company is headquartered in Cambridge, MA with an R&D office in Stockholm, Sweden, and it employs approximately 20 people. The acquisition includes fixed assets, employees, intellectual property rights as well as lease and supplier agreements.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Mobile has taken the world by storm. Data tells us that people are discovering content, brands and products in mobile apps more than ever before. Consequently, advertisers are looking for new and creative ways to share information with people. Leading the mobile revolution is Facebook, boasting the most popular app in the world. The social media giant has mastered the ability to offer its services to users free of charge, by relying on cash flow from advertisers who are eager to share their brands with Facebook’s audience of over a billion.

Thanks to the gargantuan success of its mobile app and the introduction of live video, Facebook blew people away recently with its impressive Q2 2016 results. The company announced $2 billion in net income for the second quarter of this year, which is double what it was just six months ago. But despite this positive growth, relying on advertising isn’t always easy, with more and more users turning to ad-blocking software because of ads that don’t function properly or simply don’t appeal.  

To continue its successful presence in mobile, Facebook is committed to building great mobile experiences for people, and doing so also opens up new creative possibilities for advertisers. Jane Schachtel is an expert on the changing face of advertising in the mobile realm, as Facebook’s Global Head of Technology and Telecom Strategy. With a background in digital marketing at Microsoft, and four years in her current position at Facebook, Jane shared her expertise with us in a recent interview, along with her colleague Terry Kane, Head of Auto Finance, Telco and Travel for Facebook and Instagram, Middle East and Africa (MENA).

Together the Facebook executives painted an intriguing picture of how challenging it is for advertisers to tell compelling brand and product stories on mobile in ways that are enjoyable for people and effective for their business.

“Globally, the shift to mobile isn’t happening – it has happened. In many parts of the world, smartphone penetration is upwards of between 40 percent and 80 percent depending on where you are. And the rest of those people, many of them have feature phones,” said Jane. Mobile connectivity is here, and the shift to mobile is really no longer a shift to mobile. It’s here. It’s happening. I think that by 2020, over 50 percent of the entire world will be 4G and 4G LTE connected. That connectivity is here today and is only going to get faster and better for people.”

Terry is based in the United Arab Emirates and leads the conversation for Auto, Finance, Telco & Travel verticals in MENA for Instagram. Through Facebook and Instagram, which he referred to as the “two most famous” social media platforms in the world, Terry said Facebook creates a unique environment for people to share things. The objective of Facebook, he said, is to connect to those family and friends, and brands and businesses that are meaningful to people; whereas the objective of Instagram is to be a place of “discovery where you can discover and effectively find things which are not necessarily part of your daily life.”

In order for Facebook to provide these interactive mobile environments for its customers, the company has to work closely with mobile operators. The relationship goes hand-in-hand. Without telcos providing the connectivity to users, Facebook couldn’t operate its platform. “It’s the world that telecom operators created, so we work with them to reach people on the very devices that they put people on every day,” said Jane. “We really are living in a mobile world.”

What that means is helping operators adapt to that mobile marketing type of work. Globally, the mobile marketing budgets are only about 10 percent of the total ad spends, according to IDC, but the opportunity is massive. People are spending hours on their phones and mobile operators are only spending 10 percent of their total marketing budget there. Clearly there’s an opportunity for them to expand their presence, according to Jane.

“What we do is sit down with them and talk about how they can adapt to this mobile behavior that they have created – that is different to what they’re used to,” she said. “We sit down with them to first understand how they can adapt to people and the things that they care about and talk about on Facebook. We know so much about people because they share their interests with their friends and they share them with us.”

When it comes to adapting to the change, telcos are generally in the midst of their own digital transformation and this means marketing as well. So for the last five years, Jane explained that Facebook has been working with telcos around the world on adapting their marketing to digital and now mobile.

“What makes it challenging is that the creative that they’re used to developing is one-minute television commercials, and what stops peoples’ thumbs in news feeds is something shorter, more impactful, and is very relevant and based on what you care about the most,” said Jane.

“In terms of the transformation, we partner with key selected telecom providers, tech providers, and other companies and other verticals and industries,” Terry added. “Whenever we partner with someone, we provide real value added services such as training, education and access to our creative shop. This is a group of the world’s best creative experts who look at business problems they might have such as brand awareness and brand differentiation, all the way through to how they can sell the latest upgrade to people who are reluctant to upgrade. We really break down those business challenges and then apply what we’ve got as in-house expertise.”

Selecting partners for Facebook to work with comes down to matching business goals, according to Jane and Terry. Facebook works with partners using the tools that Terry mentioned and it “turns into a very strategic partnership because we’re helping them achieve the types of business goals that marketing and a lot of the businesses are essentially reporting on, on a quarterly basis,” Jane explained.

“Particularly within [MENA], there’s no difference in terms of the vertical; they have the same challenges regionally as they will globally,” said Terry. “I think what’s unique about this region is coming back to this penetration of feature phones. There are few places in the world where feature phones will dominate the smartphone, and there are very few platforms like Facebook and Instagram that can take what telco providers and network providers are doing in terms of creative and naturally adapt it to the phone. Somebody sitting in North Africa with a feature phone will still be able to access Facebook and it will be rendered in the way that suits that phone the best, so that’s a critical component.”

Canvas: Bringing Brands and Products to life on Mobile

The struggle is real for the mobile advertising industry. The more time people spend online, the more content they are constantly being exposed to. Too much content can lead to saturation point, where users will lose interest in everything they see. In order to peak a Facebook user’s interest, say in the form of an advertisement, it needs to be engaging, relevant and functional.

Because of Facebook’s reliance on advertising, Facebook’s vice president for advertising and business platform, Andrew Bosworth, recently announced that Facebook will be tweaking the desktop version of its site to make it difficult for ad-blocking software to be effective. Its business is shifting dramatically toward mobile, with only about 16 percent of that advertising revenue coming from desktop ads, down from 24 percent a year earlier. But that 16 percent or so for desktop ads translates to more than $998 million just in the three months ending June 30.

It proves why advertising is so important to any online social platform, because it’s the main source of income in most cases. The trick is to create advertisements in a way that is appealing, useful and creative so that online users won’t mind, or even think twice about its presence, but simply click and enjoy. Facebook’s new platform, Canvas, allows just that.

“When you think about adapting to people and adapting to mobile and delivering long-term business value, telcos increasingly have a lot of different services that they want people to buy,” said Jane. “Sometimes they’re challenged because often they just communicate these only in terms of the price or the strength of their network. The ad network that we came out with recently called Canvas helps telecom operators take how they’re enabling your entire digital life and showcase that in a creative way.”

Often websites that open after someone clicks on are slow to load and not always optimized for mobile, creating a disjointed and frustrating experience for people. And website pages are only growing in file size. In 2015, the average website page, according to Facebook, was three times bigger than it was in 2011, and slow load times are a top reason people abandon a website. These trends prove that advertisers need a better way to share information after people click on their ad, and the information offered after someone clicks needs to load quickly, look beautiful on mobile, and allow people to take action easily.

To make this happen, Facebook created Canvas—a new post-click, full-screen, immersive mobile ad experience on Facebook that loads nearly instantaneously. Canvas helps advertisers achieve any objective by giving businesses a fully customizable digital space on which to build multimedia stories. Canvases open from Facebook ads in News Feed to reveal a full-screen experience where advertisers can use a mix of video, still images, text and call-to-action buttons to build beautiful and effective brand and product experiences on mobile.

“Canvas was built through the collaboration of the advertising community: Facebook engineers, designers and creative shop all working together in a constant feedback loop,” said Jane. “Canvases load approximately 10 times faster than mobile web. The average mobile web page download is around eight seconds.”

Within a Canvas, users can enjoy moving through digital stories easily. They can swipe through a carousel of images, tilt to view panoramic images, and zoom in to view images in detail, making the Canvas experience immersive and engaging in a way that mobile sites aren’t. It’s the next logical step in online advertising, as users become saturated with content and increasingly difficult to please.

Published in Interviews

The telecommunications industry is continuously evolving, influencing unexpected industries – even the energy sector. Now that connectivity is such a vital part of modern lifestyle, people today expect telecom operators to provide them with seamless service. But that isn’t always possible, especially for remote and rural regions that often suffer from power blackouts. That was, until, zinc-air energy storage emerged as a promising solution.

Zinc-air energy systems allow telcos to keep cellular base stations operational during periods of grid instability, storing significant amounts of energy through charging when electricity is not available, and then discharging energy when it is. Not only is zinc-air energy storage a convenient system for telecom cell sites, but it’s also environmentally sustainable, made from materials that are not harmful to the environment.

The need for new solutions to support telcos with backup power is an issue that has been growing in significance, influenced by the increased usage of electricity on a global scale. There’s an increased implementation of electronic communications equipment across the world with businesses and governments constantly using the internet, which is often supported by cell sites and base stations in remote regions. With an increased utilization and reliance on microprocessor-based technologies, companies are at a higher risk of being affected by blackouts.

The only way to effectively prevent these blackouts from affecting people’s day-to-day lives is for companies to prepare by implementing DC (Direct Current) power systems or AC (Alternating Current) power systems. Alternating Current is an electric current in which the flow of electric charge periodically reverses direction, whereas in Direct Current, the flow of electric charge is only in one direction. Traditionally, lead-acid batteries have been used by the likes of telcos for backup power infrastructure.

Telecom operations have relied on a variety of power sources to ensure their system is safe and that power quality is satisfactory, but with high power quality becoming extremely high priority, telecom backup power has taken a new direction. That’s where zinc-air energy is taking hold: a clean, efficient means of energy storage.

Behind the growing success of zinc-air energy storage is a company called Fluidic Energy, a commercial-scale, zinc-air battery firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company has managed to keep a rather low profile over the years, despite having raised more than $150 million in funding from strategic, venture and government sources.

In November 2015, Fluidic Energy signed an MoU in partnership with Caterpillar and PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara, Indonesia’s state-owned electric utility, kick-starting Fluidic’s deployment of thousands of its battery cells as a replacement for diesel generators or lead-acid batteries.

The initial purpose of the MoU for Fluidic, as reported by GTM, was to furnish reliable and renewable energy to 500 remote villages throughout Indonesia using PV solar combined with over 250 megawatt-hours of Fluidic battery capacity. Caterpillar’s involvement brought an existing, robust business in power generation for mining and remote sites, as well as a global sales and distribution network.

Speaking to GTM, Steve Scharnhorst, Fluidic Energy CEO, said zinc-air cells have potential for high energy density, high cycles and low weight. The battery has “free oxygen” as the catalyst for half of the reaction, while zinc is a cheaper commodity than lead.

“Zinc energy storage has been around forever – every button cell in a hearing aid uses it,” said Scharnhorst during an interview, but also mentioned that “re-chargeability was the challenge” – an issue that Fluidic has remarkably overcome. He said that applications requiring three to four hours in duration are best for lead-acid and lithium, but “neither do well over four hours. Long-duration gets expensive quickly at $300 to $400 per kilowatt-hour. Our sweet spot is four to 24 hours, and at $200 to $300 per kilowatt-hour, we’re ready to serve the long-duration market.”

Fluidic Energy was fortunate to initially find those willing to prove its concept, making the risky switch from lead-acid to zinc-air. Most of Fluidic’s deployments, since 2011, have been in remote, weak-grid applications. Today, most of the company’s deployments are in telecoms in the 1-kilowatt to 4-kilowatt range with eight to 12 hours of backup.

Fluidic Energy has now deployed some 75,000 batteries at 1,200 different sites around the world, says a report by Fortune. With Caterpillar as its distribution partner, Fluidic Energy has managed to raise millions in funding to grow its business. The company’s storage solution can be compared to lithium-ion batteries, used in a number of electronic devices today such as laptops and phones, but lithium-ion batteries are less well-suited for discharging energy over a period of time.

New types of batteries could help unlock clean energy and power off-grid villages like never before, suggests the Fortune report. Other companies, such as Tesla, LG and Panasonic, are said to be racing to compete in these new lucrative battery industries. But some in the battery industry debate if lithium-ion batteries will eventually become cheap enough to completely undercut the novel battery makers like Fluidic Energy. For example, in 2015 Tesla launched its grid battery business, which uses similar batteries to the ones powering its electric cars, which could amount to competition for the zinc-air energy concept.

The rise of Fluidic Energy

For a long time, researchers have yearned to successfully implement a metal air battery. While a battery is commonly made up of an anode on one side, a cathode on the other, and an electrolyte in between, a lithium-ion battery  moves from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte during charging and discharging. A metal air battery uses air for the cathode part of the battery. The advantage is that air is free, lightweight and widely available. Metal air batteries can suck in air and ditch the heavy casing that would normally hold the anode material inside the battery.

The specific type of metal air battery made by Fluidic Energy is called a zinc-air battery. Zinc is fabulously abundant, low cost, and is the key material that sits in the electrolyte of Fluidic’s batteries and moves onto the anode during charging and discharging. Fundamental to zinc-air technology is its reliance on sustainable materials in the construction of the cell and ancillary equipment. It also doesn’t contaminate ground water or other sensitive natural resources, according to Caterpillar.

“Fundamentally, zinc is the lowest cost winner for energy storage,” says Scharnhorst. Zinc has been used in batteries for a long time, but the main problem it always faced was that it wasn’t able to be recharged, thus only able to be used once (not very environmentally friendly or cheap). That’s where Fluidic made a major breakthrough, figuring out how to make a zinc battery that could be recharged.

Chuck Ensign and business partner Mike Pierce are behind the zinc-air energy solution. Back in 2004 and 2005, the two investor/entrepreneurs decided to take a closer look at new ways to store energy. The duo had been working with a private equity firm called True North Partners, which invested early in solar panel giant First Solar and wind materials company TPI Composites.

When the co-founder of True North Partners, John Walton, passed away in 2015, Mr. Ensign formed TN2 (True North Two), a firm which continued Walton’s vision of science-based technology, formulating ideas to tackle the world’s energy challenges. According to Fortune, TN2 is the largest shareholder and has invested in almost every deal that Fluidic Energy has been involved with.

TN2 was behind the initial research in energy storage about ten years ago, when many other venture capitalists were also eyeing the battery sector. Ensign’s research eventually took him to Arizona State University and the labs of ASU Professor, Cody Frieson, who at the time, was working on designs for a rechargeable battery. The two then worked together over the next few years, developing a zinc-air battery that would be “reliable, long-lasting, low-cost, and attractive to customers in the developing world.”

The United States Government also played a role in assisting with the implementation of the new zinc-air technology. The Department of Energy, back in 2009, launched its ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) program, giving out small grants (about $1 million) to startups looking to achieve difficult, but ultimately beneficial goals. At the time, Fluidic Energy was a start-up struggling to figure out how to get its battery to achieve ambitious milestones. Fluidic Energy was granted a sum by the department which helped to fund its research. The company now stands as a “poster child” of the ARPA-E program and what’s possible.

With this new revolutionary battery product, backed by TN2 and the ARPA-E, Fluidic Energy needed a market to sell its product to. That market turned out to be telecommunications. Fluidic sold its unique batteries to telecom companies in Indonesia, Central America and Africa; telcos operating in remote or rural areas far from a reliable power grid.

Telcos in such areas require consistent cellular signals for their customers by using base stations, but need a consistent way to charge them. Diesel generators were used at first for backup power, but they are environmentally damaging, inefficient, and the fuel can get expensive. Fluidic Energy’s zinc-air energy solution was the perfect alternative.

Scharnhorst has said that batteries (like diesel) are a high-theft item. He suggests that Fluidic's deep integration of electronics makes repurposing zinc-air batteries difficult and serves as a “theft deterrent”. The electronics also allow the company to "monitor the performance of every deployed asset we have around the globe" from its network operations centre in Scottsdale. He said the company can remotely take "a misbehaving cell offline to clean up the zinc anode and do maintenance."

Looking ahead, the biggest hurdle for Fluidic Energy will be competing against other similar enterprises that offer low-cost, lead-acid batteries for customers, including telcos. But Fluidic has the advantage that zinc-air batteries are lower cost than lead-acid batteries and can offer other enticing features such as integrated smart software, reliability, and a longer battery life.

Other startups that have succeeded in clean energy tech include First Solar and also Tesla. Only time will tell if Fluidic Energy’s zinc-air energy product proves to be worthy enough of elevating the company to the ranks of its market rivals. But if more companies around the world, particularly those in the telecommunications industry, are prepared to take a chance and move away from diesel generators, then Fluidic Energy certainly has a strong chance of making a significant impact.

Published in Reports

Aeris and Softbank form JV to tackle global IoT market

Written on Sunday, 17 July 2016 07:14

Global IoT service provider, US-based Aeris, has formed a joint venture with Japanese conglomerate SoftBank to provide IoT and telematics services globally using the Aeris IoT platform.

The platform is billed as “a comprehensive, end-to-end and proven set of key technologies that enable enterprises to bring IoT solutions to market quickly, cost-efficiently and with the highest security.” It consists of AerPort connectivity management platform, AerCloud applications enablement platform, AerCore IoT network and AerVoyance IoT analytics platform. Aeris says it has more than 7.5 million devices under management,

Aeris claims to be already one of the largest IoT service providers in the world serving hundreds of enterprises. It says the joint venture, Aeris Japan KK, will expand its business in Japan and beyond, including India, Europe and the United States, cover multiple market segments and offer a variety of services ranging from an IoT connectivity platform and IoT application middleware to complete IoT solutions for market segments including telematics in the automotive industry.

Softbank is global portfolio of companies that includes advanced telecommunications, media and Internet services, robotics and clean energy technology providers. Its assets include US mobile and fixed line telco, Sprint.

Aeris claims to offer “a comprehensive telematics solution for automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) including a full suite of driver, dealer and OEM services.”

It expects this to be one of the largest IoT markets, saying: “Machina Research predicts IoT will account for one quarter of the global 41 million 5G connections in 2024. Japan and Korea will lead the charge and embedded factory-fit connected cars will be the biggest IoT application, according to Machina Research.

“Japan will lead the Asia-Pacific region’s market growth for industrial IoT, which is expected to be worth $54 billion by 2020, according to tech research firm Technavio.”

Aeris Japan will be headquartered in Higashi-Shimbashi Minato-ku, Tokyo, and led by executives from SoftBank and Aeris including Hiroshi Akabori, COO, and Raj Kanaya, CEO, respectively.

Published in Internet of Things

UAE’s telecommunications sector leads the Arab community

Written on Thursday, 14 July 2016 13:25

The UAE is ranked ahead of all Arab states in the 2015 Networked Readiness Index (NRI) issued by the World Economic Forum, and twenty-third among all 143 countries assessed, moving up one position from twenty-fourth place in 2014.

International indices ranking a range of information and communication technology (ICT) indicators demonstrate the robust nature of the UAE’s telecommunications sector and the government’s success in leveraging advances in information and communication technologies to drive economic productivity and social development.

Internationally, the UAE is ranked first in ICT use and government efficiency, first in mobile network coverage, in terms of the percentage of the population covered, first in the importance of ICT to the government’s vision of the future, first in the impact of ICT on access to basic services, second in impact of ICTs on new services and products, second in government procurement of advanced technology products, fourth in laws relating to ICT, fifth in the impact of ICT on new organizational models, seventh in mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, and seventh in firm level technology absorption and in business-to-business internet use.

In terms of the individual indicators analyzed, the UAE ranked first among Arab states in business-to-consumer internet use, e-participation index, internet access in schools, secure internet servers, low software piracy rates and percentage of software installed.

UAE companies are also actively involved in satellite telecommunications regionally and globally. Thuraya in which Etisalat is an investor, is providing reliable and robust satellite communications, using Thuraya IP and satellite handheld phones, in many of the world’s remotest locations.

Another UAE company, the Mubadala-owned Al Yah Satellite Communications Company, or Yahsat, is the region’s first hybrid military and commercial satellite company. Yahsat’s satellites provide complete satellite communications solutions to 140 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Central and South West Asia.

Published in Government

British telecommunications giant Vodafone said on Wednesday, June 29, that the future of its London-based headquarters is in doubt after voters chose to quit the European Union. EU membership has been important to Vodafone's growth, the group said in a statement, with most of its 462 million customers and 108,000 employees based outside of Britain.

The bloc offered free movement of people, money and goods, as well as access to an emerging European digital market.

"It remains unclear at this point how many of those positive attributes will remain in place once the process of the UK's exit from the European Union has been completed," Vodafone said in a statement. "It is therefore not yet possible to draw any firm conclusions regarding the long-term location for the headquarters of the group."

The British public voted 52 percent to 48 percent in favour of leaving the 28-nation European Union in a June 23 referendum that has toppled Prime Minister David Cameron of ruling the Conservative Party and left the opposition Labour Party in turmoil.

It is unclear what Britain's relations with the European Union will take, nor even when the country will notify Brussels of its intention to leave, formally starting exit negotiations.

Vodafone said it would evaluate the developing situation and take "whatever decisions are appropriate" for its customers, shareholders and staff. The multinational group stressed that it was committed to supporting customers in Britain and would invest in its British operations in the future.

Published in Telecom Operators

How ‘Brexit’ could affect telecommunications

Written on Monday, 27 June 2016 10:40

The world will always remember June 23, 2016, as the day the United Kingdom of Great Britain voted to leave the European Union – a vote commonly referred to as ‘Brexit’ (British exit). The notice period required for the UK government to implement this decision means that Britain leaving the EU cannot be before June 2018. To understand the consequences of Britain leaving the EU on telecommunications, four partners at Bird & Bird, a tech-focused international law firm, shared their perspective in a report published on June 24.

According to the report, the most significant consequence of Brexit regarding telecommunications is that it will mean the Regulatory Framework will no longer be applicable in the UK. While this won’t necessary give rise to any immediate consequences, the Regulatory Framework has been written into UK law through national legislation, which will continue to be valid until Britain officially leaves the EU.

The Regulatory Framework is aimed at “harmonizing national telecommunications regulatory rules across the EU, promoting harmonization of telecommunications regulation, liberalization and competitiveness of telecommunications markets and protection of customer and end-user rights,” says the Bird & Bird report.

The issues addressed in the Framework range from authorizing telecommunications network access, to radio spectrum management, data privacy and consumer access to emergency services. Furthermore, in 2014, the European Commission issued a Directive on access to passive network infrastructure, including masts, ducts, towers and poles. If Britain leaves the EU, it will no longer be required to maintain laws in terms of this directive.

“In order to ensure the harmonized application of the Regulatory Framework at Member State level, national regulatory authorities are required to notify to the Commission all proposals to analyze telecommunications markets and all proposed regulatory conditions to be imposed on operators designated as having significant market power, for prior review/consultation,” says the Bird & Bird report.

It further adds: “Consequently, Ofcom as a Member State regulatory body in the UK is required to notify the Commission of any draft proposals that it has for regulating national electronic communications markets, such as the markets for broadband access or voice call termination, but will no longer need to do so following the UK's exit from the EU.”

One of the most important consequences of Brexit that the Bird & Bird report highlights is roaming. If Britain exits the EU, the nation will no longer be able to benefit from the Roaming Regulation (international roaming services) for UK citizens traveling within the EU. On the plus side, UK operators will no longer be obliged to pay EU roaming tariffs at the wholesale level. The report says there’s been speculation that Britain might introduce UK legislation to ensure a parallel roaming regime for UK citizens traveling throughout the EU.

Another controversial area is spectrum management and assignment. If Britain exits the EU, it will no longer have a say in decisions and initiatives on the harmonization of spectrum allocations and use across the EU. But it’s likely that the UK will continue to work with EU Member States through membership of other organizations such as the European Conference of Telecommunications and Postal Administrations or CEPT.

It’s also mentioned in the Bird & Bird report that depending on when Britain leaves the EU, some of the reforms that come out of the Regulatory Framework currently being undertaken as part of the Digital Single Market (DSM) initiative won’t be implemented into UK law or simply not maintained. The reforms under the initiative include a “review of a revision to the Regulatory Framework, and are expected to address a number of important issues, including the regulation of new services and technologies such as over-the-top (“OTT”) services.” The UK will only be affected if the UK leaves the EU before the date is set for implantation of the initiative into UK law, unless the UK chooses to make parallel reforms.

The report adds: “In the same manner, the Directives planned under the DSM project concerning contracts for the supply of digital content and for the online and distance sales of goods may not find their way into UK law or may not be retained under UK law, depending on the required national implementation dates of the eventual Directives and the date that a Brexit takes effect. These measures are currently seen as consumer-friendly and as relatively onerous for businesses. Similar considerations apply to other customer protection orientated reforms contained in the DSM initiative, and specifically those that will be legislated for as EU Regulations rather than Directives.”

An example of this is the proposed regulation on cross-border portability of online services. It’s possible that this could be adopted into law having “direct applicability as a Regulation” before Brexit. The Regulation will then automatically cease to apply upon the UK ceasing to be an EU Member States. This could be great for media rights holders (licensors) but not so great for consumers and users of online content.

When the UK exits the EU, it will have to establish its own national initiatives and agendas. The ambitious targets of the Digital Agenda for Europe for example, or any other European Commission agenda for that matter, will no longer apply to the Britain. No one can say whether Britain will continue down the path that it was set on as part of the EU, though it might “give preference to the same or better broadband speed targets for ubiquitous broadband access.”

The Bird & Bird report also brings attention to the fact that down-the-line; Britain leaving the EU is likely to lead to a “divergence between the UK and the rest of the EU.” For example, Britain will be free to legislate for the regulation (or de-regulation) of the national telecommunications markets as it wishes. “Moreover, Ofcom will no longer be required to notify the Commission of any draft proposals for the regulation of telecommunications markets in the UK. The UK will essentially have a "free hand" in market regulation, provided that it complies with WTO requirements,” says the report.

Business Implications

There’s already been a lot of panic and confusion associated with Brexit. For example, UK companies operating in other EU countries might be feeling uncertain about whether they will be able to continue practising business the same way. The same goes for EU companies operating in the UK. The Bird & Bird report says UK companies can “currently avail of the rights to free movement granted under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, including the freedom to provide services and freedom of establishment.”

This means that companies in the UK can provide telecommunications services in any other Member State of the EU, as long as the company complies with the national law requirements that apply to domestic companies in that country. If Britain leaves the EU, that could change. “Any regulatory divergence between the UK and the EU following a Brexit will also have a direct impact on telecommunications service providers in the UK,” says the report, adding that divergences may arise “in respect of the regulation of OTT services.”

Bird & Bird suggests that the UK could potentially take a more liberal approach towards these services than the EU Commission currently does, which could be seen as an advantage for some UK companies, allowing them more freedom. The report adds that the UK “may also favour a more pro-investment policy on regulation than certain other Member States.”

The same story applies to EU Member State companies operating in the UK. If Britain leaves the EU, these companies will no longer have automatic rights under law to provide electronic communications services. Aside from the complications for British and EU companies following Brexit, it will also have an impact on companies outside Europe who wish to operate in the region.

For non-European companies, Britain has been seen as a ‘stepping-stone’ into the greater EU market because of its widely-used language, relative ease of doing business and the significant size of the UK domestic market. Bird & Bird says from a compliance perspective, “this strategy can be particularly effective in a regulated environment, such as the market for electronic communications. The harmonization of telecommunications regulatory regimes across the EU has meant that a new market entrant in the UK will be subject to broadly similar regulatory requirements anywhere in the EU.”

If Britain does exit the EU, it may no longer be seen as a ‘springboard’ into the EU market, because of the loss of the EU ‘passport’ to the EU internal market that has been available through establishment in the UK and compliance with EU requirements in the UK as a Member State.

Published in Reports

Türk Telekom International (TTI), one of the leading telecommunications operators across Central and Eastern Europe, Turkey, Caucasus and the Middle East, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with PCCW Global, Hong Kong’s premier telecommunications service provider and international operating division of HKT, to explore service portfolio and geographic synergies between the two companies.

As part of the MoU, consideration will be given to making PCCW Global’s GTVN (Global Television Network) a managed end-to-end video transportation solution, available to TTI’s customer base of international broadcasters, video content distributors and carriers.

In addition, the MoU addresses how TTI could provide its customers with PCCW Global’s award-winning MOREAL cyber threat management service solution and other cloud-based security solutions from HKT. MOREAL is a real-time, self-learning network security capability which picked up the Global Telecoms Business award in 2015.

"We are delighted to have entered into this MoU to explore mutually beneficial business opportunities for our two companies," said Marc Halbfinger, chief executive officer of PCCW Global.

"TTI has an excellent track record for seamless connectivity and unique coverage from Western Europe through the Middle East and onward to Asia,” he added. “In addition, TTI has a wealth of experience in entering new markets throughout Central & Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), North Africa and Central Asia."

Türk Telekom’s CEO, Cengiz Oztelcan, added to this saying: "TTI is dedicated to delivering best-in-class solutions to our customers. Through this collaboration with PCCW Global, we believe enormous synergies will be found by leveraging our broad geographic reach to bring PCCW Global’s innovative suite of cyber and broadcast capabilities to serve our customers."

Published in Telecom Vendors
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