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Eurobites: Ethiopia to re-open bidding on second operator licence

Also in today’s EMEA regional round-up: MTN warns of H1 earnings fall; Orange combines with SSE Networks for improved maritime connectivity; Brussels looks into latest Facebook acquisition.

  • Ethiopia is to re-open bidding on its second operator licence later this month, according to a Reuters report citing two government officials. This follows an earlier auction in May that resulted in the sale of only one licence, to a consortium led by Safaricom, for $850 million. The potential second licence sale is significant as it includes the right to market mobile financial services, which have already proved very popular in Africa.
  • One of the unsuccessful bidders in Ethiopia’s May auction was MTN, and there was more bad news for the South Africa-based operator this week as it issued a warning that it is expecting its first-half results (for the six months ended 30 June 2021) to see a decrease in earnings per share (EPS) of between 75% and 85% (or 506 cents to 573 cents) relating mainly to MTN’s operations in war-torn Yemen and the deconsolidation of subsidiary MTN Syria. It is also anticipating a decrease in headline earnings per share (HEPS) of between 5% and 15% (or 22 cents to 65 cents) relating to a number of factors including foreign exchange losses and sizable donations to organizations fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Orange has expanded its partnership with satellite operator SES Networks in a deal that will allow Orange to integrate its own global infrastructure with the global network coverage powered by SES Networks’ Skala Global Platform, providing Orange’s maritime customers with the opportunity to implement new onboard technologies such as AI and IoT applications.
  • Olivetti, which these days is Telecom Italia’s IoT unit rather than a maker of dependable typewriters, has signed a multi-year deal with IoT specialist SECO. The coming-together of SECO’s hardware and Olivetti’s software expertise will be marketed to business customers looking to further ‘digitalize’ themselves under the ‘Olivetti powered by SECO’ tagline.
  • The European Commission has launched an in-depth (‘Phase II’) investigation into Facebook’s proposed acquisition of Kustomer, a US-based CRM (customer relationship management) software company. The Commission is concerned that the deal would reduce competition in the CRM market and further strengthen Facebook’s market position in the online display advertising market by increasing the already gargantuan amount of data available to Facebook for the ‘personalisation’ of the ads it foists upon its users.
  • Openreach, the semi-autonomous network access arm of BT, has identified another 86 locations in the UK where it intends to switch off its ‘legacy’ copper-based services and instead focus on fiber. The locations in question stretch from Alva in the north to Worthing in the south. Openreach plans to withdraw all services that rely on the old PTSN network by December 2025.
  • UK operator Virgin Media O2 has extended its FTTP network to cover 7,800 homes in the Moston district of Manchester. Those signing up can look forward to average top speeds of 1,130 Mbps, which is 20 times faster than the local average, according to Virgin Media O2.
  • UK-based Colt Technology Services is trumpeting the fact that it is now interconnected at more than 200 public cloud on-ramp locations globally, covering most of the major public cloud points-of-presence (PoPs) in Europe and Asia.

— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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