- BT’s CEO heralds a “bright future” following H1 results
- Qualcomm’s financials signal a smartphone chip recovery
- Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile US want your AI ideas
In today’s industry news roundup: Philip Jansen is going out on a high at BT; Qualcomm’s financials suggest sunlit uplands for the smartphone sector; Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile US are looking for AI innovations to fund; and much more!
BT’s share price jumped by almost 7% to 118.8 pence on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday following the publication of the UK telco’s half year financial results. While the operator’s revenues were roughly flat year on year for the six months to 30 September at £10.4bn, its adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), which is regarded as a sign of a company’s financial health, was up by 6% to almost £4.1bn and its profit before tax was up by 29% to almost £1.08bn. “These results show that BT Group is delivering and on target: We’re rapidly building and connecting customers to our next-generation networks, we’re simplifying our products and services, and we’re now seeing predictable and consistent revenue and EBITDA growth… BT Group has a bright future,” noted CEO Philip Jansen (pictured above), who is leaving the company at the beginning of 2024 and handing over to Allison Kirkby. “We’ve strengthened our competitive position with the launch of both New EE and our renewed strategy in Business, and Openreach has now built full fibre broadband to more than a third of the UK’s homes and businesses [12 million properties] with a growing connection rate. Our transformation programme has now delivered £2.5bn in annualised savings, well on track to meet our £3bn savings target by FY25,” added Jansen, who will be the subject of an in-person fireside chat at TelecomTV’s Great Telco Debate in London on 7 December. The wholesale fibre access network rollout being undertaken by BT’s quasi-autonomous division Openreach is key to BT’s stability and future and is being rolled out at pace – in the most recent three-month period (fiscal second quarter) an additional 860,000 premises were reached by the unit’s fibre network, while the take-up rate for Openreach’s fibre lines stands at a healthy 33%. BT’s retail business, which is the anchor customer for Openreach, saw its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections grow by 48% year on year to 2.2 million, while the telco’s 5G customer base grew by 42% year on year to 9.9 million. For further details, see this earnings announcement.
Qualcomm reported fiscal fourth-quarter revenues of $8.63bn, down by 24% year on year, while earnings before tax were down 37% to $2.6bn, which all sounds rather grim. However, the numbers were better than expected, as was the wireless chip giant’s revenue forecast for the fiscal first quarter of the new financial year of between $9.1bn and $9.9bn. “Qualcomm reported good results signalling that the worst is over,” noted seasoned industry analyst Richard Windsor in his latest Radio Free Mobile blog, adding that signs of a turnaround in the chip sector had also been signalled by recent results from Samsung and chip manufacturer TSMC. “This is good news for the smartphone component industry as one of the negative factors (excess inventory) affecting demand has been removed,” he said. For more on Qualcomm’s fourth-quarter and full financial year results, see this earnings announcement.
Just as the Collins English Dictionary picked AI as 2023’s “Word of the Year” (which is anything but a surprise), German telco Deutsche Telekom (DT) and its US subsidiary, T-Mobile US, demonstrated a readiness to throw money at discovering the next hot AI developments. For the fourth edition of their annual international competition, dubbed “T Challenge”, the pair will be looking to invest in AI-driven solutions designed to improve the management of the network and the customer experience. The first prize for the best innovation will be €150,000; second place will be awarded €75,000; and third place will receive €35,000. DT and T-Mobile US will also grant “special prizes” of €25,000 each for the most sustainable and the most ethical solution, as well as for the most interesting presentation. Winners will be able to develop their solutions together with experts from DT and T-Mobile. The closing date for entry submission is 26 January 2024, and winning solutions will be announced and showcased on 10 and 11 June 2024. “AI has the potential to usher in a whole new era of innovation and efficiencies, not only for our network but for businesses and consumers as well,” noted John Saw, EVP and CTO at T-Mobile. “T Challenge is an excellent opportunity to support developers in actualising their technologies and be at the forefront of the AI wave,” he added. More information about the competition can be found here.
US operator Verizon has appointed Tony Skiadas as its permanent CFO following the departure of Matt Ellis at the start of May 2023. Skiadas took over the role of interim CFO in March as part of a wider senior management overhaul. Announcing the permanent appointment of Skiadas in a LinkedIn post, Verizon CEO and chairman, Hans Vestberg, said, “Given his rich experience of 27 years at Verizon, Tony knows every aspect of our business, and he’s the right leader at the right time to strengthen our financial position while accelerating our momentum. Tony not only understands how we must perform as a business to deliver strong financial and operational results but he also has the vision to look beyond the here and now to prepare us for what the future will demand.” He added that Skiadas will be leading the company’s financial matters in a time when “we take on Verizon’s most ambitious chapter yet”.
Still with Verizon… The US telco giant has transported 1.2 terabytes of data per second (Tbit/s) across a single wavelength in tests on its live metro fibre network. In partnership with Cisco, Verizon has completed trials of its commercial fibre network in Long Island, New York State, which have demonstrated “increased speed, increased reliability, and increased overall capacity” for the operator’s fibre network. According to Verizon, this milestone shows that data carried over its fibre network can be more reliable and is able to travel “farther and faster, leading to a better customer experience”. The company also said it has invested in “one of the most robust” fibre networks in the US, having deployed nearly 57,000 fibre miles since 2020 and connecting more than half of its cell sites with its own fibre. Read more.
Lumen Technologies, the US operator formerly known as CenturyLink, may have successfully sold its EMEA network and operations to Colt for $1.8bn, but there’s little else in its financials to cheer it up right now. The operator, which is now focusing mainly on US enterprise customers (though also building out a high-speed fibre access network in a small number of states), has had to secure an agreement from creditors that hold more than $7bn of the operator’s $20bn debt to extend the duration of the debt support and even provide further financial support to the tune of $1.2bn to provide Lumen with the “significant flexibility” needed to “execute its transformation strategy”. The agreement came as Lumen reported its third-quarter financials, including revenues of $3.64bn, almost $180m lower than the same period a year earlier on a comparative basis, while its adjusted EBITDA dipped by 55% to $994m. In an effort to reduce costs, Lumen is to axe about 4% of its workforce (some 1,200 roles), CEO Kate Johnson announced during the company’s earnings call.
As a sign of efforts to further boost its presence in the video streaming domain, the Walt Disney Company has announced plans to fully own American subscription streaming service Hulu. In a brief notice, the company stated it will acquire the 33% stake in Hulu, which is currently held by media and entertainment company NBC Universal (NBCU), a subsidiary of media and technology giant Comcast. Disney added that it expects to pay NBCU around $8.61bn by 1 December. This amount represents “NBCU’s percentage of the $27.5bn guaranteed floor value for Hulu that was set when the companies entered into their agreement in 2019, minus the anticipated outstanding capital call contributions payable by NBCU to Disney,” the company explained, adding that the acquisition of Hulu “will further Disney’s streaming objectives”. Disney acquired two-thirds of Hulu in 2019 – see AT&T sells off Hulu stake as the streamers get themselves vertically integrated.
Canadian telco giant Telus, domestic company TerreStar Solutions (operating under the Strigo brand that provides mobile communications services in remote areas) and Skylo, a non-terrestrial-network (NTN) service provider, say they have achieved Canada’s first two-way communication between smartphones and satellites. The three companies conducted a trial in which they combined a technology platform provided by Skylo, TerreStar’s spectrum and service platform, and Telus’s expertise in network building. Telus explained that the trial made it possible for the companies to use TerreStar’s existing geostationary satellite to conduct voice calls, send text messages between smartphones and connect to internet of things (IoT) devices. “This is a bold step toward a future without mobile no-coverage zones, one where all Canadians can feel safe and connected,” the Canadian telco noted in a statement. The company plans to continue exploring the technology and hopes to introduce devices that run it to customers in 2024. Find out more.
- The staff, TelecomTV
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