What’s up with… Cellnex and Deutsche Telekom, Virgin Media O2, Rakuten Symphony

  • Cellnex adds a slice of equity to its DT towers bid 
  • Virgin Media O2 sticks its small cells on lots of London’s street furniture 
  • Dell 5G executive jumps ship to take senior role at Rakuten Symphony

In today’s industry news roundup: Cellnex reportedly offers a slice of equity to Deutsche Telekom as tower takeover talks continue; Virgin Media O2 furnishes London’s streets with hundreds of small cells; Rakuten Symphony tempts a senior Dell executive to join its Open RAN cause; and more! 

European neutral host infrastructure firm Cellnex is offering a small stake to Deutsche Telekom as part of its bid to acquire the giant German operator’s mobile towers unit (Deutsche Funkturm), which is currently up for sale and attracting a lot of interest, according to Reuters. Cellnex confirmed in late May that it is interested in buying DT’s towers, with reports suggesting it has secured Brookfield Asset Management as a bid partner, but other parties are also vying to be the preferred bidder. According to Reuters, the Cellnex bid would also enable Deutsche Telekom to hold onto a minority stake in Deutsche Funkturm. The news agency has also reported that Vodafone’s Vantage Towers business is no longer engaged in a potential merger with Deutsche Funkturm, so there are still many moving parts to this €20bn puzzle. 

Virgin Media O2 says it has deployed 1,300 small cells across London to improve its 4G and 5G coverage (and about time, says this editor). “The sites, which typically have a range of 80-120 metres, are installed with minimal disruption (typically, installations can be completed within six weeks of the sites being acquired), can target congestion across the network and add capacity as required,” notes the operator in this press release, which includes the use of one of TelecomTV’s favourite industry terms. “The small cells are usually bolted to existing street furniture” – and there it is – “such as lamp-posts, avoiding the need to build new street infrastructure and providing a quicker, cleaner installation process. In some busier locations, around 20% of network traffic flows through small cells rather than the macro layer, showing the value they provide in easing congestion. The technology uses licensed L18/1800MHz airwaves, with some initial trial locations using 2.6GHz spectrum.” Check out the rest of this unusually detailed and genuinely interesting announcement here 

Rakuten Symphony, the Open RAN-focused vendor spin-out from Japanese mobile operator Rakuten Mobile, has hired a senior executive from Dell Technologies to be president of its Symworld Platform Business Group. Zia Syed, who was CTO of 5G Solutions at Dell, is now responsible for persuading network operators that building out Open RAN networks using the Symworld portfolio of cloud-based network software applications is the way forward. Symphony is currently deploying Symworld solutions for Germany’s greenfield 5G network operator 1&1. Read more.  

As a follow-up to yesterday’s item about BT seeking more time from the UK government to remove Huawei technology from its core network, the UK national operator has provided the following statement to TelecomTV: “We continue to liaise with DCMS and the NCSC [National Cyber Security Centre] to ensure our programme can be completed as quickly and safely as possible and remain confident that the final 2027 deadline for delivering new equipment throughout the 5G network is achievable. We are continuing to work towards the proposed date of January 2023 for that work to happen in our core, but believe a short extension would be reasonable to reflect the significant, Covid-driven impacts to the programme over the past two years.” All UK operators are tasked with removing Huawei technology from their core platforms by 28 January 2023 as part of the network security directive outlined by the government in 2020, but BT is the only one of the four major UK operators to have deployed the Chinese vendor’s mobile core technology and thus faces the difficult task of replacing it.  

- The staff, TelecomTV

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