What’s up with… Ciena, KPN, AST Spacemobile

  • Capex crunch continues to impact Ciena
  • KPN forms towers JV 
  • Wibergh joins AST Spacemobile board

In today’s industry news roundup; Ciena’s sales slide as inventory issue prevails; Dutch national operator is carving out its tower assets; Johan Wibergh gives AST SpaceMobile a boardroom boost; and much more!

Ciena has reported a 19.6% year-on-year decrease in fiscal second-quarter revenues to $910.8m and slipped to a small operating loss as the capex crunch continued to impact optical network spending. Despite the sales decline, Ciena remains a $4bn annual turnover business and a leader in data transport technology and, as CEO Gary Smith has pointed out many times over the past few decades, the optical sector is cyclical in nature, so an upturn will be expected as data traffic levels are still ramping up at a frightening pace. “Our fiscal second-quarter performance underscores the strength in our business amid a challenging near-term environment as service providers continue to work through existing inventory,” he noted in this earnings announcement

KPN has formed a new tower company, TowerCo, with Dutch pension fund ABP. TowerCo will hold the passive mobile infrastructure assets of KPN, as well as those of Novec and OTC (portfolio companies owned by power transmission firms TenneT and ABP respectively), creating a portfolio of around 3,800 towers and rooftops in the Netherlands. KPN will hold a 51% consolidating stake in TowerCo and ABP the remaining 49%. TenneT will sell its stake in Novec and KPN has agreed an upfront cash payment of €120m for the stake in the company and the amended lease terms. TowerCo and KPN have entered into a long-term master service agreement for an initial period of 20 years. TowerCo has also received a built-to-suit commitment for the next 10 years from KPN. The transaction will see KPN gain greater flexibility over a substantial part of its mobile sites, enabling it to accommodate new technologies and to expand coverage into underserved areas.

Johan Wibergh has joined the board of directors at AST SpaceMobile, and will also serve as chairman of the company’s newly formed Network Planning and Spectrum Committee. He will lead the work on network planning for the space-based cellular broadband network, including network features and capacity planning. Wibergh has worked in telecoms for more than 35 years, and was previously group CTO at Vodafone. The news comes just a week after Verizon signed a deal worth $100m to provide satellite-to-smartphone services across the US using 850Mhz spectrum. “AST SpaceMobile’s technology has the potential to eliminate connectivity gaps and bridge the digital divide,” said Wibergh, “making the world a more equitable place.”

The business arm of Telecom Italia, TIM Enterprise, and its partner Google Cloud have opened their first technology hub in the Italian city of Turin. The centre will focus on developing and experimenting with the cloud and AI, with the end goal being to boost the digital transformation of public administration and to enhance the competitiveness of enterprises. As part of the effort, the hub will host an “intelligent laboratory” where the companies will look to demonstrate the potential of AI and cloud technologies when applied to areas such as smart cities, tourism, manufacturing, retail and finance. In its statement, the Italian telco noted that the two partners plan to use the facility “to translate research into real use cases applicable to the market.”

Executives from Samsung and Verizon have reportedly met in the US to expand their collaboration on developing next-generation telecommunications and boosting smartphone sale initiatives in the US market. According to The Korea Times, Samsung Electronics’ executive chairman, Lee Jae-yong, met with Verizon CEO, Hans Vestberg, to explore how they can leverage AI to enhance their respective services and to bring ‘cutting-edge’ AI functions to US customers through sales of Samsung’s AI-powered Galaxy smartphone series at major retail stores of the US telco. It added that Verizon is one of Samsung’s largest telco partners in the US, with the South Korean vendor scoring a 5G radio access network (RAN) contract with the US operator valued at $6.65bn – see Samsung lands $6.6 billion 5G deal at Verizon.

- The staff, TelecomTV

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