What’s up with… Deutsche Telekom, network APIs, Bouygues Telecom

  • Deutsche Telekom expects further growth in 2024
  • Bouygues Telecom splashes €950m on MVNO M&A
  • Yet more telcos are exposing their network APIs

In today’s industry news roundup: Deutsche Telekom reports revenues, earnings and customer base growth for 2023 and says there’s more to come this year; telcos in Indonesia and South Africa are enabling new services by exposing their network APIs; French telco Bouygues Telecom is paying almost €1bn to acquire a major MVNO player; and much more! 

Deutsche Telekom has reported a small year-on-year increase of 0.6% in total organic group annual revenues to almost €112bn, with organic service revenues up by 3.6% to €92.9bn and adjusted earnings before tax and other costs rising by 4% to €40.5bn (where organic refers to like-for-like numbers that exclude changes in exchange rate fluctuations and changes in the composition of the company). The numbers were all helped by the ongoing success of T-Mobile US, in which DT holds a majority stake. The telco, though, noted that it had grown its customer base “in all areas” of its important domestic market – where its fibre-to-the-premises network now reaches 8 million households, up 2.6 million from the end of 2022 – and reported strong growth across its other European operations. And DT CEO Tim Höttges expects further gains this year. “In a world with many challenges, we again delivered with our usual reliability in 2023,” he said, adding “Thanks to our growing businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, we are confident we will up the ante yet again in 2024.” DT ended 2023 with 61.4 million mobile, 15 million fixed broadband and 4.3 million pay-TV customers, all higher than the same period the year before. DT’s other European operations ended 2023 with 27.2 million mobile contract customers, an increase of 746,000 over the year (the total mobile customer base, including pre-paid users, dipped slightly to 47.85 million), while the number of broadband lines increased by 307,000 in the year to 7 million. At the end of 2023, 4.3 million customers were using pay-TV services, 152,000 more than a year earlier. Total group capex for 2023 stood at €16.6bn, down by more than 21% year on year, though this was the result of a significant cut in capex at T-Mobile US: For 2024, total group capex will decline again to about €15.9bn, again due to lower investments in the US, while spending in Germany will once again increase slightly as DT continues to roll out its FTTP network. 

Bouygues Telecom has agreed to splash €950m on La Poste Telecom, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in France currently owned by postal service company Las Poste group (owning 51%) and French telco SFR (with a 49% stake). Bouygues Telecom will take over 100% of La Poste Telecom’s capital as part of its growth strategy. According to the telco, the takeover will also allow it to enhance its mobile customer base of around 2.3 million subscribers, as well as to draw on La Poste’s distribution network and to “benefit from a brand that is strong and recognised for its values of trust and proximity”. La Poste Telecom is expected to generate around €300m in sales in 2023. Bouygues Telecom said that La Poste Telecom would benefit from the deal in terms of continued development of its mobile business, as well as building “a new fixed offering for its customers”. The deal values La Poste Telecom at €963.4m. Mobile customers of the MVNO will be migrated to Bouygues Telecom’s radio network once an exclusive wholesale contract with SFR ends at the end of 2026. Bouygues Telecom expects to have customer integration costs in 2025 and 2026, but once this is completed, the telco forecasts that the acquisition will contribute around €140m in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation after leases (EBITDAaL) starting in 2028. The transaction is to be submitted for consultation with employee representative bodies, and is set to close by the end of 2024, subject to certain approvals from regulators and SFR not exercising its pre-emption right. “Thanks to this agreement, Bouygues Telecom will be able to increase its customer base and strengthen its position in both mobile and fixed services drawing on La Poste’s distribution network throughout the country”, noted Benoît Torloting, CEO of Bouygues Telecom. Read more.

A year after industry body and MWC organiser the GSMA launched the Open Gateway initiative to help develop a common way for telcos to expose and build new business opportunities from their network APIs, there’s yet more news of telcos around the world building on that initiative and launching new API-enabled services. In Indonesia, Telkomsel, Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison, XL Axiata, and Smartfren have announced plans to launch three application programming interface (API) services – Number Verify, SIM Swap, and Device Location – that “are focused on enhancing security and customer experience,” according to the GSMA. “This initiative among Indonesian telecommunications companies aims to establish interconnections among operators, potentially propelling advancements in the telecommunications industry and delivering enhanced value to our customers through digital platforms and services, thus contributing to the nation’s progress,” stated Wong Soon Nam, director of planning and transformation at Telkomsel. “This joint initiative also underscores our dedication to delivering an improved digital experience for our customers and facilitating cross-industry digital transformation, which is crucial for enhancing business productivity, efficiency, and security,” he added. There’s much more on the Indonesian plans in this announcement. In South Africa, two APIs – Number Verification and SIM Swap – can now be used by developers to create new applications that can “combat digital fraud and protect South Africa’s 47 million mobile subscribers,” noted the GSMA. Saad Syed, CEO of Chenosis, an API marketplace launched by the MTN Group in 2020, stated: “MTN Chenosis is excited to offer the two APIs to mitigate fraud in the South African market. We are buoyed by the collaboration with other mobile network operators to provide a standardised, consistent experience to developers who wish to consume the services.” To find out more about the developments in South Africa, see this announcement. According to the GSMA, 42 mobile operator groups worldwide – representing 237 mobile networks and 65% of global connections – are already taking part in the Open Gateway initiative. Network APIs are the lifeblood of operator network-as-a-service and telco-as-a-platform strategies, and we’re sure to hear a lot about these topics in the coming week during MWC24 in Barcelona and then, later in March, during TelecomTV’s upcoming Telco as a Platform Summit

Fixed wireless access (FWA) continues to gain momentum with the technology set to become one of the preferred types of household broadband connectivity, according to a fresh report from Ericsson. In its findings, the vendor discovered that 7 out of 10 households that already have 5G FWA are choosing it as a full replacement for their previous connectivity. Convenience is cited as a key advantage of GWA, with the technology outperforming wired solutions in terms of flexibility, customisation and ease of installation.Ericsson also found households to be more satisfied with 5G FWA than fibre in terms of service experience (including delivery time, quality of equipment and cost level), while satisfaction levels are on par with fibre for network performances (speed, indoor coverage, security and capacity). The Swedish vendor’s findings are based on 370 million households occupied by 1.2 billion people in 19 countries. “Fixed wireless access is currently the largest 5G use case after mobile broadband in terms of uptake, with connections worldwide forecast to grow almost threefold to 330 million by the end of 2029” and expected to bring in $75bn in annual service provide revenues, explained John Yazlle, head of fixed wireless access at Ericsson Networks. “With 5G technology and networks in place, it is the right moment to capture this large opportunity with more than a billion underserved households and enterprises globally,” he added.

Telefónica and Ericsson have defined and tested what they call “a worldwide-first, easy and on-demand process for consumers to experience the true benefits of a premium 5G network connection”, sporting enhanced performance characteristics and leveraging network slicing. The proof of concept was tested at a lab in Madrid, Spain, and aims to usher in “a new era of innovation for consumer experience” by enabling consumers to improve the service on their devices via “time-restricted premium subscriptions that are available for on-demand purchase” delivered through a dedicated slice of Telefónica’s network. The telco plans to use the technology to offer targeted, premium slicing packages. The results of this proof of concept will be demonstrated at Ericsson’s booth at MWC24 in Barcelona next week. Find out more.

Orange has also revealed plans to present new technologies at MWC24. Driven by an ‘open innovation’ approach, the telco group will showcase “how it is driving co-innovation through the sharing of expertise and exchange of ideas with multiple ecosystems, particularly in areas such as 5G, APIs, cybersecurity and AI”. It will also demonstrate how it intends to harness its capabilities to maximise connectivity at the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Read more.

The motley crew just got bigger at Nokia…. Sandy Motley, president of the vendor’s Fixed Networks division, has been appointed as Nokia’s country manager for the US, a new role that she takes on in addition to her current responsibilities. “I am very excited to start this next chapter of my journey here at Nokia. Having led the Fixed Networks business for several years, taking on an additional role as the country manager for the US will allow me to help even more customers benefit from Nokia’s leading technology across our portfolio at a time when technology is playing a still more vital role than ever before in the lives of organisations, companies, individuals and societies,” she said. Motley takes on the role at a tricky time for Nokia in the US, as it has just lost its position as one of the major radio access network (RAN) equipment suppliers to AT&T – see Nokia licks its wounds over AT&T’s RAN rejection.

Once again proving how hard it is to make significant changes to live production networks – a process often likened to changing the wheel of a car while it is being driven – AT&T said the widespread service outage experienced by customers on 22 February was caused by “the application and execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network, not a cyberattack.”  

Seven Asia-based operators have joined forces to launch a “first-of-its-kind cross-border rewards programme” for customers travelling across Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia. Singtel, AIS, Globe, HKT, Optus, Taiwan Mobile and Telkomsel plan to introduce the programme, which will allow travellers to earn and use rewards, to claim and redeem unique deals for transport, dining, merchandise and services, and to make use of other incentives when they travel to any of the markets where the telcos are based. As part of the alliance between the companies, customers travelling between these countries will be able to access customer support from their operator while overseas for free. The programme is set for a steady rollout in the second half of 2024.

- The staff, TelecomTV

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