What’s up with… Digi Spain, SourseAI, AT&T

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Dec 13, 2023

  • Digi Spain is buying spectrum from MásMóvil
  • Startup SourseAI raises funds, looks to Europe
  • AT&T is set to cut its capex budget by billions in 2024

In today’s industry news roundup: Digi Spain is buying spectrum licences from MásMóvil in a move that should help Orange and MásMóvil get the green light for their planned merger; Australian startup SourseAI is expanding in Europe following a new funding round; AT&T is slicing billions off its capex budget next year; and more!

The likelihood that Orange Spain and MásMóvil might get European Commission (EC) approval for their proposed €18.6bn merger increased this week after Digi Spain, an up-and-coming alternative mobile and broadband network operator that is part of the Digi Communications group, announced it had struck a deal to acquire spectrum licences from MásMóvil for €120m and also arranged a national mobile roaming deal with Orange Spain. Specifically, Digi Spain has agreed to buy the licences for “certain sets of blocks of frequencies (2 x 10 MHz in the 1,800 MHz band, 2 x 10 MHz in the 2,100 MHz band and 20 MHz in the 3,500 MHz band)”. The licence sale and finalisation of the roaming agreement will only be fulfilled if the EC approves the deal: In June the commission sent a statement of objections to Orange and MásMóvil over concerns that their proposed union “may reduce competition in the retail supply of mobile and fixed internet services as well as of multiple-play bundles in Spain.” The sale of spectrum to Digi Spain, along with the roaming deal that would allow Digi Spain’s mobile customers to roam onto Orange’s national network in areas beyond the reach of Digi’s infrastructure, will go a long way to appeasing the EC’s competition watchdogs. Digi has previously pledged to invest €2bn in its Spanish operations if it is able to secure assets as a result of any EC ruling. Spain is a hotbed of mobile M&A right now: In addition to the Orange/MásMóvil deal, and the sideshow with Digi, Vodafone recently announced it had agreed to sell its Spanish operations to Zegona in a deal valued at €5bn.  

Sydney, Australia-based SourseAI, which has developed a ‘decision intelligence platform’ for companies in the telecom and media sectors, has raised 3 million Australian dollars (US$2m) to help fund its expansion in Europe. The company, which has now raised a total of A$5m (US$3.3m) from investors, intends to add to its team in the UK, where it already has a customer. According to the startup, its no-code AI-enabled Atlas platform helps business executives and IT leaders in telcos to “make data-backed decisions with confidence… without the need to invest in large data science teams. Using predefined models, operators can launch initiatives within days that improve loyalty, reduce churn, increase revenue and profitability, as well as help marketing teams develop personalised services and innovative new products,” the company claims. According to its CEO, Tanya Hyams-Young, telcos are overwhelmed by the volume of data they hold and are struggling to figure out how to best make use of it. According to a Startup Daily report, Hyams-Young says that telcos “know they need to focus on the consumer and they are sitting on mountains of data they could use to make decisions, but many don’t know how to best make sense of it. They also know they need to use AI, but they struggle with where to start. Many make the costly and time-consuming mistake of trying to build their own AI-team in house – which can take years to bear fruit. SourseAI was designed specifically for the telco sector to help them filter and analyse data and model decisions to see how they will perform in the real world and ultimately scale decisions,” she added. 

AT&T has signalled its intention to reduce its capital expenditure (capex) budget for next year. The US operator’s CFO, Pascal Desroches, told attendees at this week’s Oppenheimer 4th Annual 5G Summit that the telco expects its capex to decline year on year to between $21bn and $22bn in 2024, which would represents a dip of up to $3bn from the $24bn that AT&T is on course to invest this year (including vendor financing). AT&T has, of course, recently announced a significant change in its mobile network infrastructure strategy as it plans to shift during the next five or so years towards having just one major radio access network equipment supplier, Ericsson, having decided to drop Nokia as it migrates towards an Open RAN-enabled network architecture. Industry speculation suggests that Ericsson lowballed its pricing to win that deal and will cover a lot of the cost of switching out Nokia gear for the new Ericsson equipment, all of which will help the operator to keep its capex numbers low in the coming years.   

BT’s consumer unit, EE, has once again topped the rankings in connect’s Mobile Network Test 2024 in the UK, followed by Vodafone UK, Three and Virgin Media O2 (VMO2). The ranking is based on tests conducted by global infrastructure and independent benchmarking outfit umlaut during the past year: The test results are used to score each operator on their voice, data and crowdsourcing (a range of network and service performance parameters) quality, with 1,000 the maximum possible score. All of the operators managed to improve their scores compared with the previous year, with Vodafone “the most improved network in the UK,” according to connect. EE retained its crown with a “very good” score of 882, according to connect. Vodafone UK scored 809 (“good”), Three scored 770 (also “good”) and VMO2 trailed some way behind with a score of just 700 (“satisfactory”). The full scores and explanation of the methodology can be found here

Just when many people thought Huawei might be ready to pack up its bags and leave Europe as more and more network operators either replace its technology or decide to no longer include it in their future plans, the Chinese vendor looks set to build a mobile network equipment factory in France in the coming years and have it up and running by 2025, according to this Reuters report.   

- The staff, TelecomTV

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