What’s up with… Olaf Swantee, Openreach, Nokia, whopping Wacken

  • Olaf Swantee to lead £400m FTTH rollout in London
  • Openreach pledges rural fibre rollouts
  • Nokia sells its cable broadband assets
  • The ‘biggest Wacken of all time’

A surprise move for a telco big cheese, broadband rollouts, investments and divestments, and our favourite telco press release of the year are the cream of this news crop.

  • Olaf Swantee, formerly the CEO of Orange UK, EE and Swiss operator Sunrise, has a new role, but not the one that some had anticipated. Swantee was, not so long ago, tipped by some to be a prime candidate to helm at the merged T-Mobile US/Sprint. Instead he has turned up as the Executive Chairman at FTTH startup Community Fibre, which has been digging up London’s streets to enable true high-speed broadband. Swantee has been parachuted in by private equity firm Warburg Pincus (where he has been acting as an advisor) and investment group DTCP (Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners), which have jointly acquired a controlling stake in Community Fibre (financial details were not disclosed). As a result of that move, Community Fibre is now pledging to invest up to £400 million in the “accelerated expansion of full-fibre broadband” to 1 million homes and businesses London. 
  • That news came as Openreach, the semi-autonomous fixed access network division of BT, announced it is extending its fiber rollout plans to an additional 3.2 million premises in 251 market towns and villages around the UK by around 2025. Openreach had previously committed to invest £12 billion to take fibre to 20 million premises.
  • Having bought its way into the cable broadband access market in 2016 with the acquisition of distributed access architecture (DAA) specialist Gainspeed, Nokia is now selling its way out of it. The vendor is flogging its Gainspeed portfolio to Vecima Networks for an undisclosed sum. 
  • Still with Nokia, the Finnish vendor is boasting that Ooredoo Qatar has launched its 5G services with the support of its cloud native 5G core technology, one of the key product lines in Nokia’s increasingly impressive Software unit. (See Can Nokia build on its software foundation?)
  • Here’s an announcement worth noting mainly for the great press release headline drummed up by the press team at Deutsche Telekom: Telekom realizing the biggest Wacken of all time. If, like me, your instant reaction was “WTF?” then you need to know that Wacken in a heavy metal music festival and it’s going to be the “biggest Wacken” ever because DT is helping to take it global using mixed reality technology. Check it out, even if (like me) you would never want to actually listen to what’s going on…
  • Altice USA is selling 49.99% of its Lightpath fiber enterprise business to Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners in a deal that will give Altice USA total gross cash proceeds of about $2.3 billion from the sale and “related financing activity.”
  • The global market for broadband access gear and CPE is set to shrink by 7% this year to be worth $11.4 billion, according to the analyst team at Dell’Oro. 
  • Going greener: Vodafone has underpinned its climate change credentials (its network is going 100% renewable by next year) with an IoT trial to monitor tree growth in the UK. It’s using NB-IoT modules to determine how useful this technology might be for forestry and tree-related research via a hook-up with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Forest Research. Advanced analytics will assess the impact of temperature, humidity and soil moisture on tree growth and function. The objective is to estimate the contribution of trees to climate change mitigation through their ability to absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere. For more details, see this blog.
  • Prysmian has filed legal proceedings against an unidentified rival “in the field of telecom cables.”
  • Some kind of decision on whether Italy might have a single unified wholesale fixed broadband access network, forged from the merger of TIM’s assets and those of Open Fiber, might be forthcoming in the next few days, according to Reuters. Don’t hold your breath, though…
  • EXFO has landed a deal with Ireland national operator eir for its troubleshooting, analytics and subscriber experience assessment tools, which the operator will use to optimize its mobile services.  

- The staff, TelecomTV

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