What’s up with… Orange and MásMóvil, KDDI, AT&T

  • Orange and MásMóvil complete Spanish merger
  • KDDI invests in yet more digital smarts 
  • AT&T pitches its FWA service to businesses

In today’s industry news roundup: Spain has a new market leader (by customer numbers) but we still don’t know for sure what its name will be; KDDI is spreading its digital bets; AT&T expands its fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband service offer to the enterprise sector; and more!

The €18.6bn merger between Orange Spain and MásMóvil has been completed to create Spain’s largest communications service provider by customer numbers that will start trading as a single operating company immediately, the companies announced on Tuesday, though there was no confirmation that the name of the new venture is to be MásOrange, as has been speculated. Based on 2023 end-of-year numbers, the new company has annual revenues of almost €7.7bn (nearly €4.7bn from Orange and about €3bn from its partner) and boasts 30.2 million mobile connections (17.7 million from Orange Spain, 12.5 million from MásMóvil) and 7.4 million fixed broadband connections (4 million and 3.4 million respectively), giving it more than 37 million customer connections and more than 30 million unique users. Meinrad Spenger, who has been the CEO of MásMóvil since 2006, is the CEO of the joint venture, while Jean François Fallacher, currently CEO of Orange France, but who was previously the CEO of Orange Spain between September 2020 and April 2023, has been appointed non-executive chairman of the new company. “It is a huge honour and an enormous responsibility to serve our more than 30 million customers in Spain,” stated Spenger. “We are going to try hard to ensure that they continue to be the most satisfied clients in our country. With our JV, the Spanish telecom market now has a stronger company with the capacity to innovate and invest and to serve our clients in the residential and business segment as their trustful partner,” added the CEO.  

Japanese telco KDDI continues on its path to invest in innovative technologies and digital services, this time in the form of KaiOS, an operating system designed for feature phones. An announcement from KaiOS explained that the company has collaborated with KDDI Open Innovation Fund, the telco’s venture fund that is looking to spend as much as ¥20bn (US$132m) to support developments in areas such as AI, internet of things (IoT), data marketing and fintech. The partnership will aim to develop digital and financial inclusion worldwide. This is yet another move by KDDI to invest in novel services and offerings, with recent examples including the purchase of a majority stake in AI startup Alyza and the agreed takeover of LivePocket, a Japanese electronic ticket sales platform – see KDDI adds to its AI, digital arsenal.

In an effort to boost the uptake of fixed wireless access (FWA) across the US, AT&T has launched a new fixed wireless broadband service for businesses of any size. Called AT&T Internet Air for Business, the service is powered by the company’s 5G network, and businesses can set it up “in minutes”, as it is a plug-and-play solution that does not require a technician to install it. According to the US telco, its new offering solves “multiple business challenges”, such as providing a primary internet connection in areas where fibre is unavailable, in remote locations or when temporary access is needed. The solution can also be used as a supplemental internet connection for workload distribution or in the event of interruptions. AT&T stated that there are no speed caps with the service and that pricing starts from $60 per month. The US market has been active in embracing FWA in the past few years, with the technology accounting for 6.8% of the total 114.7 million broadband lines active in the country, reaching 7.84 million FWA connections in the US at the end of 2023, according to a recent study firm Leichtman Research Group.

Veon has continued to simplify its portfolio with the agreed sale of its indirect 50.1% stake in Beeline Kyrgyzstan to CG Cell Technologies, which is part of Nepalese conglomerate CG Corp Global. Veon said the sale valued the operator, which ended 2023 with 1.9 million mobile customers, at 3.4 times its 2023 EBITDA, which equates to about $75m – that would value Veon’s stake at about $37.5m. Veon noted that the sale is part of its “strategy to simplify the Group’s structure and focus on its large markets where it can create scale … [by] providing digital services in finance, entertainment, healthcare and education.” Veon CEO Kaan Terzioglu noted: “Over the past two years, we have transformed Beeline Kyrgyzstan into a winning operation, with seven consecutive quarters of double-digit revenue growth, high penetration and quality of 4G services and solid foundations in digital offerings. I am proud of the work that the team has achieved under Andrey Pyatakhin’s leadership; and pleased to pass the baton to Chaudhary Group to develop Beeline’s work further and with greater focus, supporting the digital transformation of Kyrgyzstan.” Read more.

Having already launched an offer for enterprise customers at the end of 2023, Australian telco Telstra has now launched a consumer satellite broadband service with its partner Starlink. ​​Telstra Satellite Home Internet costs AUS$599 (US$392) upfront for the technology that needs to be installed at the user’s home and then AUS$125 (US$82) per month. Read more.

BT has said it is well positioned to become “the first global service provider to offer a full suite of managed security services” based on an AI-driven platform by Zscaler. Under an extended tie-up with the cloud security company, BT will offer a range of new solutions featured in Zscaler’s Zero Trust Exchange cloud security platform to help its business customers reduce “the complexity of IT infrastructures” and make them more agile, resilient and secure. Additionally, the UK telco will make use of Zcaler’s security solutions to protect its own operations. BT added that the Zscaler-powered managed services will safeguard customers from cyberattacks and data loss by connecting users, devices and applications anywhere. Find out more.

Swedish telco Telia has claimed that, by the end of 2023, 52% of carbon dioxide emissions in its supply chain were covered by science-based targets. This is a notable increase compared with 2022 when only suppliers responsible for 25% of Telia’s overall supply chain emissions were covered by such targets. The increase was enabled by a change in the operator’s procurement processes, which required its suppliers to set verified science-based targets for carbon footprint reductions. The operator has set the goal of having 72% of its supply chain, or Scope 3, emissions covered by science-based targets by 2025. Find out more.

- The staff, TelecomTV

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