What’s up with… Orange, OneWeb, MásMóvil, Vodafone

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Mar 8, 2023

  • Orange gets jiggy with OneWeb
  • But its Spanish marriage with MásMóvil is set for a lengthy investigation
  • Vodafone seals German fibre JV deal

Orange is the latest telco to team up with low-earth orbit satellite operator OneWeb to offer connectivity services in remote and hard-to-reach areas. The operator already has extensive operations across Africa as well as in Europe, has now struck a distribution agreement to offer connectivity services, including links to OneWeb’s LEO satellites, across Europe, Africa, Latin America, and other regions. Orange says the relationship will give it “increased resiliency, and geographical reach for enterprise solutions and backhauling in remote locations.” Anne-Marie Thiollet, deputy executive VP of products and marketing at Orange Business, noted: “Our customers, ranging from multinationals, enterprises, governments to NGOs, will have access to OneWeb’s pioneering satellite network. This high-speed and low-latency solution will efficiently complement Orange Business’s existing portfolio to keep connecting our customers to their applications anytime, anywhere, with the right quality of service to meet their business requirements.” 

Still with Orange… The operator’s efforts to bulk up in Spain by merging its operations with those of MásMóvil look set to get bogged down in an in-depth and lengthy antitrust investigation, according to Reuters. Orange announced the planned merger, which if approved will create a new market leader in Spain by subscriber numbers, in July 2022 following a bidding war with Vodafone. According to a number of unnamed sources cited by Reuters, the competition authorities are set to announce a longer, more detailed probe into the potential impact of the deal once the preliminary investigation ends on 3 April. The news comes just as tension is mounting in Europe about whether decision-makers in Brussels will cut the telco sector more slack in securing approval for major M&A deals that will provide economies of scale: If a lengthy investigation results in the deal falling through, Europe’s telecom services sector is likely to face a bleak few years in terms of investment potential – this deal is regarded as something of a bellwether for the sector.  

Some telco moves, however, face less bureaucratic hassle. Following approval from the European Commission last month, Vodafone has completed the sale of 50% of its German fibre-to-the-premises operation to Altice to form a joint venture (JV), an agreement that was first announced in October 2022. The FibreCo JV plans to invest up to €7bn in building high-speed broadband lines to 7 million properties over the next six years. Debt facilities of up to €4.6bn have been arranged to underpin the planned investments. For background information on this, see Orange and MásMóvil commit to €18.6bn Spanish merger

In the UK, regulator Ofcom has initiated an industry consultation looking into the way fixed broadband services are marketed to the great unwashed (aka the paying public).  “People can perceive the broadband market as complex and difficult to understand,” noted Ofcom. “This is likely to be partly because of the way in which some information about broadband services is presented. In particular, the term ‘fibre’ is used in an inconsistent way to refer to both new and older networks,” it added. In other words, it recognises that people are being duped into buying something they’re not going to get. Responses to the consultation can be submitted until 3 May. Naturally, the companies that are offering fibre-to-the-premises services are all in favour of the move and want clear differentiation, such as Giganet, part of the Fern Trading group that has a number of fibre access network builders in its portfolio. "At a time where there is significant investment in fibre infrastructure across the UK, many customers are gaining access to full fibre broadband for the first time, so we welcome this timely announcement that Ofcom is going to ensure that customers get much clearer and consistent information when they are signing up to a new provider,” stated CEO Jarlath Finnegan in a statement sent to the media. “There continues to be confusion around whether it's super-fast, ultra-fast, full or part fibre. The new guidance will help customers take advantage of the best broadband available and strengthen the case for more accelerated investment in full fibre infrastructure,” he adds, somewhat optimistically.  

While many big-name players in the industry might be increasingly discussing and demonstrating metaverse-related products and services, it seems the concept is still some way away from really taking off. Global shipments for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets – a staple in the metaverse area – plummeted by 20.9% year on year to 8.8 million units in 2022, data from IDC has revealed. According to the research house, though, the drop is not unexpected, taking into account the limited number of vendors in the market, the challenging macro-economic environment and the lack of mass consumer uptake. On top of this, the performance in 2022 wanes when compared to 2021 when the market for AR and VR headsets was “bolstered by Meta’s Quest 2 and strong spending by consumers stuck at home with disposable income for entertainment” during the global Covid-19 pandemic. Among vendors, Meta owned the lion’s share (almost 80%) of the market in 2022, followed by ByteDance (with its Pico headsets) with a 10% share. Other players in the market include DPVR, HTC, iQIYI and Nreal.

The value of the business broadband services market – both fixed and mobile – is set to grow steadily in the years to 2027, according to the latest research from Omdia. Revenue from fixed enterprise broadband services is expected to rise at a 2.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the period, boosted by new primary and secondary broadband connections, as well as expected growth particularly in South Asia driven by the potential for fixed wireless access (FWA) services. In terms of mobile business subscriptions, 5G is expected to reach “its global tipping point” in 2027, when it is expected to have more than a 50% share of the total mobile enterprise broadband market. Africa and East/Southeast Asia are forecast to have the highest potential for revenue growth for 4G and 5G broadband. “Specific to 5G, South Asia, Africa, East/Southeast Asia and Latin America all are strong market candidates that stand to gain rapid momentum” in the years to 2027 – assuming that operators “take advantage of 5G’s potential as an alternative to wireline broadband,” according to Omdia. “Enterprise migration to broadband services is an opportunity for providers to capture market share and grow revenue. The migration is still ongoing, and providers need to have strong infrastructure coverage to capture these opportunities,” argued Adeline Phua, principal analyst at Omdia. Find out more.

Tens of thousands of (now former) employees in the tech sector have lost their jobs in recent months, so does this signal an end to the tech talent crunch? That’s a question that is frequently being asked, according to the team at Gartner, but the answer is a resounding “no”, it seems. The Gartner team has done some research, found that “demand for tech talent still significantly exceeds supply,” and has put together a short explainer about the situation. Read more.   

Mobile operators need to start thinking seriously about how they are going to manage 5G roaming in the coming few years as, according to Juniper Research, “current roaming analytics services will be insufficient in monitoring 5G roaming connections, and the subsequent increase in mobile roaming data” because of the “increased complexity of 5G networks.” And this is going to matter soon because, according to the research firm’s crystal-ball gazers, the number of 5G roaming connections is going to increase from 53 million this year to 526 million in 2027. Read more.

- The staff, TelecomTV

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.