What’s up with… Vodafone, Vantage Towers, Huawei

  • Vodafone faces challenges in Europe
  • Activist investor snaps up stake in Vantage Towers
  • US stamps out tech exports to Huawei

In today’s industry news roundup: Vodafone CEO admits operator can do better as major European markets suffer revenue dips; Elliott wants to take advantage of tower asset valuations; the US administration deals yet another hammer blow to Huawei; and more.  

Interim CEO of Vodafone Group, Margherita Della Valle, has admitted the company “can do better” after reporting slow growth for the third quarter of its fiscal year 2023 (ending on 31 December 2022). The comment came as the telco giant reported year-on-year growth of 1.8% for its group service revenue to €9.5bn (compared to 2.5% growth in its fiscal Q2), with performance in Europe being the main culprit. Total group revenue was €11.6bn. “Although we’re continuing to target our financial guidance for the year, the recent decline in revenue in Europe shows we can do better. We need to do more for our customers by delivering quality connectivity in an easy way,” Della Valle noted. She added that the company has taken action, such as structure simplification and initiatives that are already “underway to generate around half of our €1bn cost-savings target”. Vodafone booked declines in Germany, Italy and Spain, which it claims were “partially offset by good growth” in the UK and other countries in Europe. It was not all bleak, though. Vodafone’s African business, Vodacom, reported revenue growth of 3.5% year on year to €1.6bn, driven by data and financial services. And the service revenue in its business division marked a 2.4% rise, amounting to €2.6bn. See more.

US-based activist investor Elliott has secured a 5.61% stake in tower company Vantage Towers, which is to be spun out into a new joint venture owned by Vodafone and private equity companies Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and KKR. The disclosure was made in a notice to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, according to a news report from financial news group dpa-AFX (in German). The hedge fund stake ownership comprises direct and indirect shareholdings. The news emerged as Vantage Towers published its results for the third quarter of its fiscal year 2023 (ending 31 December 2022), which showed a 4.8% year-on-year rise in revenue to €263.7m, mainly driven by “inflation escalators and tenancy growth”.

US companies have been banned from exporting items to Chinese company Huawei, the Financial Times (FT) has reported. According to the newspaper, the Biden administration has informed some US companies that it would halt the practice of providing licences to entities that export technology to Huawei. This is the latest move by the US administration against the Chinese vendor which, since 2019, has been on the nation’s “entity list” of organisations that are banned from conducting business in the US over national security concerns. According to the FT, despite the restrictions imposed on Huawei by the previous presidency, the US Department of Commerce continued to hand out export licences to some companies, including Intel and Qualcomm, that were providing Huawei with non-5G-related technology.

Deutsche Telekom has launched its first converged solution that simultaneously delivers fixed network and 5G connectivity. The offering, dubbed Hybrid 5G, provides “reliable internet” with download speeds of up to 300Mbit/s and upload speeds of maximum 50Mbit/s via the mobile communications network. According to the German telco giant, the “full power” of fixed and 5G networks makes internet outages “nigh on impossible”. Find out more.

SK Telecom (SKT) has developed an in-house system that uses drones and image-analysis artificial intelligence (AI) to check the safety of cell towers. The drones are used to take images that are then analysed by the image-analysis AI model to determine the status of bolts and nuts at cell sites (such as whether they are too loose and require repair work). The South Korean operator claimed its invention has already reduced the time required for safety inspection processes by 95%. SKT plans to upgrade its system by adding options to inspect wind pressure safety and inclination. The telco has also been relying on AI for other areas of its networks, including for equipment error and anomaly detection, power cost reduction and for work inspection upon completion. Read more.

Continuing the innovation thread… Philippine operator Globe has completed pilot deployments of what it claimed is the “first multi-beam, multi-band lens antenna technology”. The solution was rolled out in Southeast Asia, with the telco bragging that it has “improved 4G/LTE and 5G mobile capacity” while reducing coverage holes, especially in large gatherings. Globe envisages the lens antenna solution being used at outdoor events, in rural areas and densely populated locations, such as stadiums.

Following a successful pilot in Helsinki last year, Nordic network operator GlobalConnect is entering the Finnish fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services market and has set itself the goal of signing up tens of thousands of customers this year. “The pilot was a success, as several thousand Finns signed up for fibre-based broadband, resulting in GlobalConnect now fully entering the Finnish market with the ambition to bring on an additional 30,000 customers in 2023,” according to the company. The operator recently noted that its group-wide FTTH customer base grew by 60% last year to reach 725,000, helped by the acquisition of Open Universe from Telenor Sweden. For more on the company, see GlobalConnect restructures to sharpen business focus in Nordics

- The staff, TelecomTV

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