What’s up with… Wind Tre, Iliad, Deutsche Telekom

  • Italy’s Wind Tre abandons network stake sale  
  • Iliad strikes multiple renewable-energy deals  
  • Deutsche Telekom delves deeper into blockchain territory

In today’s industry news roundup: The sale of a majority stake in Italian telco Wind Tre’s network assets to EQT has been called off by the operator’s parent, CK Hutchison; Iliad has brokered renewable-energy deals in France, Italy and Poland; Deutsche Telekom has joined an organisation that promotes the broad use of AI and Web3 (blockchain) technologies; and much more! 

CK Hutchison has scrapped the sale of a 60% stake in the network assets of Italian subsidiary Wind Tre to private equity company EQT Infrastructure. Initially sealed on 12 May 2023, the plan would have resulted in Wind Tre’s mobile and fixed network infrastructure being operated via a newly formed company (with an estimated enterprise value of €3.4bn), 60% of which would have been owned by EQT, while the remaining stake would have been held by Wind Tre’s owner, CK Hutchison. However, in a brief note, CK Hutchison stated that neither the formation of a new entity nor the sale will go ahead, “owing to conditions precedent to closing not being satisfied by an agreed longstop date of 12 February 2024”. The deal was expected to close within six to nine months of the agreement being unveiled in May last year, but it was reportedly hindered by issues around network agreements with Wind Tre’s rivals Iliad and Fastweb. In November, the deadline for the transaction’s completion was reportedly extended to 12 February 2024 due to ongoing discussions with third parties. According to a Reuters report at the time, these included Iliad, which has a joint venture agreement with Wind Tre, and Fastweb, which has a long-term 5G network sharing partnership with Wind Tre in Italy. In its latest statement, CK Hutchison confirmed it will continue to look for “possible alternative infrastructure transactions to bring value to the company, including possible infrastructure transactions with EQT Infrastructure should the appropriate opportunity arise”, a notion that was also confirmed by the private equity company in a separate statement.

Telco group Iliad has beefed up its environmental sustainability credentials with three new power purchase agreements (PPAs) for renewable energy in its three geographies – France, Italy and Poland. In France, the company has signed a second 15-year PPA with energy provider Engie to buy electricity generated by a new solar power farm. In Italy and Poland, Iliad has sealed 10-year partnerships with Statkraft, a company that claims to be Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy, as part of its commitment to using renewable energy for at least half of its electricity consumption in the two countries, and 20% in France by 2035. The operator explained that the new agreements will help it cover 13% of its total direct electricity usage with renewable energy in 2025. Alongside the PPAs, Iliad also announced that its pathway to reduce carbon emissions has been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Its commitments include reducing absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60% by 2030 from a 2022 base year, and to lower absolute Scope 3 GHG emissions by 46% in the same timeframe. And by 2050, it has pledged to reduce its absolute emissions across all three scopes by 90% compared to their levels in 2022. Find out more.

Deutsche Telekom (DT) has become the first corporate partner of a foundation promoting AI and Web3 technologies for a broad user base. In a statement, the German telco announced it has joined the so-called Fetch.ai Foundation, a Netherlands-based non-profit organisation established by global engineering company Bosch and AI company Fetch.ai. DT’s subsidiary MMS will act as a validator to secure the decentralised Fetch.ai blockchain and to ensure “network security during the integration of devices, individuals and services into the blockchain”. It will do so by applying “AI-driven autonomous agents”, which manage resources, conduct transactions and analyse traffic flows. Currently, Fetch.ai services are accessible across numerous sectors, including healthcare, automotive, supply chain management and digital identities. Dirk Röder, head of the Web3 infrastructure and solutions team at Deutsche Telekom MMS, claimed the partnership was “ground-breaking” and explained that combining industrial applications with the internet of things (IoT), results in automated industrial services, simplified processes and ensures their security and scalability thanks to blockchain. According to Humayun Sheikh, CEO of Fetch.ai, the application of agents, AI and decentralised Web3 technologies will allow “real-world use cases” to be integrated into the system to enhance the existing network. This announcement comes a day after DT’s joint move with Danish robot platforms provider Capra Robotics to enable more efficient and automated enterprises – see DT and Vodafone advance enterprise automation.

Vodafone has demonstrated an end-to-end data call using a new general-purpose processor by AMD on an Open RAN platform. The call was made in Samsung’s R&D lab in South Korea, using the vendor’s Open RAN-compliant, virtualised RAN (vRAN) software, which was integrated with a general-purpose processor from the AMD EPYC 8004 series, on Supermicro edge servers that were supported by Wind River’s cloud-based platform. The test verified “key metrics”, including performance and energy efficiency, while demonstrating “successful interoperability between partners’ products,” Vodafone explained. Not only has this step proven that “the technology works well”, according to the telco, but it emphasises the company’s goal to widen the ecosystem by bringing in new silicon partners. Vodafone also said it would continue to rely on vendors such as Samsung and AMD to improve the performance of today’s microprocessors when used to power Open RAN “for many years to come”. “Through greater industry collaboration, we can create a vibrant Open RAN ecosystem to stay ahead of customer demand for faster connectivity without compromising reliability,” said Nadia Benabdallah, network strategy and engineering director at Vodafone Group. Read more.

Ahead of MWC24, when private wireless networks will once again be a hot topic on the show floor, Intel has been boasting of its multiple partnerships in the 5G private networks sector. With such networks taking on increasing importance, as they will effectively act as the data communications infrastructure for edge deployments capable of locally processing large volumes of data (including that generated by AI applications), Intel noted that it is collaborating with “scale companies to give customers access to private 5G solutions and vertical market deployments around the world.” Those “scale companies” include cloud giant Amazon Web Services (AWS), Aramco Digital (the outfit now run by Open RAN enthusiast Tareq Amin), Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, NTT Data, Red Hat, World Wide Technology (WWT) and more. “By harnessing the breadth of the Intel product portfolio with the integration capabilities and scale of our deep ecosystem, enterprises around the world can reap the benefits of a personalised private network for their business requirements,” said Intel VP and general manager of the chip giant’s Network Business Incubator Division, Caroline Chan. “We are seeing the rapid growth of AI and edge computing combined with the connectivity of 5G drive intelligence, cost savings and innovation across developing and mature industries,” she added. For more, see this blog

Telecom sector organisations the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) and the GSMA have joined a chorus of businesses and trade groups calling for a “deepening of the European Union single market” and a renewal of the “dynamic of European integration” in an effort to reboot the region’s financial and competitive strength. Telecom operators support a stronger EU single market. Leadership in the connectivity ecosystem requires scale, higher investment and lower regulatory barriers,” noted Lise Fuhr, director general of the ETNO. Read more.   

- The staff, TelecomTV

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