What’s up with… BT, Amazon, T-Mobile US

  • BT staff to strike for first time in 35 years
  • BT Sport and Amazon share prime European football rights
  • T-Mobile widens its Home Internet FWA net

In today’s news roundup: Industrial action looms at BT; Amazon grabs a slice of the Champions League rights action; fixed wireless access (FWA) is spreading wider and wider in the US; and more!

UK national operator BT Group is facing its first major strike by staff for 35 years after members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) who work at BT and Openreach (but not mobile division EE) voted in favour of industrial action. The union says it balloted its 40,000 members at the operator after BT imposed a pay settlement to which it had not agreed and which, because it was lower than the current rate of inflation, amounted to a pay cut at a time when the cost of living is soaring in the UK. The CWU has warned BT customers to expect disruption to services such as installations, repairs and customer support. BT stated: “The result of the CWU’s ballot is a disappointment but we will work to keep our customers and the country connected. BT Group awarded its highest pay rise for frontline colleagues in more than 20 years – an average 5% increase and up to 8% for those on the lowest salaries. At the same time, we’re in the middle of a once-in-a-generation investment programme to upgrade the country’s broadband and mobile networks. These investments are vital for the benefit of our millions of customers and for the UK economy. Above all, they are central to the success of this business – and its colleagues – now and in the future. Our job is to balance the competing demands of BT Group’s stakeholders and that requires careful management, especially in a challenging economic environment.” You can read BT’s full reaction to the ballot result here

Still with BT… The organisation’s BT Sport unit, which is forming a joint venture with Warner Bros Discovery’s Eurosport channels, has held on to the majority of the rights to broadcast the valuable Champions League football games in the UK between 2024 and 2027 but, unlike under its current deal, it will no longer have exclusive rights. That’s because Amazon Prime has landed part of the deal with UEFA to show some games, while the BBC will broadcast highlights programmes. “This is a win for all parties,” notes industry analyst Paolo Pescatore, founder of PP Foresight. “While BT Sport loses exclusivity, it provides long-term certainty going into the JV with Discovery, providing fans with more games and for less money,” he adds. And while there are now more companies involved in showing the highly popular games, Pescatore says the fragmentation shouldn’t be an issue. “Amazon is now establishing itself as a key provider of sports in the UK as it continues to steadily beef up its programming. This will help drive Prime subscriptions and sales even further with more live sport through the year,” says the analyst, who also wonders if sports streaming specialist DAZN has, once again, lost out in a bidding war. “The biggest question mark is DAZN, and whether any interest was shown. This will be a further blow to its own aspirations in the UK, as some of these rights would have helped its precarious position,” which wasn’t helped by its failed attempt to acquire BT Sport, notes the analyst. For more on what BT Sport has secured as part of its new deal, see this announcement

T-Mobile US has further expanded its 5G Home Internet fixed wireless access (FWA) service to reach an additional five million homes in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. The service is now available to more than 40 million homes, about one-third of which are in rural US – read more

Belgian national operator Proximus has revealed a plan, including funding, to take 10Gbit/s fibre broadband connectivity to 95% of Belgian premises, including 1.7 million households in remote and non-urban areas, and reach the remaining 5% of Belgian households with high-speed fixed wireless access (FWA) connections – read more

The Italian government has awarded the final set of contracts, worth €346m, for the construction of wholesale rural 5G networks to towers firm Inwit, TIM (Telecom Italia) and Vodafone Italy. For the full details (in Italian) – see this announcement

- The staff, TelecomTV

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