What’s up with… BT and Huawei, Malaysian M&A, transparent antennas

  • BT wants more time to remove Huawei from the core of its network
  • Malaysia’s mobile operator megamerger gets an important green light
  • Japanese firm develops glass radio antennas

In today’s industry news roundup: BT asks the UK government for more time to oust Huawei from its core; Digi and Celcom take a step closer to their planned merger in Malaysia;  Nippon Electric Glass brings a new level of transparency to the radio access network; and more!

BT is asking for more time to remove Huawei technology from its core network, the UK operator’s chief technology officer, Howard Watson, told Bloomberg. Under the terms imposed by the government for the removal of the Chinese vendor’s gear from UK networks, all Huawei core technology (the part of the network that controls the network, services and subscriber profiles – effectively the brain of the network) needs to be removed by late January 2023, but Watson has said that deadline doesn’t look achievable due to operational delays during the Covid-19 pandemic. It has, though, already started the process of migrating functionality to a new core platform supplied by Swedish vendor Ericsson. It would be surprising if BT’s wish is not granted, but let’s wait and see! If it doesn’t get an extension, the operator may face fines from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). 

The $12bn merger of two of Malaysia’s leading mobile operators, Telenor-owned Digi and Axiata-owned Celcom, has been given the green light by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, which had been a major hurdle towards closing the deal. The move, which still needs to be approved by the Securities Commission, Bursa Malaysia and the shareholders of both operators, will create by far the largest mobile operator in the country with more than 40% of the market by subscriber numbers, as we reported last year. The news comes as local reports suggest Malaysia’s operators have agreed shared ownership terms with the country’s government over the controversial single national state-controlled 5G network, the Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB), reports The Star.    

For those of you interested in the physical dynamics of radio access network equipment, this one’s for you… Japanese firm Nippon Electric Glass has developed “a transparent antenna, which is made of a glass substrate, and a repeater, which uses radio wave lenses and does not require power supply, for 5G millimeter-wave wireless communication technology.” The company adds: “By making the antenna transparent, the antenna functionality can be added without spoiling the design and landscape of the installation location. The antenna can be installed in various locations, such as windows, walls, displays, and vehicles,” which means that a radio antenna could be built into a car’s windscreen, for example. Read more.  

The calm before the storm… Following yesterday’s news that wireless backhaul vendor Aviat has made an unwelcome and aggressive bid to buy its rival Ceragon Networks, the board at Ceragon has reacted in a surprisingly keep calm and carry on way. Having been informed that it is running the company badly and needs a board-level refresh so that a merger can be arranged, the Ceragon board has simply acknowledged the receipt of a takeover offer and a letter calling for an emergency shareholders’ meeting and suggested that Ceragon shareholders “need not take action at this time.” Meanwhile, Ceragon’s stock is up by 21% in the past two days to $2.52, so those shareholders will be feeling quite good about developments currently. However, that price is still some way short of the $2.80 that Aviat is offering, so there is clearly a degree of uncertainty about how this will pan out – see Aviat makes bold $235m bid to buy backhaul rival Ceragon.

Following its acquisition by Lumine Group earlier this month, roaming and network interconnect management and settlement specialist Tomia has announced David Sharpley, a group leader at Lumine, as its new CEO. The appointment is in line with the model adopted by Lumine, which acquires companies and retains them as independent operations but assigns a group leader to oversee development and strategy – see One to watch: Lumine Group. UPDATE: Tomia’s previous CEO Howard Stevens and the company’s executive chairman Gary McIlraith are no longer with the company. For more on Lumine and Sharpley’s role and views about the market, see Lumine’s Sharpley: We’re buyin’, but we ain’t sellin’.

Vodafone UK is leaning on the government and national regulator Ofcom to ease off on various regulations and rules (5G site planning, annual spectrum licence payments, net neutrality, operator consolidation, and more) so that UK towns and cities can reap the full benefit of 5G. If things stay the way they are, argues Vodafone, the UK will miss out on £7bn of economic benefits and the UK government’s so-called levelling-up agenda will be damaged. Can Vodafone find an influential champion for its cause – maybe Julia Lopez, minister of state for media, data and digital infrastructure? Does it stand a hope in hell of getting what it wants? You can read Vodafone UK’s argument here, and find out how it arrived at the £7bn figure in its Digital Ambition 2030 report (link available here). 

Keeping it in the family… Mukesh Ambani has handed over the chairman role at India’s largest mobile operator, Reliance Jio, to one of his sons. According to the Business Standard, the Reliance Jio board "approved the appointment of Akash M Ambani, non-executive director, as chairman of the board of directors" during a meeting held on 27 June.  

Sports stadiums are proving to be great use cases for private wireless network deployments, it seems. In the US, Boingo Wireless has deployed and runs a managed private cellular network at Petco Park, the home of baseball team the San Diego Padres, where it is “among the first managed network providers to adopt the new Google Distributed Cloud (GDC) Edge portfolio for private networks.” Boingo was named as one of the launch partners for Google Cloud’s private networks solution pitch that was unveiled earlier this month. For more on Boingo’s Petco Park deployment and private networks approach, see this blog

- The staff, TelecomTV

Email Newsletters

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