Tag: EE

BT finalises EE take over

Kitten-Kong BT has finalised its deal to buy EE from Orange and Deutsche Telekom for £12.5 billion.

According to the International Business Times , the deal, is to be officially completed by the end of the year, will be settled in cash and shares.

While the deal has been rumoured for a while, it is now official.  It looks like once the agreement has been settled, the German Deutsche Telekom will have a 12 percent stake in the company and will be given the right to appoint one board member.

Orange will also get a four percent stake.

BT will raise £1 billion of the deal through issuing new shares and debt financing, with the view of making £360 million of capital expenditure in four years savings as a result of the deal.

BT CEO Gavin Patterson said: “This is a major milestone for BT as it will allow us to accelerate our mobility plans and increase our investment in them. The UK’s leading 4G network will now dovetail with the UK’s biggest fibre network, helping to create the leading converged communications provider in the UK. Consumers and businesses will benefit from new products and services as well as from increased investment and innovation.”

The deal comes after broadband providers have started to offer quad-play packages, providing customers with TV, broadband, landline and mobile services in one bundle.

BT will now join Virgin Media and TalkTalk, who already offer these deals to UK consumers.

CEO of EE, Olaf Swantee added: “Joining BT represents an exciting next stage for our company, customer, and people. In the last few years alone, we have built the UK’s biggest, fastest and best 4G network, significantly advancing the digital communications infrastructure for people and businesses across Britain.”

Following in BT’s footsteps is Sky, who struck a deal with Three Mobile last week to offer similar quad-play deals in 2016.

Hutchison to buy O2

PhoneConsolidation in the UK mobile industry is certain after Hutchison Whampoa said it will buy O2 for £10.25 billion.
O2 is currently owned by Spanish telco Telefonica.
Hutchison already owns the UK Three network.
O2 is the second biggest mobile operator in the UK, with around 22 million subscribers.
Just a few weeks ago we reported that BT entered talks with EE, with a view to acquiring it.
BT then ruled out buying O2. It is still in talks with EE over acquiring that business, with a view to becoming a dominant player in the UK market.
Hutchison more or less started off the mobile phone business in the UK with the launch of Orange.


EU 4G speed trials completed

indy1909EE, Qualcomm and Huawei have completed a 4G trial which aimed to speed up internet connection and reliability on mobile gear.

The three said that they managed to achieve download speeds of up to 410Mbps when going downhill and with the wind behind it.

It is the first time that LTE Category 9 testing has been tried in Europe and should dramatically improve EE mobile broadband speeds across greater areas.

The test has proved the operator can aggregate 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum with another 20MHz of 2.66GHz, and a third carrier of 15MHz of 2.6GHz.

Apparently they conducted the test using QTI’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor and an integrated LTE-Advanced modem, on Huawei’s commercial infrastructure solution across EE’s LTE-A 4G+ network. Double sided sticky tape was not used and apparently the tests were conducted in front of a responsible adult.

Qualcomm said that transitioning from Category 6 to Category 9 LTE-A connectivity will mean 1.5x faster peak download speeds, swift application response times, reliable connectivity and connections to the fastest networks.

EE claimed that using its remaining 15MHz of the 2.6GHz spectrum enables the fastest speeds and an increase in capacity across its network.

EE’s director of network services and devices, Tom Bennett said that working closely with Qualcomm and Huawei on the next generation LTE Category 9 connectivity enabled the company to make full use of our spectrum holdings, and continue to offer world class network capabilities, innovating to stay one step ahead of operators in Europe.

Huawei described the test as “a truly ground breaking moment” in the move towards the 5G era. However, none of the firms confirmed when these speeds will become a reality.


BT writes £12.5 billion cheque for EE

handsetBT has confirmed it will acquire EE in a move that will scare the beejeesus out of the UK mobile market.

Buying EE will give BT the biggest 4G network in the UK which it is says will complement its fibre network.

BT had been using EE’s network for its mobile virtual network operator deal, but hopes the deal will enable it to create a complete network for its customers so they are using its services, whether at home on fixed connections or on the go using the mobile services, or its existing WiFi services.

It also gets 24.5 million customers currently on the EE network.

We expect to see deals involving telephone, mobile phone, broadband and mobile services in one bundle.

BT accountants already think that they will save a pile through network and IT rationalisation as well as in areas of procurement, marketing and sales costs.

Still it is bad news for O2 which was touted to be the other company that BT was thinking of buying. The decision not to go with O2 will be a blow to the Spanish Telefónica which had been keen to flog its business unit in the UK.

If approved the deal will mean Deutsche Telekom as a 12 percent share in BT and a seat on the company’s board. Orange will take just a four percent share and will not have a seat on the board.

It is not all clear sailing though. The deal has to be approved by the Ofcom regulator.  While it is not likely to block the deal, the combined entity could be forced to dispose of some spectrum. BT’s Openreach and Wholesale units might have to be hived off from the main company.


Ofcom gives 4G the thumbs up

thumbsupA report from UK comms regulator Ofcom said that the four operators who offer 4G in the country offers twice as much speed as 3G.

Ofcom conducted research in five UK cities where 4G was offered by network operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

It measured download speed, upload speed, web browsing speed and latency.  Over nine million people in the country can now access 4G and Ofcom said this figure will increase as coverage increases and additional 4G enabled devices come onto the market.

Ofcom conducted 210,000 tests in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. It pointed out that with only nine million 4G subscribers, “networks may be lightly loaded” and increased network congestion may dampen down the performance.

The tests showed that 4G download speeds were over twice as fast as 3G speeds, with an average for 4G being 15.1Mbit/s but for 3G only 6.1Mbit/s.

Upload speeds were even better, with 4G seven times faster that 3G.  Although there was less difference between browsing web pages, 4G networks have a lower latency than 3G networks.

Ofcom said that EE had higher download and upload speeds, while Three was better at web browising and latency.

Virgin Media kits out 150 Tube stations with wi-fi

londonundergroundSince the London Olympics, Virgin Media has been adding wi-fi to stations on the London Underground.

And today it said it has now kiitted out its 160th station.  It said that over 2.5 million gadgets are now registered on its network with over 3TB (terabytes) of data downloaded every day.

It said the most used service are at the Waterloo & City Line at Waterloo station, Kings Cross and Oxford Circus.

The service lets you access Transport for London travel information and news and some other stuff at no charge for subscribers to Virgin Media broadband, EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three customers.

Virgin claims that represents around 95 percent of people in London.

If you’re one of the five percent, you can get a daily pass for £2, a weekly pass for £5 and a two monthly pass for £15.

Phone 4U shafted by suppliers claims founder

Finding-Nemo-Shark-Wallpaper-HDPhone 4U’s founder, John Caudwell, blamed the outfit’s demise on its mobile network suppliers and private equity owners, BC Partners.

Caudwell, who started the chain of phone shops in the 1980s and sold it for £1.5bn in 2006, said Vodafone, EE and other networks had refused to supply the retailer, in a strategy to reduce competition and fatten their margins.

Phones 4u’s private equity owners had left the company financially weakened so that it could not defend itself, he said.

BC had acquired the chain in 2011 in a £610m deal, only to allow it to be saddled with debts of £635m.

“It’s astonishingly ruthless. Vodafone have had millions upon millions from Phones 4u over 25 years,” he said.

“It’s dreadful for British business. It gives us a terrible reputation, it destroys jobs and it is a terribly unhealthy environment to do business… The private equity houses left the business laden with debt and that weakened their ability to defend themselves and fight.”

Judging by the way that EE and Vodafone jumped and bought a portion of Phones 4u’s old stores, Caudwell might have a point.

Vodafone will take over 140 Phones 4u stores while EE will take over 58 shops. The deal will see the jobs of more than one thousand people saved as staff are to remain working at their current locations.

Phones 4u went into administration on September 15 after failing to retain EE and and Vodafone as carrier partners.

The Vodafone deal will preserve 887 jobs. The deal with EE, announced Monday, saves a further 359 jobs. In addition, Dixons has offered jobs to those working at Phones 4u confessionals in its stores.

The Vodafone and EE-owned stores will be rebranded by their new owners, though it’s not clear how long that will take. Dixons Carphone plans to make an offer to acquire as many as 100 stores and will invite the staff at those stores to apply for available positions.

Vodafone and EE have claimed that Caudwell is off-base with his remarks.  Phones 4u management told them that they could not stock the phones because of the company’s large debts.

Vodafone said: “Phones 4u was offered repeated opportunities to propose competitive distribution terms to enable us to conclude a new agreement, but was unable to do so on terms which were commercially viable.

Administrator PWC said that 362 of the retailer’s stores will close, immediately costing 1,697 staff their jobs. Another 720 people have been retained in the short term to assist with the closure programme, the accountants added, but will then be made redundant.


Use your phone on the Tube

tubeEE said that you can now use your smartphone to travel on the London Underground.

Last month, EE introduced its “Cash on Tap” service for Transport for London (TFL) buses.  Now, it says, that service is compatible with the Underground, trans, DLR Overground and National Rail services that accept Oyster.

There’s no extra charge for using Cash on Tap to travel and Monday to Sunday capping offers best value fares.

Cash on Tap is already available for Marks and Spencer, Pret a Manger, WH Smith, McDonalds and Boots.

EE customers can download the app from the Google Play store and is compatible with a variety of Android devices.

EE says the app removes so-called card clash, where gates might not open if you have more than one contactless card.

O2, Vodafone neck and neck in 4G

vodafoneHaving just launched their own 4G services, O2 and Vodafone are roughly neck and neck in speed and availability, according to a report.

Conducting over 11,000 tests around central London over five days since the companies launched their 4G services, research company RootMetrics found that O2’s average blended 3G and 4G speed was 16.3 Mbps, compared to 16.2 Mbps from Vodafone. As 4G is not always available, Rootmetrics claims these are the speeds most customers will actually receive.

Having had an enormous head start, EE was given the chance to improve its speec and coverage. At present, its average 3G-4G download speed hit 22.7 Mbps, compared to 17.3 Mbps in April.

At least in central London, both O2 and Vodafone had made their services broadly available. Of the 310 miles within London’s borders, including indoor locations, Vodafone’s 4G was available in 69.4 percent of tests, compared to O2’s 63.9 percent.

For 4G only, O2 won out, reaching average speeds of 23.3 Mbps and a maximum download speed of 65.8 Mbps. Vodafone managed 20.8 Mbps on average and 57.7 Mbps maximum download speed. EE was still ahead with an average of 29.6 Mbps.

RootMetrics CEO Bill Moore said the tests bode well for providers and customers.

“EE has had the best part of a year to cement its place and remains the speed leader, but the early signs for O2 and Vodafone are very positive, especially when it comes to 4G availability,” Moore said. “This is all good news for the consumer as uploading your pictures or downloading content on the move will become quicker as coverage expands and improves”.

Many customers will be waiting for the price to dip. Although 4G in the UK is off to a good start, it is a premium service. Earlier this month, EE boasted it had passed the 1 million customer milestone ahead of schedule. But Ovum’s head of Industry, Communications & Broadband Practice told us with its head start, the company could have done even better.  The demand is there, but for early technologies, prioritising getting the adoption rate up with cheaper plans may have put EE even further in the lead.


EE reaches 1 million 4G customer mark

eeEE has announced it has reached the one million mark milestone for its 4G customers – but it could have done even better.

The company aggressively rolled out its infrastructure ahead of the pack as it was the first major telco granted access to the UK’s 4G spectrum. EE had some attractive smartphones to peddle, including the top players like the iPhone 5 and Samsung’s popular Galaxy range.

One million customers is not to be sniffed at. However, EE was alone in offering LTE, so potential buyers who wanted to make the most out of 4G capabilities on newer devices had to turn to the company.

With the aggressive launch came aggressive price points. Ovum’s Steve Hartley explained to TechEye how EE could have been leaving the competition completely in the dust.

EE raises 4G customer base

eeTelco EE, the result of a merger between Orange and T-Mobile, has managed to boost its first half earnings to £734 million.

EBITDA margins rose to 22.9 percent, compared to 20.3 percent in the first half of 2012. The main drivers were postpaid customer growth and progress in both retail and improving its network. Second quarter revenues fell 2.3 percent year on year to £1.61 billion while customer numbers dropped 2.4 percent to 27.5 million.

EE had a lead on 4G coverage, being awarded spectrum before rivals and raising subscriptions to nearly 700,000 to date – from 500,000 at the beginning of June. It is currently the only operator that has launched LTE all across the UK, and is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy to cement its position as top dog.

Postpaid customers grew 6.3 percent to 14 million, with such customers making up over half of all EE’s subscriber base.

Analyst company IHS notes EE’s monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) fell 1.6 percent year on year to £18.4 on the back of regulation and increased competition.

EE’s chief executive Olaf Swantee would not confirm whether the company would go public, but did say the reason for rumours it will are because margins are being driven up, the Telegraph reports.

PrePay pops up EE NFC payments

oldmastercardTelco Everything Everywhere (EE) has announced its Cash on Tap service, or NFC payments through a mobile app, and it is largely built by European company PrePay Solutions.

PrePay will be offering e-Money issuing, BIN sponsorship, and transaction processing for Cash on Tap, supported through a proprietary app service that lets the app and NFC phone act as a digital wallet.

Payment options include NFC payments through MasterCard PayPass, online payments with a virtual MasterCard, storing credit and debit card details, loading funds from bank transfer, debit and credit cards, as well as customer balance enquiry and transaction history.

Users will be able to use their mobiles for contactless payments as well.

EE customers will be able to get the app through Google Play, though it only works on a select number of 4G handsets.

PrePay MD Ray Brash said there’s been a lot of anticipation for proper digital mobile payments, and this development makes it a reality for the first time in the UK.

OECD: BYOD is ugly

SmartphonesChanges in phone acquisition models might be about to contribute to the slowdown of smartphone sales in some markets, as well as BYOD adoption rates. An OECD report found that most markets are still heavily relying on subsidised phones and bundles, available on two-year plans.

However, in many countries most mobile plans include an entitlement to a handset discount, which makes BYOD unattractive with costlier mobile plans. In spite of that the report found that in some big markets, such as France and the US, bundled phones actually end up $10 to $20 more expensive than the BYOD option. What’s more, the differences aren’t even evident to most consumers, which isn’t the case in some countries which mandate operators to disaggregate the cost of the device in monthly bills, revealing the actual cost of bundled phones.

The report found that operators in the UK are still trying to push two-year contracts, as they help create a stable customer base. One month contracts are used by about 17 percent of British consumers and the number has been more or less stable since 2007. However, two-year contracts accounted for 68 percent of sales in the first quarter of 2011, up from just 2 percent in Q1 2008. At the same time the number of 12-month or 18-month contracts is decreasing.

It is evident that the vast majority of high-end smartphone sales are coming from two-year plans and that this won’t change anytime soon. However, it is an inherently risky approach. Although two-year contracts with fancy bundles can help maintain a stable customer base, smartphones aren’t evolving nearly as fast as they did two or three years ago. The upgrade cycle is slowing down and the model might not work a few years from now, since Vodafone, O2 and EE aren’t offering subsidies anymore.

Consumers aren’t about to ditch bundled phones in favour of unlocked devices and cheaper plans, but the protracted economic downturn might prompt them to do so in the future.

However, having a good customer base and heaps of new devices sold every year allows carriers to invest more in infrastructure. Smartphones are driving 3G and 4G growth and without two-year bundle deals development would be much slower.

The OECD report concluded that consumers can benefit from reduced lock-in by simply buying a pricey smartphone through monthly instalments and using a cheaper plan. Increased transparency, such as disaggregating the cost of the phone in the monthly bill would help as well, along with more unlocked phones. It all comes down to the consumers, but most of them don’t appear to be well informed and savvy to compare competing mobile plans, or the cost of getting an unlocked phone and a separate plan.

EE boasts 500,000 4G customers

eeEE has reached another 4G milestone. After becoming the first UK telco to roll out a commercial 4G network, it is now proudly proclaiming that it already has 500,000 customers. This makes it one of the leading European 4G operators and Britain is expected to become the largest 4G market later this year.