Tag: Vodafone

Vodafone flogs its fixed-line operations in the Netherlands

Vodafone’s Dutch subsidiary has flogged off its fixed-line operations to Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Mobile Nederland.

More than 150,000 customers will be finding themselves with German overlords as part of the deal. It is not clear how much money changed hands in the sell off.

The whole thing is a sop to European Union watchdogs who otherwise would not be so keen on letting the much larger merger of Vodafone’s Dutch operations with Liberty Global’s Dutch subsidiary Ziggo go through.

Vodafone is the second-largest mobile provider in the Netherlands, while Ziggo is the biggest cable company so owning fixed lines would be a monopoly too far as far as the EU is concerned. Particularly as the pair will form a strong competitor to KPN, the former Dutch state telecommunications company.

The telecommunications industry is undergoing a period of consolidation in Europe making for a rapid shake-up of the sort of services suppliers can offer. Dubbed “market repair” by analysts there are moves to consolidate in countries such as France, Italy and the UK. The big idea is that it will be the best way for big companies to generate the billions of euros required to invest in next-generation networks.

On the other side stand antitrust regulators such as Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. They are firm proponents of the view that national telecoms markets in Europe benefit from having four operators. In their critics’ eyes, I suppose this makes them champions of market disrepair.

Qualcomm sells UK spectrum

LPSpectrumChipmaker Qualcomm has sold  its UK spectrum rights to Vodafone and CK Hutchison Holdings for $313.8 million.

This is not bad really because the company paid only £8.3 million at auction in 2008 so it certainly got more than its money back.

The deal is subject to approval by communications regulator Ofcom.

Qualcomm in June announced that it was putting a chunk of spectrum up for sale in Britain, which could appeal to mobile operators grappling with demand for Internet access.

The chipmaker said in July it might break itself up as it delivered its third profit warning this year and said it planned to slash jobs and spending in a competitive environment.

When Qualcomm bought the spectrum it was believed to be a way to roll out its MediaFLO, the mobile TV broadcast system, a rival to DVB-H. But the mobile TV standards proved to be dismal failures Qualcomm didn’t have any use for the substantial chunk of spectrum.

 

Vodafone is back in the money

vodafoneBritain’s Vodafone posted a rise in its quarterly sales for the first time in nearly three years.

This was thanks to improving trends in its key European markets and demand for its 4G mobile services.

The world’s second largest mobile operator said the rise in fourth quarter revenue of 0.1 percent, which followed 10 quarters of declines, meant that its overall earnings could also stabilise in 2016.

Vodafone has been hit hard by the constraints on consumer spending in its big European markets and by regulator-imposed price cuts, forecast a range for 2015-16 earnings of £11.5 billion pounds to “£12 billion.

Compared to the £11.9 billion pounds it reported for the 2014-15 period the company could be heralding a return to growth following seven straight years of earnings decline.

Analysts say Vodafone has a tendency to set a cautious outlook so the figures might even be better than that.

Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said the company had seen increasing signs of stabilisation in many of its European markets, supported by improvements in its commercial execution and very strong demand for data.

Vodafone has 446,000 mobile customers in countries ranging from Albania to Spain, Qatar, India, South Africa and New Zealand. However, in the EU, customers cut back on using their phones at a time when Vodafone needed to invest in new networks.

With growth also slowing in its emerging markets, Vodafone embarked on a programme to either build or buy superfast fixed-line broadband networks to compete with rivals offering mobile contracts alongside television, broadband or fixed-line deals.

 

TalkTalk buys Tesco’s Blinkbox

tesco-blinkboxTalkTalk confirmed  that it has written a cheque for Tesco’s Blinkbox Movies business and in a three for two deal bought the supermarket giants budget fixed line broadband and phone customers.

Tesco has been suffering from a pile of financial hurt and has been looking to offload some of its  less lucrative assets. Web-based Blinkbox video streaming service was given a kicking from better offerings from Netflix, Amazon and NOW TV.

Tesco originally took ownership of Blinkbox for £3m in 2011. Since then the supermarket giant has added Blinkbox Books through the £4.5m acquisition of digital book service Modcast and they later paid £10.8m to buy music streaming service WE7, which was turned into Blinkbox Music.

But the service has not made enough cash and last we heard made a post-tax loss of £24.7m on total revenues of just £3.5m.

Vodafone and TalkTalk were known to have an expressed an in the service.

TalkTalk said that the integration of blinkbox with its YouView based TV business would “begin immediately” through a restructuring of the combined platform.

Adrian Letts, Blinkbox CEO and Co-Founder, will join TalkTalk as Managing Director for TV and report to Tristia Harrison, Managing Director of the ISPs consumer business.

Buying Tesco’s broadband base is another example of TalkTalk trying to make  its national network to grow faster.

Apparently Tesco’s broadband customers, which were still using Vodafone’s LLU telecoms network, will be transferred across to the TalkTalk platform  by September 2015.

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.

 

Intel doesn’t back Lady Geek dot com

Belinda ParmarA woman on the radio this morning hit out at womens’ magazines for not including enough information on gadgets and the like.

Belinda Parmar, the CEO of the agency with a website at ladygeek.com (pictured) said in a discussion on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that technology “empowered” women and said magazines such as Glamour didn’t include enough features about tech.

The agency numbers among its clients Nokia, Dell, Microsoft, Sony, Vodafone,Kaspersky, Ubisoft and, er, the BBC. But not Intel.

According to its web page, 80 percent of all tech decisions are influenced by women but only three percent of advertising creative directors are women.

Technology is commoditised now so no one really cares about it anymore apart from Microsoft, Sony and the rest.

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.

 

Vodafone sells Verizon stake

vodafoneVodafone is reportedly in the late stages of selling its 45 percent stake of Verizon, the largest mobile company in the USA, for as much as $130 billion. [It was confirmed this afternoon, Ed.]

Over the weekend, Vodafone said it will be looking for the full $130 billion for its stake and said talks were at an advanced stage.

It is reported that the agreement now just needs the approval of the Verizon board.

Vodafone hopes that – should the deal go through – it will be able to expand further and raise value for shareholders.

In Robert Peston’s BBC business blog, he reported Vodafone may not need to pay any UK tax at all on the £84 billion deal – citing Labour’s 2002 Finance Act which introduced an exemption from tax on capital gains from substantial shareholdings held by companies.

For the three months ending 30 June, Vodafone’s revenues plummeted 3.5 percent – with the company directing the blame at economic difficulties across Europe. But even in Germany, where Vodafone holds its largest share of the market, revenues dropped by five percent. Vodafone also cited market regulation in some European countries as a problem.

Earlier this year, Vodafone bought Kabel Deutschland for €7.7 billion in a bid to diversify its service offerings, including in sectors like broadband and TV.

Shareholders will be expecting the company to turn the ship around,

There could be final confirmation from Verizon later today.

Vodafone revenues down

vodafoneVodafone’s revenues for the three months ending 30 June plummeted 3.5 percent.

Much of the blame was directed at economic difficulties in Europe. The German market, Vodafone’s largest, dropped 5.1 percent. In the UK revenues fell 4.5 percent. Overall service revenues for Europe declined 14.4 percent – with a serious 10.6 percent and 17.6 percent drop in Spain and Italy respectively.

Chief executive acknowledged blamed weak economies in Southern Europe for restricting revenue growth as well as “regulation” and competitive pressure.

Vodafone last month bought Kabel Deutschland for €7.7 billion – hoping to bolster its position in that market and offer other services like broadband and TV.

Telco analysts at IHS pointed out the Q2 results were at least slightly better than the 4.2 percent decline it suffered in Q4 2012. But it stamped on hopes for growth that emerged the same time last year, where it grew one percent year on year.

Vodafone performed comparably well in India and there is steady sales and subscription growth across the African continent, with Egypt in particular surviving the storm despite ongoing intense political turmoil.

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.

Vodafone to buy Kabel Deutschland for $10bn

vodafoneVodafone has agreed a $10 billion deal to pick up German’s largest cable operator, Kabel Deutschland.

The acquisition comes after the company buying out Cable & Wireless Worldwide, signifying an increased emphasis towards cabel services.

Vodafone has said the $110 per share deal will help it offer more competitive TV, fixed line and broadband services to mobile customers, Reuters reports, in one of its most important markets, a significant change of direction for the company that turns it into a quadruple play company.

American billionaire John Malone’s Liberty Global also had its crosshairs on Kabel Deutschland, but it is thought it was outbid by Vodafone.

Liberty Global is planning a push into the European market which it entered earlier this year when it acquired Virgin Media.

Senior analyst at CCS Insight, Kester Mann, believes the acquisition is both “offensive and defensive”. While it will allow it to attack the biggest European market with cable and TV services, it also shores up the company’s defenses from other cable operators like Liberty Global, Deutsche Telekom, and of course, Kabel Deutschland.

“The move reflects the severity of the threat from cable providers offering faster and lower-cost services,” Mann said.

By diversifying the services offered, with this acquisition Vodafone will be more likely to keep customers from straying to multiple providers – and offer benefits for those that use its services across the board.

Across the pond, Mann thinks that if Vodafone is offered a respectable amount for its stake in Verizon Wireless, leaving the US market entirely would be worth consideration. The acquisition of Kabel, as well as an increased focus on the European markets, could give Vodafone ample opportunity to improve EU networks.

Emeka Obiodu, an Ovum analyst, said the buy instantly transforms Vodafone into the biggest pay TV provider in the country – and the second largest fixed broadband provider.

This is the largest Vodafone M&A since the 2007 India acquisition. According to Obiodu, this indicates that Vodafone’s domestic European market is “sickly and requires a good dose of medicine to jolt it back to life”.

Ovum predicts that mobile telecoms revenues in Germany are subject to downwards pressures, so the acquisition is to diversify Vodafone’s product line up in Europe for additional revenue. “The implication,” Obiodu said, “is that if Vodafone becomes Germany’s largest pay TV provider, why would it not want to do the same in the UK, Spain, Italy or the Netherlands?”

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.