4, 3, 2...
Well another couple years when Ofcom can't go running to EU for help keeping to its dogma of 4 networks,Three could have another play for O2.
After being smote by regulators in its attempt to buy O2 for £10.25bn, Three has snapped up UK Broadband for a cool £250m instead. UK Broadband provides broadband access to 15,000 customers in the UK and under the deal will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Three UK. Dave Dyson, chief exec of Three UK, said: “UK Broadband …
BT did have a load of mobile spectrum and an MVNO though - it just hadn't got very far with building its physical network. BT being slow at building a network doesn't look like a great reason to allow the merger Perhaps Three should have closed down its network before trying to buy O2? On OFCOMs logic that would be OK :-/
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Well actually I think it's probably a pretty smart move. It's a small ISP so it's a doddle to migrate systems (relatively) to their own billing systems for example. But more importantly they have all the links and processes in place for dealing with BT openreach and the like. Throw in a sizable chunk of marketing money to get customers with a massive advertising campaign. So three can now start to offer stupid broadband deals to three customers not to mention playing BT at their own game of free wifi. And three are finally sorting out wi-fi calling so maybe not entirely unrelated.
So daft, probably not so much. It's just not going to happen overnight but I'd say there aren't going to go down without a fight. And given how they changed the mobile market (a bit like orange did all those years ago too) I'd put money on some market disruption coming, or at least an attempt.
How much or how successful time will tell. Also, their customer service can suck badgers balls sometimes so they may want to work on that too before trying their hand at broadband.
"they have all the links and processes in place for dealing with BT openreach and the like."
Who has all the links and processes for BT Openreach etc?
And nor do PCCW or Netvigator or Now Broadband or Relish or UK Broadband or whatever they'll be called next week. They were (are? allegedly?) *fixed wireless* broadband providers, who started their UK career by buying up all the UK fixed wireless access broadband licences in post-auction deals, and then doing nothing with the licences, for years. See e.g.
Some analysis of that, and the mysterious role of the Hutchison companies in this picture, would be welcome in the next article on this subject.
I suspect the interest is in the spectrum rather than the subscribers. £250m for 120MHz of LTE spectrum? That more than doubles 3's holdings. Admittedly it's in the 3.4GHz band, which is "not immediately useable" according to OFCOM, but as UKBB have subscribers there must be a few routers available at least.
The stories in the financial sections this morning shed rather more light on this. The official justification appears to be that the value is in the spectrum bandwidth owned by the company. It might get become and important asset should it be included in the 5G technical standards.
However, perhaps just as important, 3 is owned by on of the richest man in Asia (Li Ka-shing), and UK Broadband was a venture by his son (Richard). It appears that the price paid will just about cover the investment and accumulated operating losses of UK Broadband...
The customer base of 15,000 is worth between £2m and £3m. You might attribute some value to the Relish brand but not much. The value is in the spectrum.
The magic thing about 3.4GHz is that it's flavour of the month for 5G and has been allocated some experimental status. It's not enough bandwidth for Ericsson's vision of 5G which wants 500MHz of contiguous spectrum and so is looking at much higher frequencies but it's plumb where Huawei see 5G.
Unfortunately this move goes to re-enforce Ofcom's (unstated) reason for blocking the Three/O2 sale. If the two companies had merged there would have been one fewer customer for the (delayed for over a year), auction (https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/26/ofcom_spectrum_auction/) for 3.4GHz and 2.3GHz. Ofcom is all about "recognising market value" for the spectrum, and Three has just put a price on it. And Ofcom has to be disappointed at how low that is.
Ofcom claims it's about keeping competition in the market but if you look at what has happened at retail, all the real networks have increased prices. Only the MVNOs keep the MNOs under price pressure.
The 2.3GHz is now interesting because there are quite a lot of phones which support it.
Also reported in the FT (paywalled https://www.ft.com/content/9e607b6e-ec7e-11e6-ba01-119a44939bb6 )
"Three UK has paid £250m to buy lossmaking wireless internet provider Relish as a first step into the home broadband market by Britain’s fourth-largest mobile group.
Three is owned by CK Hutchison, controlled by Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing, while UK Broadband, the company behind Relish, is owned by Hong Kong-based telecoms company PCCW, which is run by his son Richard Li.
The deal will also provide Three with additional mobile spectrum, which can be used for any future launch of 5G services. The mobile phone operator abandoned plans for a £10.25bn takeover of larger rival O2 last year after the deal was blocked by European competition regulators.
PCCW has been trying to crack the British market since 2004, when it acquired a licence to operate a WiMax network that offered faster and more wide-ranging signals than WiFi. It initially launched as an internet provider called Now Wireless but rebranded in 2014 as Relish, offering a line rental-free broadband service in inner London.
And via Bloomberg (not paywalled):
"Li Ka-Shing to Buy U.K. Broadband Assets From Younger Son
by Prudence Ho
February 6, 2017, 8:36 PM EST February 7, 2017, 3:52 AM EST
Billionaire Li Ka-shing agreed to buy a telecommunications business in the U.K. from his younger son for 300 million pounds ($374 million) in a shuffling of assets within Hong Kong’s richest family.
Through CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.’s Three U.K., Li will pay his son’s PCCW Ltd. 250 million pounds in cash and 50 million pounds in credit vouchers for U.K. Broadband, which holds spectrum and wireless network assets, according to a filing in Hong Kong on Monday. PCCW, controlled by billionaire Richard Li, expects to post a gain of about HK$1.3 billion ($168 million) from the deal, it said.
[continues; includes video]"
It's what taking back control is all about, innit. Lend us a quid till the end of the week, guvnor. My BT Bill's gone through the roof.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Wednesday welcomed the decision by a group of telecom and cable industry associations to abandon their legal challenge of the US state's net neutrality law SB822.
"My office has fought for years to ensure that internet service providers can't interfere with or limit what Californians do online," said Bonta in a statement. "Now the case is finally over.
"Following multiple defeats in court, internet service providers have abandoned this effort to block enforcement of California's net neutrality law. With this victory, we’ve secured a free and open internet for California's 40 million residents once and for all."
The Biden White House has put forward a plan that could see 40 percent of households in the United States getting subsidized high-speed internet, with some having service free of charge.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was created as part of the recently passed infrastructure law, and will reimburse bills from internet service providers (ISPs).
Households covered by the ACP will have internet service costs reduced by up to $30 a month, or up to $75 a month if they live on tribal lands.
The FTC has settled a case in which Frontier Communications was accused of charging high prices for under-delivered internet connectivity.
The US telecommunications giant has promised to be clearer with subscribers on connection speeds, and will cough up more than $8.5 million, or less than a day in annual profit, to end the matter.
Frontier used to primarily pipe broadband over phone lines to people in rural areas, expanded to cities, and today supplies the usual fare to homes and businesses: fiber internet, TV, and phone services.
Starlink customers who've been itching to take their dish on the road can finally do so – for a price.
The Musk-owned satellite internet service provider quietly rolled out a feature this week called Portability which, for an additional $25 per month, will allow customers to take their service with them anywhere on the same continent – provided they can find a clear line-of-sight to the sky and the necessary power needed to keep the data flowing.
That doesn't mean potential Starlink customers sign up for service in an area without a wait list and take their satellite to a more congested area. Sneaky, but you won't get away with it. If Starlink detects a dish isn't at its home address, there's no guarantee of service if there's not enough bandwidth to go around, or there's another outage.
The Communication and Workers Union (CWU) will this week publish the timetable to run an industrial action ballot over the pay rise BT gave to members recently, with the telco's subsidiaries to vote separately.
Earlier this month, BT paid its 58,000 frontline workers a flat rate increase of £1,500 ($1,930) for the year, upping it from the £1,200 ($1,545) initially offered. BT hadn't cleared this increase with the CWU, and the union branded the offer as unacceptable at a time when inflation in Britain is expected to soar by 10 percent this year.
In a public town hall meeting last week, the CWU said it will take an "emergency motion" to the Annual Conference this week to "set out the exact ballot timetable," said Karen Rose, vice president at CWU.
Parts of South Yorkshire are to get fiber broadband run through mains water pipes in a two-year trial to evaluate the viability of the technology for connecting more homes.
The move will see fiber-optic cable strung through 17 kilometers of water mains between Barnsley and Penistone under a government-sanctioned technology trial. The project appears to be part of a £4m fund announced last year to trial ways of connecting up hard-to-reach homes without digging up roads.
Another section of the trial will be to test out whether fiber installed inside water pipes can be used to help water companies detect leaks, and so cut down on water wastage.
Based on 41 packages, the average cost per month for broadband in Britain came in at $39.01. Stateside, this rose to $55, from 34 packages measured.
For these bulwarks of western democracy, 92nd and 134th place isn't particularly impressive. But if you really want to shave the dollars off your internet bill, you have a number of options.
Column I heard an electric discharge, a bit like a Jacob's ladder, immediately before a deafening crack of thunder. I'd never been so close to a lightning strike! All of the lights in the house went bright, then dimmed, then went back to normal. "Uh-oh," I thought, "I'm in trouble now." Everything in the house had been hit by a nasty surge and the oft-spoken aphorism that broadband services are now a utility to rank with water and electricity was suddenly very, very, real to me.
But it was electricity I worried about first. I use top of the line surge protectors so my most sensitive devices – computers and monitors, of which I have many – all seemed fine. But I'd overlooked two other connections that come into nearly every home: the antenna and the phone line.
My television seemed to have taken a direct hit. It still worked – mostly – but appeared unable to receive any digital broadcasts. That circuit, lying on the other side of the antenna lead, likely took a big hit from the lightning strike. But the rest of the television seemed fine – at first. After a few days, and several spontaneous reboots, I began to intuit that devices don't always immediately fail when hit by lightning. Sometimes they gradually shed their functions and utility.
The telecoms kit market had a good 2021 with revenues close to $100bn, up more than 20 percent since 2017, but growth is now slowing, according to analyst Dell'Oro Group. Huawei is also starting to feel the effect of sanctions, but still leads the global market by a fair margin.
However, the Dell'Oro Group's prediction of slightly less growth for 2022 may turn out to be optimistic amid warnings that the Ukraine war is already having an impact on the fragile supply chain recovery.
Dell'Oro's analysis is based on the telecoms market sectors it monitors, including Broadband Access, Microwave & Optical Transport, Mobile Core Network (MCN), Radio Access Network (RAN), and Service Provider Router & Switch.
Optical-fibre internet now makes up 32 per cent of fixed broadband subscriptions across the OECD countries, and is the fastest growing broadband technology. However, there is a mixed picture with cable still dominant in the Americas and the UK still predominantly DSL.
These figures come from an update to the OECD's broadband portal, indicating that fibre subscriptions grew by 15 per cent across the OECD countries between June 2020 and June 2021, with demand for faster internet speeds as employees worked remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions cited as one reason.
Fixed broadband subscriptions in OECD countries totalled 462.5 million as of June 2021, up from 443 million a year earlier, while mobile broadband subscriptions totalled 1.67 billion, up from 1.57 billion a year earlier.
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