Friday Network News: February 10

Capacity brings you the latest network news. If you have network developments you’d like us to share, please email or tweet us @capacitymag.

Sprint is planning to switch on its LTE network and launch upgraded 3G services in Baltimore and Kansas City by mid 2012. The carrier also recently announced that LTE deployments in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio will be activated around the same period. Sprint is planning to improve 3G coverage in each of these markets through investments in its CDMA network, improving mobile voice and data services.

US fixed-line telco, Consolidated Communications, plans to acquire SureWest Communications in a $340.9 million deal. Consolidated will acquire all outstanding shares of SureWest in a cash and stock transaction. The merger will enhance Consolidated’s scale, expanding its operations to six states, and giving it a workforce of 1,775. The deal is subject to federal and state regulatory approval and approval by both Consolidated and SureWest shareholders.

Bharti Airtel’s African subsidiary, Airtel Sierra Leone, has launched a commercial HSPA network. Access is available in Sierra Leone’s main towns and cities, including Freetown, Makeni, Bo, Koidu, Kenema and Waterloo. The network will offer maximum speeds of 14.4MBps downstream and 5.7Mbps upstream through a network of 20 base stations, with another 20 planned for the near future.

Virgin Mobile Latin America is partnering with Datora Telecom to launch MVNO services in Brazil, according to local sources. Datora, which is part of the Porto Seguro insurance group, is cited as saying that it will not merely act as an advisor to Virgin but will be a full partner. The pair intend to develop the MVNO’s business model over the next two to four months, including deciding which network operator and host provider to use, and whether to utilise Datora’s existing MVNO licence or apply for another.

P&T Luxembourg has partnered with Alcatel-Lucent to deploy ultra-fast broadband throughout the European country. P&T’s customers will now have access to fibre based broadband technology and a range of broadband services. The government initiative is based on developing infrastructure in the country and increasing broadband speeds in Luxembourg. It overall aims is to provide FTTH services to 100% of the population, providing 100Mbps internet connection to every household by 2015, with 1Gbps speeds expected by 2020.

Satellite TV provider Dish Networks has had its application for the transfer of satellite spectrum approved by the Canadian communications ministry. Dish plans to build a LTE mobile broadband network with the Canadian licenses, which are held by TerreStar and DBSD North America. Gamma Acquisition, a Dish subsidiary, agreed a $325 million purchase price for DBSD in February 2011 and $1.38 billion for TerreStar in July 2011. The ministry concluded that the transaction was in the public interest as it would increase Canadian wireless availability.

Global operators Verizon and BT have entered into a telepresence partnership to extend the reach of face-to-face collaboration to more locations around the world. The partnership will run through Cisco’s Telepresence platform and is designed to expand collaboration for customers through a range of virtual exchanges. According to both companies, a major advantage of face-to-face interactions virtually is the reduction of travel, time, costs and carbon emissions associated with business trips.

Bhutan telecom has announced plans to extend its 3G network to at least 40 locations in central and western Bhutan by the end of 2012. Beginning next month, the telco will expand its network in Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Paro and Gelephu. Six locations will be in the capital, Thimphu, adding to the 14 already existing there. The remaining 20 will be in other regions and at tertiary sites including Sherubtse College, and the college of business studies in Gedu.

Hutchison Telecom Hong Kong is planning to use the 30MHz of 2.3GHz spectrum that it acquired for HK$150 million in the municipality’s recent spectrum auction to expand its FD LTE network into a dual mode FD LTE/TD LTE network. The network upgrade is to meet what the company describes as “customer’s huge and ever increasing demand for data services”. The group also successfully bid for 900MHz in a previous election last year and has been re-farming its existing 900MHz spectrum to WCDMA to expand network coverage.

Axiata Group is reportedly expecting to spend $1.33-$1.66 billion in capital expenditure by the end of 2012, according to CEO Datuk Seri Jamaludin Ibrahim. The company, which generates the majority of its revenue from the Indonesian and Malaysian markets, will be using the bulk of the funds to upgrade its existing infrastructure to support data services. Approximately half of this sum will be invested in the company’s Indonesian subsidiary, XL, to upgrade its 3G and high speed downlink packet access data network.

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