Friday News Round-up: 12/09/2014

Friday News Round-up: 12/09/2014

A summary of the week’s biggest telecoms news stories.

Ofcom feels the heat

Early this week, UK operators Vodafone, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and BskyB called upon the country’s regulator Ofcom to open up the fibre-optic broadband infrastructure owned by incumbent BT.

BT Openreach operates the existing infrastructure but carriers are arguing that they should be able to control the dark fibre or use BT’s underground ducts to lay their own lines.

And given that the regulator accused several UK operators of poor coverage back in August, this may be a logical response to improving network quality and competition in the country.

Following its purchase of the Cable & Wireless network two years ago, Vodafone could be the biggest beneficiary if there were a change of rules. In fact, access to BT’s dark fibre would mean it no longer has to deal with the incumbent at all.

“With Vodafone’s fixed and mobile capabilities in the UK there are huge opportunities for greater innovation following the availability of passive access,” a Vodafone spokesperson said.

UK operators appear united on this issue, with BskyB also campaigning for a revamp of procedures following talks it held with Vodafone earlier this year over methods of curbing BT’s dominance in the UK broadband market.

Similarly in April, TalkTalk revealed plans for a joint venture in partnership with Sky and City Fibre, to deploy a pure fibre network in the country, designed to eventually rival that of BT.

But BT, as you might imagine, has other ideas, and Joe Garner, CEO at Openreach, said that there was no justification for changing the rules and “to do so would result in increased costs for businesses”.

Ofcom has confirmed that it is looking at options for BT and will continue to consult on the matter as part of its review of competition in business connectivity. 

A Mexican mix-up

Hot on the tail of Mexico’s telecoms reform, there is movement in the market.

On Wednesday, Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas revealed that Grupo Salinas would be acquiring Iusacell in its entirety by buying the remaining 50% stake in the company it does not already own, from its partner firm, Grupo Televisa, for $717 million.

Televisa, a dominant player in the pay-TV market, has now reduced its market share in line with the new regulation, much like Carlos Slim’s America Movil is looking to do.

Salinas said he was now looking for a strategic partner to build up Iusacell, which he will also expect to take an equity stake in the company.

Luis Nino de Rivera, a spokesperson for Grupo Salinas, said the company was “looking at all those interested in Mexico”, but, aside from confirming that four or five companies had shown interest, did not disclose any further details.

Slim is also looking for partners for its assets but failed to win approval from Vodafone in July, while Televisa spent $653 million in August on acquiring the remaining shares of Mexican cable firm Cablecom that is does not already own, in a bid to consolidate its position.

Market watchers have mixed reactions to the changes set by Mexican regulation, and with a British MVNO set to enter the market by the end of the year, it looks like it will be a while yet before the telecoms reform has its desired effect.

Suspense builds for 2014 Global Carrier Awards

The biggest announcement from Capacity this week was the shortlist for the 2014 Global Carrier Awards.

Capacity received a record number of more than 160 entries this year, although more impressive was the sheer detail and quality of the submissions. It posed some very difficult decisions for the judging panel.

In order to meet the high standard of entries, a strict scoring metric was deployed across all awards categories, which was adhered to by more than 20 judges.

Our judging panel includes leading analysts, industry experts and Capacity’s senior editorial team – and you may also notice that this year we have enlisted the help of Wired magazine editor David Rowan, who will also be speaking at Capacity Europe.

As well as the ever-popular best global and regional wholesale carrier category, this year we extended the best project category to showcase leading developments from across the globe.

Proving innovation is truly at the heart of wholesale telecoms right now, the innovation category proved extremely popular, and a special congratulations to those that made that shortlist.

Good luck again to all the nominated companies.

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