Friday News Round-up: 14/11/2014

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

AT&T buys big in Mexico

This week Iusacell finally selected a buyer, in the shape of AT&T for $2.5 billion, despite reports in July that the Mexican mobile operator was not up for sale.

Telefónica and Grupo Salinas had also been rumoured to be eyeing the acquisition of Iusacell earlier this year, but AT&T sealed the deal this week with a bid which includes debt.

The move will boost the US carrier’s subscriber base by 8.6 million in Mexico, across 70% of the country, and falls in line with its international expansion strategy, which appears to be increasingly focussed on Latin America.

In July, AT&T sold its 8.4% stake in América Móvil in order to help receive regulatory approval for its $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV.

However, earlier in April AT&T sold 300 million shares in Carlos Slim’s América Móvil, reducing its stake in the company to 8.36%, sparking rumours that this could be due to the change in Mexico’s regulation.

But it certainly seems that should AT&T decide to invest further in the Latin American market it would have the depth and balance sheet to pursue such a deal.

Isle of Man joins 5G race

We are used to hearing stories of 5G development from high-tech markets like South Korea – SK Telecom in particular – and Hong Kong, but this week, representatives from the Isle of Man have made quite a claim.

Nestled between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, the Isle of Man is governed as a British Crown dependency and is making moves to become the first in the world to launch a 5G data network.

Officials have said that favourable regulation and existing infrastructure, as well as the new technology university on the island, places it ahead of many in the race to 5G.

The island’s International Centre for Technology is due to be opened in mid-2015 by the Manx Educational Foundation (MEF), backed also by HP and Huawei.

The Isle of Man's Department of Economic Development is also fully backing the initiative and Huawei CEO Ken Hu expects 5G to be 10 times faster than existing 4G speeds.

“With the 40-acre site, a body of innovative students looking at the potential of mobile, fairly open spectrum that the local regulator would actively encourage to be used for testing, and the involvement of Huawei, we do hope that we can create something of the Perfect Storm,” said Kurt Roosen, co-founder of MEF.

And while this is encouraging, the Isle of Man is certainly not the only one with high expectations for 5G.

In July 2014, Chinese vendor ZTE revealed its 5G roadmap and Zimbabwe's Econet Wireless said it was testing 5G technologies in June.

Vodafone’s BT battle for British broadband

In a bid to better compete against rival operator BT, Vodafone has announced plans to launch residential broadband services in the UK in 2015.

The British group told reporters this week that it would enter the UK broadband market next year, using the network it acquired from Cable & Wireless Worldwide three years ago.

The launch will compete directly with the mobile network expected from the British incumbent later this year, which is thought to be facing delays as a result of technical hurdles.

Despite reporting a significant revenue drop in May this year, Vodafone has slowed its decline for the past quarter, which the company's CEO, Vittorio Colao, has described as "encouraging".

The broadband launch also falls in line with promises in September from head of Vodafone UK, Jeroen Hoencamp, to deliver a return to growth for the company over the next two years.

"There is growing evidence of stabilisation in a number of our European markets, supported by improvements in our commercial executive and very strong demand for data," Colao added.

Revenue from Vodafone's emerging markets - such as India, Turkey and Africa - are also thought to be helping to offset the decline in Europe.

Laura Hedges

Senior reporter


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