Korean operators warn Europe of "curse" of 4G networks

Reuters

South Korean telecom executives have a message for European cousins who have long looked on in envy at the highly connected Asian market: Be careful what you wish for.

South Korea, the world's most wired country with 30 percent of its 50 million mobile users on superfast networks, has inspired many European operators ahead of their own rollout of networks based on LTE, or fourth-generation technology.

Verizon Wireless eyes first international LTE roaming partners this year

Reuters

Verizon Wireless expects to sign its first international roaming agreement later this year for customers of its fastest wireless service who travel overseas, according to a top executive for the No. 1 U.S. mobile provider.

While Verizon Wireless (New York, USA) has 200 partnerships with overseas operators for its older, third-generation mobile service, it has not yet been able to set up agreements for its fourth-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) data service, which was first offered in the United States in late 2010.

Ericsson wins major LTE deal with Telefonica UK

Network equipment maker Ericsson has struck an important deal with Telefonica O2 for the rollout of the operator’s 4G network in the large UK market.

Ericsson (Stockholm, Sweden) is to provide the whole of Telefonica O2’s (Slough, UK) core network, using Evolved Packet Core (EPC) technology, and 50% of the nationwide network using technology that supports 2G, 3G and 4G standards.

France Telecom net income tumbles 79% on writedowns

Net income at France Telecom has tumbled by 79%, to €820 million ($1.1 billion), for the 2012 financial year, with writedowns on investments in Poland, Egypt and Romania largely to blame for the sharp decline.

The French incumbent has also reported a 2.7% decrease in revenues, to €43.5 billion, as tough competition in its domestic market and adverse regulatory measures took their toll.

UK 4G auction raises $3.61 billion, misses govt target

The UK’s 4G auction has fallen well short of government expectations, raising just £2.34 billion ($3.61 billion) compared with a target of £3.5 billion.

The country’s four existing mobile network operators – EE (Hatfield, UK), Telefonica O2 (Slough, UK), Vodafone (Newbury, UK) and Three (Maidenhead, UK) – all picked up new frequencies, as did fixed-line incumbent BT (London, UK), bidding through its Niche Spectrum Ventures subsidiary.

India allows 4G airwave holders to offer voice, boosts Reliance Ind

Reuters

India will allow wireless broadband airwave holders to provide voice services if they pay an additional $306 million, a senior government official said on Monday, a move likely to boost billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd.

Reliance Industries (Mumbai, India), controlled by India's richest man, is the only company with nationwide fourth-generation (4G) broadband airwaves. The company re-entered the fiercely competitive sector by buying airwaves in a 2010 auction and has so far invested at least $3.5 billion.

Clearwire reports narrower fourth-quarter losses

US mobile broadband operator Clearwire reported a narrower fourth-quarter loss of $187 million, compared with $237 million in the same period last year, but revenues slid 14%, to $311 million.

The company is currently the target of a $2.2 billion takeover attempt by Sprint (Overland Park, USA), which already owns 50% of the company, but has also attracted the interest of satellite operator Dish Networks (Meridian, USA), which has proposed to buy it at a higher price.

Telecom Italia cuts dividends to fund network rollout

Telecom Italia said it will slash dividends in half and raise some €3 billion ($4 billion) in debt so that it can continue funding the rollout of next-generation networks, but the Italian incumbent is still aiming to lower its high overall level of net debt.

The dividend cut follows similar moves by other European incumbents, including Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) and KPN (The Hague, Netherlands), which are under pressure to invest in faster mobile and fixed-line networks during a period of economic retrenchment.

No price premium for 4G, promises Three UK

Three, the UK’s smallest network operator, has announced bold plans to make its forthcoming 4G services available to customers on existing price plans for no extra charge.

The move would mark a radical break with industry practice so far: most European operators are pricing 4G at a premium to older 3G services, requiring customers to sign up to new terms and conditions.

Network sales growth fires hope of Ericsson turnaround

Reuters

A sales recovery at Ericsson's key networks unit raised hopes on Thursday the world's top mobile telecom gear maker is beginning to shake off the global downturn.

Ericsson's (Stockholm, Sweden) biggest business, which builds mobile networks, showed fourth-quarter sales growth - the first rise in more than a year - helping the company as a whole to post year on year sales up 5 percent. Margins in the unit also rose from the previous quarter.

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