South Korea tops ITU's ICT development index again

South Korea has topped a ranking of ICT development for the third year in a row, with Sweden and Iceland coming second and third respectively.

The ICT development index prepared by the International Telecommunications Union ranks a total of 157 countries on the basis of ICT usage, access and skills.

Frequently cited as one of the world’s most connected countries, South Korea leads the rankings, with a number of countries in Scandinavia and northern Europe also performing strongly.

Telecom New Zealand takes 4G fight to Vodafone

Telecom New Zealand has announced plans to launch LTE services at no extra charge to customers, putting pressure on rival Vodafone in the country’s nascent 4G market.

The operator said its service will go live in the cities of Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington on November 12, allowing prepaid and contract customers to take advantage of the higher-speed network technology on existing tariffs.

UK authorities to boost mobile broadband on trains

UK rail authorities plan to roll out high-speed broadband services on the busiest parts of the country’s rail network, according to a government statement published this week.

The scheme is set to benefit 70% of the travelling public by 2019, although passengers will start to notice improvements from 2015, according to the Department for Transport’s release.

Authorities aim to boost mobile signals on trains by upgrading existing infrastructure and installing new on-board equipment.

Portugal Telecom to merge with Brazil's Oi

Portugal Telecom has announced plans to merge with Brazilian affiliate Oi in a move set to create a global operator serving more than 100 million customers across Europe and Latin America.

The Portuguese incumbent says the deal is a natural development of the alliance the two companies struck in 2010, and will see Zeinal Bava – who led Portugal Telecom (Lisbon, Portugal) until earlier this year before taking up the leadership role at Oi (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – appointed chief executive of the combined entity.

AT&T follows Google in promising 1Gbps service for Austin

US operator AT&T is responding to Google’s entry into the high-speed broadband market by promising to launch its own ultra-fast offer in Austin, Texas – where the internet giant plans to switch on a 1Gbps service in mid-2014.

The operator this week said it had begun work on the deployment of a network in Austin that would match Google’s (Mountain View, CA, USA) on connection speeds when finally developed.

Telecom Italia chief Bernabe preparing to quit: report

Telecom Italia chief executive Franco Bernabe is planning on tendering his resignation at a board meeting scheduled for later this week, reports Bloomberg.

The boss of Italy’s biggest phone company has reportedly lost the support of Telco, the Telefonica-controlled consortium that holds a 22.4% stake in Telecom Italia (Milan, Italy), after clashing with shareholders over the operator’s strategy.

America Movil delays KPN bid to October: Dow Jones

America Movil has shifted the timing of its planned takeover of Dutch incumbent KPN to October from September, as negotiations over the acquisition drag on, according to a report from Dow Jones Newswires.

The Latin American telecoms giant – owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim – announced plans for a €7.2 billion takeover of KPN (The Hague, Netherlands) in August, but it has subsequently run into opposition from an independent foundation set up to protect the interests of the Dutch incumbent.

Telenor buys into Asian, South American classifieds market

Reuters

Norwegian telecoms group Telenor entered the online classifieds market on Monday, taking a stake in a Southeast Asian venture and establishing a South American business, it said in a statement.

Telenor (Fornebu, Norway) will take a 33.3 percent stake in Southeast Asia focused 701 Search, an existing venture between Singapore Press Holdings and Norwegian publishing house Schibsted, and agreed to establish a 50/50 joint venture with Schibsted to create SnT Classifieds with a focus on South America.

Telefonica tightens hold on Telecom Italia, avoids takeover bid

Reuters

Spanish telecoms group Telefonica has struck a deal to gradually secure control of Telecom Italia and its lucrative South American business without having to launch a full takeover bid.

The multi-part 860 million euro ($1.2 billion) cash and shares deal secured on Tuesday will allow Telefonica (Madrid, Spain) to raise its stake in Telco, the holding company controlling about 22 percent of Telecom Italia (Milan, Italy), allowing Telco's other investors, Intesa Sanpaolo (Turin, Italy), Generali (Trieste, Italy) and Mediobanca (Milan, Italy) to eventually bow out.

EU authorities approve Vodafone takeover of Kabel Deutschland

European Union (EU) authorities have approved Vodafone’s €7.7 billion ($10.4 billion) takeover of Kabel Deutschland, clearing the way for a deal aimed at creating a player that can stand up to incumbent Deutsche Telekom in the market for so-called multi-play offerings.

“The Commission’s investigation confirmed that the activities of the merging parties were mainly complementary,” said the European Commission in a statement.

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