Spanish mobile bills to fall after regulator rate cut


Spain's telecoms watchdog cut the fees mobile operators can charge each other for connecting calls on Monday, which is likely to lower customer phone bills in a nation battling recession.

Competition in the Spanish market has heated up in recent months for operators Telefonica (Madrid, Spain), Vodafone (Alcobendas, Spain), Orange (Pozuelo de Alarcon, Spain) and Yoigo (Alcobendas, Spain) as they struggle to cling on to customers in the country, where 27 percent of the workforce is unemployed.

EU roaming rates slashed from July

New rules introduced by the European Union (EU) mean the cost of using mobile services when travelling between EU countries will fall from the beginning of this week.

Prices for making calls look set to fall by up to 17% a minute, with those for receiving calls dropping by 11% a minute, while the cost of sending a text message will come down by around 11%.

The biggest cuts, however, are to the cost of using mobile data services.

Nokia to buy out Siemens equipment venture; shares surge


Nokia shares surged on Monday after it announced plans to buy out partner Siemans AG's share of their valuable network equipment joint venture, betting on the technology to run 4G networks after it stumbled as a maker of smartphones.

Loss-making Nokia (Helsinki, Finland) gains full control of the profitable venture Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) for $2.2 billion, a cheaper than-expected price, analysts said, although they also noted the acquisition would put pressure on Nokia's balance sheet.

T-Mobile buys US Cellular spectrum for $308 million

T-Mobile US has paid $308 million to US Cellular for a swathe of spectrum that will allow it to provide 4G services in the Mississippi Valley region.

The deal with US Cellular (Chicago, IL, USA) gives T-Mobile (Bellevue, WA, USA) – the fourth-biggest operator in the US – some 10MHz of Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum covering about 32 million people across 29 markets, including St Louis, Nashville, Kansas City, Memphis, Lexington, Little Rock-North Little Rock, Birmingham, New Orleans and Louisville.

France Telecom becomes Orange

France Telecom has officially dropped its original moniker and taken up the name of Orange, which has served as its brand across most commercial activities for several years.

The change came into effect at the start of this week, having won the approval of the operator’s shareholders in May.

In a statement, the company said that all its products and services in more than 30 countries will henceforth be sold under the Orange brand name, with all commercial, internal and corporate communication grouped under a single brand identity.

Sprint shareholders say yes to SoftBank takeover

Shareholders in US operator Sprint have “overwhelmingly” approved SoftBank’s $21.6 billion deal to acquire a 78% stake in the company.

The yes vote smooths the way for a takeover of the third-biggest operator in the US by its counterpart in Japan.

SoftBank (Tokyo, Japan) had faced competition over a Sprint (Overland Park, KS, USA) takeover from Dish Network (Meridian, CO, USA), but the satellite TV company last week announced that it was abandoning attempts to acquire Sprint, making a decision easier for Sprint shareholders.

Verizon makes $700 bid for Canada's Wind Mobile: report

US operator Verizon Communications has made a $700 million bid for Canada’s Wind Mobile and begun acquisition talks with Mobility, another Canadian operator, according to a report from the country’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

Citing sources familiar with the situation, the Globe and Mail says Verizon (New York City, NY, USA) is also considering whether to participate in a forthcoming auction of spectrum in Canada.

MTS reaches $150 million settlement over Bitel

Russian operator MTS says it has reached a settlement worth $150 million with Altimo and Nomihold Securities over its disputed acquisition of Bitel, an operator in the Kyrgyz Republic, in 2005.

MTS (Moscow, Russia) is to receive a payment of $150 million under the settlement, which includes a figure of $125 million it has already received during the proceedings.

The dispute dates back to 2005, when MTS paid $150 million to Nomihold Securities for a 50% stake in Bitel (Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic), the largest mobile operator in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Vodafone agrees $10 billion takeover of Kabel Deutschland

Vodafone has agreed a £6.6 billion ($10.14 billion) takeover of Germany’s Kabel Deutschland aimed at bolstering its presence in the country’s broadband and TV markets.

The deal will create a company with combined revenues of €11.5 billion ($15.1 billion), as well as 32.4 million mobile, five million broadband and 7.6 million TV customers.

Three buys O2 Ireland for $1 billion to become Irish no. 2

Hutchison Whampoa-owned Three Ireland has announced a €780m ($1.02 billion) takeover of O2 Ireland that will make it the second-biggest player in the country’s mobile market and raise cash for debt-ridden Telefonica, O2’s current owner.

Three (Dublin, Ireland) says a further additional deferred payment of €70 million will be payable to Telefonica (Madrid, Spain) if certain agreed financial targets are achieved.

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