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China Mobile gives true picture of 5G uptake, rivals do not

Judging by the first-quarter figures shared by China’s big three telcos over the past few days, there are probably already more than 400 million 5G customers in China. The trouble is, only about half of them are actually using 5G services; the rest are simply taking advantage of attractive 5G tariff plans. The operators together had 391.8 million 5G package customers – that is, those on 5G plans – at the end of March. With joint...

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SpaceX gets approval to lower its LEO

Satellite company SpaceX has received permission to halve the altitude at which its low earth orbit satellites float. SpaceX is run by US zillionaire Elon Musk, who is an early leader in the LEO market, having already lobbed over a thousand satellites, which deliver broadband to underserved areas, into orbit already. Those exist at a height of 550 kilometres above the earth’s surface, but the next lot were previously only approved to...

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Orange not getting into Ethiopia…or its own way in Belgium

Ethiopia has shared the names of just two bidding groups for its two available telecoms licences, a disappointing outcome from one of the world’s last great liberalisation opportunities. The deadline – pushed back from March – for submissions for the licences expired on Monday, at which point the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) talked up the response it has received, particularly from African telecoms companies. “We...

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Everyone’s getting into UK fibre, even Network Rail

The UK fibre market is a hive of activity, with altnets securing investment while the operator of the country’s rail network is looking for £1 billion to upgrade its telecoms network. Network Rail on Monday issued an invitation to private sector companies in invest in the rail telecoms network in return for the right to commercialise spare capacity on that network. Essentially, the rail infrastructure operator needs to upgrade its...

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Indian Covid crisis prompts surge in state social media censorship

The Indian government seems to be trying to silence public speculation that the recent surge in Covid cases was caused by political gatherings. The most egregious manifestation of this state censorship is the government’s decision to send legal notices to Twitter, ordering the takedown of tweets critical of it. According to Medianama, at least 50 tweets have been the subject of these demands, with the authors including politicians...

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Orange threatens to pull €22-per-share offer for Belgian unit

The deadline for Orange’s public takeover bid for its Belgian business is fast approaching and the telco has indicated it will not leave its €22-per-share buyout offer on the table indefinitely. “The offer [period] is closing at 4 o’clock tomorrow,” Orange’s group CFO Ramon Fernandez said on the telco’s first-quarter results call on Thursday. He once again made it clear that the €22 offer to minority shareholders is...

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5G boosts results in US… for towercos, not telcos

The biggest takeaway from Q1 reporting season is that in this, the 5G rollout phase, the impetus remains with the tower providers rather than the mobile operators themselves. Crown Castle this week boosted its full-year outlook on the back of a strong set of first-quarter numbers that showed, amongst other things, that it is benefiting from 5G deployment in its home market. The towers specialist’s site rental revenues – which...

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Dish gambles on Faustian pact with AWS

Nascent US MNO Dish is the latest telecoms company to go all-in on the public cloud, entrusting Amazon Web Services to handle its entire 5G network. This arrangement would appear to take the telecoms/public cloud dynamic to a new level, with everything to do with the Dish 5G network, including the non-hardware components of its OpenRAN radios, sitting on an AWS server. Symbolically they’re going to celebrate this unprecedented gamble...

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Orange mulls its Spanish predicament

Orange posted a fairly solid set of first-quarter results on Thursday, all things considered, but it was hard not to notice the fly in the ointment that is its Spanish operation. The telco is starting to see some green shoots of recovery in a market characterised by aggressive competition, but while executives insisted it will build on this under its own steam, they foresee further consolidation in Spain and it is clear they have not...