French telecoms incumbent Orange has reported a slump in earnings and revenues for the three months ending September, with regulation and competition weighing heavily on the operator in its economically challenged European heartlands.
The operator witnessed a 4% drop in revenues, to €10.16 billion ($14 billion), and saw restated earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fall by 7%, to €3.37 billion, in its third quarter.
Telekom Austria may have to risk its credit rating, which it said earlier this year was its top priority, to raise debt for a costly frequency auction, its chief executive said.
The company said late on Monday it would pay 1.03 billion euros ($1.41 billion) to buy half the spectrum on offer in an auction for Austrian fourth-generation frequencies, almost three times as much as most analysts had expected.
UK operator EE says it has now signed up nearly 1.2 million 4G customers less than a year after first launching services, while reporting a decline in revenues for the three months ending September.
The company’s 4G progress means it has easily beaten an end-of-year target of capturing one million customers and now covers about 60% of the UK’s population with the high-speed technology.
Rivals Telefonica (Slough, UK) and Vodafone (Newbury, UK) launched 4G services at the end of August but have yet to extend networks outside a handful of the country’s biggest cities.
Spanish telecoms incumbent Telefonica has acknowledged it is exploring “strategic alternatives” for its Czech subsidiary in a stock exchange filing.
The statement came in response to press speculation that Telefonica (Madrid, Spain) is planning to sell its 70% stake in Telefonica Czech Republic in a deal that could raise as much as $3.6 billion for the debt-burdened Spanish operator, based on the subsidiary’s current market value.
UK operator Vodafone says it will extend 4G services to Liverpool, Glasgow and Manchester this month and claims to have signed up more than 100,000 customers since it began offering the service in late August.
The company plans to switch on its 4G network in Liverpool on October 17, activate services in Glasgow on October 24 and add Manchester to the list soon after that.
Last month, Vodafone (Newbury, UK) launched 4G services in the cities of Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield, having made services available in London in late August.
Australian telecoms incumbent Telstra says more than 3.2 million 4G devices are now operating on its network just two years after it first launched the high-speed technology.
Telstra’s (Melbourne, Australia) ability to convert customers to 4G looks impressive considering that UK operator EE (Hatfield) – which provides services in a much bigger market, in terms of population, but over a much smaller geographical area – took ten months to sign up one million 4G customers despite being a monopoly provider of the technology over that period.
Middle Eastern telecoms operator Zain Bahrain has signed a managed-services deal with Ericsson as it looks to free up resources for investment in higher-end services and offerings.
The four-year agreement will see the operator transfer responsibility to Ericsson (Stockholm, Sweden) for handling the day-to-day operations of its network.
Similar deals have been struck in other parts of the world as companies try to improve their operating efficiency and focus efforts on improving their service offerings.
Telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent said on Tuesday it would cut 10,000 jobs worldwide, calling it the last chance to turn the company around from heavy losses.
It was the latest step in a plan to focus on high-growth areas ranging from 4G mobile to high-speed broadband, and to lower fixed costs by more than 15 percent, saving a total of 1 billion euros ($1.36 billion).
The product of a 2006 Franco-U.S. merger aimed at creating a global giant, Alcatel-Lucent (Paris, France) told a European works council meeting it intends to axe nearly one in seven of its employees.
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.
Spanish telecom firms are yielding to the reality of recession by selling new superfast mobile services at no extra charge, offering a cautionary tale for European peers which hope premium 4G prices will help them return to growth.
Many consumers in Spain, where unemployment stands at 26 percent, are unwilling or unable to spend up to 800 euros ($1,100) on a 4G-enabled smartphone and then sign up to a more expensive monthly plan - despite the promise of download speeds that are five times faster than existing 3G services.
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