In Brief: EC pushes for longer spectrum licences 

European Commission (EC) proposals to increase the term of spectrum licences in the region from 10 years to 25 could pitch the body into a head-to-head battle with member states’ national regulators.The commission plans to include the spectrum licence element in broader proposals on reforming the European Union’s telecoms regulations that are expected to be issued in September. The commission believes the longer licences will create a more stable market for operators, and in turn boost their investment in the telecoms sector.

***Worldwide revenues for the augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) market are expected to increase from $5.2 billion in 2016 to more than $162 billion in 2020 according to latest forecasts from IDC.This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 181.3% over the 2015-2020 forecast period. Sales of AR/VR hardware are expected to generate more than 50% of worldwide revenues throughout the forecast period. AR/VR software revenues will increase more than 200% year-on-year in 2016, but will be overtaken by services revenues in the middle years of the forecast, as logistics and manufacturing demand enterprise-class support.

***Xiaomi and Apple both lost market share on China’s smartphone market in the second quarter of 2016, with Xiaomi dropping from first to fourth place compared to the same period in 2015.According to latest figures from IDC, the China-based company had a market share of 16.1% in Q2 2015 and just ahead of domestic rival Huawei with a 15.6% share. By the second quarter of this year, Xiaomi had dropped back to a share of 9.5% while Huawei improved to 17.2% and gained the number one spot.

***Italy’s telecoms regulator, the Authority for Communications (Autorita per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni, Agcom), has initiated proceedings against 3 Italia (H3G Italia) for its failure to adopt new European Commission (EC) roaming rates that entered into force on 30 April. The move follows the launch of proceedings against larger rivals Telecom Italia (TIM) and Wind Telecomunicazioni (Wind Italy) on 31 May for also failing to ensure full compliance with the new measures, which cap EU roaming charges for consumers ahead of a full ban entering force on 15 June next year.The mobile operators must prove that they have ceased the alleged conduct and must launch procedures to reimburse affected users.

***Saudi Arabian telecoms operator Zain has inked a long-term commercial borrowing facility worth SAR2.25 billion (USD600 million) with a two-year tenor that is extendable by one additional year (until 8 August 2019). The new facility agreement signed with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China will replace an existing syndicated facility, and the proceeds will be used to repay a commercial loan signed in June 2016. The previous loan was provided by a syndicate led by Arab National Bank and also included Banque Saudi Fransi, Gulf International Bank and Samba Financial Group. The new borrowing facility has improved terms and will reduce financing cost by approximately SAR175 million over the three-year period, Zain Saudi said.