In Brief: MTN eyes stake in Iranian fibre network operator 

MTN eyes stake in Iranian fibre network operator
Reports from Iran are suggesting that South African telecoms group MTN is looking to acquire a 49% interest in national fibre-optic backbone provider Iranian Net. MTN is seeking a 49% stake in Iranian Net, equivalent to its interest in the country’s second largest mobile operator, MTN Irancell.Iranian Net is currently 80% state-owned, with the remainder held by private sector investors. It has been tasked with deploying fibre infrastructure in cities across the country under a four-year monopoly contract awarded in 2012, but it has failed to meet any of its rollout goals, reportedly due to a lack of capital. MTN has around USD1 billion of funds at Irancell which it was unable to use outside of the country prior to the lifting of economic sanctions in January this year. The Iranian government is said to be keen to see some of the money remain in Iran, with an investment in the wholesale fibre provider expected to be announced in the coming months.

***International telecoms giant Orange Group has published its financial results for the three months ended 30 September 2016, claiming to have achieved ‘solid commercial performance’ driven by very high-speed broadband and convergence. The France-based company generated a total turnover of EUR10.323 billion (USD11.2 billion), a marginal 0.8% increase year-on-year on a comparable basis (and up by 0.4% y-o-y on historical basis), despite the impact of ‘the decline of national roaming in France and roaming price reductions in Europe.’ The operator said that the financial performance of its units in Europe were gradually improving, with revenue declines limited to 0.6% (France) and 3.9% (Poland), while growth resumed in Belgium and Luxembourg (1.7%) and accelerated in Spain (7.8%). The group also reported strong growth in Africa and Middle East (up by 2.5% y-o-y on comparable basis and 5.1% on historical basis), led by Egypt, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali. Restated EBITDA for Q3 2016 stood at EUR3.597 billion, up 1.6% on a comparable basis (1.0% on historical basis) from EUR3.540 billion in the year-earlier period, with a margin of 34.9% (up from 34.6%). Capital expenditures (excluding licences) in the quarter under review totalled EUR1.566 billion, up 0.5% from EUR1.559 billion a year earlier.In operational terms, Orange Group claimed 255.515 million customers worldwide at the end of September 2016, down from 263.335 million twelve months earlier.

***British mobile network operator (MNO) Vodafone UK has successfully conducted what is claimed to be the first trial of Massive MIMO 2.6GHz time division duplex (TDD) in Europe, doing so in partnership with Chinese vendor Huawei. The trial had been conducted over Vodafone UK’s commercial network in Newbury, with the two companies involved saying the test had achieved ‘great results in terms of spectrum efficiency and increases in network capacity’.Noting that trials of Massive MIMO will continue, the duo noted that the technology is able to focus the signal into a more precise set of layers making transmission more efficient.

***Peru’s National Institute for the Defence of Free Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI) has ruled in favour of mobile operators Movistar and Claro Peru regarding the payment of annual spectrum usage fees. The INDECOPI decided that the methodology used by the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) to calculate the fees was unreasonable and did not correspond to the costs incurred by the state to administer and monitor the radio spectrum. The MTC’s methodology factored in active mobile lines, leading to higher fees for operators with a greater number of active mobile subscribers, but telecoms companies argued that this created a disincentive to expand their networks and services.

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