In Brief: Oi keen to pursue Sky Brasil merger 

Financially stricken, Brazilian telecoms operator Oi intends to pursue a merger with local pay-TV operator Sky Brasil Servicos (Sky Brazil), which is 93%-owned by satellite firm DirecTV – itself a unit of US giant AT&T.The merger talks will be carried out in parallel to the telco’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings,and a meeting is anticipated next month.The two parties previously entered into discussions last year under the supervision of Brazilian bank BTG Pactual,but negotiations failed to progress in a meaningful way. Oi filed the largest bankruptcy request in Brazil’s history in June 2016, after failing to reach an agreement with creditors. The filing, which covered Oi and six subsidiaries, listed BRL65.4 billion (USD19.2 billion) of debt and the company chose judicial reorganisation to preserve the value of its holdings and to continue providing service to its customers. AT&T has also been strongly linked with an approach for a second Brazilian operator, namely Nextel Brasil in recent years, following its USD1.875 billion acquisition of Nextel de Mexico in April 2015.

***Finnish operators have paid more than €66 million to acquire new 700MHz spectrum in the country’s latest auction. Telia Company, DNA and Elisa each splashed out €22 million to secure 2x10 MHz of frequencies, with licenses running from February 2017 until the end of 2033.The auction ran until 24 November with licenses payable across five annual instalments. The fee agreed was the reserve price set by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, which offered six pairs of frequency blocks of 5MHz each.

***Orange Group has begun testing 4G technology in Madagascar, ahead of plans to make it commercially available next year.Deputy CEO in charge of operations in Africa and the Middle East,stated that before offering Orange customers LTE services it would develop its 3G network coverage across the island nation to give broader access to mobile broadband internet. Newly-appointed CEO of Orange Madagascar said: ‘We will use IT infrastructure and solutions. With technological developments, it is possible to deploy such technology with virtualisation systems.’ During its testing phase some customers have received 4G signal on their mobile phones, and the rollout is expected to happen gradually over the course of 2017.

***Myanmar’s government is planning to allocate 1800MHz spectrum to the nation’s cellcos in March 2017, . The 4G-compatible frequencies were expected to be distributed before the end of 2016, but are now due to be handed out in the first quarter of 2017.The deputy director of the MCIT’s Post and Telecommunications Department, was quoted as saying that the spectrum would be allocated to all operators in March, and that the frequencies would be made available to all operators equally. The reason for the delay was not specified, however. It was also unclear whether the nation’s fourth mobile operator – a joint venture between Vietnam’s Viettel, a consortium of local companies and a state-backed firm which is expected to launch services next year – would be included in the process.

***Ukraine’s dominant national fixed line operator Ukrtelecom has decided to make all calls from its public payphones to domestic fixed numbers free of charge from 1 January 2017. The telco’s website confirms that the payphone-to-fixed line calls will be free regardless of which Ukrainian region is being dialled, and also regardless of whether the number called is a traditional PSTN line, another payphone, or a fixed IP phone number, including Ukrtelecom’s ‘SIP-telephony’ (dialling code 892) service. Ukrtelecom – which currently operates around 6,000 ‘universal’ payphones around the country – had previously introduced an offer of free calls from payphones to local fixed numbers, but its new initiative does away with any regional restrictions.

Latest News:

**Beeline Kazakhstan trials 300Mbps FTTH and boosts mobile performance
•RCom and GCX launch seven-city 100G network in India
•LTE services to start in French overseas territories
•Canada’s Iristel seals dual operator acquisition
•UPC Poland looks to enter FTTH wholesale market
•Singtel launches Hooq OTT movie and TV services
•Velcom set to launch 4G services in Belarus