BBWN Bites: Liberty Global Plans All-Fiber Startup for Rural UK – Reports
Also today, Canada's telecom regulator cut wholesale broadband pricing, Freenet could slam brakes on Sunrise's shiny new deal and Vodafone tries a new bundle for broadband and mobile.
Liberty Global is planning a startup fiber operator in the UK to target non-metro areas; it will put the new firm in the hands of a top Virgin Media executive, according to published reports. Robert Dunn is leaving his chief financial officer role at Virgin Media, Reuters said today. The 19-year Virgin veteran will move to a new position at parent company Liberty Global where he'll look at "potential infrastructure investments in the UK," the Financial Times reported, crediting an internal document its reporter had seen. Dunn will head a joint venture fund being formed by LionTree to deploy these new fiber lines beyond Virgin Media's footprint, FT said. Dunn's Virgin Media deputy Bill Castell will become acting CFO.
Canada's telecom regulator on Thursday said it lowered wholesale broadband rates to increase competition among operators and ISPs. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) mandates that large cablecos and telcos open parts of their work, at government rates, to improve accessibility, cost and competition, even though Tier 1s have made all investments and provide all maintenance. CRTC said final rates are 15% to 43% lower than interim monthly capacity rates and 3% to 77% lower for access rates it set in 2016. Tier 1s have warned their investments and deployments could be decreased if wholesale rates are too low and earnings suffer, as a result.
Might As Well Face It...
You're addicted to gigs. That, at least, is the expectation Liberty Global has, and that's why it plans to start a fiber-only operator focused on rural regions of the UK -- perhaps even Bentley, Hampshire, the birthplace of the late singer Robert Palmer.
German telco conglomerate Freenet is threatening Sunrise Communications' proposed $6.4 billion takeover of Liberty Global's Swiss unit, UPC, after it today demanded a price cut and amendment of terms, Reuters reported. In April, Freenet held up Sunrise's plan to approve new capital that would help pay for the all-cash deal. But now Freenet CEO Christoph Vilanek told Reuters the transaction is "unfavorable towards existing shareholders," the price must be lowered and risks reallocated. Swiss anti-monopoly regulators still must approve the deal; Vilanek expects word to come next month. (See German Fibercos Going Up for Sale – Report.)
Vodafone this week announced a bundle featuring home broadband and unlimited mobile data, with no additional fee for 5G. For a limited time, the Vodafone Together program includes free Amazon Echo Plus for new home broadband users, hands-free calling via Alexa and Vodafone OneNumber, management using My Vodafone App plus in-person assistance through the operator's 400-plus retail outlets, along with app- and online-based reps. As of Aug. 14, unlimited home broadband and mobile data cost £43 ($52.20) monthly; new Vodafone Together plans begin at £31 ($37.70) per month for a combined 18-month SIM-only and home broadband plan, the CSP said.
Beaming In Changes
What happens if these customers switch to an alternate service -- something powered by Gfast or fiber? As satellite operators rightly worry about space waste, there's also the issue of roof and wall trash.(Photo: Paweł Czerwiński, Unsplash)
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.
Here's where you can find episode links for 'The Divide,' Light Reading's podcast series featuring conversations with broadband providers and policymakers working to close the digital divide.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will present our Cable Next-Gen Europe conference as a free digital symposium on June 21.
Charter has sparked RDOF work in all 24 states where it won bids. The cable op booked about $19 million in RDOF revenues in Q1, and expects to have about $9 million per month come in over the next ten years.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will stage the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies conference as a free digital event over two half-days in mid-March.
Launch of 2-Gig and 5-Gig FTTP tiers in 70-plus markets puts more pressure on cable ops to enhance their existing DOCSIS 3.1 network or accelerate their upgrade activity centered on the new DOCSIS 4.0 specs.