At his presentation to the Broadband World Forum, a year on from the speech that poleaxed BT with the government’s hard-line on full fibre (BTwatch, #280), Matt Hancock, Digital Minister in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), once again expressed barely disguised frustration with BT Group.

  • Altnets are still flavour of the month with DCMS, as plans for new rounds of public investment come together.
  • G.fast still getting short shrift, with Hancock remaining allergic to copper.
  • Openreach separation welcomed, but Hancock calls for greater urgency, or regulatory intervention.

Hancock was effusive in praise of the fibre altnets, and even had positive words for Virgin Media, but BT was principally cast as the villain (despite the incumbent’s contribution to many of the metrics cited by Hancock as indicators of the UK’s current digital strength).

“ I said a year ago that ‘I will be on the side of the challenger, helping in every way I can to deliver fair competition and a level playing field’. I meant it then, I mean it now. And I’m delighted the altnets are going from strength to strength. ” — Hancock.

Hancock was again dismissive of fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), and by extension demeaned efforts in areas such as G.fast, by describing the technology as “copper-to-the-premises”. A stinging description that could, should it catch on, become an unwanted label of a lack of BT ambition.

“ While I welcome the work Openreach are doing to reposition themselves, I am concerned at the speed BT Group are moving in formally implementing the agreed split. Unless we make significant progress very soon, we will have to talk to Ofcom about what would be needed to make this happen. ” — Hancock.

Hancock reiterated previously announced infrastructure funds for fibre rollouts and plans to provide altnets with improved access to funding. He also said the government is responding to a May 2017 Broadband Stakeholders Group report on barriers to deployment, and attempting to address the problems raised. An early focus is on planning and working with local authorities to create a more consistent and less bureaucratic framework for deploying new infrastructure. Hancock appeared keen to get duct and pole access back on the agenda, and for Openreach to provide more data on its existing network.

The inference is that altnets are continuing to do a far better job of bending the minister’s ear than BT or Openreach’s public affairs teams.

5G moving up the government agenda

Another government priority is 5G development, and here Openreach and BT efforts to find next-generation backhaul technology could prove important.

“ I find it astonishing that a large proportion of 4G base stations today are connected via copper and radio links. While this may be adequate for 4G services, it makes it hard to maximise the benefits of 4G, let alone reach the fast approaching multi-gigabit demands of 5G. ” — Hancock.

…Hancock’s boss might be the good cop

DCMS intervenes in WLA

It was noted in the media that Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for DCMS, may be more sympathetic to BT Group than other ministers in her department.

Reportedly, Bradley has written to Ofcom setting out the government’s views on plans for intervention in wholesale line access pricing, outlining a view that acknowledges full fibre will take time, and apparently sympathetic to BT views on returns on investment.

“ It is important that unreasonable profits within the sector are addressed… However, I am concerned that price suppression could reduce demand for better services, such as fibre, and so will disincentivise investment in the network. ”

“ Transformation of our existing networks to full fibre or other, more future-proof technologies will take many years. So, decisions made now have significant consequences for the future digital infrastructure of the UK and the economy that will depend on it. ” — Bradley.

Not entirely pro-BT, but Bradley nuanced on fibre future

The intervention was framed in the media as being supportive to BT Group and Openreach, but it should be noted that alternative network operators have also expressed concern that wholesale FTTC price cuts could create less viable business models for service providers using infrastructure other than that operated by Openreach.

Bradley’s acknowledgement that the fibre upgrade programme is likely to be an incremental process may suggest that, after taking a verbal battering from government and industry on its more cautious fibre approach, BT may have been able to convince her that quick wins through G.fast and selective fibre-to-the-premise deployments could provide the government with more of a success story in the short term.

Image: Jaanus Jagomägi/Unsplash.

Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE BRIEF

GROUP

Deals

Zambia appears on Group radar again [p6]

Ambitions must tiptoe around an emboldened Vodacom
Partner Markets’ Cameroon affiliate goes offline
Table 1 People movement highlights

IT

Vodafone Turkey reaches line on major BSS overhaul [p12]

A happier ending than other convergence-led IT refits
Back from the brink
Table 2 Vodafone Turkey long-term trends overview, FY09-17
Fighting fit
Breaking trail
Spotting the curveballs
Table 3 Vodafone Turkey BSS transformation project overview
The personal touch

Group Commercial

Red Edge expanding behind scenes, targets APAC [p18]

A first step outside Europe

Legal and regulatory

Colao’s “itchy feelings” about Brussels prove prescient [p19]

EU-surped
You don’t like consolidation, do you Brussels?
Suggested code revisions not all bad for Vodafone?

Supply chain

Vodafone ties with American quartet on AI [p22]

Care and networks provide the focus for AI
Vodafone’s new business model – network reduction
Group still looking in-house for data dollars

VMware lifts lid on Group NFV win… [p24]

Table 4 Partner/supplier people movement highlights
… and ties with IBM to give Cloud & Hosting Services a leg up

Profile

Allot [p26]

Breaking out of the capex vault
Biography: Erez Antebi
Customer focus
Virtual reality
New IoT and video use-cases
Operators remain central
Vodafone Secure Net: next steps
Table 5 Vodafone Secure Net availability, October 2017

EUROPE REGION

Ireland

SIRO pulls out of National Broadband Plan tender [p33]

Netherlands
Ericsson extends Dutch networks tie-up [p34]

Accompanying kit deal includes LTE for Machines
A challenge-filled deal backdrop

Portugal

Vodafone boosts broadband cred with NOS tie-up [p36]

Partial win
Table 6 Portugal converged operator user comparison, 30 June 2017
We’re close, but not that close
Mix and match
Table 7 Vodafone European wireline rollout and regulatory agenda
Raised hackles over Altice media-expansion plan

Spain

VfS brings DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade live [p41]

Other markets in pipeline
Table 8 Gigabit Vodafone checklist

AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST, AND ASIA-PACIFIC REGION

Australia — Vodafone Hutchison Australia

VHA preps Vodafone TV release [p44]

Table 9 Vodafone TV customer base comparison by market (‘000)
New Zealand also a Vodafone TV target
NBN plus
Hutch reaffirms Total Comms ambition
Table 10 Selected Vodafone OpCo “4.5G” tests and rollouts (500Mbps and above)

VHA jumps on Massive MIMO bandwagon [p47

VHA knows the recipe but can it afford the ingredients?

Egypt

VfEg ties with Openwave on video management [p50]

New Zealand

VfNZ takes 400Gbps metro route with Ciena [p51]

Ciena feet under Group table

Vodacom Group

Safaricom pushes back against Vodacom control [p52]

Safaricom and Vodacom not yet BFFs
Table 11 Prospective Safaricom ownership, post-2017 Vodacom transaction
M-PESA unshackled: A less-Vodafone-based future emerges, and this may not be a bad thing
Power play as M-PESA goes OTT
The geo-political angle

VdSA moves focus to LAA amid 4G spectrum squeeze [p55]

Lukewarm on LAA
On the spectrum back-foot

FURTHER READING

INDEX

Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE BRIEF

GROUP

  • Q2 FY17-18: Further points of note

MANAGEMENT UPDATE

Q2 FY17-18: gloomy numbers, but turnaround promised [p6]

  • Q2 FY17-18: Further points of note
  • Group Chief looking at the stars
  • Investors want to be shown the money
  • Table: BT Group, financial highlights, Q2 FY17-18
  • Burger the man with the plan at Global Services
  • Q2 FY17-18: Further points of note

Q2 FY17-18: divisions evolving at different rates [p10]

  • Associates on new BT chairman
  • Table: BT Group, performance by unit, Q2 FY17-18 (adjusted) *

As BT puts house in order, new Chair has troubles of his own [p12]

  • Tighter grip on the reins needed
  • BT tying up top legal minds

Government grumbles on Openreach split progress [p13]

Digital Britain

Hancock keeps up bad cop act with BT… [p14]

  • 5G moving up the government agenda

…Hancock’s boss might be the good cop [p15]

  • DCMS intervenes in WLA
  • Not entirely pro-BT, but Bradley nuanced on fibre future

Regulatory

BT’s USC offer meets resistance [p16]

  • Cost recovery through Ofcom could be a sticking point

Suppliers

BT signs new contract with Ciena [p18]

  • Latest contract builds on previous deals and trials
  • Table: People movement highlights

CONSUMER/EE

5G

EE highlights 5G testing as Huawei relationship blossoms [p23]

  • Huawei trials a step forward, although healthy scepticism over 5G hype remains
  • Facebook backs away from Premier League swoop

Pricing and tariffs

BT agrees line rental price slash [p24]

  • One million BT accounts could see a change
  • BT and Ofcom also to push for dual-play promotion

Devices

Google lets EE down with Pixel 2 XL glitches [p27]

  • Table: EE on the LTE-A catwalk: networks and devices
  • Reputation shot?
  • Pixelated future
  • Cat-16 let loose in Netgear
  • YouView moving forward with wider platform, targeted ads, more analytics

BUSINESS AND PUBLIC SECTOR

Partners

BT adds AudioCodes SBCs to support SIP trunking [p31]

  • Virtually there?

GLOBAL SERVICES

Cloud services

BT strengthens cloud links with AWS [p33]

  • Key elements of the BT/AWS collaboration
  • More to come, promises Burger, as cloud strategy accelerates

Dynamic Network Services

Cisco and BT flag latest DNS development [p36]

  • BT wins wholesale contract extension with Sky in Ireland
  • Cisco burrows deeply into BT networks
  • BT strives to be a one-stop shop

BT International: Europe

BT leases dark fibre in Holland [p38]

Security

BT sets up SOC in Germany [p39

  • Why the wait?
  • Security enhancements…
  • …security leader

WHOLESALE & VENTURES

Partners

BT, Avaya bring personalised cloud to mid-market firms [p42]

  • Add-ons

OPENREACH

Fibre consultation

Openreach demands full-blooded fibre conviction [p46]

Openreach consults on ‘grey’ fibre [p48]

Networks

Openreach co-produces West End gigabit show [p49]

  • Howdy, partner

FURTHER READING

INDEX

Index

A

Accenture 20
Acuitas Digital Alliance 21
ADVA Optical Networking 48
Alcatel-Lucent 19
Alphabet
Google
Google Pixel 27, 28
Amazon 8, 33, 34
Amazon Web Services 8, 33
Apple 10, 28
iPhone 28
Arbor Networks 40
AT&T 31
AudioCodes 31
Avaya, Inc. 42, 43

B

BAE 20
BAE Systems 20
Detica 20
BG Group 20
British American Tobacco 12
Broadband Forum 23
Broadband Stakeholder Group 14
BroadSoft 31
BT Group 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 29
BT Business & Public Sector 11, 21, 31
BT Cloud Voice 31
– – BT Ireland 37
BT Consumer 6, 7, 10, 11, 20, 24, 25, 29, 46
BT Basic 25
– – BT Cloud 31, 34
– – BT Infinity 12, 29
– – Plusnet 21
BT Global Services 6, 7, 8, 11, 20, 21, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 39
BT Assure 40
– – BT Conferencing 21
– – BT Connect 36
– – BT Germany 33
– – BT International 33, 38
– – BT Italia 12, 20
– – BT Nordics 38
– – BT Security 8, 20, 39, 40
– – Spain 34
– – Virtual Private Network 19
BT Pension Scheme
Crown Guarantee 13
BT Retail 20
– BT Technology, Service and Operations 19
21CN 19
– – Adastral Park 23, 29
– – Azure 34
– – Infinity Lab 12
BT Wholesale & Ventures 11, 31, 42, 43
IP Exchange 6
Directors
du Plessis, Jan 6, 11, 12
EE 6, 7, 10, 11, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29
Emergency Services Network 10
Executives
Allera, Marc 7, 10
– – Alvarez, Luis 34
– – Blight, Meg 20
– – Burger, Bas 7, 8, 20, 34
– – Cameron, Richard 20
– – Doyle, Sian 21
– – Ducke, Thomas 20
– – Fearn, Ulrica 20
– – Frangos, Jean-Marc 20
– – Hanif, Mansoor 27
– – Hicks, Lydia 20
– – Hischer, Stefan 33
– – Jungling, Torsten 39
– – Lowth, Simon 6, 10, 20
– – McRae, Neil 18, 23
– – Mears, Kim 49
– – Orme, Simon 42
– – Palchik, Arina 20
– – Patterson, Gavin 6, 10, 23
– – Selley, Clive 7
– – Shah, Rajiv 20
– – Sherry, Keith 21
– – Smith, Martin 20
– – Sutton, Neil 34
– – Vaughan, Abigail 20
– – Wallington, Darren 48
– – Watson, Howard 13
Openreach 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, 19, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50

C

Canonical 27
CBRE 21
CBRE Group 21
Ciena 18, 19, 48
Cisco Systems, Inc. 8, 19, 34, 36, 37, 39, 40
CityFibre 47
Comcast 21
Communications Workers Union 10

D

Darktrace 39
Dell EMC 19
Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS, UK)
Bradley, Karen 15
Deutsche Telekom 13, 34, 40
T-Systems 34
Diageo 20
Digital Britain 14

E

Eir 37
Equinix 34
Ericsson 25
European Union 10, 11

F

Facebook 13, 24, 27
Football Association
Premier League 12, 24

G

Google 27, 28

H

Hewlett Packard Enterprise 34, 39
High Court 16
Home Builders Federation 50
House of Commons
Public Accounts Committee 10
HP Inc 34, 39
Huawei Technologies 12, 19, 23

I

Intel 13, 39
Intel Security 39, 40
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
Broadband World Forum 14
International Paralympic Committee (IPC)
Paralympic Games 21
Interxion 34

J

Juniper Networks 19, 40

K

KPMG 40

L

LG 28
Liberty Global 29
Virgin Media 11, 14, 20, 29, 47
Lime Microsystems 27
LinkedIn 21

M

Microsoft 34

N

Nokia 13, 27, 37
Nuage Networks 19, 37
Nomura 28
Npower 29

O

Ofcom 14, 15, 16, 23, 24, 25, 46, 50
Light User Scheme
BT Basic 25
USO 16
Olympic Games
London 2012 21
Oracle 34
Orange 21, 40

R

Relined 38
Rio Tinto 12
Rogers Communications 21

S

Salesforce 34
Samsung 27, 28
SAP AG 34
SATO Global Solutions 21
Siemens 19
Sony 28
Symantec 40

T

TalkTalk Telecom Group 16
TechHub 12
Technology
2G 28
– Broadband 13, 14, 16, 23, 24, 25, 29, 37, 46, 48, 49, 50
– Ethernet 19, 43
– Fibre 6, 11, 14, 15, 18, 29, 37, 38, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50
Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) 11, 14, 15, 49
Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) 46, 47, 49, 50
– G.fast 14, 15
– ICT 21
– IN 19
– Internet of Things 21
– IP 6, 13, 19, 27, 31, 43
– LLU 48
– LTE 23, 28
– mmWave 25
– MPLS 8
– R&D 40
– SIP 27, 31
– TDM 31
– Unified Communications 31, 43
– VDSL 16
– VoIP 31
– VPN 19
– Wi-Fi 25, 28
Telecom Infra Project 13, 27
Telefónica 13
Teligent 19
ThreatConnect 39

U

University of Cambridge 12

V

Vodafone 13, 37, 47, 50
SIRO 37
– UK 47
VoltServer 25

Y

YouView 29

Z

Zscaler 40

About

About BTwatch

Report: #290
Published: November 2017
Next report: December 2017/January 2018
For more information visit: BTwatch