Iiad, Oi, Comcast, OFCOM, ARM, Merry Christmas: Telco 2.0 News Review

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Ed: if you're interested in the future of the network, and you've got a couple of minutes to spare, we'd love to get your thoughts on what the key questions ahead are here to help drive our latest research. Whatever the case, we wish you 'season's greetings' and all the best for 2015.

So what will Xavier Niel do next, now that the T-Deal is off and so is more consolidation in France? Well, there's the cloud, and there's also this - buying an Orange OpCo, specifically the Swiss one they sold to Apax Partners in 2011. The carrier is valued at €2.3bn, after Apax bought it for €1.6bn, and gives Free a crack at Switzerland's relatively concentrated, 3 MNO market. I think we can guess what the plan is there - discount all the things?

Meanwhile, the president of ARCEP has confirmed that Free Mobile now has 75% population coverage, three years from launch, ahead of the regulatory deadline on the 15th of January. They're also deploying both 3G and 4G into the Paris Metro.

Oi clears the decks for action; TI plans all-shares bid for Oi; TIM Brasil denies other carriers bidding for it

Oi is clearing the decks before making a move in the Brazilian market, presumably using the money Altice will pay for Portugal Telecom. Bondholders are being asked to accept a temporary increase in the company's debt limits.

Telecom Italia, meanwhile, wants to buy Oi before Oi can buy its TIM Brasil division. The CEO, Marco Patuano, seems to be planning to bid entirely in shares in order not to add to the company's €26bn debt, and is waiting for a sign from the Brazilian government as to whether or not a deal would be allowed. At the same time, they're also waiting for a regulatory steer about Italian fibre deployer Metroweb.

TIM Brasil itself, meanwhile, lit up another 100Gbps fibre ring and started deploying in the 700MHz band, while denying that there was any truth in a joint Telefonica/Oi/Claro bid for the company.

In Mexico, the new regulator has announced more inquiries into Telcel and Telmex, upping the pressure. At the same time, it agreed to the AT&T acquisition of Iusacell. And US operators will now be allowed to provide service in Cuba.

Cablecos yawn over Title II; Ting! it's fibre; Sprint gets caught; T-Mo unlicensed LTE

While they keep up their lobbying against Title II reclassification, first Verizon and now a lineup of cablecos have been telling their investors the opposite, saying that they aren't particularly worried, see the US fixed broadband market as "attractive", don't expect any price regulation, and do expect the FCC to "forbear" to enforce various bits of Title II they see as irrelevant.

Ting, the MVNO running on Sprint that DNS provider Tucows built, is starting to build its own 1Gbps fibre-to-the-home infrastructure, on a Google Fibre-like on-demand build basis.

Sprint chose the week before Christmas to issue an update on its network rollout. They claim to have population coverage of 260 million people with LTE, but over most of them they only have 10MHz of 1900MHz spectrum, substantially less than the competition. They also claim to have 100m pops with 2.5GHz, but they very noticeably didn't give a number on how much more 2.5GHz they hope to deploy next year.

Sprint is also being sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for letting dodgy third-party services use its carrier billing, probably because it took 40% of the money for itself.

T-Mobile announced "Uncarrier 8.0". This means that if you don't use your whole data allowance, the leftover rolls up into next month. Perhaps more interestingly, CTO Neville Ray suggested that they might deploy unlicensed LTE into the 5GHz band, something Huawei and Qualcomm are keen on and which would be a cheap way of adding a lot more bandwidth in the city cores.

They also got a regulatory break, when the FCC agreed to take a look at national data roaming rates.

The FCC's AWS-3 auction is still advancing, up to $44bn now, with a few rounds left before Christmas. The spending is worrying shareholders, as is the prospect of a massive Q4 customer-retention giveaway.

Verizon's shares fell 6 percent last week, AT&T's stock dipped 5 percent, T-Mobile dropped 10 percent and Sprint plunged more than 16 percent.

Hardly had Vodafone left the US market than it was back, in the form of an MVNO running on T-Mo. The point is to serve their enterprise customers, who will be able to use OneNet in the States.

AT&T says it wants to virtualise 75% of the network by 2020. And the US government wants to get net neutrality into trade agreements, but keep local data storage out. As the late Mandy Rice-Davies said, he would say that, wouldn't he.

BT-EE financials; OFCOM's new director; national roaming is dead; burying bad news before Christmas

Details of the BT-EE deal are beginning to emerge. The carrier is planning to float £2bn in new shares and another £3bn of bonds towards the £12.5bn transaction, while Deutsche Telekom will take 12% of the combined company's shares and Orange 4%. Apparently Orange wants more cash and fewer shares because it's counting on the cash to pay for its acquisition of Jazztel. Mobile Industry Review reckons that a big issue will be whether OFCOM treats quad-play as a single market that's qualitatively different to the rest of the industry.

OFCOM, of course, has a new director, who will collect whatever mess the deal throws up in the New Year. Sharon White used to be the second permanent secretary to the Treasury. If you aren't familiar with British bureaucracy, that's "really important and probably frighteningly smart".

Meanwhile, just before Christmas, the government folded on the national roaming plan and signed a "voluntary binding agreement" with the operators. Under the terms of the agreement, the MNOs undertook to increase their voice and SMS geographical coverage to 90% by 2017, and their data geographical coverage to 85% by the same deadline. Licenses will be amended accordingly. The government undertook to change the planning regulations as they apply to mobile infrastructure, to let the operators use publicly-owned land and buildings, and to put in a good word for the operators with OFCOM over spectrum licensing fees.

Broadband Delivery UK, having resisted for ages, finally released the take-up figures for its subsidised projects, over the weekend before Christmas. They are not impressive, although in fairness some of them are far from being finished. In other "just before Christmas" news, West Berkshire's phase 2 contract will need re-tendering, and Dorset wants to throw away its public sector fibre network.

On the other hand, Hyperoptic's first 1Gbps subscribers are on line.

OTTs are officially multichannel; Comcast's Roku ban ends; DTAG gets out of content; Mdundo!

It's done: over-the-top video streaming services are recognised by the FCC as multichannel video programming, which means that they can get wholesale content on the same terms as TV stations and MSOs.

Comcast has lifted its ban on Roku users watching HBO or Showtime content. For some reason they have never made clear, the cableco wouldn't authenticate Roku for those two channels. Now they will, after Roku and Comcast came to an undisclosed agreement. The move presumably gets rid of a dispute that might cause trouble for the TWC merger.

Deutsche Telekom is getting rid of its T-Online portal and content, selling it to the Axel Springer publishing group.

Mdundo publishes and streams East African music to mobile users, paying the artists from advertising money and payments it collects via M-PESA.

BlackBerry Q3; IoT "not happening"; Xiaomi fundraising; NokALU?

BlackBerry reported a net-loss for Q3, of $148m, although you could get it to break-even depending on what odd things you included in the non-GAAP accounts. John Chen said their revenue was "not satisfying", although it was perhaps promising that it wasn't satisfying because they struggled to satisfy demand and the Passports were frequently out of stock. Interestingly, the Canadian government has lent $850m in export credit to Vodafone.

They also said that the inventory of old gadgets was down 93%, and that they were looking at investing in the Internet of Things. A pity, then, that the IoT "is not happening yet", according to an executive at ARM Holdings. They seem more interested in embedded processors, which seems a very nice distinction.

Xiaomi is raising $1bn in shares, with Singaporean state fund Temasek and Jack Ma buying in.

Nokia and ALU might merge.

IBM's SoftLayer cloud/managed hosting business has moved into 12 new locations inside Equinix data centres. Telstra might buy Pacnet. And Microsoft will no longer host Sharepoint websites unless you pay them.

Secure voice, but not very; more SS7 attacks; Oslo, city of IMSI catchers; bugs, bugs, bugs

Verizon Wireless is offering a new VoIP app that provides enhanced security with encrypted voice. It ought to guarantee confidentiality against anyone except the cops, or of course anyone else who manages to find the backdoor they put in to let the cops in.

Yet another GSM vulnerability will be demonstrated at CCC this year. Specifically, if you have an SS7 service provider, you can just ask for the encryption keys a device is using and do anything you like.

Norwegian journalists sweep the centre of Oslo with an IMSI-catcher detecting rig. Hilarity ensues.

Hackers set a German steelworks on fire.

A horrible bug is discovered in numerous home routers.

A horrible bug is discovered in the NTP network time client.

Open Pirate Bay.

The BlackBerry that self-destructs in 15 seconds. You do hope it actually goes on fire.

Skype Translator; WebRTC news; apps of the year

Microsoft has announced a preview of Skype Translator, which will try to translate your conversation in real time. For the moment it only does English and Spanish.

Here's a review of WebRTC platforms in 2014.

Do we need WebRTC for the Web?

Simwood's review of the year. Wire is TNW's app of the year. Nominate Britain's top mobile startup here.

And Merry Christmas to you all. See you in 2015!