Monday, September 20, 2021

Week 37 in Telecoms, Internet, Media

CORPORATE

  • Infrastructure
    • Telefonica: Rumor: to sell 50% stake in Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure (CTIL, towerco UK), EUR 2b
    • GTT: Closes sale of infra division to I Squared Capital, $2.15b (pan-European, North American, subsea fiber network & data center assets, associated infrastructure services) to focus on serving the global enterprise market with  cloud networking & managed solutions that include SD-WAN, security, internet, voice, other vital telecommunication services; rebranded as EXA Infrastructure (500 PoPs in 31 countries, 14 datacenters, 300 co-location facilities, 3 submarine cables)
  • Vodafone: Vodafone ES plans 515 job cuts (12%)
  • Lyca plans expansion, GBP 250m in 3 yr; currently in 23 countries
  • Iliad: HoldCo II (Xavier Niel) expands stake to 85.23%
  • CETIN: Fitch assigns BBB, outlook stable
  • Telstra: Investor Day: launches T25 strategy, 4 pillars:
    • 1. exceptional customer experiences
    • 2. continued network and tech leadership
    • 3. sustained growth and value for shareholders
    • 4. the place you want to work
    • target 5G pops coverage 95% by 250630, grow 4G 75G footprint by 100k km^2, double # urban metro cells, 80% of mobile traffic on 5G by 250630, to add 250 towers + 700 tenancies
    • target CAGRs 2021-2025: adj EBITDA MSD, EPS HSD; plans AUS 500m cost redux 2023-2025; to increase NPS 25 points
  • Vivendi
  • Funding
    • Sportradar: IPO through SPAC merger, valuation $8b
    • Discord: Rumor: raises $500m from Dragoneer Investment Group, Baillie Gifford, Coatue Management, Fidelity Management & Research, Franklin Templeton at $15b valuation
    • GitLab: Plans IPO; rev 21Q2 $58m (+69%)
    • Picnic: Raises EUR 600m for expansion itno DE, FR from Bill & Melinda Gates.Fnd, Fentener van Vlissingen (SHV Holdings), Hoyer (Heineken-belegger), Van der Wal (Boni), De Rijcke (Kruidvat), Edeka; current covered pops footprint: 50% in NL, 5% in DE, <1% in FR; to add robotics distr centers, e-vehicles
  • Amazon: To hire 125k in US for fulfillment and transportation, average pay >18 $/hr (max 22.50 $hr in some locations), sign-on bonuses up to $3,000 in select locations - To hire 7500 in Arizona - Career Day attractes >1m applicants
  • Microsoft: Rumor: plans major acquisition

NETWORKS

  • Fixed
    • Open Dutch Fiber plans FTTP in Utrecht (city #3), <30k lines first in De Meern, Veldhuizen from Nov 2021, next Tuindorp, Vogelenbuurt, Tuinwijk, Pijlsweerd, Zeeheldenbuurt, Lauwerecht, Wittevrouwen; activation from Feb 2022; plans more areas in Utrecht and other cities
    • Comcast plans Docsis 4 (preparing with node splits, fiber deeper, mid splits (increases upstream spectrum to 85 MHz))
  • Funding
  • Open RAN
    • Telefonica plans Open RAN trials in ES, DE< UK, Brazil, with NEC (as SI); target 800 sites for commercial launch 2022
    • TIM launches Open RAN in Matera and Turin, with Mavenir, MTI, Dell, Intel, VMware
  • Market research
    • Cable.co.uk & M-Lab Worldwide broadband speed league 2021 report (224 countries, based on 1.1b speed tests): #1 Jersey (274 Mb/s mean download), #2 Liechtenstein (211), #3 Iceland (192), #4 Andorra (165), #5 Gibraltar (151), #6 Monaco (144), #7 Luxembourg (108), #9 NL (107), #10 HU (104)
    • FTTH Council publishes 2 reports: FTTH Forecast for Europe (Market forecasts 2021-2026) and FTTH/B in Rural Areas
    • Ookla Speedtest Global Index (Aug 2021) global average FBB 110/60 Mb/s, MBB 57/13 Mb/s; FBB: Sing #1 (262), HK #2 (254), Monaco #3 (243), CH #4 (222), Thai #5 (221), NL #24 (162); MBB: UAE #1 (196), S Korea #2 (192), NO #3 (174), Qatar #4 (169), China #5 (163), NL #14 (100)
  • Wireless
    • Starlink to launch out of beta Oct 2021    
    • Telenet trials FWA in 60 GHz band, with Pharrowtech and Unitron
    • Google: Project Taara demos 20 Gb/s in Africa (with Econet) using Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC, laser tech, requires LoS, developed by Project Loon) at 5 km, availability 99.9%

SERVICES

HARDWARE

  • CPE
  • GSA
    • 5G ecosystem report (device list) at 210831: 991 5G devics (o/w 645 commercially available) in 22 form factors from 154 vendors; total 478 smartphones (o/w 424 commercially availbale), 117 FWA devices (74 available), 137 modules, 65 enterprise routers, 45 hotspots, 18 laptops, 18 tablets, 11 in-vehicle routers, 8 USB-modems, 34 other
    • FWA market survey report: shipments 2021E: 14.3m hotspots (+23%), 25.5m indoor CPE (+30%), 4.6m outdoor CPE (+39%)
  • Apple

REGULATORY

  • FTC report on acquisitions by Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsft during 2010-2019: 819 deals were not reported (incl acquisitions of voting control of companies, partial investments, patent acquisitions, hiring events), 616 over $1m - FTC withdraws guidelines on how to review vertical mergers
  • Google
    • South Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) fines SKW 207b = $177m over OS market abuse (blocking rivals to enter, prevented device manufacturers, such as Samsung and LG, from customising Android OS)
    • CCI (India antitrust authority) finds market abuse with Android OS: reduced device manufacturing firms’ ability & incentive to develop & sell devices running alternative versions of Android (forks) [see 190510]
  • Amazon
  • Facebook
    • WSJ: program XCheck shields millions of VIP users from the company’s normal enforcement process, total 5.8m users in 2020
    • WSJ: internal research (March 2020) showed Instagram had negative effect on teen girl users (“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse”, “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves”) - US Congress (Senate Commerce Committee: Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) & Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)) plans investigation
    • WSJ: internal research shows News Feed overhaul 2018 (meant to boost meaningful social interactions (MSI)) had opposite effect (increased misinformation, toxicity, violent content), CEO Zuckerberg resisted some proposed fixes
    • WSJ: internal research shows employees flag drug cartels and human traffickers, the company’s response is inadequate or nothing at all
    • WSJ: internal documents shows that antivaccine activists flooded Facebook, using Facebook’s own tools to sow doubt about the severity of the pandemic’s threat and the safety vaccines to combat it
    • Facebook disputes WSJ article series: "At the heart of this series is an allegation that is just plain false: that Facebook conducts research and then systematically and willfully ignores it if the findings are inconvenient for the company. "
  • Uber: Judge NL: drivers to be classified as employees (4k in NL)
  • TikTok: DPC (Ireland) starts investigation of TikTok over transfering data to China


Sunday, September 12, 2021

Week 36 in Telecoms, Internet, Media

CORPORATE

  • Deutsche Telekom:
    • Sells T-Mobile NL to APAX & Warburg Pincus (also jointly own Inmarsat), EV (enterprise value) EUR 5.1b = 8.7x LTM adj EBITDA AL, requires approval from EC, AFM, Dutch government, others (foreign bodies linked to APAX and Warburg Pincus), Works Council, to close 21Q4; DT to receive EUR 3.8b cash (includes repayment of DT's shareholder loans to T-Mobile NL); Tele2 to receive equity value EUR 860m = SEK 8.8b, plans extraordinary dividend, 11 SEK/share; licenses T-Mobile and Tele2 brands for 10 yr; CEO Abildgaard acquires shares, extends contract by 5 yr; to focus on B2B, IoT; to increase investments; rumor: 60% of purchase price to be debt funded by T-Mobile NL
    • To increase T-Mobile US stake to 48.4% from proceeds of T-Mobile NL (20m T-Mobile US shares at USD 109 for USD 2.4b) [see 210907] & new shares (225m DT shares at EUR 20 for 45m T-Mobile US shares at USD 118) issued to SoftBank (stake drops to 3.3%); SoftBank to have 4.5% stake in DT
    • To decide on 12% BT stake within 12 mo
    • Reduces Ströer stake to 4.9%
    • Monopolkommission (DE) proposes German state sells DT stake
  • Telefonica: Establishes new Strategy & Development Department (strategy, M&A, digital innovation)
  • Vodafone: Vodafone Idea expects Indian government support
  • VOO: Rumor: Telenet, Orange BE, Warburg Pincus + 2 other PE interested; valuation EUR 1.4b; to sell 50 or 75% stake
  • Iliad: AMF approves buy-out documents; Xavier Niel has 84.13%, launches public offer until 210924, plans squeeze out on reaching 90%
  • RTL:
  • Channel 4: EY report: privatisation could rerduce contribution through supply chain to UK economy by GBP 2b
  • Storytel (listed) sells 6.6m shares (<10%) to EQT Public Value
  • Sony: CMA (UK): AWAL acquisition raises competition concerns [see 210201], to respond within 5 days, otherwise to Phase 2
  • Sportradar: Plans IPO
  • PayPal: Acquires Paidy (Japan; buy now, pay later service that does not require a credit card), JPY 300b = $2.7b cash
  • Stripe: Rumor: plans IPO 2022
  • Amazon: Expands education & skills training benefits for US employees, to spend $1.2b 2022-2025: full college tuition for front-line employees (750k); adds 3 new skills training programs (to total 9) for employees to help them transition into jobs as data center technology technicians, IT engineers, user experience designers
  • Microsoft: Study of 61k US employees working remotely: "potential to impact workers’ ability to acquire and share new information across groups, and as a result, affect productivity and innovation"; "rely more frequently than before on asynchronous communication, such as email and instant messages, and less frequently than before on synchronous communication, such as audio and video calls"

SERVICES

  • NHK demos 8K video, with Intel; 23m pixels/sec, requires 80 Mb/s
  • Walt Disney: To raise Hulu prices 211008: Hulu from 12 to 13 $/mo, Hulu With Ads from 6 to 7 $/mo; Hulu With Live TV remains 65 with ads, 71 without ads
  • WarnerMedia:
    • HBO Max to expand to 20 countries in Europe (also for HBO España, HBO Nordic, HBO Go subs): SE, NO, DK, FI, ES, Andorra 211026; next to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, CZ, HU, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, PL, PT, RO, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia in 2022 (total 60 countries); to organise around 5 hubs: Warner Bros, HBO, DC, Cartoon Network, Max Originals, to include licensed contnet, offering differs by country; no plans for AVOD tier in Europe; distr deal in ES with Vodafone ES, exclusive [other existing distr deals: via Sky (UK, IE, DE, AT, CH, IT), VodafoneZiggo (NL), Amedia (Russia)]
    • Tests pricing for CNN+, from 2-10 $/mo
  • Apple: Rumor: marketing spend for Apple TV+ $500m in 2021E, to increase originals in 2022 to >= 1 title/week
  • Channel 4: Plans global streaming AVOD service, expanding All4 outside UK
  • Star Media: To launch streaming service LAVA, with OTTera, globally autumn 2021; 8 languages, 7500 hr of series & films
  • Globacom (Nigeria) launches GloTV streaming service
  • TEGNA: Launches Quest, free AVOD service for adventure reality content
  • Google:
    • Expands Google Workspace functionality: enhanced search, Meet calling, live-translated captions in Meet, video conferencing devices for Meet from Logitech & Avocor
    • Google and Cisco partner to make Meet and WebEx interoperable
  • Bezeq receives license to supply electricity; Cellcom and Hot Comms also

HARDWARE

  • Amazon: Launches range of Fire TV devices in US: 2 TV ranges with Alexa, 4K/UHD, HDR 10, HLG, Dolby Digital Plus: Amazon-built smart TVs (Amazon Fire TV Omni Series; $410, 510, 560, 830, 1100 for 43, 50, 55, 65 or 75 inches; 4-Series smart TVs for $370, 470, 520 for 43, 55 or 55 inches); new Fire TV Stick 4K Max with Alexa, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, WiFi 6 ($55); distr deal with Best Buy in US for Pioneer (43 and 50 inch) and Toshiba smart TVs (55, 65 o5 75 inch)
  • Facebook: Launches AR glasses Ray-Ban Stories (with EssilorLuxottica), $300 ($330 with polarized lenses, $380 with transition lenses), with dual cameras (5 mp), companion camera roll app Facebook View, voice control, storage for 500 photos (or clips equivalent)
  • Oppo launches Reno6 5G (EUR 500) and the Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G (EUR 800) smartphones
  • Foxtel (Australia) launches streaming-only STB iQ5: 50k hr of content, 1 TB harddrive, 3rd-party apps (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, ABC iView, SBS On Demand)
  • TIM launches Technicolor STB (Android TV, JADE platform, WiFi 6)

REGULATORY

  • DCMS (UK) starts GBP 4m project to allow MNOs access to lamp posts, traffic signals, CCTV poles etc for mobile equipment for 5G
  • Slovenia plans 2100 auction (2x5 MHz)
  • Spain plans 26 GHz auction end 2021-early 2022
  • Facebook: CMA (UK) orders sell-off of GIPHY, final report 211006
  • Apple: Federal District Court Judge in case brought by Epic Games (Fortnite): Apple must allow developers to link to their own transaction systems (for in-app purchases) from 211209; Epic failed in its burden to demonstrate Apple is an illegal monopolist; Apple not required to let Fortnite back in App Store, Epic to pay damages; Epic to appeal - Epic appeals
  • DE, FR, NL call for stricter DMA (platform gatekeeper regulation) than proposed by EC, more room for customised remedies, national enforcement, national authorities should also be able to launch investigations on their own, propose ‘tailor-made remediation’, all acquisitions by the gatekeepers, including small deals, should be subject to competition vetting (investigations max 12 mo); final DMA expected 22H1


Monday, September 06, 2021

Week 35 in Telecoms, Internet, Media

CORPORATE

  • Eir: 20/21Q4; changes financial year end from 30 June to 31 December, from 2021; outlook 2021 (21H2): EBITDA growth LSD, capex/sales 21-23%, cash flow growth
  • MTS: Proposes passive infra (towers in Tower Infrastructure Company) and active infra (fixed, data centre and cloud computing into MWS-1) spin-offs
  • Eurofiber: Acquires Netiwan (FR; Béziers, Montpellier, Nîmes), to merge with FullSave; targets expansion to 25 French cities by 2025
  • RTL: Rumor: Fremantle to acquire Lux Vide (prodco IT)
  • Amazon: Plans to hire 55k for corporate and technology roles (40k at 220 locations US, 2500 in UK, remainder mostly in India, Germany, Japan; currently 275k globally; current UK total 55k) + 10s of 1000s for operations network, also Project Kuiper, plans annual job fair Careere Day 210915
  • Facebook: DPC (Ireland) fines WhatsApp EUR 225m ($266m) over GDPR violations on transparency (gathering, usage, sharing with Facebook); plans appeal
  • Apple:
    • Plans to allow media apps (digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video; not games with in-app purchases) to create in-app links to sign-up pages for outside payment options (to bypass Apple's cut of subscriptions) in response to antitrust investigation from Japan Fair Trade Commission, to apply globally from early 2022
    • Rumor: talks with Asian car makers to launch Apple Car 2024

NETWORKS

  • Deutsche Telekom: Network update DE:
    • FTTH roll-out YTD 430k lines (total 30k km fiber) o/w 85k in July
    • 5G pops coverage reaches 85% (total 55k antennea), target 90% YE 2021; 5G-3600 reaches 2400 antennea at 800 locations in >60 cities; SA 5G reaches 4 cities (testing)
    • reconstruction in flooded areas progressing, 80% (80k HH) back online (parts of 17 towns to be rebuilt with FTTH, total 35k HH), 20k HH without fixed-line
    • current FTTH capex budget EUR 2b per yr for 1.2m lines/yr, to add >8m lines in rural communicaties (<20k pops) by 2030; current nationwide network: 600k km fiber, 34.3m premises with 50-100 max Mb/s o/w 26.1m with 250 max Mb/s, 2.5m max 1 Gb/s (FTTH), plans 10m FTTH lines YE 2024, nationwide by 2030
  • Axione (= Bouygues Energies & Services, Vauban Infrastructure Partners (= Natixis)) establishes Axione Fibre in UK to roll out OA wholesale-only FTTP in sub-urban & rural areas; to invest GBP 300m with equity partners; target 4m lines
  • Rumor: Telefonica (Virgin Media O2) plans fiber network expansion in UK - Telefonica invites external investors, total cost EUR 4-5b
  • 5G:
  • Ericsson Mobility Report 21Q2 (update):
    • total 8.1b subscriptions o/w 515m in W Europe (net adds 50m o/w 2m in W Europe), penetration 103% (W Europe 122%) at 6b subscribers (lower due to inactive subscriptions, multiple device ownership and/or optimization of subscriptions for different types of calls)
    • MBB 6.8b (net adds 100m)
    • 5G subscriptions with capable device 380m (net adds 84m)
    • 4G subscriptions 4.8b (net adds 71m)
    • total mobile data traffic 72 EB/mo (+44% yoy, +9% qoq)

MEDIA

  • Linear TV:
    • Screenforce TV ad market NL 21H1: EUR 406m (+32%), 2021E growth 20-25%
    • Orange BE launches Orange TV Lite, 8.50 EUR/mo for Love or Home subs, with TVE apps for Android & iOS (Orange TV Plus, max 5 devices), with cloud DVR, 2 versions: Dutch (16 channels), French (20 channels)
    • fuboTV: Launches free-to-play games & FanView live stats (out of beta), accompanying football
    • Locast:
      • Federal Judge denies Locast a summary judgement, allows copyright infringement lawsuit by ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC to continue (requirement to pay to avoid interruptions, is “not merely a recurring gift to a charitable cause”); has >3m users
      • Suspends operations
  • SVOD:
    • Wurl issues first Churn Analysis Report 2021 on US: rev lost in 21Q1 $33m for HBO Max, $17m for Netflix, $15m for Hulu, $15m for Disney+; churn April 2021: Netflix 2%, Disney+ 4%, Hulu 4%. HBO Max 5%
    • Leichtman Research survey US on SVOD Top 3 (Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu): 78% of HH subscribe to >= 1 (2020: 78%), 58% subscribe to >= 2 (2020: 55%)
  • Music:
    • Apple: Acquires Primephonic (classical music streaming, closes 210907, subs receive 6 mo free Apple Music), plans dedicated Apple Music Classical app 2022
    • Amazon: FT: Amazon Music had 63m subs at 210331

REGULATORY