Also in today’s EMEA regional roundup: Iliad has an epic 2020, all things considered; BICS introduces 5G roaming between Austria and Switzerland; O2 prepares for take-off.


  • Nokia has signed a four-year 5G network expansion deal with Emirati operator Du. As part of the agreement, Nokia will equip the new 5G sites with its Single Radio Access Network (SRAN) technology, bringing 5G services to new locations and helping to address the demand for beefed-up broadband services. Nokia will also deploy its NetAct and Performance Manager network management offerings, which, says the vendor, will present Du with a clearer oversight of its operations.
  • Consolidated full-year revenues at France-based Iliad climbed 10.1% year-on-year in 2020, to €5.87 billion (US$7.01 billion), while fourth-quarter revenues were up even more – by 20%, to €1.67 billion ($1.99 billion). Polish subsidiary Play contributed to group earnings for the first time, generating €200 million ($239 million) in revenues, which represented a 1.7% increase on the previous year. Italy proved a particularly happy hunting ground for the operator, with revenue growth of 58% over the whole year, to €674 million ($805 million). On the back of all this, Iliad will be recommending an increase on the dividend to €3.00 per share, versus €2.60 previously, at the annual general meeting in June.
  • BICS, the international connectivity services arm of Belgium’s Proximus, has launched a 5G data roaming service between Three Austria and Switzerland’s Sunrise. The service draws on BICS’ 5G global IPX network, offering download speeds multiple times faster than was previously available on 4G roaming. BICS claims it was the first to offer 5G roaming in Europe, in 2019.
  • The Bulgarian communications regulator is looking at ways of speeding up the 5G spectrum allocation process after Vivacom challenged its decision to close its 5G auction and grant the country’s three main operators a license in the 3.6GHz spectrum without a competitive bidding element. As Reuters reports, Vivacom, which is controlled by United Group, has started what could be protracted legal proceedings over the way the licenses were assigned.
  • A1 Austria has launched something it’s calling its IoT Detection Tool, which it claims can help operators compensate for the loss of traditional roaming revenue during the stay-at-home era of the coronavirus pandemic by monetizing roaming traffic generated by IoT devices. Such devices generate little or no traffic, and are therefore usually hard to track in this way. The tool can be installed locally in any mobile operator’s network worldwide or hosted by A1 based on a dedicated cloud platform.
  • A consortium that involves Telefónica UK (O2) is set to launch a six-month project in the Midlands region to test the use of drones for delivering blood for potentially life-saving transfusions and other medical supplies. The Civil Aviation Authority has given the consortium the green light to conduct short-range flight demonstrations as part of the project, and delivery trials are expected by the summer. O2 will be supplying SIM cards for the project, which is being led by Skyfarer. (See Eurobites: BT to lead safe-airspace drones project, Eurobites: Vodafone, Ericsson trial safe-skies tech for drones and Eurobites: Proximus gets in on the drones act.)
  • BT has extended its contract with Syngenta, an agricultural technology company. The contract covers areas such as networking, connectivity and security. Syngenta has operations in more than 400 locations in 60 countries.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading