Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nuage Networks finds SD-WAN love in Bahrain; Vodafone closes stores, but not in the UK; MegaFon sets up e-commerce JV with Alibaba and friends.
Telia's Finnish unit is teaming up with Nokia to launch a 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) offering initially in Helsinki, Vantaa and Oulu, though it will be rolled out to other parts of the country in time. Nokia will supply its FastMile 5G gateway to residential customers wanting to give the service a whirl, and is promising gigabit speeds. In related news, Telia Finland is offering its first 5G smartphones, namely the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10. Telia opened its commercial 5G network at the start of the year, but until now it has only been used in pilot projects at particular locations such as Helsinki Airport and the ABB factory at Pitäjänmäki.
In other Nokia-related news, the vendor's Nuage Networks arm has agreed an SD-WAN deal with Bahrain's Batelco, providing virtual business connectivity services to Batelco's enterprise customers. Nuage says its SD-WAN 2.0 offering will help Batelco's business customers cut their IT admin costs by allowing them to manage their entire coroporate networks from a single dashboard.
Vodafone plans to close 15% of its 7,700 stores in Europe, though in the UK new stores will continue to open. As Reuters reports, CEO Nick Read said that the plan reflects the increasing willingness of customers to buy new devices online, with the brick-and-mortar stores being more about "experiences" rather than straightforward transactions. He added that Vodafone saw Germany as its "engine of growth," not least thanks to the operator's acquisition of cableco Unitymedia.
In what is perhaps more encouraging news for Vodafone, the company's UK operator has become the first to win Opensignal's new Voice App Experience award, which measures how well the operator's network performed for those customers using the likes of WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger for voice calls. Vodafone was the only one of the four main UK mobile operators to earn a "Good" rating.
Russian operator MegaFon has completed the setting up of its e-commerce joint venture with China's Alibaba Group, Mail.ru Group and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). MegaFon sold its 9.97% stake in Mail.ru to Alibaba in exchange for a 24.3% stake in the AliExpress Russia JV, which will operate in Russia and the CIS.
BT is launching a raft of new products and services, including BT Halo, which the operator describes as "the UK's best converged plan," offering customers unlimited data on calls on mobile and at home as well as support from BT's new team of Home Tech Experts, a 900-strong crew who will visit customers grappling with their BT connections in their homes across the UK. BT also says it will upgrade 700,000 homes and business to "superfast" (around 50 Mbit/s) broadband by summer 2020 at no extra cost, and that it will stop selling "standard" broadband connections on its legacy copper network to 90% of the UK.
Deutsche Telekom has been trialing 5G uplink technology at the Berlin Marathon, using the commercial 5G network in Berlin Schoeneberg to transmit high-quality images of the event, which were then integrated into live reporting. During the test, 5G smartphones were used as modems, connected to professional TV cameras.
Broadband provider TalkTalk has had its wrists slapped by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority for sending out misleading personalized emails to customers implying that they were close to reaching their "broadband data capacity" and that upgrading to a fiber-based broadband service was the only way to resolve the problem.
Telefónica UK (O2) has issued new research which it claims shows that UK businesses could gain a £34.1 billion (US$41.6 billion) productivity boost through enhanced connectivity, possibly helping to offset the damage to be wreaked by the fast-approaching shambles that is a no-deal Brexit. The report, "Business without Boundaries: The role of connectivity in business growth," also says that access to better tools and data and less time spent commuting could see each worker gain an extra 3.14 hours a week, or around 18 working days a year.
Huawei is to open its fourth UK office, in Salford's MediaCityUK complex near Manchester. As Place North West reports, the office will be home to customer accounts teams as well as the company's network design and delivery operations center for the north of the UK.