by Kim Thomas

Operator calling: Lines are still hot in the telecoms sector

May 08, 20126 mins
Networking DevicesTelecommunications Industry

April was a busy month for Vodafone, with its takeover of Cable Wireless Worldwide for £1.04 billion (US$1.68 billion) attracting much press coverage.

CIO reported that the deal will makeVodafone the operator of the second-largest telecommunications network in the UK, based on revenue.

The Financial Times said that the takeover would “give Vodafone ownership of one of the UK’s largest fixed-line networks that can carry its calls and data to broadcast masts for transmission to mobile phones, as well as 260,000 miles of undersea cables.”

The Schumpeter blog in The Economist thought there was a certain “Darwinian poetry” in the deal: “Cable & Wireless Worldwide, a remnant of a once mighty telecoms empire based on telegraph wires and established in the 1850s, looks set to be eaten up by Vodafone, a contemporary telecoms industry giant born only in 1985.”

Vodafone, whose tax affairs in the UK have been the subject of controversy, is now in dispute with the Indian tax authorities, according to the Financial Times.

The paper reports that in March, the Indian government unveiled plans to amend its tax code to recoup up to $6.2bn in capital gains tax it claims is due as part of Vodafone’s 2007 purchase of Indian mobile operator Hutchison Essar.

Vodafonehas now indicated it may seek arbitration under a bilateral treaty between India and the Netherlands.

The apparently unstoppable march of the Samsung Galaxy continues.

Computerworld UK reports that Blackpool NHS Trust has signed a deal with Vodafone, under which 400 community services staff will be equipped with Samsung Galaxy tablets.

This will enable them to securely access patient records, corporate email and information at the point of care, including in patients’ homes.

Connectivity and day-to-day management will be provided by Vodafone.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that shares in rival BT are weak because of pension deficit problems.

Despite this, BT’s Global Services division has reason to celebrate after signing a £138m networking deal with mining giant Anglo American.

The deal, reported in Computerworld UK, will provide Anglo American with global internet access, a secure access solution for mobile workers and a converged communications platform that will deliver services such as IP telephony.

BT is recruiting 150 permanent full-time engineersto aid its superfast broadband rollout, following criticism that it was facing a shortage in numbers, according to a report in CIO.

The new recruits, who start their jobs in May, “will be part of a mobile engineering workforce that can be deployed anywhere in the UK to help install broadband to homes and businesses.”

Those nostalgic for a simpler era of communications might want to bid for one of BT’s famous red telephone boxes.

The Financial Times reports that the company is planning to sell off 60 of the boxes, with prices starting at £1,950. Eventually some of the remaining 11,000 boxes may also be sold off, the paper says.

Colt Group is probably wishing it had some boxes of its own to sell. According to the FT, growing demand for data and high-speed internet services has failed to offset falling voice revenues at the company.

Colt has branched out from voice into cloud computing and data hosting, but although data sales edged up year-on-year, volume declines and lower mobile termination rates “weighed on Colt’s voice business, dragging down revenues”, the paper says.

IBM has made several product announcements this month.

CIO reports that the company has updated its DB2 relational database management software to handle a wider range of data processing duties, as well as launching a threat analytics engine called the QRadar Network Anomaly Detection appliance and a set of new affordable Linux servers.

These PowerLinux systems, which combine IBM’s Power7 processors with the Linux OS, have a starting price of $20,000. Another new product line, PureSystems, consists of integrated sets of IBM hardware and software.

CIO says that the range anticipates “a growing need for larger preconfigured systems” and that they “will have a potentially wide user base, given the general duties they can undertake.”

Not content with all those product releases, the company has been working hard to decrease the number of internal applications by 85 per cent, according to Computerworld UK.

It has already reduced the number from 16,000 to 4,500, but plans to cut that number by half again by 2015, with the aim of having “common global applications across all business units.”

Despite all this activity, IBM has posted flat revenue and falling sales, according to CFO World, with hardware doing particularly badly – revenue from the systems and technology division was down 7 percent from the previous quarter.

The Cambridge-based microchip company Arm Holdings is to team up with two European security companies, Gemalto and Gieseck & Devrient, to create a common security standard for mobile devices, making transactions such as banking and buying content more secure, the Financial Times reports.

The aim is to jointly create a universal security system to cover the expanding number of connected devices, such as smartphones, smart-TVs, tablets and games consoles.

The Olympic Games this summer will be a showcase event for the BBC, but according to Computerworld UK, the corporation is three months behind on procuring an intelligent video player it wants to use throughout the Games.

The contract, due to be awarded to a third party in December 2011, has only just been awarded to a company called DeltaTre Media, giving the corporation only four months to test the product.

Reed Elsevier, the Anglo-Dutch parent company of academic publisher Elsevier, is facing the possibility of having to rotate its auditors at least once every eight years under new reforms proposed by the Dutch parliament, reports the Financial Times.

“The Dutch crackdown is part of a broad push for financial reform in the Netherlands,” the paper says, which also reports that Elsevier is facing another kind of crackdown – a boycott by thousands of academics, protesting at high subscription fees that limit access.

The paper quotes an academic, Stephen Curry, professor of structural biology at Imperial College, who says: “Scientists write and undertake peer review for free. I think they are getting increasingly fed up with some companies making a very good living out of this at a time of intense funding pressure.”

Pic: Nicholas Smalecc2.0