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Networking with BT and Vodafone

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Forty years ago, BT Group and Vodafone were the only players in the UK’s national telecoms networks. BT’s monopoly as a landline operator was not broken until 1982, while Vodafone won the UK’s first mobile license and made its first mobile call in 1985.

Today, their networks and the way they operate them are being challenged on all fronts – from local and foreign competitors and from their own investors. Anna Gross reports that Virgin Media O2 plans to set up a fiber construction joint venture with its owners Telefónica and Liberty Global, which last year merged the cable and mobile operators.

BT, through its Openreach division, is the incumbent in the high-speed broadband market and, along with several smaller ‘alternative networks’, has been attempting to roll out fiber across the UK. Four years ahead of schedule, however, Virgin last month announced the completion of its network upgrade to gigabit broadband speeds for its cable customers, potentially giving 15.5 million homes access to speeds more than 20 times the national average.

The new, separate company aims to build an all-fiber network that will bring connectivity to an additional 7 million homes, mainly in areas currently only using copper lines, which are served by BT.

BT has already committed to spend £15bn to bring full fiber to 25m homes by 2025 and billionaire investor Patrick Drahi may be expecting a reaction to Virgin’s move after his telecoms investment group Altice sold its stake in BT last year month has increased to 18 percent. He said at the time that BT must continue to play a “vital role in delivering the expansion of access to an all-fiber broadband network”.

Meanwhile, Europe’s largest activist fund Cevian Capital is urging Vodafone to restructure its portfolio, improve its strategy in key markets and refresh its board of directors in a bid to put an end to years of poor share price performance. We report that Cevian has built an undisclosed stake in the FTSE 100 group and has been working with their board and management for months. Vodafone is said to be more aggressive in consolidating with mobile operators in markets such as Spain, Italy and the UK.

Vodafone issues a trading update on Wednesday, followed by BT on Thursday. Your eminent investors will be happy to dial in for the details.

The Internet of (Five) Things

1. Citrix connects with private equity

Remote software company Citrix has landed a $16.5 billion deal to privatize in what is the largest leveraged buyout in months after a slump for public tech stocks. Citrix will be sold to Elliott Management and Vista Equity for $104 per share and will be merged with Tibco Software, one of Vista’s portfolio companies.

2. Spotify in damage control mode

Music streaming service star podcaster Joe Rogan Has apologized over allegations that he is spreading lies about Covid-19 vaccines. Musicians led by Neil Young and Joni Mitchell had removed their music by Spotify in protest. Elsewhere, Perfect strangersthe first Arabic-language film produced by Netflix caused an uproar in Egypt and calls for a ban on the video streaming service.

3. $32bn FTX, IMF crypto alert

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX was valued at $32 billion in a fresh round of funding as blue-chip investors continue to push into the hype-driven sector. Cause sharp price fluctuations in cryptocurrencies “destabilizing” capital flows in emerging markets, and using crypto instead of traditional currencies poses “immediate and acute risks,” according to a senior IMF official. Thailand has scrapped plans to impose a 15 percent withholding tax on crypto transactions after being pushed back by traders.

4. Lynch’s extradition to the US ordered

Priti Patel, UK Home Secretary ordered extradition by Mike Lynch, the billionaire founder of Autonomy, faced 14 counts of conspiracy and fraud in the US in connection with the software maker’s 2011 sale to Hewlett-Packard. Lynch has announced that he will appeal the decision.

5. Chinese investors are betting on technology

Unpaid suppliers are picketing, founders are fleeing and thousands of tech workers are being laid off, while investors grow wary of China’s unprofitable consumer internet startups. reports Ryan McMorrow in Beijing. Chinese startups garnered record funding last year, but funding for e-commerce, edtech, and social media has been flat or declining, while investment in chips, robotics, and other hard-tech companies has skyrocketed.

Tech week ahead

Tuesday: Another big week for US tech earnings begins with Google parent company Alphabet, chip manufacturer AMDpayment provider PayPal and video game publisher Electronic Arts Provision of the December quarterly results. Alibaba also reports that Covid lockdowns in China may boost the e-commerce giant’s revenue.

Wednesday: Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, reports its most recent quarter. Analysts will be soliciting comments on his Metaverse plans and the reported dissolution of his Diem cryptocurrency project. Wireless chip maker Qualcomm and music streaming service Spotify also have results. in japan, Sony and panasonic Report on their quarters and in the UK there is a trading update Vodafone.

Thursday: British telecommunications group BT provides an update. In the USA, Amazon has a result with hard comparisons with a bumper Christmas a year earlier. social media company snap and Pinterest also have results, along with games Activision Blizzard, Nintendo and Unit. The House Transportation Committee is holding a hearing on Capitol Hill 5G and its impact on aviation.

Tech Tools – 14-in-1 Cooker

“How do I cook you? Let me count the ways.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning would find 14 in this £170 offer from Sage. Equipped with a six-liter stainless steel bowl Fast Slow GO is a chunky beast that can do everything from pressure cooking, steaming and sous-vide-ing to buttering yoghurt, writes Jamie Waters. His greatest skill is slow cooking, he says in his coverage of “Five Hot Kitchen Helpers” for how to spend it.

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