Hutchison Telecom sells fixed line business to investment group for £1.4 billion

I Squared Capital, an independent global infrastructure investment manager based in New York, has signed an agreement to acquire 100% interest in Hutchison Global Communications (HGC) from Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings Limited (HTHKH).

The deal, which is about HKD 14.5 billion (£1.4bn), is expected to close by October, and will be carried out via I Squared Capital’s ISQ Global Infrastructure Fund II.

HGC is a Hong Kong-based fixed line service provider to fixed and mobile carriers, OTT service providers, corporate and business, residential and data centres in Hong Kong and across the world. The company’s 1.4-million-kilometre fibre network connects to over 14,200 buildings and is also one of the country’s largest-scale Wi-Fi service providers with over 25,000 Wi-Fi hot spots. It extends its global reach into different continents via its multiple submarine and terrestrial cable systems.

Commenting on the deal, Gautam Bhandari, Partner at I Squared Capital, said that the company will help HGC to continue to provide the same quality of service that mobile telecommunication providers, corporate and residential customers have come to expect.

Elsewhere, voice and data network communications provider Windstream confirmed the close of its acquisition of New York-based Broadview Networks Holdings. The deal, worth $227.5 million in an all-cash deal, was first announced in April.

Windstream expects to realise approximately $30 million in annual operating synergies in a two years span. The transaction also will improve the company’s balance sheet by reducing leverage through the realisation of synergies and will be accretive to free cash flow in the first year.

NBN CEO: ISPs are to blame for dissatisfaction

Bill Morrow, CEO of Australia’s NBN, has placed the blame on ISPs for customer dissatisfaction.

The NBN (National Broadband Network) was designed to improve the nation’s connectivity and ensure Australia has the required infrastructure for businesses and consumers to embrace the digital future. Over half the country is now able to connect to the NBN, and it has over 2.2 million paying customers, but not everyone is happy.

ISPs are ‘cutting corners’ by not buying enough bandwidth

15 percent of customers who are connected to the NBN are disappointed with their broadband speeds. Morrow has acknowledged this, but is putting the blame on Australia’s ISPs for the current dissatisfaction.

The main issue, he claims, is the ‘price war’ between ISPs. In a position paper (PDF) on the NBN website, Morrow says ISPs are undertaking a ‘land grab’ to sign up customers before rivals without consideration for whether they’ll be able to deliver the speeds they’re promised.

“We have a land-grab environment where retail prices are lower than what consumers are willing to pay,” explains Morrow. “The large number of competitors going after the same customer has driven price to be the key attraction and seldom do you see any clarity around speed options or quality during the peak time of day.”

Multiple studies indicate consumers are willing to pay a bit more for a better service. Many ISPs are promising similar performance as their rivals at competitive pricing but delivering below expectations. Morrow claims the ISPs are ‘cutting corners’ by not buying enough bandwidth from the NBN to deal with the increasing network congestion.

In order to help tackle NBN disappointment, Australian watchdog ACCC is now threatening ISPs with legal action if they fail to deliver advertised broadband speeds to consumers. The ACCC asked for 2,000 volunteers last month to allow the watchdog to monitor their broadband speeds as part of this investigation.

Do you agree with Morrow’s comments? Share your thoughts in the comments.

The technology, media and telecom 2017 M&A deal update

U.S. West Coast technology companies are expected to remain the driving targets for M&A transactions in the TMT sector. Bidders are likely to come from American firms across the country, plus from Europe, Asia, and Canada.

Though a return to huge mega-mergers are not anticipated this year, given the continued uncertainty in the political environment, software companies are still heavily sought-after assets, with deal volume expected to gain new momentum.

Moreover, growing concern about cyberattacks led to an increase in interest for cybersecurity companies, with the potential for more M&A in the security technology sector. Concerns over state sponsored internet-based hacking have motivated governments across the globe to develop digital defense strategies.

Furthermore, corporate data attacks via ransomware have caused a great deal of anxiety in the information technology arena. That being said, digital transformation innovations will likely continue to disrupt markets and reinvent numerous business sectors throughout the year.

Ongoing innovation within the manufacturing, robotics and artificial intelligence industries are also likely to transform several additional commercial sectors, such as construction and defense.

Technology, Media and Telecom market assessment

Mergermarket (now part of Acuris) has released its global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) roundup report for the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Sector for the first half (H1) of 2017.

Key findings from the study include:

The first half of 2017 could best be described as a departure from business as usual, with the emergence of a new world order as defined by Brexit and the Trump presidency.

These structural changes across the globe have begun to break down and reshape not only traditional political identities, but also long-standing industries, to a growing degree brought on by the prevalence of technology in our daily lives.

As advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, and autonomous vehicles, among other areas, become increasingly undeniable realities, giving rise to economic anxiety for some, the world of tomorrow now seems closer than ever.

According to the findings from their latest market assessment, some of this has already made itself evident in the TMT dealmaking environment.

In the first half of the year, despite a solid economy with low inflation, low unemployment, and plenty of highly-anticipated innovations underway, the TMT sector recorded 1,482 M&A transactions globally worth a total of $175.9 billion.

That's a 20.9 percent value drop with 84 fewer deals compared to H1 2016 ($222.3 billion, 1,566 deals), leading TMT to rank as the fourth sector globally by value.

By deal count, however, TMT saw the second highest number of deals after Energy, Mining & Utilities, boosted by the Computer Software sub-sector. Of total M&A activity globally, Software recorded 747 deals worth a total of $62.6 billion, and was responsible for 50.4 percent of TMT’s overall deal count in H1 2017 while accounting for 35.6 percent of the sector’s total value.

With its burgeoning imprint on such long-standing sectors as financial services, industrials, and medical, the number of software deals is only expected to increase.

Why mobile operators must break free from bad customer service

It’s an exciting time to work in the mobile industry, with 5G on the horizon and an increasing reliance on our mobiles and applications, the sector is at the forefront of technological innovation. However, there is also much to fear for the industry stalwarts. Set against a backdrop of narrowing profit margins, particularly with the cuts to previously lucrative outlays like European roaming charges, combined with a drive for expensive reshoring, and disruption from new market entrants, retaining and delighting valuable customers has never been more important. 

But despite this imperative: our research found that only 35% of consumers would say that their mobile phone operator offers good customer service. So where are they falling down and how can organisations in this industry rectify the situation?

Is anyone there?

The research delved deeper into the issues behind this consumer dissatisfaction. It revealed that when calling to make an enquiry in the last 12 months, a staggering 1 in 4 customers have either failed to get through to their mobile phone operator or simply hung up due to the excessive wait time. That figure is far too high and with more than half of consumers (51%) saying that “having more people staffing call centres at peak times” is a key issue in improving customer service, mobile phone operators need to sit up and take notice.

The irony of customers not being able to get hold of their mobile operator via the phone is not lost on me, but despite these cries for change, it’s not simply about putting more staff in the call centre and more head count on the balance sheet. Mobile phone operators need to ensure that they have the right resources in the right place at the right time, and make that the mantra for their call centres.

The Excel handcuffs and the technology key

The sentiment of “right resources, right place, right time” sounds simple enough, but the fact is that the majority of call centres simply cannot achieve this because they are shackled by the planning procedures and the sprawling error-prone and inefficient spreadsheets that they have in place.

To keep pace with consumer demands for quick and effective customer service in the call centre, mobile operators need to break free from this spreadsheet chain and have a clearer accurate view of their workforce data. They need insight on the fluctuations in demand and resource requirements, not just on a seasonal or yearly level, but to be able to drill down monthly, weekly, and even daily to plan effectively.

The crime is that the technology already exists to do this and much much more. With the right solution in place, call centres now have the ability to seamlessly connect every part of the workforce scheduling and financial planning process. This allows managers to ensure data accuracy, a timely and clear collaborative planning process, and improved forecasting accuracy. Armed with this more granular insight, mobile operators and their call centre managers can ensure that they are ahead of the game and proactively plan for customer demand. They can use trend analysis, at every level, to gain a greater understanding of the peaks and flows in call centre traffic the corresponding workforce requirements.

This will bring a level of certainty to the processes that was previously lacking - without customers on hold for hours or wasted headcount costs in quiet periods. Fast speed of calculation is the key here, using the latest technology to rapidly forecast and plan for multiple different scenarios simultaneously and ensure that the exact resources are available for any eventuality.

Mobile phone operators must break free from the shackles of their spreadsheets and allow their call centres to plan ahead proactively, with certainty and agility, so that they can retain and delight customers.

Nokia and Ericsson results show road ahead for telecom equipment market

Nokia said it expects to face further ‘challenges’ on the networking side despite posting a profit of €574 million (£511.2m), up 73% from this time last year.

The Finnish giant published its Q217 financial results today, seeing overwhelming gains year over year on its global services and Nokia Technologies arms, the latter focusing on patent licensing, but a 4% downturn in IP networks and applications. Non-IFRS net sales went down slightly to €5.63 billion, from €5.67bn in Q216.

Revenue on Nokia Technologies went up 90% “primarily due to a new license agreement in Q2 2017 and a license agreement that was expanded in Q3 2016,” the company noted.

One of the highlights of Nokia’s quarter was signing a patent license – or settling a litigation dispute, if you prefer – with Apple in May, with the latter resuming carrying Nokia’s digital health products and “exploring future collaboration in digital health initiatives.” This link was noted by Nokia president and CEO Rajeev Suri in a statement, who said: “You could see the benefit of that agreement in Nokia Technologies’ results, and we look forward to continuing to expand our overall business with Apple in the coming months.”

Suri also spoke of ‘headwinds’, in terms of Nokia’s telecom network equipment business, saying he expects a decline ‘in the range of 3-5%’, as opposed to the ‘low-single digit decline’ previously proffered. “We expect our primary addressable market with communication service providers to be slightly more challenging in 2017 than earlier forecast,” he said.

This contrasts with Ericsson, whose CEO Borje Ekholm warned of a ‘high single-digit percentage decline’ for full year 2017 in its radio access network (RAN) equipment business, with reported overall sales decreasing by 8% year over year.

 “We are not satisfied with our underlying performance with continued declining sales and increasing losses in the quarter,” he wrote. “Execution of our focused business strategy is gaining traction. However, in light of current market conditions, we are accelerating the planned actions to reduce costs.”

“Our focused business strategy is designed to take us back to technology and market leadership and improve company performance, also in a tough market,” Ekholm added.

The telecom equipment market has struggled due to waning interest from telcos, as well as the industry continuing to work out the transition from 4G to 5G. However, a note from Dell’Oro Group earlier this month asserted small cells and 5G will help return the RAN market to growth, with cumulative 5G RAN investments beating $6 billion by 2021.

“Even though the IoT impact on the RAN market remains highly uncertain over the forecast period, the demand for enhanced mobile broadband is expected to remain robust resulting in strong 5G macro uptake in the advanced broadband markets with China, Japan, Korea and North America accounting for more than 90% of the 5G market by the end of the forecast period,” said Stefan Pongratz, Dell’Oro Group senior director.

An article from Orthodox Investor in Seeking Alpha reiterated that the networks business is ‘likely to be sluggish in the short to medium term’ and that any concern around a slowdown should not be a cause for alarm.

Picture credit: Nokia

What can the UK learn from China to bolster its 5G market – and ensure its success?

Vendors and operators across the UK are currently looking towards China, which is on track to launch commercial 5G networks by 2020, and is expected to become the world’s largest 5G market by 2025.

A recent report from GSMA Intelligence and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) revealed that after 5G networks are commercially deployed in 2020, following a two-year phased testing period, the number of 5G connections in China are expected to reach 428 million by 2025. This will account for an astonishing two in five (39%) of the 1.1 billion 5G connections expected across the globe by this point in time.

The promises of 5G

In the first instance, it’s expected that China’s 5G networks will be largely focused on boosting the capacity of the country’s existing 4G networks, in order to support increasing demands for mobile data traffic. In addition, it will enable enhanced mobile broadband services such as Ultra-HD video, augmented reality and virtual reality. The new services and applications made possible by 5G will undoubtedly require mobile devices with greater capabilities than those currently on the market so, it’s reasonable to predict that smartphones will be the primary means of interfacing with 5G, certainly at launch.

However, the promises of 5G go well beyond high data rate, spectral efficiency, ultra-low latency, or massive sensor networks. The fundamental appeal of 5G lies in the fact that the entire infrastructure acts as a cohesive platform for innovative applications and is tuned to flex with demand - providing services tailored to their unique characteristics.

5G is set to go beyond consumer grade applications in the future, with the enterprise space expected to represent the largest revenue opportunity for operators. Indeed, Chinese operators are already collaborating with the broader mobile ecosystem, and different industry vertical players.

The need for open interfaces

While spectrum allocation and new business cases to identify incremental revenue opportunities are key elements to realising the full potential of 5G, so too, will the investment protection in the radio infrastructure be a key consideration for the pace of adoption. A flexible, innovative and open sourced Radio Access Network (RAN) is a key cornerstone for the evolution to 5G.

By providing a software-defined, Cloud-RAN solution based on open interfaces, communications service providers can bring about much lower cost radio infrastructure, using an open software based model upon common hardware.

Historically, the RAN we have today was intended to be open, but is, in reality, controlled by a group of three vendors. As the sector continues to develop, however, people are looking for alternative suppliers that can bring something new to the mix. Key players such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei all have the same way of thinking, and the industry needs a contender that can utilise a software model in the radio world to prioritise enterprise and densification.

This has resulted in a lot of pressure on suppliers to open up interfaces that’s effectively been controlling the growth of the industry, and even the radiotechnology itself. Unfortunately, this current vendor control is causing suboptimal use of spectrum prohibiting, innovation in radio, antenna technology, and cell tower placement, and is also resulting in increased cost per user in any business plan for 5G. In an attempt to avoid this, the xRAN group has been formed to ensure operators and regulators have better use of resources to benefit customers when the interface is open. As the radio access network equipment market in its current form continues to decline, Service Providers may be better off looking towards more disruptive players in the xRAN space than the old key players that are struggling with profitability and cost control.

It’s also worth noting that the current 3GPP standardization process, with its challenges in compatibility, is dominated by these large players so it comes as no surprise, that we’ve seen the growth of working groups and bodies outside of 3GPP for faster development of open standards such as XRAN, TIP and ONAP. We have to take care to strive for technical diversity and guard against standards fragmentation in the quest for open standards that will produce an economic opportunity to the “greater” vendor community.

Regardless, China (along with the USA) appears to be leading the way in developing and implementing 5G networks, and looks likely to dominate the market in only a few years after rollout.

Operators and vendors in the UK and the rest of the world should learn from China, and focus their attention on technology services that will maximise efficiency and generate revenue in the 5G era.

To get 5G working though, we need to maximise bandwidth by pushing open interfaces across the network through software defined techniques.  

Samsung and Arqiva launch Europe’s first 5G FWA trial in central London

Following a statement of intent back in February, Samsung and Arqiva have kicked off the first European trial of 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) in central London.

The partners chose the UK for its low broadband penetration and promising spectrum conditions. With 5G FWA being pitched as offering an alternative to fibre broadband, the UK offers a great opportunity for Samsung and Arqiva to demonstrate its possibilities.

Three main components make up the 5G FWA system:

Radio Access Unit – Located on the rooftop of Arqiva’s Fitzrovia office.

Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) – Wirelessly linked to the Radio Access Unit the CPE uses Samsung’s intelligent beam-forming technology with Arqiva’s 28GHz high-frequency mmWave spectrum to provide high-bandwidth connectivity.

Virtualised Core – The final part is another component supplied by Samsung which is responsible for managing user connections and data routing from Arqiva’s network to the internet.

Arqiva’s CEO, Simon Beresford-Wylie, has previously called mobile and fixed speeds ‘depressing’ when compared to other countries and that FTTP (Fiber-to-the-Premises) coverage in the UK was ‘shocking’ at just three percent. Beresford-Wylie previously worked in Samsung’s home country of South Korea – a nation which often tops charts for both mobile and broadband speeds.

“This trial is the first of its kind in Europe, let alone the UK – and we are hugely excited about the high data rates, low latency, and growth potential we’re going to be able to demonstrate,” says Beresford-Wylie. “Though only a proof-of-concept at this stage, we are confident that this trial with Samsung will showcase not only 5G FWA’s potential for delivering ultra-fast broadband but also the value of the 28GHz band in helping achieve this.”

Beresford-Wylie has noted the UK government now appears to understand the need for better connectivity and that investment has increased alongside changes to legislation which help streamline deployments such as revised planning laws to set up small cells.

Virgin Media and BT are planning their FTTP rollouts, but this process will take much longer and be far more costly than 5G FWA. While under less demanding conditions than a full rollout, Arqiva and Samsung delivered a signal 230 meters away from an antenna located on Newman Street to Arqiva’s Fitzrovia offices at speeds of more than 1Gbps which allows for simultaneous streaming of more than 25 UHD 4K TV channels as an illustration.

“One of the most exciting prospects that 5G is expected to bring to the table is the exploration of powerful new use cases outside of traditional smart device mobile connectivity,” comments Paul Kyungwhoon Cheun, Executive Vice President and Head of the Next Generation Communications Business Team at Samsung. “Our trial efforts with Arqiva give us the chance to demonstrate this first hand, and we view this demonstration as a door-opener for new and compelling connected service opportunities in the UK, Europe and worldwide.”

The trial will run for a four-month period, during which time anticipated visitors include representatives from the UK Government, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Fixed Network Operators, media companies, analysts and more. There are also plans to extend the trial’s coverage to additional nearby buildings over its duration.

Are you impressed with Samsung and Arqiva’s 5G FWA trial? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Does gamification hold the key to customer engagement for telcos?

The digital revolution has transformed the way people interact with their phone provider. The rise of mobile has enabled customers to manage their accounts whenever, and wherever they are; with little reason for in-store visits or engagement with customer service representatives.

And this trend is set to continue. In May, Ofcom announced its plans to implement a ‘text-to-switch’ service, in which consumers will be able to switch mobile phone provider in one working day, via a simple text. The plans are an attempt to remove the hassles associated with switching; allowing customers to cut out awkward phone calls, making the process both quicker and efficient.

With a decision regarding its implementation set to be made by Autumn 2017, if approved this could present yet another challenge for telcos. After all, the main reason that consumers remain loyal and so often avoid switching their mobile phone provider is the ‘difficulty and hassle’ of the process.

If switching is made simple, the chance of defections is likely to increase. For this reason, telco providers need find new ways to engage and improve the customer experience using different touchpoints and channels in order to differentiate themselves and encourage loyalty.

With today’s consumers never far from their smartphones, and moving fluidly between digital platforms, could gamification be the answer in the quest for greater engagement?

Gamification: in a nutshell

Originating in the computer games industry, gamification engages the basic principles of human psychology. It involves an understanding of what motivates people, how we want to be rewarded – and what will make us play again. Or, alternatively, for telco providers: stay loyal.  At its core, gamification has a human centred design; optimised for feelings, motivation, insecurities and engagement.

Some of the aims of gamification include: driving a level of competition within users that results in increased usage and engagement; tapping into the human need for esteem and self-actualisation to increase the levels of motivation; playing on the human desire for power in an attempt to drive users to log back in and increase their status; and evoking similar reactions to those elicited by gaming by releasing chemicals which invoke feelings of excitement, euphoria and pleasure.

So, how can gamification, as a practice, be used within the customer experience?

Bringing gamification to life

Typically, gamification is based on points and rewards. Points translate into a ‘currency’, which can be exchanged for rewards (goods and services, whether real or virtual). This gives the user something to work towards. Badges are also used to symbolise achievements whilst leaderboards recognise accomplishments and promote friendly competition between users.

In recent years, gamification has evolved from its traditional rewards-based platform, to one fuelled by sophisticated data-driven capabilities which allows businesses to offer personalised, user-centric experiences. This is no surprise when you consider the proliferation of devices, apps and social media channels, which have increased customer expectations of the digital experience.

How can telcos use gamification in the customer experience?

But, believe it or not, gamification isn’t a new concept for telcos; it has always been part of their set-up, only now it’s growing and instead driven by customer behaviour and digital capabilities. Back in 2011, Gartner predicted by 2015, more than 50 percent of organisations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes.

Since it launched in 2010, mobile service provider giffgaff has incorporated gamification into its unique customer experience. As a community driven provider, in which customers buy SIM cards from other giffgaff members’ pages, a points system was launched to engage customers with its business model; with the ultimate aim to improve customer retention and experience.

The game means that if a customer buys from an existing members page, they are rewarded with points. Additionally, if a customer has a problem and visits the giffgaff forum for help from another member, as opposed to calling the help desk, they earn points, adding to the overall community experience. Accumulated points are then converted into cash with one point equating to one pence, which can then be withdrawn, used to pay for airtime or donated to charity.

There’s still a lot to learn

But whilst telco providers like giffgaff have dabbled with gamification, few have made leaps and bounds and there remains a lot to be learnt if it’s to be used effectively. It’s challenger banks that are currently leading the way, using gamification to differentiate themselves, and it’s not just financial services companies that should look to them for inspiration. All providers could learn a thing or two.

Atom Bank recently acquired software company Grasp, which specialises in games and virtual reality development, to build its digital platforms. Atom claims to “celebrate your individuality in every way”, and allows customers to choose a logo, name and colours to personalise the app experience.

Meanwhile, European bank OTP banka Hrvatska recently announced impressive results from its new gamification platform, with 16.1% more clients signed up for mobile banking services and the number of clients using prepaid Mastercard increasing by 12.8%. There’s clearly a number of different ways to incorporate gamification into the customer experience, it just requires a little creativity.

Looking ahead

Telcos, like all other providers, have to work hard to keep customers loyal. Changing the perception of the mobile phone provider from a service that’s a necessity to something more engaging is therefore essential if they want to maintain their relevance and value in people’s lives. Gamification should be seen as a route to engagement; a part of the customer journey, not something separate.

It’s something that we always look to incorporate when designing programmes for the telcos we work with and the creative applications for it are almost endless.

Gaming creates positive emotion, drives social relationships and fosters feelings of accomplishment. It’s a way for providers to differentiate themselves from competitors and engage with customers on a more personal level than before to ultimately drive retention. As the digital revolution marches on, and prospective new services like ‘text-to-switch’ threaten loyalty, the gamification model is one we can expect to see telco providers – both new and old – capitalise on. 

How Aarhus is using Bluetooth sensors to solve traffic issues

Implementation of Bluetooth technologies for monitoring traffic conditions has experienced success in Denmark’s second-largest city, Aarhus, which has used BlipTrack Bluetooth sensors for several years across its entire road network.

The municipality has also been collecting traffic data based on the movement of driver´s mobile devices.

The sensors have accumulated traffic data that provide insights into current road density, flow and formation of queues and share traffic information with users. This enables traffic engineers to know about any deviations in driving times occurring due to construction projects or any other incidents through real-time reporting. Typical driving times are continuously updated based on various types of days and time of day and one can learn historic traffic information as well as get an analysis of current vs typical driving times, minute-by-minute throughout the day. The city can thus equip itself with countermeasures to deal with traffic anomalies.

Various unfavourable situations have proven to be detectable with direct reference to driving time data, such as errors caused by incorrectly activating traffic light programs, defective surveillance systems, missing or lengthy activation of turn phrases, or just good old fashioned human error.

The data contributes to an improved economy and a better environment through reduced driving times and fuel consumption, and thus reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

Bluetooth has added mesh networking to push building automation and wireless sensor networks and boost its IoT credentials. This new feature makes use of other devices as relays to extend coverage, while still using low power like the older version. The ubiquitous nature of the standard means faster adoption in the market with capable devices as any device featuring Bluetooth 4.0 or later has the ability to support Bluetooth Mesh.

Spiderman pleads guilty to hacking 900,000 broadband routers last year

Spiderman has pleaded guilty to a hack which took 900,000 broadband routers offline last year.

Just to clarify, we’re not talking about Marvel’s iconic web-slinging hero, but rather a hacker authorities referred to as ‘Spiderman’ when he was picked up back in February.

The 29-year old man was arrested by British police at Luton airport on behalf of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office who alleged he was responsible for hacking the broadband routers and offering to sell access to a botnet to carry out DDoS attacks to online criminals.

Spiderman was one pseudonym used by the hacker along with the fictional character’s real name, Peter Parker (keep that to yourselves.) The names were used when registering domains used for the hacker’s command & control servers.

The hack is said to have cost Deutsche Telekom over two million euros

German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom and its customers were the main victims of the hack, despite the hacker not intending to knock them offline. Spiderman intended to quietly add the routers to a botnet to avoid unwanted attention but the flaw he used ended up taking approximately 900,000 broadband routers offline.

Deutsche Telekom’s routers manufactured by Zyxel and Speedport were exploited by a custom-made variant of the now-infamous Mirai malware which took advantage of a vulnerability in the TR-069 and TR-064 protocols used by ISPs to remotely manage hundreds of thousands of internet devices.

The hack is said to have cost Deutsche Telekom over two million euros and caused isolated speculation it was politically-motivated by Russian hackers. Deutsche Telekom CEO, Timotheus Höttges, called for a "NATO for the Internet" and said the attack could’ve had worse consequences.

According to local reports, the man has pleaded guilty in a German court handling the proceedings. He said he took on the commission for a fee of $10,000 (£7,700) from a Liberian telecommunications company because he wanted to marry his fiancee and needed money for a “good start into married life”. The company wanted access to a botnet and did not ask for the routers to be taken offline.

Spiderman is yet to be sentenced but according to a court spokesperson, he could face between six months and ten years imprisonment.

28/07 Update: The regional court in Cologne handed the man a suspended sentence of a year and eight months for attempted commercial computer sabotage. Prosecutors had asked for two years.

What are your thoughts on the proceedings? Let us know in the comments.