DT, Carphone Warehouse and Elisa show their 5G FOMO

The 5G hard launches are coming thick and fast, which is causing fear of missing out for some in the telecoms game.

Today’s big announcement comes from Vodafone UK, on which more from us later. BT has also got involved and now Deutsche Telekom, Carphone Warehouse and Elisa have all rushed out press releases to make sure nobody thinks they’re off the pace.

DT hasn’t hard launched anything yet, but has chosen to detail at considerable length how profound its plans to do so are. Today’s announcement is the start of DT’s 5G network rollout in Germany. Berlin and Bonn will be first, followed by Darmstadt, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Munich and by the end of 2020 DT expects Germany’s 20 largest cities to be 5Ged up.

“We punched our ticket for a 5G future with the spectrum auction,” said Dirk Wössner, MD of Telekom Deutschland. “Our goal now is to get 5G to the streets, to our customers, as quickly as possible. Nearly three-quarters of our antenna locations in Germany are connected with optical fiber – we’re now building on that… At the same time, we need a clear regulatory framework and pragmatism from the authorities – particularly when it comes to questions regarding regional spectrum, local roaming, allocation of the auction proceeds, and the approval procedures – which takes far too long in Germany.”

Despite not having activated 5G anywhere yet DT is generously offering its subscribers to pay for it anyway. You can shell out €900 for a Samsung Galaxy S10 5G as well as a 5G tariff and when DT gets its act together you can be among the first people to get access to its 5G. “Telekom is 5G ready and offers the first 5G devices with suitable rate plans for everyone who wants to be there from the start,” said Michael Hagspihl, MD for Consumers at Telekom Deutschland.

In the UK Carphone Warehouse has joined the 5G pre-order party by announcing the availability of a few 5G smartphones. The ubiquitous Samsung Galaxy S10 5G will cost you £1099 SIM-free and is available today. We’re told the Oppo Reno 5G is also available today but you can’t can’t get it online for some reason. The Xiaomi Mi MIX 3, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and LG V50 ThinQ will all be available for pre-order tomorrow.

“Retailing the largest range of the newly announced 5G compatible phones means those looking to upgrade to the new offering will have the biggest choice in terms of device and networks to best suit their needs across an impressive range of smartphones, deals and trade-in offers,” said John Coleman, Director of Connectivity at Carphone Warehouse.

Lastly Finnish operator Elisa is proud to announce it was the seller of the first 5G phone bought in any Nordic country. The lucky punter was one Harri Hellström, who strolled into Elisa Kulma in Helsinki unaware of how his life was about to change. Moments later, amid streamers and rapturous applause, Hellström was handed his phone by Elisa CEO Veli-Matti Mattila and held aloft by exuberant Elisa staff.

“I have always been into cutting-edge technology, and I have often been among the first to buy new devices,” said Hellström, once he had composed himself. “I feel wonderful about having the first 5G phone in the Nordic countries. I travel a lot in Finland and abroad, and I often rely on my mobile device for communication on the road. This is why fast connections are essential.” Words so fitting they could almost have been written by Elisa itself.

“Demand for 5G devices and subscriptions will increase as network coverage expands,” said Antti Ihanainen, VP of Elisa’s consumer subscription business. “5G will revolutionise the way we use mobile devices beyond anything we have seen during previous technological evolutions. Fully utilising the benefits of a 5G network requires the use of 5G devices, which means demand will inevitably rise. We are continuously developing innovative 5G services and exploring ways of utilising 5G technology.”

As more operators around the world activate 5G networks and get to bang on about how much better life is for their subscribers as a consequence, the FOMO for those operators that have yet to get involved will increase. If those subscribers start openly wondering what the fuss is all about once they start using 5G, however, being late to the game might not be such a bad thing.

Dixons Carphone profits down, outlook down, shares down 20%

The UK’s largest electricals retailer Dixons Carphone saw its share price plunge after its profits declined significantly and it warned they would continue to do so.

Dixons Carphone managed a like-for-like increase in revenues of 4% in the 2017/18 financial year but despite that saw its profits-before-tax plunge by 24% to £382. Furthermore the company warned that profits are expected to fall another 27% to £300 million in the next financial year. This outlook will have been what caused a sell-off of Dixons Carphone sales such that they were down 20% at time of writing.

“Eight weeks in the business have cemented my optimism about Dixons Carphone’s long-term prospects,” said Alex Baldock, who recently took over as Group Chief Executive after the last guy went off to run the Boots pharmacy chain. “I’ve found exceptional strengths, and though there’s plenty to fix, it’s all fixable.

“We’re number one in each of our markets, with people and capability no competitor can match. Our opportunity lies in making the most of those strengths, which we are nowhere near doing. And we must: nobody is happy with our performance today. We’re getting on with it, through a new leadership team and structure that’s promoted top talent, cleared away unnecessary layers and silos, and started to speed up decision-making.

In electricals, we’re focused on gross margin recovery. In mobile, we’re stabilising our performance through improvements to our proposition and network agreements. In both, we’ll work hard to improve our cost efficiency. We won’t tolerate our current performance in mobile, or as a Group. We know we can do a lot better.”

The Carphone Warehouse bit of the group seems to be especially struggling. The inference seems to be that Baldock isn’t happy with the dynamic between his company and the network operators, whose products and services he resells. It remains to be seen how strong his bargaining position is on this and the sudden decline of Phones4U illustrated what happens when resellers displease their suppliers.

As well as forecasting a further shedding of profit the Dixons Carphone outlook announced it would be closing down 92 of its 650 standalone Carphone Warehouse retail outlets. There has been talk of the smartphone upgrade cycle extending in reports and that’s unlikely to change, so we could be seeing the terminal decline of the UK’s last remaining independent mobile phone retailer.