Nokia acquires Elenion to boost optical offering

Nokia plans to acquire Elenion, a privately-owned technology company whose proprietary silicon photonics design platform can lower the ‘per bit’ cost for network operators.

Through its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent in 2016, Nokia has become one of the biggest suppliers of optical transport solutions. In the latest quarterly and full-year results, the IP routing and optical businesses registered healthy growth. This newly announced transaction looks to be an attempt to acquire unique technology know-how. The parties claim that Elenion’s silicon photonics design platform can, with its design toolset, improve the efficiency of the optical supply chain, and in turn, bring down the cost of data transmission on per bit basis for the operators.

The technology know-how can be highly relevant to Nokia’s core mobile business as well. The terse announcement stresses that Elenion’s silicon photonics technologies are highly integrated, low-cost, and ideal for short-reach and high-performance optical interfaces. This indicates that the technologies can be broadly applied in the dense radio networks expected for 5G, as well as the enterprise market where Nokia has made strong gains recently.

“As a world-class provider of silicon photonics solutions, advanced packaging and custom design services, Elenion provides a strong strategic fit for Nokia. Its solutions can be readily integrated into Nokia’s product offerings and address multiple high growth segments including 5G, cloud and data center networking,” said Sam Bucci, Head of Optical Networking at Nokia. “When combined with Nokia, Elenion technologies will accelerate the growth and scale of Nokia’s optical networking business, while enabling us to cost-effectively address new markets.”

“Nokia is an industry leader in networking systems, including advanced coherent optical interfaces and hyperscale datacenter solutions. Elenion benefits by having its technology incorporated into an industry-leading portfolio and with a company offering solutions across a wide array of networking applications,” added Larry Schwerin, CEO of Elenion Technologies. “Nokia’s strong optical industry leadership, size, scale, global reach, and ongoing commitment to investment in key technologies vastly accelerates the adoption of Elenion silicon photonics technology.”

The value of the transaction is not disclosed, and the companies expect the deal to close in Q1 2020 after regulatory clearance.

New York wades in to the T-Mobile/Sprint debate

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood could prove to be another hurdle for T-Mobile and Sprint to overcome in their headache-inducing merger.

The problem for the pair is there seem to be a lot more objections surrounding the tie-up than there has been support. After T-Mobile CEO John Legere seemingly got little response from his appeal to MVNOs to support the transaction, the wild-eyed leader has opened up to opinions from staff; a dangerous move considering some would certainly be under threat of redundancy.

Perhaps what the duo didn’t need are objections from the New York Attorney General Office over fears the consumer might get screwed. According to the New York Post, the objection is relatively simple. T-Mobile runs a prepaid service called MetroPCS, while Sprint has Boost and Virgin Mobile. Bringing all three into the same business could lead to one or more being scrapped, reducing competition. Secondly, all three are incredibly aggressive on pricing, but again, bringing all three into the same business could end this trend of undercutting, and an increase in price. The New Yorkers are concerned tariffs could become too expensive for some.

While objections from a few lawyers might not be the worst thing in the world for T-Mobile and Sprint, it seems there is a queue forming. In fact, the FCC released a notice last week which stated the Attorney General Offices of Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia have all requested information to assist their own investigations into the merger. The lawyers are lurking, and the more who gather around the fire, the less pleasing the situation appears for T-Mobile and Sprint.

This of course might mean nothing. All major parties in the US are perfectly entitled to do their own due diligence surrounding the deal as transitioning from a market with four major telcos down to three is a massive move. Considering there will be regions across the country where this transaction effectively creates a communications monopoly, every chance to scrutinise the deal should be taken.

As it stands, the self-appointed shot-clock on approving the deal at the FCC is on hold. This again is simply down to the magnitude and the potentially significant consequences of the deal, and should not be surprising at all, but the longer it stands still, we suspect the more nervous executives will become. Mergers of this nature have already been shot down in the US, and this deal does seem to be hanging in the balance.