Orange CEO cleared of fraud

The interminable Tapie saga, which threatened to topple Orange CEO Stéphane Richard, has finally concluded with everyone acquitted of wrongdoing.

Richard (pictured) was accused of complicity in a fraud that involved the French state handing over €404 million to French businessman Bernard Tapie back in 2008. At that time Richard was Chief of Staff for Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who was eventually found guilty of negligence in creating the circumstances for the payout and then not challenging it.

Part of Lagarde’s defence when she was put on trial back in 2016 was that she didn’t really know what she was doing because Richard didn’t furnish her with sufficient information. This led to the current trial, which investigated the role Richard and a few others played in the whole affair.

The reason for the payout was a claim from Tapie that he got ripped off when he sold his stake sportsware company Adidas to Credit Lyonnais, which is partly state-owned, in order to avoid a conflict of interest when he became a government minister back in 1992. The bank subsequently sold on the stake at a profit, leading Tapie to allege that it had deliberately undervalued it previously.

Tapie sued Credit Lyonnais and eventually Lagarde pushed the case to a closed arbitration panel which made the €404 million award. Not only was the matter deemed to be badly handled by Lagarde and her team, but the award was eventually reversed amid suspicions of fraud. This case seems to reverse that decision once more, so it looks like Tapie will get to keep the cash after all.

This is obviously good news for Orange, which had no involvement in any of it but has had Richard at the helm for eight years, during which he seems to have done a decent job. The whole thing still stinks of an establishment stitch-up, however, with French taxpayers handing over an enormous amount of cash to a rich former politician to compensate him for a botched business deal.  Richard will obviously be relieved too, but s Lagarde’s recent appointment to head the ECB indicates, he may have escaped any negative consequences even if he had been found guilty.

KPN CEO resignation definitely had nothing to do with recent network crash

Maximo Ibarra resigned at CEO of Dutch telco KP the day after a major network failure, but the company insists the two events are unrelated.

Ibarra had led KPN for just a year and a half, having moved over from Italy where he was a Wind lifer and CEO for five years. If we take the KPN announcement at face value Ibarra and his family never took to Rotterdam and have decided to move back to Italy. Luckily for them Sky Italia had a vacancy and has appointed Ibarra as its new CEO once he’s served out his notice.

“I have been with KPN since 2017, and appointed CEO in 2018,” said Ibarra. “I regret the timing, but family reasons gave me no choice. I will dedicate myself the coming months to secure a seamless transfer to my successor.”

The timing referred to must surely be the major outage suffered by KPN on Monday of this week, which even shut down the 112 emergency number. It seemed to just affect voice calls, which were down across the country for three hours.

“We regret that this could have happened, and we offer our sincere apologies to our customers and also to the Dutch society,” said Joost Farwerck, COO of KPN. “We immediately established a crisis team and yesterday afternoon and evening every possible effort was made to find a solution. Thankfully, as a result, by early evening service was resumed and 112 was also accessible again.

“It goes without saying, KPN will evaluate this disruption thoroughly, because this should never have happened. In this evaluation, we will work together with the Ministry of Security and Justice, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the Telecom Agency and other relevant bodies. Of course, we want to learn from this disruption, so that we can draw the correct conclusions and ensure that this kind of incident can be prevented in the future.”

In the Ibarra press release KPN felt compelled to include the following statement: “His resignation is unrelated to the network outage experienced yesterday.” It probably was just unfortunate timing and we certainly have no evidence to suggest otherwise. But you can see how some people might put two and two together to make five.

Finland’s Uros flies Europe’s flag in Qualcomm smart city program

Qualcomm launched its Smart Cities Accelerator Program with over 40 partners, but fast-growing Finnish company Uros is the only European representative.

Qualcomm recently joined hands with 45 companies that have been using its technologies to set up a community called “Smart Cities Accelerator Program”. The program aims to provide cities, municipalities, government agencies, and enterprises around the world with ecosystem solutions for Smart Cities applications. The member companies included “hardware and software providers, cloud solution providers, system integrators, design and manufacturing companies, as well as companies offering end-to-end solutions with Smart Cities in mind”, the world’s leading chip maker said in a statement.

“The Qualcomm Smart Cities Accelerator Program is a central hub for Smart Cities solution providers,” said Sanjeet Pandit, senior director of business development and head of Smart Cities at Qualcomm. “By working with proven expertise and deployed solutions, cities, municipalities, government agencies and enterprises can speed the realization of their Smart Cities visions. This program aims to foster a rich ecosystem of B2B collaborations that we hope will speed the development and deployment of Smart Cities solutions around the globe.”

Most of the companies are based out of North America and Asia, including familiar names like Compal or Verizon. The sole representative of Europe is Uros, a Finnish private company that has undergone fast growth in recent years. According to the Finnish publication Talouselämä, the company’s turnover grew from €2.7 million in 2015 to €1.3 billion in 2018, an increase of nearly 500 times in three years. Uros is based in Oulu in northern Finland, dubbed the country’s “Radio Valley” which used to be Nokia’s heartland to develop radio technologies and produce base stations. The owner and the current CEO were both Nokia veterans.

Uros unbelievable growth 2015-2018

Uros started its business with a roaming application to help consumers save roaming cost, by which it developed an extensive network with the world’s mobile operators. It then saw the opportunities in IoT, which, though still predominantly short-range, will see wide range, especially cellular IoT gaining share and outpacing the other types of connectivity. Ericsson estimated that over 22.3 billion IoT connections will be on the internet by 2024, including 4.1 billion cellular IoT. The smart city sector will benefit from 5G in a big way.

In addition to smart connectivity solutions, including its industrial products and sensors, Uros will also bring to the table its expertise in data analytics in natural resources management, waste reduction in industrial processes, and turnkey IoT solutions. Its participation in the Qualcomm program must also have to do with its long collaboration with the chip maker, which has been respected by Qualcomm. “Whenever we have a new chip, we will call them about it. They will come up with a new way of using it,” Qualcomm’s Pandit told Talouselämä. “It is not that others can’t develop the same technologies, but they are always the first because they think ‘out of the box’, in their own original way.”

Uros was set up in 2011 and has about 60 employees.

UK CSPs sign-up to empty Ofcom ‘fairness’ initiative

Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, has persuaded all major UK communications service providers to promise to ‘put fairness first’.

As far as empty, ill-defined and vacuous statements of intent goes this is right up there. Ofcom drafted a bunch of commitments under the heading ‘Fairness for Customers, and got CSPs to sign on the dotted line. Of course they had no choice but to go along with the scheme as failure to do so would have resulted in catastrophic publicity, but there is little to indicate this is anything more than a token gesture.

You may be thinking the angle taken in this piece is a tad mean-spirited but let’s have a look at the substance of the announcement. The starting point has to be the operative term ‘fair’ Here are some dictionary definitions:

  • Treating people equally without favouritism or discrimination
  • Treating someone in a way that is right or reasonable, or treating a group of people equally and not allowing personal opinions to influence your judgment
  • Something or someone that is fair is reasonable, right, and just
  • Marked by impartiality and honesty : free from self-interest, prejudice, or favouritism

By these definitions all CSPs have committed to is to treat all their customers equally. If there was any evidence of them actively discriminating against any of them we would surely have heard of it by now so, as a fresh commitment, it’s totally redundant.

More likely is that Ofcom is using a definition of the word not supported by the major dictionaries, but popular among politicians, marketing professionals and small children. This is a catch-all concept designed to appeal to absolutely everyone by implying everything will be better as a result of becoming more fair.

Still think we’re being too harsh? Let’s have a look at the actual commitments then.

  1. Customers get a fair deal, which is right for their needs. Providers offer customers packages that fit their needs and have a fair approach to pricing. Prices are clear and easy to understand;
  2. Customers get the support they need when their circumstances make them vulnerable. Providers understand and identify the characteristics, circumstances and needs of vulnerable customers – such as vulnerability due to a disability, age, mental illness or having recently been bereaved – and act to give them fair treatment and equal access to services too;
  3. Customers are supported to make well-informed decisions with clear information about their options before, during, and at the end of their contract. Providers design and send communications in a way that reflects an understanding of how customers generally react to information so that they can understand and engage with the market;
  4. Customers’ services work as promised, reliably over time. If things go wrong providers give a prompt response to fix problems and take appropriate action to help their customers, which may include providing compensation where relevant. If providers can’t fix problems with core services they have promised to deliver within a reasonable period, customers can walk away from their contract with no penalty;
  5. Customers can sign up to, change and leave their services quickly and smoothly. Providers ensure that customers who are leaving do not face additional barriers or hassle compared to those who are signing up to new services;
  6. Customers can be confident that fair treatment is a central part of their provider’s culture. Companies can demonstrate that they have the right procedures in place to ensure customers are treated well. They keep these effective and up-to-date.

Points 1, 2 and 6 depend entirely on the ill-defined term ‘fair’, while the other three are merely restatements of obligations already imposed on CSPs by Ofcom, so what is new here? We asked Ofcom how it will be monitoring these ‘new’ commitments and what the consequences will be of any failures to adhere to them and got the following statement.

“Many of the commitments are already underpinned by existing consumer law and Ofcom’s rules, so we will monitor practices against those and we can take action where necessary. We will also monitor complaints we receive from customers – particularly on price and service quality. The providers will be asked to demonstrate their performance on fairness and we’ll publish a progress report next year.

“Where we have concerns about an industry practice that isn’t covered by existing rules, we will work with the relevant company to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. If we don’t see sufficient action, we will consider potential changes to our rules.”

The condensed version of that statement seems to be; “We’re keeping an eye on UK operators to make sure they’re following our rules.” While that’s good to know, it’s also kind of the default position for telecoms regulator isn’t it? The progress report next year will be worth reading, if only to finally see how Ofcom measures fairness.

“I welcome the commitments the providers have made, and the action they’re taking to ensure customers are treated fairly every step of the way,” said Ofcom Chief Exec Sharon White. “Great service cannot be optional. It has to be the norm. That hasn’t always happened in the past in broadband and mobile services, but there is now a growing belief from providers that putting customers first is paramount.”

“I’m pleased that all the major telecoms providers have signed up to Ofcom’s commitments today,” said UK Minister for Digital Margot James. “They will not only help consumers get fairer deals, but will support competition by making sure providers work to the same objectives and compete on standards.”

Possibly inspired by all this vague virtue-signalling, Virgin Media has announced its own promise to be a good CSP from now on. Specifically it takes the form of a new ‘service promise’ that will give unlimited mobile connectivity to anyone whose broadband stops working, so long as they get both from Virgin.

“We know how important it is for our customers to stay connected and that’s why Virgin Media’s new service promise offers peace of mind, no matter what happens,” said Jeff Dodds, Managing Director of Virgin Media.

“It’s a simple, transparent and straight-up commitment to our customers that we’ll keep them online with superfast unlimited 4G mobile data if they experience an issue with their broadband, plus they have the option of a next-day engineer appointment to get things fixed.”

We guess all these vows, pledges and oaths are better than nothing but only just. Furthermore if everyone’s suddenly promising to put the customer first then surely that implies they weren’t previously. The Ofcom thing just feels like a cheap way for regulators and politicians to make it look like they’re doing more than they are, using vague terms and obsolete aspirations. That doesn’t seem fair to us.

More than 13% mobile users in Spain changed operators in 2018

According to a recent survey, over 13% of mobile users in Spain switched mobile operator in 2018, 18% more considered switching.

The National Commission on Markets and Competition (Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia, “CNMC”), Spain’s market competition watchdog, recently polled 5,000 families and over 9,000 individuals to understand their loyalty towards their mobile operators. The survey found the churn rate reached 13.48% of all mobile users. In addition, 11.25% considered moving to a new operator but did not start the process, a further 6.57% did not only consider moving but had actually started the process of moving but did not complete the swap.

When it comes to the main reason for moving, tariff was by far the leading driver, cited by 62% of the individual respondents, the highest level since 2015. A quarter of users moved operators to get fixed and mobile packages, with 20% driven away by the dissatisfaction with the quality of service at their original operators. 14% said they were attracted to change by special promotions (see the chart at the bottom of the article).

On the other hand, the most cited reason for users to stay with an operator for long term is tariff discount or improved terms, chosen by 49% of all respondents. Until two years ago, the leading reason had been promotion of new handsets.

CNMC survey 2018 b

New BT logo looks more like a warning than an invitation

British Telecom has filed for a trademark on a new logo but it’s a bit rubbish and the internet is ridiculing it.

Whichever brand consultancy BT has hired, presumably at great expense, to refresh its logo presumably either couldn’t be bothered to think about it properly or was given bad advice by its client. The result is simply the letters ‘BT’ with a circle around them. Black letters, black circle, white background, that’s it. Even the font is boring.

The Guardian was one of the first to cover the filing and marketing mag Campaign pointed out that its seems to be an even more stark and boring version of a rebrand it was planning three years ago, but wisely put on the back burner. At least that one had some colour in it. Unsurprisingly the internet has been quick to mock this feeble effort, with a great piece of opportunistic guerilla marketing from Poundland our current favourite.

“We’ve shared our new logo with our colleagues today and will consult them on the detail as we gradually roll it out towards the end of the summer,” a BT spokesperson told the Guardian. “Our CEO has been very clear that the new mark symbolises real change. Making every BT employee a shareholder in the company is the first step towards transforming BT into a national champion that exceeds our customers’ expectations.”

While it’s understandable that new CEO Jansen would want to spray his scent on his new company we think he can afford to take a bit longer over such a momentous decision. Right now it looks at best like a functional street sign designed to warn the unsuspecting punter about BT rather than endear it to them. Not all change is good, Phil, and you might want to give the whole thing a rethink on your summer holidays.

The real branding challenge faced by BT is how to incorporate, if at all, EE. Its brand currently goes heavy on the letters-in-a-circle theme, albeit with a bit more creative flair, so maybe BT is trying for a bit of geometric alignment or something. But as we move into the 5G era, Britain’s biggest telco should think twice before rebranding itself to look like a speed limit sign.

US official overseeing country’s frequency strategy has resigned

David Redl, heading National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), responsible for the US’ strategy on frequency and 5G, abruptly resigned from his post.

The circumstances of his resignation were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal reported that Redl has had conflicts with other political appointees at the current administration, including officials at the FCC. Redl, together with the Commerce Secretary, was tasked by President Trump to develop the country’s “National Spectrum Strategy” last October.

A few days before his resignation, Redl used his speech at Satellite Industry Association’s annual dinner to voice his concerns. “We don’t have to choose between making more spectrum available for the private sector and sustaining our critical government systems. We also don’t have to choose between terrestrial 5G and satellite services,” Redl said on that occasion. “To start with, satellite will play an important role in 5G connectivity, but perhaps more to the point these uses are not mutually exclusive; it’s just going to take hard work for them to continue to coexist in a more contentious spectrum environment.”

Meanwhile, FCC would not wait to have the “comprehensive, balanced and forward-looking” spectrum strategy in place before it pressed ahead with the auction of the mmWave frequencies, including the 24GHz and 37GHz bands that are also being coveted by the satellite industry. “I can’t recall ever in the past watching two different arms of an administration get into this kind of public disagreements,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel commented.

In other cases, Redl’s opinions often carried a lot of weight in FCC’s decision making. Before the decision was taken to deny China Mobile the operation licence, Redl’s earlier note had already set the tone. Ajit Pai, the FCC Chairman, in his statement called Redl “a longtime colleague, who served with distinction during his 18 months at NTIA.  He was a vocal advocate within the Department of Commerce for repurposing federal spectrum for commercial use and fostering the private sector’s lead in 5G deployment.  I thank David for his service and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

It may or may not be related, but Redl’s resignation also coincided with fresh pressure from the US on the UK to join the alliance to ban Huawei from the country’s 5G networks. The DC-based news outlet The Hill reported that Diane Rinaldo, Redl’s former deputy, would be taking over as acting administrator.

UK and Latin America gave Telefónica a steady Q1

Telefónica’s otherwise flat quarter was bolstered by strong performance in its UK and Latin America South units, which delivered 5.3% and 15.2% organic growth rates, taking the group level growth rate to 3.8%.

Telefónica reported its first-quarter results, with the total revenue at €12.611 billion, an increase of 3.8% in organic terms. This means adjustments were made to the reported numbers considering impacts of exchange rate moves, regulation and reporting standard changes, and special factors, for example adjustment made to the Argentina numbers on account of the hyper-inflation. Otherwise, the total revenue would have reported at € 11.979, or a 1.7% decline from a year ago. The quarterly operating income before depreciation and amortisation (OIBDA) reached €4.264 billion, up by 10.3%; and the net income grew by 10.6% to reach €926 million.

The Telefónica group is now serving a total of 332 million subscriber accounts (“accesses”), 6 million less than a year ago. The total mobile accesses by the end of the quarter stood at 267 million, down by 4 million from a year ago. But the good news for Telefónica is that it actually grew the contract customer base by 7.5 million over Q1 last year, meaning the loss is mainly on the pre-paid market, down by 11.5 million. It also grew its fixed broadband (including FTTx and cable) customer base by 2.1 million over the course of the year.

“The first quarter results showed a significant improvement in revenue growth trends and double-digit growth in net income and earnings per share. Strong cash generation, which was three times higher than the figure reported in the first quarter of the previous year, allowed for an acceleration in debt reduction, for the 8th consecutive quarter, further strengthening our balance sheet,” commented José María Álvarez-Pallete, Chairman and CEO of Telefónica. “We have started the year by extending our leadership in fibre and 4G deployment, testing new 5G capabilities and making progress in the UNICA virtualisation programme, allowing us to continue gaining customer relevance through better experience and higher average lifetime.”

Ángel Vilá, Chief Operating Officer of Telefónica, introduced the Q1 results and its outlook to 2019 annual outlook in more detail in the video clip at the bottom (in Spanish, with English subtitle).

While the its two biggest markets, Spain and Brazil, managed to stay stable, delivering modest organic growth of 0.3% and 1.7% respective (+0.3% and -5.2% in reported terms), Telefónica’s UK business registered a strong 5.3% organic growth to reach €1.67 billion (£1.47 billion). Excluding the exchange rate impact, the UK business would have reported a 6.6% revenue growth to reach €1.691 billion (£1.488 billion). The company is now serving 32.7 million mobile subscribers, up 2.3% over Q1 last year, which includes both customers on O2 (25.1 million) and those on the MVNOs using Telefónica networks (Sky Mobile, giffgaff, Lycamobile, and Tesco Mobile).

“This is another good set of results building on our momentum from 2018. We have delivered further revenue and customer growth underpinned by our award-winning network and market-leading loyalty,” commented Mark Evans, CEO of Telefónica UK. “We are committed to making every day better, providing customers with compelling reasons to join and stay with us through attractive propositions such as O2 Custom Plans.”

Looking across all the Telefónica markets, the UK registered the lowest churn rate of 0.9% among in its postpaid customers. In comparison, in Telefónica’s other European markets, the churn rate of contract customers was 1.6% in Germany and 1.7% in Spain. Comparable churn rates in markets like Chile and Mexico ran around 3%.

Telefónica attributed high customer loyalty, among other things, to its aggressive investment to improve its networks. The company claims it is investing equivalent to £2 million a day to strengthen its network and increase its reach.

One of O2’s focus investment areas in 2019, in addition to the planned launch of 5G, will be high density venues, including sports arenas, shopping centres, hotels, and conference centres. Already serving the Anfield Stadium in Liverpool and the Lord’s cricket ground in London with improved networks, in collaboration with the Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG), an infrastructure company, O2 is planning to upgrade and improve its coverage and capacities in other high usage venues.

“While we look ahead to 5G we also continue to focus on our existing network capability. We strive to deliver a great network experience to all our customers, including some of the UK’s busiest locations where network demand is at its peak,” said Brendan O’Reilly, O2’s Chief Technology Officer. “Our multi-million pound investment with our partners at WIG should provide O2 customers with even better connectivity in the places they love to visit.”

Here’s more commentary from COO Ángel Vilá.

Vodafone Germany tries to placate regulators via wholesale cable deal with Telefónica

Telefónica Deutschland will be able to sell services that run on the combined Vodafone and Unitymedia cable network in Germany, as a remedy measure taken by Vodafone to satisfy EU’s competition concern over its proposed acquisition of Liberty Global.

The two companies announced that they have entered into a definite “cable wholesale agreement” in Germany, whereby Telefónica Deutschland will offer its customers broadband services that use both the Vodafone fixed network and that of Unitymedia. The combined networks cover 23.7 million households and represent a significant upgrade to whatever Telefónica Deutschland customers are currently getting.

“The cable agreement will enable us to connect millions of additional households in Germany with high-speed internet in the future,” said Markus Haas, CEO of Telefónica Deutschland. “By adding fast cable connections, we now have access to an extensive infrastructure portfolio and can offer to even more O2 customers attractive broadband products – including internet-based TV with O2 TV – for better value for money.”

Vodafone’s plan to acquire Liberty Global in Germany (where it trades under the brand Unitymedia), the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania, has run into difficulty at the European Union, which raised competition concerns at the end of last year. The Commission was particularly worried that the combined business would deprive the consumers in Germany of access to high speed internet access, and the OTT services carried over it. Vodafone expressed its confidence that it would be able to satisfy the Commission’s demand. Opening its fixed internet access to its competitor is clearly one of the remedies. Also included in the remedy package Vodafone submitted to the Commission was its commitment to ensure sufficient capacity is available for OTT TV distribution.

“Our deal with Liberty Global is transformational in many ways. It is a significant step towards a Gigabit society, which will enable consumers & businesses to access the world of content & digital services at high speeds. It also creates a converged national challenger in four important European countries, bringing innovation & greater choice,” said Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone Group. “We are very pleased to announce today our cable wholesale access agreement with Telefonica DE, enabling them to bring faster broadband speeds to their customers and further enhancing infrastructure competition across Germany.”

Vodafone believed the remedial measures it put in place should sufficiently reassure the Commission that competitions will not suffer after its acquisition of Liberty Global. The company now expects the Commission to undertake market testing of the remedy package it submitted, and to give the greenlight to the acquisition deal covering the four countries by July 2019. It plans to complete the transaction by the end of July. The merger between Vodafone’s and Liberty Global’s operation in The Netherlands was approved by the EU in 2016.

A weak France overshadowed Orange’s Q1

The telecom operator Orange reported a flat Q1, with a weak performance in its home market partially compensated by the strength in Africa and the Middle East.

Orange reported a set of stable top line numbers in its first quarter results. On Group level, the total revenue of €10.185 billion was largely flat from a year ago (-0.1%), and the EBITDAaL (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation after lease) improved by 0.7% to reach €2.583. Due to the 8% increase in eCAPEX (“economic” CAPEX), the total operating cash flow decline by 10.2% to €951 million.

Orange 2019Q1 Group level numbers.pdf

Commenting on the results, Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of the Orange Group, said that “the Group succeeded in maintaining its high quality commercial performance in spite of a particularly challenging competitive context notably in our two principal countries of France and Spain. Our strategy is paying off since EBITDAal is continuing to grow while revenues remain stable, allo wing us to reaffirm our 2019 objectives”

On geography level, France, its home and biggest market is going through a weak period. Despite registering net gain in the number of customers, the total income dropped by 1.8% to €4.408 billion, the first quarterly decline in two years. The company blamed competition, a one-off promotion of digital reading offer towards the end of the quarter, and “a weaker performance on high-end equipment sales in the 1st quarter of this year”. The move to “Convergence” was positive, but not fast enough to offset the lose in narrowband customers. The competition pressure is still visible. The Sosh package (home broadband + mobile) Orange rolled out to combat Free is gaining weight among its broadband customers, which resulted in a decline of revenues despite the growth in customer base.

Orange’s European markets, including Spain and the rest of Europe, reported modest growth, with strength in Poland (+2.6%) and Belgium & Luxembourg (+3.8%) offset by a weaker Central Europe (-1.9%). The bright spot was Africa and Middle East, which registered a 5.3% growth to reach €1.349 billion revenue, taking the market’s total revenue above Spain and just marginally behind the rest of Europe. The company’s drive to extend its 4G coverage in Africa is paying off, with mobile data service contributing to 2/3 of its mobile growth. Orange Money also saw strong enthusiasm, with the revenue up by 29% and total number of monthly active users totalling 15.5 million.

Both the Q1 results and outlook to the rest of the year spelled mixed messages for the wider telecom market and Orange’s suppliers, but negatives look to outweigh positives. On the consumer market side, the slowdown of high-end smartphone sales and prolonged replacement cycle has once again been demonstrated in the weak numbers in France. On the network market side, Orange predicts more efficiency. This includes both the network sharing deal signed with Vodafone Spain, which is expected to deliver €800 million savings over ten years, and an overall reduction in CAPEX this year.

As the CEO said, “while the level of eCapex for this quarter is higher, it should reduce slightly for 2019 as a whole, as predicted, excluding the effect of the network sharing agreement with Vodafone in Spain announced on 25 April.” This means, to achieve the annual target of reduced CAPEX, the spending will drop much faster in the rest of year. There is no timetable to start 5G auction in France yet, but it will be safe to say that any expectations of 5G spending extravaganza will be misplaced.

On the positive side, Orange has seen its efforts to diversify its business gaining traction, especially in IoT and smart homes. But these areas, fast as the growth may be, only make a small portion of Orange’s total business.