THE WRAP: China probes telco monopolies; Alca-Lu bags Chinese fiber deal

It was a week of price-fixing allegations for Chinese telcos, while PCCW made plans for its IPO and Taiwan accelerated its 4G spectrum timetable.
 
The antitrust division of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) revealed this week that it was investigating the country’s two fixed-line operators, China Telecom and China Unicom, over alleged price fixing in the broadband access market.
 
Both operators said they are cooperating with the investigation. If they’re found guilty of anti-trust activity, they face penalties of up to 10% of their annual revenues from internet access services.
 
The revelations came just a day after China Telecom revealed plans to sell mobile services in the US under its own brand, initially as an MVNO, targeting Chinese expats and students, as well as frequent travelers between the two countries.
 
The anti-trust announcement also emerged just as Alcatel-Lucent announced it was chosen by Unicom as the lead supplier in a major FTTH deployment. Alca-Lu will supply GPON FTTH equipment to Unicom in 29 provinces for consumer broadband services.
 
It was also the week where Huawei Technologies firmly rejected claims that it supplied equipment to aid in internet monitoring and web censorship in Iran.
 
The Chinese vendor’s Device business unveiled its first own-brand smartphones for the UK market. The Vision smartphone is due later this quarter, and the MediaPad tablet early 2012.
 
 
In other news for the week, PCCW launched its global IPO of 32% of Hong Kong Telecommunications Limited (HKT).
 
PCCW expects to raise up to HK$11 billion ($1.41 billion) from the spinoff of its telecom operations into a listed business trust. Credit ratings agency Moody's said the offer would allow PCCW cut its net debt by around $1.5 billion if the listing proceeds as planned.
 
In Taiwan this week, the government slashed two years off its 4G auction schedule, and now plans to commence the process by 2013.
 
The government reportedly plans to auction six 4G licenses, either the 700-MHz or 2.6-GHz bands. Whether the 700-MHz band will be on offer by then depends on the military, which currently owns it.
 
In other regulatory news, Hong Kong’s Ofta issued new rules policing promotions for unlimited broadband plans for both mobile and fixed-line services.
 
Tighter regulation was one reason Deutsche Telekom offered for a fall in revenue during 3Q, however tight cost controls enabled the operator to grow net profit 14.6% year-on-year to €1.1 billion, and reiterate full-year guidance.
 
Meanwhile, Alcatel-Lucent chief Ben Verwaayen lowered fourth quarter predictions on the back of what he called an unsatisfactory 3Q11, but promises radical action to cut costs by €500 million.
 
 
The good news: overall global service provider revenue will reach $1.86 trillion in 2011, after growing nearly twice as fast as during 2010, according to Infonetics, which is projecting 7.6% higher spending this year, compared to a 4.1% increase in 2010.
 
Stat of the week: India's internet user base surpassed 112 million by the end of September – up 26% from a year ago – according to the Internet & Mobile Association of India.
 
And finally, it was the week that Adobe finally called time on mobile Flash.
 

Adobe announced on its blog that it will stop providing updates to its Flash software for mobile devices in favor of HTML5 after it releases Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook.

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