THE WRAP: HSPA fuels mobile broadband usage; Deutsche Tel makes move on OTE

This was the week the GSM Association hailed HSPA the fastest growing wireless technology ever, European telcos embarked in a little share trading, and Indian carriers discussed infrastructure sharing deals.
 
The GSM Association predicted HSPA subscribers will hit 500 million by end-June, making it the fastest growing wireless technology ever in terms of subscriber take up.
It stated the growth is the main driver of near 60% growth in the number of global mobile broadband users, which Infonetics research shows hit 558 million in 2010.
 
German incumbent Deutsche Telekom revealed plans to acquire an extra 10% of Greek telco OTE from the country’s government. The stake will cost Deutsche Tel anything up to €400 million, but effectively grants the firm control of OTE by taking its total holding to 40%.
 
In Russia, Altimo decided to sell down its voting rights in VimpelCom by almost 6% to under 25%. The sale should net it $100 million (€68.9 million), but signals an end of a shareholder deal with Telenor that allowed the pair to control the Russian carrier.
Telenor spokesman Dag Melgaard told Telecoms Europe.net the move had long been anticipated and will have no impact on ongoing arbitration proceedings over VimpelCom’s acquisition of Wind.
 
Another Russian operator – Sistema – made headlines in India after its Sistema Shyam Teleservices joint venture revealed net losses grew a staggering 63% in 1Q11. The firm blamed the rise on the cost of rolling out its CDMA network, but the investment appears to be paying off in the form of higher revenues in the quarter – up 201% to 2.36 billion rupees (€36.4 million).
 
Meanwhile, Indian rival Bharti Airtel eyed infrastructure sharing deals in Africa with Etisalat, MTN, France Telecom, Millicom and Vodafone. However, Manoj Kohli chief executive of international operations, told local press the firm isn’t seeking fresh acquisitions in the region in the near term.
 
ABI Research predicted a push for better in-building coverage and data speed boosts will fuel a 5% rise in global mobile network capex to $119 billion (€81.9 billion) in 2011,
 
Facebook followed in Google’s footsteps by raising the interest of the European Union over data policies. The EU pledged to probe a new Facebook service that suggests tags for people in photos without requiring their permission
 
Tackling cyber crime will be one of the duties of a new FBI-style National Crime Agency in the UK, which will launch in 2013.
 
Nokia’s technology chief Rich Green took a leave of absence that local news site Helsingin Sanomat claims he will never return from. Green had previously publicly expressed his disappointment over the firm’s smartphone partnership with Microsoft and had pledged it would not spell the end of Symbian and MeeGo.
 
And analysts tipped Apple’s freshly unveiled iCloud service for success, particularly a $25 (€17.22) a month music service that promises to seek out tunes on user’s hard drives that aren’t already available on iTunes.
 
Ovum analyst Mark Little said the service could prove a key differentiator that pitches Apple against streaming service Spotify, while Informa Telecoms & Media senior analyst Giles Cottle praised demos of iCloud as a “stunning validation of the power of closed ecosystems.”

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