THE WRAP: Nokia cuts thousands more jobs; Telenor slides into the red

This week, Nokia ‘streamlined’ another 4,000 staff out of a job, operators across the globe revealed a mixed bag of earnings, the Metro Ethernet Forum detail implementation specs for Ethernet backhaul, and carriers collaborate on cloud standards.
Finnish vendor Nokia revealed that 4,000 jobs will go from smartphone production plants in Hungary, Mexico and Finland, as it seeks to cut time to market by switching production to its Asian facilities. The three sites will remain open, but focus instead on smartphone customization.
The redundancies add to the previous layoff of 3,500 staff in its location and services team, and some 2,300 Symbian development staff that transferred to Accenture in an outsourcing deal last year.
Nokia’s bid to cut costs may end up being contagious, with Norwegian telco Telenor seeing its annual profit halved in 2011 on the back of growing expenditure.
Full year profit fell 6.8 billion Norwegian Kroner (€890 million) to 7.9 billion Kroner, despite revenues growing 3.6 billion Kroner year-on-year. A slide into the red in the fourth quarter added to Telenor’s woes.
In contrast, UK cable firm Virgin Media generated its first annual profit since its formation during 2011. The firm overturned a £141.1 million (€168 million) loss in 2010 with a £75.9 million profit in 2011, as cable and broadband subscribers rose.
In other earnings news, South Korean operator Korea Telecom revealed a solid end to 2011 with profit up 12.5% year-on-year to 210.6 billion Won (€141 million) in 4Q11; US software vendor Cisco saw a 44% rise in profit to $2.2 billion (€1.6 billion) during the quarter – the firm’s fiscal 2Q12 -, and beat analysts’ estimates with an 11% rise in revenue; and US operator Sprint blamed the high cost of subsidizing Apple’s iPhone for wider 4Q losses – up from $929 million in 4Q10 to $1.3 billion in the recent period.
Asia Pacific proved a happy hunting ground for satellite builders this week, with Thai operator Thaicom detailing plans to launch two new birds over the next three years, and Australia’s NBN Co placing an order for two next-generation Ka-band satellites with Space Systems/Loral. The first bird is scheduled to launch in 2015.
The region also threw up a rash of licensing and network news, kicked off by revelations Thailand’s telecoms regulator is considering joint tower licenses for a forthcoming 2.1-GHz 3G auction. The move would seek to encourage new entrants by forcing incumbents to share their towers.
There were no such issues for Bhutan Telecom, which detailed plans to extend its 3G network to a minimum of 40 new locations. Work is due to begin in March, and be completed by the year-end.
Meanwhile, a 2.3-GHz 4G auction in Hong Kong netted HK$470 million (€45.5 million), but threw up some surprises as PCCW subsidiary Hong Kong Telecom failed to secure any spectrum.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed that 72% of Russian chief information officers plan major upgrades to, or replacement of, their customer relationship management (CRM) kit in 2012. The majority (90%) also plan to increase usage of commercial off-the-shelf CRM applications, to make it easier to strike deals with content and media companies.
A new cloud partnership in Asia Pacific was another feather in PwC’s cap this week. The firm teamed with Oracle, Hutchison Global Communications, VADS, LG CNS, AAPT and Telstra to form the Asia Pacific Cloud Alliance, which aims to establish a best-practices framework for cloud adoption.
IBM also boosted cloud services this week, opening the world’s third largest cloud data center. The 900,000 square foot facility is also the biggest in India, with a power capacity of 100-Mw
Research firm Analysys Mason warned that mobile operators must slash traffic delivery costs by half to avoid spiraling infrastructure costs. The firm predicts Western European RAN spend will grow from $5 billion in 2011 to $40 billion in 2016 if operators try to deal with surging data demand by deploying more base stations.
A good thing, then, that the Metro Ethernet Forum detailed an implementation agreement for mobile backhaul via Carrier Ethernet. The group claims the MEF 23.1 Multi-CoS agreement can cut backhaul costs by a quarter.
And government statistics revealed that the Web is increasing Australian’s engagement with their politicians, becoming the preferred means of accessing government services.
Nearly half (47%) of Australians with internet access used it in their most recent dealings with government agencies with 46% stating a preference for using the Web over other forms of contact.

Engagement is up from just 19% in 2006, when the country’s e-government strategy launched.