During the first week of March, all technology enthusiasts had their eyes on Barcelona, which hosted the Mobile World Congress. Considered by many to be the most important telecommunications event in the world, this global event confirmed two hotbeds of innovation: Asia (with Samsung and Huawei) and the U.S. (with Apple and Google). An AFP (Agence France-Presse) article from la-croix.com reported:
Europe experienced its golden age in telecommunications in the 2000s with the launch of 3G and the dominance of the Finnish Nokia group, but the continent is now lagging behind the United States in the era of 4G. The 2013 acquisition of Nokia’s mobile phone business by the United States’ Microsoft highlighted its decline despite the fact that the Finns had been pioneers of the smartphone.
In contrast, European telecom companies have taken the bull by the horns since early 2015. Between market consolidation, announcements of dividend increases, and increasing sales rumors, the investors are the ones who are being seduced in this market, which is back on track after a slump in activity over recent years.
Several executives attribute this recovery to the rise of 4G mobile technologies and the more flexible attitude of regulatory authorities toward mergers and acquisitions. The CEO of Deutsch Telekom, Tim Hoettges, attributed the comeback of former state monopolies to the success of offers combining land and mobile telecommunication, Internet, and television. Mergers and acquisitions seem to be the trend in the European telecom sector.
Operators are no longer confined to their national market but, rather, aim for the conquest of other European countries. While at the world mobile conference in Barcelona, Gervais Pellissier, deputy CEO of Orange in charge of European operations, according to a report from the Digital Factory via Reuters, said it might be wise for Mobistar to buy Base to beef up its position against leading Belgacom:
Our feeling is that there isn’t room for more than two mobile infrastructures in the country, which means that eventually, there will be mergers between the companies. There will be network sharing.
Another remarkable trend at the MWC 2015 in Barcelona was the race to 5G. Although 4G is still being deployed in Europe, the leaders in Barcelona were already thinking about the future. Michèle Lejeune of LesNewsEco.com reports:
Korean Telecom has promised to deploy this new generation network for the Olympic Winter Games to be held in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018. Thereafter, ultra-fast and reliable connections offered by 5G will enable autonomous cars to merge into traffic by communicating with each other.
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