AT&T boss Randall Stephenson resigns

Randall Stephenson

The manager will remain chairman of AT&T’s board of directors, which is superior to the board, until January 2021.


(Photo: Reuters)

Dallas The US mobile giant AT&T gets a new leadership. CEO Randall Stephenson (60) resigns after 13 years, as the group announced on Friday at its general meeting due to the corona crisis on the Internet.

John Stankey (57), who has been responsible for day-to-day business on the board, was appointed as his successor. The change of boss should take place on July 1st. Stephenson, however, will remain chairman of the board of directors superior to the board until January 2021, the statement said.

Investors were initially unimpressed by the news, and the AT&T share hardly reacted.

More: Telekom receives final approval for US merger

.

Telefonica plans to sell radio masts for 1.5 billion euros

Telefonica

Telefonica Germany already sold a good 2,000 transmission towers to Telxius in 2016.


(Photo: dpa)

Berlin The Spanish telecom giant Telefonica is conducting negotiations with telecommunications infrastructure company Telxius on the sale of radio masts from its German subsidiary Telefonica Deutschland, according to a media report. The Spanish newspaper “Expansion” reported on Friday that a sales sum of 1.5 billion euros was under discussion.

It is about up to 10,000 masts. Telxius is more than 50 percent owned by Telefonica, further shareholders are the financial investor KKR and the investment fund Pontegadea, which belongs to the textile billionaire Amancio Ortega. Telefonica and Telefonica Deutschland did not want to comment.

.

Vodafone warns of attacks on 5G antennas in Germany

Attacks on 5G cell towers

A 5G transmitter was destroyed in an arson attack in Huddersfield in Northern England.

(Photo: AFP)

Dusseldorf The network operator Vodafone has warned of attacks on cell towers in Germany. Arson attacks have already taken place in several EU countries. Similar things could happen in Germany, said Vodafone Germany boss Hannes Ametsreiter on Wednesday.

“These activities can endanger life,” said Ametsreiter. In the UK, a cell tower near a hospital was destroyed, and emergency calls could not be made. That is a worrying development.

The background to the attacks are conspiracy theories that have linked the expansion of 5G mobile communications to the outbreak of the corona pandemic. Masts had been damaged or destroyed in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Cyprus.

Despite attempts by scientists and politicians to calm the population, concerns about similar events in Germany are increasing. Vodafone technical director Gerhard Mack said: “We must not fool ourselves.” The expansion of 5G mobile radio is still in the early stages in Germany. In the Federal Republic, “many thousands of new masts” would still have to be built to supply the population with 5G.

German industry in particular had been pushing for a 5G supply that was as extensive as possible. She hopes to be the basis for new products, better networking of production and the basis for applications such as autonomous driving.

Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom announced on Wednesday to significantly expand the expansion of 5G mobile radio in Germany. Telekom wants to supply half of the German population with 5G this year. That would correspond to about 40 million people. “We have big plans for 5G and will bring the latest mobile communications standard to large parts of Germany this year,” says Telekom Germany boss Dirk Wössner.

Vodafone also announced that it would make its 5G network available to around ten million people in Germany this year. In the beginning, Vodafone focused on the cities, said Ametsreiter. “Now we’re bringing 5G to the area.”

Important frequencies for 5G were auctioned in Germany last year. In addition to Telekom and Vodafone, Telefónica Deutschland and the newcomer also secured themselves for a total of 6.55 billion euros Drillish, behind which the group United Internet (Brands 1 & 1, GMX, Web.de) stands, frequencies. The nationwide expansion of mobile radio technology will take years.

More: This is how scientists assess the theories about the relationship between 5G and corona.

.

Conspiracy theory about Corona is spreading

Corona graffiti

A graffiti on a wall in Kensington in Great Britain links the corona pandemic to 5G mobile communications.

(Photo: REUTERS)

Dusseldorf When the first arson attacks on 5G cell phone antennas were carried out in Great Britain, experts at most took notice. But the situation changed within a few weeks. In the UK, more than 60 cellular antennas have already been set on fire. Authorities in the Netherlands, Cyprus and Ireland have now registered similar attacks.

The background to the attacks is a conspiracy theory that has become increasingly widespread in Europe over the past few weeks. In online forums, people claim that there is a direct link between the outbreak of the corona virus and the expansion of the latest 5G cellular standard. Scientists and experts are against it.

Nevertheless, there is growing concern about attacks in Germany. The president of the digital association Bitkom, Achim Berg, said: “Autonomous companies have just started an arson attack on a telecommunications network in the middle of Berlin.” Berg said that operators always take precautions to protect their networks. “Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out that infrastructures that have been expanded in the area can be successfully attacked.”

The network operators in Germany are watching the situation. On VodafoneSpokesman said: “In the UK, there have recently been cases in which individual locations of the telecommunications infrastructure have been damaged because individuals are constructing a link between 5G and the corona virus.” The spokesman emphasized: “There is no scientific evidence or evidence for these claims. 5G, like its predecessor technologies, is a safe bet. ”

The company takes constructive criticism from concerned people seriously. “We also have an open exchange with cell phone critics,” said the spokesman. “Cases in which the infrastructure was affected by vandalism are currently not known to us in Germany.” Therefore, no additional security measures are currently being taken.

Great skepticism about network expansion

The other network operators also expressed similar comments. “Fortunately, damage to mobile phone locations due to arson, for example, occurs very rarely in this country, and the majority is pure vandalism,” said a Telefónica spokeswoman. “We do not currently see an increase, which is why there are no additional protective measures.”

At Telekom it was said: “There are always cases of vandalism,” said one Telekom spokeswoman. “But we are currently not seeing any change in us.”

graphic

The development comes at a time when there is already great skepticism about network expansion in Germany. The digital association Bitkom conducted a representative survey. Almost one in two (48 percent) spoke out against the construction of new cell towers. The Federal Network Agency had only discovered a few days ago that Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica are lagging behind the minimum requirements in expanding their networks in Germany and that there are still too many dead spots.

For years, scientific studies have dealt with the question of whether and what influence cell phone radiation has on people. The Stiftung Warentest recently summarized many of the available studies. In the analysis, the consumer organization came to the conclusion: “The research findings provide little cause for concern.”

ARD science journalist Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim did a research More specifically, a possible connection between cell phone radiation and cancer diseases and came to the conclusion: “So far, there is no conclusive hypothesis – no idea yet – how cell phone radiation could theoretically trigger cancer.”

.

Telekom receives final approval for US merger

T-Mobile merges with Sprint

Dusseldorf The Deutsche Telekom has received final approval for the reorganization of its business in the United States. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California public utilities regulator, pioneered the merger of the Telekom subsidiary on Thursday T-Mobile US with the Rival sprint free.

This finally seals the billion-merger of number three and number four in the US mobile communications market. The companies had already started merging their businesses two weeks ago.

The merger creates a powerful player in the American mobile market. T-Mobile, as the merged company should be called, has a market capitalization of around $ 110 billion.

At the end of 2019, the two companies had a combined total of 140 million customers and sales of almost $ 80 billion. Telekom anticipates $ 43 billion in synergies after costs are deducted.

Of the DaxCorporation controls 67 percent of the voting rights in the combined company and receives the largest share in the new company with 43 percent. The Sprint majority owner Soft bench takes over 24 percent, the rest goes to free shareholders.

Telekom boss Timotheus Höttges said at the end of the deal to Handelsblatt: “We can become number one on the market.” Telekom could become the market leader AT&T and Verizon unlock.

More: Interview with Telekom boss Höttges: Of the In an interview, Dax’s board speaks about the stability of the network, a possible corona app – and the great challenges of the pandemic.

.

Telekom, Vodafone and O2 fail to meet network specifications

Dusseldorf For years there has been a dispute over the quality of mobile communications in Germany. The federal government wanted to create the exemption in 2015. With the award of the mobile radio frequencies in 2015, it imposed targets for minimum coverage on the three network operators. Now the network agency is determining: No company has met the requirements.

The deadline had actually expired at the beginning of this year. The Federal Network Agency had taken the time to understand the results. Authorities chief Jochen Homann made a clear announcement to the public on Tuesday: “We want to see verifiable improvements over the next few months that will ensure that the requirements are fully met by the end of the year.”

On top of that. “This expressly includes the fact that we may impose fines and fines,” said Homann

The Federal Network Agency set goals in 2015. This includes that by the beginning of 2020, 98 percent of all households in Germany and 97 percent of households in each federal state must be supplied with a data speed of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbit / s) and antenna sector. In addition, motorways and rails should also be fully supplied.

Connection and data interruptions while driving on the main traffic routes should actually no longer exist in Germany today. But the reality is obviously different. The results at a glance:

Deutsche Telekom

Even the industry leader was unable to meet the requirements. According to the network agency, Deutsche Telekom “narrowly missed” the requirements in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. The main traffic routes were also not completely supplied. The authority reported a value of 97 percent for motorways and 96 percent for railways.

At the end of 2019, there was still some catching up to do in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, Telekom admitted on request. A spokesman said the company is continuously expanding its network. “We have now also exceeded 97 percent in Saarland,” said the spokesman. In addition, Telekom had the best network in the mobile radio tests of the magazines “Chip” and “Connect” for the first quarter of 2020.

Telekom admitted that there was room for improvement in the motorways and railways. There is a plan to supply the routes completely. However, the approval of the necessary locations for cell towers is a challenge.

Telekom Germany boss Dirk Wössner complained: “We are already expanding beyond our commitments and could already have an even higher LTE coverage today if it were not so difficult to get new antenna locations and obtain permits in many places.”

Vodafone

The authority accused the network operator of not complying with the requirements in four federal states. These are Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. In addition, the network agency found that only 96 percent of motorways and railways were only 95 percent supplied.

A spokesman for Vodafone said there was a “difference of opinion” between the company and the agency about the interpretation of the supply requirements. Since the beginning of the year, the network operator has “implemented” 2400 LTE construction projects. “We are therefore confident that we will also comply with the stricter interpretation of the Federal Network Agency,” said the spokesman.

Telefónica Germany

The network operator behind the O2 brand was by far the bottom of the review by the Federal Network Agency. In all 13 federal states, the supply requirements were not met. In addition, only about 80 percent of the main traffic routes are supplied.

Handelsblatt learned that the Federal Network Agency Telefónica has therefore set tight partial deadlines. In order to meet the requirements, 7600 mobile phone locations would still be necessary, it says in a letter to the advisory board of the Federal Network Agency. By the end of June, Telefónica is to build 40 percent of the locations. The share should increase to 65 percent by the end of September and all necessary locations should be established by the end of the year, the authority dictated to the company.

A Telefónica spokeswoman said: “We have presented a clear plan on how we will achieve the missing percentage points from the expansion requirement of 2015.” The company is convinced that it can fulfill the plan. “It is in our own interest to provide large parts of the population and area with mobile communications as quickly as possible,” said the spokeswoman.

The consequences

The Federal Network Agency requires network operators to report each month how many mobile phone locations they have put into operation. The authority wants to check this information on a random basis. Otherwise, the authority faces fines.

More: Actually wants 1 & 1 Drillishly become the fourth network operator in Germany. But the corona virus becomes a problem – and there is more.

.

United Internet approves new share buyback program

United Internet

The Management Board of United Internet has launched a share buy-back program with the approval of the Supervisory Board.


(Photo: dpa)

Berlin The internet and mobile operator United Internet wants to launch a new share buyback program. As part of this program, up to five million company shares are to be bought back via the stock exchange, the company listed in the MDax announces in a mandatory notice.

The total volume of the share buyback program is up to 150 million euros. The program should start on April 3 and will run until August 31, 2020 at the longest. The company plans to release further details before the share buyback begins.

With the resolution, United Internet “makes use of the authorization granted by the Annual General Meeting on May 18, 2017,” the statement continues. On the basis of this authorization, the company has so far 12,635,523 shares, which according to the information account for 6.51 percent of the share capital. The company currently holds 6,338,513 treasury shares.

United Internet boss Ralph Dommermuth wants with the telecommunications subsidiary 1 & 1 Drillisch Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and challenge Telefónica and become part of the network operators.

But the project is delayed. The planned schedule could no longer be met, said Dommermuth at the press conference at the end of March. The reason is the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which makes network expansion difficult. Permits are required, which are currently difficult to obtain because many building authorities have closed.

Stagnating business this year

Although the company has seen a sharp increase in telephone calls and data consumption in the fixed network, the company expects business to stagnate overall this year.

However, the impact of the pandemic is just one of several challenges for the company. United Internet wants to be able to use the existing networks in Germany, at least in the meantime, to set up its own infrastructure.

His company had been talking to Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica for months. But no agreement had yet been reached. “The three potential negotiating partners are in no particular hurry,” said Dommermuth.

More: United Internet is aiming for stable business.

.

“Telekom is experienced in managing crises”

Since the outbreak of the corona pandemic, tens of thousands of employees have been working from home at Deutsche Telekom, and many other companies have also changed their jobs. “I am certain that we will see a digitization boost even after the pandemic ends,” said Höttges with conviction.

As CEO, he decided to change his behavior. “I will significantly reduce my travel activity after the crisis. I am much more productive than when I am on the go all the time, ”announced Höttges.

Read the full interview here:

Mr. Höttges, the corona pandemic affects companies worldwide. How is it going at Telekom?
Telekom is in high demand. In our industry we are something like the field horse that pulls the plow through the field. We ordered sufficient protective equipment for our employees very early on.

Can the network withstand the constant stress in times of Corona?
Telekom’s infrastructure copes with the load. On Monday alone, we processed 50 percent more calls in the fixed network than in the previous month. Our network runs completely smoothly without a single major failure. I am very proud of my troop.

The economy in Germany has never been more dependent on digital networks than it is today. Do you also notice this in the demand for certain products?
Our first task is functioning networks. But we also want to be there for our customers. Our free offers to help us manage this difficult phase are well received: Within two days we had 250,000 orders for the Disney + video service, which is free for our customers for six months. We also issued 30,000 free school video licenses. In mobile communications, one million customers immediately took up the offer of an additional 10 gigabytes of data volume per month.

How can you ensure that the networks will continue to function if more employees get infected or have to be put in quarantine as a precaution?
In the past few years, we have invested more than ever in expanding our networks. That pays off today. We are not at the capacity limit for any of our services. In some places we had to upgrade at short notice. The landline phone is currently celebrating a renaissance. We have doubled traffic. Data usage in mobile communications has declined somewhat because many customers are at home and use the WLAN. We currently have all network parameters in green.

“Our infrastructure is stable”

In the meantime there have been difficulties with video services. Why is that?
At least not on the networks. Our infrastructure is stable. There are some services, such as video conferencing providers, that are reaching their limits. Sometimes it’s the capacity of corporate networks. But it’s not the telecommunications networks that are running. TOI Toi Toi.

Do you have to pause network expansion now – about the introduction of 5G mobile radio, for example?
We are doing what we can do under these difficult conditions. I have been on the phone with a number of colleagues from foreign network operators. There are sometimes problems and failures. For example, employees report sick because they are afraid of infections. That is not the case with us. We currently have enough protective equipment and disinfectants. With us, our service technicians can also continue into customers’ homes to help with technical problems. We can offer them the highest level of protection at the moment.

But is that enough for an extraordinary situation like the corona pandemic?
Telekom is experienced in managing crises such as the Oder flood or storm damage. We have continuous routines to practice for emergencies. I have never received as much positive feedback from customers today as I am grateful that we can help quickly now if there are problems anywhere. All call center employees work from home and that works without any problems.

In several countries, including Germany, a Corona app is being prepared that would track individual movements. Would you install such an app?
My personal opinion is that this is not about collecting data unnecessarily. This is really about protecting human lives. I myself would be willing to share my personal information with an app to do my part to save lives. But such an app will only work on a voluntary basis.

There has never been a digitization surge as great as now in corona times. What will remain of it after the pandemic in Germany?
We are currently experiencing digital proximity with physical distance. I am sure that we will see a digitization boost even after the pandemic ends. A lot of people are experiencing completely new, very positive effects of digitization. I myself too: I will significantly reduce my travel activity after the crisis. I’m much more productive than when I’m on the go all the time.

Mr. Höttges, thank you very much for the interview.

More: Telekom hires company that transmitted cell phone data to the RKI.

.

The Sprint-T-Mobil merger is sealed

The last steps were anything but easy, Telekom head Timotheus Höttges told Handelsblatt. Due to the outbreak of the corona virus and numerous travel restrictions, the negotiations on the last details by video conference had expired. At the end there is agreement.

The merger creates a powerful player in the American mobile market. The new T-Mobile is expected to have a market cap of around $ 110 billion more. As of the end of 2019, the total number of customers of both companies was $ 140 million and sales of $ 77 billion.

However, the great value from the merger is at a different point for Telekom. Sprint has important cellular frequencies. In one fell swoop, the combined company can have a frequency spectrum that is around twice as large as that of its rivals AT&T and Verizon to back up. More spectrum means that existing cell towers can deliver better performance.

T-Mobile also has access to Sprint’s mobile phone locations. The higher density of locations is particularly important for the next 5G mobile communications standard, which T-Mobile is the first provider to roll out nationwide.

In the past, analysts have repeatedly voiced concern that Sprint may have glossed over numbers and exaggerated the scale of its customers and business. Telekom CFO Christian Illek admitted at the press conference in mid-February that the DaxGroup does not get a full overview of Sprint’s business until the merger is completed.

However, access to Sprint’s spectrum and locations is secure. And above all, it feeds the expected synergies of $ 43 billion after deducting costs.

Two years ago, the telecommunications management around Timotheus Höttges had the details of the deal with Sprint owners Soft bench agreed. But a lot has happened since then. T-Mobile had more than one million new customers every quarter. Sprint, on the other hand, got into new difficulties.

Softbank exploited weakness

Telekom chief negotiator and board member Thorsten Langheim used the situation to improve the conditions for the merger by about five billion dollars at the last moment. Softbank is under pressure due to a number of difficult investments – including the collapse of the IPO of the co-working provider WeWork.

Telekom now wants to get started in the United States. “We can become number one on the market,” said Höttges. So far, T-Mobile has been ranked third in terms of market share in the USA. Now the merged company catches up with the industry leaders AT&T and Verizon.

Despite all the successes, Telekom is also taking a risk. Actually, two approvals are still pending. All federal authorities have agreed. But the judicial approval of the decision of the antitrust authority, the so-called ‘Tunney Act’, is still missing. This is a law that requires a court to approve decisions by the Department of Justice in the Department of Justice.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California public utilities regulator, had also made the merger conditional. There is still no agreement with the state authority.

However, the telecom management decided to complete the merger. “We have received all important permits – including from the state of California,” said Höttges. He was sure that there would also be an agreement with CPUC. But the decision was made to stop the completion of the merger due to the negotiations.

graphic

On March 11, the CPUC announced the conditions under which it would approve the merger. Formally, 30 days would have to elapse afterwards for the parties to express themselves. Only then will a five-member commission make the final decision.

The authority had tied its approval to certain conditions such as minimum coverage and minimum speeds, but also preparedness in the event of a disaster. That would be affordable for Sprint and T-Mobile, but expensive.

T-Mobile, on the other hand, had always argued that the CPUC was not responsible for the merger. The merger of the companies forges a mobile communications group, and the authority is actually primarily responsible for the topic of fixed networks. However, Sprint has a small landline business in California.

T-Mobile and Sprint had already cleared the most important hurdles in advance. Among other things, the Ministry of Justice and the FCC telecommunications regulator had approved the merger. So that consumers can continue to choose between four mobile operators, Sprint must hand over its prepaid licenses to the television satellite operator Dish.

Dish also gets cheap access to the new T-Mobile network. So Dish should be able to build a powerful competitor.

Corona carries risks

The merger comes at a time when the corona crisis is overshadowing everything in the United States too. T-Mobile had originally planned to replace the Sprint store signs with the magenta T-Mobile signs everywhere on the same day of the agreement. But now almost all shops are closed.

Most people are currently at home in the United States, and the four mobile operators to date are outdoing each other with actions to help Americans stay in touch. They offer unlimited data volume for most contracts. T-Mobile has also launched a cheap $ 15 offer and is giving its customers YouTube Premium for free.

Outgoing CEO John Legere has withdrawn to his home office in a magenta look, celebrates World Doctors Day and calls on people to stay at home. He also has T-Mobile donate to charities such as “Feeding America” ​​that brings people food. His youngest slow cooking stream took place on Sunday.

From T-Mobile’s perspective, the effects of the corona pandemic are both a risk and an opportunity. Initially, the merged company is likely to be hit by numerous payment cases from its customers. T-Mobile as well as Sprint had repeatedly made offers aimed specifically at customers with a lower budget. Therefore, the effects of the layoff crisis could be greater than AT&T and Verizon.

The fact that the shops of the telecommunications companies are closed also means that fewer customers are allowed to change their tariffs. A huge rush of Sprint customers who want to know the details of the transition quickly could now be less. In addition, a short-term migration to AT&T or Verizon is slowed down. T-Mobile should have more time to ensure that the merger runs as smoothly as possible for its customers.

More: How Thorsten Langheim makes Telekom successful

.