* Chinese livestreaming platform HUYA Inc. canceled its acquisition of a minority stake in Turtle Entertainment GmbH, or ESL, the esports business of Sweden's Modern Times Group AB. The parties also agreed to terminate negotiations over an esports joint venture. According to MTG, differing views between the parties on the allocation of contractual risk and other key commercial terms are the primary reasons for the termination of the agreement.
* Japan's communications ministry is considering introducing a system in which internet users across the country will be charged a small monthly fee, proceeds of which will be used to maintain the fiber infrastructure for 5G wireless networks. According to The Japan Times, the ministry will form a panel of experts to discuss the matter in the spring, with a goal to launch the system in the middle of the year.
* Malaysian telecommunications conglomerate Axiata Group Bhd. is not revisiting a merger with Telenor ASA after previous negotiations to combine their Asian operations were called off due to deal complexities, The Malaysian Reserve reports. A source familiar with the matter said there are no new deal talks between the companies and all the reported news of a possible merger are "unsubstantiated rumors."
* The US$4 billion merger of SK Broadband and t-broad Holdings Co. Ltd. secured the final approval needed to complete the deal after receiving the green light from South Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT. According to Yonhap News Agency, the ministry upheld its earlier ruling of granting conditional consent to the deal, requiring that the merged entity comply with fair business practices and keep employment stable. The creation of the merged entity will be done in April.
* NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Docomo Asia Pte. Ltd. will provide internet of things solution for YANMAR's SMARTASSIST, a remote management system for IoT-enabled machinery launching in India this spring. The solution is a part of DOCOMO's GlobiotTM global IoT initiative, which provides global connectivity and operational support and consulting to local enterprises with global IoT deployments.
* Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. subsidiaries NTT East, NTT West, NTT Advertising and NTT Urban Solutions are teaming up with satellite TV operator SKY Perfect JSAT Holdings Inc. and video game company Taito Corp. to establish an esports joint venture on Jan. 31. Capitalized at ¥300 million, the NTTe-Sports joint venture will provide high-speed, large-capacity communication environment necessary for esports events. It will also operate esports facilities and distribute video content.
* The Japanese government will develop a strategy on future 6G wireless communications networks and set up a panel to discuss the matter later this month, The Japan Times reports. 6G technology is expected to be introduced in 2030, according to Japan's Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.
* SoftBank Group Corp. led a US$116 million series B funding round for Skylo Technologies Inc., a California-based provider of internet of things connectivity to machines, sensors and devices.
* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. and SK Broadband pledged a combined investment worth 4.6 trillion won in media content for the next five years as part of efforts to meet the conditions imposed by the government for approving the merger of SK Broadband and t-broad, Digital Daily reports. T-broad also plans to inject 179.3 billion won in regional channels over the course of five years.
* In more SK Telecom news, the telecom operator and Microsoft Corp. will expand the preview service of their cloud-based game Project xCloud, ZDNet Korea reports. The two companies will increase the number of games on xCloud to 85 from 29, with 40 of the games to have Korean subtitles and voice-overs.
GREATER CHINA (MAINLAND CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN MARKETS)
* SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings Ltd. will roll out 5G services in Hong Kong in June, with a goal to provide 5G coverage to 80% of the city within 12 months of the launch, Apple Daily reports.
* Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s battle royal title PUBG Mobile was the most profitable Chinese mobile game overseas in 2019, Abacus News reports, citing a report from analytics firm Sensor Tower. The game raked in US$776 million from player spending across Apple Inc.'s App Store and Google LLC's Google Play in 2019.
* In more Tencent news, its social media app WeChat is carrying out tests for a new short content creating platform, 36Kr reports. Currently, only select users can access the new function.
* HKBN Ltd. promoted Chun Yu Chan to chief talent and purpose officer, who will oversee strategy and development of the company's talent culture and engagement, core purpose and corporate social investment. He has been with the Hong Kong-based telecom operator for the past nine years and has held different roles in the company, including learning and development manager.
INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA
* India's telecom department approved Bharti Airtel Ltd.'s request to increase the limit of foreign investment in the company to up to 100% of its paid-up capital. The approval would enable the wireless carrier to raise more funds from foreign investors.
* In more Bharti Airtel news, the company struck a deal with Google Cloud to add the latter's services to its portfolio. Airtel said the agreement would enable it to offer Google's G Suite of apps comprising Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar and more.
* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission warned mobile operators that failure to invest in 5G licenses could result in significant loss of customers, Krungthep Turakij reports. The regulator cited a survey carried out through its app, which showed that about 90% of respondents said they would switch to another network operator if their current provider will not offer 5G services.
* Thailand's Digital Economy Promotion Agency signed a memorandum of understanding with Mastercard Inc. to collaborate on the development of 27 smart cities in the country, The Bangkok Insight reports.
* CAT Telecom PCL is looking into the possibility of upgrading over 20,000 of its cell towers in Thailand to make them 5G-compatible, Manager reports.
* Grab Holdings Inc. will reduce the number of points users can earn on transactions and increase the number of points required to redeem certain rewards beginning March 2, The Business Times reports. The move comes amid reports of bottom-line pressure for the ride-hailing app due to its consecutive net losses.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Australians are spending less time talking on mobile phones and consuming more data, according to a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. For the 2018-2019 financial year, there had been a 47% jump in data downloads, with streaming platforms such as Netflix Inc., Nine Entertainment Co. Holdings Ltd.'s Stan, Singtel Optus Pty. Ltd.'s Optus Sport and Foxtel Cable Television Pty. Ltd.'s Kayo Sports driving the lion's share of the increased data consumption.
Data Dispatch: Top five US stocks approach 20% of total S&P 500 market cap: The combined market cap of Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook is approaching 20% of the total S&P 500 stocks.
Multichannel Trends: Free Peacock premium to reach nearly half of cable customers at launch: This included a combined 33.9 million broadband subscribers and 24.9 million traditional video customers.
Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Ed Eduard and Wil Hathaway contributed to this report.
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