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Telenor seeks merger in India; Telstra's Gigabit LTE network goes live


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Telenor seeks merger in India; Telstra's Gigabit LTE network goes live


* Telenor ASA's Indian arm is looking to explore a merger with mobile network operator Aircel and telecom company Reliance Communications Ltd. in India through a share swap, The Economic Times (India) reports. According to sources, Telenor would own a 10% stake in a three-way alliance. Aircel and RCom announced their own merger in September 2016. Maxis Bhd. is the parent company of Aircel.

* Australian telco Telstra Corp. Ltd., together with Ericsson AB, Qualcomm Inc. and Netgear Inc., has launched the first commercial Gigabit LTE network in Sydney and other select locations. The Gigabit LTE Netgear device connecting to the new network will be available in late February, and Telstra will see twice the previous uplink speeds.


* Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd. commissioned 16 new locally produced shows in Southeast Asia, including "Worst Vacation Ever" and "Frontier Borneo." They will air on Discovery Communications Inc.'s TLC and Discovery Channel on linear and digital platforms.

* Amsterdam-based cloud computing service provider built a data center inside China Unicom's newest facility in Hong Kong. The new center is connected to China Unicom, PCCW Ltd.'s PCCW Global, and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. networks.


* Nintendo's president says the game maker plans to offer more smartphone content following the success of its augmented reality game "Pokémon Go," The Associated Press reports. Tatsumi Kimishima also said that Nintendo will maintain its target of selling 2 million Switch consoles in the month after its March 3 launch, despite strong preorders that have fueled hopes for a higher forecast.

* Sony Corp. CEO Kazuo Hirai plans to spend two weeks a month at the company's film and TV studio in Culver City, Calif., in a bid to revive the division, Bloomberg News reports. The move comes after the company recorded an impairment charge against the goodwill of its Pictures segment of ¥112.1 billion in the fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016.

* Inc.'s Japan unit announced it will begin streaming a new children's animated series, "Crayon Shin-chan: Lone Wolf and Family," starting Feb. 22 on Prime Video. Amazon Japan K.K. has been increasing production of content for the Japanese market, including a local version of the reality show "The Bachelor."

* Hackers targeted 2.5 million accounts of Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox players in 2015, The Daily Telegraph (London) reports. The information, which included details such as email addresses, passwords and IP addresses, was stolen from forums that allow players to share and download free and pirated copies of games.

* Japan's Transport Ministry plans to introduce safety standards for driverless cars as early as this fall, a measure expected to help infotech companies and carmakers develop self-driving technology, Kyodo News reports. Integrated standards are considered key to helping companies set their R&D priorities.


* IPTV service providers KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. stopped mobile service for terrestrial broadcasters' VOD due to a delay in negotiating content fees, Yonhap News Agency reports. SK Telecom Co. Ltd. will also join the suit Feb. 3. The broadcasters reportedly asked for double the fees, and the service stoppage will continue until negotiations are finalized.

* SK Broadband successfully developed HDR-convert technology that enhances regular digital images into a high dynamic range (HDR) of colors and brightness, IT Chosun reports. SK previously signed an agreement with Technicolor and ATEM, owners of an HDR editing solution and encoding device, respectively, to develop technology.

* A+E Networks appointed Youngsun Soh as the head of its South Korea business, C21 Media reports. Soh, the former market director of Twitter Inc.'s South Korean operations, will manage the company's ad sales, content strategy and branding in the country. A+E Networks is a joint venture between Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Communications Inc.


* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-backed online shopping site OpenSky bought the assets of Dot & Bo, an online furniture retailer that shut down in September 2016, Recode reports. With the deal, which reportedly cost a few hundred thousand dollars, OpenSky expects to diversify its categories, the majority of which are currently apparel and accessories.

* Jason Mackenzie, former global executive vice president at Taiwanese tech company HTC Corp., has resigned after 12 years, Sina News reports. HTC has yet to decide on a new candidate to replace him.


* Thai pay TV operator TrueVisions will cancel another 11 entertainment channels in addition to the six that it stopped broadcasting last month, Krungthep Turakij reports. TrueVisions said it has already given subscribers 30 days' notice before the channels are switched off, but the company has not yet submitted a relief proposal to compensate customers who will be affected.

* TT&T, a Thai fixed-line telephone operator that has been in receivership since March 2016, confirmed that on Feb. 28 it will hand over all of its existing services to state telecom operator TOT, Prachachat reports. TOT has assured TT&T's remaining 400,000 customers that normal services will not be disrupted by the switchover.

* Indonesian state-owned bank PT Bank Mandiri Tbk will boost funding for its venture capital arm Mandiri Capital Indonesia by 200 billion Indonesian rupiah, Indotelko reports. The funds will reportedly be used to inject more capital into potential fintech startups.

* Philippine telco Smart Communications has allocated 400 million Philippine pesos for cell broadcast service (CBS) technology, with an aim to improve the nationwide alert system of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Smart's CBS technology will be tested in September in metro Manila and launched nationwide in December.

* Thai telco Dtac released new figures showing that the company lost around 800,000 subscribers in 2016, Krungthep Turakij reports. The country's telecoms regulator also revealed a sharp decline in Dtac's requests for 4G SIMs during the final quarter of 2016, adding that if current trends continue, Dtac will soon be overtaken by True Corp.'s True Move H as Thailand's second-largest network operator.

* Singapore-based SVOD Hooq appointed Michael Fleshman as its new CTO, e27 reports. Fleshman has previously held roles at several media companies including BBC Worldwide Ltd., Viacom Inc., Financial Times Group Ltd. and AOL Inc.

* Revie Sylviana, senior vice president of digital services for Indonesian telco Smartfren, will move to messaging app company LINE Corp.'s Indonesia operations to serve as business development director, effective Feb. 5, Indotelko reports.


* Spark New Zealand Ltd. entered into a partnership with fiber-optic network company Unison Networks Ltd. to connect the telco's new clients to fiber broadband in locations within the coverage range of the UnisonFibre network, including Napier, Hastings, Taupo and Rotorua.

* Synnex Australia signed a distribution agreement with U.S.-based Vertiv to distribute the latter's electrical equipment for data centers, Australia Radio Network reports.


* India's Celkon Mobiles is discussing a possible tie-up with telcos in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, The Economic Times (India) reports, citing the company's executive director, Murali Retineni. A partnership would see Celkon phones bundled with the telcos' SIM cards.

* The Indian government is expecting revenues from the telecom sector for 2017-18 financial year to be down by 55%, the Press Trust of India reports. The figures reportedly indicate that the government will not sell mobile airwaves during the next fiscal year.


Analysts: Vodafone India merger may trigger consolidation, new price war: Consolidation is firmly on the cards for the Indian telecom sector as Vodafone's merger discussions add to hyper-competition in a crowded market of more than 10 players.

Data Dispatch: Sony write-down follows another troubling year at the box office: Sony's movie business has been struggling since a 2014 hack reverberated through the company. A recent $1 billion write-down illustrates its troubles through 2016.

CAPITAL Letters: Classy insiders: Voting power vs economic interest of top media shareholders: Social messaging company Snap Inc., which operates Snapchat, is said to be readying a March IPO with a multi-class structure that would restrict voting rights of non-insiders shareholders, following a trend embraced by other media tech IPOs.

Scripps unit TVN scores deal for Warner Bros. content: In this monthly Eastern Europe Video Spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top, video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in different Eastern European markets.


Apple reports earnings beat, citing iPhone, Services growth: The company reported an earnings beat for the 2017 fiscal first quarter, singling out iPhone sales and App Store growth.

Sprint CFO: Consolidation among smaller players may be necessary: Sprint Corp. executives addressed some of the M&A possibilities that have been floated in the wake of the U.S. presidential election.

Joji Sakurai, Sunny Um, Frances Wang, Patrick Tibke and Ed Eduard contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. Hong Kong time. Some external links may require a subscription.