Mobile World Live is tracking the ongoing impact of Covid-19 (coronavirus) on the industry: this concise blog will be updated daily as we track how operators and major players are adapting to, and helping tackle, the spread of the virus.
- Spain’s competition authority told operators restrictions on consumers switching providers must be lifted within five days of the end of the country’s state of emergency.
- IDC and Strategy Analytics reported the smartphone market suffered its largest-ever decline.
- Millicom announced a range of measures designed to improve cash flow and mitigate the financial impact of virus in Q2 and beyond.
- Orange held off altering its outlook for the rest of 2020 to give time to gain greater visibility on the impact of the pandemic.
- Middle Eastern operator Ooredoo warned of tougher times ahead and a possible impact to its financials, as the effects of the outbreak take hold.
- Lee Jong-Min, VP of Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business, predicted fierce competition among smartphone vendors in the back half of 2020, as they seek to recover from declines over the opening six months.
- South Korean vendor LG Electronics felt the effects of the pandemic in Q1 earnings, with disruption to its supply chain cited as a factor in a 34 per cent annual decline in revenue from its mobile business.
- Google parent Alphabet predicted tougher times in the rest of 2020, after largely ducking the impact of the outbreak in the opening quarter.
- Poland’s government hit the reset button on a 5G auction halted due to containment measures, fearing a legal backlash.
- NTT Docomo declined to provide financial guidance for fiscal 2020 (the year to end-March 2021) due to the outbreak.
- Telenor warned uncertainty surrounding the pandemic would likely hit its financials throughout 2020, though it largely bypassed the effects during Q1.
- The UK National Health Service reportedly declined to use a contact tracing system in development by Apple and Google, in favour of its own version.
- Orange joined a French government-backed research and development project bringing together national players to set up a contact tracing application, as part of the country’s fight against the pandemic.
- ZTE reported declines in profit and revenue for the opening quarter of the year due to the outbreak’s impact, but noted 5G equipment proved a bright spot.
- Apple was tipped to delay mass production of its forthcoming iPhone line, due to manufacturing issues and concerns about consumer demand stemming from the pandemic.
- Verizon‘s media unit opened access to a new dataset, API and dashboard intended to help researchers analyse and visualise information about the global spread and containment of the virus.
- Canalys predicted a sharp drop in smartphone shipments in India during the current quarter, as the full effects of a lockdown are felt, reversing an 11.5 per cent year-on-year rise during Q1.
- Mixed reality (MR) headset maker Magic Leap announced lay-offs across every level of the company and a pivot away from its consumer ambitions, as part of a major restructuring.
- AT&T managed to grow its profit despite a revenue hit related to the pandemic in Q1, but warned it expects to feel the full impact of the crisis in Q2.
- Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm warned Europe could fall behind on 5G deployment due to the pandemic, urging governments to encourage investment in the technology as a way to restart economies, while insisting the vendor would emerge stronger from the crisis.
- Organisers of IFA Berlin pulled the plug on a physical event this year, but work is underway for a new format for the show.
- UK national cybersecurity, mobile and banking industry groups joined a Mobile Ecosystem Forum initiative to curb use of SMS by fraudsters in the UK.
- Netflix recorded 15.8 million paying customers in Q1 but warned subscription growth will halve in Q2.
- Tele2 Group suspended its 2020 financial guidance and delayed plans for an extraordinary shareholder dividend, with the latter an attempt to retain cash to deal with any short-term issues brought about by the pandemic.
- The World Health Organisation and International Telecommunication Union announced plans to text billions of people vital health information.
- Italy’s competition regulator extended a multi-million euro fine deadline for Telecom Italia, Wind Tre, Vodafone Italy and Fastweb in recognition of the tougher economic environment in the country.
- Scientists and researchers from 27 countries expressed concerns over privacy in using contact tracing apps to monitor the outbreak and urged governments to avoid misuse by ensuring decentralisation of collected data.
- Vodafone Idea reportedly sought an extension to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the government for the period between January to March 2020, as the effects of the pandemic took its toll on operations.
- Verizon, T-Mobile US and US Cellular confirmed 5G deployments remain ongoing despite hurdles related to the pandemic, and reiterated plans to meet previously stated targets for 2020.
- Cisco announced two new programmes offering free wireless networking equipment to qualifying healthcare organisations to enable connectivity at temporary test and treatment facilities.
- Japanese mobile operators NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank postponed the release of the new iPhone SE by two weeks after the government last week expanded its state of emergency to the entire country.
- The GSMA pulled the plug on MWC Shanghai 2020, cancelling its second major event of the year due to concerns about Covid-19.
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company is cancelling all planned physical events with 50 or more people until June 2021 and will hold some of the scheduled activities virtually instead, following health expert’s guidance to avoid large group gatherings.
- French operator Orange cut its 2019 dividend from €0.70 ($0.76) per share to €0.50 in light of the pandemic, but insisted it remains on track to hit 2020 guidance targets.
- Analysys Mason tipped operators to suffer a decline of 3.4 per cent in revenue in 2020 due to related Covid-19 challenges, but added the market should stay healthier than most other industries.
- A subsidiary of A1 Telekom Austria partnered with the state of Tyrol and the Red Cross, to create a digital screening platform, which it stated enables “a large number of tests” to be conducted “faster, more reliably and more securely than before”.
- Poland’s Office of Electronic Communications cancelled a deadline for initial bids towards the country’s first 5G spectrum auction.
- Data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) laid bare the impact on 5G smartphone shipments, which plummeted in February following steady month-on-month increases previously, albeit with a recovery in March.
- Turkcell outlined a number of domestic initiatives it is taking to help fight the pandemic, including making an additional 6GB of data available to students and teachers; 24/7 remote support for business customers; working from home capabilities for 5,000 employees; and plans to provide 5GB of free data and 500 minute voice packages for healthcare staff.
- Vodacom South Africa detailed an increase to investment to boost network capacity as it prepares for traffic to continue rising during lockdown.
- Apple released a tool which uses data collected from Apple Maps to graph movement trends among residents in more than 60 countries, expanding its efforts to help combat the spread of Covid-19.
- Cisco announced a new financing programme for customers which will allow them to defer 95 per cent of the cost of a new hardware, software and services until January 2021, in a bid to make it easier for businesses to buy the technology they need to keep running during the pandemic.
- Dish Network laid off an unspecified number of employees, as the pandemic and the company’s looming entrance into the US mobile market prompted it to re-examine its operations.
- Former Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao was appointed by Italy’s government to head a taskforce to map the country’s exit from strict lockdown restrictions.
- Government figures showed China’s smartphone shipments in March continued to be significantly lower than figures for early 2019, but highlighted the easing of efforts to control the spread of the virus were beginning to have an effect, with the rate of decline lower than February.
- Canadian operator Shaw Communications announced plans to lay off 10 per cent of its workforce, primarily retail and sales roles, in response to the pandemic. The cuts were set to take effect 16 April.
- Telekom Malaysia deployed 5G base stations at two quarantine centres to deliver free Wi-Fi to patients and medical staff and also provided 50 5G fixed wireless access terminals.
- Tech giants Apple and Google announced a joint effort enabling the use of Bluetooth on smartphones to help government and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus through contact tracing.
- Security agencies in the UK and US warned cybercriminals were trying to exploit fears around the pandemic to install ransomware and steal information, targeting users through e-mail, SMS and infected apps.
- The European Commission urged member states to employ a freshly-released recommendation on using mobile apps and mobility data to develop a toolbox to tackle the pandemic using the technologies by 15 April.
- Australian operator Telstra revealed it employed AI to wade through 19,000 applications for 1,000 temporary roles it created to staff contact centres during the crisis, as it announced plans to add a further 2,500 positions across various parts of the business.
- Analysts predicted LG Electronics’ smartphone unit could book a KRW200 billion ($164 million) loss for Q1 due to delays releasing new models and an overall drop in sales, as the vendor forecast rises in overall operating profit and revenue.
- Twitter founder Jack Dorsey pledged $1 billion of his holding in payment company Square (about 28 per cent of his personal wealth) to relief efforts, committing to later use the funds to boost initiatives around girls’ health and education “after we disarm this pandemic”.
- The European Data Protection Supervisor called for the use of a single mobile app across the European Union to ensure regulations are not breached by attempts to track the disease.
- Operators in South Africa were invited to grab some additional spectrum being released by regulator ICASA, as the government aims to match heightened demand during a nationwide lockdown.
- WhatsApp tightened rules around forwarding viral messages, after a spike in the number of mass communications being sent and fears on their contributions to the spread of misinformation.
- UK authorities and the mobile industry condemned arson attacks on masts and abuse of network engineers, crimes apparently inspired by social media posts falsely claiming a link between the pandemic and 5G.
- Indian operators recorded a sharp decline in prepaid balance top-ups since a 21-day lockdown was imposed in late March due to customers being unable to visit retail stores, with a related knock-on to user additions, The Economic Times reported.
- Vodafone Hutchison Australia complied with requests from federal and state governments to supply aggregated and anonymised subscriber location data to support efforts to combat the outbreak, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
- BT CEO Philip Jansen said its fixed broadband services and mobile unit EE were performing strongly, as he committed to maintain jobs for at least the next three months, and to donate his salary to the NHS Charities Together appeal along with small businesses affected in his local community for at least the next six months.
- STC suspended talks with banks over a $2 billion financing package to cover a potential acquisition of Vodafone Egypt due a shift in global economic conditions, Bloomberg reported.
- Google began employing global location data to compile reports covering the mobility of specific communities across the world, in a bid to help public health officials tackle the pandemic.
- Google pledged $6.5 million to aid journalists and fact checking services offer clear advice and information on the outbreak, after health authorities warned people were struggling to access accurate details in a sea of material.
- Orange established an €8 million crisis fund to supply personal protective equipment, provide support to medical professionals and fund initiatives to contain the spread of the disease in all countries within its EMEA footprint.
- The Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing initiative, led by researchers and scientists from eight countries, unveiled plans to develop smartphone technology capable of tracking people who had been in contact with infected individuals.
- MTN Group plans to rejig a sale of a 15 per cent stake in its Nigerian operation due to the financial uncertainty caused by the outbreak.
- The Spanish government prohibited price increases on electronic communications services because subscribers cannot switch to another operator, and suspended all fixed and mobile numbering portability operations not already in progress.