Millennium Post

UK Pay-TV giant Sky to enter mobile market

Under the multi-year agreement, Telefonica UK will give the group wholesale access to 2G, 3G and 4G services over its popular nationwide phone network, Sky said in a statement that disclosed no financial terms.

“As the United Kingdom’s leading brand for home entertainment and communications, Sky has a proven ability to launch new services, at scale,” said chief executive Jeremy Darroch. “We know our 11.5 million customers trust Sky to offer them the best quality and choice and have an appetite to take more from us.” The announcement follow news this week that Telefonica was in talks to sell its
British mobile phone unit O2 to Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa for $15.4 billion.

Sky has been in talks for some time to use the network to operate a mobile service and it is understood that its plans will be unaffected by the Hutchison deal.

Meanwhile, rival group BT — which competes with Sky for broadband Internet, telephone and TV football coverage — is currently in talks to buy Britain’s biggest mobile phone operator EE for 12.5 billion pounds. Back in November, Sky changed its name from BSkyB after completing the purchase of Sky Italia and a majority holding in Sky Deutschland, creating a pan-European pay-TV giant. Sky is 39-percent-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s media empire 21st Century Fox.

Meanwhile, with its hot-selling large-screen iPhones released last year, Apple has roared back to the top of the pack with South Korea’s Samsung in the smartphone market. Surveys released today showed the popular iPhone 6 and 6 Plus helped Apple pull to a virtual tie in the fourth quarter with Samsung, which has been the leader for the past three years.

The research firm Strategy Analytics said Apple and Samsung shipped 74.5 million smartphones each in the last three months of 2014 for a market share of just under 20 percent. A separate survey by IDC analysts said Samsung had a tiny edge over Apple with 75.1 million units sold. Apple “beat everyone’s expectations,” said Ryan Reith at IDC. Even more surprising is that Apple managed to increase the average selling price of its phones at a time when many consumers around the world are looking to low-cost handsets.

Another surprise was growth of iPhone sales in the US, “which is considered a saturated market,” according to Reith, and in China, where competition is intense. “Sustaining this growth and higher (selling prices) a year from now could prove challenging, but right now there is no question that Apple is leading the way,” Reith said in a statement.

Samsung, which belatedly entered the market pioneered by Apple, had dethroned the United States firm as the world’s top smartphone vendor in the third quarter of 2011.
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