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Vodafone Australia and TPG head to court for merger approval

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Huawei ban sees TPG end rollout of Australian mobile network
Australian telco says the lack of a clear upgrade path to 5G will see it end its network rollout.

Vodafone Australia and TPG are heading to Federal Court to seek approval for their merger, following the decision of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to oppose the deal on Wednesday.

Chief Executive of Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) Inaki Berroeta said the merger involved two companies with little overlap.

“VHA is an established mobile business with less than one per cent of the fixed broadband market, while TPG is the second largest fixed broadband player with no mobile network,” said Berroeta.

“The merger provides a unique opportunity for VHA and TPG to combine their complementary assets.”

TPG was in the midst of deploying its Australian mobile network, when it made the decision in January to abandon its mobile network build in Australia, and cop a AU$230 million accounting hit.

The company said the decision was made due to the Australian government’s ban on Huawei 5G equipment. The telco said it had purchased equipment for 1,500 sites, as well as 900 fully or partially completed small cell sites. The company has already racked up AU$100 million in costs, with a further AU$30 million to come.

Berroeta argued that the proposed AU$15 billion entity would be able to take the fight to its rivals.

See: ACCC opposes TPG and Vodafone Australia merger

“The merger would create an entity that can compete more aggressively in this highly competitive market than either VHA or TPG could on their own,” he said.

“It is disappointing that the ACCC does not see it this way.”

Vodafone added that the merger agreement with TPG has been extended to the end of August 2020 to allow for the Federal Court to make a decision, and for the merger to be completed.

Explaining its decision on Wednesday, the ACCC said the merger would reduce competition in the telco sector, and said TPG had a “commercial imperative” to deploy its own mobile network.

“TPG is the best prospect Australia has for a new mobile network operator to enter the market, and this is likely the last chance we have for stronger competition in the supply of mobile services,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“Wherever possible, market structures should be settled by the competitive process, not by a merger which results in a market structure that would be subject to little challenge in the future. This is particularly the case in concentrated sectors, such as mobile services in Australia.”

Sims noted that TPG has the fibre assets, transmission network, spectrum, and customer base to move into mobile, while Vodafone had moved into fixed broadband.

“TPG is also facing reducing margins in fixed home broadband due to the NBN rollout. Further, there is the growing take-up of mobile broadband services in place of fixed home broadband services which is expected to increase especially after the rollout of 5G technology,” Sims added.

“After thorough examination, we have concluded that, if this proposed merger does not proceed, there is a real chance TPG will roll out a mobile network.”

Related Coverage

ACCC opposes TPG and Vodafone Australia merger

Consumer watchdog rejects deal to create new telco worth AU$15 billion.

TPG is still king of NBN speed report

TPG still delivers on its download speed promises the most often, while Exetel won on upload speeds, Telstra on latency, and Optus on the highest number of daily outages, according to the fifth ACCC report.

ACMA warns TPG, Foxtel, Aussie Broadband on priority assistance

TPG, Aussie Broadband, MyRepublic, Foxtel, Activ8me, Exetel, Dodo, Skymesh, Southern Phone, Spintel, and V4 Telecom have been formally warned to provide accurate information on priority assistance services.

TPG quarterly profit drops 76 percent after Huawei ban

While the mobile network abandonment brought down TPG’s Q1 results, the telco also made less revenue thanks to the broadband market erosion caused by the NBN rollout.

Huawei ban sees TPG end rollout of Australian mobile network

Australian telco says the lack of a clear upgrade path to 5G will see it end its network rollout.

Vodafone Australia EBITDA tops AU$1b but continues to post net loss

Net loss for the company down by almost a third to AU$124 million.

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The New 2023 BMW 3 Series Avoids A Huge Grille Mistake

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The base 2023 BMW 330i and 330e PHEV get a moonroof, power front seats, open-pore wood oak interior trim, a sport steering wheel, interior ambient lighting, and sport seats. Also standard is BMW’s curved display comprising a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch center touchscreen powered by the latest-gen iDrive 8 OS. The system includes cloud-based BMW Maps with connected parking, a BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant (that replies to touch and speech commands), 5G connectivity, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto with Sirius XM.

Meanwhile, the M340i has M sport brakes with blue calipers, variable sport steering, an M sport differential, M sport suspension, and an aero body kit with a rear spoiler. Optional features include the Driving Assistance Package (lane departure warning, active blind-spot detection, park distance control, and more), the Dynamic Handling Package, and the Premium Package (heated steering wheel, lumbar support, heated seats, etcetera). BMW will announce pricing for its 2023 3 Series nearer its official July 2022 launch date, but we expect base prices to start at $42,000 for the 330i and about $55,000 for the M340i. The first deliveries will arrive later this year.

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FDA Authorizes Pfizer Booster For Children 5 And Older

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In order to test the efficacy of the single Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for children between 5 and 11 years of age, the agency monitored 400 children who received it anywhere between five to nine months after the primary series of dosages that involved two jabs. Coming to the side effects part of the booster shot, the U.S. FDA lists fatigue, headache, chills, fever, muscle or joint pain, pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site.

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Pfizer, on the other hand, estimates that more than 8 million children in the age group of 5 to 11 years have completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccination and are eligible for a booster shot. Citing data from a clinical trial, the company claims that the booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can produce antibodies that are capable of neutralizing both the Omicron variant as well as the wild-type COVID-19 virus.

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Old Pieces Of Technology That Still Work Today

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Before airplanes really took off, the best and sometimes only way to travel long distances over the air was the airship. In fact, the first airship lifted off more than fifty years before the Wright brothers achieved the first powered flight.

Instead of achieving lift through the physics of wing design, they used lighter-than-air gases to raise themselves into the air. Even after airplanes hit the mainstream, airships were a common way to travel trans-oceanic distances that planes couldn’t yet handle. The Hindenburg disaster more or less ended the airship’s tenure as a mode of travel and the number of blimps or zeppelins you were likely to see in the sky decreased dramatically.

Today, there are only 25 blimps still in operation and they’re largely used for advertising purposes, (via Reader’s Digest). While the airship appears to be a slowly dying technology, that might be about to change.

As explained by SingularityHub, several companies are working toward reviving airships as a method of passenger or cargo transportation. Instead of taking a flight around the world, the next generation of airships could offer slower, more ponderous and comfortable, journeys more akin to flying cruise ships.

One company, Ocean Sky Cruises, is offering flights from Svalbard to the North Pole by airship beginning in 2024. Passengers will get their own cabin and all meals and drinks included. The only downside is the price tag of two million Swedish Krona, or roughly $200,000 USD.

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