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Eurobites: Liberty Global Considers Sale of Swiss, Austrian Units

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Virgin Media promises higher speeds in Durham; Telefónica offers Facebook posts via SMS; Ericsson to test 5G in Belgium.

  • US cable giant Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) is looking into a sale of its struggling UPC-branded Swiss and Austrian subsidiaries as a way of facilitating a $175 billion merger with Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), the Daily Telegraph reports. Last year Liberty and Vodafone combined their Dutch operations, creating the mouthful that is VodafoneZiggo and raising investors' hopes of a broader deal following the collapse of talks in 2015. (See Vodafone, Liberty Global Form Dutch JV and Vodafone, Liberty Call Off Asset-Swap Talks.)

  • Liberty Global's UK subsidiary, Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), is bringing "ultrafast" broadband to 16,000 properties in the northern English city of Durham by the end of 2019. Residential customers are promised speeds of up to 300 Mbit/s, while small businesses can expect up to 350 Mbit/s. The average download speed for County Durham is currently 15 Mbit/s, according to Ofcom figures.

  • Telefónica is introducing a service for its Movistar customers called Pigram, which allows them to post on social networks or send emails by SMS when there is no mobile data coverage. Initially, Pigram will be available for use with Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and Microsoft Outlook. Pigram has been developed by LUCA, Telefónica's own data unit.

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) is setting up a "5G Life Campus" in Hasselt, Belgium, providing an environment where companies can test 5G applications. The doors are set to open in the first quarter of 2018.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has opened a new Innovation Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which will focus on research into the Internet of Things, AI, analytics, cybersecurity and 5G. The operator says the Centre will create up to 50 new graduate jobs, as well as 25 research posts in combination with Ulster University. About a third of the funding for the project has come from the public purse, via the Invest Northern Ireland development agency.

  • HERE, the mapping company that used to be part of Nokia but is now owned by a German automotive consortium, is planning to acquire Advanced Telematic Systems (ATS), a German company that provides over-the-air software updates for connected vehicles. As Reuters reports, the deal is expected to close in early 2018.

  • France's Astellia has upgraded its Nova RAN network monitoring tool, adding geolocation techniques to improve accuracy in locating devices and assessing radio conditions across various types of networks.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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