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Eurobites: Orange Eyes Bouygues, EE IPO

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Com Hem IPO takes off; PCCW launches LTE TDD broadband service in London; mobile subscriber numbers fall in Russia.

  • Things are stirring over at Orange (NYSE: FTE). The operator has hired bankers Lazard and Credit Suisse to look into a possible acquisition of Bouygues Telecom , reports Reuters. Bouygues recently lost out to Numericable-SFR in a battle to buy SFR , the mobile operator that used to belong to Vivendi . Also, Bloomberg reports that Orange and Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) are planning to revisit the option of an IPO for EE , their UK mobile joint venture, once all concerned have returned from their luxury summer bolt-holes. (For the record, Team Eurobites summers at this luxury static caravan on the Isle of Sheppey.)

  • The IPO of Swedish cable operator Com Hem AB has proved a hit, reports Bloomberg, attracting sufficient orders for all the shares offered to raise approximately 5.67 billion Swedish kroner (US$850 million). The money raised by the IPO will be used mainly to pay off debts. Com Hem has its network connected to 1.83 million Swedish homes. (See Com Hem Preps $829M IPO.)

  • A novel 4G wireless broadband service that has been a couple of years in development and is being pitched as a serious replacement for fixed-line broadband has been launched in London under the brand name "Relish," reports the Daily Telegraph. Relish is owned by UK Broadband Ltd. , which itself is owned by PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008), the holding company that belongs to Hong Kong's Richard Li. It uses an LTE TDD network in the 3.5GHz and 3.6GHz frequency bands, which is incompatible with the type of 4G used for smartphones. PCCW had originally acquired these spectrum bands to provide (what turned out to be ill-fated) WiMax services. (See 4G: Live in London.)

  • A consortium of UK broadcasters is planning to offer a rival service to the YouView catch-up TV service, based on the "free-to-air" Freeview digital TV platform, The Guardian reports. YouView has been criticized as being "hijacked" by the likes of BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and TalkTalk , effectively turning it into a pay-TV platform as part of bundled TV offerings, when it was originally envisaged as a way for those who preferred not to subscribe to pay-TV to access a comprehensive catch-up service. The new five-year project, Freeview Connect, will be led by Digital UK and be backed by more than £100 million ($167 million) in investment from the various interested parties.

  • The authorities in the troubled Central African Republic have suspended all SMS communication in an attempt to thwart a campaign of civil disobedience that they believe was being orchestrated using text messages, reports Reuters.

  • Russian mobile subscriber numbers are falling as operators clean up their subscriber bases and the market reaches saturation point, reports Reuters. Subscriptions stood at 241.5 million at the end of March, down from 242.8 million three months earlier.

  • Broadband Everywhere, a UK Internet service provider, has launched satellite broadband services for the whole of Scotland, including the more remote areas, where the sheep massively outnumber the humans. The ISP already provides Astra Connect satellite Internet to customers in England and Wales, via SES S.A. (Paris: SESG) satellite Astra 2F.v, but this new, expanded coverage will be powered by Astra 2E, SES's newest satellite.

    They're looking forward to their satellite broadband, but hoping they won't be fleeced by the pricing structure.
    They're looking forward to their satellite broadband, but hoping they won't be fleeced by the pricing structure.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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