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Eurobites: Orange Bank Is Open for Business

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ofcom issues duct-and-pole proposals; KPN invests in smart home system; Sky revenue up, but profit down; Liquid Telecom links up with Intelsat.

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) has opened the doors to its new mobile banking product, Orange Bank, initially making it available in France only for Orange employees before offering it to the general public from July 6. The operator paved the way for this launch with the purchase of a 65% stake in Groupama Banque last year. Between them, Orange and Groupama hope that the service will attract more than 2 million customers in France. Orange already offers mobile money services in some of its African and Middle Eastern territories, and has also launched a mobile banking application in Poland called Orange Finanse. (See Orange Claims Customer Interest in Bank Move and Orange May Become Bank With Groupama Takeover.)

  • UK regulator Ofcom has issued a new set of proposals which it hopes will improve access to BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s network of ducts and poles. Among the proposals: a requirement for Openreach to make adjustments to the existing infrastructure so that it is "ready to use" for other operators; a relaxation of usage restrictions to allow for "mixed usage," meaning that service providers can deploy local access networks offering both broadband and non-broadband services; and the imposition of a "no undue discrimination" condition on BT, requiring "strict equivalence in respect of all processes and sub-products" relating to duct access. (See BT, Ofcom & the Battle of Britain.)

  • KPN Ventures, the venture capital arm of Dutch incumbent KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN), has invested an unspecified amount in Nello, developer of a "smart intercom" product that enables keyless, remote access to residential buildings. The investment forms part of a €1.5 million (US$1.6 million) funding round that also involved existing shareholders HBT Holdings and KfW.

  • The cost of renewing rights to English Premier League soccer helped dent nine-month EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) at Sky (NYSE, London: SKY), which were down 6% year-on-year to £1.52 billion ($1.95 billion) in its fiscal third-quarter results. However, revenue was up 5% to £9.64 billion ($12.33 billion). More than 100,000 new customers joined Sky in the third quarter, taking its additions in the last year to 769,000. Its much vaunted set-top box, Sky Q, has now found a berth in more than 1 million UK homes.

  • Africa's Liquid Telecom has teamed up with Intelsat Ltd. to expand broadband services across the continent. Under the terms of the multi-year agreement, Liquid Telecom has committed to dedicated services on Intelsat's 33e satellite, delivering more bandwidth in the process.

  • France's Broadpeak has released a new version of its NanoCDN product, with the demands of live video streaming in mind. NanoCDN multicast adaptive bitrate (ABR) 2.0, to give the product its full title, introduces support for satellite networks, in addition to cable and telecom networks.

  • Italian broadband provider EOLO SpA has chosen Intracom Telecom 's wireless point-to-multipoint (PtMP) systems to help it connect homes and businesses that cannot be reached by fiber and ADSL/VDSL, improving EOLO's coverage in 70 Italian provinces. EOLO hopes to complete the rollout within five years.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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