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Eurobites: Reality Bites for Nokia's VR Dreams

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Swisscom hawks its telco cloud; UK government in the dock over BT "state aid"; T-Systems and Huawei give Kone a connectivity lift.

  • Slower-than-expected development of the virtual reality (VR) market has prompted Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) to pull back on investments in that sector and focus instead on building up the "digital health" business the vendor got its hands on through its acquisition of Withings. Nokia says it will halt development of its OZO VR camera and associated hardware, though it adds that it will maintain commitments to existing OZO customers. The changes are expected to lead to up to 310 job losses at its Nokia Technologies unit, out of the approximately 1,090-strong workforce there. The layoffs will fall mainly in Finland, the US and the UK. (See Nokia to Acquire Withings for €170M and Nokia OZO Partners With Youku on VR Content.)

  • Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) has gone live with a "full-stack telco cloud infrastructure," courtesy of Ericsson's NFVi solution. The telco cloud's first offering is aimed at small and midsized enterprises, though the two companies plan to "onboard" other services addressing other market segments in due course. Swisscom is hoping that the telco cloud will help it capture new business opportunities offered by 5G and the Internet of Things.

  • Has the UK government effectively given BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) illegal state aid through its business rates regime? That's the possibility being investigated by the European competition authorities, the Daily Telegraph reports. The European Commission has sent a letter to the UK government asking it to justify its tax treatment of BT's network infrastructure, following a complaint from an unnamed rival. It's not the first time the issue has come up: Previously, a company called Vtesse alleged illegal state support of BT. Vtesse is now part of Interoute Communications Ltd. .

  • T-Systems International GmbH , Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT)'s enterprise arm, has teamed up with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd to better automate the maintenance processes of elevator company Kone. Under the joint program, more than a million elevators, escalators and building doors will be connected to cloud-based services over the next few years.

  • Hutchison Drei Austria has received approval from the Austrian competition authority for its €95 million (US$111 million) takeover of Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO)'s Austrian operations. The transaction is now expected to close by the end of the month. The deal forms part of a strategy going forward that will see Tele2 focus on markets where it can rely on its own connectivity infrastructure.

  • Here's a fresh twist on the data-breach issue: The BBC reports that thousands of former and current employees of Morrisons, one of the UK's largest supermarket chains, are suing the company after their personal details were posted on the Internet for all to see by an auditor at the firm's head office. Morrisons is denying liability for the breach.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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