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Eurobites: Amazon Scores English Premier League Soccer Rights

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: BT offers Cisco-flavored SD-WAN-as-a-service; telco execs charged with fraud in Tanzania; Deutsche Telekom extends vectoring; union slams Telefónica's outsourcing strategy.

  • Amazon has done a deal with the English Premier League (EPL) which will allow it to stream exclusive coverage of 20 top-flight soccer matches per season, for three seasons starting in 2019. According to a report in The Guardian, Premier League bosses have for some time been pinning their hopes on luring an online giant into bidding for rights. On the face of it, the deal appears to be a slap in the face for BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Sky (NYSE, London: SKY), who between them have maintained a stranglehold on most of the rights to Premier League soccer. But according to CCS analyst Paolo Pescatore, the deal is actually good news for BT, as, he points out, BT's TV platform will be the only place where viewers can watch all the Premier League matches from 2019, thanks to its content relationships with Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Sky. However you interpret it, this deal surely confirms that Amazon's creep into live sports rights (it has already bagged the US Open tennis and some other fare) is a long-term strategy -- and suggests that other big online content and entertainment names, such as Netflix and even Facebook, could follow suit. And with their cash reserves, the online giants could shoulder-charge both BT and Sky right off the Premier League pitch. (See BT's Bogeyman: A Soccer-Mad Amazon.)

  • BT has extended its partnership with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) with the launch of an SD-WAN managed service that runs on the US vendor's technology. According to BT, the service will provide its customers with a better view of data flows across their network, allowing them to tailor traffic to suit their particular business needs. BT is also offering an analytics package and a range of security features as part of the deal. (See BT Launches Global Managed SD-WAN Service With Cisco Tech.)

  • Two chief executives of mobile phone companies in Tanzania have been charged with fraud and are being held in prison, pending trial. As Reuters reports, Le Van Dai, managing director of Halotel Tanzania (owned by Vietnam's Viettel), and Sherif El Barbary, managing director of Zantel, were targeted along with four other suspects as part of a crackdown on tax evasion. According to the state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority, the suspects were found to be in illegal possession of around 300,000 unregistered SIM cards, allegedly used to send and receive internationals SMS messages.

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) has turned on copper-boosting vectoring technology in those regions where it was previously unable to do so, as they were regions where network expansion was partly financed by state subsidies. Those restrictions have now been lifted, so more than 317,000 German households that were previously coned off from the broadband autobahn will now be able to access broadband upload speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s, boasts the operator.

  • The Communication Workers Union in the UK is seeking talks with Telefónica in a bid to reverse the Spanish giant's outsourcing strategy, which the union claims has seen many of its members' terms and conditions of employment being eroded in a drive to cut costs. As an example, the CWU cites the case of a member who had been on long-term sick leave whilst an employee of Telefónica but who, once "outsourced" to a company called Connect 44, was dismissed on the grounds of ill health after 20 years of service, without the pension he would have received if he had still been at Telefónica.

    The situation is made worse by the fact that several of the suppliers to which Telefónica is outsourcing have issued profit warnings, says the CWU, offering little or no security to the union's transferring members. For more details, see this story on our sister site, Telecoms.com.

  • Finnish giant Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has supplied its cloud packet core offering to Vodafone India , to help the operator provide faster mobile broadband and make its network more "agile." The technology will aim to meet the mobile data demands of 7.8 million subscribers in the city of Bangalore -- so no pressure then.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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