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Eurobites: China's ambassadors go out to bat for Huawei in Europe

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia lands Orange Slovenkso gig; UK's Premier League mulls "route one" approach to soccer streaming; big week in EU-versus-Google saga.

  • China has seemingly mobilized its ambassadorial presence in Europe to put pressure on their host governments to refrain from discriminating against Huawei unfairly when it comes to 5G network rollouts. In Paris, as Reuters reports, the Chinese embassy said in a statement on its website: "If, due to security concerns, the French government truly does have to impose constraints on operators, it should establish transparent criteria around this and treat all companies equally." It added that French President Emmanuel Macron and others had already given assurances that all companies would be treated fairly in terms of vendor procurement. Meanwhile, in the UK, the Chinese ambassador has been telling the BBC that a group of senior Tory politicians opposing the use of Huawei at all in the UK's 5G network is nothing short of a "witch-hunt." Liu Xiaoming said: "Huawei is a private-owned company, nothing to do with the Chinese government ... the only problem they have is they are a Chinese company." The UK government's official line at present is that Huawei equipment will not be allowed into what are deemed sensitive parts of the 5G network, and that its presence in the rest of the network will be severely curtailed. (See Tough UK limits on Huawei's role in 5G threaten telco plans.)

  • Orange's Slovakian unit, Orange Slovensko, has gone with Nokia for a RAN upgrade that is intended to get the operator ready for 5G. Orange will use Nokia's 5G New Radio (5G NR)-based AirScale hardware and software for the new 5G frequency bands.

  • Another Orange segment, Orange Digital Ventures, is leading the pre-series A-round financing in Gebeya, an education-focused tech company based in Ethiopia. Gebeya aims to produce software engineers for clients across Africa.

  • The new chief executive of the UK's Premier League, which runs top-flight soccer, has raised the possibility of the organization offering its own "Premflix" streaming service in certain territories in the future, rather than selling the rights to its live matches to local operators. As the Guardian reports, Richard Masters said: "I'm not saying it will happen in the next cycle or when it will happen but eventually the Premier League will move to a mix of direct consumer and media rights sales."

  • This week looks set to be a significant one in the long-running battle between the European Union and Google. As Bloomberg reports, the EU's General Court in Luxembourg is hosting a three-day hearing, starting on Wednesday, during which the search giant will present the case for the defense against a trio of fines that could cost the company nearly $9 billion. (See Eurobites: EU Socks Google With $5B Monster-Fine for Android Control-Freakery and Eurobites: EU Fines Google $2.7B Over Shopping Shenanigans.)

  • Nokia and Deutsche Telekom have issued a joint response to the Reuters story from Friday (February 7) that claimed the German incumbent telco had told Nokia that it needed to up its game if it wanted to win future contracts with DT. In the German corner, DT's Claudia Nemat says: "It is well known that Deutsche Telekom is pursuing a multi-vendor strategy so that we are not dependent on just one supplier. This is an elementary part of our security philosophy." Nokia's Federico Guillén adds: "We have been a long-term partner of Deutsche Telekom and have been proud to work with them extensively over the years, providing leading network technology and services." So everyone's happy then. That's good.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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