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Eurobites: Ericsson nudges 5G rivals aside in Croatia

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telefónica boss spies the sunlit M&A uplands; Telia turns to Motorola for push-to-talk; Elisa goes streaming with NENT Group.

  • Ericsson has landed another European 5G RAN deal, getting the green light this time from Croatia's Hrvatski Telekom, a subsidiary of German giant Deutsche Telekom. Ericsson's local unit, Ericsson Nikola Tesla, will be the operator's sole supplier of 5G RAN products until 2024. The deal is not wholly unexpected: The two companies have been working together since 2018 to modernize Hrvatski Telekom's network. According to Ericsson, the deal is the first of its kind in Croatia.

  • Telefónica boss José María Álvarez-Pallete believes happy days could be here again for the European telecom industry – at least as far as sector consolidation goes – following an EU court ruling earlier this month that annulled an earlier decision to block the proposed merger between UK operators O2 and Three. In an interview with the Financial Times (paywall applies), Álvarez-Pallete said: "Something is changing in Europe …  Something is changing in the telecoms landscape. The stars are aligning for telecoms consolidation." (See Eurobites: Ruling clears way for major mergers, says top Brussels lawyer and O2-Three UK merger probably should have been allowed.)

  • Sweden's Telia is to use technology from Motorola Solutions to power a "push to talk" broadband service aimed at public safety organizations and companies with "business-critical" processes. The service will run over Telia's LTE network, and will use "rugged" devices supplied by Motorola through its local sales partner, Celab Communications.

  • Finnish operator Elisa is teaming up with streaming specialist Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) to create the Elisa Viihde Viaplay streaming service, which will offer Nordic original content, international movies, classic series and kid-friendly fare. The service will combine Elisa Viihde Aitio's content and Viaplay's Films & Series package and will be made available during the fourth quarter of 2020.

  • Digital Catapult, which owns a network of 5G testbeds in the UK, has joined forces with Verizon's London 5G Lab to create what the US operator describes as a "5G immersive accelerator program" to develop 5G offerings for enterprises. The program will enable selected retail partners to work directly with startups and technology innovators to explore how 5G-fueled offerings can help tackle their real-world business challenges.

  • Nordic operator Telenor is contributing 11.8 million Norwegian kroner (US$1.2 million) to a state-sponsored AI initiative that is aiming to encourage the use of the technology across Norway's various industries. The project will be overseen by the Norwegian Centre for Research-Based Artificial Intelligence Innovation (CRAI), which is scheduled to start innovating on October 1, 2020.

  • The lockdown-friendly Disney+ streaming service is to launch in eight more European countries in September, namely Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Disney+ has already attracted more than 50 million paid users since its launch eight months ago, according to a Reuters report.

  • New research from Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, has confirmed what we probably knew already: Use of the Internet has soared during lockdown, with Zoom, TikTok and YouTube experiencing record levels of usage. Among other findings, the use of video calls has doubled during lockdown, with more than seven in ten online UK adults enjoying the familiar "can you hear me now?/jeez, just how many chins have I got?" experience. The daily average time spent online for UK adults in April stood at four hours and two minutes, compared with three hours and 29 minutes in September 2019.

  • In a related vein, research commissioned by Ciena has found that 69% of adults in the UK are now working from home some of the time, up from 9% before the COVID-19 lockdown kicked in. More than two-thirds expect to work remotely more often after lockdown restrictions eventually ease, while almost as many believe remote working will be the order of the day all the time or at least much more frequently than before. What are we going to do with all that unwanted office space? Answers on a postcard, or in the comments section below.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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