Eurobites: Is a Huawei handbrake-turn ahead for UK?

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: investment firms launch bid for MasMovil; Kenyan government proposes new digital levy; management maneuverings at Net Insight.

  • A UK government review into the latest US sanctions against Huawei – and the implications they could have for the Chinese vendor's supply chain – is expected to report back to the telecom industry by the end of July, according to a report in the Financial Times (subscription required). It is thought that the review, being carried out by the National Cyber Security Centre, could give British Prime Minister Boris Johnson the pretext he needs to backtrack on the decision made earlier in the year to allow Huawei gear to play a limited role in the rollout of the UK's 5G network. That decision has brought flak from several quarters, not least the Trump administration and a clutch of dissatisfied "backbench" lawmakers in Johnson's own ruling Conservative Party. The Commerce Department of the US government announced on May 15 that it would prohibit Huawei from buying chips built with US hardware or software, the new sanctions coming into force in mid-September. (See Huawei befuddled by reports of total 5G ban in UK, Tough UK limits on Huawei's role in 5G threaten telco plans and Huawei moves to guarantee chip supply.)

  • A group of investment firms have launched a €2.96 billion (US$3.3 billion) bid for MasMovil, Spain's fourth-largest network operator. As Reuters reports, the bid, put together by KKR, Cinven and Providence, is a "friendly" one, offering €22.50 per MasMovil share. MasMovil, which counts the low-cost brands Pepephone and Yoigio among its assets, sells fixed-line, mobile and Internet services.

  • The Kenyan government is looking to impose a new levy on digital-based services such as streaming sites and online ride-hailing platforms, Bloomberg reports. The proposed levy will be in addition to a 1.5% digital tax on the value of online transactions introduced in the government's Finance Bill 2020. Companies offering such services will have to register for value-added tax or face restrictions on how they operate.

  • Net Insight, the Stockholm-based media delivery specialist, has tweaked its structure and started trying to strengthen its management team. As part of the overhaul, the company has recruited a new chief operating officer with responsibility for R&D, sourcing and customer delivery. From June 1 the executive management team will comprise Crister Fritzson, CEO; Pelle Bourn, CFO; Katarina Dufvenmark, VP of people; Marcus Sandberg, VP of corporate development & communication; Ulrik Rohne, COO, also acting as VP of sales and marketing as well as VP of product management; Per Lindgren, CTO; and Ken Graham, VP of resource optimization.

  • Telefónica UK, which operates the O2 mobile brand, is preparing for the reopening of its retail stores in England on June 15 by setting up a "virtual queueing" system which it hopes will avoid unnecessary and potentially dangerous crowding in its outlets. Under this system, customers won't wait in line for a customer assistant to become free but will instead receive a text when one is ready to see them. Other anti-coronavirus measures are being introduced in the stores, including floor markings, screens at open service areas and appropriate protective equipment for store staff. O2 closed its UK stores on March 24. Its stores in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will remain closed pending further guidance from the respective administrations.

  • BritBox, the streaming service joint venture launched by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 as a response to the relentless march of Netflix et al, is now available on BT TV set-top boxes. BritBox, which mainly shows repeats of hit UK shows such as Downton Abbey and Broadchurch, is available for £5.99 ($7.41) a month in HD.

  • UK-based Nuvias UC, formerly know as Siphon, is seeking bolster its credentials in the videoconferencing market through a partnership with Norway's Pexip. Under the terms of the deal, Pexip's cloud-based videoconferencing offerings will be added to Nuvias UC's existing portfolio.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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