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Eurobites: Safaricom CEO has no beef with Huawei

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Proximus cuts jobs as revenue falls; Sky combines with BT on TV sport; why European Fitbit wearers should be worried.

  • The acting CEO of Kenya's Safaricom is not worried in the slightest about using Huawei equipment in his company's 5G network, despite the dire warnings from the Trump administration, who view the use of the Chinese vendor's gear as a major security risk. As Reuters reports, Safaricom's Michael Joseph says that the operator is actively considering awarding a 5G contract to Huawei, and dismissed the US government's concerns, asking: "What will we do in terms of the American statements about not using Huawei? We don't have that situation in Africa."

  • Highfalutin talk of "digital transformation" often translates into job losses on the ground, and that's certainly the case at Belgium's Proximus, which has begun a redundancy program, initially on a voluntary basis. To date, 1,347 full-time employees have signed up to the voluntary scheme, though "a very limited number" of involuntary redundancies are also on the cards. The job cuts were revealed as Proximus revealed its full-year results, which showed domestic underlying revenue falling 1.7% to €4.1 billion (US$4.4 billion) and domestic underlying EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) up 0.4% to €1.72 billion ($1.85 billion).

  • It seems to have dawned on BT and Sky that, when it comes to showing live soccer, they need to play as a team. Following BT's announcement earlier this week that it was introducing more flexible, stop-start TV packages, including tiers that offered access to sports content from Sky, Sky has now returned the favor by launching two new sports packages that, for the first time on Sky TV, combine Sky Sports and BT Sport channels and allow customers to watch just about every UK Premiership soccer game (at which cameras are present) live, should they want to. The combined sport offering costs £35 ($45) a month, on top of the customer's existing Sky TV subscription.

  • European wearers of Fitbit exercise-monitoring devices may find their heart rates going up after a warning from the European Commission that their personal data may be at risk following Google's proposed acquisition of Fitbit. As the Telegraph reports, a meeting of the European Data Protection Board this week in Brussels raised the red flag about the "accumulation of sensitive personal data in Europe by a major tech company," and reminded both companies to "conduct a full assessment of the data protection requirements and privacy implications of the merger in a transparent way."

  • Employees of UK government departments managed to lose or have stolen more than 2,000 devices between June 2018 and June 2019, a Freedom of Information request has discovered. As the BBC reports, staff at the Ministry of Defence were by far the worst offenders, racking up 767 lost or stolen devices. Most of the 2,004 lost devices were encrypted, but nearly 200 "may not have been," says the report, reassuringly.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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