Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: European Commission gets cozy with South Korea on 5G; Telefónica to sell electricity; Swisscom does LTE-Advanced.
Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has launched a takeover bid for Cobra Automotive Technologies, an Italian firm specializing in security and telematics products for the automotive and insurance industry. The acquisition, should it go ahead, will form part of Vodafone's drive into the machine-to-machine (M2M) sector, which is being widely viewed as the Next Really Big Thing. Vodafone's offer of €1.49 per share in cash values Cobra at €145 million (US$196 million). Separately, Broadband TV News reports that Vodafone has launched 4G TV in the Netherlands. The service was switched on just in time for the World Cup, so Vodafone's Dutch customers on 4G will have been able to use their smartphones to watch their team thoroughly spank Spain in their opening group match on Friday.
The European Commission has signed what it is hailing as a "landmark agreement" with the South Korean government on 5G. The pair have agreed to work towards a global definition of 5G, to prepare standards for 5G, to cooperate on research into the technology, and to harmonize radio standards to ensure global interoperability. In January, South Korea's Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning unveiled a 1.6 trillion Korean Won (US$1.5 billion) plan to develop and roll out trial 5G services by 2017 and commercial services by 2020, while Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, nailed her colors firmly to the 5G mast at Mobile World Congress a month later. (See Ready or Not, Here Comes 5G and South Korea Proclaims $1.5B 5G Push.)
Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) is branching out into selling electricity to corporate clients, according to a Reuters report citing El Periodico. Electricity will be supplied by the operator as part of a package of technology services, says the newspaper.
In other Telefónica news, it seems the Spanish giant is facing stiffer-than-anticipated opposition to its proposed merger of its German unit with KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN)'s E-Plus Service GmbH & Co. KG -- this time from the German competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt. The FT reports (subscription required) that the authority has raised "serious doubts" about the measures Telefónica said it would take to appease initial concerns about the deal expressed by the European Commission. If it does get the nod from all the relevant authorities, the combined business would become Germany's largest mobile operator by subscribers, with around 43 million customers (first-quarter 2013 numbers) and a 38% market share. (See Eurobites: Telefónica Sweetens E-Plus Deal.)
Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) has rolled out LTE-Advanced in Berne and Lausanne railway stations, and says that from the beginning of July the technology will be available more widely in the cities of Berne and Biel. The operator claims that LTE-Advanced will offer download speeds of up to 300 Mbit/s.
German utility firm Stadtwerke Rüsselheim is to deploy Keymile AG 's MileGate IP-based multi-service access platform at the core of its new fiber network. The utility will use the mini IP-DSLAM MileGate 2011 as an access node for apartment blocks with up to 24 homes. (See Keymile Wins Utility Broadband Deal .)
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading