Euronews: AlcaLu CEO Warns of 'Digital Desert'

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Neelie Kroes, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) are the raisins in today's EMEA news pudding. (Warning: May contain nuts.)

  • Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen has warned European operators that they risk turning their generally soggy continent into a "digital desert" through a lack of network investment, reports Business Week. "Five years ago in the U.S., you knew that leaving L.A. meant going into the desert, meanwhile Europe was ahead," said Verwaayen. "Five years later that has reversed. The creation of value has come back to the U.S." (See AlcaLu CEO Unveils New Vision and AlcaLu Chairman: We Back Ben!.)

  • "Steely" Neelie Kroes, the European Commission 's vice president for the Digital Agenda, looks like she's made her mind up on the issue of Net Neutrality, with marketing transparency and free-flowing competition seen as the most suitable solution. Overall, Kroes believes absolute clarity on service offerings and market mechanisms that make it easy for consumers to switch service providers (or just services) will satisfy all parties, as unrestricted Internet services are available in all European Union member states. (See EC Nixes Pure Net Neutrality.)

  • More Brussels muscle: EC regulators are set to take five member states to court over their failure to implement online privacy rules, Reuters reports. A Commission official told Reuters that representatives from the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Poland and Slovenia can all expect to be summoned soon. (See EC Proposes Reform of Data Privacy Laws and Probing Net Privacy.)

  • Standard & Poor’s is piling more woe on Nokia, reports Reuters, this time issuing a "base-case operating scenario" that foresees the handset giant's consolidated revenues declining by 10 percent in 2012, with EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) margin close to break-even. Within these overall figures, S&P predicts that revenues from Nokia's Devices and Services division could decline by 18 percent. To add to the Finnish firm's woes, analysts at MKM Partners have issued an investment research note suggesting that the new Lumia handsets have failed to reverse the company's flagging fortunes and that Nokia is now worth no more than the value of its intellectual property. (See Analyst: Nokia Lumia 'Not a Company Saver', Euronews: S&P Downgrades Nokia Debt and Nokia's Moody's Blues.)

  • The board at French video solutions vendor Technicolor has decided to recommend the capital investment plan proposed by JP.MorganChase rather than the more recent and more lucrative offer from investment fund Vector Capital. Now it's up to the company's investors to decide whether to back the board's recommendation when they meet at the Technicolor General Shareholders' Meeting in Paris on June 20. (See Euronews: Investors Fight Over Technicolor.)

  • Booking its seat on the Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) bandwagon, Telia Company is today opening an IT development center in Tallinn, Estonia, that will support the operator's customer experience management strategy. Battling their way to work through the messy aftermath of various stag parties will be around 20-30 employees. (See TeliaSonera Opens Customer Experience Center.)

  • Esko Aho, who once served as Finland's prime minister, has stepped down from Nokia's Leadership Team (formerly the Group Executive Board) to take up a research role at Harvard University. Aho joined Nokia in 2008, serving as executive vice president, Corporate Relations and Responsibility. He became a member of the Group Executive Board at the beginning of 2009. (See Nokia's New Top Team.)

  • Deutsche Telekom has launched its M2M Marketplace, a platform for manufacturers and vendors to offer their hardware, software and apps relating to M2M (machine-to-machine) communication. Until July 2, vendors will be able to offer their wares for sale on the Markeplace for free; after that, the "usual fees" apply, says the carrier. The Marketplace appears to be an extension of the M2M "partner portal" it set up last year. (See DT Unveils M2M Marketplace.)

  • Slovakia is to follow the lead of Hungary by slapping a special tax on telcos, reports Reuters The tax, to be applied in 2012 and 2013, will be set at 4.2 percent of annual profits, and comes on top of regular corporate tax, which will rise from 19 percent to 23 percent. (See Euronews: Oct. 18.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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