Euronews: UK's Broadband Plan Gets EU Nod

The U.K.'s rural broadband rollout, Vivendi and Qatar Telecom QSC (Qtel) are among the runners and riders in today's lineup of EMEA headlines.

  • The U.K. government could be about to get the green light from the European Commission 's competition watchdog for its long-delayed plan to free up £530 million (US$850 million) of state aid for the rollout of rural super-fast broadband, according to a report in the Financial Times (subscription required). Joaquín Almunia, the European competition commissioner, has apparently indicated he is happy for the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme to proceed, though other commissioners have yet to rubber-stamp the decision. (See UK Govt Allocates Broadband Funding and BT Builds FTTX With Govnt Funds.)

  • Vivendi, the French conglomerate that has substantial telecom interests, is planning to sell its controlling stake in Maroc Telecom , Morocco's largest operator, reports the Financial Times. The sale could raise as much as €4 billion ($5.1 billion). (See Euronews: All Change at Vivendi and Euronews: Vivendi Vexed Over Free Ride.)

  • QTel has virtually doubled its stake in Kuwait's Wataniya Telecom , at a cost of around 519.1 million Kuwaiti dinars ($1.8 billion), reports Reuters. The move will give QTel more of a toehold in the burgeoning markets of Algeria and Tunisia, says the report.

  • It looks like EE won't be the first to launch 4G in the U.K. after all: UK Broadband Ltd. , a subsidiary of Hong Kong's PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008), has announced it is switching on 4G in some south-eastern parts of the country next week, reports the Financial Times. It is, however, offering the network only as an alternative to fixed-line broadband for homes and businesses. (See Euronews: Will UK Fast-Track 4G Auction? and Euronews: Orange/T-Mob JV Given 4G Head Start.)

  • GTS Central Europe has joined forces with Beltelecom to extend its Dense Wavelength-Division Multiplexing (DWDM) fiber network to Minsk, connecting the capital of Belarus to Warsaw over a distance of 600km.

  • A plan to market Vdio, the video streaming service launched by Skype Ltd. founder Janus Friis, as a rival to LOVEFiLM International Ltd. and Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) has been abandoned, according to a report in Marketing. It is thought that the arrival of Netflix in the U.K. in January is behind the change of tack.

  • The residents of a new housing project in Derwenthorpe, a village near the historic city of York in the north of England, are to enjoy 1Gbit/s broadband, advanced television services via Integrated Reception Systems (IRS), as well as VoIP services, all courtesy of Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX) and its E7-2 Ethernet Service Access Platform. The 540-home development is being created by the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust at a cost of £40 million ($64 million). (See Calix Lands Small Deal in UK.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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