Eurobites: BT Fills Technology Hotseat

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: CityFibre completes on KCOM deal; HBO goes OTT in Spain; Viber gets chatty in Africa and Middle East.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has found itself a new CEO for its Technology, Service and Operations division. Howard Watson, currently BT chief architect and MD of Global IT Platforms, will replace Clive Selley, who is to take over as CEO of BT's access division, Openreach , following the loss of Joe Garner to the Nationwide Building Society. Light Reading last week tipped Watson as a potential candidate for the role, which is seen as one of the most challenging in the industry, not least because BT is about to absorb mobile operator EE . (See Job Alert! BT Needs a New CTO, BT Names Clive Selley as New Openreach CEO and BT Gets Final Go-Ahead for $17.9B EE Takeover.)

  • CityFibre , the UK fiber infrastructure provider that is challenging BT on the FTTx front, has completed its £90 million (US$128.4 million) acquisition of some of the national network assets of KCOM Group plc , excluding the Hull and East Yorkshire areas. Last week CityFibre revealed that Bristol was the next UK city on its list to get the gigabit treatment, a project that will use 82km of pure fiber network assets that it picked up in the KCOM deal. (See CityFibre Takes On BT With $136M KCOM Acquisition.)

  • US broadcaster Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) is to launch a Netflix-style OTT video streaming service in Spain, reports Bloomberg. Since 2012 HBO has offered a similar service in Scandinavia, called HBO Nordic, and in April it launched an online service in the US.

  • UK mobile operator Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) has introduced a new service, Travel Alerts, that automatically lets a customer's credit card issuer know if he or she is abroad to reduce the chance of an attempted credit card transaction being refused. Conversely, if the card transaction and mobile location don't match, the card issuer can review the transaction request to help protect the customer against card fraud.

  • Internet telephony and messaging provider Viber has launched a new social network in Africa and the Middle East that allows Viber users to follow live discussions involving celebrities, personalities, brands and organizations. Called Public Chats, the service has teamed up with a range of partners, e-commerce platform Jumia among them. (See Viber Open to Partnerships With African Telcos.)

  • Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM)'s Enterprise Customers business has acquired half of Geneva-based Open Web Technology SA to form a joint venture, Swisscom Digital Technology SA, that will aim to help Swiss companies develop and implement their digital strategies. Open Web employs around 60 engineers in Geneva and Zurich. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.

  • Sigfox , the Paris-based Internet of Things connectivity specialist, has launched the Sigfox Foundation, which will seek to bring the benefits of IoT to nonprofit, humanitarian causes around the world. Its first project centers on the Belgian government's Belare polar expedition to Antartica. (See Sigfox Plans Global IoT Network.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • [email protected] 1/19/2016 | 9:35:08 AM
    Internal affairs The internal appointment for the CEO role at BT's Technology, Service and Operations (TSO) unit always looked likely... I bet the odds were short on Watson.

    At least he has been on the inside as the plans to bring EE on board have ramped up so he shold have a good idea about what's about to hit the fan.
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