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Eurobites: MegaFon Forms E-Commerce JV With Alibaba

Paul Rainford
6/6/2019

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Norway 5G spectrum auction results; Dutch told to get tough on Huawei; Deutsche Telekom turns on IoT network; Ofcom commits to universal broadband service.

  • Russian operator MegaFon has teamed up with Chinese giant Alibaba Group, Mail.ru Group and investment fund RDIF to form an e-commerce joint venture in Russia and the neighboring CIS countries. As part of the deal, MegaFon will sell its 9.97% stake in Mail.ru to Alibaba in exchange for a 24.3% stake in the new venture, AliExpress Russia.

  • Norway's first 5G spectrum auction has been completed, with Ice winning 2 x 10MHz in the 700MHz band and 2 x 15MHz in the 2.1 GHz band, and both Telia and Telenor winning 2 x 10MHz in the 700MHz band. Telia's award comes with a coverage obligation for certain sections of the country's rail network, while Telenor's comes with coverage obligation for certain highways. Ice paid 337.17 million Norwegian kroner (US$33.69 million), Telia NOK217.88 million ($25 million), and Telenor NOK180 million ($20.65 million).

  • The US Ambassador to the Netherlands, Trump appointee Pete Hoekstra, has added his tuppenceworth to the ongoing Huawei hoo-ha, saying that the Dutch government should ban the Chinese equipment vendor completely from its 5G rollout. As Reuters reports, the Dutch have yet to state their official position on using Huawei technology. (See Huawei 5G Bans Highlight Network Confusion.)

  • In happier news for Huawei, the BBC reports that the beleaguered vendor has signed a deal with Russian operator MTS that will see the pair roll out 5G networks over the next year.

  • Deutsche Telekom has flicked the switch on its new IoT network, bring inter-thing communication to 90% of Germany's geographic area and more than 90% of its population. Among the applications ready to roll is Park and Joy (no sniggering at the back), which helps motorists find parking spaces.

  • UK communications regulator Ofcom has confirmed that, from next year, everyone in the UK will have the legal right to request a "decent and affordable" broadband connection under the terms of a government-promoted "universal service" obligation. In this context, "decent" is defined as download speeds of at 10 Mbit/s and uploads of at least 1 Mbit/s. The two companies charged with the responsibility of meeting this obligation are BT and KCOM, with the former responsible for connecting properties in the whole of the UK apart from -- weirdly -- the northern English city of Hull, where KCOM reigns supreme on the fixed-line front. Under the terms of the scheme, when someone makes a request, BT or KCOM will have 30 days to confirm whether the customer is eligible. This will involve establishing whether the property already has access to "decent" broadband, at an affordable price; or if it is due to be connected by a publicly funded scheme within 12 months. If the connection is approved, the cost of that connection will be covered by either BT or KCOM, up to a limit of £3,400 ($4,315), with possible contributions from an industry-wide fund that has yet to be finalized.

  • Dutch incumbent KPN is investing an undisclosed amount in Pharmeon, a digital healthcare company. The money will be used to further develop Pharmeon's Uw Zorg online platform. The investment appears timely: New legislation requires all healthcare providers in the Netherlands to to make patient data accessible online available before 1 July 2020.

  • As if we didn't have enough "-as-a-service" offerings to worry about, here comes another to test the Eurobites hyphen key to its very limits: Orange Business Services is introducing its "Visibility-as-a-Service" product, which is powered by Riverbed's SteelCentral Aternity technology. The whole package, says Orange, allows "end-to-end performance monitoring of the digital experience right down to the end-user's device in any complex global IT infrastructure."

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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