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Eurobites: Let's Get Digital, Says Virgin, as It Culls Contact Center Jobs

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: MTN thrives in Ghana and Nigeria; Telia concerned about government snooping; and royal wedding news!!!

  • Contact center jobs: First it was offshoring, then it was reshoring, and now, it seems, we have entered the era of botshoring. Hard on the heels of the news of potential redundancies at rival BT, UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) has announced it is to close its contact centers in Swansea (in Wales) and Nottingham as part of a reorganization that the cable operator expects will put paid to around 500 jobs. In a statement emailed to Light Reading, CEO Tom Mockridge said that "these changes will help deliver a more agile, digitally-oriented experience which our customers increasingly expect as standard," suggesting a move away from people on the end of a phone and towards a more automated, chatbot-based approach. Virgin's reorganization of its office portfolio will also see the creation of four large regional "hubs," none of them in Wales. The company, which is part of the Liberty Global Group, currently employs around 14,000 employees in the UK. (See Eurobites: Virgin Cuts Jobs in Wake of Fiber Rollout Ructions and BT Plans to Cut up to 6,600 Jobs – Report.)

  • South Africa-based MTN Group Ltd. has reported a 9.1% year-on-year increase in service revenues in its first quarter, with Ghana and Nigeria emerging as growth hotspots for the operator. As Light Reading sister site Connecting Africa reports, subscriber numbers were also up 4.1% to 221.3 million.

  • Domestic underlying revenue at Belgium's Proximus remained pretty flat in the first quarter, rising just 0.9% above 2017 levels. Domestic EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) inched up by a similar amount -- 0.8% -- to €420 million (US$502 million). At group level, revenue was down 0.2% year-on-year to €1.44 billion ($1.7 billion).

  • Telia Company has expressed its disquiet over proposed legislation that would give the Finnish authorities direct access to Telia Finland's network and systems for covert surveillance purposes. In a statement, Telia said: "…we advocate in all of our markets that governments should not have direct access to our networks and systems. It is our view that our local companies should retain operational and technical control."

  • Still in Finland, operator DNA Oy has upgraded its optical transport backbone network to 1.2 Tbit/s capacity in preparation for the data deluge expected in the 5G era. For further details, check out this DNA press release.

  • Xiaomi, the Chinese maker of keenly priced high-end smartphones, is to begin selling its wares in the UK, the Guardian reports. The company has until now been focused mainly on selling phones on its home turf and in developing countries, though it does already have a presence in Spain.

  • Some good news at last: The imminent UK royal wedding between ginger-bad-boy-gone-straight Prince Harry and the fragrant Meghan Markle is to be shown on Sky… in Ultra HD!!! Oh, and by the way, if you're one of the lucky "ordinary people" who have been invited to the shindig, don't forget to bring your own sandwiches.

    Eurobites returns on Tuesday, after a maypole-related intermission.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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