Eurobites: Big Guns Look to Boost Startups

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia launches 1Gbit/s small cell; Rostelecom bags Chinese financing; Virgin connects Manchester's tech hub.

  • Four major operators in the EMEA, Southeast Asia and Latin America regions have joined forces in an attempt to help startups expand beyond their respective home markets. The startup arms of Orange (NYSE: FTE), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Telefónica and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) (OTC: SGTJY) say they want to bridge the gap between different startup ecosystems. Companies chosen to be part of the program will be able to tap into the resources and networks of the four operators.

  • Nokia Networks has launched what it describes as the world's first 1Gbit/s small cell, together with a bundle of services which the vendor says will simplify small cell deployment. The catchily named Flexi Zone G2 Multi-Band Carrier Aggregation Outdoor Micro/Pico Base Station (BTS) allows operators to deploy and aggregate between various radio access technologies and spectrum combinations, while the HetNet Engine Room, says Nokia, allows operators to deploy small cells 30% faster, with 20% lower costs -- and serve 10% more subscribers.

  • Russian operator Rostelecom has signed up for $600 million in long-term financing from the China Development Bank, reports Reuters. The financing will be used to implement infrastructure projects in conjunction with China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. .

  • Virgin Media Business Ltd. , the enterprise arm of UK cable operator Virgin Media, is to help create a tech hub in the northern English city of Manchester, reports the Financial Times (subscription required). More than 300 buildings in the city's so-called Northern Quarter, largely populated by startups and other small businesses, will be supplied with a 1Gbit/s fiber connection that will be divided between each building's tenants. The tech hub project is being subsidized by public money -- the UK government has said it will invest £4 million (US$6.1 million) in developing Manchester's startup community.

  • Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) is deploying Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s Video Storage and Processing Platform to power the time-shifted and cloud DVR features of its multiscreen TV 2.0 offering, which boasts seven-day replay on more than 250 channels, an archive and the ability for consumers to record any number of programs in parallel.

  • Proximus (formerly known as Belgacom) has introduced the SwipeBox, a gizmo that sits between the Proximus set-top and the TV set and allows viewers to "swipe" photos, videos and music from a smartphone or tablet to the TV screen. The SwipeBox will retail in Belgium for €59.95 ($66.79).

  • A new report from Digital TV Research is predicting that Sky will overtake Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY)l to become the largest pay-TV operator in western Europe by 2017. The report anticipates Liberty's subscriber count falling as the company attempts to convert 8 million analog subscriptions to digital subscriptions by 2020.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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