Eurobites: Germany's Merkel Calls for European 5G Watchdog

Iain Morris

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Proximus appoints new CEO; Salt takes earnings hit; Ericsson bags new deal with Orange.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has waded further into the 5G dispute surrounding Huawei, a controversial Chinese equipment vendor that, say US authorities, is a threat to security because of its links to the Chinese government. In a speech to her parliament, Merkel backed calls for the establishment of a European agency to certify components used in the region's 5G networks, arguing that a lack of European coordination on a China policy could be "devastating," reports Bloomberg. Several European countries, including the UK, have been weighing possible restrictions on Huawei and ZTE, a smaller Chinese vendor, under pressure from the US government. Merkel is also reported to have played down the prospect of a Huawei ban in Germany, telling business leaders that equipment vendors should be held to higher security standards than in the past but not banned "from the very start." (See For Trump's Attack Dogs, There's No Stopping Huawei and Trump Is Losing the European War Against Huawei.)

  • Belgian incumbent Proximus has named Guillaume Boutin its latest CEO after the ignominious departure of Dominique Leroy, his predecessor, who left in September and has been under investigation for insider trading at the Belgian service provider. Boutin, who starts in his new job on December 1, was formerly the chief consumer market officer at Proximus and is credited with the successful promotion of several key brands. His focus as CEO, however, will be on "digitalization," said the operator -- an expression that strikes fear into the hearts of old-time professionals already worried about job losses to automation. Leroy was supposed to become CEO of KPN, but the Dutch incumbent tore up her contract after Belgian authorities kicked off their investigation into insider trading. She has resurfaced as a senior advisor to Bain & Company, a US consulting firm, according to her LinkedIn profile. (See Joost-in-Time Replacement: KPN Names New Boss After Leroy Turmoil, Dutch Ditch Dominique: KPN Gives Leroy the Kiss-Off and Departing Proximus CEO Frogmarched Out to Chorus of Staff Boos.)

  • Swiss telecom operator Salt said its third-quarter revenues were up 2.6%, to about 249.6 million Swiss francs (US$250 million), compared with the year-earlier period, while earnings (before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) fell 8.2%, to CHF115.1 million ($115 million). It blamed the decline on acquisition and retention costs at its mobile and fiber businesses as well as investments it made to support growth. "We are making good progress in implementing our strategy to provide the best price in the premium segment," said CEO Pascal Grieder, in a statement. "We were able to significantly increase the number of our mobile customers."

  • Swedish equipment giant Ericsson secured a three-year extension to a managed services deal with Orange that covers Spain, Belgium, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova. The services it will provide include network operations, field support and maintenance, as well as spare parts management for the fixed-line and mobile businesses. Ericsson said it would also use new artificial intelligence tools to boost network efficiency across the Orange units.

  • 5TONIC, the research laboratory founded by Telefónica and the IMDEA Networks Institute, has been demonstrating a 5G-based system for dealing with health emergencies. The system combines augmented reality with mobile devices to help diagnose the state of the injured person more quickly and alert appropriate emergency services such as ambulances, firefighters and other medical centers in a co-ordinated manner. The University of Madrid and SAMUR-PC, Madrid's municipal emergency and health care service, were also involved with the project.

    — Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading

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