Comms chips

Eurobites: €1.75B Plan for IoT, Connected Car R&D Gets EC Green Light

In today's EMEA regional roundup: Euro giants to collaborate on multi-billion euro IoT and connected car chip/sensor developments; TIM and Sony Mobile forge 5G pact; Telefónica Germany and Nokia build their joint "Early 5G Innovation Cluster" in Berlin; Open Fiber lands another broadband rollout tender; G+D Mobile Security boasts of Orange eSIM engagements; Altice and KKR have a Hivory; and more.

  • The European Commission has approved plans by France, Germany, Italy and the UK to provide €1.75 billion (US$2 billion) in public support to joint R&D projects focused on a range of chipsets and sensors, with the main aim of stimulating "additional downstream research and innovations in particular in relation to the broad area of the Internet of Things and to connected or driverless cars." Germany will pump in the most public cash (about 47% of the total) and the Brexit-weary UK the least (a paltry 3%). The project, which has a timeframe up to 2024, aims to attract an additional €6 billion ($6.8 billion) in private funding. Almost 30 companies are signed up to participate in the research, including ST Micro-electronics and Infineon. The efforts will focus on five specific areas of R&D: energy-efficient chips, power semiconductors, smart sensors, advanced optical equipment and new compound materials.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) and Sony Mobile Communications AB are to collaborate on 5G developments in an effort to bring 5G smartphones to Italy as early as possible in 2019. The national operator says it will "support Sony Mobile in all the development phases of the product for Italy, making available to the project the ecosystem of partners in the Innovation Hubs, its technical know-how, with the best resources of its own research centers, and the access to TIM's 5G test facilities to commercially launch a 5G device." As part of a strategic agreement between the two companies, they will work together to develop 5G and IoT products and services for residential and enterprise users in Italy. TIM has been using the tiny principality of San Marino as a live test bed for 5G developments and recently secured 5G spectrum in the country's auction. The operator, which has been suffering from some major boardroom upset recently, has also confirmed to Light Reading that it has no plans to stop working with Huawei as part of its 5G strategy. (See Telecom Italia Stands by Huawei as Peers Waver, TIM, Qualcomm Boast 5G Video Call First, Telecom Italia Caught in Clash of Clans While Rome Burns, Loss-Making Telecom Italia Casts Doubt Over Debt Target and Italy's $7.6B 5G bonanza puts telcos on the rack.)

  • Meanwhile, still in 5G land, Nokia and Telefónica Germany have built their joint "Early 5G Innovation Cluster" in Berlin, comprising five sites in Telefónica's mobile network in Berlin-Friedrichshain. Those sites are equipped with Nokia 5G Airscale radio and Wavence Microwave technology and will be used in the coming months "primarily to test and measure the performance and coverage of first 5G services in a dense urban area," noted the operator.

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) is using technology from Giesecke & Devrient Mobile Security to provide eSIM management services to its subscribers. Several Orange international operations are already offering eSIM devices, including the Huawei Leo2 smartwatch, the Apple Watch version 3 and 4, the latest iPhone (XS/XS Max/XR) & iPad Pro. "We are committed to providing our customers with the best and most innovative products and services," stated Philippe Lucas, VP of Innovation and Technology at Orange. "With remote, on-demand activation of their e-SIM devices, our customers leap into the future of connectivity and connected objects. We are pleased to partner with G+D Mobile Security and take our customers to the next stage thanks to their eSIM management technology," he added.

  • Altice and private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) have decided on Hivory as the name for their telecoms tower venture in France. KKR holds a 49.99% stake in a portfolio of more than 10,000 of Altice's French towers. Altice is now looking to see if it can improve its debt situation further with some financial partnerships for its fiber rollout plans. (See Altice to Sell French, Portuguese Towers for €2.5B and Altice Europe in Talks About Fiber Assets.)

  • Italian wholesale fiber broadband network operator Open Fiber SpA has been awarded the third and final government tender for building broadband access networks in remote, underserved areas of the country: That means the company won all three such tenders. The final tender, the smallest as it involves just €103 million of public funds, will see Open Fiber install fiber that can deliver 100 Mbit/s downstream and 50 Mbit/s upstream to 296,000 premises in Calabria, Puglia and Sardinia. In other news, Open Fiber is claiming an optical transport network first (for Italy, at least) – a single carrier 400 Gbit/s link on its ZION national core transport network between Florence and Bologna. The wholesale FTTH network specialist recently announced that 20,000 homes in Verona could be connected to Gigabit broadband services following the completion of a 700km fiber network build in the historic Italian city.

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Ukkoverkot, the leading provider of private 4G networks in Finland, are providing a private LTE network to port operator Steveco for the Port of HaminaKotka, "bringing the ability to embrace IoT and digitalize processes as well as providing mobile access to vital applications and information," states the vendor. The network will enable Steveco to improve "situational awareness of container handling to warehouse logistics and port security. The dedicated low-latency network enables wirelessly connected cameras on cranes to provide real-time video streaming and analytics, as well as business-critical connectivity for trucks, sensors and workers."

  • UK cloud and data network operator Exponential-e Ltd. has achieved the CAS(T) UK Government standard for telecoms providers -- certified by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) -- for its Smartwires, WAN, VPLS, Internet and HSCN (Health and Social Care Network) services. CAS(T), it's worth noting, stands for CESG (Communications Electronics Security Group) Assured Services (Telecommunications). The accreditation, awarded to only a select few service providers, "provides assurance to public sector customers -- including healthcare providers, police, and the Ministry of Defence -- that their systems and services are substantially protected against cyber risks," notes the operator, whose CEO talked to Light Reading about the company's strategy and plans during a recent video interview. (See Exponential-e CEO on Cloud, Security & Coffee.)

  • French CDN and streaming solutions specialist Broadpeak empire, with CDN technology to help deliver its multi-device TV services. "For huge networks like ours in Russia, delivering TV services to customers in scale is a serious challenge… We need a scalable and elastic video delivery solution with a low total cost of ownership, and that's why we have chosen Broadpeak as our solutions provider," gushed Oleg Karadzhi, CTO of Media Business at Beeline Russia, in a statement included in Broadpeak's press release.

    — Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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