Eurobites: Amazon Drones Could Launch First in UK

Also in today's regional roundup: Zegona buys Telecable; PT Inovação lands role in multiple 5G projects; Zen Internet joins BT G.fast trials; Virgin Media plans WiFi rollout; NEC lands critical infrastructure job in Kuwait; Ooredoo nabs ISP license in Maldives; Metrological launches software tools for pay-TV providers.

  • Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) boss Jeff Bezos has dropped a strong hint that the UK could become the first market in which the online retailer launches drones delivering physical goods to homes and businesses. During an interview with the UK's Telegraph newspaper, Bezos lauded the regulatory environment in the UK market, describing it as a more favorable one for the drones project than that in the US. Bezos also indicated that regulation is a bigger challenge than technology when it comes to drones. But Amazon customers in the UK hoping that drones will soon supplant the old-fashioned (and none-too-reliable) mail service should quell their excitement: Bezos reckons it will be years rather than months before the service finally takes off.

  • Zegona Communications plc says it has completed its €640 million ($711 million) takeover of Spain's Telecable. Announced in July, the acquisition is the latest in a series of takeover moves in the Spanish cable market, with French incumbent Orange (NYSE: FTE) acquiring Jazztel plc and Basque cable operator Euskaltel recently agreeing to buy rival R Cable. Zegona was founded by Eamonn O'Hare, a former finance director at UK cable company Virgin Media. (See Eurobites: Orange Sells Off Jazztel Assets.)

  • PT Inovação , the R&D arm of Portugal Telecom SGPS SA (NYSE: PT), is participating in four of the 19 public-private 5G partnership (5G-PPP) projects being funded to the tune of €128 million (US$142 million) by the European Commission , according to this press release. The four projects are: SUPERFLUIDITY (a super-fluid, cloud-native, converged edge system); SONATA (Service Programing and Orchestration for Virtualized Software Networks); CHARISMA (Converged Heterogeneous Advanced 5G Cloud-RAN Architecture for Intelligent and Secure Media Access); and SELFNET (Framework for Self-Organized network management in virtualized and software defined networks). To see the full list of all 19 projects, check out this Phase 1 list. For more about the 5G-PPP and the many other industry bodies engaged in 5G developments, read our Prime Reading report, 5G: Meet the Influencers. And as a reminder of just who might get to benefit from PT Inovação’s involvement in the projects, Portugal Telecom is now a subsidiary of acquisitive French giant Altice . (See Altice Restructures to Support Takeover Moves.)

  • UK ISP Zen Internet is one of the retail service providers engaged in the BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) trial of G.fast broadband technology capabilities that's due to start soon in the town of Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire), according to ISP Review. See this Eurobites report from July 20 for more details on the trial. BT has high hopes for G.fast as a technology that can extend the useful life of its copper access network. G.fast is just one of the technologies that will be put under scrutiny at the upcoming Gigabit Europe 2015 event in Munich on Sept. 29-30. (See Gigabit Europe: Where Beer & Broadband Come Together, BT, Allied Telesis Foresee Broadband Future, A Guide to G.fast and BT Puts G.fast at Heart of Ultra-Fast Broadband Plans.)

  • Sticking with the UK, cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) is planning a big expansion of its WiFi footprint as it looks to mount a stronger challenge to telecom incumbent BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), according to a report from the UK's Telegraph newspaper. The Liberty Global-owned company intends to install WiFi hotspots at outdoor street cabinets and will also upgrade home routers so that customers can use one another's networks when moving around, says the Telegraph report. The move could help Virgin Media to reduce mobile costs by offloading traffic on to the WiFi network. Virgin Media currently provides mobile services in the UK through a wholesale agreement with EE , the mobile operator that is being acquired by BT in a £12.5 billion ($19.5 billion) deal. (See BT Locks Down £12.5B EE Takeover Deal.)

  • Japan's NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) has landed a contract worth 1.3 billion Japanese yen to provide telecom and security systems for a major oil refinery in Kuwait. The deal will see NEC develop a range of telecom systems for the Kuwait National Petroleum Company's Mina Al-Ahmadi Refinery, including VoIP and LAN services as well as video surveillance and emergency broadcast systems. The contract was awarded by engineering group JGC Corporation, which is working on the refinery for the Kuwait National Petroleum Company. NEC claims to have a track record of developing what it calls "plant-oriented communications and security systems" and says it has previously deployed similar infrastructure at oil plants in Saudi Arabia.

  • Ooredoo , the operator formerly known as Qatar Telecom (or Qtel), has secured an ISP license in the Maldives, where it already claims to be the market leader in the mobile broadband sector. The new license will allow the Qatari incumbent to offer a range of fixed-line services to customers. In a statement, the operator said it fought off competition from national and international rivals for the license during a "competitive bidding process." Ooredoo has indicated it is especially keen to address demand from enterprise customers for fixed-line services.

  • Dutch software vendor Metrological has launched a set of tools aimed at helping pay-TV operators to provide a more tailored service to their customers. The tools are supposed to allow operators to customize their line-ups based on viewing habits. Operators should also be able to integrate their services with billing systems more easily, simplifying the payment process for subscribers.

    — Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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    MikeP688 10/27/2015 | 3:37:42 PM
    Re: ..and Now? The question is to what end?    It will be curious to see where things go.
    MikeP688 10/27/2015 | 3:37:10 PM
    Re: ..and Now? Unfortunately, it seems to me that this is the new "FAD".       I look forward to your guidance to assess where we stand with an eye towards the future.
    Kruz 10/27/2015 | 3:24:11 PM
    Re: ..and Now? This explains why big companies are interested in having their own dornes. I hear Wal-Mart is about to launch its own..
    DanJones 10/27/2015 | 2:51:51 PM
    Re: ..and Now? I heard some ridiculous number on the number of enterprise and consumer drones being sold recently, I'll dig it out for you.
    MikeP688 10/27/2015 | 11:48:11 AM
    ..and Now? ....These guys were amazing as I caught them on Shark Tank this past weekend:



    All 5 "Sharks" committed to investing 300K.   It seems as if they are doing a one-up on Amazon.   It is becoming prevalent enough that at least in the US (to the horror of those anti-government crusaders), the FAA is requiring registrations.   That's a good thing for us to keep some control.   The genie is out though--isn't it?


    MikeP688 8/31/2015 | 4:50:57 AM
    Although Fun To See Evolution.... ...Amazon has not had much success w/hardware as exemplified by layoffs in its' hardware business.    What would make this any different?   
    mendyk 8/18/2015 | 5:15:17 PM
    Re: Amazon's drones in the UK first Yeah, George and Ira rolling over as well. And nice touch, with "irreplacable you."
    Ariella 8/18/2015 | 3:09:14 PM
    Re: Amazon's drones in the UK first @mendyk here's a video link for you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF1yQMPMEMo
    mendyk 8/18/2015 | 3:03:58 PM
    Re: Amazon's drones in the UK first As Cole Porter rolls over in his grave ...
    Sarah Thomas 8/18/2015 | 2:53:52 PM
    Re: Amazon's drones in the UK first Cue the Beyonce...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EwViQxSJJQ
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