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Eurobites: Apple gives EU the €13B finger

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Belgium fines Google for failing to forget; Ericsson helps out at Omantel; China's ambassador slams UK's U-turn on Huawei.

  • The European Union has suffered a major setback in its battle against the US tech giants' perceived failure to pay their fair share in taxes. The Luxembourg-based General Court, the EU's second-highest court, ruled in favor of Apple and the Irish tax authorities in their dispute with the EU over the €13 billion (US$14.8 billion) in back taxes it says it is owed by the US company. As Reuters reports, the EU's pursuit of what it claims it is owed is part of the European Commission's crackdown on what it sees as "sweetheart deals" between (largely US-based) technology companies and some EU countries. (See Eurobites: Apple Stumps Up €14.3B in Unpaid Taxes to Ireland (But Doesn't Really Mean It) and Eurobites: Don't Pick On Apple, Says Irish Telecom Tycoon.)

  • And, in another patch of the same ballpark, Belgium's data protection authority has fined Google €600,000 ($686,000) for allegedly not complying with EU rules on a citizen's "right to be forgotten." According to the authority, Google failed to remove links from its search results to articles deemed "obsolete" and likely to damage the reputation of a person with a public profile in Belgium. (See Eurobites: EU Warns Google Over 'Right to Be Forgotten' Opportunism and The Right Not to Be Forgotten.)

  • Omantel has chosen Ericsson to support its 5G radio access network (RAN) deployment in what is described as a "multi-year partnership." Various bits of Ericsson hardware and software, including advanced antenna systems and 3GPP standards-based 5G New Radio (NR), will be deployed in Omantel's network, with commercial 5G deployment slated for a number of key locations across Oman, including Salalah, Nizwa and Sur.

  • China's ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, has predictably condemned the UK's decision to completely ban Huawei from its 5G networks as "disappointing and wrong," adding that it throws into doubt whether the UK "can provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from other countries." As the BBC reports, the UK has bowed to pressure from the Trump administration and ordered companies to rip out Huawei gear from their 5G networks by 2027. (See Huawei banned from UK's 5G market, BT says Huawei ban is not so bad after all, Writing on UK wall for Huawei and Huawei ban risks turning UK into Nordic duopoly.)

  • Finnish operator Elisa, which has carved out a reputation as something of a 5G pioneer, saw second-quarter revenue rise 2% year on year to €461 million ($527 million), largely on the back of its Polystar acquisition, a growth in equipment sales and a strong performance at its Estonian business. Comparable EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) grew 5.7% to €168 million ($192 million).

  • It was a different story at Dixons Carphone, the UK mobile phone and electronics retailer, where the COVID-19 pandemic sent full-year profits tumbling to £140 million ($176 million), down from £339 million ($428 million) in the previous year.

  • Crosslake Fibre has announced what it says is the first fiber-optic subsea cable to be built across the English Channel for nearly 20 years. The 550km CrossChannel Fibre project will link Slough in the UK to the marginally more alluring Paris, France. EGS will undertake the marine and burial surveys for the project.

    New English Channel link ahoy!
    New English Channel link ahoy!

  • Telefónica has expanded its collaboration with Erictel to develop and commercialize new IoT and big data offerings, with a focus on aids to better managing engineers in the field. The two companies have been working together over the last few years, pitching M2M offerings in Latin American and Spain.

  • Openreach, BT's semi-detached network access division, has revealed the names of 94 – count 'em! – towns and villages in Northern Ireland where it will be rolling out full-fiber broadband over the next two years. Overall, 124 locations across NI have now been included in Openreach's build program and the company says it is "building to 750 premises every day."

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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