Everything Everywhere, the U.K. mobile joint venture between France Télécom – Orange and Deutsche Telekom AG, is about to start the ball rolling on an IPO, according to the Daily Telegraph. A flotation could result in EE's owners selling 25 percent of the joint venture, adds the report. In a statement, the joint venture's owners said that they had "decided to conduct a strategic review on the asset and consider different options with an IPO as the preferred option." (See How Not to Do 4G, EE-Style.)
The head of French cable operator Numericable has been raising the prospect of a merger with Vivendi
-owned mobile operator SFR, reports Reuters, citing Le Figaro. Eric Denoyer said: "This scenario has been studied since it responds to a real industrial logic."
Is 4G going to be an expensive waste of time for European operators? Bloomberg carries a report into how Euro carriers -- EE and Vodafone Group plc among them -- are already having to cut their 4G tariffs to lure potential customers, contrasting this with the situation in the U.S., where 4G is bringing in extra revenue for operators. Benoit Maynard, a telecom analyst at French firm Natixis, says cheerily: "We've never seen revenue per user increase for more than a quarter or two in the main European markets. 4G isn't going to change that very much."
And is if to prove Maynard's point, U.K. operator 3 is today trumpeting the fact that its 4G service, when launched later this year, will not incur an extra cost to its existing 3G customers wishing to upgrade. In a statement, the company says: "As we add the next wave of technology to our Ultrafast network, we've listened to our customers and thought long and hard about the right way to do it. We don't want to limit Ultrafast services to a select few based on a premium price and we've decided our customers will get this service as standard."
Roman Abramovich, the perma-stubbled billionaire owner of England's Chelsea soccer club, has been taking time out from sacking successful team managers to take a 23.3 percent stake in Truphone Ltd., a U.K. firm that has developed a technology allowing travellers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia to use a mobile at local rates without having to change handset or SIM card. Abramovich is paying £70 million (US$110 million) for his piece of the Truphone action.
Is France becoming Google's bête noire? Following complaints from France Telecom and Iliad about Google-generated traffic clogging its networks, the BBC reports that Google has agreed to set aside a €60 million ($81 million) fund to help French media organizations "improve their Internet operations." Local news sites had been demanding that Google pays for the right to display links to them in their search results, with Google-generated ads alongside. Predictably, the search giant had threatened to stop indexing the newspapers' articles but it came up against a determined French government, which was considering a new tax on digital advertising revenues. It will be interesting to see if media organizations in other countries try to follow suit and start to get tough with Google. (See Is This a Turning Point? and
Online Liberty Tested in France.)
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading