Euronews: March 15

Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), Transmode Systems AB and Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) are in the thick of today's telecom news from the EMEA region.

  • The U.K.'s Ofcom has announced a cut in termination rates (what one operator charges another to complete a call on its network) for the four national mobile network operators, namely Vodafone, Three UK , Telefónica UK Ltd. and the Orange UK /T-Mobile (UK) joint venture EE From April 1, the pence-per-minute charge will drop from 4.48 (7.16 cents) to 2.66 for 3UK, and from 4.18 to 2.66 for the others. By 2014/2015 the rate will be down to 0.69 pence per minute for all four operators. Shares in Vodafone and 02 parent Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) both dipped in the wake of Ofcom's announcement, reports Bloomberg, with Vodafone shares down 2.9 percent and Telefónica down 1.6 percent in early trading Tuesday. British incumbent BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) put out a statement in reaction to the news, saying that while it welcomed the cut in rates the "reduction glide path is more gradual than we had hoped for." (See Ofcom Cuts Mobile Termination Rates, BT to Offer Cheaper Calls to Mobiles , Ofcom Proposes Lower Termination Rates, BT Wins Mobile Appeal and UK Rate Shakeup.)

  • Transmode, the Stockholm-based optical equipment vendor, had a good 2010, with sales up 23 percent year-on-year to 699.3 million Swedish Kronor (US$108.3 million), and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) up from SEK77.3 million ($11.9 million) in 2009 to SEK122.1 million ($18.9 million). Healthy growth in the Americas region contributed greatly to the rosy picture, says the company. (See Transmode Reports 2010, Transmode Unveils 80GigE System, Net4Mobility Chooses Transmode for NGN and BBWF 2010: Euro Vendor Joins WDM-PON Fray.)

  • Deutsche Telekom has updated its Entertain IPTV service with a content recommendation engine. Subscribers can add their favorite actors and movie genres to their Entertain profiles and the service will suggest films and programs to watch. For example, if actress Anne Hathaway is a favorite, then her films like The Devil Wears Prada would show up when they are available to view.

  • Openreach , the men-up-poles company charged with ensuring other operators are given access to BT's network, has a new CEO in the form of Olivia Garfield. Currently BT group director of Strategy and Regulatory Affairs, Garfield takes over from Steve Robertson, who is "leaving to exploit new opportuniites," according to a BT statement. (See BT Appoints Openreach CEO and BT Tables Duct & Pole Proposals.)

  • Iraq's communication minister has said that the country's fourth mobile license could fetch up to $2 billion at auction later this year, Reuters reports. This will be of interest to Orange (NYSE: FTE), which announced Monday that along with joint-venture partner Agility it had taken a 44 percent in Iraqi operator Korek Telecom Ltd. (See France Telecom JV Buys in Iraq .)

  • Elsewhere in the Middle East, employees of Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) have caught the mood of rebellion in the region and staged a protest over pay and terms at the telco, reports Reuters.

    Elsewhere in the EMEA region:

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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