Financial Services

Eurobites: MegaFon Forms Joint Venture for Blockchain & More

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telefónica automates the network; Nokia and SFR trumpet 5G New Radio breakthrough; Proximus launches NB-IoT network for smart meters.

  • Russian operator MegaFon is to form a joint venture with Gazprombank, state-backed defense company Rostec and USM Holdings to develop a range of digital services, including blockchain-related offerings, according to a company statement. After all the loose ends of the deal are tied up, MegaFon will retain a 55% share in the new entity, called MFT. To help facilitate the deal, MegaFon is cutting its stake in Internet giant Mail.Ru from 12.5% to 10%. As part of the joint venture, the partners also intend to create a fund, Digital JV, to invest in appropriate tech startups.

  • Telefónica 's wholesale business unit, Telefónica International Wholesale Services, says it has completed the automation and simplification of all its network operations across a range of its most popular services, including IP/VPN and IPX, deploying technologies such as SDN and NFV to make it happen. And, in a not unrelated move, the Spanish incumbent has turned to the Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)-owned Nuage Networks to help it usher in the era of software-defined data centers. Telefónica will use Nuage Networks' Virtualized Cloud Services offering to help it accelerate the provisioning of new customers, applications and networks.

  • Nokia and French operator SFR are trumpeting what they claim is the completion of France's first 5G New Radio call made using 3.5GHz spectrum. The trial, carried out at Nokia's Test Network and Competence Center in Paris-Saclay, used the vendor's AirScale radio platform and Cloud RAN technology together with 3GPP-compliant end user test devices.

  • Meanwhile, on the IoT front, Nokia has acquired California-based SpaceTime Insight, a specialist in machine learning-powered analytics. SpaceTime Insight already counts FedEx, Singapore Power and Union Pacific Railroad among its roster of clients. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

  • In Belgium, Proximus is launching its NB-IoT network to support the 1.3 million smart meters for gas and electricity that Eandis and Infrax intend to roll out in Flanders by the end of 2022.

  • France's Bouygues Telecom is extending its use of Netcracker Technology Corp. 's Revenue Management product to fixed-line subscribers from this fall. It already deploys it to help take care of its mobile customers.

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) has appointed Paul de Leusse Orange Group deputy chief executive officer for mobile financial services. His main role will be to develop the activities of Orange Bank and Orange Money. The de Leusse resume includes stints at Crédit Agricole and Bain & Company.

  • The three main public TV broadcasters in the UK are in talks with NBCUniversal LLC over a new streaming service that they hope will help them better compete with the likes of Netflix, according to a report in the Guardian. The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 currently have their own separate catch-up streaming services, and it is hoped that by combining them onto a single platform they will stand a better chance of holding their own against the US online giants.

  • Both NASA and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) have sought out French drone experts to conduct research into how best to stop drones colliding with each other and with full-on airplanes, according to a Bloomberg report. France is one of the countries in the leading pack of the drone development race, being one of the first to regulate commercial drone use, in 2012, adds the report.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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