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Eurobites: UK Altnets Demand Fair Fiber Deal

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: EU to relax network access rules; Virgin buys Arqiva; Ericsson partners with Google on Android TV; Bouygues goes with Mitel for UC.

  • A lobbying organization for the UK's independent infrastructure builders -- or "altnets" -- has published a report calling on the British government to up its game in relation to fiber access network rollout. The report, published by the Independent Networks Cooporative Association (INCA) and entitled Building Gigabit Britain, concludes that, among other measures, the government should be aiming to get 80% of businesses and homes on a pure fiber connection by 2026, and recommends that all business rates (local taxes) on new fiber assets should be suspended for the next ten years. It also demands a new regulatory environment and a "fair playing field" from regulator Ofcom. INCA's members include CityFibre , Hyperoptic , Gigaclear , Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) and Sky . This is certain to be a major discussion point at the upcoming Broadband World Forum event in London in late October. (See UK FTTH Altnets Press for Gigabit Britain, Eurobites: UK Fiber Challengers Join Forces, CityFibre Aims High in BT Battle and UK Needs Fiber Infrastructure Rivalry – CityFibre.)

  • On a wider, pan-European level, Reuters reports that it has seen a document indicating that the European Commission is hoping to accelerate the rollout of fiber-based high-speed broadband by relaxing network access regulations on the telcos in exchange for a commitment to investment in those networks. For more details, see this beer-soaked blog by Light Reading's resident barfly, Iain Morris.

  • Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) has agreed to buy Arqiva WiFi, a deal that will bring the UK cable operator more than 31,000 WiFi access points across 6,500 locations in the UK, as well as more than 100 employees. The deal gives Virgin customers all-important out-of-home connectivity and makes the operator one of the UK's largest public WiFi providers. Arqiva WiFi hotspots are found in motorway service stations, restaurants, hotels and airports. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. (See Virgin Media to Buy Arqiva WiFi.)

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has formed a partnership with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) on pay-TV technology, with the Swedish vendor's cloud-based MediaFirst platform being integrated with Google's Android TV. According to Ericsson, operators will be able to enter into deals with manufacturers of Android TV devices to deliver "new hardware-based functionality", access over-the-top programming and use Android TV-related apps. (See Ericsson, Google Team on Pay-TV.)

  • In related matters, Ericsson has also done a deal with broadcaster UKTV, which will see UKTV put Ericsson's Virtualized Live Playout service to work. This is a software-based service that operates in the cloud, offering the opportunity for the broadcaster to launch low-commitment "pop-up" channels. Essentially, the Ericsson cloud platform could be used by any company seeking to set up and run a live media broadcast without having to invest in expensive equipment and networks, so expanding the potential market for mass market multimedia services.

  • France's Bouygues Telecom has chosen to hold the hand of Mitel Networks Corp. as it enters the unified communications market, tapping into Mitel's MiCloud UCaaS offering. The operator's enterprise division serves more than 2 million professional and corporate users.

  • Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) has notched up a contract win in the Middle East, with video delivery software company Intigral opting for Arris's VIP4302W set-top boxes. (See Intigral Selects Arris Set-Tops .)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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