Eurobites: Hong Kong Operator Buys Europe's Linx Telecom

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Gigs in space; IoT collaboration in Belgium; Virgin Media's FTTP pledge; Telekom Austria's Q1; EE joins LTE Broadcast group.

  • CITIC Telecom International, which provides wholesale and enterprise data and cloud services across Asia-Pacific, is to buy Linx Telecom , which provides the same portfolio of services across eastern Europe and Central Asia. The deal is set to close in the second half of the year. Linx provides its services to large enterprises and other communications service providers in 14 countries using its 24 points of presence (POPs) across western, central and eastern Europe, and Central Asia, four data centers and its 470km submarine fiber network in the Baltic Sea that connects Sweden, Finland and Estonia. One of the data centers, in Tallinn, serves as Estonia's largest Internet Exchange (known as TLL-IX). No financial details were released. According to CITIC Telecom chairman Xin Yue Jiang, the acquisition "is significant to our development strategy of expanding business internationally and increasing global network coverage, keeping Mainland China as the foundation of our business, with Hong Kong and Macau serving as both base and springboard to more opportunities." (See CITIC Telecom to Acquire Linx Telecommunications.)

  • The European Space Agency has signed an agreement with ViaSat Inc. (Nasdaq: VSAT) for work on a program called the High Capacity Satellite Applications Factory Initiative (HCS Initiative) that the two parties hope will bring satellite broadband services more into the mainstream, the partners announced. The ESA and three member states, namely the UK, Switzerland and Belgium, will contribute €30 million (US$34 million) to the program, while US-based ViaSat will create an online portal to help organizations work together as well as provide technical support for individual projects that are deemed worthy of exploration.

  • Belgium's national operator Proximus has joined forces with iMinds, a Flemish digital research center, to develop IoT and smart cities applications, initially focusing on the refinement and standardization of LoRa technology. Proximus and iMinds have collaborated on various projects in the past, in areas such as Internet video, mobile spectrum and digital TV.

  • UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) has committed to connect at least 1 million new homes and businesses to its FTTP (fiber-to-the-premises) service by 2019 as part of its "Project Lightning" network expansion plans. Virgin, now part of the Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) empire, has said it is aiming to have 17 million premises connected to its network by 2019, a rise of 4 million from where the total stands today. (See Eurobites: Virgin Sticks 300 Mbit/s Up to BT.)

  • Telekom Austria Group saw first-quarter revenues rise 1.2% year-on-year to €1 billion ($1.13 billion), while EBITDA fell slightly to €334.4 million ($379.4 million). In its home market, the operator reported a growth in mobile subscribers of more than 4%, while the number of broadband customers grew 3.7% and TV customers by around 7%.

    Table 1: Telekom Austria: Worldwide Customer Growth Q1 2016

    Customer numbers in '000 Q1 2016 Q1 2015 % change
    Fixed access lines group-wide 3,255 2,672 21.80%
    of which broadband customers 2,268 1,767 28.30%
    Mobile subscribers 20,529 19,993 2.70%
    of which broadband customers 1,768 1,708 3.50%
    Source: Telekom Austria

  • UK market leader EE is one of four mobile operators that have formed the LTE-Broadcast Alliance, with the stated aim of encouraging global support for LTE Broadcast services from all device makers. LTE Broadcast, also known as evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS), enables an operator to send a single stream of data to all mobile users in one area, as opposed to sending an individual stream to each user. The other three operators in the Alliance are Verizon, Telstra and KT.

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has teamed up with the interestingly named Trriple to collaborate on mobile wallet services in the UAE. The plan is to initially roll out the services to 500,000 "unbanked" mobile subscribers before ultimately making it available to the UAE's entire population of 9 million people.

  • The BBC reports that the German city of Augsburg is trialing traffic lights embedded in the sidewalks at ground level so screen-focused smartphone users are more aware of road safety issues. The trial was prompted by the death of a 15-year-old girl, who was hit by a tram while distracted by her phone when crossing the road.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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