Eurobites: Telenor Tinkers With Connected Car

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: mixed picture for Telekom Austria; Saudi Telecom buys rival's towers; WhatsApp sued over data privacy; Virgin Mobile arrives in UAE.

  • Norway's Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) is staking out its territory in the connected car market, announcing the pilot of a new IoT app helping drivers to keep tabs on their cars and establishing a Nordic Car Connect Forum with a number of partners involved in related areas such as insurance and parking. The new app, Telenor Connect, will be tested initially in Norway, Sweden and Denmark before -- presumably only if all goes well -- being rolled out across the Nordic countries and in other markets that form part of Telenor's global empire.

  • Group EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) at Telekom Austria Group declined 1.1% on a reported basis, to €1.354 billion (US$1.456 billion), on revenues that were up 2.1% to €4.211 billion ($4.531 billion). Croatia and Belarus proved happy hunting-grounds for the operator, though elsewhere fierce competition is making life more difficult, with its domestic market being driven by mobile no-frills offers and affected by the phased abolition of retail roaming fees.

  • Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) is to buy an unspecified number of mobile towers from rival operator Atheeb Telecommunication for 230 million riyals ($61 million), Reuters reports. According to the report, Zain Saudi is also expecting to offload its towers later this year.

  • WhatsApp, the Facebook -owned company that runs an eponymous messaging service, is being sued by a German consumer group over what is alleged are illegal data transfers to its parent, Bloomberg reports. The group in question, VZBV, says that it is challenging the change in privacy terms that WhatsApp made last August, a change that the messaging service believes allowed it to transfer some user data to Facebook's servers. (See Eurobites: EC Doubles Down on Data Privacy.)

  • Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company has launched its second mobile brand, Virgin Mobile, which it hopes will strengthen its position in the UAE market. Its existing brand, du, was launched nearly ten years ago.

  • UK altnet CityFibre has issued an interim trading update that says it expects financial results for the year to December 31, 2016 to be in line with expectations, with revenue in excess of £15 million ($18.7 million) and adjusted EBITDA of approximately £2.5 million ($3.12 million). The company, which is one of a number fighting their corner against the fiber infrastructure dominance of BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), says it added 5,063 connections during 2016, 58% of which were "organic" new sales. CityFibre will report full-year financial results on Tuesday, April 25. (See Eurobites: CityFibre Forges Ahead and CityFibre's Gigabit Vision.)

  • Today sees EU lawmakers and member states sitting down to hold a third round of talks on where to set the caps on wholesale roaming charges, which Reuters describes as the "last piece of the puzzle" needed to finally see the abolition of retail roaming charges within the EU scheduled for June. What the EU needs is some random executive orders to get things moving... (See EU Agrees to Ban Roaming Charges, Enforce Net Neutrality.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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