Eurobites: Telia Buys Into Smart City Future

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Dido Harding steps down at TalkTalk; wholesale roaming caps finally agreed; Sky moves content closer with Nokia's Velocix; Hitler's phone up for auction.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

February 1, 2017

4 Min Read
Eurobites: Telia Buys Into Smart City Future

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Dido Harding steps down at TalkTalk; wholesale roaming caps finally agreed; Hitler's phone up for auction.

  • Yesterday we had Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) parking itself squarely in the connected-car space; today it's the turn of another Nordic operator, Telia Company , to burnish its "smart city" credentials with the acquisition of Fält Communications, the market leader in Scandinavia when it comes to mobile platforms on buses and the connectivity brains behind every speed camera in Sweden. Fält Communications has around 40 employees and claims more than 160,000 installations, of which 40,000 are online, in buildings, vehicles and other IoT-linked scenarios. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed: The price paid is not likely to be significant but the real value here is in the strategic direction Telia is taking. As is often the case, such moves by the likes of Telenor and Telia wil likely be replicated elsewhere across Europe.

    • It's Thank You and goodnight from Dido -- Dido Harding, current CEO of UK broadband provider TalkTalk , that is, who is stepping down from her role in May, to be succeeded by Tristia Harrison, currently managing director of TalkTalk's consumer division. Charles Dunstone, who himself is stepping down from his role as chairman of Dixons Carphone in May, will assume the role of executive chairman.

      TalkTalk hit the headlines in 2015 for a massive security breach from which it took many months to recover. But while some media coverage is suggesting that incident might have been the catalyst for her departure, that doesn't appear to be the case: If every CEO quit because their company had been subject to a security breach then it would be good news only for headhunters -- and if she was being forced out because of TalkTalk's hack, that would surely have happened a long time ago, not 18 months after the fact. But when you are the CEO of a public company and the share price is down 24% compared to a year ago, then it seems your time is up. What is notable from Ofcom statistics, though, is that while TalkTalk still fails to achieve above-average scores in customer satisfaction ratings for fixed-line voice and broadband services (according to the Q3 2016 statistics), TalkTalk's customer satisfaction ratings have improved significantly during the past year, albeit from a pitifully poor starting point, so Harding has at least one feather in her cap as she leaves. the operator also published a trading statement today: In the three months to December 31, 2016, group revenues at TalkTalk fell 5.2% year-on-year to £435 million (US$549.4 million).

    • On Tuesday evening the EU parliament and Council negotiators finally agreed on wholesale roaming price caps. Apart from where they apply to SMS messages, the caps agreed are significantly lower than those proposed by the European Commission. They are as follows: €0.032 for voice call, instead of the proposed €0.04; a gradually decreasing cap, from €7.7 (6/15/2017) to €6 (1/01/2018), €4.5 (1/01/2019), €3.5 (1/01/2020), €3 (1/01/2021), €2.5 (1/01/2022) per gigabyte instead of €0.0085 per megabyte (or €8.5 per gigabyte); and €0.01 for text messages, as proposed by the Commission. But the talking's not over yet: the agreement still needs to be formally approved by the Industry Committee, Parliament as a whole and national ministers before coming into force. Whatever happens in those talks, mobile roaming charges for EU consumers will end on June 15. (See Eurobites: Dunroamin'.)

    • In France, Cellnex Telecom has reached a deal with Bouygues Telecom for the construction of up to 3,000 sites, Reuters reports. The deal is worth €854 million ($921 million).

    • UK pay-TV giant Sky is to deploy Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) 's Velocix content delivery network to allow it to cache content closer to customers in localized data centers. The system currently serves the Sky On Demand service, but the broadcaster is hoping to expand it to also support Sky Go (its mobile offering) and its over-the-top Now TV services. (See Sky Deploys Nokia's Velocix.)

    • Dutch national operator KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) announced its fourth-quarter and full-year results today: For an update on how KPN is faring, see our mini analysis: Can KPN Complete a Turnaround?

    • Finnish operator DNA Oy has called on Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) to boost its mobile broadband offering in Finland's more sparsely populated areas. DNA is using the Ericsson Radio System for mobile broadband in the 700MHz spectrum. Maybe it's something to do with the weather, or the price of beer, but the Finnish population is thought to be the most active in the world when it comes to using mobile data.

    • As macabre mementos go, it's right up there: The Daily Mirror reports that a blood-red "mobile" phone used by Adolf Hitler throughout World War II is being put up for auction in Maryland, US, later this month. The Bakelite phone, which was found in Hitler's bunker by Russian troops at the end of the war, is expected to fetch £400,000 ($505,000) at auction. Interesting. Yet chilling.

      — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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