Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: BT teams up with Hitachi on industrial IoT; Deutsche Telekom touts SD-WAN offering; Swisscom puts its faith in blockchain.
Orange (NYSE: FTE) is diving deeper into the Internet of Things with the launch of what it calls its "Live Booster" program, a range of connectivity modules that combine an integrated SIM card with pre-paid data bundles and can be used by manufacturers that want their creations to fire on all cylinders when it comes to matters IoT. A range of the modules will be launched during 2017 and 2018 that will be tailored to various cellular technologies, starting with 2G and followed soon after by LTE-M. The first (2G) one, called Heracles, will be the fruit of a collaboration between Orange and EBV Elektronik.
In a different corner of the same ballpark, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has teamed up with Hitachi subsidiary Hitachi Vantara to collaborate on products for the industrial IoT market. The tie-up as being pitched as a made-in-heaven marriage between BT's cloud clout and Hitachi's Lumada IoT platform.
Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) has launched a software-defined wide-area network offering for enterprises based on Ngena, the global platform that the German incumbent established at the beginning of last year with a range of telco and vendor partners. DT's IT services subsidiary, T-Systems International GmbH , is the first Ngena partner to launch a network product on the platform. Alliance partners to date include CenturyLink, Reliance Jio, SK Telekom, Altice, Portugal Telecom, Neutrona, PCCW Global, Cisco, Comarch and Equinix. (See DT Plots Pan-Net, 'Answers' B2B OTT Threat.)
Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) has set up a subsidiary devoted to blockchain, the mind-melding technology that is intended to make for more secure online financial transactions. Swisscom Blockchain will be headed up by Daniel Haudenschild, who comes to Swisscom from consultancy EY, a firm that accepted bitcoin as a means of payment and provided all staff with a virtual "bitcoin wallet." Bitcoin took a hit last week when the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, dismissed "cryptocurrencies" -- of which bitcoin is the best known -- as a "fraud."
Telecom Italia (TIM) , Fastweb SpA (Milan: FWB) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd are to join forces to test 5G on 3.6-3.8GHz frequencies in the Italian cities of Bari and Matera. The project foresees the activation of the first 5G "use scenarios" by June 2018, to reach 75% 5G coverage of the area by the end of the same year, and full coverage of the two cities by the end of 2019. It is hoped that the introduction of 5G will help Bari become one of the first "4.0 ports" in Italy, while the authorities in Matera plan to exploit the technology to enhance its credentials as the 2019 European Capital of Culture.
Cable giant Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) is to make its "Connect" app -- currently only available to UPC customers in Switzerland and Austria -- accessible to its customers throughout Europe. The app allows customers to check their mobile usage, monitor devcies connected to their home WiFi network and automatically connect to 10 million public WiFi hotspots. Liberty Global operates in 12 European countries under the Virgin Media, Unitymedia, Telenet and UPC brands.
Ensuring that it will always crop up first in the telephone directory, Telekom Austria Group has decided to go with the "A1" brand across all its operations. Until now the brand had been reserved for its domestic offering. The rebrand will be rolled out "in a gradual manner depending on local circumstances," says the operator.
Norway's Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) has completed its sell-down in VEON , the Russia-focused operator formerly known as VimpelCom. Telenor's 90 million shares in VEON have been priced at US$4.15 per share, equating to a $365 million addition to Telenor's cash flow statement for its third financial quarter.
UK altnet CityFibre is saying goodbye to Leo Van Doorne, who is stepping down as a non-executive director on the company board to be replaced by Spencer Lake. Lake's background is investment banking, most recently as vice chairman of HSBC Global Banking & Markets.