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Eurobites: Ireland's Cubic gets €23.5M funding boost

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: CityFibre takes fiber gig into 14 more cities; Millicom boosted by M&A; Hungary kicks off 5G auction process; Qualcomm fined.

  • Ireland's Cubic Telecom has raised €23.5 million (US$26.4 million) in funding from the European Investment Bank and says the money will go toward the development of its software connectivity platform PACE. Based in Dublin, Cubic supports connectivity services in cars and other "Internet of Things" devices and has now raised a total of €100 million ($112 million) in funding from investors including chip giant Qualcomm, carmaker Audi and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. Cubic claims a presence in more than 180 countries and says it has partnerships with 75 mobile operators. Its software already powers about 3 million devices, it says. (See Eurobites: Irish IoT Player Cubic Raises $47M.)

  • UK broadband upstart CityFibre has named another 14 cities where it will build all-fiber networks as part of its £2.5 billion ($3.1 billion) investment scheme to cover about 5 million UK properties. The update brings the total number of "gigabit cities" to 26 and the plans would extend all-fiber coverage to around 2 million homes, according to CityFibre. Backed by Goldman Sachs, the company is trying to establish itself as a wholesale alternative to UK telecom incumbent BT and is promising higher-speed connectivity at competitive rates. It has already signed up UK service provider Vodafone as an anchor tenant in some towns. Providing all-fiber networks in the 14 cities just announced will create more than 115,000 indirect jobs, said the company in the statement it issued today. The 14 cities are Batley, Bradford, Derby, Dewsbury, Doncaster, Inverness, Ipswich, Leicester, Lowestoft, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Rotherham, Slough, Swindon and Worthing. (See Brexit-bound Britain's broadband blues and BT Needs a Kick in the Ducts.)

  • Takeover activity in Panama and Nicaragua has fueled sales growth at Millicom, with revenues up 5.4% for the second quarter, to nearly $1.1 billion, compared with the year-earlier period. Headquartered in Luxembourg, but operating in Latin America and Africa, the company also managed a small net profit of $46 million thanks to "revaluation gains," after reporting a $1 million loss a year earlier. Results were less encouraging on a purely organic basis, with service revenues down 3.5% and earnings (before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) falling 2.9%. The operator is sticking to a full-year target of 4-6% growth in earnings but after the latest results said it may end the year "around the low end of our expected range." CEO Mauricio Ramos told investors the integration of the Panamanian Cable Onda business is "progressing very well" and that he expects to add a mobile operation to the cable footprint later in the year. Millicom bought mobile assets in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua from Spain's Telefónica for $1.65 billion earlier this year. (See Telefónica slims down (a bit) with M&A move .)

  • Hungary's telecom regulator has kicked off the auction process for awarding new 5G spectrum. Candidates will be able to bid for airwaves in the 700MHz, 2100MHz, 2600MHz and 3.6GHz bands, with licenses valid for 15 years. The auction is expected to wrap up in mid-October. Hungary is keen to get ahead in the 5G race and was last month reported to have dismissed concerns about China's Huawei, saying there is no evidence that its products are a threat to security. "It has not been proven that Huawei's technology would pose any risk to Hungary," said Laszlo Palkovics, Hungary's innovation and technology minister, according to Reuters. (See Huawei Stew Hits Boiling Point and Europe's Long Walk to 5G.)

  • Qualcomm has been fined €242 million ($272 million) by the European Commission for efforts to price rival Icera out of the market between 2009 and 2011. In a tactic known as "predatory pricing," Qualcomm sold its chips "below cost," said the EC, to eliminate any threat from Icera, which is today owned by Nvidia. The decision comes after the EC fined Qualcomm €997 million ($1.1 billion) last year for paying Apple to use its chips and not those from Intel. See this story on our sister site Telecoms.com for more detailed coverage. (See Qualcomm Profits Hammered by Licensing Disputes.)

    — Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading

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