Eurobites: BT Frozen Out of UK's 2.3GHz Spectrum Auction

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Facebook hiring in the UK; Nokia manages drones in UAE; bringing SIM cards back to life in Ghana.

  • UK regulator Ofcom has set out its proposals for next year's auction of 190MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands, recommending a cap of 255MHz on "immediately useable" spectrum that any one operator can buy in a bid to stop spectrum holdings from becoming "unbalanced." This in effect means that BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)/EE , which currently holds 45% of immediately reusable UK mobile spectrum, would not be able to bid for spectrum in the 2.3GHz band. The proposals aren't enough for rival operator Three UK , whose CEO, Dave Dyson, accuses BT and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) of stockpiling airwaves and maintains that a 30% cap on total spectrum ownership and a "spectrum reservation" are required to give smaller operators the chance to compete on a level playing field. Interested parties have until January 30, 2017 to respond to Ofcom's proposals. (See Eurobites: 3 Sparks Rumble in UK's Spectrum Jungle.)

  • Facebook is to hire an additional 500 employees when it opens its new London headquarters next year, the BBC reports, increasing its current UK headcount by around 50%. According to Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook's vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, many of the new roles will be "high-skilled engineering jobs."

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has done a deal with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to develop an ecosystem to support an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that will allow the authority to track and manage all UAS activity in the country's airspace. The vendor claims that the project will enable the UAE to become the first country that allows UAS use in a "safe and secure environment" and help embrace drone technology as part of a "smart city" strategy.

  • Barclays, the British banking giant, is introducing technology at its ATMs that will allow customers with an Android smartphone to withdraw money by simply tapping the ATM with their device. As the Daily Telegraph reports, the bank hopes that, as well as offering marginally more convenience, the technology will reduce the likelihood of their bank cards being "skimmed" by rogue ATMs for their account details. Barclays says it developed the technology itself.

  • Gemalto , the Netherlands-based digital security specialist, has launched what it says is the world's first system for real-time reactivation of dormant SIM cards. LinqUs SIM Reactivation is being launched in Ghana, where the SIM market is almost entirely prepaid, and most users accumulate two SIM cards as they shop around for bargain tariffs.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • PaulERainford 11/22/2016 | 4:27:17 AM
    Re: ATM The trick is, Kelsey, to make sure you have hardly any money in your bank account. Works for me.
    Kelsey Ziser 11/21/2016 | 12:16:27 PM
    ATM I have mixed feelings about being able to withdraw money by tapping my smartphone to the ATM...what if someone steals your phone? I feel like this would increase security risks, not reduce them. 
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