Eurobites: EE Makes Pledges on 4G Coverage & Customer Service

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: M-Pesa passes customer milestone; Zain feels the heat in Q1; fancyphone startup targets London's moneybags.

  • UK mobile operator EE , which now forms part of the BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) empire, has pledged to increase its geographical coverage of the UK from the existing 60% to 95% by 2020 and promised to ensure all its customer service calls are answered in the UK or Ireland by the end of 2016, creating 600 new contact center jobs in the process. In a statement, EE said it wanted to challenge the mobile industry's use of the "outdated population score" to describe service coverage, and pointed to today's launch of 4G services in Shetland and the Isles of Scilly as an example of its commitment to the use of the "geographic" metric. (See BT Gets Final Go-Ahead for $17.9B EE Takeover.)

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD)'s M-Pesa mobile money transfer service has now notched up more than 25 million customers across markets in Africa, Asia and Europe, with the number of users rising 27.1% in the year ended March 31. M-Pesa was launched in March 2007 in Kenya by Safaricom Ltd. , in which Vodafone holds a 40% share.

  • Kuwait-based Zain Group saw net income fall 9% year-on year to 37 million Kuwaiti dinar (US$124 million) in the first quarter, as the operator felt the pressure of fierce price competition, social unrest and foreign currency losses in some markets. Revenues remained flat at KD277 million ($919 million).

  • CityFibre , the UK fiber infrastructure challenger, has announced that the northern English cities of Leeds and Bradford have become the latest locations to get the gigabit treatment. Using ExaNetworks and Diva Telecom as launch partners, CityFibre is offering 200km of fiber for use by businesses and the state sector in the two cities. (See CityFibre Names Leeds & Bradford as Gigabit Cities and CityFibre Takes On BT With $136M KCOM Acquisition.)

  • A Swiss startup targeting the wealthier smartphone aficionado is preparing to set up shop in London's exclusive Mayfair district next month, reports the Daily Telegraph. Sirin Labs is touting an Android handset featuring specially developed security features, advanced materials and a price tag in the neighborhood of £10,000 ($14,450). The company is seeking to distance itself from the Vertu luxury phone, saying that its product is more about state-of-the-art technology than in-yer-face bling. (See Euronews: Nokia to Offload 'Bling' Brand.)

  • A Paris employment tribunal has been hearing the case of a financial trader who is suing his employers, HSBC Holdings, for unfair dismissal after they fired him for sending sensitive client data to his personal Yahoo! email account. As Bloomberg reports, Ben Lazimy is suing HSBC for €2.3 million ($2.6 million) in compensation -- he claims the bank used the email incident as an excuse to give him his marching orders.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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