Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Volvo and Uber team up on self-driving cars; BT tries out long-range VDSL; Virgin Media to raise fees, again.
Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) Chairman Leif Johansson may soon be following erstwhile CEO Hans Vestberg out of the door, according to Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (Swedish only). Just weeks after a run of disappointing results forced Vestberg to quit the Swedish vendor, Johansson is coming under fire from leading shareholders of the Swedish equipment vendor, including investment giant Industrivärden. According to sources cited by Svenska Dagbladet, Industrivärden president Helena Stjernholm is leading the calls for Johansson to quit. Shareholders appear to believe that Johannson bears much of the responsibility for Ericsson's strategic shortcomings during a period in which China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has overtaken it as the world's biggest supplier to communications service providers. The Swedish newspaper also points out that Ericsson's share price has lost about 25% of its market capitalization since Johansson took charge in early 2011. "We don't comment on rumors and speculation," said an Ericsson spokesperson when asked about the report. For more on this topic, see:
Volvo, another well-known Swedish brand, has announced plans to develop self-driving vehicles in a partnership with ride-sharing app developer Uber. According to a Financial Times report (subscription only), the companies are investing $300 million in the initiative and will begin testing the world's first autonomous taxi fleet in the next few weeks. Technology giant Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and US carmaker Ford are among other companies investing in the development of autonomous vehicles, although it is likely to be many years before computers replace drivers on the road. (See this Telecoms.com story for more on the deal between Volvo and Uber.)
UK fixed-line incumbent BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has begun testing a long-range VDSL technology in a remote part of Scotland. According to BT, the technology uses a wider range of frequencies than standard VDSL to prevent broadband speeds from deteriorating over distances of up to 3.5 kilometers from the street cabinet. BT reckons long-range VDSL could be used to meet government targets of ensuring all UK homes can receive a broadband service of at least 10 Mbit/s. Preferring to sweat its existing assets than make costly investments in new fiber lines, BT has been exploring a range of technologies to boost the performance of its copper loops. Light Reading believes the key technology partner on the long-range VDSL project is Huawei. (See BT, Ofcom & the Battle of Britain.)
UK cable operator and BT rival Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) is due to raise prices for customers in November, according to several press reports. Monthly bills will rise by an average of 5.1%, according to the Guardian newspaper, in what looks set to be the third price hike for some customers this year. The news comes shortly after Vodafone UK said it would "remove" line rental charges for some of its own broadband customers -- a move that will effectively see those rates amalgamated with the fees for broadband service. (See Vodafone Hopes for Broadband Boost With Pricing Overhaul.)
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading