Eurobites: Ericsson's Chairman Falls on His Sword

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telecom Italia in antitrust probe over broadband rollout; Nokia swaps patents with Xiaomi; Telia says goodbye to PSTN through the medium of cake.

  • Pressure from shareholders seems to have done in Leif Johansson, who has told Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) that he will not make himself available for re-election as chairman of the Swedish vendor's board of directors in 2018. In a statement, Johansson acknowledged that Ericsson has been going through a "exciting but also challenging time," but also expressed his backing for the new leadership team headed up by CEO Börje Ekholm, who replaced Hans Vestberg last summer. (See Ericsson's Q1 Even Worse Than Feared, Ekholm's Vision of Slimmer Ericsson Lacks Detail & Dazzle and Is Ekholm Ericsson's Savior or Seller?)

  • Italy's competition authority has launched an investigation into Telecom Italia (TIM) 's handling of its FTTH (fiber-to-the-home) broadband rollout, suspecting that it deliberately tried to hinder the tender process of rival Infratel Italia, partly through the use of numerous complaints and judicial procedures. Telecom Italia has been embroiled in something of a stand-off with the Italian government over its participation in a publicly funded network rollout, apparently withdrawing from the tendering process for subsidized broadband deployment in rural communities. (See Telecom Italia in Broadband Clash With Govt – Reports.)

  • Vodafone Portugal has appointed João Nascimento as CTO, Digital TV Europe reports. He replaces Livio Borgogno, who is leaving the company after five years in the role. Nascimento previously led the Vodafone TV Hub development center in Lisbon.

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has signed a business collaboration agreement with Xiaomi, the Chinese manufacturer of smartphones. The agreement includes a cross licensing arrangement that will allow each company to use the other's cellular standard-essential patents, while Xiaomi also acquired patent assets from Nokia as part of the deal. A statement adds that the two companies will work together on optical transport solutions for data center interconnect, IP routing based on Nokia's newly announced FP4 network processor and a data center fabric solution. (See Nokia, Xiaomi Strike Patent Deal.)

  • Telia Estonia has become the first company within the Telia group to close down its PSTN network. At the beginning of the project, there were 120,000 analogue and digital phones as well as 2,600 ISDN products connected to the PSTN network. The RAS1000 radio phone network was also closed at the end of 2016 as part of this project. Check out the celebration cake!

    Telia's end-of-PSTN celebration cake: We can't decide if it looks delicious or just plain scary.
    Telia's end-of-PSTN celebration cake: We can't decide if it looks delicious or just plain scary.

  • Mariya Gabriel, a 38-year-old center-right Bulgarian MEP, has been confirmed as the next EU digital commissioner, EurActiv reports. She fills the vacancy left by Günther Oettinger, who left the post in January to take care of the EU budget.

  • Romania has become the fifteenth country to host an Orange (NYSE: FTE) Fab startup accelerator program. Orange Fab Romania is a one-year program, intended to support entrepreneurs developing innovative products relating to "smart city" technology, healthcare, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and future networks.

  • ARM Ltd. may have been swallowed up by SoftBank Corp. in 2016, but it is still a great place to work, according to those who actually work there. According to the Daily Telegraph, the jobs website Glassdoor revealed that the Cambridge-based chip designer was the second-best place to work in the UK, beaten to the top spot only by Expedia, the online travel company. (See SoftBank Muscles In on ARM in $32B Deal.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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