Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Deutsche Börse Group invests in Swisscom fintech startup; Russians protest against the unplugging of their Internet; Uzbek telecom turmoil takes another turn.
Nokia has landed a five-year 4G network expansion deal with Pakistan mobile operator Jazz, the Finnish vendor's Airscale radio stations and related massive MIMO technology being deployed in the central and southern Punjab province as well as the Sindh and Baluchistan provinces. The network expansion is intended to improve Jazz's services in a number of densely populated cities, Faisalabad and Multan among them.
Deutsche Börse Group is investing an unspecified sum in Custodigit, a distributed ledger technology (DLT) startup founded in 2018 by Swisscom and fintech specialist Sygnum. The investment is part of a "strategic partnership" between the trio to "jointly build out and grow a trusted and regulatory compliant financial market infrastructure for digital assets." Like other telcos, Swisscom is looking to diversify and explore the potential of emerging technologies such as DLT, which has been used to develop applications such as blockchain. Swisscom formed a blockchain subsidiary in late 2017.
Thousands of Russians took to the streets over the weekend to protest against the government's plans to exert greater control over the Internet. As the BBC reports, a bill introduced last month, in the name of greater cybersecurity, will effectively allow the government to "isolate" Russia's Internet service from the rest of the world by preventing the country's Internet traffic from being routed through foreign servers.
The bribery scandal in Uzbekistan that has cost MTS, Telia and Vimpelcom millions of dollars, has taken another turn with the indictment of the daughter of the former president of the central Asian country. As the Financial Times reports (subscription required), Gulnara Karimova is alleged to have accepted more than $865 million in bribes between 2001 and 2012 from the trio of operators, who were wanting access to the Uzbek market. (See Eurobites: MTS Pays US Authorities $850M to Settle Uzbekistan Bribery Case and Eurobites: Telia Coughs Up $965M to Exit Uzbek Nightmare.)
The UK's All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Business has written to the head of communications regulator Ofcom expressing concern that mobile operators won't have to provide evidence that they have built sufficient masts to fulfill their coverage obligations in rural areas until 2024. The letter states: "Ofcom has acknowledged across several reports … that mobile operators are reluctant to build masts in rural areas due to significant cost involvement required, therefore it seems irresponsible for there to be a lack of monitoring during this period."
BT has been sued for £7.2 million ($9.3 million) plus interest by UK housebuilder Persimmon for what the latter claims is unpaid infrastructure work. As ISP Review reports, Persimmon says the work in question was carried out on 759 of its housing developments between 2008 and 2016. According to the lawsuit, BT "frustrated the process of inspection and certification."
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading