Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: BT does soccer deal with YouTube; Telenor makes board changes; VimpelCom's first quarter.
Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) have jointly conducted a test of Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)'s MulteFire, an LTE-based technology that solely operates in unlicensed spectrum. The test used Nokia's FlexiZone small cells in combination with MulteFire software in an effort to show how MulteFire can co-exist with WiFi to deliver speeds of up to 120 Mbit/s safely in a densely populated environment.
BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has struck a deal with YouTube Inc. that will see the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League soccer finals appearing on the OTT video channel for anyone in the UK to watch, free of charge. Both these competitions are shown exclusively on the operator's BT Sport TV channel, but the viewing figures have reportedly been a disappointment to those that run the league, so this could be one way of boosting the numbers -- though other European games showing on its free-to-air BT Showcase channel have failed to attract that many viewers. In a related move, mobile operator EE , which is now a part of BT, is planning to introduce BT Sport to those on its 4GEE service in time for the start of the 2016-2017 soccer season. (See Confirmed: BT's Got Euroballs.)
Norway's Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) has elected three new board directors, in what it probably hopes will be the final word on the subject of "Uzbekgate," the corruption scandal in which its affiliate VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP) was embroiled. Jacob Aqraou and Siri Beate Hatlen are the new faces, replacing Frank Dangeard, Marit Vaagen and Burckhard Bergmann, who all requested to be relieved of their duties. (See Eurobites: 'Uzbekgate' Scandal Claims More Telenor Scalps, Eurobites: 'Uzbekgate' Costs VimpelCom $795M and Eurobites: 'Uzbekgate' Claims More Victims at Telenor.)
Speaking of VimpelCom, the Amsterdam-based operator, whose operational heartland is Russia and its near neighbors, is claiming organic revenue growth of 4% year-on-year in its first quarter, driven by a strong performance in emerging markets and Eurasia, though its reported revenues are down 12% to $2.02 billion. Reported EBITDA was down 19% year-on-year to $758 million, though VimpelCom attributes this mainly to "currency headwinds" and exceptional items of $40 million. The results statement notes that VimpelCom had to pay fines totaling $795 million as a result of the shenanigans in Uzbekistan, and has agreed to its future activities being overseen by an independent compliance monitor.
Full-year profits at UK quad-play provider TalkTalk have more than halved, to £14 million ($20.2 million), a result not unconnected to the high-profile cyber attack on the company last October. In a statement, CEO Dido Harding maintained that TalkTalk had "bounced back strongly" following the security breach, reiterating the company's prior financial guidance for full-year 2017 of £320 million ($462.3 million) to £360 million ($520.1 million) in EBITDA terms. (See TalkTalk Plummets on Security Woes and Eurobites: TalkTalk Rocked by Cyber Attack.)
The UK government is about to publish a White Paper on the future of the BBC and, as the BBC reports, one of the changes being proposed is making people buy a TV license to use the BBC's popular catch-up service, iPlayer. Until now, those using the catch-up service on devices other than a TV set have not had to buy a license, as long as they are not using iPlayer to watch live TV online. This could have repercussions for the likes of Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Sky , whose OTT TV services in the UK (Amazon Prime and NowTV respectively) currently include iPlayer as one of their "free" apps.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading