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4G/3G/WiFi

Eurobites: Telecom Italia to Offer 4.5G in 11 Cities

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: SFR and Huawei test 4x4 MIMO; Drillisch wants to go upmarket; Sky takes stake in video compression outfit; ARM backs mmWave startup.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) is looking to build on its 1Gbit/s fiber presence in 70 municipalities with the launch of 700 Mbit/s mobile broadband in 11 cities on its 4.5G network in July. The operator, which is planning to invest €5 billion (US$5.6 billion) in its network between now and 2019, says that its "ultra-broadband" network currently reaches 67% of Italian homes, while its 4G network covers 97% of the population. (See Telecom Italia Renaissance Gathers Pace.)

  • Also on the 4.5G front, French operator SFR has completed what is claimed to be France's first pre-commercial field verification of 4x4 MIMO, using technology from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd to achieve downlink speeds of 628.31 Mbit/s using a commercially available phone on SFR's 4.5G network. SFR is now hoping to extend its 4.5G network to cover 90% of its customers by the end of 2017.

  • Drillisch, the low-cost German mobile operator, is planning to move upmarket and challenge the country's big three operators -- Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland -- following its €8 billion ($8.9 billion) merger with United Internet AG 's 1&1 brand. As Reuters reports, Drillisch CEO Vlasios Choulidis said: "The perception that Drillisch stands for cheap deals will change," adding that his company will be at the "same level" as its bigger rivals. (See Germany to Get 'Strong Fourth Player' With UI's Drillisch Takeover.)

  • Sky has become a shareholder in V-Nova, a London-based company developing video compression technologies. The value of the investment is £4.5 million ($5.8 million). Sky's Italian subsidiary has been working with V-Nova since 2015. V-Nova also has the backing of satellite company Eutelsat.

  • ARM Ltd. , the UK-based chip designer, has led a £17 million ($21.6 million) investment round in Blu Wireless, a company specializing in millimeter wave (mmWave) technology, the Daily Telegraph reports. mmWave technology is closely associated with the 5G standard and is being backed by some as a gigabit-speed fixed wireless alternative to cable. (See Big Questions Remain on Fixed Millimeter Wave for 5G.)

  • The UK Parliament was hit by a cyber attack on Friday, with up to 90 email accounts being affected, the BBC reports. Responding to the attack, Parliament's IT administrators disabled remote access to the emails on the system. Not for the first time, weak passwords were blamed for the hack. (See British Parliamentary Network Suffers Cyber Attack.)

  • Pan-African network operator Liquid Telecom plans to raise $700 million to refinance current debt and fund further expansion. (See Liquid Telecom to Raise $700M.)

  • Huawei has confirmed that it will develop an "OpenLab" in London during the next couple of years. The vendor announced earlier this year that it would invest $200 million in a series of OpenLabs, collaborative research and development (R&D) centers funded and built by Huawei and designed to foster partnerships and cooperation among communications technology developers. Five are already in operation in Suzhou (China), Dubai, Mexico City, Singapore and Munich, with the vendor claiming that more than 400 partners are engaged in "joint innovation and solution launches" related to smart cities, finance, transportation, energy, manufacturing and media. Paris, Moscow and Johannesburg are also set to host OpenLabs in the near future, with Huawei planning to have 20 up and running by the end of 2019. (See Joburg In Line to Host OpenLab.)

  • T-Systems International GmbH , the IT services arm of Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), has pinched Frenchman François Fleutiaux from Fujitsu to head up its international unit. Fleutiaux has worked in the IT sector for nearly 30 years, enjoying stints at IBM and Unisys, as well as his five years at Fujitsu.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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