Eurobites: EU Must Pull Its 5G Finger Out, Says Ericsson's Ekholm

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: BT launches employee share scheme, unveils underwhelming new logo; German trade group distances itself from US stance on Huawei.

  • Ericsson boss Börje Ekholm has warned political and business leaders that European governments and regulators need to quit stalling and act faster to remove barriers in the way of a speedy and effective 5G rollout. Speaking at a conference in Paris, Ekholm said: "We can't afford to have our enterprises and entrepreneurs innovating on infrastructure that isn't built for the future. 5G and digitalization must be viewed as a critical part of European national infrastructures -- just as vital as trains and ports." He contrasted Europe's feet-dragging approach with that of China and the US, which he said have a better "mindset" when it comes to the importance of 5G. He also had a dig at governments treating spectrum auctions as a cashpoint machine, saying that "today a spectrum auction is deemed a success if it raises the maximum amount of money for the tax income of the government," whereas they should be factoring in "all the other benefits you would get from rapidly building out the telecom infrastructure." (See Italy's $7.6B 5G bonanza puts telcos on the rack and German 5G Bids Top €2B, But It's Too Soon to Panic.)

  • UK incumbent BT has launched a new share ownership scheme for its employees, part of a plan to create "a more engaged and energised workforce," according to a statement. The operator is committing £50 million (US$63.7 million) to the scheme, which equates to an initial award value of £500 ($637) worth of shares per employee, says BT. The shares, however, will need to be held for three years.

  • BT is also in the throes of rebranding itself, complete with a new logo that, in an audacious move, takes the letters "BT" and, erm, sticks them in a circle. According to the Guardian, the branding is still being finalized and was expected to be rolled out from August. Keeping a straight face, a BT spokesperson told the Guardian: "Our CEO has been very clear that the new mark symbolises real change." So what do the experts think? Michael Evamy, a respected brand copywriter and author of Logo and Logotype, told Light Reading: "A change from their 'blobworld' is long overdue, and there's been a big shift towards flat, simple logotypes that stand out on your smartphone. But this seems to be taking flat and simple a bit far. The best logos convey or at least make a subtle hint towards a defining characteristic of the organization. What do we read from this? I hate to knock new identities before I've heard the reasoning behind them and seen them applied in the real world... but come on..."

    New BT Brand Nailed – Official
    'OK, guys, our work here is done.'
    "OK, guys, our work here is done."

  • Germany industry association BDI has put some clear blue water between it and the US government's decision to effectively ban Huawei from telco networks. "Europe needs to maintain its own course," the BDI told Reuters, adding that "Europe must not be dragged into the trade dispute between China and the United States." (See Trump Clears the Way for a Huawei Ban.)

  • Huawei is to pump €35 million ($39 million) into its Paris OpenLab innovation hub over five years. The lab opened is April 2018, providing a platform for experts from different industries to develop industry-specific offerings that helped smooth the path toward the Promised Land of "digital transformation."

  • Toll4Europe, the toll collection system that is 55% owned by Deutsche Telekom's T-Systems subsidiary, has been approved as a service provider for toll collection for heavy goods vehicles in Germany after several months of testing. Toll4Europe is also operating in Belgium, Austria and France, and is due to start in Spain and Portugal too.

  • Telefónica UK (O2) has created a "transitioning toolkit" to help managers support individuals who are going through or considering embarking on a gender-transition process. The toolkit offers advice for managers on issues such as confidentiality and privacy, in addition to more practical guidance, such as the correct use of pronouns.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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