Eurobites: Europe 'Risk Assesses' Its 5G

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Liberty Global to form JV to expand Virgin Media fiber network; Telefónica lands cybersecurity deal with Havas; Ofcom looks to protect mobile users, kicks off search for new boss.

  • As the rumpus over the role of China's Huawei in next-generation networks continues to make headlines, the vast majority of European Union member states -- 24 out of 28 -- have completed and submitted their national risk assessments relating to the security of their existing and planned 5G networks. The next step, due to be completed by October 1, will be the carrying out of an EU-wide risk assessment, and then, by the end of year, a "toolbox of mitigating measures" will be developed to address any risks identified in the preliminary phases. (See Huawei Ban Would Hurt 5G Security, Say UK MPs and Huaweigate Latest: Trump's U-Turn & Weldon's Whoopsie.)

  • Cable giant Liberty Global is planning to hugely expand its Virgin Media services reach in the UK by forming a wholesale fiber network joint venture backed by infrastructure funds, a move that would put the new entity into direct competition with BT's Openreach and the likes of CityFibre, the Financial Times reports (paywall applies). According to the report, Virgin Media would be the "anchor tenant," enabling it to offer services beyond its existing UK urban/suburban markets, but the new network would also potentially be open to other service providers looking to enhance their broadband-based offers.

  • Elsewhere on the Virgin Media front, the cable operator is now offering Amazon Prime Video on its V6 set-top box. Amazon Prime members will be able to access Amazon shows, movies and (in December) live Premier League soccer action without having to invest in any extraneous plug-in devices or dongles. Virgin Media has long had a similar agreement with Netflix.

  • Telefónica has landed a cybersecurity deal with Havas, the French advertising and public relations group that employs 20,000 people worldwide. Under the terms of the agreement, Telefónica's Business Solutions division will maintain and support Havas's installed base of firewalls and network security measures.

  • Onecom, which sells communications services to almost 100,000 business customers across the UK, has secured £100 million (US$124.6 million) in funding from a number of investors to facilitate future acquisitions, the Daily Telegraph reports (paywall applies).

  • UK communications regulator Ofcom has announced commitments from a number of mobile operators that, it says, will help prevent their less deal-savvy customers from being ripped off after the terms of their initial contracts expire. Vodafone and EE have said they will reduce their prices for customers out of contract for more than three months (though the level of discount has not yet been confirmed); O2 will reduce the monthly price of its out-of-contract customers to the equivalent 30-day SIM-only deal; Virgin Mobile will move its out-of-contract customers to the equivalent 30-day SIM-only deal; and Tesco Mobile will reduce the monthly charges of out-of-contract customers who are overpaying to the best available airtime tariff. Ofcom wants to see new EU rules stipulating that mobile customers entering into a "bundled" (paying for device and airtime together) contract must be told the cost of buying the handset and airtime separately to be introduced "as quickly as possible."

  • Separately, Ofcom has kicked off its search for a successor to departing CEO Sharon White, who has been lured away from the regulator by the bright lights and reasonably priced breadmakers of iconic British retailer John Lewis. According to the Financial Times, the salary being offered is a not inconsiderable £315,000 ($392,747), so you would think the post would be filled before too long. Among those whose names are being mentioned in connection with the job, says the FT, are Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, and Christopher Woolard, strategy and competition director at the Financial Conduct Authority.

  • BBC and ITV, the UK's two main free-to-air broadcasters, have decided to launch a UK version of their Britbox streaming service, an OTT offering which is already available to US and Canadian viewers. As the BBC reports, the service will comprise an archive of shows that have already been shown before on the channels as well as programs made specifically for Britbox, in the manner of Amazon or Netflix. Britbox will be launched towards the end of the year, and will cost £5.99 ($7.46) a month, covering "multiple" screens and devices.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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