Eurobites: Netherlands Gets 5G Testbed

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: new director general for FTTH body; Singapore takes a chunk of Ireland's eir; EE opens up emergency network to rivals.

  • Ten partner organizations -- Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. among them -- have signed an agreement that will pave the way for the launch of a new 5G test network in the Dutch province of North Groningen. The 5Groningen project will focus on such sectors as agriculture, logistics, healthcare, the environment, automotive and energy, with the first series of tests taking place at the Zernike Campus, a large research complex. North Groningen is a rural area, hence the significance of potential agricultural applications arising from the project. For details of the other partners involved, click here.

  • The FTTH Council Europe has appointed a new director general (managing director). Erzsébet Fitori, currently director at the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) , a not-for-profit trade association that promotes market liberalization and competition in the region, will join the FTTH Council Europe in September. The previous director general, Hartwig Tauber, stepped down at the end of November 2015 after eight years in the role: Tauber is now CEO at NÖ Glasfaserinfrastruktur GmbH (NÖGIG), which aims to build a FTTH network in Lower Austria. In April, Ronan Kelly, CTO for the EMEA & APAC Regions at Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN), was appointed as the new president of the FTTH Council Europe, replacing the outgoing president, Edgar Aker, who had come to the end of his term.

  • Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, GIC, is to take up to a 16% stake in eir , the Irish incumbent operator, reports the Irish Times. GIC is buying up to €230 million (US$256 million) of eir stock from existing shareholders, at a price of €232 ($262) per share.

  • EE , the UK mobile operator that is now owned by BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), has agreed to allow rivals to make use of its state-subsidized emergency network, reports the Financial Times (subscription required). Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2), Three UK and Vodafone were miffed that EE will receive up to Ł500 million ($720.2 million) as part of the contract to roll out the 4G network, which replaces the two-way radio services operated by AirWave Wireless Inc. Under the new agreement, more than 250 of the sites that form the network will be available for use by EE's competitors. (See Eurobites: EE Lands Emergency Services Deal.)

  • As Paris prepares for today's launch of the European Championships, Sky Deutschland Fernsehen GmbH & Co. KG has secured the rights to the German Bundesliga -- one of the soccer world's top domestic leagues -- until 2021. But Sky has had to dig deep to secure the content: Over the four years of the new agreement, the average rights cost per annum will be €876 million ($990 million), compared with an average of €486 million ($549.4 million) per annum under the existing contract. In the UK, Sky has lost some of its hold over premium soccer content in recent years, being outbid in 2013 by BT for the rights to the prestigious UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. (See Confirmed: BT's Got Euroballs.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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