Eurobites: Bids in for Italian Mobile Assets, Says Report

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: "Snoopers' charter" closer to becoming law in UK; Vodafone does smart parking with Huawei; Bouygues' Objenious in IoT link-up.

  • Fastweb SpA (Milan: FWB), Iliad (Euronext: ILD) and Digicel Group have all made bids for Italian mobile assets that have been put up for sale by VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP) and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (Hong Kong: 0013; Pink Sheets: HUWHY), according to a Bloomberg report. VimpelCom's Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA and Hutchison's 3 Italia are hoping that, by shedding some of their assets, including redundant wireless frequencies and about 5,000 towers, they will avoid having the powers-that-be in Brussels giving their proposed merger the thumbs-down on competition grounds. If the merger does go ahead, it will create Italy's largest mobile operator by subscribers. Sky , which was also said to have been interested in the assets at one stage, has apparently pulled out of negotiations. (See Wind, 3 Eye Sale of Italian Assets – Report and Eurobites: EC Probes Wind/H3G Deal in Italy.)

  • Mobile operators in the UK may have work to do on the data-gathering and customer relations front now that the UK government's House of Commons has passed the Investigatory Powers Bill. As Bloomberg reports, the controversial bill gives the UK's intelligence agencies the power to engage in bulk surveillance and the hacking of mobile phones. The modified version of the bill passed yesterday does not require companies to build so-called "back doors" to their encryption unless doing so is "technically feasible and not unduly expensive." Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has already expressed its feelings about what some have dubbed the "snoopers' charter," saying it would be a "major imposition on the freedom of an operator," while Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter have also taken issue with it. (See Eurobites: Vodafone Slams 'Snoopers' Charter'.)

  • Meanwhile, on less controversial ground, Vodafone has completed its "smart parking" trial with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , which used NB-IoT technology to help drivers find parking data and, ultimately, parking spaces in Madrid. A second trial is now about to be rolled out, in Istanbul, and the pair hope to have NB-IoT smart parking systems commercially launched by early 2017. (See Vodafone Ups IoT Stakes With 2017 Plan for NB-IoT.)

  • Objenious, the Bouygues Telecom subsidiary that deals in the Internet of Things (IoT), has formed an IoT partnership with Senet, the US provider of low-power, wide-area networks (LPWANs) for long-range-based (LoRa-based) IoT applications. The hope is that the partnership will help additional applications become commercialized more quickly, lessening the grief that can be associated with deploying technologies across different regions.

  • Belgian cable operator VOO has turned to Israel's Allot Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALLT) for protection against DDoS attacks and for help with reducing network congestion. VOO, serving residential customers in Wallonia and Brussels, claims to be one of the fastest-growing service providers in Europe. (See Belgium's VOO Deploys Allot to Secure Its Network and SDN & NFV Amplify Security Threat – Allot.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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