Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: MTS, VimpelCom extend LTE deal; EU data protection regulation voted through; crackpot crooner causes trouble for Magyar Telekom.
As part of a move to further strengthen their existing relationship, Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) are to form a joint Mobile Expert Group that will comprise between ten and 15 engineers from each of the partners, who will "share ideas and pool their skills." Swisscom describes the formation of the new team as an "unusual cooperation model." According to the partners, the new joint team "will define new ways of working to drive innovation and transformation of Swisscom's mobile network." Ericsson is a long-time supplier (more than a decade) of mobile network equipment and supporting services to the Swiss incumbent. (See Swisscom Deploys Ericsson's Network Manager, Ericsson Enables Swisscom's LTE Roaming, Ericsson Wins Swisscom Deal and Swisscom EDGEs With Ericsson.)
Russian rivals Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) and VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP) are extending their existing LTE spectrum-sharing agreement, with a plan to share spectrum in the 2600MHz range in 20 Russian regions, beginning in 2016. The operators say that the spectrum sharing will enable them to double current transfer speeds, reaching peak speeds of 150 Mbit/s. MTS claims that jointly operated basestations have already increased its rate of LTE subscriber growth by 30% faster than the Russian average and reduced construction costs by 10-15%. (See MTS's Russian Resolution.)
Members of the European Parliament voted on Thursday to back proposed new EU data protection regulation by 48 votes to four, with four abstentions. The new rules include the principle of individuals giving "clear and affirmative consent" to the processing of their personal data by, for example, actively ticking a box when they visit a website. This informal agreement on the regulation will be voted on by the full Parliament in spring 2016, and then, if passed, member states will have two years to embed the regulation into their national law. (See Eurobites: EU Data Laws Clear Another Hurdle.)
Hungary's Magyar Telekom plc has become embroiled in a row with the government over the operator's decision to terminate a sponsorship deal with a singer, Akos Kovacs, who made some rather Neanderthal remarks about women, reports Reuters. Kovacs, who happens to be a vocal supporter of the center-right government, said that women should "fulfil the female calling by belonging to someone, bearing a child for someone." For its part, the government said that Telekom's decision to cancel the sponsorship deal "violates both the spirit and letter of the Hungarian constitution."