Eurobites: Vodafone Plays Hardball Over BT/EE

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Cisco invests in French startups; Monitise losses widen; CityFibre bolsters management team.

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) will be asking the UK competition watchdog to force BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and EE to relinquish spectrum and ease wholesale access to BT's broadband network as a condition of BT's acquisition of the mobile joint venture getting the green light, according to a Financial Times report (subscription required). Vodafone UK CEO Jeroen Hoencamp tells the newspaper that the company's last attempt to enter the broadband market was scuppered by having to use BT's wholesale services. Hoencamp also unveiled plans for a ₤1 billion (US$1.5 billion) investment in its UK network which, the operator claims, will make London one of the world's best-connected cities. The UK market is moving towards quad-play, and Vodafone knows it needs a piece of the action if it is not to be left behind. (See Convergence: All the Rage in 2015 and BT Locks Down £12.5B EE Takeover Deal.)

  • Elsewhere on Planet Vodafone, the operator is planning to launch a new IPTV service in Ireland, reports The Independent. According to the report, Vodafone has been in discussions with several potential partners for the project, Sky among them.

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), the US network equipment giant, is to invest $100 million in French startups, reports Reuters. The investment forms part of a larger partnership between Cisco and the French government to develop better, safer networks.

  • Monitise plc , the UK-based mobile money specialist, saw losses widen in the first half of fiscal 2015 to ₤30.8 million ($47.3 million), from ₤10.2 million ($15.6 million) the previous year. In April the company is launching the Monitise Central Platform, which will enable cloud-based mobile money services.

  • CityFibre , the UK company that is hoping to challenge BT in the high-speed broadband market, has hired three new senior executives, among them James McClafferty, a former BT Scotland management board member, and Neil Styles, former head of technical strategy at broadband provider TalkTalk. (See CityFibre Bolsters Leadership Team and CityFibre Aims for BT's Wholesale Business.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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