Euronews: Spain Joins Prism Club

Paul Rainford
News Analysis
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

Also in today's EMEA roundup: Numericable preps IPO; BT feels hard done by in US; Austrian operators count cost of auction.

  • Spain is the latest in the growing line of countries less than thrilled to be the apparent subject of secret phone-call monitoring by the US National Security Agency (NSA), according to the BBC, citing reports in the Spanish press. Documents received from low-lying US analyst Edward Snowden allege that the NSA tracked 60 million Spanish phone calls between December 2012 and January 2013. Hardly surprisingly, the US ambassador has been summoned to meet a high-ranking official. The ambassador probably shouldn't expect any top-notch tapas. (See Another Day, Another Domestic Spying Revelation Prism in a Big Data World.)

  • Numericable-SFR , France's number-one cable operator, is hoping to raise 652.5 million ($900 million) through its initial public offering (IPO), which is set for November 8. The shares are being offered at 20.30 to 24.80 each, a price range that values the company at 5.06 billion ($6.98 billion) to 5.57 billion ($7.68 billion). (See Numericable Preps IPO.)

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is feeling hard done by in terms of its dealings with US operators, reports the Daily Telegraph, and is lobbying the US government for a more level playing field. The UK incumbent says that it is being overcharged by US operators for wholesale access to their networks, while European Commission -imposed price caps prevent BT from getting a decent rate of return from its US wholesale customers, such as Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), who have been making inroads into the UK enterprise market.

  • Also feeling overcharged are Austria's mobile operators, who have been granted a special hearing with the country's telecom watchdog to air their complaints about the 2 billion ($2.8 billion) cost of the 4G auction. This, reports Reuters, made it the most expensive spectrum auction in Europe per head of population.

  • There's cautious optimism at Zain KSA (Zain Saudi Arabia) , where third-quarter net losses narrowed 15 percent year-on-year to 421 million Saudi riyals ($112 million). For more detail on the figures, see this press release. The operator now claims 8.6 million customers.

    Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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