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Eurobites: Orange's Richard Braced for Fraud Case Verdict

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ofcom looks to help out public service broadcasters; Ericsson demos wireless factory; Net Insight lands Swiss deal.

  • It looks like being a worrisome weekend for Orange CEO Stephane Richard, as on Tuesday (July 9) a Paris court will finally decide whether he is guilty of fraud and potentially face 18 months in jail. As Bloomberg reports, the allegations date back to 2008, when Richard was accused of helping businessman Bernard Tapie cheat the French government out of around €403 million ($455 million). Even if he does not go to jail, Richard will have to resign if convicted, according to France's finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, leaving the operator with a major succession headache. According to Bloomberg, potential replacements include current deputy CEO Ramon Fernandez and Fabienne Dulac, who heads up Orange's domestic business.

  • Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, is attempting to give public service broadcasters (PSBs) a fairer crack of the whip, drawing up a range of measures that it hopes will make the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 PSB channels easier to find on program guides and clearly visible on Internet-connected devices such as smart TVs, set-top boxes and streaming sticks. The regulator is also endorsing a range of commitments by ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 to increase their focus on high-quality children's programs. Public service broadcasting is at something of a crossroads, facing unprecedented and deep-pocketed competition from the likes of Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.

  • Ericsson has been practising what it preaches at its manufacturing facility in Tallinn, Estonia, deploying a dedicated cellular network from Telia and a ton of sensors to control automated guided vehicles, facilitate augmented reality troubleshooting and monitor the environment. To see the factory in action and lots of people in actual white coats, check out this Ericsson video:

  • Sweden's Net Insight has been chosen by Swisscom Broadcast to expand the latter's core media network using Net Insight's IP-based Nimbra 1060 platform.

  • BT has teamed up with the Indian Institute of Science to open a new collaborative research center in Bangalore that will focus on the development of artificial intelligence, mobility and software engineering technologies. Like BT's other collaborative research facilities dotted around the globe, this new center will be closely hooked up to BT Labs at Adastral Park in the UK.

  • Earlier this week Orange was detailing its involvement with the imminent Tour de France, and today it's the turn of Proximus to pull a promotional wheelie relating to the cycling extravaganza, which starts tomorrow. The Belgian operator is contributing a crowd management tool, Real Time Crowd Management, which draws on smartphone signals to draw a reliable snapshot of crowd flows during the event. This helps organizers decide which streets can be safely closed off, how traffic can be diverted, and so on, as the riders thunder on by.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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