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Eurobites: Telenor Fined $96.5M for Freezing Out Rivals

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Dixons Carphone profits slide; Telecom Italia considers fiber tie-up; Nokia outsources to India's HCL.

  • Norway's Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) has been fined 788 million Norwegian kronor (US$96.5 million) for what the country's competition authority has deemed abuse of its dominant market position. As Reuters reports, the case centers on attempts by rivals Network Norway and Tele2 to create a third nationwide mobile network in Norway, which saw them buying access to Telenor's network for areas of the country they had yet to reach. In 2010, Telenor changed the conditions of the access agreement that, says the regulator, put paid to the viability of a third network. As might be expected, Telenor disagrees with the ruling and says that it will likely file an appeal.

  • Dixons Carphone , the UK-based mobile phone and electricals retailer, has seen its full-year pre-tax profit slump by nearly a quarter to £382 million ($505 million), from £500 million ($660 million) a year earlier, the BBC reports. The retailer has been hit by a slowdown in phone sales as potential customers hang onto their existing devices for longer. Last week it was also on the receiving end of a major data breach. Responding to the tougher economic climate and changing device purchase patterns, the company plans to close 92 of its more than 700 brick-and-mortar stores this year.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) wants to have talks with smaller rival Open Fiber about possibly combining FTTH broadband assets, according to a Reuters report. TIM CEO Amos Genish said he sees obvious economic benefits in such a partnership. Last week TIM thrashed out a deal with the labor unions which will see it effectively reduce its headcount by the equivalent of 4,500 workers, in what was yet another example of telcos cutting costs by cutting staff. (See Telecom Italia Plots Layoffs, Slams Unions and Big Telcos Have Slashed 107K Jobs Since 2015.)

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has awarded Indian-owned HCL Technologies a five-year contract to streamline the Finnish vendor's outsourced IT management services, with HCL taking the place of four existing incumbents. The new deal will take HCL into new areas with Nokia, placing the focus on "key transformational areas" such as cloud orchestration and analytics.

  • Russia's MegaFon saw net profit increase by 57.2% year-on-year to 6.03 billion rubles ($94 million) in the first quarter, on revenue that increased 2.6% to RUB76.45 billion ($1.19 billion). Mobile subscribers fell by 1.4% to 76.2 million.

  • The feast of tennis-on-grass that is Wimbledon is to be shown by the BBC in Ultra HD on its iPlayer streaming service, or at least all the games staged on its Centre Court will be. But tennis fans wanting the full-on 3,840-pixel experience will have to have a broadband connection of a least 40 Mbit/s. The Ultra HD coverage forms part of a wider BBC trial of the (relatively) new technology.

  • Also of possible interest to UK tennis nuts is the news that the video-streaming element of Amazon Prime is to be integrated into BT's TV set-top box. Among other joys such as The Grand Tour and The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon has also bought the exclusive rights to this season's US Open tennis, boosting BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s overall sports offer (although of course BT customers will also need to be Amazon Prime members to feel the benefit). Paolo Pescatore, an analyst with CCS Insight, welcomed the Amazon deal from BT's perspective and noted that BT is also due to make content available from Now TV, the over-the-top service from pay-TV giant Sky. "The arrival of Amazon Prime video represents a key step towards making BT TV a one stop shop for households," he said in comments emailed to Light Reading. "The addition of Now TV next year firmly positions BT as a super aggregator of content."

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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