Eurobites: Telekom Austria Tests Virtual CPE

Also in today's regional roundup: Gemalto investigates intelligence agencies hacking claims; BT welcomes Euro support over pricing rules; T-Mobile Austria bundles Netflix; and more.

  • Telekom Austria AG (NYSE: TKA; Vienna: TKA) has completed the trial of virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) capabilities from NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) and its Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) subsidiary Netcracker Technology Corp. The trial revolved around the replacement of dedicated residential gateway systems with standard servers, service and network orchestration software, SDN controllers and virtual network functions (firewall, parental control enforcement, media streaming management) from third party partners. The introduction of virtual CPE, both in residential and enterprise service propositions, is set to be one the key focus areas for initial NFV deployments. (See Telekom Austria Completes vCPE Trial, Colt Bigs Up the Benefits of Virtual CPE , The Rise of Virtual CPE and Virtual CPE: An Early Mover for Virtual Networks.)

  • Amsterdam-based chipmaker Gemalto is said to be investigating a report that intelligence agencies from the US and UK hacked into its systems. The report appears to have originated with US whistleblower Edward Snowden and claims spy agencies stole encryption tools from Gemalto that allow them to monitor a significant chunk of global voice and data communications. The news knocked more than 7% of the value of Gemalto's shares, which were trading at €67.35 (US$76.86) by lunchtime Friday on the Amsterdam exchange.

  • European authorities have lent their support to UK fixed-line incumbent BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) in the current fracas over broadband pricing. According to a report from the UK's Financial Times newspaper (subscription required), the European Commission has argued that UK regulator Ofcom should not be including BT's sports channels with other wholesale costs when carrying out "margin squeeze" tests (to work out if BT is setting wholesale prices too high or retail prices too low for its rivals to compete). Not surprisingly, BT has welcomed the Commission's suggestion, saying it would allow it to recover sports costs over a longer period. Ofcom is said to be considering its response. (See BT, EE Put Squeeze on Broadband Rivals and BT, Sky Splash £5.1B on Premier League Rights.)

  • Spain's Telefónica is reported to have raised another €2.5 billion (US$2.9 billion) in debt to replace a 2012 loan that matures in 2017. The new five-year deal is with a group of international and domestic banks, according to Reuters, and comes with an option to extend the loan over a seven-year period. With conditions still weak in its domestic market, Telefónica has been selling assets in other European countries to reduce debts and is currently negotiating a possible sale of its UK subsidiary to Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa. (See Hutchison Offers $13.9B for UK's O2.)

  • T-Mobile Austria unveiled a new 4G deal allowing customers choosing one of several LTE tariffs to use the Netflix online-movie service free of charge for a six-month period. The operator said the tie-up would prove that even the most data-intensive applications work reliably on its 4G network and allow customers to watch movies on the go. Tie-ups with OTT players are becoming increasingly common in Europe as operators fight to attract and retain 4G customers.

  • Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) is preparing to launch 4G services in Serbia as soon as May after winning two blocks of 1800 MHz spectrum in the East European country's auction for just €7 million ($8 million), the operator announced Friday. The country's other two mobile operators, Telekom Srbija and Vip Mobile, also paid the same amount for their ten-year licenses.

  • Virgin Media Business Ltd. has teamed up with media and telecoms passive infrastructure specialist Arqiva to offer the UK's mobile operators sites and connectivity for 4G small cell deployments in multiple UK cities. (See Virgin Media Business, Arqiva Team on 4G Small Cell Backhaul.)

    — Iain Morris, News Editor, Light Reading

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