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Eurobites: Orange Secures €700M Loan for High-Speed Broadband Expansion in France

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: KPN outlines FTTH plans for Amsterdam; Amazon's NHS data deal comes under scrutiny; IoT and blockchain combine for green energy.

  • Orange has agreed a €700 million (US775 million) loan with the European Investment Bank, the European Union lending institution owned by EU member states. It will use the money to finance the deployment of the operator's "very high speed" broadband network in the so-called AMII areas, which tend to be the less densely populated urban areas where the French government has issued a call for investment letters of intent. Last month Telecom Italia secured a €350 million ($385.5 million) loan from the EIB to support its 5G network plans.

  • Dutch incumbent operator KPN will start rolling out the Amsterdam portion of its fiber-to-the-home network in the first quarter of 2020, beginning in the neighborhoods of Amsterdam-North and Buitenveldert. In time, 320,000 Amsterdam households will be connected to the network.

  • Is Amazon's Alexa being given a free pass into the UK's hospitals and doctors' surgeries? That's the worry in some quarters at it was revealed that, thanks to a contract agreed between Amazon and the UK government, Alexa devices will be able to access information relating to symptoms, causes and definitions of medical conditions compiled by the UK's state-run National Health Service. As the Guardian reports, citing a paywalled Sunday Times story, the information gleaned could be used to allow Amazon to sell its own healthcare-related products. The information in question excludes personal patient data.

  • Transatel, the Paris-based telco that is part of the NTT empire, has teamed up with Ledger Origin, a French blockchain security firm, to certify the authenticity of and origin of "green" energy for a leading European energy company. Ledger Origin connects its device to smart meters to certify the authenticity of the green energy's origin, then this information is translated into tokens which are securely collected via Transatel's IoT Connect solution and registered into an energy blockchain.

  • There could be European speed-bumps ahead for the likes of Google and Amazon in the wake of an announcement by Margrethe Vestager, the EU's antitrust chief, that regulators will re-examine the set of rules collectively known as the Market Definition Notice, which are meant to determine if companies have the market power to control prices or unfairly restrict the ability of their rivals to compete. As Reuters reports, the current rules go back 20 years, and are thought by many lawmakers to have been overtaken by the twin trends of globalization and digitization.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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