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Eurobites: TalkTalk feeling chipper after June-July recovery

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: France goes easy on Huawei; Ericsson and Nokia could bear brunt of Beijing backlash; A1 Austria goes a-slicing.

  • UK broadband provider TalkTalk is looking on the bright side following fiscal first-quarter results that showed revenue falling 7.5% year on year, to £358 million (US$454 million). The numbers were dented by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and not least the ensuing cancellation of live sports events for several months, starving its pay-TV offer of content that its customers were actually willing to pay for. However, TalkTalk's optimism stems from a trading recovery in June and July and "significant ARPU [average revenue per user] improvement." CEO Tristia Harrison believes the company is well positioned as the coronavirus-induced homeworking trend looks set to continue, saying in a statement: "As the UK's internet usage continues to soar, our role as the UK's only scale affordable provider of Fibre broadband has become even more important. Given this, we see a positive outlook to H1 and are confident in our full year plan to deliver stable to growing Headline EBITDA with strong cash conversion."

  • France is not going to be following in the UK's footsteps with a "blanket ban" on Huawei equipment in its future networks but will instead be selective about where in the network the Chinese vendor can play a role. That, at least, is the view of France's finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, who told France Info radio: "We won't ban Huawei from investing in 5G, we will protect our national security interests." But, as Reuters reports, Le Maire didn't hold back from condemnation of China's treatment of its minority Muslim population. (See Huawei banned from UK's 5G market.)

  • Ericsson and Nokia could face retaliation from Beijing if the European Union follows the lead of the US and the UK in banning Huawei from its member states' networks, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal (paywall applies). People "familiar with the matter" say China's Ministry of Commerce is considering export controls that would prevent the two networking equipment giants from sending the products it makes in China to other countries.

  • A1 Austria and Nokia have come together to pilot 4G and 5G network slicing on the existing A1 network specifically for rail infrastructure company ÖBB Infrastruktur. The hope is that the use of a dedicated network slice will enable more information to be directly transmitted to ÖBB Infrastruktur's traction units, allowing in turn the positions of trains to be determined more precisely.

  • Ericsson has clinched a three-year extension to its pan-India managed services deal with Bharti Airtel. The deal will see the Swedish vendor deploying automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to soup up Airtel's mobile network performance.

  • Vodacom has teamed up with China's Alipay to create what it calls a "super-app" that in theory makes it easier for Vodacom customers to manage their lives through their smartphones. "Imagine waking up to your favourite song, paying for your morning coffee, listening to a podcast on business management, sending money to your family…" waxes the Vodacom press release. Here at Eurobites Towers, we don't even brush our teeth until we've had our morning fix of business management podcastery. We're so on it.

  • The Welsh government has announced an expansion of its fiber rollout program with Openreach, BT's semi-detached network services division. The number of premises that will be reached by the FTTP foray will now increase from 26,000 to 39,000, the extension being funded by £30 million ($38.1 million) from the Welsh government and the European Union, with additional investment from Openreach. The extension will target local authority areas with less than 90% "superfast" broadband coverage.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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