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Eurobites: UK's Carphone Warehouse shuts stores, makes 2,900 redundant

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Swisscom delves into drones; Virgin Media lands Manchester public-sector connectivity gig; Russia spends big on satellites.

  • One of the UK's leading mobile phone retailers, Carphone Warehouse, is to close all of its 531 standalone stores, making 2,900 people redundant in the process – though it is hoped that half of these people can be redeployed in the business somehow. As the BBC reports, the company claims that the decision is not related to the COVID-19 outbreak, but is instead a response to the change in how people are buying new handsets, with many being purchased online. The retailer's outlets that are located inside larger PC World and Curry's electronics stores will remain open.

  • Swisscom is teaming up with analytics firm Teoco to explore the potential of its cellular network to support U-space, a set of services aimed at ensuring safe and efficient access to airspace for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – or drones, in common parlance. Teoco says its Airborne RF software helps operators determine where it is safe to fly within their radio network, connecting them to the "aviation ecosystem."

  • UK cable operator Virgin Media has landed the contract to connect 1,700 public sector sites across the northern English city of Manchester on a new 2,700km fiber network. The deal forms part of a £23.8 million (US$28.8 million) Local Full Fibre Networks Programme, is the result of a partnership between various local authorities and is backed by millions of pounds of funding from central government.

  • And, not unrelated to the above, Manchester has just been ranked as the fastest-growing tech hub in Europe, according to industry body Tech Nation. As Reuters reports, tech investment in the city soared from £48 million ($58 million) in 2018 to £181 million ($219 million) in 2019.

  • Russia is to spend 42 billion Rubles (US$569 million) on a fleet of four high-orbit satellites, dubbed Express-RV, that will provide communications services to Russians living inside the Arctic Circle and to ships using the Northern Sea Route, but which will also be able to provide services to any part of the country, according to Cnews.ru.

  • The French Competition Authority has socked Apple with a €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) fine after a decade-long investigation into the tech giant's pricing practices. As Light Reading sister site Telecoms.com reports, the ruling suggests that Apple was unfairly using contractual clauses to restrict product supply and consequently control pricing of its products on the high street. Tech Data and Ingram Micro were also implicated in the ruling, and were fined €76.1 million ($83.7 million) and €62.9 million ($69.21. million) respectively.

  • Nokia and Swiss Federal Railways have completed a proof-of-concept trial to help define radio frequencies for the new Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) standard. As part of the collaboration, Nokia carried out LTE 1900MHz TDD (Time Division Duplex) testing with the rail authority in the cantons of Fribourg and Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

  • In light of the deepening COVID-19 crisis, Deutsche Telekom has postponed its annual shareholders meeting, which was due to have taken place on March 26. The new date will be announced in due course.

  • Telecom Italia has appointed Nicola Grassi as head of procurement. Grassi was most recently Ericsson's head of digital services for Italy and the South East Mediterranean region.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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