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Eurobites: Telecom Egypt plans subsea ring around Africa

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Tesco Mobile boss slams sneaky price increases during a time of pandemic; EU antitrust boss issues recovery reminder; a data center for DRC.

  • Telecom Egypt has announced plans to launch a new subsea system that will "outline" the African continent, connecting coastal and landlocked African countries to Europe through the operator's infrastructure. The Hybrid African Ring Path (HARP), which Telecom Egypt hopes to get live by 2023, will connect Africa's eastern and western edges to Europe, from South Africa to Italy and France along the continent's east coast, and to Portugal along its west coast. HARP's planned routes will cross the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, and will include "premium routes" on both banks of the Suez Canal.

  • The head of Tesco Mobile has called on the telecom industry to reverse "misleading" price rises implemented during the coronavirus pandemic. Commenting on research carried for Tesco Mobile by YouGov, Tesco Mobile CEO Tom Denyard said: "Telecoms companies have never played a more important role in people's lives. During one of the most uncertain financial times on record, and at a time of physical isolation, this is not a time to be making a phone harder for someone to afford. That's why we are calling on other networks to reverse price rises this year." The YouGov research contends that above-inflation-rate mid-contract price rises this year – as high as 4.5% in some cases – could exacerbate the "digital divide." Also, the research found that half of those with a mobile phone contract were not even aware a network provider could put up their prices mid-contract – despite the industry making more than £1 billion (US$1.4 billion) of revenue from the practice since 2013, according to earlier research from Tarafica.

  • The EU's antitrust czar, Margrethe Vestager, has warned member states applying for funds from the €750 billion ($904 billion) Recovery and Resilience Facility for regeneration projects – the rollout of high-speed telecom networks among them – "should ensure that the measures will be implemented in accordance with all applicable rules, including State aid and public procurement rules." As Reuters reports, Vestager was responding to a question from an EU lawmaker concerned about the potential for distortion of competition in the telecom sector.

  • The Raxio Group is to establish what it says will be the first in a series of new carrier-neutral data centers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). "Raxio Kinshasha," set to be commissioned in Q2 2022, will be a 1.5MW, 400-rack facility. Raxio currently has two data centers, one in Uganda and the other under construction in Ethiopia.

  • You don't have to be chilled to work here, but it helps. Ericsson is providing all its employees with free subscriptions to Headspace, a "guided meditation" app offering sessions on coping with stress, playlists to help aid sleep and home-exercise workout guides.

  • Anghami, a Spotify-style music-streaming app based in Abu Dhabi, is close to a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company, Vistas Media Acquisition Company Inc., according to a Bloomberg report. If the deal gets the green light, Anghami could be valued at around $300 million, say Bloomberg's sources. Anghami claims to have more than 70 million users across the Middle East.

  • Sky Mobile, an MVNO on O2 UK's network, has revealed that its customers have on average been able to "roll over" 43GB of unused data since April 2020 and the beginning of pandemic-related restrictions in the UK. With Sky Mobile's "Roll" feature, any unused data is automatically rolled over into a customer's Sky Piggybank every month and saved for up to three years.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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