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Eurobites: CityFibre raises further £1.1B to take the fiber fight to BT

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: A1 Austria takes Offensity across Europe; BT's fancy new digs in Brum; Nokia helps spread the digital gospel in Africa.

  • UK altnet CityFibre has raised more funds for its ongoing challenge to BT on the fiber rollout front with the sale of a £825 million (US$1.14 billion) stake to Interogo Holdings, which bankrolls furniture retailer Ikea, and a £300 million ($415 million) extension to its existing bank loan agreements. As the Telegraph reports, CityFibre will use the war chest to finance its ambition to bring the full-fiber experience within reach of 8 million homes. CityFibre, the largest of the alternative networks in the UK, is currently owned by West Street Infrastructure Partners, a fund managed by Goldman Sachs, and Antin Infrastructure Partners, which each hold a 35% stake. (See CityFibre said to be closing in on new stakeholder deals, CityFibre to Raise £200M, Ramp Up FTTH Challenge to BT and Fiber push in UK might bode ill for BT.)

  • A1 Telekom Austria is to roll out its strangely named cloud security offering ("Offensity") into five more European countries, namely Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia. It has been available in Austria and Germany for three years.

  • It may seem an odd time to be opening a spanking new 17-floor office space, but BT is doing just that with Three Snowhill in Birmingham, which it has designated as its regional hub for the Midlands region of the UK. The operator plans to recruit around 1,000 people to fill it, though it admits that "hybrid working " – where employees some of the time at home and some of the time in the office – will probably be the way forward for some of its teams. Philip Jansen, BT's CEO, called the opening proof that the operator is serious about the UK government's much vaunted but little understood "levelling up" agenda, whereby organizations try to become less South East-centric and more in touch with the UK's so-called provinces. (Fun fact: Three Snowhill will boast a "bike doctor," to encourage more employees to cycle to work.)

  • Nokia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Telecommunications Union to help connect the unconnected with broadband and identify potential new uses of the latest digital technology. There will be a particular focus on exploiting digital technology for the benefit of women and the underprivileged in both rural and urban areas.

  • Obscure online bookseller Amazon is to more than double its number of employees in Spain to 25,000 by 2025, according to a Reuters report citing Amazon's Spanish boss Mariangela Marseglia (paywall may apply). The number of Amazon's distribution centers is also expected to rise to 40 (from 31 now) by the end of the year.

  • UK-based Colt has committed to achieving global net zero emissions by 2030. Working within the framework set by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), the company says it will reduce its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 46% by 2030 and work with suppliers to significantly reduce Scope 3 emissions throughout its supply chain, to limit global warming to well below 2°C by 2030.

  • Telecom product placement eh? Where will it end? Well, on the set of UK TV's Coronation Street, apparently. The inexplicably loved soap will feature the latest "store opening" by EE, the BT-owned mobile operator whose advertising thrust in recent years has mainly been centered on the evergreen edgy charisma of Kevin Bacon. The shop facade will initially be hidden behind an EE branded hoarding, the actual fake shopfront being unveiled later this year.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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