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Eurobites: Fiber flourishes in France

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Spotify complaint could spell EU trouble for Apple; Equinix opens data center in Bordeaux; Ericsson's Ekholm sounds off on 5G.

  • The pace of "superfast" (30 Mbit/s-plus) broadband take-up in France picked up in Q4 2020, with an additional 1.1 million connections being added during the quarter. This the headline finding of the latest scoreboard from regulator Arcep. Over the course of 2020, subscriptions to FTTH connections increased by more than 3.3 million, while the number of copper-based connections fell by 2.5 million. The total number of broadband connections, both superfast and notsofast, stood at 30.6 million at the end of 2020, a rise of 800,000 on the previous year.

  • Apple could soon be on the receiving end of an "EU antitrust charge sheet" relating to unfair promotion of its own music streaming service after a complaint by rival Spotify, according to a Reuters report. Such a document, says the report, could indicate whether the European Commission deems a fine is appropriate and what steps Apple must take to mend its ways.

  • California-based Equinix is to open its first data center in Bordeaux, France in Q3 2021. The new facility, called BX1, will boast direct fiber links to Equinix's International Business Exchange (IBX) sites in Paris, providing businesses in the New Aquitaine region with connections to the wider digital world. BX1 will also provide a landing hub for the new subsea cable, Amitie, which will provide a data bridge between France, the US and the UK.

  • Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm uses the company's just-published annual report to air some thoughts about the state of 5G, and in particular how Europe is faring in relation to the technology. While acknowledging that 5G is a "transformational technology," he warns against "looking for the killer 5G app." Instead, he says, Europe needs to find ways of speeding up the rollout of 5G – if it doesn't, it "now runs the risk of falling even further behind North America and North East Asia." For its part, Ericsson had powered 79 live 5G networks and signed 122 commercial 5G agreements by the end of 2020.

  • Onecom, a UK-based business telecom and cloud communications provider, has acquired 9 Group for an undisclosed sum. The deal brings more than 5,000 new customers under the Onecom umbrella. The acquired companies will retain their existing branding and continue to trade separately. Onecom is backed by LDC, a mid-market private equity firm.

  • Vodafone UK has introduced a number of new plans under the "Pro Broadband" banner squarely aimed at the army of home-based workers. Each plan comes with wireless range boosters intended to detect wireless congestion and ensure a reliable Wi-Fi signal. If the customer does not receive decent wireless coverage throughout the home, the contract can be ended without penalty. If the connection between the router and the local exchange fails, a USB dongle that plugs into the router will switch over to Vodafone's 4G network, though there is a monthly usage limit of 50GB.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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