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Eurobites: Iliad holds steady in France, makes hay in Italy

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: TIM updates on fiber rollout; Proximus brings Leuven into the fiber fold; funding secured for 5G innovation hub in UK.

  • France's Iliad saw domestic second-quarter revenues rise 1.9% year on year, to €1.24 billion (US$1.46 billion), though this respectable progress was rather dwarfed by the operator's performance in Italy, where revenues surged 68.2% to €162 million ($191 million), despite or perhaps thanks to the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. (The Italian market saw a much lower churn rate during April and May, the height of the initial lockdown.) With 454,000 net subscriber additions during the second quarter, Iliad Italia had almost 6.3 million subscribers at the end of June 2020 – an impressive 8% market share just two years after launch. (See Iliad ups fixed-line ante in Italy; TIM suffers and Iliad appears unfazed by COVID-19.)

  • Meanwhile, Telecom Italia (TIM), which is uncomfortably aware of Iliad snapping at its heels, says it has rolled out its fiber network to another 500 municipalities during August, with the focus on the underserved locations that TIM calls "white areas." The operator – which has this week moved forward with a complicated plan to create a single fiber network – has pledged to reach more than 5,000 municipalities with its brand of "ultrabroadband" by December 2020. (See Telecom Italia on track to create single fiber network and Telecom Italia desperate to control Italy's only fiber network.)

  • Elsewhere on the fiber front, Belgium's Proximus has begun to connect up the city of Leuven, with the first few neighborhoods in the northern and eastern part of the city plugged into the network and other parts of the city center and the station area due to start later this year. Ultimately, more than 50,000 homes and business in Leuven and its environs will be covered by the rollout.

  • Nottinghamshire County Council, in England's East Midlands region, has secured funding for a 5G innovation hub in the northern part of the county. The bid was put forward by the council as part of the UK government's £900 million ($1.2 billion) Getting Building Fund. The council was helped in its bid by connectivity specialist FarrPoint.

  • Google and Amazon may intend to pass on the cost of the UK government's new Digital Services Tax to advertisers and developers, but Facebook is clambering onto the moral high ground and saying that it won't follow suit – at least not yet. As the Telegraph reports (paywall applies), a Facebook spokesman said: "We are continuing to assess the full impact of the UK law and we are sensitive to any potential repercussions on customers advertising in the UK … At present, we don't intend to pass on the costs of the Digital Services Tax incurred by Facebook to our UK customers." (See Google says advertisers will pay digital services tax.)

  • Finland's Nokia has expanded its existing business relationship with the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), which the vendor describes as the largest utility company in the world. With Nokia's help, SGCC will deploy a "programmable and agile" optical network, allowing it to expand network coverage to more power stations and business offices while also increasing capacity. Nokia's 1830 Photonic Service Switch will play a key part in the upgrade.

  • A new study jointly published by Deutsche Telekom's hub:raum tech incubator and the Bundesverband Deutsche Startups e.V. (German Startups Association) has found that more than half (58%) of AI-based startups in Germany would like to be financed through venture capital – though only 21% have been funded in this way to date. The study contrasts the German startup environment with that of Israel, finding that in Israel investments in AI startups are about 30 times higher than they are in Germany, per person.

  • UK cable operator Virgin Media has added YouTube Kids – the child-friendly version of the video upload site – to its TV platform. The app, which is available to all Virgin Media customers with a V6 set top box, allows parents to tweak the controls to suit their children's particular preferences and presents a line of defense against YouTube's more unsavory elements.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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