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Eurobites: Italian government likes bank's plan for single broadband network

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Bouygues toughs it out in H1; BT picks security partners; Ericsson joins club 450MHz.

  • In the latest twist to the a saga that seems to have been running longer than The Godfather boxed set, the Italian government has given the green light to a single broadband network proposal that looks likely to be presented to Telecom Italia (TIM) next week, Reuters reports, citing a number of Italian newspapers. Under the terms of the proposal, restrictions would be placed on TIM's control of the network, but it would be allowed to retain a majority holding. The plan was presented to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and other ministers by the head of state lender CDP, which also happens to be TIM's second-biggest shareholder and joint controller of broadband rival Open Fiber with Enel, a utility company. (See Eurobites: Minister deals blow to TIM's network-control hopes, Telecom Italia desperate to control Italy's only fiber network and Telecom Italia crumbles like a Roman ruin.)

  • In related matters, TIM has signed a memorandum of understanding with Tiscali, with a view to developing the "ultra-broadband" market through Tiscali's participation in the FiberCop co-investment project. (FiberCop owns TIM's fiber and copper last-mile network.) The first step of the project, says TIM, is to "streamline" Tiscali's network, creating the conditions that allow for the migration of its customers to FiberCop's network. Down the line, TIM and Tiscali will assess the possibility of Tiscali acquiring a stake in FiberCop.

  • French operator Bouygues Telecom estimates that coronavirus wiped €70 million (US$82.7 million) off its sales in the first half of 2020, but it still reported sales up 4% year on year, to €3.04 billion ($3.59 billion), and EBITDA after leases up 9%, to €711 million ($840 million). Bouyges says that since it reopened its stores on May 11 the level of new customer additions has been higher than it was before the COVID-19 crisis started. It had 11.8 million mobile plan customers (excluding M2M) at the end of June 2020, an increase of 274,000 new customers since the end of 2019, including 161,000 in the second quarter alone. (See Eurobites: Bouygues Telecom scraps guidance amid COVID-19 uncertainty.)

  • After its "largest-ever appraisal" of its existing suppliers, BT has named McAfee, Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet as its new security partners. BT's decision to whittle down its security partner base was, apparently, "driven by the recognition that many of our customers find it difficult to navigate today's complex security landscape." Meanwhile, Microsoft, IBM and Cisco were all confirmed as "Strategic Partners," a nomenclature that reflects their broader involvement across the range of BT's activities, says the operator.

  • Ericsson has signed up to the 450MHz Alliance, an industry lobby group representing the interests of industries that "recognize the potential" of this particular slice of spectrum, which is generally used in market sectors such as public safety and utilities. In addition to the sturdiness required for mission-critical applications, the vendor claims that lowband 450MHz offers such benefits as: improved voice, data and video services with broadband; group-based push-to-voice and video; and support for LTE, Cat-M and Narrowband-IoT.

  • Nokia has found a berth for its OZO audio technology in Asus' new series of smartphones, the ZenFone 7 Series. OZO features such clever-dickery as Audio Focus, which can suppress distracting noises from "crowded sonicscapes" (remember those?) to focus on what's worth hearing, and Audio Zoom, which allows the phone's users to identify and amplify sounds that correspond to zoomed video.

  • Workers at tech companies in Belarus are threatening to quit the country following the highly dubious re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko on August 9, Reuters reports. An internal survey at PandaDoc, a US-based software firm, found that 83% of its employees in Belarus wanted to relocate, said the report.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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