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Eurobites: Virgin Media O2 in fiber joint venture talks – report

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Cevian makes its presence felt at Vodafone; Telefónica boss to chair GSMA board; Spotify in damage limitation mode.

  • The two owners of Virgin Media O2, Telefónica and Liberty Global, are contacting potential investors with a view to setting up a joint venture that could accelerate Virgin's fiber rollout plans in the UK and challenge the dominance of BT, according to a report in the Financial Times (paywall applies). The new venture, says the report, would aim to build out a new network providing full-fiber connectivity to an additional 7 million homes, mainly in areas that are currently only served by copper lines. The network would also be available on a wholesale basis to other broadband providers. (See Liberty Global's network upgrade plan not one-size-fits-all and Eurobites: Our gigabit work is done, says Virgin Media O2.)

  • Cevian Capital, an activist investor based in Sweden, has been building up its stake in Vodafone, prompting some to believe it will start to exert pressure on the global operator to up its game. According to a Guardian report citing Bloomberg, analysts think Vodafone may be encouraged by Cevian to bolster its standing in the UK market, possibly through acquisition or by selling down its remaining stake in the mobile towers business it spun off in 2019. (See Vodafone's towers aren't worth as much as it thought.)

  • José María Álvarez-Pallete, the boss of Telefónica and occasional madcap blogger, has been elected as the chairman of the board of the GSMA, replacing Stéphane Richard, the former Orange CEO who stepped down following a historical fraud conviction. Álvarez-Pallete will serve from February 2022 (just in time for the GSMA-hosted Mobile World Congress) to December 2022.

  • Greece's Intracom Telecom has landed a security analytics contract at Athens International Airport. Intracom's PSIM software platform, SISC2, will be deployed in combination with ground surveillance radar, fiber optic intrusion sensors and night-vision cameras for better and more coordinated threat detection.

  • Spotify, the Sweden-based audio streaming service, is in damage limitation mode following the high-profile flounce-outs of respected rocker Neil Young and iconic folkie Joni Mitchell, who have both requested their music be withdrawn from Spotify's platform, Young doing so specifically in protest at Spotify's hosting of Joe Rogan's controversial podcast, which appears to be catnip for antivaxxers. In a blog, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek outlined what he plans to do about the rumpus, promising to include a "content advisory" to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19 and publishing its "platform rules," which were written by Spotify's internal team "in concert with a number of outside experts and are updated regularly to reflect the changing safety landscape." If Taylor Swift joins in the flounce-out fun, Daniel Ek is going to need that Chill Out Mix.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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