Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telefónica gets approval for GVT buy; Telecom Italia reconsiders Metroweb bid; Orange spectrum plans in Poland.
The European Commission has been busy identifying its key areas of focus that will underpin its Digital Single Market Strategy, due to be officially launched in May. At an "orientation debate" (translation: "massive gabfest") in Brussels on Wednesday, commissioners set out three main strands for its strategy, namely: better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services (including the removal of "geo-blocking," whereby Europeans are denied online services that are available in other EU countries); improving the environment in which digital networks and services operate (including investment in infrastructure); and the creation of a digital economy and society with the potential for long-term growth (including the successful wider implementation of big data and cloud computing technologies). In a statement, operator association ETNO welcomed the announcements, but voiced its belief that a "broader set of measures and actions will be needed to achieve a truly digital Europe," pointing people towards the policy paper it published on the subject earlier this week. (See Euronews: Single Telecom Market Is Go!.)
Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) has received approval from Brazil's antitrust authority for its acquisition of fixed broadband provider GVT from Vivendi . As Bloomberg reports, one of the conditions put on the sale approval is that Telefónica must get rid of its stake in Telecom Italia (TIM) . Telecom Italia also tried to buy GVT but was outbid by Telefónica. The Spanish giant is proposing that Amos Genish, current CEO of GVT, becomes the new president and CEO of Telefónica Brasil, once the deal goes through.
Telecom Italia now has other things on its mind, according to Reuters: It is considering reviving takeover talks with partly state-owned broadband provider Metroweb SpA , a move that would give it a stake in a planned €12 billion ($13 billion) fiber rollout in Italy.
Analyst firm Coleago Consulting has described Orange Polska 's decision last week to withdraw from bidding for 2.6GHz spectrum in Poland's ongoing spectrum auction as an example of "strategic demand reduction." Announcing its decision, Orange said it "looked forward to the possibility of cooperation between operators after the auction," suggesting it is interested in the option of spectrum-sharing. Coleago reckons the operator wants to bring the auction to a quicker conclusion and prevent prices from escalating further. Orange is still in the running for 800MHz airwaves that are up for sale.
The pressure on UK regulator Ofcom to force BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) to spin off its broadband network into a separate company is growing, with Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) the latest operator to join the chorus calling for such a move, reports The Guardian. Vodafone and others, including TalkTalk and Sky , believe that BT has unfairly used its partly taxpayer-funded network to gain an unassailable lead over its broadband rivals, and they want Ofcom to act as it begins its first all-encompassing review of the telecom market in a decade.
CityFibre , which itself is a challenger to BT in the fiber rollout market, has announced the completion of the first phase of its FTTP project in the historic UK city of York. Sky and TalkTalk are joint venture partners in the project, and they plan to launch services over the network later in the year.
Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) has formally opened its new European headquarters in Dublin's docklands, reports the Irish Times. The search giant envisages its Irish workforce growing from 320 to 450 in the near future on the back of its new office space.
A report in The Globe and Mail reveals how the war against Islamic militants in Iraq is making life tough for telcos, as well as causing untold misery for millions of civilians. So-called Islamic State, which effectively holds sway in large parts of northern and western Iraq, has destroyed cell towers and imposes harsh penalites on anyone caught using a mobile phone. The fortunes of Zain Iraq, Asiacell Telecommunications Co. Ltd. and Korek Telecom Ltd. have all suffered as a result, though the successful introduction of 3G services in January has helped their cause, adds the report.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading