Eurobites: EU May Free Up Fixed-Line Charges

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ericsson unplugs its modems division; rescue plan for Phones 4u; BT and TalkTalk row on.

  • Price caps on fixed-line phone calls in the European Union could be scrapped as part of an overhaul of the EU telecom market, reports Reuters. If the move is implemented by the European regulators, network owners would be free to set their own retail and wholesale prices for fixed-line calls. European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO) , which counts Orange, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica amongst its members, is understandably keen on the plan, calling it the "right instrument to adapt regulation to the new market reality." (Translation: ker-ching!)

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) is getting out of modems and more into radio networks R&D. In a statement announcing and explaining the move, the vendor said: "Since integration, the modems market has developed in a direction that has reduced the addressable market for thin modems. In addition, there is strong competition, price erosion and an accelerating pace of technology innovation." Some of the staff working on modems -- who came over to Ericsson when its joint venture with STMicroelectronics was broken up in August 2013 -- will be redeployed on radio networks development.

  • The latest twist in the Phones 4u Ltd. story sees a last-minute attempted rescue of the stricken retailer by its creditors, reports the Daily Telegraph. They are hoping to persuade the UK's major mobile operators -- who have all cancelled their sales contracts with Phones 4u -- to back their plan to swap some of what they are owed for equity in the retailer. This, claim the creditors, will enable the retailer to offer more favorable terms to the operators, and pave the way for the retailer to emerge out of administration and renew its sales contracts with the operators.

  • The ongoing war of words between BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and broadband rival TalkTalk shows no sign of abating. The Financial Times reports (subscription required) that TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding has accused BT of charging "double what it should" for access to its fiber network. She is banking on UK regulator Ofcom forcing BT to cut its current ₤8-per-connection wholesale charge in the near future. For its part, BT says that TalkTalk is just "after a free ride" when it comes to fiber.

  • BT is also involved in a spat with cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), whose "superfast" broadband ad campaign it managed to get taken off the airwaves, reports The Guardian. BT and Sky both complained about the ads -- which featured sprint star Usain Bolt and claimed that Virgin's fiber broadband offered downloads five times faster than BT's "regular" broadband -- to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • Susan Fourtané 9/18/2014 | 10:53:08 AM
    Ericsson Ericsson's decision to move forward seems to be right. Maybe its partnership with Volvo has something to do with getting more into radio networks R&D. 

    Ariella 9/18/2014 | 9:43:57 AM
    Re: claims @Paul hmm, if they did have that basis for an average, it seems like a claim they could use in ads without being accused of misrepresenting results. It's probably enough to have the usual small print "results may vary" as one finds for weight loss ads, etc. 
    PaulERainford 9/18/2014 | 9:22:03 AM
    Re: claims From what I can make out, it seems BT's complaint was based on the fact that Virgin's 'five times' claim was based on an average - so BT's point is that while some of Virgin's users might get five-times faster downloads than BT's, not all of them would. So maybe file under the 'Pyrrhic victory' category...
    Ariella 9/18/2014 | 9:10:37 AM
    claims "claimed that Virgin's fiber broadband offered downloads five times faster than BT's "regular" broadband -- to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority." Is it only 4 times faster? How far off is the claim?
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