Eurobites: EU Vote Raises Telcos' Fears of 'Heavy-Touch' Regulation

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia and Zain trial NB-IoT in Saudi Arabia; fiber boost for Sweden; taxi for Uber's UK boss!

  • A vote by the European Parliament's industry committee on Monday looks like bad news for Europe's major telcos hoping for a new era of light-touch regulation, Reuters reports. Lawmakers voted to put a cap on the size of regulatory "sweeteners" given to operators investing in new fiber networks and gave regulators increased powers to force dominant operators to open up their networks to rivals. But, as with all things emanating from the European Parliament, this is just one episode in a long drawn-out process, and yesterday's vote is by no means final.

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Zain Group have trialed the use of NB-IoT technology for smart metering in the Mina area of Makkah Province of Saudi Arabia. In the trial NB-IoT was used to relay data on temperature, humidity and air pressure from a remote location via a Nokia LTE basestation at 900MHz. Earlier this year, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nokia and Zain Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to collaborate on 5G and IoT development. (See The NB-IoT Train Is Coming.)

  • In other Nokia news, the Finnish vendor says it is sticking to its promise to maintain 4,200 jobs in France for the next two years and create 2,500 new jobs in R&D as it seeks to allay concerns from the French government and labor unions that it was reneging on earlier pledges. As Reuters reports, France's junior economy minister, Benjamin Griveaux, offered the assurances following a three-hour meeting with the unions and Nokia France's president. Last month Nokia announced it would be cutting 600 or so jobs in France as part of a program to save around €1.2 billion (US$1.4 billion) by the end of 2018. The cuts represent about 0.6% of Nokia's global workforce and will affect employees at either Nokia Solutions Networks France or what used to be Alcatel-Lucent, which it acquired last year. (See Nokia Job Cuts in France on Hold – Report.)

  • The European Investment Bank is giving €125 million ($147 million) in debt financing over the next four years to IP-Only Telecommunication AB , an independent network provider, to support the rollout of fiber in Sweden's cities and rural areas. The deal comes under the Investment Plan for Europe program, which is administered by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The Swedish government intends to provide 95% of all households and businesses with a minimum 100Mbit/s connection to the Internet by 2020.

  • Uber's boss in the UK, Ireland and a number of other northern European countries has announced she is leaving the controversial cab-hailing app company just a matter of days after its license to operate in London was removed. As the Daily Telegraph reports, Jo Bertram told staff she was moving on to "something new and exciting," though she denied her move was related to Uber's current travails in the UK. Last year Bertram said she had resigned from her job at Twitter because of the abuse she was receiving.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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