Eurobites: EU Wants 3% of the Tech Titans

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia completes Unium WiFi acquisition; Openreach shells out; Three profits dented by network investment.

  • A draft European Union proposal seen by Reuters is recommending that telco-challenging tech giants such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Facebook be taxed at a rate of 3% of their turnover generated within the EU. The tax, if adopted by lawmakers, would target companies with annual global revenues of more than €750 million ($924 million) and taxable revenues above €50 million ($61 million) in the EU. The FANG gang have long been the subject of European ire for the amount of tax they pay on income earned in the region, and for the Byzantine arrangements they have in place to keep their tax bills as low as possible. (See Eurobites: EU Wants Tax Transparency From Tech Titans.)

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has completed its acquisition of Unium, a Seattle-based software outfit that specializes in tackling complex wireless networking problems encountered in mission-critical and residential WiFi applications. Unium's software will be plugged into Nokia's existing WiFi offering to operators, while the acquired company will operate as part of Nokia's Fixed Networks business group.

  • Openreach , BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s semi-autonomous network access unit, is being forced by regulator Ofcom to compensate customers to the tune of around £300 million ($369 million) for providing inadequate service, the Financial Times reports (subscription required). The chairman of Openreach, Mike McTighe, said that the company would introduce a new voluntary "proactive payment" to cover any orders closed after October 2016 where its performance fell below its "required standards." (See Eurobites: BT 'Fesses Up to Compensation-Fiddling on Ethernet Services and Eurobites: Brits In Line for Cashback Over Fixed-Line Fails.)

  • Mobile operator Three UK saw revenue climb 7% to £2.4 billion ($2.9 billion) in 2017, though EBITDA was down 2% to £702 million ($865 million) as a result, says the company, of investment in its network and IT systems -- capex rose 30% to £459 million ($565 million). During the period Three's customer base grew 10% to reach the 10 million milestone, with growth in both the contract and prepaid departments. Interestingly, Three remains the top provider of data in terms of usage per customer, with its customers' chomping their way through a frankly greedy 6.8GB of data each month -- 3.5 times more than the UK average, according to the operator.

  • Spotify , the Swedish music streaming service, has finally named the date for its much vaunted IPO: April 3. As the Daily Telegraph reports, it is expected to be valued at more than €14 billion ($20 billion) -- which would be a record for a flotation of a European consumer technology company.

  • The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) is trumpeting what it says is the success of the "Next Generation Hotspot" (NGH) technology it deployed at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona with the help of the GSM Association (GSMA) , Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Boingo Wireless Inc. . According to the WBA, nearly 20% of MWC attendees connected to WiFi through NGH, representing a 400% increase over the numbers doing so the previous year. US operators AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. pushed the majority of traffic to the city’s NGH hotspots, with over 90% of NGH connections coming from their customers.

  • Pietro Fiorentini, an Italian manufacturer of smart meters, says its RSE model is the first such meter with NB-IoT connectivity on the market to receive the EU's RED (Radio Emission Directive), MID (Measuring Instrument Directive) and ATEX (Installations in Explosive atmosphere) approvals. The company worked with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd on the development of the product and the IoT "ecosystem" of which it forms a part.

    Pietro Fiorentini's NB-IoT-powered RSE smart meter: It's not pretty, but it is clever.
    Pietro Fiorentini's NB-IoT-powered RSE smart meter: It's not pretty, but it is clever.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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