Eurobites: Hands-Free Heads for the UK Hard Shoulder

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: French broadcasters receive approval for Netflix-challenging Salto service; tough Q2 for Denmark's TDC; EE rules the RootMetrics roost.

  • A group of British politicians, who collectively form the Commons Transport Select Committee, has claimed that using a hands-free phone set-up in a car while driving is just as dangerous as using a handheld device while at the wheel, and that a ban on the use of hands-free phones should be considered. As the BBC reports, an "expert" told the group that taking a hands-free call caused "essentially the same" amount of distraction as being at the legal limit for alcohol blood level while driving in England and Wales. The claim is significant in an era of increasingly connected cars, and raises the question of what the future holds for any sort of in-car "infotainment" systems that require interaction from the driver. Will we not be allowed to shout at our satnavs? Will drivers no longer be able to change the station when an Ed Sheeran song comes on? And, perhaps most significantly, will in-car singalongs become a straight-up traffic violation?

  • French broadcasters Television Francaise 1 SA, Metropole Television SA and France Televisions have finally got the go-ahead from the competition authorities to set up what they hope will be a serious streaming rival to Netflix. Bloomberg reports that the Salto service -- to which the three broadcasters have to date committed €45 million ($50.4 million) -- will be switched on in the first quarter of 2020. The venture echoes BritBox, the streaming service that is being set up in the UK by the BBC and ITV in another possibly-too-late-to-the-party challenge to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

  • Denmark's TDC saw second-quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) fall 2.6% year-on-year in organic terms on revenue that also fell 2.6%, to 4.2 billion Danish kroner ($631 million). A decline in landline voice and TV services played a significant part in the earnings slide, said the company, though mobility services proved a happier hunting ground for the operator.

  • EE, the BT-owned mobile operator, has been named as the UK's best mobile network for the sixth year in a row by RootMetrics, claiming the top spot across six categories of testing: overall performance; reliability; speed; data; call; and text.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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