Eurobites: Ofcom Lays Into Landline Charges

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia phones licensing deal signed and sealed; AsiaInfo downsizes in Europe; Virgin's new box; Amazon eyes Italian power stations.

  • UK regulator Ofcom has launched a review of the retail market for standalone landline services, prompted by concern that the elderly and most vulnerable in society were being exploited. The accusation is that, although providers have benefited from a 25% fall in the underlying wholesale cost of providing a landline service, they have failed to pass this saving on to landline-only customers, and indeed have continued to hike line rental charges in recent years, by more than 40% in some cases. Ofcom will use the review to determine if it needs to take regulatory action to protect this group of customers, who do not benefit from potential savings offered by service "bundling."

  • The convoluted Nokia/HMD licensing deal -- under the terms of which Nokia-branded feature phones, smartphones and tablets will be made by a subsidiary of Foxconn Electronics Inc. and sold by Finnish company HMD -- comes into force today, with all the legal niceties having been completed. Under the agreement, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) will receive royalty payments from HMD for sales of every Nokia-branded device, though Nokia is not an investor or shareholder in HMD. The first batch of new Nokia-branded smartphones are due to appear in 2017, with at least some of them running on the Android operating system. (See Nokia Seals Phones Deal With Licensee HMD Global and Nokia Plays It Smart With Major Mobile Devices Brand Deal.)

  • BSS specialist AsiaInfo Inc. (Nasdaq: ASIA) is downsizing its European operations and relocating some staff back to its headquarters in China. Get the full story at our sister publication Telecoms.com: Exclusive – AsiaInfo addresses European operations concerns.

  • UK-based Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) has launched its new set-top box, dubbed the V6, which is powered by TiVo software and described by the cable operator as 4K ready and "built for apps." To accompany the launch, Virgin is pushing a new HD Telly Tablet, which it says is designed specifically as a personal HD-quality smart TV.

    Virgin's V6 box: Powered by TiVo, 4K ready and 'built for apps.'
    Virgin's V6 box: Powered by TiVo, 4K ready and "built for apps."

  • Old power stations in north and central Italy could find themselves being converted into data centers for Amazon Web Services Inc. , according to a Reuters report. The online and cloud services giant is currently in talks with the owner of the power stations, Enel, regarding a potential deal.

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has launched something called Accelerated Network Build, a set of technologies that, as its name suggests, is aimed at streamlining the network-build process for operators. The vendor boldly claims that the approach can cut build time by half and reduce the number of site visits required by 70%. Here's Ericsson's Fredrik Jejdling, plus assorted pot plants, with the full sales pitch…

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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