Eurobites: Prosecutors Name Former BT Execs in Global Services Fraud Probe

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Brussels busy on digital commerce, copyright laws; Nokia plans AI hubs; the app that tracks Saudi women.

  • Italian prosecutors have named three former BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) employees who they say were involved in the accounting scandal at the UK operator's Global Services unit, alleging that they were fully aware of the bookkeeping fraud that was taking place there. As Reuters reports, prosecutors have identified Luis Alvarez (former chief executive of BT Global Services), Richard Cameron (former CFO of BT Global Services) and Corrado Sciolla (formerly BT's head of Continental Europe) as being on a list of 23 suspects. The scandal made a large dent in BT's profits, with the company forced to pay £225 million ($294 million) to Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and Orange (NYSE: FTE) to ward off any litigation. (See BT Rejigs Consumer Biz as Profits Hit by £225M Italy Payout.)

  • Brussels lawmakers were busy on Wednesday framing a raft of proposed legislation broadly aimed at helping the European Union wrestle with the ramifications of the brave new digital world. In brief, they reached agreement on legislation that aims to both make the trading practices of online giants fairer and give the creators of content more copyright protection. The latter has proved particularly controversial, with some commentators predicting that it could mean the end of the Internet as we know it, but it seems that a compromise clause that exempts smaller enterprises -- with a turnover of less than €10 million ($11.2 million) -- from the strictures of the proposed legislation may assuage some of these fears. (See Why Euro Regs Threaten Internet 'Extinction'.)

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is opening a network of data science centers that it hopes will further its collaboration with operators and enterprises to design 5G networks and develop "AI-powered use cases." Called Cognitive Collaboration Hubs, these centers will explore, among other things, driver behavior analytics that is intended to improved road safety.

  • Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is going to look into an app that human rights groups allege is being used by Saudi men to track and potentially prevent Saudi women from traveling, the BBC reports. The charming-sounding piece of tech, called Absher, offers access to a range of government services, such as driving license renewal and, alarmingly, has been downloaded more than a million times. Happy Valentine's Day.

  • French optical transport and routing systems specialist Ekinops SA has helped Hutchison 3G Austria GmbH , AKA Hutchison Drei, to continue offering ISDN services (Yes! ISD-bloody-N!!) to existing customers as it migrates to an IP-based architecture. Ekinops says it has enabled this by "using the existing infrastructure of Drei for both legacy TDM and new IP-based data services... [by converting] Drei's ISDN services into SIP with a built-in DSL modem, connecting existing telephone lines to the Internet with an advanced feature set that supports both legacy and IP. It's all about keeping customers happy, explains Matthias Baldermann, Drei's CTO. "In the migration to a fully IP-based world, it is vital to continue supporting existing customers including those still keen to maintain use of traditional services … Migration to new platforms rarely comes without disruption, so we were delighted when Ekinops proposed a solution utilizing our existing infrastructure. Not only have we safeguarded our large existing ISDN customer base, we have also added the flexibility to offer value-added services when they choose to upgrade." And everyone's happy, right?

  • UK data management and analytics specialist WANdisco has raised US$17.5 million from an issue of new shares and achieved "Advanced Technology Status" with Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) in the cloud giant's AWS Partner Network. WANdisco, which helps all manner of companies (including telcos) retain real-time and productive access to their big data sets, says the money raised will help it expand its existing partner relationships at a time when its sales prospects are stronger than ever.

  • T-Mobile Austria has turned to the SmartCM RAN configuration management tool from Teoco Corp. to improve the service it provides to its 7.2 million subscribers. Teoco now expects to find a home for SmartCM at all T-Mobile affiliates in Europe.

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s Security Manager offering has been chosen by Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) to address the security needs of the operator on its mobile network. The vendor says that Security Manager will provide Swisscom's security operations center with increased automation, visibility and control.

  • Orange Polska is to deploy Digital Commerce BSS software from Matrixx Software Inc. in a bid to unearth more monetization opportunities and to improve customer engagement. Matrixx is based in Saratoga, Calif.

  • It seems Chinese consumers have developed a taste for Nordic culture -- who knew? Elisa Corp. has launched its Nordic TV video-on-demand service in Shenzhen and Guangdong, with further rollouts to follow. The Finnish operator is hoping that the launches will pave the way for further business opportunities in China, such as co-productions and e-commerce.

  • Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd , which is having the door slammed in its face in a growing number of countries, is having better luck in South Africa. As Reuters reports, it is to build two data centers there, one in Johannesburg and another in Cape Town, to help expand cloud services in the region. (See Where Huawei Fears to Tread.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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