Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: KPN earnings; secondhand phones find favor in the UK; Meta faces more euroflak over alleged data privacy breaches.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

February 29, 2024

3 Min Read
Telecom Italia store in Milan
(Source: Arcansel/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Italian police have seized around €250 million (US$271 million) from Telecom Italia (TIM) over alleged fraud through the unauthorized activation of services to customers over a three-year period stretching from 2017 to 2020. As Reuters reports, police are also looking to claw back another €50 million ($54 million) or so from six content service providers who work with TIM as part of the investigation. The prosecutors' statement revealed that when these unauthorized activations were taking place, a user only needed to visit a web page or click on an app on their smartphone to find themselves signed up to "value-added services" that charge a weekly or monthly fee. In a statement responding to the police action, TIM expressed surprise and said: "The Company, since 2019, as soon as it became aware of irregularities, proceeded upon its own initiative to report the facts to the Public Prosecutor's Office of Rome, which, at the outcome of the proceedings, qualified the facts as fraud against TIM."

  • Dutch operator KPN saw full-year 2023 adjusted EBITDAaL (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, after leases) rise 0.6% to €2.42 billion ($2.62 billion) on revenue that climbed 2.5% to €5.4 billion ($5.85 billion). Capex rose to €1.24 billion ($1.34 billion), from €1.20 billion ($1.30 billion) the previous year. Fiber penetration was up significantly, from 3.71 million households at the end of 2022 to 4.26 million this time around, while the number of 5G-ready mobile sites on KPN's network reached 5,319, up from 5,072 in 2021 (no figure was given for 2022). Going down, but in a good way, was KPN's energy consumption, which fell from 2.036 petajoules in 2022 to 1.869 in 2023, lending credibility to CEO Joost Farwerck's prediction that by 2030 KPN's electricity consumption should have decreased by 48% compared to 2010.

  • A new study from GfK has found that UK sales of secondhand – or "refurbished" – phones are on the up. According to its figures, a quarter of Brits who bought a device in 2023 chose a secondhand model, up from 19% in 2021. Not surprisingly, given the ongoing cost-of-living crisis in the UK, most buyers of secondhand phones cite finance as the primary motivation, though those under the age of 35 are more likely to reference the environment as a reason to go the, ahem, pre-loved route.

  • Facebook owner Meta is facing a coordinated privacy-complaints onslaught from consumer groups in eight European countries for what they claim are breaches of the EU's rules on what can and can't be done when it comes to collecting user data. As Reuters reports, representatives of the European Consumer Organisation in the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain have all complained to their respective data protection authorities over the behavior of the companies in the Mark Zuckerberg empire, saying they are failing to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules.

  • It's like Brexit never happened… the UK and France are cozying up on AI, with the French Minister for Higher Education and Research, Sylvie Retailleau, flying into London today for a meeting with UK Secretary of State Michelle Donelan in which they will announce, among other things, a new partnership between the UK AI Safety Institute and France's Inria (The National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology) to jointly support the safe and responsible development of the oh-so-zeitgeisty technology.

  • The sale of Telia Denmark to Norlys for 6.25 billion Danish kroner ($908 million) has received the green light from the Danish Competition Council. The sale was first announced in April 2023, during Allison Kirkby's reign as CEO. (She's now at BT.) Telia expects the deal to close in about a month's time.

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About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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