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Regulatory/Politics

Eurobites: Ericsson could face $300M SEC fine over Iraq mess – analyst

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: FTTH rollout slows in France; the Mouse marches into the MENA region; Ofcom appoints new spectrum boss.

  • Sweden's Ericsson could face fines of up to $300 million from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for alleged misconduct at its Iraqi operations, according to a Svenska Handelsbanken analyst cited in a Bloomberg report. On Thursday the SEC notified Ericsson that it had opened an official investigation into matters described in Ericsson's 2019 Iraq investigation report. Ericsson's investigation into the Iraqi mess found that payments from its subsidiary found their way to unknown parties, with Ericsson staff using "alternate transport routes" to evade local officials – this at a time when Islamic State, a terrorist organization, controlled some of Iraq's roads. Staff associated with the shenanigans were kicked out of the company. (See Ericsson Iraq scandal is major embarrassment for CEO.)

  • The latest scorecard from French communications regulator Arcep reveals that the overall rate of fiber deployment has slowed during the first quarter of 2022, with 1.1 million additional premises passed for FTTH – around 20% fewer than in the first quarter of 2021. As of March 31, 2022, 30.8 million premises were eligible to subscribe to a fiber-based service, 21% more than a year earlier. That equates to 72% of all premises in France being FTTH-friendly. As for actual subscriptions, "superfast" sign-ups reached 19.3 million during the quarter, accounting for 61% of all broadband subscripions in France.

  • Disney+, the Mouse's all-conquering video streaming service, has launched in 16 markets across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. As Reuters reports, the move puts it into direct competition with Netflix, Abu Dhabi-based Starzplay and Amazon. Arabic subtitles will be offered on most programming.

  • Phone and broadband services on Openreach's network near the UK town of Basingstoke were wiped out for around 4,000 homes and businesses on Wednesday evening after builders stuck their big drill where they shouldn't have. Openreach said that engineers were working hard to resolve the situation, but that it was a "complex fix" that may take "some time" to put right.

    Oops. (Source: Openreach)
    Oops.
    (Source: Openreach)

  • Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, has appointed David Willis as its new group director for spectrum. His primary task will be to oversee Ofcom's Spectrum Group, which aims to ensure that the UK's wireless spectrum is used efficiently. Most recently Willis was President of the Communications Research Centre, the Government of Canada's research center for advanced wireless telecommunications, though he has also held senior positions at BlackBerry and Nortel Networks. Ofcom says that a previous appointment, Dan Lloyd, was unable to take up the role of group director for spectrum due to "family reasons."

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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