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Eurobites: Branson's satellite firm suspends operationsEurobites: Branson's satellite firm suspends operations

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Iliad makes hay in Italy; UK government ministers face TikTok ban; O2 saves devices from landfill.

Paul Rainford

March 16, 2023

3 Min Read
Eurobites: Branson's satellite firm suspends operations

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Iliad makes hay in Italy; UK government ministers face TikTok ban; O2 saves devices from landfill.

Virgin Orbit, the satellite launch company whose debut mission from UK soil ended in failure in January, has suspended its operations for at least a week and put its staff on unpaid furlough, according to a Guardian report. The hope is that hitting the pause button now will give the company, in which British celebrity entrepreneur Richard Branson holds a controlling stake, time to refinance. During the debut UK launch in January, Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne experienced, in the company's words, "an anomaly" which led to a premature shutdown and a failure to reach orbit.Figure 1: (Source: Virgin Orbit)(Source: Virgin Orbit)VEON, the Amsterdam-headquartered operator that serves customers in Ukraine and a sprawl of other less developed markets such as Uzbekistan and Bangladesh, saw fourth-quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) rise 1.2% year-over-year, to $453 million, on revenues that were down 4.9%, to $940 million. The results exclude the results of the Russian operations, as they were classified as "held for sale" and "discontinued operations" in the fourth quarter. According to CEO Kaan Terzioğlu, the sale of its Russian operations will result in a "significant deleveraging" of the company's balance sheet. (See VEON is stepping into the Big Tech vacuum in emerging markets.)Italy proved a happy hunting-ground for France-based operator Iliad again in 2022 – full-year revenue there grew by 15.5%, to €927 million ($938 million), with Iliad Italia finishing the year as the market's leading recruiter of mobile subscribers in the face of fierce competition. It did pretty well on its home turf too, increasing revenue by 6.9%, to €5.5 billion ($5.8 billion), and notching up 255,000 net adds for its fixed business and 607,000 for mobile. Group EBITDAaL (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, after leases) grew 12%, to €3.3 billion ($3.5 billion).TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media app that is suspected of having links to the Beijing regime, faces an imminent ban from devices used by UK government ministers and their advisers, according to a BBC report. The app has already been banned from the phones of those working for the European Commission.UK converged operator Virgin Media O2 says that its phone recycling scheme saved more than 250,000 devices from ending up in landfill during 2022. O2's scheme encourages customers – regardless of their network – to trade in unwanted smartphones, tablets and accessories in exchange for a "cash-back boost." Of the devices saved from landfill, 92% were data wiped, refurbished and resold as "like new" products to customers, with the remainder being broken down for raw materials.BT, Cellnex, Elisa, Colt Technologies, Inmarsat and KPN were among the European telecom-related companies receiving recognition for their efforts to measure and reduce climate risk within their supply chain by CDP, a not-for-profit charity that runs a global disclosure system for investors and companies looking to manage their impact on the environment. The six companies all made it onto CDP's latest Supplier Engagement Rating Leaderboard.Nokia's wireless connectivity, network edge equipment and analytics software are to play a role in a project that seeks to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the oceans generally and in the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch in particular. Nokia has already deployed the first private wireless offering for The Ocean Cleanup's operations in the North Pacific, and will provide further systems in due course. According to UNESCO, plastic waste makes up 80% of all marine pollution, with around 8 to 10 million metric tons of plastic ending up in the ocean each year.— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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

During the nougthies he 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 sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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