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Eurobites: EU hopes to fill its broadband black hole with satellites plan

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Rakuten Symphony wants to be a big noise in Europe; Telefónica validates open RAN 5G small cell; Ooredoo done good in Q4.

  • The European Union is considering revised plans for a low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite broadband system that would take on the likes of Elon Musk's SpaceX in a bid to lessen Europe's reliance on US technology for secure connectivity, the Financial Times reports (paywall applies). The Secure Communications Initiative, as the proposed system is called, is the brainchild of Thierry Breton, the EU's internal market commissioner, who wants the bloc to build a third satellite constellation for secure Internet access. (The EU already has the Galileo system for navigation and Copernicus for Earth observation.) Similar proposals have already been rejected twice, says the report, but Breton is hoping these amended plans will be able to snake their way through the EU's notoriously slow-moving internal approvals process.

  • Rakuten Symphony, the open RAN offshoot of the go-ahead Japanese mobile operator Rakuten Mobile, has announced plans to expand its operations across the UK, France and Germany. It has set up subsidiaries in each of the three countries, and says it will collaborate with operators and vendors in the region to promulgate its open RAN philosophy. Rakuten Symphony was only announced in August, and has already booked $3 billion worth of business. (See With $3B in bookings, Rakuten Symphony makes big app store pitch.)

  • In similar territory, Telefónica says it has "validated" its new open RAN 5G small cell. The demonstration was carried out by Node-H and Askey (which developed the cell) in Telefónica's Technology & Automation Lab. The cell is powered by a Qualcomm chipset and comes loaded with Node-H's scalable radio access, security and management software.

  • Middle Eastern operator Ooredoo Group saw earnings jump 11% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, to 3.14 billion Qatari riyal ($862 million), on revenue that rose 4%, to QAR7.78 billion ($2.13 billion). Indosat Ooredoo was the standout unit, with revenue and earnings both showing double-digit growth, though the performance of the group's Omani division was dented by the entrance of a third operator into that market.

  • Limelight, the US-based content delivery company, is extending its reach across eastern Europe via NetIX's data center in Sofia, Bulgaria. As a result of this move, Limelight says it will be able to deliver content to current users in these regions more quickly by caching content from its ecosystem locally.

  • Virgin Media O2 says its 5G network in London now reaches 64% of the city's population, following a series of upgrades and extensions. The operator has committed to reaching half of the UK's population with 5G services by the end of 2023.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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