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Eurobites: OneWeb and friends plan space-junk zapper

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: UK's competition watchdog growls at Google's ad tech; BBC sunsets channels to save money; TalkTalk completes on Virtual1 deal.

  • OneWeb, the satellite broadband provider which was rescued from Chapter 11 bankuptcy protection by the UK government and India's Bharti Global in 2020, has teamed up with Astroscale and European space agencies to launch ELSA-M, a retriever of so-called space junk. ELSA-M, which has attracted new investment of €14.8 million (US$15.8 million), is scheduled to launch towards the end of 2024, and will ultimately be able to capture and remove multiple satellites in a single mission, once they reach the end of their operational lives in low-Earth orbit. (See Eurobites: OneWeb emerges from Chapter 11, hires new CEO and Bharti Global, British government consortium wins OneWeb bid.)

  • The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a second investigation into Google's use of advertising technology, specifically its use of the "ad tech stack," a set of digital services which facilitate the sale of online advertising space between publishers and advertisers. The CMA will attempt to assess whether Google's actions in this sphere distort competition by, for example, making it difficult for rival ad servers to compete in the market. This case follows an earlier CMA probe into online platforms and digital advertising, which, says the authority, "identified significant issues." The European Commission has launched a similar investigation into Google's ad-related shenanigans.

  • The increasingly digital-obsessed BBC has revealed plans to shift its CBBC children's channel and its arts-focused BBC4 channel to online-only before ultimately closing them, among other measures, in a bid to save money. The announcement – and particularly the CBBC part – has already caused much disgruntlement on Twitter, where several people have pointed out that there are still plenty of UK households that do not a decent broadband connection, let alone the disposable income to splash out on the streamed subscription services that the BBC is being told by its political masters to resemble more closely.

  • UK broadband provider TalkTalk has completed the acquisition of Virtual1, a wholesaler of high bandwidth services. TalkTalk hopes the purchase will enable it to scale up as a national provider of leased-line services. The combined company, says TalkTalk, will enjoy a UK leased-line market share of 25%.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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