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Eurobites: Boffins join forces to develop COVID-19 tracking apps

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telia given green light for Finnish fiber JV; who's up and who's down in European telco brands; Sequans revises guidance down for first quarter.

  • A group of European scientists and technologists have joined forces to launch an initiative to encourage the use of digital apps in the fight against COVID-19. As Reuters reports, the Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) platform will corral 130 researchers from various countries to develop apps that support efforts to carry out contact tracing both within individual countries and across borders while keeping within the data privacy rules set in the EU's General Data Protection Regulation. The UK, which has one foot already outside the European Union, is reportedly planning to do its own thing, and launch a contract-tracking app that people can choose to opt into, or not.

  • Telia Company has been given the green light from the authorities for its fiber joint venture with CapMan Infra in Finland. Telia will hold a 40% stake in the new company, which takes over Telia Finland's existing fiber rollout business, Avoin Kuiti.

  • A new study from Brand Finance has warned that although telecom is more resilient than many other sectors in the face of the coronavirus, the industry may still need a "call to the help desk," as most telcos saw their brand value decline in the past year, with the combined value of the world's top telecom brands declining by 11%. In Europe, Deutsche Telekom remains the dominant name, despite a 14% drop in "brand value," as measured by Brand Finance. Etisalat rules the roost in the Middle East and Africa regions, rising three places in Brand Finance's rankings to reach a brand value of US$8.5 billion.

  • French chipmaker Sequans has revised down its forecast for the first quarter to be in the range of $8.7 million to $8.8 million, down from the previous guidance of flat to slightly higher than fourth-quarter 2019 revenue of $9.2 million. According to the vendor, shipments were affected by reduced capacity at two contract manufacturers in coronavirus-struck China.

  • There are some truly horrid people around: take, for example, those who are exploiting people's desire for information about the coronavirus to steal data, gain personal information and demand ransoms. This is one of the findings of new research from Nokia's Threat Intelligence Lab, which discovered that cybercriminals were, among other things, spoofing the trusted Johns Hopkins University map tracking the spread of the virus globally to steal people's private data.

  • Away from viruses, both physical and digital, Nokia is to provide its Optical LAN offering to Infonas W.L.L. Bahrain, helping the carrier provide its enterprise customers in downtown Manama with a reliable fiber network. Omniclouds, a technology integrator for Nokia in the Middle East, will integrate the technology into the Infonas network.

  • EE is leading the way when it comes to mobile download speeds in Scotland, clocking up an aggregate median speed of 34.2 Mbit/s. This is according to a new report from Rootmetrics, which also found that Vodafone registered decent download speeds across the country.

  • Vodafone will also earn brownie points for its decision to make a new range of online educational and training support tools available to its customers and employees free of charge as part of efforts to support them during the coronavirus crisis. The operator has teamed up with Udemy, an online courses platform, to offer more than 150 courses covering areas such as business and productivity, technology and personal development. In addition, Vodafone customers will also be offered six weeks' free access to Perlego, which it describes as one of the world's largest online academic and professional libraries.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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