Eurobites: Ericsson wields the ax at Kathrein

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: thwarting the COVID-19 scammers; lockdown is key to Netflix success in UK; open source initiative in Germany tackles network management.

  • Ericsson plans to cut 400 jobs at Kathrein, the German antenna business it acquired last year, as it works on boosting profitability at its networks business. The cuts, announced in the operator's just-published results for the first quarter, represent about 12% of total headcount at Kathrein, judging by figures that Ericsson previously disclosed. Commenting on the news, Fredrik Jejdling, the head of Ericsson's networks business, told Light Reading: "We closed the acquisition last year and we are partly restructuring that business to get to profitability levels we need to get to." Jejdling denied the cuts would have any impact on research-and-development activities. "Those efforts are likely to be stepped up a bit," he said. In its report, Ericsson said the layoffs would occur between now and the first quarter of next year and that discussions with employee representatives have already started. It expects to incur restructuring charges of 500 million Swedish kronor ($49.7 million) this year but has estimated annual "run rate savings" of SEK300 million ($29.8 million) in future. (See Ericsson warns of trouble ahead but stays upbeat as results impress market.)

  • The UK mobile, banking and finance industries have joined forces with the UK's National Cyber Security Centre in a bid to stop fraudsters sending scam SMS messages that seek to exploit the COVID-19 crisis for nefarious financial gain. The collaboration is part of an ongoing industry initiative involving three trade bodies, Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), Mobile UK and UK Finance, supported by the NCSC, to help block fraudulent SMS messages while protecting those from legitimate businesses and organizations. To date, 70 unauthorized sender IDs relating to the UK government's coronavirus mass-test campaign are being blocked as a result of the initiative, while 172 sender IDs have been given the all-clear and added to a dedicated registry. BT, Three and Vodafone are among those backing the scheme.

  • How does the average Emean (that's someone from Europe, the Middle East or Africa) spend life under lockdown? Brushing up on a second language? Learning the guitar solo from Queen's I Want to Break Free? Or slumped in front of the telly watching Too Hot to Handle, a new Netflix show in which a bunch of sexy young things is stranded on a tropical island and banned from, er, engaging in any sexual contact – all so they can focus on proper relationship development, of course? For millions of people whose lives have been transformed by COVID-19, it seems to be the latter, judging by Netflix results out yesterday. Nearly 7 million Emeans took out Netflix subscriptions in the first quarter, about 2.5 million more sign-ups than Netflix saw in the pre-coronavirus fourth quarter of 2019, taking overall paid memberships in the region to more than 58.7 million. For anyone seeking mental torpor but worried Too Hot to Handle is, well, too hot to handle, Netflix also offers a range of Adam Sandler movies. (See Netflix adds 15.77M streaming subs in Q1, pushes global total past 182M.)

  • Also teaming up are a foursome of operators and software vendors in Germany who are aiming to become more efficient at developing, buying and running network management systems for next-generation carrier networks. The open source Leitstand initiative currently comprises Deutsche Telekom, EWE TEL, Reply and RtBrick, and its "toolset" will be freely available to any operator, equipment vendor or systems integrator.

  • The UK foreign ministry's top official has described his government's only partial ban on Huawei as a "firm decision" that "is not being reopened," Reuters reports. It was in January that UK lawmakers decided that, contrary to pressure from the Trump administration, Britain would allow the Chinese vendor to play a limited role in the rollout of its 5G network, a decision that prompted an unsuccessful mini-rebellion from a section of the ruling Conservative Party. (See Eurobites: UK government rebels prepare to detonate H(uawei)-bomb and Tough UK limits on Huawei's role in 5G threaten telco plans.)

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) has opened a new operating region in Africa. The AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region will allow companies and nonprofit organizations to run their applications and serve end users across the continent with lower latency, says Amazon.

  • BT is putting together a plan that it hopes will allow as many of its call center workers as possible to work from home during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. According to BT, around 70% of said workers – who deal with customers of BT, EE and Plusnet – have expressed a preference to work from home, so the operator is sourcing new computers, sorting out VPN access and so on to help make it happen. The plan is to move up to 8,000 call center workers into a homeworking setup within the next two weeks.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

    Additional material by Iain Morris.

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