Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), the iPhone 5 and, er, rugby loom large in today's trip through the EMEA telecom headlines.
Alcatel-Lucent's professional services unit has scored what sounds like a whopper of a contract win with Telefónica, signing an agreement to overhaul its network management systems worldwide. The hope is that AlcaLu will standardize software and procedures for Telefónica's fixed and mobile networks worldwide, as at the moment the Spanish giant's management processes vary widely from country to country. The value of the deal has not been disclosed. (See AlcaLu to Streamline Telefonica's Ops .)
And lo, the iPhone 5 has landed, and the apes are getting excited again, metaphorically speaking. It launches in the U.K., France and Germany on the same day that it debuts in the U.S. (Sept. 21), but it won't reach most of the rest of Europe until a week later. Bloomberg predicts that the release of the iPhone 5 could spark a new price between European carriers, with the likes of Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) and Telefónica having to move back into subsidizing the handsets, just when they thought they were done with that mugs' game. (See Apple iPhone 5: What Happened & What Didn't .)
A right old scrum has broken out between BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Sky over the rights to screen top-flight European rugby matches, reports the Daily Telegraph. BT says it has signed a deal with Premiership Rugby, the U.K.'s umbrella organization of the Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs, to exclusively screen U.K. premiership rugby for four years from the 2013-14 season, and to exclusively screen matches played by Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs in any future European competitions for three years starting from the 2014-15 season. Sky, meanwhile, says it has done a deal with ERC, the body in charge of European rugby, to exclusively provide live coverage of European competition rugby matches for four years, starting in 2014. And the ERC has told Premiership Rugby in the U.K. that the European rights aren't its to sell. All this fuss over a sport that uses a ball that is clearly the wrong shape. Strange, really.
On a rather more dignified note, The Guardian carries an obituary of Sir George Jefferson, the former chairman of BT (in the 1980s) and the man credited with starting an international trend of state-run telecom companies turning private. Sir George was 91.
U.K. regulator Ofcom has awarded the first two licenses for hyper-local digital terrestrial TV channels, which will be broadcast on a specific multiplex reserved for this type of station. One of the channels is based in the southern English coastal town of Brighton, and the other further north, Grimsby. In May, Ofcom invited applications to run local TV services in 21 local areas.