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Euronews: Telefonica Goes After Skype

Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2), BlackBerry and Etisalat loom large in today's roundup of EMEA headlines.

  • O2, the Telefónica-owned U.K. mobile operator, is challenging the likes of Skype Ltd. and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) with the launch of a free VoIP service called O2 Connect. It's the first launch from Telefónica Digital, the business unit set up in September, and utilizes the Jajah IP applications capabilities acquired in 2009. (See O2 Trials VoIP Service, Telefonica Restructures, Creates New Units, Telefónica's Looking Trendy and Telefónica Buys VoIP Player Jajah.)

  • Also on the O2 UK front, the company's CEO, Ronan Dunne, has used his blog to pass comment on the rugby world cup and, more importantly, to "put the record straight" on reports that O2 was seeking to use the courts to delay the U.K. LTE spectrum auction. "Despite media reports to the contrary, we don't favour legal action and aren't threatening to use this to achieve a particular outcome," writes Dunne. However, he also adds: "Our position has never changed -- we would only resort to legal action if we felt the outcome isn’t in line with UK or European law, or unjustified." (See Euronews: Concern Over UK LTE Auction Plan .)

  • Fitch Ratings Ltd. has dealt a blow to Telecom Italia (TIM) and its Italian rival Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA , writes Reuters in two separate reports. See this one on Telecom Italia and this on Wind's rating outlook revision.

  • The BBC reports that things are still a bit sticky in BlackBerry world, with customers across the EMEA region and beyond complaining that problems with messaging and email access on the device are persisting, despite assurances from RIM that the matter had been resolved. (See Euronews: BlackBerry Outage Hits Millions.)

  • UAE's Etisalat has become the first operator in the Middle East to launch an NFC-driven mobile payment system, reports Reuters. It has teamed up with MasterCard to offer PayPass, which operates as an in-handset pre-paid debit card -- though there will be a US$50 limit on purchases. (See Mobile Money Machines.)

  • T-HT, the Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT)-owned Croatian operator, may drop its bid for Kosovo's Post and Telecommunications of Kosovo JSC (PTK) following corruption charges being brought against some of PTK's executives, reports Reuters.

  • That's not the end of our Deutsche Telekom-related news snippets, though. Bloomberg reports that EE , the joint venture created by Orange UK and T-Mobile (UK) , is trying to persuade European regulators to delay the sale of spectrum it was told to offload as a condition of the joint venture getting the go-ahead. (See Everything Everywhere Shrinks in Q2 and CEO Quits Everything Everywhere.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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