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Eurobites: BT Hits Out at AT&T, Verizon

Also in today's regional roundup: BT wins more sports rights; Tele2 unveils new boss; GSMA appoints Bouverot successor; Vodafone Ireland ups data-center investments.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s Americas region chief has called for greater regulation of the US access network wholesale sector in an incendiary interview with the Financial Times (subscription required). Bas Burger, president of BT's Americas unit, says the prices charged by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) for use of their access networks is too high and anti-competitive and that wholesale access contracts should be regulated so that certain levels of service are required. Despite the existence of wholesale price and contract regulations in the UK, BT's home market, some rivals will undoubtedly find it ironic that a BT executive is complaining about the anti-competitive dominance of incumbent network operators: Some of BT's UK rivals are calling for the operator to be split up because of competition concerns. (See Ofcom Could Still Make BT Do Splits.)

  • Besides moaning about other incumbents, BT also appears to have seen off competition from arch-rival Sky for rights to international cricket matches between 2016 and 2021. The deal includes rights to screen various competitions taking place in Australia, including the high-profile Ashes contest between England and Australia. BT has been investing heavily in sports rights in an effort to tackle Sky's dominance in the pay-TV sector, which is, in turn, becoming increasingly important to communications providers as convergence and multi-play offerings attract interest. Analysts have previously expressed concern that heavy spending on sports rights -- and, in particular, European soccer matches -- will make it harder for BT to fund the rollout of higher-speed broadband services. (See BT, Sky Splash £5.1B on Premier League Rights.)

  • Stockholm-based Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO) revealed that Allison Kirkby is to replace Mats Granryd as CEO from September. Currently Tele2's chief financial officer, Kirkby had already been identified as the next leader in the event that Granryd decided to leave (see below for details of his move). Kirkby becomes one of a small number of women in charge of a major European service provider. Indeed, in a survey of executive pay recently carried out by Light Reading, Belgium's Proximus (formerly known as Belgacom) was revealed to be the only European incumbent currently being led by a woman (Dominique Leroy). Tele2 indicated that Granryd would remain with the company until the end of the year to ensure there is a smooth handover of responsibilities. (See Because They're Worth It?)

  • Sticking with news about Mats Granryd, the GSM Association (GSMA) announced that Tele2's outgoing boss will become its new Director General on 1 January 2016, succeeding Anne Bouverot, who left the GSMA at the end of July to become chair and CEO of security player Morpho Technologies .

  • Vodafone Ireland is reportedly planning to invest another €7 million ($8 million) in its data-center services business. According to a story in the Irish Times, the operator is to fund capacity improvements as well as the development of new services, including co-location, managed hosting, private cloud and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). It is believed to be in discussions with customers about the new offers and plans to launch them in October. Vodafone claims to have already invested about €25 million ($29 million) in its Irish data-center business.

    — Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

  • mendyk 8/24/2015 | 10:24:14 AM
    There are other options, no? Is Bas Burger aware that there are operators other than AT&T and Verizon that provide wholesale access services?
    [email protected] 8/24/2015 | 9:07:46 AM
    New GSMA director general - not as expected? Interesting that another European has secured the role of director general at the GSMA. There was a body of opinion that was expecting a North American representative to take the helm.

    Will Granryd succeed where Bouverot didn't? Word in the mobile community suggests that mobile operator members have not been too happy for a while with the GSMA's direction and effectiveness.

    So what should Granryd's first move be once he takes the helm?   
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