Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: O2 UK heading for IPO; BT puts faith in UK contact centers; DT targets aviation.
A seven-strong group of operators and industry organizations -- Vodafone UK , Sky and TalkTalk among them -- have written an open letter to the Financial Times asking the Competition and Markets Authority to undertake a full investigation of the UK broadband market. The petitioners are convinced that the ownership of the national network by BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s Openreach has resulted in a "sub-standard experience for millions of customers," not to mention a "diminished opportunity for alternative providers to compete effectively." UK regulator Ofcom is already looking at the possibility of separating BT from its infrastructure division. (See Ofcom Could Still Make BT Do Splits.)
Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) is likely to become part of a public company again following its planned takeover by Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (Hong Kong: 0013; Pink Sheets: HUWHY) to create what will the UK's largest mobile operator by subscribers, reports the Financial Times (subscription required). Hutchison Whampoa already owns UK mobile operator Three UK , which is run by David Dyson. Hutchison is planning an IPO of the combined operations once the deal is complete, with Hutchison co-CEO Canning Fok telling the FT that Dyson would head up the combined company once it received the necessary approvals. There's still work to be done before the acquisition is approved, though, as there are concerns about the impact on the UK mobile market of the 3/O2 deal. (See Telefónica Seals $15.2B O2 Sale to Hutchison.)
UK telecom incumbent BT unveiled a target of answering four fifths of customer calls from UK-based centers by the end of next year and said it would "go further" in the years ahead to shift call center activities back to the UK from overseas. The move comes in response to a growing demand from customers for UK-based call centers, according to the operator. BT said it had already created 1,000 new jobs in line with its plans and would create hundreds more in the next year. It also promised to invest "millions of pounds" in improving its service.
In-flight 4G, anyone? Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) has formed a partnership with satellite operator Inmarsat plc (London: ISAT) in a bid to create what it describes as the "world's first combined LTE-based ground network and satellite network dedicated to aviation passenger connectivity in Europe." It is hoped that German airline Lufthansa will be able to offer satellite-based connectivity on board its European flights in 2016.
Cardiff University has become the latest British educational institution to enter into an R&D partnership with Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. . Two projects will look into ways of reducing the overall energy consumption and operational costs of high-speed broadband networks.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading