Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: KCOM acquisition finalized; Telia issues Russian spying disclaimer; France's digital tax feels the heat in Washington.
Three UK has flipped the switch on its 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) service, but only in certain parts of London. Offering "truly unlimited" data for £35 (US$42.41) a month on a 12-month contract, the home broadband service is being presented to potential customers as a chance to cancel their landline, thereby freeing themselves from the increasingly irksome (as the landline become less and less used) "line rental" charge. The service will be rolled out to 25 towns and cities in the UK by the end of the year, says Three. Thanks largely to its acquisition of FWA startup UK Broadband in 2017, the operator, which is part of the Hong Kong based CK Hutchison group, owns more 5G spectrum than any other UK operator, including a contiguous block of 100MHz that supports "ultrafast" speeds. On the mobile 5G side, Three is so far offering just two 5G-compatible handsets, the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G, though it promises that more are coming soon. (See Eurobites: Three UK Promises 5G Services in 25 Locations This Year and Three Preps 5G FWA Launch in London.)
The £627 million ($759.7 million) acquisition of UK operator KCOM by MEIF6, a subsidiary of Australian private equity firm Macquarie, has been finalized. KCOM has a strong fixed-line presence in the Hull and East Yorkshire region, providing voice and broadband services to approximately 140,000 households and businesses via its fiber-to-the-premises network. The company also offers IT and communications services to large enterprise and public sector organizations in other parts of the UK.
Telia has been registering its unease at a new security law that comes into force in Russia in November. According to the law, all licensed operators will by then have to have installed "security threats prevention equipment" on their networks. In a statement, Telia says: "Telia Company's commitment is to respect freedom of expression and surveillance privacy, we therefore report on new legislation with potentially serious impacts on those rights of users." In plain English: It wasn't our idea, mate. According to Telia, the precise nature of the equipment has yet to be defined, but the operator suspects deep packet inspection may be involved.
France's digital tax, which is aimed squarely at US online giants such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, is to come under more scrutiny today as the three companies all testify in Washington in support of the Trump administration's plan to punish France for what the Google representative will call "a sharp departure from long-established tax rules." As Bloomberg reports, President Trump has threatened to tax French wine or other economically significant goods in response to the digital tax.