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Broadband services

Eurobites: UK Minister Cool With BT/Openreach Relationship

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Orange gets the go-ahead on 5G trials; Vodafone confirms Spanish job cuts; Netflix expands in southern Europe.

  • The UK's minister for the digital economy, Ed Vaizey, does not think that BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) needs to split up from its network access unit, Openreach , despite the protestations of BT's rivals to the contrary. In an interview with the Financial Times (subscription required), Vaizey said: "I think full separation would be an enormous undertaking, incredibly time consuming [and have] lots of potential to backfire." He added: "If broadband is so terrible, why are we the leading ecommerce nation in the world?" Sky , Vodafone UK and TalkTalk have all complained about BT's ownership of Openreach, most recently in an open letter to the Financial Times, citing "a conflict of interest in the role of BT, poor quality of customer service and difficulties in enforcing the existing regulatory regime." (See Eurobites: Rivals Sharpen Knives Over BT Broadband.)

  • Telecom regulator Arcep has authorized Orange (NYSE: FTE) to conduct the first French trials of 5G technologies, in the city of Belfort. The specific objective of Orange's trials is to examine the suitability of millimeter-wave frequency bands between 6GHz and 100GHz.

  • Vodafone is to cut 1,059 jobs in Spain, following its acquisition of cable operator ONO, reports Reuters. This equates to 17% of Vodafone's Spanish employees. (See Eurobites: Vodafone Gets a Yes on ONO.)

  • The Swiss town of Pully is using anonymized, aggregated mobile phone data to help improve vehicle traffic flows in a project involving Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM).

  • Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) is to launch its video-streaming service in Spain, Portugal and Italy before the end of October, according to Broadband TV News. Pricing will be the same across the three countries, at €7.99 (US$8.91) per month for a basic connection, €9.99 ($11.14) for HD format and €11.99 ($13.37) for Ultra HD.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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