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Eurobites: EU gets moving on data privacy

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Olaf Swantee turns up at Vodafone; Volkswagen strikes cloud deal with Microsoft; Orange turns Prpl.

  • European Union member states have agreed on the ground rules for negotiating a revision of the EU's ePrivacy directive, which is now more than a decade old. The update is required to reflect the technological changes that have occurred since the directive's inception, such as the emergence of the Internet of Things, the widespread use of VoIP, web-based email and messaging services and the emergence of new, super-sneaky techniques for tracking users' online behavior. In a statement, EU Council President Pedro Nuno Santos said: "The path to the Council position has not been easy, but we now have a mandate that strikes a good balance between solid protection of the private life of individuals and fostering the development of new technologies and innovation."

  • He has the look of a frozen-hearted Bond villain and, like all good Bond villains, he keeps popping up where you might not expect him. Olaf Swantee, late of EE and Sunrise, has joined Vodafone as a non-executive director. Swantee resigned as CEO of Swiss operator Sunrise in January 2020, just weeks after the collapse of a US$6.39 billion deal to acquire Liberty Global's Swiss division. Before that, Swantee oversaw the merger of Orange UK and T-Mobile to create EE, which was later sold to BT. (See Eurobites: Swantee quits as Sunrise CEO and BT's Next CEO: Odds Lengthen on Garfield, Swantee New Favorite.)

    Olaf Swantee: He's a pussycat, really.
    Olaf Swantee: He's a pussycat, really.

  • German car giant Volkswagen has struck a deal with Microsoft that it hopes will help it develop software for current cars and self-driving vehicles of the future in a more efficient way. As Reuters reports, the deal means that all carmakers within the VW group – which includes Audi, Porsche and Skoda – will share a common cloud platform, making software updates easier to roll out. (See 5G absent from VW's big manufacturing plant upgrade.)

  • Telenet, the Belgian cable operator that is part of the Liberty Global empire, saw fourth-quarter revenue fall 1% year-on-year, to €665.1 million (US$806.7 million), while adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) fell 4%, to €336.9 million ($408.6 million). Looking ahead, Telenet expects revenue and EBITDA to return to growth in 2021.

  • Orange has signed up to the Prpl Foundation, the industry consortium dedicated to "the harmonization of network architecture to accelerate greater service provider capabilities worldwide." The operator hopes that joining the club will help it drive the creation of open source standards.

  • UK altnet Hyperoptic has teamed up with Citizen, a UK housing association, to roll out full-fiber broadband to 5,000 Citizen properties across England's Midlands region. Work will begin "in the near future," according a Hyperoptic press release.

  • The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 – the UK's three main public service broadcasters – have announced plans to integrate Digital UK, the joint venture which facilitates the provision of Freeview TV services, and Freesat, which offers access to the UK's subscription-free satellite TV service. Its backers hope the move will help ensure viewers continue to have access to a range of free-to-view TV services in the UK as well as benefit from technological innovations across the two services. The integration is conditional on regulatory approvals.

  • Belgian operator Proximus is collaborating with SignPost, a specialist in IT services for the education sector, to launch Academic Connect, an "end-to-end" offering that takes in all layers of the educational environment, from secure Internet access and Wi-Fi, through hardware and software, to digital content and a professional ICT helpdesk. Proximus plans to connect almost all secondary school in Belgium to fiber by the end of 2023.

  • UK cableco Virgin Media is to create more than 400 new apprenticeship, graduate and intern roles in 2021 – a 163% increase on the previous year. The jobs cover a range of areas, including operations, finance, marketing and project management.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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