Eurobites: EU steps up probe into Google's Fitbit deal

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodafone and Ericsson build private network for Centrica; uCPE testing calls on Arm technology; Salt tastes success in broadband comparison.

  • After some preliminary chin-stroking, the European Commission has decided to launch a full-scale investigation into the competition ramifications of Google's proposed takeover of Fitbit, the company that leads the way in wearable fitness trackers. The Commission says it is concerned that the deal would only serve to "entrench Google's position in the online advertising markets" by adding a whole new tranche of users' personal data to the shedload it already possesses. Google has tried to mollify the Commission by pledging to create a special unsullied "data silo" in which to keep the Fitbit-related data, but the technocrats in Brussels seem unimpressed, considering the proposed data silo as "insufficient to clearly dismiss the serious doubts identified at this stage as to the effects of the transaction." The Commission has now given itself 90 working days – until December 9 – to make a final decision. (See Google Buys Fitbit for $2.1B to Increase Wearables Presence.)

  • Vodafone is to build a "5G-ready" private mobile network for UK gas company Centrica, with the help of Ericsson. The network, to be installed at Centrica's processing plant in Easington, County Durham, is intended to allow the company to gain "real-time visibility" of maintenance work at the site, offering an accurate picture of the condition and status of the various elements of the facility at all times.

  • And Vodafone has also been involved in a proof-of-concept trial of a uCPE (universal customer premises equipment) device, which is based on chip technology provided by Arm. The trial was carried out in combination with BATM, a provider of real-time technologies for networking systems and medical laboratory systems. The uCPE was tested in Vodafone's UK labs for both SME and enterprise-sized applications, deploying and managing virtual network functions on BATM's NFVTime operating system.

  • Yet more from Planet Vodafone: Vodafone Germany has withdrawn from its regional peering partnerships, according to German website Golem.de, citing a Twitter announcement by the head of technology at Bremen network operator LWLcom. Data traffic now flows exclusively via the central nodes in Vodafone's network infrastructure, said a Vodafone spokesperson.

  • Swiss provider Salt has beaten its rivals to take overall first place in Connect magazine's annual evaluation of broadband customer hotlines. The evaluation criteria were reachability, waiting time, friendliness and the quality of advice provided.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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