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Eurobites: EU urges streaming giants to rein in bandwidth use

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Three revenue up but users down; Virgin Media brings the gig to UK's West Midlands; Telefónica gets Aldi connected.

  • A big cheese at the European Commission has called on streaming companies such as Netflix and YouTube to consider placing restrictions on their services to help prevent Europe's broadband networks from collapsing under the strain of vastly increased data traffic brought on by the continuing COVID-19 crisis. As the Financial Times reports (paywall applies), Thierry Breton, one of the commissioners in charge of EU digital policy, said that streaming giants and telcos had a "joint responsibility" to help keep the Internet running smoothly at this critical time, and that streaming platforms should, for example, consider offering only standard-definition – as opposed to high-definition – video format for the time being. Breton added that users also had to play their part and be sensible about their data usage. (See With COVID-19 comes the real dawn of the digital age.)

  • Full-year revenue at Three Group Europe rose 12% year on year to HK$87.5 billion (US$11.2 billion) and earnings were up 17% to HK$33.5 billion ($4.3 billion), despite a 5% fall in its active customer base, to 40.6 million customers. The financials were flattered by the full acquisition of Italy's Wind Tre, after Hutchison, Three's owner, bought out VEON's share in what was previously a 50:50 joint venture. Three Group's net ARPU decreased by 8% to to €12.94 ($13.98). In terms of individual country units, Sweden was 3's worst performer, with revenue down 5% year on year to 6.75 billion Swedish kronor ($655 million).

  • In what it claims is the UK's "largest ever gigabit broadband switch-on," cable operator Virgin Media brought gigabit-speed service within reach of more than a million homes in the West Midlands region, which encompasses the cities of Birmingham and Coventry, among other locations. Prices for the Gig1 Fibre Broadband service start at £62 ($72) a month on an 18-month contract.

  • OK, their shelves may be largely stripped bare during these interesting times but at least Aldi supermarkets in Europe are "connected." Telefónica Germany is using Cisco's SD-WAN technology to link up Aldi's more than 8,000 sites across 14 European countries. Quick! Toilet rolls in aisle three!

  • Russian mobile operator MTS has launched an online "accelerator" program for startups wanting to collaborate on early-stage digital projects. The program – which has an application deadline of March 20, 2020 – will last two months. More information can be found on the MTS Startup Hub website.

  • A1 Telekom Austria is doing its bit to help folk in this time of coronacrisis by offering free videoconferencing and collaboration tools for those getting to grips with enforced homeworking, and free use of entertainment terminals for hospital patients. Its videoconferencing offering has been created with Eyeson, and is operated in A1's Exoscale digital cloud.

  • BNET, a newly created wholesale broadband provider in Bahrain, has turned to Bearing Point/Beyond for its BSS/OSS needs, deploying the Infonova BSS software on the Amazon Web Services cloud to do the back-office heavy lifting on its forthcoming nationwide fiber broadband network.

  • Telecom Italia's TIM Foundation is to donate €500,000 ($540,000) and initiate a voluntary subscription scheme amongst its employees in the hope of raising €1 million ($1.07 million) to be split between four Italian hospitals who are struggling to cope with the country's bad dose of the new coronavirus.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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