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Eurobites: Google bows to EU pressure on Android search engine choice

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Iskratel expands into Germany; online living in the post-pandemic world; Lebara sticks with Vodafone in the UK.

  • Following pressure from the European Union, Google has had a change of heart on its approach to rival search engines, allowing them to freely compete to be the user's default search engine on its Android mobile operating system in Europe. According to Reuters (paywall applies), Google said that it would now display in random order the five most popular search engines in each EU country at top of its "Choice Screen," while up to seven more will be shown at the bottom. (Who knew there were so many?) Previously, Google had only allowed four competitors to appear on the Choice Screen, chosen in separate auctions.

  • Slovenian outfit Iskratel is expanding into Germany, opening a branch in Munich to help sell its fiber-based broadband access offerings there. As part of the marketing push, the company is using this week's virtual Anga Com show in Cologne to present its strategy for developing rural regions with fiber technologies, including FTTH.

  • A new Ericsson ConsumerLab report predicts that consumers will spend on average an extra ten hours a week online in the (hopefully) post-pandemic world of 2025 and beyond. As well as continuing to use the Interweb to manage the current boring stuff such as shopping and bill-paying, we will add an average of "2.5 new services" to our online Things To Do lists, says the report. We'll also be travelling more and practicing more mindful living, though not necessarily at the same time.

  • In a similar vein, a report from UK communications regulator Ofcom reveals that Brits have gone more online-crazy than ever during the pandemic, spending more time glued to their screens than any other European country. Not surprisingly perhaps, those aged between 15 and 16 spent the most time online (4hr 54m), but even oldies of 55 and over were chewing up 2hr 51m of connectedness each day. UK users also spent nearly £2.45 billion (US$3.4 billion) on, and in, mobile apps last year, with Tinder, Disney+, YouTube and Netflix topping the list of favorites.

    Pull your finger out, Germany 
(Source: Ofcom)
    Pull your finger out, Germany
    (Source: Ofcom)

  • Lebara, the mobile virtual network operator focused on cut-price international calling, has chosen to extend its host network deal with Vodafone in the UK for another three and a half years. Lebara has operations in Germany, France, UK, Netherlands and Denmark.

  • Nokia has signed a three-year deal with Orange Jordan to deploy more than 100,000 Wi-Fi beacons across the Middle Eastern country. According to Nokia, its technology will allow Orange Jordan to provide consistent coverage, even in the remotest corners within buildings.

  • In related news, Orange Bank is teaming up with fintech firm Younited in France to extend its range of personal loan products. Orange says the new platform will enable it to reach a wider clientele, simplifying loan application procedures and allowing customers to synchronize their banking information held in other institutions. (See Orange Bank Job Is Going Europe-Wide.)

  • Intelsat is partnering with local company HCI to offer its Intelsat CellBackhaul service to mobile network operators in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to Intelsat, more than 32 million people in DRC don't even have access to 3G, severely limiting what they can do online.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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