Eurobites: Is UK wavering over 'Facebook tax'?

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Facebook France coughs up back taxes; Ericsson's RAN gets security seal of approval; Russia ready to do business with Huawei.

  • Will a post-Brexit UK government pursue the digital services tax on Facebook and other (largely US-based) tech titans? Well, it depends on which newspaper you read. According to the Daily Mail, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is planning to abandon the "Facebook tax," believing that, for the amount of money it is expected to raise – around £500 million (US$656 million) a year – it is "more trouble than it is worth," particularly as it is likely to incur the wrath of the Trump administration. However, the Guardian carries a Treasury denial of the Mail report, quoting a spokesperson as saying: "We've been clear it's a temporary tax that will be removed once an appropriate global solution is in place – and we continue to work with our international partners to reach that goal." (See Eurobites: EU Wants 3% of the Tech Titans.)

  • In related matters, Facebook's French arm has agreed to pay the government there more than €100 million ($118 million) in back taxes relating to accounting years prior to 2018, according to a Reuters report citing Capital, a financial magazine.

  • Ericsson's radio access network (RAN) technology development processes have been approved as fully compliant with the new 3GPP/GSMA Network Security Assurance Schemes (NESAS) standards. NESAS is jointly defined by 3GPP and the GSMA, with the intention of providing an industry-wide security assurance framework to facilitate improvements in security levels through 20 defined security requirements for the development and product lifecycle processes of network products.

  • Who's afraid of the big bad Trump? Not Russia, apparently. According to a brief Reuters report citing Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Moscow government is "ready to co-operate" with Chinese vendor Huawei on 5G technology.

  • An engineer with Openreach, BT's semi-autonomous network access division, has surely put himself in line for the employee of the month award with his work to reconnect a tiny Scottish island. John McConnell, who by lucky hap is a fully trained diver as well as an Openreach veteran of 40 years' standing, donned wetsuit, snorkel and flippers to carry out a survey of the broken cable and then proceeded to fix it as his toolbox floated alongside him. The subsea cable has now been secured with underwater concrete blocks, to make sure the island – which is less than a mile long – stays connected in future.

    Scuba do: Openreach engineer John McConnell went subsea to reconnect the Scottish island of Balhama.
    Scuba do: Openreach engineer John McConnell went subsea to reconnect the Scottish island of Balhama.

  • Vodafone UK has introduced an offer that allows its customers buying an iPhone 11 or iPhone SE to trade it in anytime after 12 months with incurring an early upgrade fee, as long as they take out a new 24-month airtime plan.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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