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Eurobites: Lights, cameras, action for Telefónica's content joint venture

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Sky piggybacks on Open Fiber for broadband in Italy; Nokia throws some probabilistic constellation shapes for STC; BT enters into military satcoms alliance.

  • Telefónica has been given the green light by the European Commission for its Buendía Estudios 50:50 joint venture with TV and movie production company Atresmedia, which will create Spanish-language video and audio content for domestic and international consumption. The JV already has a number of "associate" companies, Amazon, Netflix and Warner HBO among them.

  • And in related news, the wraps have been taken off the Telefónica Activation Program, an initiative aimed at fostering the development of startups in Spain, Germany and the UK working in areas such as IoT, blockchain and AI. Those startups selected as worth supporting will benefit from various Telefónica technology and expertise. Applications for the scheme must be submitted by June 22.

  • Sky Italy has launched an "ultra broadband" service based on Open Fiber's fiber-to-the-home network in 26 cities. The triple-play service, Sky WiFi, will be rolled out to 120 locations by the end of the summer.

  • Saudi Telecom Company (STC) is hoping to address the issue of soaring regional 5G traffic by using Nokia's Photonic Service Engine 3 (PSE-3) chipset, which uses probabilistic constellation shaping technology to, in Nokia's words, "push fiber-optic performance close to theoretical limits at any distance." The PSE-3, says Nokia, can help STC increase bandwidth efficiency on its long-haul network by exploiting 200G channels between Riyadh and Jeddah via diverse routes.

  • BT has formed an alliance with NSSL Global and Viasat to bid for the UK's Ministry of Defence Skynet 6 "Service Delivery Wrap" (SDW) contract relating to satellite-based communications. The SDW program will manage the introduction of Skynet 6, which replaces the current Skynet 5 contract.

  • To tie in with Loneliness Awareness Week in the UK, BT is also showing its human side, announcing a pilot project that uses volunteers from within its own ranks of employees at its call centers to make regular calls to isolated residents in care homes, thereby addressing the issue of increased loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Also tied in with Loneliness Awareness Week, a study from Vodafone and Trajectory has revealed that Brits, and particularly older Brits aged 72 plus, feel more positively about technology since the COVID-19 lockdown kicked in. According to the study, 71% of Brits now believe technology has a positive impact on society – a 20% increase since the start of lockdown, though technology in this context often means just a phone call. Vodafone employees have been playing their part in the battle against senior-citizen loneliness, volunteering to help out at a telephone friendship service which matches volunteers with older people with similar interests to make weekly 20-minute calls.

  • Forty-one percent of those surveyed do not want to share any personal data with private companies, while only 5% want to share their facial images or fingerprints with private companies. Those are just two of the findings from a new Fundamental Rights Survey, conducted by the FRA, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Perhaps more surprising is that 72% claim to know the privacy settings on their smartphones, while 22% always read the terms and conditions when using online services.

  • Elsewhere in the corridors of Brussels, European Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni has said that the EU is ready to "go it alone" with imposing taxes on the services of digital giants such as Google and Amazon if a global deal cannot be reached. As Reuters reports, Gentiloni was responding to a decision by the US government on Wednesday to abandon talks on a global approach to the issue.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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