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Eurobites: Proximus gets in on the drones act

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ericsson upgrades CETIN's Czech network; Nokia touts 25G PON; Arcep lays down the law on FTTP line rental.

  • Belgian operator Proximus has teamed up with two drone companies to create a digital platform that is intended to allow drones to perform "on-demand missions" for business purposes more easily. SkeyDrone, a drone air traffic service provider, and DroneMatrik, a software developer, have come together with Proximus to create what they are calling the "6th Network," and expect to launch the service commercially before the end of next year. Once complete, the platform will allow drones to fly over Belgium in a way that complies with relevant regulations, with Proximus bringing its expertise in 4G, 5G, system integration and data analytics to the venture.

  • Ericsson has won the contract to upgrade the network of CETIN, the Czech mobile wholesaler whose customers include T-Mobile and O2. The five-year deal will see Ericsson modernizing more than 4,000 cellular sites across two-thirds of the Czech Republic, including the densely populated areas of Prague, Brno and Ostrava, to get them ready for the arrival of 5G.

  • Nokia has unveiled what it says is the world's first fully commercial 25Gbit/s symmetrical PON fiber broadband offering. It is based on Nokia's Quillion chipset and existing PON access platform and line cards, so all Nokia customers with 10Gbit/s Quillion boards will have 25Gbit/s capabilities in their network.

  • Arcep, the French communications regulator, has ruled that SFR is overcharging Bouygues Telecom for access to its fiber network. It has ordered SFR to issue an amendment to their agreement on FTTH line access in areas where its subsidiary, SFMD, operates, stipulating the price of passive line rental will not exceed €13.20 (excluding VAT) a month, as from January 3, 2020.

  • Eutelsat has agreed to sell its 51% stake in Euro Broadband Infrastructure (EBI), the company operating the KA SAT satellite, and its related European broadband business, to Viasat, its 49% shareholder, for €140 million (US$165.7 million). The move forms part of a wider effort by Eutelsat to simplify its broadband distribution in Europe.

  • UK communications regulator Ofcom has been giving its latest appraisal of how the "legal separation" of network access company Openreach from its parent, BT, is working out. The report looked at the period from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 and, it's fair to say, presents a mixed picture. On the one hand, it says the two companies "continue to make good progress in strengthening and safeguarding Openreach's strategic independence," praising Openreach for the way it responded to challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic; on the other, it warns that "some feedback indicates that not all stakeholders think the separation between BT and Openreach is working as they consider it should," noting that there are "some concerns around coincidences of timing of Openreach fibre deployment in certain locations where communication providers' … build footprints overlap." (See Eurobites: BT Still Has Work to Do on Openreach Separation.)

  • One of Openreach's rivals, CityFibre, is investing £37 million ($49 million) in a fiber network in Bolton, a town that forms part of the Greater Manchester conurbation in northern England. The project was previously led by FibreNation, the TalkTalk unit that CityFibre acquired for £200 million earlier this year. (See CityFibre expands UK empire with £200M acquisition.)

  • Olivetti, the iconic Italian company that these days is part of Telecom Italia, has signed a memorandum of understanding with software company Vection Technologies with a view to working together to integrate Vection's offerings into new applications targeting the Internet of Things.

  • Ooredoo Oman has chosen Etiya, a software company that is headquartered in Amsterdam but is essentially Turkish, to update Ooredoo's customer relationship management (CRM) platform and generally a provide a "more enhanced digital experience" for its customers.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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