Eurobites: Virgin Media set to vanish from UK high street

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: TalkTalk Business makes changes at the top; COVID-19 brings a new CEO to Beyond.pl; more data consumption doesn't spell environmental disaster, finds GSMA.

  • Virgin Media, the UK cable operator that is part of the Liberty Global empire, is not going to reopen its 53 high street stores even when the COVID-19 crisis has passed, according to a Guardian report. The 341 staff affected by the decision will be offered newly created jobs, mainly as home-based customer-care assistants, though some will transfer to field sales roles. The move is the logical conclusion to a program of store closures Virgin had already embarked on as sales and customer service moves increasingly online – it had 140 UK stores in 2016.

  • But hey, it's not all doom and gloom with Virgin Media. Tapping into the current need for home-based exercise (let's go for the carpet-burn!), the operator has launched a new, free fitness channel fronted by Daley Thompson, one of Britain's finest athletes and winner of decathlon gold at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics. "I'm so excited to be working with Virgin Media and this incredible new channel which has a host of top talent to help get you moving," Thompson almost definitely did not say.

    Legendary Olympian Daley Thompson (center), and some other people.
    Legendary Olympian Daley Thompson (center), and some other people.

  • TalkTalk Business has had a bit of a management reshuffle as it seeks to, in the words of its press release, "focus on a full fibre future." Ruth Kennedy, currently director for carrier and SIs, will move to a new role reporting directly into the CEO, Tristia Harrison, while Richard Thompson, managing director of Indirect, will expand his role to take on carrier and SI responsibilities alongside the marketing and partner sales teams. Fun Friday Fact: Richard Thompson is a former England basketball player. (But is not to be confused with the beret-bothering folk-rock singer of the same name.)

  • In other exec news, it seems the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for Aman Khan to continue working as CEO of Beyond.pl, the Polish specialist in colocation and cloud infrastructure. He will be replaced by Wojciech Stramski, who has been with the company for five years serving on its supervisory board.

  • The coronavirus lockdown may have led to a massive surge in data use for European service providers, but a concomitant spike in energy consumption and carbon emissions has not been observed, according to a study by the GSMA of its member operators. For example, UK operator BT reported a 100% increase in daytime traffic across its fixed broadband network but this did not lead to a noticeable increase in electricity use, according to BT.

  • Telefónica UK (O2) has completed a government-funded project looking into the cybersecurity-related vulnerabilities of connected and autonomous vehicles, offering other parties involved in the 12-week project – including Cisco, the Millbrook Proving Ground and Warwick Manufacturing Group – access to its technical subject matter experts. Specifically, O2's boffins were responsible for determining the types of cyberattacks that pose a threat to connected-car networks.

  • Top-flight English soccer is set to resume on June 17, albeit behind closed doors, and, in the "we're all in this together" spirit of the COVID-19 crisis, pay-TV giant Sky is to make 25 of the 64 live games being played available "free to air." Some of them will be on Sky's free-to-air Pick channel some will even be on the BBC, which hasn't seen quality live soccer action since the Napoleonic Wars.

  • Around 500 people on the Isle of Wight have been tested for the new coronavirus through the contact-tracing app that is being trialed by the UK government on the island, which lies just off the south coast of England. According to the Isle of Wight County Press, local Member of Parliament Bob Seely has urged those who have downloaded the app not to delete it as an update was coming soon, to be followed by a Version 2. The update should that mean that a number of Samsung phones that had proved unable to download the app (the Galaxy J6, J7, A3 and J3 models) will now be compatible, as will, it is hoped, Huawei handets.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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