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Eurobites: Bharti Unit, Telkom Kenya to Merge Operations

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: US sounds alarm over Huawei's empire-building in eastern Europe; Iskratel soups up FTTH on French-owned Réunion Island; rural mobile connectivity failing in the UK.

  • The Kenyan unit of India's Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) is to merge with Telkom Kenya in a bid to take on market leader Safaricom, The Economic Times reports. Telkom Kenya is 60% owned by UK private equity firm Helios Investment Partners, with the remainder in the hands of the Kenyan government. No financial details of the deal were disclosed.

  • The US government has identified Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd 's push into central and eastern Europe as one of its key concerns, expressing the fear that -- not least due to a propensity for corruption -- a number of the small and midsized states within the region are particularly susceptible to growing Chinese influence. As the Financial Times reports (subscription required), US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting Hungary, Slovakia and Poland this week in an apparent attempt to draw attention to what the US perceives is the threat posed by Chinese business deals and investment in infrastructure in countries such as these.

  • Iskratel d.o.o. , the Slovenia-based broadband access company, has upgraded the fiber network of ZEOP, a French Internet service provider based on Réunion Island. In less than six months, says Iskratel, it has installed its GPON FTTH Home Gateway Innbox G68 offering, providing "ultrafast" downstream and upstream speeds.

  • A "basic" mobile voice call across a main network is still not possible in a third of rural homes in the UK, according to a new report from lobby group Rural England. And more than half (58%) of rural premises cannot access a 4G connection. As the report points out, in an age when online public services are becoming the default, the lack of decent connectivity in rural areas can be particularly hard-hitting when combined with the often-parlous state of public transport provision.

  • Sweden's Net Insight AB (Stockholm: NETI-B) has teamed up with broadcaster SVT and media technology company Grass Valley to enable what Net Insight claims is the largest ever remote -- in other words, not from a broadcast facility at the event -- IP production. The collaboration is bringing coverage of the ongoing FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, which are being held in Åre, Sweden.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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