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Mobile services

Eurobites: BT & Virgin Cement MVNO Relationship

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia branded smartphone launched -- but only in China; KPN rebrands colocation services; Saudis lend support to Uber.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) have signed a new five-year wholesale MVNO agreement, which will see BT-owned EE supply mobile network services to Virgin, part of the Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) cable empire. The agreement, which covers both data and voice services, replaces and extends an existing deal between the two companies. Virgin claims it was the first MVNO in the world, entering the mobile market in 1999. It now says it has 3 million subscribers. The two companies have become unlikely bedfellows: Unlike Vodafone UK , TalkTalk and Sky , Virgin has sided with BT in the debate over whether BT's network access division, Openreach , should be structurally separated from its parent, to create what BT's critics say would be a more level playing field in the broadband infrastructure market. (See Eurobites: BT Draws Virgin Into Openreach Lobby.)

  • The first Nokia-branded smartphone to appear for three years has been launched -- but only in China. The Nokia 6, which runs Android 7.0 and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor, is being sold exclusively through Chinese online store JD.com by HMD Global, a Finnish company that was set up last year to exploit what it perceives as the continuing value of the Nokia brand in the mobile device market. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) bought Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s mobile phones business in November 2014 but failed to do much with it, seeing sales of its Windows Phone devices shrinking to a pinprick. (See Nokia Plays It Smart With Major Mobile Devices Brand Deal and Microsoft Buoyed by Cloud, Surface, Burnt by Phones.)

  • Dutch incumbent KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) has rebranded its colocation services as NLDC, creating a new company within the KPN group to run its six data centers dedicated to this business sector.

  • Saudi Arabia is assisting Uber and Careem, two companies behind ride-hailing apps of the same name, in their efforts to build their respective businesses in the kingdom, through state investment and light-touch regulation. As Reuters reports, the government is hoping that such apps will help more Saudi women join the workforce by providing a cheaper alternative to personal chauffeurs. But here's an idea, guys: why not let the women just drive themselves? Crazy, we know -- but it just might work.

    Things you won't see in Saudia Arabia. (No. 6 in a series.)
    Things you won't see in Saudia Arabia. (No. 6 in a series.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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