Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Orange/Bouygues talks drag on; Ericsson and Telefónica demo LTE-U; Sigfox hires a Wolff.
The European Commission has opened what it calls an "in-depth investigation" into the proposed joint venture between VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP) subsidiary Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA and Hutchison's H3G Italy . The Commission is worried that the venture, which would create the largest Italian mobile operator by subscribers, could lead to higher prices and less choice for customers. It is the latest sign that the EC's competition authority, now led by Margrethe Vestager, is taking a harder line on market consolidation within EU member states.
Elsewhere on the European consolidation front, Orange (NYSE: FTE) has issued a terse statement regarding Wednesday's talks with Bouygues Telecom over a possible takeover. Apparently, the negotiations "were not yet sufficiently advanced" and the Orange board will meet again on April 3 to chew over the proposed deal once more. This one could run and run. (See Orange & Hutch: A Tale of Two Takeovers and Orange CEO Sees 50:50 Chance of Bouygues Deal.)
Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Telefónica have demonstrated live, over-the-air delivery of LTE-U over the Spanish giant's network, using Ericsson's RBS 6402 small cell. LTE-U enables operators to use unlicensed 5GHz spectrum in combination with their licensed LTE spectrum.
Sigfox , the French IoT frontrunner, has hired Roswell Wolff to head up its expansion in the Asia-Pacific region. Wolff was most recently president of Asia-Pacific operations for Oberthur Technologies . (See Altice, Sigfox Join Forces in French IoT Battle and Sigfox Plans Global IoT Network.)
The Egyptian stock exchange suspended trading of shares in state-owned Telecom Egypt on Wednesday after the government replaced all its representatives on the operator's board of directors, reports Gulf News.
NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) has been chosen to update Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) 's IP network in Sweden and Norway. Under the terms of a five-year deal, the vendor will supply routing, switching and security equipment, as well as training, spare parts, technical support and maintenance services.
Poland's Comarch SA has got the nod from T-Mobile Austria to supply its Network Inventory OSS offering, which uses a web-based interface to help the operator get an overview of its network and manage it more efficiently. (See Comarch Wins OSS Deal at T-Mobile Austria.)
UK regulator Ofcom has published its Smartphone Cities report, which provides information on mobile network performance across five UK cities, namely Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London and Norwich. EE came out well in the tests, with the fastest downlink speeds in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool and London. Interestingly, London had the slowest average downlink speeds across all operators, at just 12 Mbit/s.
A group of Swiss banks and retailers are looking to work together with Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) on a mobile payments platform for the country, reports Reuters. Initial progress on the project is expected by early May.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading