Eurobites: Over-the-Top Services Under the Cosh

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telenor under suspicion; fund managers don't like BT/Ofcom separation; Mediaset shares soar on Vivendi rumors.

  • OTT service providers such as Skype and WhatsApp could face more stringent European Union regulations governing their use of customer data, according to a draft European Commission document seen by Reuters. Old-school carriers aren't happy that they face what they see as a far-from-level playing field when it comes to privacy regulation, which they say should be either repealed or extended to apply to the new OTT kids on the comms block. Under the terms of the draft proposals, OTT services providers will have to guarantee confidentiality of communications and obtain users' consent to process their location data.

  • Norway's Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) is under pressure after admitting that an internal audit in May uncovered "suspicions of financial crimes" in one of its markets that are currently being investigated by local police. Responding to various queries from Norwegian journalists in the last few days, the operator also acknowledged that a number of recent sponsorship agreements in Bangladesh broke with its own internal guidelines, even though it had taken measures in 2013 to address this very issue. Telenor insisted that all agreements breaching its sponsorship policy have now been terminated but said it was still "strengthening … routines for allocating sponsorships." As regards the involvement in the case of CEO Sigve Brekke, who was in charge of Telenor's Asia business until August last year, the company says it has already "considered … Brekke's involvement in the case and regards it as concluded with regards to Brekke's handling." The news comes shortly after Norwegian competition authorities were said to be looking at imposing a fine on Telenor for alleged abuse of its dominant market position in Norway. (See Eurobites: Telenor Faces $105M Fine for Freezing Out Third Norwegian Operator.)

  • Ofcom 's plans for a "legal separation" of BT from its network access unit Openreach have not gone down well with fund managers, the Financial Times reports (subscription required). According to the FT's sources, who attended a meeting last week of fund managers holding major investments in BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and other telcos, the investors "spoke with one voice" in criticizing Ofcom's proposed measures as creating uncertainty and possibly increasing the cost of capital for the likes of BT. (See Only BT's Dismemberment Will Sate Rivals and Openreach Gets Chairman as Ofcom Berates BT.)

  • Shares in Italian media company Mediaset S.p.A. soared more than 20% in early Tuesday trading on the hint of possible hostile takeover bid from France's Vivendi , Reuters reports. Vivendi, which sold SFR to Altice in 2014, announced plans to acquire Mediaset's pay-TV business earlier this year, declaring an ambition of becoming a European alternative to Netflix, but the deal floundered. (See Vivendi Still 'Hopeful' of Becoming Europe's Netflix.)

  • Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. (du) says it has successfully tested Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) 's TWDM-PON technology in its lab, reaching aggregate speeds of 40 Gbit/s. du currently offers 1Gbit/s services in the UAE, but is hoping to incorporate TWDM-PON into its IoT and smart city plans. (See du Tests Nokia's NG-PON2 Gear.)

  • MTN Group Ltd. is to use Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. 's IP RAN offering to upgrade its mobile backhaul network in Nigeria. The upgrade should enable MTN to provide 100Mbit/s mobile Internet access. (See Huawei Upgrades MTN's Backhaul Network in Nigeria.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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