Policy + charging

Euronews: UK Doubles Down on 'Bill Shock'

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Iliad adds 4G to the cut-price mix; US gives all-clear to Microsoft's Nokia buy; Firefox OS reaches Italy.

  • Four UK mobile operators have signed up to a government-led agreement intended to tackle the problem of customers facing massive bills after their phones have been stolen, reports the BBC. EE , Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), Three UK , and Virgin Mobile Telecoms Ltd. have all agreed to a new cap on the amount that phone theft victims would have to pay, which is likely to be set around the £50 (US$82) mark. The agreement will also force operators to inform customers about mid-contract price rises, and allow customers to break their contract without facing a penalty. One notable pooper of the party, however, is Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2).

  • Iliad (Euronext: ILD), the cut-price upstart in the French mobile market, has turned up the heat on its rivals by adding a 4G mobile broadband service to its Free Mobile package -- without raising the price, reports Reuters. This means that Free Mobile subscribers will be able to get the 4G service for €19.99 ($27) a month. (See Free Disrupts French Mobile Market.)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) has, as expected, received the all-clear from the US antitrust regulators for its proposed $7.3 billion takeover of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s handsets business, reports Reuters. Now it needs to win approval in Europe for the transaction -- that too is expected to go swimmingly. (See Euronews: Brussels Set to Approve Nokia/Microsoft Deal and Nokia: It's Really Happening.)

  • SWITCH, which provides data services to Switzerland's education and research sector, has deployed ECI Telecom Ltd. 's Apollo DWDM transport equipment to support the provision of 10G and 100G connections to universities and other educational establishments.

  • The Firefox mobile operating system is making its debut in Italy, courtesy of Telecom Italia (TIM) , which announced an agreement with Mozilla at the Mobile World Congress in February. For more details of the launch, see this press release. Last week Nordic operator Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) launched Firefox OS-based phones in Hungary and Montenegro. (See Firefox: Smartphones for All?)

  • Vodafone has appointed Val Gooding as a non-executive director, effective as from February 1, 2014. Gooding's track record includes a spell as CEO of private healthcare giant BUPA and as director (Asia-Pacific region) at British Airways. She's also a non-executive director of the UK's Lawn Tennis Association -- so there's at least one "suit" that free Wimbledon tickets won't be wasted on.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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