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Eurobites: AlcaLu's Combes to Run Altice Ops

Also in today's regional roundup: Turkish delight at auction outcome; Cellcom mulls Golan bid; Swisscom launches WiFi calling; Ericsson extends ITV deal.

  • Outgoing Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) CEO Michel Combes is to become the new chairman of French operator Numericable-SFR , according to a report from Le Figaro. In addition to running the extensive French business (fixed line, cable and mobile), he will also be director of international operations for parent company Altice , which controls cable and telecom businesses in Israel, Portugal, Switzerland and several other markets. Altice is also in the process of acquiring a majority stake in US cable operator Suddenlink Communications . The appointment will see Altice founder Patrick Drahi relinquish his role as the current chairman of Numericable-SFR, although Eric Denoyer will reportedly stay on as CEO. Combes will begin at Numericable-SFR on September 1, according to the Le Figaro report. The executive revealed he would leave Alcatel-Lucent after rival Nokia made an offer worth €15.6 billion (US$17.6 billion) to acquire the company earlier this year. (See Altice Sees Brighter Days in 4-Player France, Altice Restructures to Support Takeover Moves, Altice to Buy Suddenlink in $9.1B Deal and Nokia Makes €15.6B Bid for Alcatel-Lucent.)

  • Turkey's three existing mobile operators have paid a total of €3.36 billion ($3.8 billion) for licenses in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2.1GHz and 2.6GHz bands during the country's latest spectrum auction, according to a Bloomberg report. Final bids were far in excess of a minimum price of €2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) set by Turkish authorities, with operators in need of new airwaves to support growth in the usage of mobile data services and the rollout of higher-speed 4G networks. In a statement, Vodafone Turkey said it had spent €778 million ($880 million) on 2x10MHz in the 800MHz band, 2x1.4MHz at 900MHz, 2x10MHz at 1800MHz and 2x15MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum, as well as a 10MHz block of unpaired 2.6GHz frequencies. The operator has indicated it plans to launch LTE-Advanced services using its new spectrum, which will be available until April 2029. Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri A.S. (NYSE: TKC) and Avea have yet to release statements about their own wins but are said to have paid €1.62 billion ($1.83 billion) and €955 million ($1.08 billion) respectively for their concessions.

  • Israeli mobile operator Cellcom Israel Ltd. is considering a takeover of local rival Golan Telecom. The operator revealed its intentions in a statement on its website, published in accordance with Israeli reporting obligations. Golan launched services in 2012 and currently has around 850,000 subscribers, while Cellcom remains the country's biggest mobile operator with about 2.85 million customers.

  • Swiss incumbent Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) has launched a WiFi calling service designed to improve call quality on mobile phones inside what it calls "well-insulated buildings," where cellular signals can be weak. The launch follows the introduction of voice over LTE technology -- allowing phone calls to be made on 4G networks -- in June, with Swisscom claiming to be the first European operator to combine the two technologies. In its statement, the operator said the WiFi calling service can now be used on the Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone and will become available on other devices later this year.

  • UK TV network ITV plc (London: ITV) has extended a playout contract with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)until 2024, according to an update from the Swedish equipment supplier. Ericsson operates a simulcast platform for ITV and says the modular nature of this technology allows it to provide new services and adapt existing ones with relative ease.

    — Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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