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Eurobites: BT Seeks Control of YouView Remote

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Orange ventures into VR, declines 4G license offer in Egypt; German camera maker Leica pals up with Huawei; European re-launch for Note7 planned.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is planning to bolster its pay-TV ambitions by taking full control of YouView TV Ltd. , the set-top box venture that is jointly owned by BT, TalkTalk , Arqiva as well as UK broadcasters BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. According to the Daily Telegraph, BT is in talks on a deal that could cost it as much as £60 million (US$78 million), one prompted by frustration at the slow pace of development of the YouView platform. YouView was planned as a ubiquitous successor to the Freeview DTT platform, but nearly all YouView boxes are now found in the homes of BT or TalkTalk pay-TV subscribers, says the Telegraph.

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) is venturing further into the world of virtual reality with the launch of OCS VR, which equips subscribers to its OCS TV channel with a virtual reality headset so they can experience the content in an "immersive VR environment," initially on Samsung Corp. 's Gear VR and on Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE)'s PlayStation VR a little later. In December Orange is launching a VR test program in partnership with Wevr, a Los Angeles-based startup in which it has invested. Samsung and High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) will also be involved in the program.

  • On the mobile front, Orange is one of three Egyptian operators that have turned down the chance to acquire a 4G license from the country's authorities on the grounds that it is too expensive, reports Reuters. Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat were the other two refuseniks, with only state-owned Telecom Egypt agreeing to the terms.

  • Telekom Deutschland GmbH has restructured its managing board, appointing two new directors. Ferri Abolhassan, currently responsible for the IT Division at T-Systems International, will take on the newly created position of director of service transformation, while Bruno Jacobfeuerborn will take over as managing director of Deutsche Funkturm and will also transfer to the newly created Technology and Innovation Board department as chief technology officer, both effective January 1, 2017.

  • German camera maker Leica is setting up a jointly operated R&D center with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. in Wetzlar, Germany. The Max Berek Innovation Lab will work on the development of optical systems and software-based technologies to improve imaging quality in a range of mobile device applications.

  • Vodafone has extended its partnership in Cameroon with operator Afrimax Group, MarketWatch reports. The two companies will launch LTE services under the Vodafone Cameroon brand in Cameroon's two biggest cities, Douala and Yaounde.

  • Samsung says it hopes to re-launch its occasionally combustible Note7 smartphone across Europe by the end of the year, Reuters reports.

  • European technology firms are getting more confident about seeking IPOs following a quiet two years in the region, Reuters reports. Spanish mobile phone tower business Telxius is one of the companies considering a listing next month, according to the report.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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