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Eurobites: Dave & Friends Return to Virgin TV

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: BSS and blockchain; Drillisch revenue up in H1; Swisscom caught speeding; on-demand video eats Europe.

  • UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) has reached an agreement with broadcaster UKTV to reinstate UKTV's channels in its line-up. The pair had fallen out over carriage fees for the channels, which include the popular recycled comedy outlet Dave and war-and-more offering Yesterday. The agreement, described as "long term," actually brings Virgin more UKTV channels than it had before, including five times the amount of on-demand programming, according to the cable operator. In a statement, David Bouchier, chief digital entertainment officer at Virgin Media, said: "We are sorry for what we know has been a frustrating time for our customers, but are pleased that our TV bundles are now even bigger."

  • Russian BSS specialist Nexign has teamed up with the Estonian branch of decentralized communications services firm Bubbletone to develop a blockchain-based system that will enable mobile operators to securely share financial and identity information with each other. The move comes as the potential for blockchain in the communications services sector is becoming more apparent, as a recent Heavy Reading report shows. (See Nexign, Bubbletone to Develop Blockchain-Based BSS System, PCCW Global, Colt Expand Blockchain Trial and Eurobites: MegaFon Forms Joint Venture for Blockchain & More.)

  • With a balance sheet skewed by M&A action in 2017, German operator 1&1 Drillisch saw half-year revenue rise 42.5% year-on-year to €1.82 billion (US$2.07 billion) and earnings rise 61.9% to €340.1 million ($387.3 million). The company, which now boasts 13.1 million customers (8.7 million mobile and 4.4 million fixed broadband), effectively came into being last year when United Internet acquired a majority stake in mobile operator Drillisch and merged the company with its own 1&1 retail subsidiary. (See Germany to Get 'Strong Fourth Player' With UI's Drillisch Takeover.)

  • Trumpet-tooting time: Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) says that its mobile network has been judged the fastest in Switzerland by Ookla , the company behind the Speedtest performance-measurement platform. More than half a million readings were taken by Speedtest users from January through June 2018, and Swisscom was found to have average top speeds of 44.55 Mbit/s for downloads and 13.19 Mbit/s for uploads.

  • Viewers in Europe's top five markets are watching an additional two hours of on-demand video content across all platforms, while the slow decline of "linear" TV/video viewing continues. These nuggets are among the findings of a new report from IHS Markit, Cross-Platform Television Viewing Time 2017. The goggle-eyed UK is leading the way in terms of time spent viewing non-linear content, with online "long-form" consumption growing 21% since it was last measured, in 2016.

  • German chip developer Infineon Technologies AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: IFX) is to work with Chinese e-commerce company JD (Jingdong) on the creation of a "smart ecosystem" for the Internet of Things. The pair hope that the collaboration will accelerate the development of smart-home applications and help improve JD's cloud service platform.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has awarded its £10,000 "Better World" innovation prize to Trust Elevate, a London-based startup that developed an online security offering called Veripass. Veripass allows parents to provide their consent before their child makes online registrations, purchases and downloads, by verifying the age of the child and the parental relationship. It also helps parents ensure that their child only interacts online with those within the same age-group. This is a big issue for tech firms targeting young people: According to Article 8 of the GDPR data protection legislation that came into force in May of this year, a child under the age of 16 can only have his or her data processed if consent is given by the relevant parent or guardian.

  • Spotify , the Sweden-based music streaming service, is running a trial in Australia that will allow users of its free, ad-funded version to skip as many ads as they like. According to Ad Age, Spotify hopes that people will just listen to/watch the ads they "actually like," thereby informing Spotify of their ad preferences. But what happens if, as is likely, users of the free service don't "actually like" any of the ads?

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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