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Eurobites: Sky Hastens Death of the Dish

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Deutsche Telekom and friends claim 5G breakthrough; Vodafone in cellular-V2X tests; Nokia touts MulteFire small cell.

  • Sky is responding to the "over-the-top" challenge from the likes of Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) by announcing that it is to start making all its channels available online this year, starting in the Italian and Austrian markets. This could mark the beginning of the end for Sky's satellite dishes, which have mushroomed on properties since the 1980s but have always been a non-starter for those who live in certain protected "conservation" zones. The news was revealed as part of Sky's half-year results statement, which showed that revenues rose 4.7% year-on-year to £6.7 billion (US$9.5 billion), while pre-tax profits rose 28% to £483 million ($688 million).

    The company also underlined its commitment to streaming rather than beaming with the launch of what it says is the UK's cheapest streaming stick, which is essentially a Roku-powered replacement for the Now TV box, aimed at its contract-averse pay-as-you-go customers.

    There are developments on the content front too: Sky has launched Sky Cinema Original Films, a vehicle for acquiring exclusive rights and commissioning original movie productions. The first product of this new strategy will be Monster Family, an animated comedy.

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) has teamed up with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd to trumpet what they say is the world's first 5G interoperability and development testing based on the 3GPP R15 standard with a commercial basestation. The threesome says it has "jointly verified the fundamentals of the new 5G 3GPP NR standard, including new synchronization, coding, frame structure, and numerology components underlying the interconnection of the NR-compliant terminal and network." The new 3GPP specs were only approved just before Christmas, in a decision that was seen as heralding the start of the standards-based 5G era. (See Deutsche Telekom, Intel, Huawei Claim 5G NR Interop Success and 5G Is Official: First 3GPP Specs Approved.)

  • Deutsche Telekom is also announcing the second phase of its fiber broadband rollout to business parks, with 7,600 businesses in 33 communities lined up for connection speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s this year. Ultimately, the German incumbent aims to connect 3,000 business parks across the country to its fiber network.

  • In the same neck of the woods, Vodafone Germany has joined forces with Huawei and Bosch to test 5G cellular-V2X, a technology that enables smart cars to communicate with each other. (Think CB radio without the baseball caps.) The tests have been taking place on the A9 freeway in Bavaria, putting features such as "adaptive cruise control" -- which automatically accelerates and brakes at appropriate moments -- through their paces.

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has launched what it says is the world's first MulteFire small cell, designed to allow enterprises and other organizations to exploit global unlicensed spectrum for private LTE networks. The vendor says that the technology will allow owners of public buildings such as hotels to open up their private LTE networks to mobile providers and thereby seek out new revenue streams.

  • This year's World Economic Forum at the Swiss resort of Davos is almost over, but between the chest-thumping and ego-stroking, did the meaningful conversations and presentations focus on the right topics? Light Reading's roving video maestro Dan Allen suggests not:


  • UK altnet Gigaclear has partnered with London-based broadband provider Voneus in a bid to accelerate the adoption of gigabit broadband in rural communities across Britain. Through the partnership, Gigaclear is hoping to expand its existing FTTH network, which currently reaches more than 200 communities across 20 counties.

  • Colt Technology Services Group Ltd has appointed Andrew Edison as the new vice president of its wholesale division. Edison was most recently in a senior role at Level 3, but prior to that he spent 20 years at AT&T. Here he is chatting to Light Reading in 2016:

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) mobile technology is to play a key role in a new vaccination project in the African state of Côte d'Ivoire. Through a partnership with vaccination organization Gavi and the country's ministry of health, Orange will provide health workers with an M-Vaccin mobile app, which will enable them to accurately capture data from the communities they come into contact with.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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