Eurobites: Lawmakers fret over UK’s tech strategy | Light Reading

Eurobites: Lawmakers fret over UK’s tech strategy | Light Reading

Also in today’s EMEA regional roundup: Jordan’s Umniah taps Ericsson; Swisscom slips up in Switzerland, makes hay in Italy; 5G on the waterfront, again.

  • The UK government’s decision to ban Huawei equipment from the country’s 5G networks from 2027 has left it over-reliant on just two companies Nokia and Ericsson for the technology, according to lawmakers on the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. As the BBC reports, the committee found that the rollout of 5G had ended up being more expensive and slower since the government’s U-turn on the use of Huawei gear and suggested that the UK’s adoption of other technologies such as AI and quantum computing may also suffer from a lack of “strategic foresight.” (See Eurobites: Huawei urges UK to rethink 5G ban now that Trump is toast, Open RAN is vulnerable to an Ericsson, Nokia takeover and UK report cites flaw of ‘national significance’ in Huawei kit.)
  • Jordanian operator Umniah has tapped Ericsson to upgrade its radio access network (RAN). The deal, which will affect Umniah’s 3G and 4G sites, covers hardware, software and services such as network management, system integration and support.
  • Swisscom had a tough time on its home turf in 2020, with full-year revenue down 3.5% year-on-year to 8.27 billion Swiss francs (US$9.16 billion), with a third of this decline accounted for by the massive reduction in roaming charges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Domestic EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization), however, increased by 1.2% to CHF3.52 billion ($3.90 billion). Things were brighter in Italy, where Swisscom subsidiary Fastweb saw its revenue grow by 3.9%, to 2.30 billion ($2.75 billion). As for the 2021 outlook, Swisscom is expecting net revenue of around CHF11.1 billion ($12.3 billion), EBITDA of around CHF4.3 billion ($4.7 billion) and capital expenditure of around CHF2.3 billion ($2.5 billion).
  • Port operations is one area where 5G seems to be making another impact. The latest example of this sees Telia combining with Konecranes in Finland to test the use of 5G-driven data analytics in a shipping container environment: A forklift truck was equipped with a 360-degree camera that relays images over a 5G network for a “video analysis engine” to, er, analyze and ultimately detect any potential hazards.
  • Telefnica says it has successfully closed its first “sustainable perpetual hybrid bond issue,” raising 1 billion ($1.2 billion) with which it intends to finance projects with positive environmental and social impacts in Spain, Germany and Brazil. Such projects include the conversion of its copper networks to fiber and the rollout of connectivity to previously unserved areas.
  • In other Telefnica news, the Spanish giant has been totting up how much Wayra, its tech incubator, has invested in 2020: 4.5 million ($5.4 million) on 39 startups in Europe and Latin America. The areas covered are the usual suspects: artificial intelligence, IoT, cloud, video, virtual reality, cybersecurity, connectivity, data analytics and fintech.
  • Virgin Media Business has beefed up its cloud security offering with the addition of the Zscaler platform, which sits between an organization’s users and corporate applications and networks.
  • Spotify, the Swedish-owned music streaming service, saw its total of “monthly active users” grow by 27% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2020, though the cheapskates who use the ad-supported version still outnumber those who pay for the privilege. Total revenue grew 17% year-on-year, to 2.16 billion ($2.58 billion), though average revenue per user from those using the paid-for service was down 8%.

    Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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