Eurobites: Orange Found Guilty in Suicides Case, Former CEO Jailed | Light Reading

Eurobites: Orange Found Guilty in Suicides Case, Former CEO Jailed | Light Reading

Paul Rainford


Also in today’s EMEA regional roundup: Huaweigate latest; O2 gets busy on the 5G and 4G fronts; Sparkle adds a PoP in Lagos; ADVA wins MEF approval.

  • A French court has found Orange and its former CEO Didier Lombard guilty of “moral harrassment” that led to a spate of suicides by staff in the late 2000s. Lombard and other senior executives had denied that restructuring measures undertaken shortly after the privatization of the former state-run company contributed to the suicide of at least 19 employees from 2008, but the court found against the company and the former CEO, who was sentenced today to a year in jail, reports Reuters. Eight months of the sentence have been suspended, which means Lombard, who relinquished the CEO role in 2010 as a result of the suicides scandal, will spend up to four months in jail. He was also fined 15,000. Orange was fined 75,000. Orange says it will not appeal the decision. It also notes that it has created a “Compensation Commission to review individual situations”: That Commission is “examining the first dossiers sent by individuals who were present in the company between 2007 and 2010, or their beneficiaries. This Committee is responsible for finding acceptable compensation solutions with individual with the aim of avoiding long, costly and socially painful litigation procedures for those concerned.” The operator also notes that it has “undertaken a vast social transformation project and has implemented measures aimed at preventing workplace suffering and psychosocial risks at a level that is unprecedented among large French companies.”
  • Huaweigate: It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Turns out Deutsche Telekom was on the verge of awarding a major new contract to Huawei before it decided to put any procurement decisions on hold because of the political pressure surrounding the Chinese vendor, at least according to a Reuters report citing three anonymous sources. The negotiations apparently took place in Paris, with terms being agreed but nothing ultimately being signed. (See Eurobites: Deutsche Telekom Orders 5G Freeze Until Heat Is off Huawei.)
  • UK mobile operator O2 has teamed up with Ericsson and Northumbrian Water, based in the north of England, to trial the use of 5G connectivity to improve the supply of water to the utility’s 2.7 million or so customers. The technology allows, for example, the use of augmented reality to remotely guide field technicians who are addressing actual or potential problems in supply, and the use of a “home water maintenance app” that allows customers to monitor their home’s water supply, identifying any unusual consumption patterns.
  • O2 is busy on the 4G front as well, teaming up with Transport for London to help bring full 4G coverage on the long stretch between Westminster and Canning Town stations on the Jubilee Line, which forms part of London’s underground rail system and, significantly, serves The O2 sports and music venue. The project is a pilot that the operator hopes will pave the way for a wider network rollout. (Rival operators Three and Vodafone have already signed up to the trial.) For more details, see this story on our sister site,
  • Telecom Italia’s international services arm, Sparkle, has beefed up its African backbone with a new point of presence in Lagos, Nigeria, adding to its existing PoPs in Egypt, Tunisia, Tanzania and Djibouti. The Lagos PoP hooks up to Sparkle’s Tier 1 IP transit service, Seabone. (See Sparkle Adds New Point of Presence in Nigeria.)
  • Germany’s ADVA says its FSP 150-XG480 has become the first 100Gbit/s metro edge device on the market to achieve MEF 3.0 Carrier Ethernet certification.
  • Swisscom has lost its appeal against the 186 million Swiss francs (US$189.7 million) fine imposed on it by Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court for what in the court’s view was the operator’s charging of “improper prices” for its Broadband Connectivity Service (BBCS) up to the end of 2007. Swisscom, not surprisingly, maintains its innocence, claiming that its offering “enabled its competitors to market their own broadband Internet services from the outset.”
  • UKCloud, a purveyor of cloud services to the UK public sector, has announced support for Microsoft’s Azure public cloud and private Azure Stack Hub.
  • Internet access in parts of eastern Europe, Iran and Turkey was disrupted yesterday (Thursday) following the accidental severing of fiber optic cables. As the BBC reports, Google was one of the companies whose services were affected.
  • Google and others are off the hook, at least for the time being, when it comes to the transfer of EU citizens’ data to the US and elsewhere, following the decision of a key EU court advisor yesterday. However, as Reuters reports, he did warn that the situation could change if EU data protection standards were not met in the countries on the receiving end of said data. The hearing was just the latest in a long chain of court cases prompted by Austrian data privacy activist Max Schrems. (See Eurobites: Facebook Faces Privacy Class Action.)
  • Very sad news from the UK, where the Isle of Wight County press reports the death of Simon Poole, the chief operating officer of WightFibre, a thriving infrastructure provider on the island. Simon, 47, was killed in a car accident earlier this week. He is survived by his wife and three children, to whom all at Light Reading send their heartfelt condolences.

    This is the last Eurobites of 2019. Team Eurobites wishes all its readers a happy holiday — see you in 2020!

    Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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