What’s up with… Orange, Vivendi, Deutsche Telekom, BT



  • Orange snaps up Telkom Romania
  • Italy to probe Vivendi’s role in TMT
  • DT has a compelling pitch for the WFH brigade
  • There’s unrest amongst BT’s workers

An Orange acquisition in Eastern Europe and a potential probe into telecoms/media plurality in Italy are the sweet treats in this buffet of news niblets. 

Orange is buying the 54% of Telekom Romania’s fixed network business currently owned by Greek national carrier OTE for €268 million (the remaining 46% is owned by the Romanian state). Telekom Romania operates a national fixed line network serving about 930,000 broadband and 1.2 million pay-TV customers and generated revenues of €622 million in 2019. It also provides fixed-mobile convergent services to about 881,000 customers through an MVNO deal with Telekom Romania Mobile: Those customers will migrate to Orange Romania’s network once the acquisition is complete. A key part of Orange’s current strategy is to build a base of customers for fixed-mobile convergent services – owning a fixed network in Romania, where Orange already has more than 9.7 million mobile customers, will enable it to progress that strategy in Romania. For more details, see this press release

Still with Orange… The French operator giant has built an indoor 5G network using Ericsson technology at the Montrevault-sur-Evre plant of the LACROIX Group, an international technological equipment manufacturer. For more details see this press release.

Italy is set to probe Vivendi’s stakes in TIM (Telecom Italia) and broadcaster Mediaset, according to Reuters. The investigation would focus on any company deemed to have significant power in both markets to ascertain whether there might be any impact on media plurality, according to the report. The relationship between Vivendi and TIM has been strained during the past few years. (See Italian telecoms: control freakery and consolidation don't mix and Vivendi retains Mediaset stake ahead of wider legal battle, according to reports.)

Deutsche Telekom is seeking to build a business around the support of home offices with a MagentaBusiness HomeOffice solution that combines comms services, relevant hardware and support services, backed by the message “work from home [WFH] like the office.” To execute this strategy, DT has devised a marketing campaign that carries an eye-catching pledge: “We will pimp your WFH experience and provide everything as a one-stop solution!” For more details on this approach to supporting a more distributed workforce, see this press release.

BT faces the prospect of strike action following a move by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) to consult its members on whether a strike ballot should be issued in response to the “increasingly aggressive” approach from the operator’s management, reports Sky News. CWU members held a day of action last week to highlight the “shoddy treatment” of “key workers” by management.

Keen to stress its value to Europe, where it is slowly but meaningfully being sidelined, Huawei has issued a press release citing a report that suggests the Chinese vendor contributed €16.4 billion to Europe’s economy in 2019, supported 224,300 jobs in the region and generated €6.6 billion in tax revenues during the year. For more, see this press release

Spain is working on legislation that would result in a 5% revenue tax on digital video streaming companies such as Netflix, Disney and Amazon Prime, with the funds generated then pumped into Spain’s film industry, according to EuroWeekly.

National operator A1 Austria has teamed up with Nokia for the deployment of 4G and 5G private wireless networks at enterprise locations across the country. The vendor says the two companies have already deployed several campus networks in Austria and have been piloting network slicing capabilities. See this press release for more details. 

US democracy may have taken a bit of a battering recently, but it's still alive and kicking. Voters in Portland, Maine, have given themselves the power to penalise not only the police but also any arm of local government entity that uses facial recognition systems unlawfully. By local statute, since August it has been against Portland law for the cops or other municipal agencies to use AI-based facial recognition technology either directly or indirectly via contracts with third-party companies. That law has now been amended such that any citizen can sue the police or other authorities if it is suspected that he or she has been facially recognised illegally. Once an illegal surveillance or surveillances have been proven, the complainant is entitled to the payment of either US$100 for each violation of the ban (or $1,000, whichever is the greater) plus any and all legal fees. 

Meanwhile, in the UK, where Big Brother really is watching you, especially if you drive a vehicle, a report from the outgoing Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter, shows there are 6,000 systems comprising more than 80,000 cameras in operation across 183 of the country's 343 municipal authorities (local councils). It is commonplace for councils to use the systems as cash-raising mechanisms by targeting motorists. In one current and infamous case, Hounslow council in west London has just garnered close to £1 million in less than a month from a camera located at a new road layout on a shopping street, but, it is alleged, signs warning of the change were placed deliberately out of evident sight. The uproar continues. Meanwhile, the Commissioner bleats plaintively that municipal authorities are flaunting the surveillance law and not complying with the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. While accepting that local authorities have the right to operate surveillance cameras, their use must be "lawful, ethical and conducted within a clear and transparent framework of legitimacy which can be held to effective and independent account." Fat chance. Just ask the people of Chiswick.

Italian towers company INWIT has installed distributed antenna system (DAS) equipment at the Federico II University in Naples to improve its mobile signal reception for all generations of mobile technology, including 5G. 

- The staff, TelecomTV

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