Smart card firm Gemalto sees further surge in sales


French smart card maker Gemalto is forecasting double-digit sales growth this year, helped by strong demand for its services and products in the United States and Asia, after posting record sales in 2012.

Paris-listed Gemalto (Amsterdam, Netherlands), which makes smart chips for mobile phones and bank payment cards, said sales last year were up 9 percent at 2.24 billion euros ($2.90 billion) driven by its mobile business which accounts for close to half its sales and its smaller Security unit, which makes embedded software for electronic documents such as passports.

EBay hit as "gloves come off" over PayPal digital wallet fee


EBay Inc shares hit a new low for 2013 on Monday as concern mounted about the impact of a new "digital wallet" fee on the company's PayPal business.

MasterCard Inc (Purchase, NY, USA), one of the largest payment networks, said earlier this year that it plans a new fee for digital wallet operators like PayPal (San Jose, USA) starting in June.

The actual dollar amount PayPal ends up paying may not be that large, analysts say.

Bharti Airtel ordered to stop 3G services in seven regions

India’s Bharti Airtel has been ordered by regulatory authorities to stop providing 3G services in seven regions where it does not have the requisite permits, according to the Economic Times newspaper.

Authorities have also imposed a fine of INR3.5 billion ($64.6 million) on the operator for abusing the terms of its licenses.

Deutsche Telekom moves closer to Scout24 sale

Deutsche Telekom is moving closer to a sale of Scout24 Group, its online portals subsidiary, according to sources cited by Reuters.

The German telecoms incumbent is on the verge of appointing Goldman Sachs (New York City, NY, USA) to manage the sale of the unit, with German media groups Bertelsmann (Gutersloh, Germany) and Axel Springer (Berlin, Germany) both reckoned to be interested in a takeover, according to the Reuters story.

Bouygues gains regulatory permission for 4G at 1800MHz

French telecoms regulator ARCEP has introduced rules allowing Bouygues Telecom, the country’s third-biggest operator, to use its 1800MHz spectrum to provide 4G services.

Until now, the spectrum has been reserved for use with much older, 2G services, but the ARCEP decision means Bouygues (Paris, France) will be able to introduce LTE technology in the 1800MHz band from October 1 this year.

It will, however, be forced to relinquish some of its 1800MHz holdings so it does not gain an unfair advantage over its rivals.

Google's Schmidt to visit Myanmar, an untapped telecoms market


Google Inc Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who visited North Korea in January, will become the first high-profile tech company executive to visit Myanmar in the wake of reforms that prompted Western nations to ease sanctions following decades of military dictatorship.

The visit next week to Myanmar, where Schmidt will speak at a technology and communications park and meet with government officials, is just one stop in a multi-country Asian tour to promote Internet access, according to Google (Mountain View, CA, USA).

Mexico's telecom reform clears first hurdle in Congress


A major reform bill to increase competition in Mexico's phone and television markets on Thursday cleared its first hurdle when it was approved by a committee in the lower house of Congress with no changes.

The reform, which aims to curb the dominance of Carlos Slim's America Movil (Mexico City, Mexico) and broadcaster Televisa (Mexico City, Mexico), is expected to be presented to the floor of Mexico's lower house for a vote next week.

For China Mobile, 4G and iPhone key to unlocking Apple demand


China Mobile Ltd said it plans to spend 41.7 billion yuan ($6.7 billion) developing 4G technology this year, hoping to tap pent-up demand for Apple Inc smartphones as it gets an iPhone model that will finally run on its network.

The world's largest mobile carrier - with more than twice as many subscribers as there are people in the United States - already has more than 10 million of its customers owning an iPhone even though the gadget doesn't properly work with the Chinese firm's homegrown TD-SCDMA 3G technology, which is not compatible with global technologies.

Ericsson wins managed services deal with Etisalat in Africa

Swedish network equipment maker Ericsson has signed a five-year deal to manage the networks of Atlantique Telecom, the African subsidiary of Middle Eastern telecoms giant Etisalat.

The contract will see Ericsson (Stockholm, Sweden) manage all of the mobile networks of Atlantique Telecom, which serves about 10 million customers in Benin, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Niger and Togo.

Atlantique Telecom says the deal will allow it to focus on the development of value-added services and tailored offerings for its customers.

MetroPCS defends T-Mobile USA deal, FCC approves it


MetroPCS Communications Inc fought back against shareholder criticism of its proposed merger with T-Mobile USA on Tuesday, the same day that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved the deal.

A shareholder vote on April 12 on the merger is one of the last remaining obstacles to the deal. While analysts had widely expected regulatory approval for the deal the outcome from the shareholder meeting has been more difficult to predict.

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