Alstom and Toshiba sign MoU on smart grid business

Energy-management specialist Alstom Grid (Paris, France) and electronics company Toshiba (Tokyo, Japan) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) under which they will discuss a partnership in the smart grid business.

The companies say they want to look at ways in which they can combine their capabilities in smart grid technology. The ultimate goal, they say, is to develop a range of electricity management solutions that can be used in a variety of settings.

Towers Watson and Hughes partner on usage-based auto insurance

Professional services company Towers Watson (New York, USA) has announced a partnership with Verizon-owned Hughes Telematics (Atlanta, USA) to provide data services to US auto insurers for use with usage-based insurance (UBI) programs.

The deal will see the two companies combine their telematics capabilities to help insurers develop usage-based offers.

The DriveAbility technology from Towers Watson already helps insurers convert driving data into industry-applicable metrics, while Hughes provides data services and connectivity for telematics features.

Bouygues blames rival Free for profit decline

French mobile-phone operator Bouygues Telecom (Paris, France) has blamed new entrant Free (Paris, France) for its dwindling profits and shrinking customer base over the first half of the year.

Net income at real-estate company Bouygues fell by 29%, to €278 million, compared with the first half of 2011, due to the setbacks at the group’s mobile-phone business.

Bouygues Telecom also expects full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to fall by 41% to around €750 million as a result of expenses related to cost cutting.

Millicom and Senegalese government end four-year dispute

Millicom (Luxembourg) and the government of Senegal appear to have settled their differences over a mobile-phone license, bringing a four-year dispute to an end.

The two parties fell out in 2008 when Senegalese authorities reportedly asked Millicom to cough up $200 million for the renewal of its mobile-phone license.

Millicom rejected the demand on the grounds that it already owned that license and offered a much lower sum for the right to provide 3G services on top of its existing offers.

Nokia Siemens close to selling BSS unit: Bloomberg

Nokia Siemens Networks (Helsinki, Finland) is close to selling its Business Support Systems (BSS) unit, according to a press report from Bloomberg.

The division has attracted interest from Ericsson (Stockholm, Sweden), Amdocs (Chesterfield, USA) and a number of private-equity companies, according to unnamed individuals with knowledge of the matter, reports Bloomberg.

The sources claim the business could fetch as much as €300 million.

Telekom Austria and KPN to explore synergies

Telekom Austria (Vienna, Austria) chief executive Hannes Ametsreiter has said the Austrian telecoms incumbent is to explore possible synergies with KPN (The Hague, the Netherlands), its counterpart in the Netherlands, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

The two telecoms companies have a common shareholder in America Movil (Mexico City, Mexico), the Latin American mobile-phone operator owned by Mexico’s Carlos Slim, one of the world’s wealthiest men.

Ametsreiter said that talks with KPN were due to begin shortly.

ZTE to testify in US probe of alleged China telecom threat


China's ZTE Corp (Shenzhen, China) said it would take part in a projected U.S. congressional hearing next month linked to an investigation of alleged Chinese espionage threats to U.S. telecommunications infrastructure.

The House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has invited the chairman of ZTE, Hou Weigui, and deputy chairman of Huawei Technologies Co (Shenzhen, China), Ken Hu, to testify at a hearing that would explore their companies' relationships with the Chinese authorities, among other things.

Square to sell card readers at AT&T stores


Mobile payments company Square Inc's credit card readers will be sold at AT&T Inc's stores making them more accessible, as the two-year old start-up takes on established payment processors.

Square (San Francisco, USA), started by Twitter Inc (San Francisco, USA) co-founder Jack Dorsey, signed the No. 2. U.S. carrier on Tuesday, adding to growing list of retailers, including Radioshack Corp (Fort Worth, USA), Best Buy Inc (Richfield, USA) and Apple Inc (Cupertino, USA), that sell its card readers.

India's 2G auction to start in November

An auction of 2G spectrum in India is set to begin on November 12, according to a statement from the country’s Department of Telecommunications (DoI).

Airwaves in the 800MHz and 1800MHz bands are to go up for sale after their previous owners were stripped off the assets earlier this year.

Authorities had revoked licenses held by companies including Telenor (Oslo, Norway) and Sistema (Moscow, Russia) after upholding claims of corruption during the auction process of 2008.

Many licenses were awarded to companies for just a fraction of their true value, authorities said.

Everything Everywhere signs new m-payments deal with MasterCard

The UK’s mobile payments market suffered further fragmentation earlier this week with the news that Everything Everywhere (London, UK) had signed a new five-year deal with MasterCard (Purchase, USA).

Details of the collaboration are few, but the companies say one of their first products will be a prepaid service for mobile devices allowing customers to make payments using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology.

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