The WRAP: Vendors quit Iran; EC opens up public data

This week saw infrastructure vendors Huawei and Nokia Siemens announce plans to wind down their operations in Iran, the European Commission propose radical changes to data laws, and the UK top the charts for mobile commerce.
Huawei sparked the rush on Iran, revealing it won’t be seeking any new customers in the country and will limit its involvement with those is already has in light of what it calls an “increasingly complex situation,” in the market.
The move comes a month after the firm denied supplying equipment to local operator MTN Irancell that allows authorities to censor online news.
Nokia Siemens quickly followed suit, announcing it will wind down its business in Iran in a letter sent to local staff. The decision comes roughly a year after NSN decided not to take on any new customers in the country following accusations its kit was used to track anti-government protestors.
Iran isn’t the only business NSN is backing away from, with the firm announcing the sale of a second business unit as part of a restructure to focus on mobile broadband infrastructure.
The vendor agreed to sell its fixed line broadband access division to ADTRAN in a deal covering intellectual property, technology, customers and around 400 R&D and sales staff.
Censorship, or rather a lack of it, was the talk of the town at the European Commission this week, with digital agenda vice president Neelie Kroes outlining a radical shake up of data protection laws.
The Open Data package aims to make it easier to access public and cultural information by removing the need for authorization before data is utilized, and cutting the cost of buying the information. Kroes hopes the scheme will increase the opportunities for groups that typically rely on such information, including entrepreneurs, journalists and academics.
Data access caused a headache for RIM’s Indonesian business this week, with domestic telecoms regulator BRTI issuing its second threat of a ban on the Canadian vendor’s devices and services if it fails to set up a local server to handle data and messaging traffic.
The regulator claims a local server is essential to protect citizen’s data, and that a workaround established by RIM after the first talk of a ban in 2010 isn’t good enough, because information is passed via Singapore.
Local regulations in India continue to weigh on Vodafone, which this week denied clearing its local business for an IPO, despite the fact a flotation would bring the unit into line with local laws covering foreign ownership. A spokesman said an IPO remains one of several options on the table for the division.
The only government involvement BT is seeking is through access to funds to boost rural broadband deployments. Olivia Garfield, chief of the firm’s Openreach division, reiterated a pledge to bid for some of the cash pot as the firm detailed plans to add nearly 200 exchanges to its UK fiber rollout scheme.
Figures from UK regulator Ofcom suggest most of those new fiber customers will utilize their new connections to go shopping. A study found the market tops the list in terms of accessing e-commerce websites, with 89% of consumers doing so, compared to 20% in Poland and Italy.
Another list topper unveiled this week is China Mobile. Advertising and market research firm WPP ranks the firm as China’s most valuable brand, with an estimated worth of $53.6 billion (€41.1 billion). Rival China Telecom ranked 11th with a value of $10.86 billion, with China Unicom 15th on $6.25 billion.
And hurricane force winds battering the UK’s west coast failed to deter the ship laying cable for Europe’s first new subsea connection in over a decade.

A spokeswoman for Sea Fibre International said the storms caused little disruption to the deployment between the UK and Ireland, which is due to be completed by the end of the month, and go live in January.