M2M and the connected car proved popular for EC readers throughout 2014, and the emergence of quad-play and FTTH business models were also hot topics.

Elsewhere, m-payment launches were in high demand, while Nokia Networks, which sold its smartphone arm to Microsoft last year but made a surprise return to the devices market in November, topped the vendor-led news.

1. Vodafone announces Audi M2M connectivity deal 

The automotive industry proved a key vertical for operators looking to grow their M2M business, and in March, Vodafone announced a deal with Volkswagen to provide connectivity to Audi cars in Europe, supported by the operator’s network and global M2M service.

2. M2M growth pushes operators to move up the value chain

With M2M identified as one of the key growth stories for European operators, analysts and providers alike began to speculate on where the opportunities lay.

Deutsche Telekom identified automotive, smart metering and healthcare as three of the key areas for M2M, but claimed educating customers about the technology remained a challenge.

Meanwhile, POST Luxembourg said the home automation and security markets were primed to explode, though claimed a single vertical proposition was too narrow a revenue opportunity to capitalise on the technology.

3. Vodafone aims for connected car dominance with Cobra acquisition

A November story from Vodafone managed to make it into the top three most read articles of the year, after the operator laid bare its M2M plans following its acquisition of Cobra in June.

Director of M2M Erik Brenneis said Vodafone was in a position to dominate the connected car space by being the only operator to offer its customers a complete end-to-end solution.

4. Virgin Media to offer “Big Kahuna” quad-play bundles in the UK

With quad-play increasingly viewed as fertile area for operators looking to boost ARPU, in May Virgin Media became the first provider in the UK to offer such bundles, offering customers broadband, TV, mobile and landline services in a single package.

5. Nokia Networks changes exec team, wins Airtel-Vodafone contract

Nokia Networks saw an executive re-shuffle after appointing Ashish Chowdhary as its new head of customer operations. Meanwhile, Igor Leprince was selected to replace Eva Elmstedt as Head of Global Services.

At the same time, the vendor announced a deal with Airtel-Vodafone to help bring 4G to the Channel Islands.

6. Nokia exec confirms N1 is coming to Europe; company wants to keep the brand alive

Following the surprise announcement of Nokia’s new N1 tablet, the vendor confirmed that the device would be coming to Europe after launching in China in early 2015.

What’s more, Nokia suggested that more devices could be on the way, as the company remained determined to keep the brand alive.

7. Sponsored data models likely to proliferate in Europe

Sponsored data became hot news after AT&T announced it would launch a sponsored service to help its customers access mobile content without it affecting their data plans.

It was hinted that sponsored data models could soon arrive - and flourish - in Europe, however analysts remained sceptical of the success of such initiatives in a world where customers place high scrutiny on advertising–led business models.

8. Opinion: FTTH is possible in rural areas, but we need to think differently

Hartwig Tauber, Director General of FTTH Council Europe, suggested that new business models and approaches were needed to prevent a “digital divide” between urban and rural areas during fibre rollouts, which could see less-populated areas suffer as policy-makers pushed for lower targets.

9. Telekom Austria fires employees after successful launch of whistleblowing platform

The introduction of Telekom Austria’s whistleblowing platform proved fruitful in July, after a number of employees were fired as a result of incidents brought to light via the system. Martin Walter, Director of Compliance at Telekom Austria, urged more operators to follow suit.

10. Vodafone launches M-Pesa payments service in Europe

Vodafone’s launch of an m-payments service in Europe rounded off EC’s 10 most read stories of 2014.

In March, Romania became the first European country to receive the operator’s M-Pesa service, which aimed to provide users with a simple, safe and secure mobile-based money transfer and payment service.​

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