Nic Fildes

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s £5 billion broadband plan ‘ludicrously unrealistic’

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s election promise to connect the entire country to cutting-edge broadband speeds by 2025 has been dubbed “ludicrously unrealistic” after the parliament’s spending watchdog warned that rural internet users risk being left behind by the slow pace of progress. The comments from Meg Hillier, chair of the public accounts committee, followed a National Audit Office report that said the 2025 target was “challenging” and warned that those rural areas risk being further left behind.

Wiltshire valley locals build their own mobile phone network

The village hall in Bowerchalke is an unlikely setting for a mobile technology revolution. Yet local residents, surrounded by crocheted goods and local jams, have spent three years forging a mobile phone network to bridge their own digital divide. The experimental Ch4lke Mobile, which runs over just five masts, can connect homes to a network capable of delivering broadband-like speeds, in an area that had been left behind by the digital revolution.

United Kingdom draws up 3-year plan to remove Huawei from 5G networks

The United Kingdom government is drawing up plans to force a full phase out of Huawei from Britain’s 5G networks within three years. Government officials want to ensure that the UK’s telecoms networks — including 5G mobile phone infrastructure — do not contain equipment from the Chinese company beyond 2023 because they believe this could compromise national security. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Jan granted the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker a limited role in supplying kit for the UK’s 5G networks, while capping Huawei’s market share to 35 percent.

Africa races to fill telecoms ‘not spots’

The economics of rolling out connections to the most rural parts of Africa presents a hefty challenge for the hopes of many in the telemedicine world. Data compiled by M-Lab, an open source project backed by Google and various universities, shows that Madagascar is the only African country with broadband speeds anywhere close to those available in Europe and Asia, as a submarine cable lands on the island. Most other African nations rely on 3G and 4G signals, or long-distance WiFi technology Wi-Max.

Liberty Global and Telefónica agree £31bn deal to merge UK groups O2 and Virgin Media

Liberty Global and Telefónica have struck a landmark deal to combine their British operations O2 and Virgin Media in a £31.4bn agreement that will reshape the UK’s telecoms market. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will have equal ownership of O2 and Virgin Media and have built-in mechanisms for a potential float of the combined business in three years.

Britain's Ofcom backs plan to tackle rural mobile phone ‘not spots’

Better mobile phone coverage in the British countryside has moved a step closer after the government and the telecoms regulator backed an industry plan to share masts and build new towers in very remote areas. Mobile operators spent months thrashing out an agreement to allow access to each other’s masts in rural areas to improve patchy coverage, but it was contingent on Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, revising the rules of an impending sale of spectrum for 5G services. The regulator on Oct 25 confirmed the changes had been agreed.

Telecoms operators dial in to refugee markets

Nyarugusu on the border of Tanzania and Burundi, one of the largest refugee camps in the world, is an unlikely pioneer in how the telecoms industry views refugees. Established in 1996, it has population of 150,000. Vodacom, Vodafone’s African arm, installed a 3G tower within Nyarugusu in 2016, which it now shares with commercial rivals Tigo and Airtel. The tower is running at full capacity, according to the GSMA, the mobile industry trade body, but more striking is the average revenue per user of $4.40. That is slightly higher than the average revenue per user for the rest of Tanzania.

EU telecoms overhaul labelled ‘missed opportunity’ by industry

An overhaul of Europe’s telecoms laws, aimed at stimulating investment in new networks, has been branded a missed opportunity for the industry. The new European electronic communications code, the biggest shake-up in the sector’s governance since 2009, was approved on June 6. The agreement coincided with the release of a European Court of Auditors report that showed the European Union’s goal of connecting half of the region’s households to ultrafast broadband with speeds of 100 Mbps by 2020 was well behind target.

UK's Ofcom opens net neutrality probe into Vodafone and Three

Ofcom has launched an investigation into whether Three and Vodafone, the UK telecoms operators, are “throttling” certain services on their networks in contravention of European Union rules on net neutrality. The investigation could have a profound impact on how telecoms groups across Europe manage traffic, and whether they continue to offer customers unlimited access to certain types of content — such as social media apps or music streaming services — on top of normal data usage restrictions.

FCC Chairman Pai warns companies after net neutrality shake-up

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai pledged to clamp down on any unfair behaviour by US broadband companies following the scrapping of net neutrality rules, saying “fear mongering” about the internet will gradually fade. "Some of the headlines that, quote, this is the end of internet as we know it have been proven completely wrong.