Stories from Abroad

Since 2010, the Benton Foundation and the New America Foundation have partnered to highlight telecommunications debates from countries outside the U.S.

Ofcom's decision on Openreach’s ‘Equinox 2’ pricing offer

On December 14, 2022, Openreach notified Ofcom of a new pricing offer for its full-fiber services (Equinox 2). This offer gives lower prices to retail providers—such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk, and Vodafone—if they agree to use mainly Openreach’s full-fiber products for new orders instead of its legacy copper products. Having carefully assessed the range of evidence available—including responses to public consultation—Ofcom has decided not to prevent Equinox 2 from being introduced.

Full-fiber networks in Europe: state of play and future evolution

In Europe,  fibre networks have been expanding, driven by a combination of private investment and competition, and by ambitious policy targets to connect every European to a gigabit network by 2030. Full-fibre networks are now available to a majority of Europeans. Nearly everyone in Spain, Portugal and France has the option to buy full-fibre-based connections; in Germany, where DSL and cable perform relatively well and deployment costs are reportedly high, fibre investment and roll-out has been slower to materialise.

Europe Issues $1.3 billion fine on Meta for data privacy violations

The Data Protection Commission (“the DPC”) concluded its inquiry into Meta Platforms Ireland Limited (“Meta Ireland”), examining the basis upon which Meta Ireland transfers personal data from the European Union/ European Economic Area to the US in connection with the delivery of its Facebook service.

Africa’s Biggest Mobile Firm Plans New $320 Million Fiber Cable

MTN Group, Africa’s biggest mobile-phone operator, plans to build a $320 million inland fiber cable to connect ten countries, as telecommunications companies push to expand service to the continent’s growing population. The Johannesburg-based firm, through its MTN GlobalConnect unit and the Africa50 infrastructure investment agency, will start building the East2West link in the fourth quarter of 2023, MTN said. The project will add about 20,000 kilometers (12,400 miles) of new cable and interconnect over 100,000 kilometers of fiber.

Google, Netflix and Amazon have cried foul over a new proposal from European telecommunications companies

 A rift at the heart of the telecommunications sector risks reversing decades of progress and plunging digital allies into a new phase of conflict. Europe’s telecom companies want US corporations such as Alphabet/Google, Netflix, Amazon, and Meta to pay for the increasing video traffic they generate. These US giants originate data accounting for around 50 percent of network loads.

Digital Services Act: European Commission designates first set of Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines

The European Commission adopted the first designation decisions under the Digital Services Act (DSA), designating 17 Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) and 2 Very Large Online Search Engines (VLOSEs) that reach at least 45 million monthly active users. The countdown has started for them to fully comply with the special obligations that the Digital Services Act imposes on them (August, 25 2023).

Fiber infrastructure is not a ‘natural monopoly’

Some people in the telecommunications industry like to compare the copper or fiber lines transmitting data under our feet to railways. They are both natural monopolies, they argue: duplication is wasteful, the high costs of construction deter new entrants, and economies of scale are essential for survival. But laying fiber costs much less than laying a railway track. The very fact that over 100 alternative network providers — or “altnets” — have popped up, backed by billions in private capital, suggests the financial incentives are there to multiply the infrastructure.

Transcelestial creates laser wireless with 25 Gbps speeds

Singapore-based startup Transcelestial invented a laser communications technology that uses infrared spectrum to connect under-served people around the world to the internet. “The cost to connect the world is not commercially viable if upgrades depend on the rollout of new fiber cables,” said Mohammad Danesh, co-founder and CTO of Transcelestial. The company’s Centauri 25G product delivers 25 Gbps internet connectivity via laser beam, eliminating the need for underground cables or radio frequency-based devices.

U.S. and China wage war beneath the waves – over internet cables

Undersea cables are central to US-China technology competition. Across the globe, there are more than 400 cables running along the seafloor, carrying over 95% of all international internet traffic, according to TeleGeography, a Washington-based telecommunications research firm. These data conduits, which transmit everything from emails and banking transactions to military secrets, are vulnerable to sabotage attacks and espionage. The US cable effort has been anchored by a three-year-old interagency task force informally known as Team Telecom.

Network Fee Proposals Are Based on a False Premise

Proposals by some European telecommunication operators to impose network fees on Content Application Providers (CAPs) such as Meta are not the for operators' financial challenges. Network fee proposals are built on a false premise because they do not recognise the value that CAPs create for the digital ecosystem, nor the investments we make in the infrastructure that underpins it. CAPs and telecom operators have collaborated successfully for many years, such as during the Covid pandemic when organisations worked together to help keep people connected.