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4G/3G/WiFi

Eurobites: Lebanon's telcos in 'crisis management mode'

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: TIM rides the rails; BT chairman in line for regulator role; Ukraine suffers massive cyberattack.

  • The plight of Lebanon's two state-owned operators, Alfa and Touch, is highlighted in a Reuters report, which reveals that the country's economic meltdown and attendant power blackouts is hitting them hard. Diesel for generators now accounts for 7% of the telecom sector's expenses, says the report, while cable theft is a daily occurrence. "We are in crisis management mode … We are living day by day," Lebanon's telecoms minister, Johnny Corm, told Reuters.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) has signed an agreement with the FS Italiane Group, through its subsidiary RFI-Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, to strengthen 4G coverage in tunnels on two high-speed rail routes – from Turin to Naples and from Bologna to Venice. The upgrade will involve coverage provided by other operators, such as Wind Tre. Feasibility studies on the possible use of 5G technologies will also be carried out. The whole project will see an investment of around €12 million (US$13.7 million).

  • The chairman of BT-owned Openreach, Mike McTighe, is being tipped as the frontrunner to become the overseer of Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, in a Daily Telegraph report that may prompt eyebrows to be raised at BT's rivals. It may be wise not to expect a final decision on the matter any time soon, however, as the search for a new Ofcom chairman is being headed up by civil servant Sue Gray, who has her hands rather full at present establishing "the facts" about Prime Minister Boris Johnson's lockdown-busting parties/gatherings/work events (delete where applicable).

  • The authorities in Ukraine are investigating a massive cyberattack, which has this morning crippled the computer systems of various government departments, Reuters reports. And, as Russia amasses thousands of troops on its side of the Ukrainian border, it's fairly obvious in which direction the finger of suspicion is pointing.

  • A competition expert is set to sue Meta, the parent company of Facebook, on behalf of the UK's 44 million users of the social network, in a case relating to data privacy that could, she says, see those users share £2.3 billion ($3.1 billion) in damages. As the BBC reports, anyone living in the UK who used Facebook at least once between 2015 and 2019 will be part of the claim unless they actively choose to opt out, says Dr. Liza Lovdahl Gormsen, who is launching the class action.

  • Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has given his approval to the lifting of a ban on Twitter which had been in place since June 4, when the social network had the audacity to remove a post from the president threatening to punish regional secessionists. As Reuters reports, Twitter agreed to open a local office as part of the peace deal.

  • Google employees in the UK had better prepare to dig out their rail passes and rucksacks, as the search giant clearly wants to see them back in the office, at least some of the time. The company is, as the BBC reports, spending $1 billion to take ownership of an office block in central London – Central Saint Giles – in which it is currently a tenant. Current UK government guidance urges people to work from home where possible, but this will be reviewed on January 26.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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