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Eurobites: Deutsche Telekom tests standalone 5G

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Eir launches VoLTE; TalkTalk dangles Amazon Prime; UK Supreme Court rules that Uber drivers aren't self-employed.

  • Deutsche Telekom has started testing the "standalone" version of 5G, setting up its first 5G SA antenna site in the town of Garching, near Munich. The operator says that the antenna will soon be connected to a 5G SA core network, which will be deployed via a cloud infrastructure, and the first tests will be carried out on commercially available devices kitted out with special development software. Deutsche Telekom has already achieved 68% coverage of the German population with non-standalone 5G, which has to "piggy-back" on the existing 4G network.

  • Meanwhile, going down a generation, Ireland's Eir has introduced voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) on some of its mobile plans. The operator introduced Wi-Fi calling in 2017, so this latest move, says Eir, will enable its customers to start an HD call over Wi-Fi in their home or office and then move that call outside onto Eir's mobile network.

  • TalkTalk is claiming annual savings of up £489 (US$684) on equivalent packages from BT, Sky and Virgin Media with new, two-year fiber bundles that offer broadband (of various speeds), TalkTalk TV and a year's worth of Amazon Prime, which costs £79 ($110) a year in the UK as a standalone service. A TalkTalk TV box is also included in the deal, allowing customers to stream Prime Video shows on TalkTalk TV without having to switch between devices and find that teeny-tiny remote that always falls down between the cushions on the couch.

  • The UK's Supreme Court has ruled that Uber drivers should be treated as "workers" who are entitled to holiday pay and other benefits rather than self-employed contractors. As the BBC reports, the court determined that drivers were in a position of subordination to Uber, only able to increase their earnings by working longer hours. The ruling could have major ramifications for the company behind the smartphone-based ride-hailing service, not least the potential need to pay compensation to those drivers who have been affected.

  • Earlier in the week BT was letting everyone know how it was helping connect the UK's COVID-19 vaccination centers run by the National Health Service; now it's the turn of Telefónica UK (O2). The operator says it analyzed and developed network capabilities at vaccination sites, supplying tens of thousands of devices to be used at them, including laptops, iPads and Wi-Fi routers, which were connected to an optimized network service.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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