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Eurobites: Ericsson and Elisa claim Nordic first with 5G SA pilot

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telefónica turns on 5G; Swisscom can't resist Azure's allure; Orange's IoT keeps De Beers' marine operation ship-shape; A1 Telekom Austria fires up the smart boiler.

  • Ericsson and Finnish operator Elisa are claiming a Nordic first with their switch-on of an end-to-end 5G standalone (SA) connection in Kirkkonummi, near Helsinki. According to Ericsson, a standalone 5G device can connect six times faster to a standalone 5G network than a device operating in a non-standalone (NSA) mode, making for ultra-low latency and therefore more advanced forms of virtual reality, smart factories, connected vehicles and the like. Elisa – with 2.8 million customers – has long been a 5G frontrunner, launching a (very) limited commercial non-standalone 5G service back in 2018. (See Elisa highlights trio of real-world 5G use cases.)

  • Telefónica has switched on its 5G network in Spain, boldly promising that 75% of the population will obtain a signal this year. This first phase will combine the deployment of 5G NSA and DSS (dynamic spectrum sharing) and the subsequent immediate deployment of the 5G SA network when the technology becomes fully available after the standardization is complete. The new deployments will take place in tandem with a gradual shut-down of the old 2G and 3G networks.

  • Swisscom has added Microsoft Azure to its range of cloud offerings for small and midsized companies, with the service being sold through local Swisscom partners. The operator is targeting the likes of architectural firms and engineering offices, which use the sort resource-intensive applications that tend to put a strain on a smaller company's own servers.

  • Orange Business Services has piloted an IoT-based "geofencing" system for De Beers, the diamond-mining giant. The system, which involves staff members wearing connected wristbands that raise the alarm if they stray onto parts of the ship where they shouldn't be, was tested on board the MV Mafuta, an offshore diamond-mining vessel owned and operated by Debmarine Namibia and operating up to 150km off the coast of Namibia, in southern Africa.

  • In other IoT news, A1 Telekom Austria has developed a "smart boiler" system which uses an Internet-connected module to allow the boiler to use the available electricity in the most efficient way possible and help prevent excessive loads on the grid: If there is more electricity available in the network than currently being used, the boiler is activated by the integrated module, which heats water inside; if there is too little electricity available, less electricity has to be used for the processing of hot water.

  • If there's one thing that unites European countries in these tumultuous times, it's their distrust of Google's tax affairs. As Reuters reports, Denmark is the latest nation to initiate a review of the search giant's accounts in a bid to figure out if the company owes it back taxes and, if so, how much. Google claims it earned revenue of 284 million Danish kroner (US$45.4 million) in Denmark last year.

  • Finland released its official COVID-19 track-and-trace app on Monday and, as of this morning, it had already been downloaded 880,000 times, which website YLE reckons might be something of a record. Let's hope they have more success with theirs than the UK did – its first attempt, trialed on the Isle of Wight, sunk without trace when it was ascertained that it was as much use to iPhone users as a chocolate teapot.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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