Eurobites: It's sun, sea and 5G as Vodafone upgrades Spanish coastal resorts

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's SuperTOBi; Maroc Telecom fine upheld in Morocco; EE braces itself for Silverstone's petrolheads.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

July 4, 2024

2 Min Read
Bathers on a beach in Sitges, Spain
Come on in, the 5G's lovely.(Source: M.Sobreira/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Vodafone Spain has upgraded its 5G network in nearly 200 coastal communities as it prepares for the summer influx of tourists. Locations in Andalucia, the Canary Islands and Catalonia, among other regions, all got the treatment, with the Canaries alone boasting 22 new coastal municipalities with the added, erm, bonus of 5G-to-the-beach. The operator says its 5G network will reach 82% of the Spanish population by the end of the year.

  • Meanwhile, out of the sunshine and in the shadowy world of chatbots, the wider Vodafone group is trumpeting the rollout of its keyboard-challenging SuperTOBi virtual assistant which, of course, is described as being driven by generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) technology – in this case, Microsoft Azure OpenAI's notoriously pushy Agent Copilot. SuperTOBi, which supersedes the plain old TOBi chatbot, has already been introduced in Germany and Turkey; other launches will follow in due course. Vodafone claims the "first-time resolution [of customer inquiries] rate" at its Portugal unit has increased from 15% to 60% and its online promoter scores (where respondents are asked to rate their experience) improved by 14 points to 64 points, which is apparently on the right side of the industry average.

  • A court in Morocco has upheld a 6.3 billion Moroccan dirham (US$630 million) fine on Maroc Telecom relating to an antitrust case involving Wana Corporate, better known by its Inwi brand name. As the Zawya website reports, Inwi brought the case against Maroc Telecom in 2021, accusing its larger competitor of abusing its dominant position in the Moroccan telecom market. Maroc Telecom made MAD6.1 billion ($615 million) profit in 2023.

  • Kenya's Safaricom has set aside 50 million Kenyan shillings ($388,000) to help deal with repercussions of violent protests in the country against the threatened imposition of new taxes. As part of the donation, KES10 million ($77,000) will go to Kenyatta Hospital's Disaster Response Centre, while KES5 million ($39,000) will go towards supporting those injured and admitted to the hospital, partly through the provision of assistive devices to the injured as well as smartphones and airtime to those who lost their phones during the unrest.

  • UK mobile operator EE says it is bracing itself for a data deluge this weekend caused by an intense coming-together of high-profile sport that includes the soccer Euros (England vs. Switzerland), Wimbledon tennis, international rugby and Formula One motor racing. The petrolheads at Silverstone look likely to be the chief data generators – last year F1 fans used 88 terabytes of mobile data during the four-day race weekend as they fiddled on their phones waiting for something interesting to happen.

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About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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