Eurobites: Proximus gives its VDSL some va-va-voom

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: how 5G is changing the way folk use their phones; Orange brings 5G to Slovakia; the Queen promises to sort out UK broadband.

  • Belgium's Proximus is touting a breakthrough that it says has allowed its copper-based VDSL broadband service to reach twice as many customers as previously from a single street cabinet while also doubling the speed of the broadband and reducing energy consumption. The technology, dubbed 2MX6, was developed with Nokia and is based on the Finnish vendor's Quillion chip. It has been initially deployed in the city of Andenne, but Proximus and Nokia hope to install the necessary equipment into "hundreds" more street cabinets in the coming months.

  • 5G is changing the way people use their phones. A bit. That is the gist of Ericsson's latest ConsumerLab report, which found that one in five 5G users are reducing Wi-Fi use on their phones indoors as they become more aware of the potential benefits of 5G connectivity. Early adopters of the technology are also spending an average of two hours more on cloud gaming and one hour more on augmented reality (AR) apps per week compared to those pitiful, stuck-in-the-mud 4G users. However, 70% of those asked say they are dissatisfied with the "availability of innovative services and new apps" in the 5G realm.

  • Orange has launched what it says is the first high-speed 5G network in Slovakia, accessible to residents in parts of Bratislava and Banská Bystrica. The deployment forms part of a three-year network overhaul that represents an investment of €144 million (US$174 million) on the part of Orange. Download speeds of more than 600 Mbit/s are being promised.

  • Tuesday saw the Queen's Speech, where the UK's nonagenarian monarch is made to put on her finery and read out a list of legislation that the government is planning to introduce over the coming months. The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill formed part of the package, the dual purpose of which, says the Queen/government, is to ensure that smart consumer products are more secure against cyberattacks and to accelerate the deployment of digital communications networks. Drilling down, the bill promises reforms to the Electronic Communications Code to "to support faster and more collaborative negotiations for the use of private and public land for telecommunications deployment, and to put the right framework in place for the use of installed apparatus."

  • Airtel Africa saw full-year underlying revenue grow 13.6%, to $3.88 billion, while underlying EBITDA was up 18.3%, to $1.79 billion. According to the operator's CEO, Raghunath Mandava, performance improved most markedly in Francophone Africa. The recent surge in COVID-19 cases has to date had no adverse impact on Airtel's business, he added.

  • Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, has produced its latest Connected Nations report, assessing the state of mobile coverage and fixed broadband availability in Britain. Among the headline findings: the number of homes able to get gigabit-capable broadband has topped 10.8 million, up from 7.9 million since Ofcom's last update; full-fiber coverage has grown from 18% to 21% in the four months between September 2020 and January 2021; and mobile coverage "remains stable."

  • Openreach, the semi-autonomous network access arm of BT, is hoping that the What3words location platformool – which grids the whole Earth into three-meter squares – will help its engineers in the London area find damaged equipment. It is encouraging members of the public to use the tool when they report damage to poles and overhead wires, for example.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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