Eurobites: Safaricom launches 5G in Kenya, with Nokia assist

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Suri rekindles French connection; Telenor rebrands its IoT offer; Ofcom to open tech hub in Manchester.

  • Nokia has let it be known that it is partly responsible (with China's Huawei) for the guts of East Africa's first 5G commercial services, which are being provided by Safaricom in Kenya. The Finnish vendor supplied its AirScale Single Radio Access Network (SRAN) technology and 5G FastMile gateways, helping to bring fixed wireless services to Safaricom subscribers across Kisumu and Kenya's Western Province. The launch in Nairobi channeled Star Trek, with Safaricom execs being "teleported" from their office in Kisumu to the event in Nairobi via the magic of 5G. For more details, see this story on our sister site, Connecting Africa.

  • Meanwhile, former Nokia boss Rajeev Suri is staging a mini-reunion at Inmarsat, where he now reigns as CEO: He's hired Barry French, formerly chief marketing officer at Nokia, to be Inmarsat's chief marketing and communications officer. French joined Nokia in 2006 as head of communications, prior to which he held senior positions at United Airlines and Dell. Also on the move at Inmarsat is Jat Brainch, who becomes chief commercial and product officer after a spell as SVP of group commercial management at the company.

  • Telenor has rebranded its IoT offer, gathering its Nordic IoT portfolio and global Telenor Connexion unit under a single new moniker: Telenor IoT. At the same time, Telenor says it is creating a "new operating model," bringing together 200 full-time IoT specialists located in 18 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe.

  • Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, is gearing up for its new cybersecurity role by building a new "digital and technology hub" in Manchester. The hub is expected to be up and running by the summer, and the regulator expects the project will create 150 new jobs by 2025.

  • Virgin Media, the UK-based cable operator that is part of the Liberty Global group, has been trying out a new approach to network rollout, using a combination of techniques in the South Derbyshire region to connect up 1,660 premises to "ultrafast" broadband. As well as its standard narrow-trenching techniques, Virgin also installed new cables in existing underground ducts and used Openreach's overhead telegraph poles. The combination, says Virgin, meant it was able to connect homes and businesses much faster than would otherwise have been possible: The scheme went from planning to delivery in four months.

  • Telia Company has invested 100 million Swedish kroner (US$11.5 million) of its excess liquidity in a sustainable development bond recently launched by the World Bank. The bond, as its name suggests, focuses on issues like gender equality and health – issues very much to the fore during the current pandemic.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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