5G and Beyond

Eurobites: UK government tackles rural 'notspots' with taller masts

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup:; Virgin Media touts DOCSIS-based speeds; Telenor combines with Oracle and more on 5G SA offering; UK government probes Nvidia-Arm deal.

  • The UK government is proposing a range of new laws that it believes will help mobile operators address the issue of rural "notspots." If the proposals do become law, operators will be able to erect masts up to five meters taller and two meters wider than current rules allow – taking masts in some areas to 30 meters, or just shy of 100 feet, in height. The plans also include proposals to improve mobile coverage for road users by allowing masts on buildings to be located nearer to highways, fewer restrictions on the erection of "monopole" masts of up to 15 meters in height and the facility to deploy radio equipment cabinets alongside masts without the need for prior approval from planning authorities. The proposals form part of the Shared Rural Network program, an agreement announced in March 2020 between the UK's four main mobile networks to address poor rural coverage.

  • Ericsson, for one, is pleased about the UK governments proposals. Björn Odenhammar, chief technology officer, networks and managed services for Ericsson UK & Ireland (and possessor of the most Nordic name ever), called them "practical, targeted measures that could spur much quicker roll out of mobile coverage in these historically under-served areas."

  • In the face of full-fiber rivals, UK cable operator Virgin Media is touting the power of DOCSIS to deliver pretty nippy broadband. Trials in the cities of Southampton and Manchester have delivered downlink rates of 2.2 Gbit/s, which it claims are 40 times faster than the local average. The speeds have been verified using tools from SamKnows, which measures broadband performance. Virgin Media claims to be the UK's largest gigabit broadband provider, with speeds of 1,130 Mbit/s available, it says, to 7.1 million homes.

  • Talking of bold claims, Nordic operator Telenor reckons it has come up with, in the words of its announcement on the matter, "the world's most diverse multi-vendor 5G Standalone solution to date," made up of network functions from Oracle, Casa Systems, Enea and Kaloom, all running on the Redhat Openshift enterprise platform. See the video below for the full spiel.

  • The UK government has ordered an investigation of Nvidia's megabucks takeover of Arm, the chip designer based in the city of Cambridge, on the grounds of national security. As the Guardian reports, the first phase of the investigation will set out to ensure that "specific considerations around competition, jurisdiction and national security are assessed." Arm's chips are the most used processor designs in smartphones.

  • Telia has firmed up the environmental goals it first announced in 2019, committing to reducing emissions in its own operation by at least 50% by 2025 and pledging to engage with suppliers to ensure that at least 72% of supply chain emissions are covered by "set science-based targets." To further contribute to what it calls the circular economy, Telia says it will significantly increase sales of pre-owned/re-used mobile phones as well as phones sold "as a service," where the device is bought with a lifetime program of repairs, upgrades and refurbishment built into the price.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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