5G and Beyond

Eurobites: Vodafone UK trials drones for easier network upgrades

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Romania bans Huawei; VEON co-CEO steps down; Nokia claims mmWave breakthrough; hologram pizzas.

  • Vodafone UK has teamed up with Ericsson on a trial that explores the use of drones and Lidar technology to speed up the network upgrade process. The drones, equipped with a high-definition camera and Lidar, will be used to collect data from 30 network sites around the UK that are due for an upgrade. According to Ericsson, this would allow a single engineer to gather data on structural conditions and line-of-sight measurements, doing away with the need for a mob-handed site visit that would also traditionally include site designers, structural engineers, acquisition agents and radio and transmission planners.

  • Romania is to ban Chinese vendors – Huawei foremost among them – from its 5G networks, following in the footsteps of the US and a number of European countries. As Reuters reports, Romania has long been an ally of the US, and its decision is the logical outcome of a 2019 memorandum on the matter signed in Washington in 2019 that referred to "careful and complete evaluation of 5G vendors." (See Huawei booted out of Sweden's last chance 5G saloon, Germany sets high barriers for Huawei with new security bill and Huawei says Romania and Poland bans violate EU law.)

  • Sergi Herrero is stepping down as co-CEO of VEON, the operator that is headquartered in Amsterdam but focused mainly on Russia and emerging markets. He leaves his erstwhile joint boss, Kaan Terzioğlu, alone in the hotseat. Herrero and Terzioğlu took over the co-CEO role in February 2020, replacing Ursula Burns. In its most recent set of results – for Q4 2020 – VEON saw revenue increase by 1.4% in local currency terms, but fall by 11.3% on a reported basis to $1.99 billion. (See VEON names new bosses as CEO Burns steps aside and VEON sees green shoots after tough 2020.)

  • Nokia claims to have achieved the highest throughput with mmWave technology to date on a trial using Mobily's live 5G network in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It doesn't, however, reveal what the throughput rate was. What we do know is that the trial used Nokia's mmWave AirScale offering.

  • Arcep, the French communications regulator, has launched a consultation on whether Bolloré Telecom should be allowed to lift the restrictions on services it is authorized to provide using the 3400-3490MHz band frequencies. The operator asked Arcep to lift these restrictions in a letter sent to the regulator in December 2020. Stakeholders have until May 15, 2021, to submit their responses.

  • Swisscom's latest Cyber Security Threat Radar report highlights new threats thrown up by the widespread adoption of working from home as the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip on the world. Attacks based on artificial intelligence are also coming to the fore, adds the report, citing the issue of targeted disinformation that uses "deepfake" video techniques.

  • You thought stuffed crusts were an interesting innovation? Get with the pizza program, people! UK cable operator Virgin Media has set up what it's calling the "Two Hearts Pizzeria," which uses gigabit-enabled 4K hologram technology to connect diners in two pizza restaurants located 400 miles apart – one in London and the other in Edinburgh. The hook for this is research that has found Brits are bored with Zoom calls and the like, with 63% of those asked complaining that such "YOU'RE ON MUTE!" interactions do not offer the desired level of authentic interactivity.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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