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Eurobites: Brexit fallout frustrating Openreach fiber rollout – Selley

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: UK altnets on the march; A1 Telekom Austria goes network slicing; 5G all at sea.

  • The CEO of Openreach, BT's semi-autonomous network access arm, has blamed the "tortuous" post-Brexit process which must be followed to hire European workers for slowing down his company's fiber rollout program. According to the Financial Times (paywall applies), Clive Selley said that Portugal and Spain alone have thousands of skilled workers that he would take "tomorrow," if he could. Openreach has committed to connecting 25 million of the UK's 32 million homes to fiber by the end of 2026: To date, 7.6 million homes have been reached, said the FT.

    (Source: Openreach)
    (Source: Openreach)

  • Of course, the more the pace of the Openreach rollout flags, the greater the opportunity for the gaggle of independent fiber network builders, or "altnets," snapping at BT/Openreach's heels. A new study from Point Topic for the Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA) has found that more than 5.5 million homes and businesses in the UK can now connect to an independent fiber broadband network, with the sector doubling in size over the previous year. The independent sector continues to pull in sizeable chunks of private funding, with investment and expenditure commitments predicted by INCA to reach £17.7 billion (US$21.4 billion) by the end of 2025. (See Broadband line losses are BT's next worry.)

  • One of those UK altnets, Giganet, has been named Fibre Provider of the Year at the inaugural UK Fibre Awards. Earlier this year, Giganet announced that it was building on its existing commitments with rival CityFibre by expanding its full-fiber services to 285 cities, towns and villages across the UK.

  • A1 Telekom Austria Group has completed a proof-of-concept 5G network slicing trial with Amdocs. During the trial, the Amdocs offering was used to demonstrate "end-to-end lifecycle management" of 5G network slices and virtualized applications over public/private cloud and edge, including design, build, instantiation, modification and termination.

  • Latvia's LMT has signed an agreement with port services provider RBF to develop 5G-fueled applications for the maritime sector. The first demonstrations of using the 5G network in ship-to-port and ship-to-ship communications in the Gulf of Riga will be held in 2023.

  • Still in a maritime mood, BT is to install a new hybrid fiber, 4G and 5G private network for the Port of Tyne in northeast England. Once live later this year, the new network, says BT, will provide low-latency connectivity across the port's estate, opening up the potential for the port authorities to take advantage of cutting-edge technologies such as autonomous vehicles and robotics.

  • Telecom Egypt and Aqua Comms have signed a crossing and landing agreement for the Europe Middle-East India Connect 1 (EMIC-1) subsea cable in Egypt. Under the terms of the agreement, Telecom Egypt will provide EMIC-1, which is a new intercontinental subsea cable and terrestrial fiber system, with an optical path between East Africa, Asia and Europe. EMIC-1 will land in Ras Ghareb on the Red Sea, and Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea side.

  • Belgium's Proximus is to create a 5G lab at the Howest University of Applied Sciences' campus of Kortrijk. During the next academic year, companies from various sectors will be able to explore the possibilities offered by 5G for their business and develop new applications, in collaboration with Howest students under the guidance of Proximus boffins.

  • Just five years after launching its first Digital Strategy, the UK government has announced another one. Touted as a "single vision from government to grow the digital economy," the strategy is intended to "create more high-skilled, high wage jobs by cementing the UK as a global tech superpower." The UK government estimates that the digital sector contributed nearly £151 billion ($182.8 billion) to the British economy in 2019.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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