Eurobites: Broadband outages almost double in UK – report

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ofcom updates on UK broadband, mobile reach; Open Fiber trials 50G-PON; EU names the digital gatekeepers.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

September 7, 2023

3 Min Read
Eurobites: Broadband outages almost double in UK – report

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ofcom updates on UK broadband, mobile reach; Open Fiber trials 50G-PON; EU names the digital gatekeepers.

  • Broadband outages are becoming a growing problem in the UK, with the number of Brits reporting that their connection had been down for three or more hours almost doubling in the last year, from 12 million to 22 million, according to a new report from price-comparison website Uswitch report cited in the Guardian. However, the report found that only 15% of those affected by these significant outages were prevented from working by the loss of broadband, despite the huge rise in remote working largely brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The southern coastal city of Southampton was the outage capital of the UK, with its residents losing 63 hours of Internet access on average over the past year. Londoners fared much better, missing out on just 13.5 hours of online time.

    Figure 1:

    (Source: Sacchi Daniela/Alamy Stock Photo)

    (Source: Sacchi Daniela/Alamy Stock Photo)

    • All of which possibly takes the shine off the latest Connected Nations report from UK communications regulator Ofcom. The report, covering April and May of this year, found that 75% of UK homes (22.4 million) are now able to access gigabit-capable broadband, up from 73% in January, while 52% of homes were able to access full-fiber broadband, up from 48%. The percentage of homes with access to "superfast" broadband (download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s) remains stuck on 97% – no change there since September 2022 – while what Ofcom refers to as "decent" broadband, of at least 10 Mbit/s download and 1 Mbit/s upload, has also seemingly topped out, on 99%. On the mobile side, 7% of the UK in geographic terms is still not covered by 4G (down from 8% in January's report), while 5G from at least one operator now reaches 76-85% of all UK premises, up from 73-82% in January.

    • Italy's Open Fiber says it has successfully tested 50G-PON technology on its FTTH access network. The trial, says the wholesale-only operator, also demonstrated the possibility of running the new 50GB service in parallel with existing offerings, such as XGS-PON.

    • The European Commission has designated its first set of "gatekeepers," large companies whose far-reaching "core platform services" mean that they will have to comply with particular obligations under the terms of the Digital Markets Act. They are basically Big Tech's usual suspects, namely Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta and Microsoft. Initially, Samsung was also lined up to be in the gatekeeper gang, but the Commission decided that its proprietary Internet browser didn't make the grade. In parallel, the Commission has also begun four investigations to further look into Microsoft's and Apple's submissions arguing that, despite meeting the thresholds, some of their core platform services – Bing and iMessage among them – do not qualify as "gateways" under the terms of the Act. (See Eurobites: EU targets the online 'gatekeepers' with new law.)

    • French Wi-Fi specialist Airties has hooked up with Norway's Domos to offer the promise of improved latency management to broadband service providers worldwide. Specifically, Airties and Domos will jointly own the latency monitoring software module, which is based on Domos' existing module and will be embedded into Airties Smart Wi-Fi software.

    • Sparkle, the international services arm of Telecom Italia (TIM), has activated commercial service on the first section of the BlueMed subsesa cable connecting Palermo to Genoa and Milan. Each fiber pair boasts a throughput of 30 Tbit/s (Tbps), which, says Sparkle, is currently the highest subsea backbone capacity per fiber pair in service in the Mediterranean region.

      — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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