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Eurobites: BT hits the brakes on fiber buildout

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telkom SA hit by power-cut costs; CMA launches mobile browser probe; Telecom Italia lets its employees disconnect.

  • Openreach, the semi-autonomous network access arm of UK incumbent operator BT, is touching the brakes on the expansion of its fiber network to keep on top of rising costs, according to a report in the Financial Times (paywall applies). In a letter seen by the newspaper, BT has told suppliers that it intends to build its fiber broadband network "narrower and deeper" and limit itself to more of a "just-in-time" approach to its buildout. And, more worryingly for the suppliers, BT admits in the letter that this change of tack "will by necessity include an element of cancellation or suspension of a job you have received and/or validated." Earlier this month BT CEO Philip Jansen revealed plans to remove another £500 million (US$565 million) in costs by the end of 2025, on top of the £2.5 billion ($2.8 billion) in savings that had already been earmarked. Data published by BT in September showed that only 27% of the homes within reach of its full-fiber network had signed up to the service. (See BT accused of 'choking off' altnets as fiber splurge sparks worry.)

    (Source: BT)
    (Source: BT)

  • The cost of ensuring uninterrupted service during periods of "load-shedding" (power cuts) was partly responsible for a slump in earnings at South Africa's Telkom SA. The company's half-year results showed group EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) sliding 17.3% year-over-year, to 4.9 billion South African rand ($284 million), on revenue that was down 0.7%, to ZAR21.2 billion ($1.23 billion). In its consumer division, mobile customer numbers were up 10.9%, to 18 million.

  • The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into the mobile browser market, particularly in relation to cloud gaming. The CMA says that responses to a consultation on the matter it launched in June reveal "substantial support" for an in-depth probe into the way that Apple and Google dominate the market and how Apple restricts cloud gaming through its App Store. Web developers, for example, have complained that Apple's stranglehold on the market leads to added costs and unnecessary hassle for them in their work.

  • UK-based Colt Technology Services has launched what it calls a "joint lab environment" with IBM to explore ways of bringing secure edge cloud services to manufacturers. According to Colt, the lab will provide hands-on experiences for businesses as they look for ways to monetize 5G and edge capabilities like visual inspection, supply chain telemetry monitoring, IT/OT security, remote management and threat monitoring.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) has reached a settlement with its labor unions on remote working, which will allow its workers to work from home (or anywhere that isn't their office) for three days a week, rather than just two as had been the case previously. Indeed, TIM's offices will now be closed on Fridays. In a statement, TIM's HR boss Paolo Chiriotti said that, among other safeguards, employees should be able to enjoy the "right to disconnect." Hear, hear.

  • Sky, the UK-based purveyor of pay-TV and more, is to launch a new, ad-free "linear" TV channel, Sky Kids. Families with younger children have apparently told Sky that on-demand kids' fare is all well and good, but having linear telly on tap to keep their little darlings entertained and occupied during the day makes the grown-ups' lives a lot easier.

  • UK mobile operator EE says it has added 150 new locations to its 5G network, a move which EE's PR people are keen to point out will be a boon to those wanting to post photos of themselves munching leathery frankfurters at Christmas markets.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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