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Eurobites: Openreach hits back at fiber go-slow claims

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: BT's Allera wants to share the social tariff burden; 5G in emerging markets; Orange, 1&1 strike roaming deal.

  • Openreach CEO Clive Selley has hit back at press reports claiming that his company was slowing down the rate of its fiber rollout, saying that the pausing of some aspects of the rollout, such as surveying, has been misinterpreted. In a statement, Selley said: "It's fair to say we've got a bit ahead of ourselves on what we call 'exchange enablement' – putting new equipment into our exchange buildings before we build out to homes and businesses … As a result, we're going to pause starting some new jobs – like surveying work in other locations – for the rest of this year and we're going to focus on completing work that's already started." Selley admitted that rising inflation had made life difficult for Openreach but maintained that the rollout was "speeding up, not slowing down." (See Eurobites: BT hits the brakes on fiber buildout.)

    (Source: David J. Green/Alamy Stock Photo)
    (Source: David J. Green/Alamy Stock Photo)

  • Meanwhile, the consumer boss of Openreach's parent company, BT, has called for other operators to share more of the cost burden of providing so-called "social" (or discounted) mobile and broadband tariffs to those on low incomes. As Reuters reports, Marc Allera said: "We're scrambling around trying to help … there's huge margin dilution from supporting those customers."

  • A study commissioned by Ericsson has concluded that emerging markets could benefit from GDP growth of between 0.3% and 0.46% up to 2035 if they embraced the benefits of 5G connectivity – benefits that, says the study, vastly outweigh the investment costs. Future Value of Mobile in Emerging Markets, produced by Analysys Mason, examined the likely effect of introducing 5G spectrum in 15 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. One sector that could stand to benefit hugely is agriculture – the report estimates that enhanced rural 5G coverage could provide an "up to 1.8% uplift" in long-term GDP from agriculture in these countries.

  • German operator 1&1 and France-based Orange have struck a long-term roaming deal, bringing 1&1 customers access to all international roaming services covered by Orange's worldwide roaming footprint.

  • Swiss operator Salt saw third-quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) rise 1.9% year-over-year, to 143.3 million Swiss francs (US$151.4 million), on revenue that was up 3.2%, to CHF275 million ($290.6 million). The company boasted its best mobile subscriber growth in a decade, with 29,900 postpaid net adds in Q3.

  • The EU looks likely to launch an official antitrust investigation into Microsoft's bundling of its Teams workplace chat platform into its Office software suite – a move criticized by Salesforce.com, the company behind the rival Slack messaging app. As Reuters reports, "people familiar with the matter" said that the European Commission's decision to send out another batch of questionnaires relating to the issue was a sure sign that it was preparing the ground for a more formal investigation.

  • French communications regulator Arcep has ruled that subscribers to fiber broadband services will have access to their optical termination point's identifier in their customer account. The unique label is used to identify an optical network socket in operators' systems, and customers' access to it, says Arcep, will make it easier for them to switch providers. Bouygues Telecom, Free, Orange and SFR have all committed to provide this information, starting from July 2023.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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