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Eurobites: UK think-tank, government put 'social tariffs' back in the spotlightEurobites: UK think-tank, government put 'social tariffs' back in the spotlight

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Intel suspends Russian operations; Google Cloud helps Vodafone snoop on its customers; A1 wants to digitalize construction.

Paul Rainford

April 6, 2022

3 Min Read
Eurobites: UK think-tank, government put 'social tariffs' back in the spotlight

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Intel suspends Russian operations; Google Cloud helps Vodafone snoop on its customers; A1 wants to digitalize construction.

  • The Fabian Society, a left-wing think tank that has been around in the UK since the nineteenth century, has published a report calling for a broadband discount scheme providing broadband connections costing no more than £15 (US$19.62) per month for disabled people and households with low incomes, co-funded by government and the telecom industry, as well as a free Internet-enabled device for individuals identified by local groups as being not able to afford one. The proposals in the "Bridging the Divide" report come in response to research revealing that 1.5 million households in the UK are still not connected to the Internet at all, while 29% of adults have very low digital engagement. Figure 1: (Source: Age Barros on Unsplash) (Source: Agê Barros on Unsplash)

    • Some UK operators, BT among them, have already launched so-called social tariffs for broadband. Commenting on the Fabian Society report, BT's director of policy and public affairs, Alex Towers, lambasted Sky and Vodafone for refusing to launch social tariffs "on the basis that if BT offers one, they don’t need to."

    • In similar territory, the UK government's Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has, as the BBC reports, written a letter to broadband suppliers telling them that they must do more to promote social tariffs, pointing out that only 1-2% of those in receipt of Universal Credit welfare payments have taken advantage of such tariffs.

    • US chip giant Intel has fallen into line with several other technology firms and suspended all operations in Russia, Reuters reports. "Intel continues to join the global community in condemning Russia's war against Ukraine and calling for a swift return to peace," the company said in a statement.

    • Vodafone reckons the migration of its data to Google Cloud back in 2019 has given it a "more holistic understanding" of its customers, enabling it to bombard them with "personalised content, apps, and rewards," according to the operator's head of data and analytics, Osman Peermamode. Vodafone is now using the Nucleus data platform, which is powered by Google Cloud products such as as BigQuery, Dataproc and Cloud Data Fusion.

    • A1 Digital, the "digital transformation" arm of Austrian operator A1, has joined a project looking at ways to "digitalize" processes in the construction industry with a view to improving productivity in the sector by as much as 10%. The company is mainly contributing its cloud and IoT chops to the IECO project, which is funded by the German government and forms part of the wider Gaia-X cloud initiative.

    • Airtel Africa has joined the Joint Alliance for CSR (JAC), a global industry body, to promote sustainability in its supply chain. Membership of the body is intended to help Airtel incorporate Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) principles into the way it goes about its business. The JAC was founded in 2010 and currently has 19 telecom operators as members.

      — 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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