Eurobites: BT launches dedicated drone SIMEurobites: BT launches dedicated drone SIM
Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodafone connects grocery-delivery drones in Germany; UK competition watchdog beings review process for Vodafone-Three merger; GSMA and ETNO like the cut of Thierry Breton's telecom jib.
October 12, 2023
BT has launched what it says is the UK's first SIM specifically designed for use with drones. According to the operator, its Drone SIM, which connects to the EE mobile network, is built to endure vibration and extremes in temperature and humidity. Its launch follows a series of trials that saw the SIM being used, among other things, for critical infrastructure inspections carried out with drone technology provider Sees.ai and a drone-powered medical delivery trial with aerial logistics specialist Skyfarer.
In a related vein, Vodafone is providing the connectivity for a grocery-delivery drone project serving villages close – but not that close – to the German town of Michelstadt. Using an online platform, customers in these relatively remote villages can buy their items and select a time for delivery, and the goods arrive via a combination of electric bike and Wingcopter delivery drone, the latter equipped with a Vodafone SIM card. The project forms part of wider research program, DroLex (Drone Cargo Bike Express Delivery) that is being run by Wingcopter and the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences.
The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is seeking views on the proposed merger between Vodafone and Three, a deal that, if it were to go ahead, would reduce the number of UK mobile networks from four to three and establish the newly merged company as the market leader. While Vodafone has its headquarters in the UK, Three is owned by the Hong Kong-based but Chinese-owned CK Hutchison. This consultation stage forms part of the lead-up to a formal investigation into the merger.
The GSMA and ETNO have both expressed their support for EU bigwig Thierry Breton's call for a "Digital Networks Act," that would "redefine the DNA of [Europe's] telecoms regulation," a plea he shared on LinkedIn. Key among the measures that would be covered by the proposed Act is the creation of a "single market" for European telecom, a concept that first received an airing at the start of this year following an interview given by EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager to an Italian newspaper.
Elsewhere in the Brussels corridors of power, EU President Ursula von der Leyen has issued a statement condemning the apparent act of sabotage last weekend on a telecom cable and gas pipeline running between Finland and Estonia. "I assured the Finnish and Estonian Prime Ministers that the European Commission will continue to cooperate with Member States and NATO to strengthen resilience against threats to our critical infrastructure," she wrote.
As the horror in Israel and the Gaza Strip intensifies, UK communications regulator Ofcom has sent an open letter to UK-based video-sharing platforms reminding them of the need to protect their users in general, and children in particular, from potentially harmful content. Under Ofcom's regulations, video-sharing platforms that fall within its jurisdiction are required to put in place measures that protect their users from terrorist videos and video material that incites hatred or violence, and to protect children from video material that may cause them harm.
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