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Eurobites: UK's Public Safety Network Project Is a Car Crash, Says Govt Watchdog

Paul Rainford
5/10/2019

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telefónica's Q1; DT, Ericsson claim microwave breakthrough; Orange invests in fintech company; Telia brings IoT to logistics.

  • The UK's National Audit Office (NAO), which aims to ensure public money isn't being wasted on government-funded projects, has slammed the lack of progress being made on and cost overruns of the delayed 4G-based Emergency Services Network (ESN), which is intended to replace the existing Airwave service. The Home Office, the government department running the project, now forecasts that ESN will cost a staggering £9.3 billion (US$12.1 billion), a full £3.1 billion ($4 billion) more than originally budgeted. Of this, £1.4 billion ($1.8 billion) is being spent on just keeping Airwave going until ESN is ready -- the revised schedule now has Airwave being switched off in December 2022, three years later than the original date. In a statement, the NAO said: "The Home Office does not currently have the capability it needs to integrate and test ESN, which comprises multiple pieces of technology that must be made to work together … The NAO recommends that the Home Office test its overall programme plan to determine whether the new schedule for launching ESN and shutting down Airwave is achievable. The Home Office should also develop a contingency plan that sets out what it will do if the technology it is relying on does not work." The NAO also said that while the Home Office is currently renegotiating the project's main contracts with Motorola and EE, these are also behind schedule. It's all starting to sound like an emergency in itself. (See UK May Be Stuck With Old Public Safety Network Till 2023.)

  • Telefónica saw first-quarter revenues fall 1.7% year-on-year to €11.979 billion ($13.453) in reported terms, though the operator presents this as 3.8% "organic" growth. Net income was up 10% to €926 million ($1.03 billion). Telefónica UK (O2) was a European bright spot for the group, with revenues up 6.6% in reported terms (and 5.3% organically) to €1.691 billion ($1.899 billion), and OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortization) up 17.3% in reported terms, to €504 million ($566 million).

  • Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson are claiming a breakthrough following a trial microwave link over 1.5km that achieved data transmission consistently in excess of 100 Gbit/s. This, they say, represents ten times greater throughput speeds than current commercial offerings on similar 70/80GHz spectrum. In a statement, Per Narvinger, Ericsson's head of product area networks, described the trial as signifying "the successful establishment of true fiber capacities over the air using microwave." The trial was conducted at Deutsche Telekom's service center in Athens.

  • Orange is diving deeper into banking territory with its latest investment, in Raisin, a Berlin-based fintech making waves in the European savings market (rather than currant accounts -- see what we did there?). The French incumbent has joined the €100 million ($112.3 million) Series D fundraising round alongside existing investors that include PayPal and Index Ventures. Raisin, which offers what is described as a "deposit-as-a-service" platform, has partnerships with more than 75 banks from 24 countries, and claims more than 175,000 users in 31 countries. (See Orange Bank Job Is Going Europe-Wide.)

  • Sweden's Telia has launched Telia Connected Vehicle, a new open platform that aims to make vehicle and fleet management more efficient and promote more environmentally-friendly driving. Trucks connected to the service will have a single display in the driver's cab that will make it possible for the driver to monitor in real time the truck's fuel consumption and receive a range of other information regarding the vehicle and traffic conditions. A numer of logistics companies, the oil refinery Neste among them, have been involved in the development of the service.

  • French telecom regulator Arcep has created a window for allocating 2.6GHz TDD band frequencies suitable for local networks that meet the needs of certain vertical markets. All companies wanting access to 2.6GHz TDD band frequencies can now submit their application to Arcep. No end date has yet been set.

  • Insight TV, a broadcaster and producer of "native" Ultra HD content, has announced a distribution deal with Swiss operator Sunrise, making Insight TV the first Ultra HD HDR channel to launch on Sunrise's new TV Neo Max OTT app. Viewers can look forward to seeing Travel with a Goat in needle-sharp quality, amongst other goodies.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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