Eurobites: KPN to Test 5G With Drones, Cars, Boats & More

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Fon buys XCellAir; Telegram app blocked in Russia; Deutsche Telekom upgrades "nearshore" areas.

  • Dutch incumbent KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) is planning four pre-5G field trials for this year that will seek to "discover the value of 5G applications." The trials will include the testing of: smart antennas in Amsterdam, working with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK); connected drones for "precision agriculture" on a farm in Drenthe, working with the province, Wageningen University and ZTE; network slicing, in partnership with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd , and virtual reality for industrial applications at Rotterdam harbor; and self-driving vehicles on motorways near Helmland, as part of the European project Concorda Connected Corridor for Driving Automation. Jacob Groote, director of product management (business market) at KPN, said in a statement that the operator will "investigate how we can use this new network technology in combination with developments such as artificial intelligence, drones and virtual reality for a wide range of smart applications."

  • Fon , the Spanish WiFi access and technology specialist, has acquired XCellAir, a spin-off from InterDigital which focuses on technology that enhances the customer's "quality of experience" on WiFi. XCellAir will sit within Fontech, Fon's R&D arm. In addition to acquiring XCellAir's employees, Fontech will be incorporating XCellAir's core product, the XCellRAN carrier WiFi offering, into its own WiFi portfolio. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

  • The Telegram messaging app has been blocked in Russia, following Telegram's refusal to hand over encryption keys used to "scramble" messages. As the BBC reports, the app has a history of being used by terrorist groups planning atrocities.

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) has been updating on its progress in rolling out high-speed broadband in rural "nearshore" areas, "nearshore" being the term DT uses to describe those areas within 550 meters of local exchanges. Approximately 160,000 households in Brieskow-Finkenheerd, Dautphetal-Mornshausen, Waldfischbach-Burgalben, Schwabsoien and Wyk auf Föhr now have access to download speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s and upload speeds of up to 40 Mbit/s.

  • Mark Zuckerberg may still be disinclined to speak before the European Parliament on data privacy matters, but Facebook 's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, did call EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova on Thursday to talk about the Cambridge Analytica rumpus and more. As Reuters reports, Jourova said that the EU would be keeping an especially close eye on Facebook's implementation of the new GDPR data privacy legislation, which comes into force on May 25. (See Facebook: The Sick Man of Silicon Valley and Top 4 GDPR Misconceptions.)

  • Rothwell, in the northern English city of Leeds, will be the next location to feel the benefit of Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED)'s "Project Lightning" network expansion program. When the work is complete, up to 11,500 homes and businesses will be within reach of speeds of up to 350 Mbit/s. Under Project Lightning, Virgin aims to extend its cable footprint to about two thirds of the UK population, but the program has not gone especially smoothly at times. (See Virgin Media's Cable Expansion Lags Targets – Report.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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