Eurobites: Vodafone's open RAN 'golden cluster' is go – but is it running late?

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: UK's telecom bills aren't shocking, says study; Ericsson does fronthaul Down Under; Apple's DIY device repair service arrives in Europe.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

December 6, 2022

3 Min Read
Eurobites: Vodafone's open RAN 'golden cluster' is go – but is it running late?

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: UK's telecom bills aren't shocking, says study; Ericsson does fronthaul Down Under; Apple's DIY device repair service arrives in Europe.Vodafone has let it be known that its so-called "golden cluster" deployment of open RAN in the southern English coastal towns of Torquay and Exmouth is due to happen "over the next few months" – but is the project falling behind schedule? The golden cluster project was first announced in July, the stated plan then being to activate the cluster by the end of this year and to integrate "third-party massive MIMO" by March 2023. Industry eyes are focused on the project as it will be seen as an indicator of how easy or otherwise it is for a "brownfield" operator to get open RAN properly up and running. Vodafone has said it wants open RAN to be deployed across 30% of its European footprint by 2030. Before then, by the end of 2027, it needs to get thousands of Huawei sites ripped-and-replaced or else find itself in breach of UK government rules on the use of Huawei equipment.Figure 1:(Source: l_martinez/Alamy Stock Photo)The UK's telecom bills are amongst the lowest in Europe and around half those in the US, according to new research commissioned by Virgin Media O2. The study found that the average monthly UK household spend on telecom services has fallen by nearly a fifth since 2017, now representing just 3.8% of total household expenditure. For a typical telecom package, the UK is second only to Spain in terms of cheapness within Europe, and is 95% cheaper than the US, 45% cheaper than Japan and 16% cheaper than France. And, claims Virgin Media O2, if telecom prices had increased at the same rate as the UK's energy prices, the average monthly mobile and broadband bill would soon reach more than £400 (US$488), as opposed to the £77 ($94) it stands at today.Sweden's Ericsson has landed a packet fronthaul gig Down Under, with Telstra. Telstra hopes Ericsson's smarts will allow it to take advantage of future cloud RAN packet switched connections needed to underpin technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.Apple's controversial DIY device repair service will be available in eight European countries as from today, the BBC reports. Users of certain iPhones and Macbooks will, in theory, be able to fix their own devices by buying specialist and tools and watching online how-to tutorials. However, if you mess up the repair, it's on you – the warranty will no longer be valid. The service has faced flak for being too tricky for the average to punter to use, with one US technology journalist going on record to say that he cracked his screen "in a split second" whilst trying to mend his iPhone. (And no, it wasn't one of those Light Reading numbskulls.)UK Internet service provider Lit Fibre plans to extend its full-fiber network across several towns in the West Midlands region in spring 2023, bringing speeds of up to a gigabit to around 65,000 additional homes. Lit Fibre already has a network up and running in Sutton Coldfield.Most Brits want their traditional aerial-fed digital terrestrial TV services to be protected by government statute, despite the seemingly inexorable rise of Internet-dependent streaming services. That is the conclusion of a survey carried out by masts company Arqiva, which polled more than 5,000 people in England. The kiddie factor is significant here – more than eight in ten people asked said they rely on terrestrial TV as an affordable form of entertainment for their children, with two thirds believing digital terrestrial telly is better for their children than streaming services or YouTube. As things stands, there is only certainty of provision for TV and radio through an aerial in the UK until the early 2030s.— 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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