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Eurobites: Fiber effect fortifies network investment levels in France

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: It's all about the baseband for Ericsson; Telefónica extends tie-up with Fortinet; O2 boss channels Churchill.

  • French operators invested €500 million (US$566 million) more than they did in 2018, plowing €10.4 billion ($11.7 billion) into their networks over the course of the year, mainly as a result of fiber deployments. That's the lead finding from the annual status report produced by Arcep, France's communications regulator. Other tidbits include an additional 4.8 million fiber access lines in 2019, taking the total to 18.3 million premises, and a 2.3 million increase in households actually subscribing to a fiber connection, taking that total to 7.1 million households. On the downside, operators' combined revenue decreased by 1% in 2019, while prices for residential fixed and mobile prices remained virtually unchanged.

  • Ericsson is sounding the corporate fanfare for a new radio access network (RAN) compute baseband that it claims offers an "up to" threefold increase in mobile network capacity when compared to existing Ericsson basebands. Baseband 6648 supports 4G, 5G New Radio and IoT (mixed mode), and has a maximum throughput of 10-15 Gbit/s. Telstra in Australia and Telia in Sweden are already using the new baseband in their commercial networks.

  • Telefónica's cybersecurity arm, ElevenPaths, is expanding its relationship with Fortinet to offer managed security services for industrial sector customers. Through the wider partnership, ElevenPaths will use Fortinet Security Fabric's offerings for industrial control systems.

  • Orange Slovensko, the French giant's Slovakian unit, is using Appear TV's X Platform video processing platform to increase the network capacity and improve the performance of its TV services.

  • Swisscom is looking to exploit the "pivot to digital" being forced upon many small companies in these strange times by offering a couple of new services. The first, an ICT assessment, sends in a squad of Swisscom geeks and sets out to gauge whether the company's IT systems are up to scratch, providing a report full of "commercially independent" recommendations. The second, My Service Business, offers companies with up to six employees support for all office equipment, operating systems and Microsoft 365 applications.

  • The educational imbalance of opportunity in the UK has become even more pronounced during COVID-19 lockdown as those children who don't have access to decent broadband, let alone the devices that use it, struggle to cope with online learning. The UK government's Department for Education has teamed up with BT in an attempt to address the problem, providing "in-need" families with six months' free access to the BT Wi-Fi network, which extends to 5.5 million hotspots around the country. Access will be provided via a voucher code system and will allow children to access the web on up to three devices at a time, for six months. Normally, non-BT customers have to fork out a frankly frightening £4 ($5) for an hour's use a BT WiFi hotspot if they are using it on a pay-as-you-go basis.

  • UK-based pay-TV-and-more company Sky has announced that all its Sky Originals self-produced content will be certified carbon-neutral in the UK. Earlier this year Sky revealed its plan to become "net zero carbon" by 2030.

  • "We shall fight them on the basestations…" Mark Evans, the CEO of Telefónica UK (O2) has come over all Churchillian on his latest address to the nation, which details how O2's forthcoming joint venture with Virgin Media will help the nation get back on its feet in the post-lockdown era. "Together," declares Evans, "O2 and Virgin Media are primed to meet the demands of an enterprising and progressive British public, who have proven themselves to be nothing short of human and industrious in this period of national crisis. We will rise to the challenge you have set and, together, keep Britain connected and thriving." Yikes.

    Decent connectivity post-lockdown: It's what Churchill would have wanted.
    Decent connectivity post-lockdown: It's what Churchill would have wanted.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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