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Eurobites: Germany at odds with Apple over coronavirus-tracing app

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Tony Blair's think-tank thinks greater digital surveillance is a price worth paying; Proximus boosts upload speeds in Belgium; Ekinops brings 100G to local provider in France.

  • The German government has gone with home-grown technology from the Robert Koch Institute to develop a coronavirus-fighting contact-tracing app based on Bluetooth technology. This, as Reuters reports, puts it at odds with Apple, which, for privacy reasons, has, the report says, refused to allow such apps to monitor Bluetooth while running in the background. Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, has already told Apple CEO Tim Cook that coronavirus apps being developed by governments need to work on the Californian company's devices.

  • Meanwhile, in related news, a think-tank founded by the UK's former prime minister, Tony Blair, says that app-based state surveillance of individuals is a price worth paying to see off the COVID-19 pandemic. As the BBC reports, a paper produced by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) says, "Compared to the alternatives, leaning in to the aggressive use of the [contact-tracing] technology to help stop the spread of Covid-19 ... is a reasonable proposition."

  • Belgium's Proximus has carried out a large-scale upgrade of its fixed-line Internet customers in order to boost their upload speeds during the COVID-19 crisis. Around 1.65 million customers will benefit from upgrade, which will see the minimum upload speed rising from 4 Mbit/s to 20 Mbit/s.

  • Ekinops, the French optical transport equipment vendor, has helped CM'IN, a local telecom service provider, upgrade its broadband and digital offerings. CM'IN's digital infrastructure is found in the city of Chartres, 90 miles south-west of Paris. Ekinops increased the bandwidth of its single-fiber network, connecting the municipality to two Parisian data centers, with 100G capability.

  • UK altnet Gigaclear has brought near-gigabit speeds within reach of an additional 1,153 homes and businesses in the eastern English county of Essex. The project entailed the digging of 122,326km of trenches.

  • Canyon Bridge, the Chinese owner of UK chip designer Imagination Technologies, is to re-list the company in London, New York or Hong Kong, Reuters reports, with a view to holding an IPO sometime in the next few years. Earlier this week Canyon Bridge committed to keeping Imagination's headquarters in the UK, after British politicians sought reassurances that the company's sensitive security software would not end up in the hands of the Chinese government. Imagination was bought by the investment firm for £550 million (US$742 million) in 2017. (See Amid COVID-19, China dependence no longer seems such a good idea and Eurobites: Imagination Cashes In Its Chips With Canyon Bridge for £550M.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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