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Eurobites: Openreach Looks Further Down the Fiber Road

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodafone UK shares 4G spectrum to help bridge rural connectivity divide; Finnish president endures face-time with Trump to thrash out 5G options; smart lighting gets a bit smarter.

  • Openreach, the quasi-autonomous network access arm of UK incumbent BT, has revealed more details of its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) buildout plans, extending the view of said plans from a year to 18 months. During this period, 29 towns and cities will get the Openreach FTTP treatment, from Aberdeen in the north to Brighton in the south. Overall, 103 locations across the UK have now been included in Openreach's "Fibre First" program, which aims to have 4 million premises hooked up to fiber by the end of March 2021. Still, there's a long way to go if Openreach and others are to reach every UK property with fiber by 2025, a commitment recently spouted by Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister at the time of writing. (See Eurobites: Openreach Finally Puts 'Fibre First', BT Decline Continues Despite 5G, Fiber Push and Eurobites: Openreach Seeks Feedback to Further Full-Fiber Plans.)

  • And on the subject of UK broadband… Vodafone is claiming a UK industry first for its decision to share some of its 4G spectrum with StrattoOpencell, a move which allows the latter to offer high-speed mobile broadband in remote areas beyond the current reach of fiber connectivity. Under the terms of the three-year deal, which takes advantage of a recent ruling by UK telecom regulator Ofcom, StrattoOpencell will use Vodafone's 2600MHz spectrum to offer mobile data speeds of up to 120 Mbit/s to residential and business customers. Users at a holiday park in the (mainly rural) English county of Devon will be the first to benefit from the arrangement.

  • Finnish President Sauli Niinisto faces the pleasure of sitting down with his US counterpart Donald Trump today to discuss "5G alternatives" to equipment from Huawei and ZTE, Reuters reports. Previewing the meeting, an unnamed US official said: "Finland is home to Nokia which has quickly developed 5G technology that is at least on par with that of Huawei and ZTE and presents one of the viable alternatives to those countries that cherish privacy of their citizens' data, the integrity of their networks, the security of their critical infrastructure."

  • Telensa, a UK-based "smart streetlight" specialist, has launched Urban IQ, an offering that connects sensors on light poles and then "visualizes" the collected data using a dashboard built on Microsoft software. Urban IQ is designed to work with any mix of sensors, including those from third parties.

  • Swisscom is benefiting from the decision of three Swiss banks -- Basler Kantonalbank, Bank Cler and Neobank Yapeal -- to outsource some of their processing of financial transactions. Swisscom operatives handle the banks' connection to local and global payment systems, and screen incoming and outgoing financial transactions for the banks in compliance with regulatory requirements.

  • Telefónica boss José María Álvarez-Pallete has been trying to bring members of the European Parliament up to speed with the challenges being presented with the transition to "the new digital economy." Speaking to them in Brussels, Álvarez-Pallete said: " The transition presents challenges that we must address. It is about data, it is about the digital economy, it is about fundamental rights. We have to prepare our networks for this traffic explosion." The sub-text being: So don't make it any more difficult for us than it already is, guys.

  • Nokia is patting itself on the back for what it describes as its "12 months of 5G achievements." Among the "six world firsts" it trumpets are the tests into new aspects of the 5G standard in real-world industrial conditions at the Port of Hamburg in Germany and the first over-the-air 5G data transmission using 2.5GHz and massive MIMO antenna technology, on Sprint's live commercial network in San Diego. (See Eurobites: DT, Nokia Put 5G to the Industrial Test.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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