Eurobites: UK Fine-Tunes Its Full-Fiber Future

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Proximus secures digital rollout agreement with Flemish government; Ericsson runs 5G pilot in Singapore; Elisa hosts AI contest.

  • The UK government has seen the future of Britain's connectivity needs -- and it's all about "full fiber" and 5G. Such are the findings of its Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, a strategy document that sets out a number of measures that the government hopes will accelerate the rollout of the two technologies, including the requirement that all new-build homes have full fiber connectivity -- "too many homes are still being built without fibre connections," says the document. The document also focuses on making the rollout of fiber cheaper and easier, creating a standardized approach to fiber-related street works throughout the country.

    While incumbent BT and its network access subsidiary Openreach have, at the time of writing, yet to offer an official reaction to the proposals, "challenger" fiber infrastructure providers have given them a cautious welcome. In a statement, CityFibre said: "…it is critical that the consumer is at the heart of this fantastic opportunity from the start, as this is the key to unlocking demand." Evan Wienburg, CEO of full fibre infrastructure provider TrueSpeed, said: "While the Government is right to state that a full-throttle drive to nationwide full fibre connectivity requires competition and commercial investment to succeed, a fair and equitable playing field for all infrastructure providers is essential. This has not always been the case." (See Eurobites: UK Chancellor Sets Out Full-Fiber Vision.)

  • Proximus has reached an agreement with the government of Belgium's Flemish region on the rollout of a "super-fast" digital network. The operator had to commit to four specific requirements: a "future-proof" capacity; sufficiently high coverage; open access for other market players; and a "fair and competitive" network access fee. For its part, the Flemish government says it will "create the right preconditions" for these commitments to be fulfilled.

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) is cementing its 5G love-in with Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) (OTC: SGTJY) with the creation of what is described as the city-state's first 5G pilot network, scheduled to go live by the fourth quarter of this year. Located at One-North, a research center in the Buona Vista neighborhood, the pilot network is promising to deliver 5G coverage with enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) speed and low-latency communications. Trials of drones are one of the first items on the network's agenda.

  • Finnish operator Elisa Corp. has selected 13 teams with which it can work on creating new products and services that exploit the potential of artificial intelligence. Among the startups battling for the €50,000 (US$58,590) prize is Mashinga, which is touting an "intelligent meeting assistant," able to "coordinate meetings, converse and collaborate locally and remotely." We'll have two, please.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) has signed agreements with seven companies operating in the call center services sector as part of a wider "procurement optimization" project announced last year. The companies in question are Abramo, Almaviva, Comdata, Ennova, Gruppo Distribuzione, Proattiva and Youtility. The agreements will last for two years.

  • The European Union's proposals for new regulations relating to cross-border access to so-called "e-Evidence" have prompted the now-familiar note of caution from the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO) . Among other concerns, ETNO believes that it should be up to the judicial authorities rather than service providers to ensure that requests for e-Evidence are compliant with the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights and the local laws of the issuing authority.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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