Eurobites: COVID-19 puts kibosh on broadband switching in UK

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia completes Elenion acquisition; Virgin Media sees changing data patterns; Disney+ launch is semi-frozen in the UK.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

March 25, 2020

3 Min Read
Eurobites: COVID-19 puts kibosh on broadband switching in UK

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia completes Elenion acquisition; Virgin Media sees changing data patterns; Disney+ launch is semi-frozen in the UK.

  • Dissatisfied broadband users in the UK wanting to switch to a different provider could have a very long wait. According to the Financial Times (paywall applies), Openreach, BT's semi-autonomous network access division, has requested that – in light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis – the Internet service providers that use its network try to "limit the movements of end customers between networks." This means that Openreach engineers will be able to visit fewer homes and deal only with what are deemed higher-priority matters, such as fault repairs, street upgrades and reconnecting "vulnerable" customers who have lost connection. So those disgruntled customers looking to switch provider can still apply to to do so but, says the FT, their wish may not be granted until long after the pandemic is over.

    • Nokia has completed its acquisition of Elenion Technologies, a US-based silicon photonics company. The Finnish vendor says that Elenion's brains will enable it to broaden its market coverage by "addressing the critical and rapidly evolving optical connectivity requirements of 5G, cloud and enterprise networking."

    • Nokia has also announced that it has completed the first phase of the Port of Zeebrugge's "5G-ready, industrial-grade" private network. Nokia's Digital Automation Cloud platform will provide private wireless connectivity to more than 100 endpoints across the port's range of operations. (See Nokia Lands Another 4G/5G Private Network Deal.)

    • Telia has completed its divestment of its 100% holding in Moldavian operator Moldcell to CG Cell Technologies DAC for US$31.5 million.

    • UK cable operator Virgin Media is the latest telco to update on how COVID-19 is changing data usage patterns. Downstream traffic on its network, says Virgin, has increased around 50% during daytime hours, but the most marked increase has been seen in upstream traffic, which soared by 95% as those working from home send monster files to corporate networks and attempt to hold video conferences. Uploads also spiked for Virgin last Sunday in the UK, which was Mothering Sunday: Scores of people held video calls with their mothers rather than seeing them face-to-face.

    • In related matters, Virgin Media is also taking on more than 500 extra customer contact center workers in the UK to help keep customers connected during the pandemic. Virus quarantine measures have meant some Virgin Media call centers have had to close, so the operator is prioritizing calls from vulnerable customers and asking customers to only call in if they have an urgent query that can't wait.

    • Disney's new streaming service, Disney+, launched in the UK on Tuesday but, as Reuters reports, more than a few households did not enjoy a fairytale start as they encountered problems logging on to the service for the first time. Some would-be viewers complained that they had problems getting the correct PIN codes; others that their email addresses weren't registered.

    • Three is the latest UK mobile operator to face the wrath of the Advertising Standards Authority, which ruled that a Three ad proclaiming "If it's not Three, it's not real 5G" was "likely to mislead."

      — 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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