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Eurobites: BT blasted for cost of rural hook-ups

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: EE ditches Dixons Carphone; former BT bigwig heads up UK's post-Huawei task force; Telecom Italia grows connectivity for agribusinesses.

  • BT is coming under fire for what critics say is overcharging on a massive scale when it comes to broadband installation costs in rural "notspots." According to the Guardian, one Devon farmer was quoted nearly £70,000 (US$90,000) plus a monthly charge in the region of £50 ($64) for providing a less than blazin' 10Mbit/s service to his farm, and cites other examples of people being quoted £100,000 ($129,000) for connections. This is despite the UK government's introduction of the Universal Service Obligation in March, which was supposed to give households suffering from poor or non-existent Internet access the right to demand "affordable" connectivity from BT.

  • Meanwhile, on the mobile front, BT-owned EE has ditched Dixons Carphone, a high-profile independent smartphone retailer, as a distribution channel after more than 20 years of doing business together. As the Times reports (paywall applies), EE is shifting its focus to its own brick-and-mortar and online stores.

  • And in one final BT-related snippet, the operator's former CEO (and current chairman of the aforementioned Dixons Carphone), Ian Livingston, has been appointed by the UK government to head up the task force charged with overseeing the replacement of Huawei equipment in Britain's mobile networks. As the Financial Times reports (paywall applies), the "vendor diversity" task force will be made up of industry figures and politicians and will seek to minimize disruption. (See Huawei banned from UK's 5G market.)

  • Telecom Italia has signed an agreement with farming organizations Coldiretti and Bonifiche Ferraresi aimed at bringing "ultrabroadband" to rural businesses and generally speeding up the process of digitalization in Italy's agricultural industry. According to a Telecom Italia statement, the coronavirus pandemic has underlined the importance of bringing the country's agricultural industry bang up to date in terms of connectivity.

  • Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has announced what it says is the first deployment of standalone 5G in the MENA region. The operator says a "Voice over New Radio" service will offer users true HD voice and video calls over the new network.

  • A1 Telekom Austria has bought 30MHz in the new 1500MHz band and increased its share of the 2100MHz band from 20MHz to 25MHz after participation in the country's recent spectrum auction. It now holds 38% of total spectrum available in Austria. The operator also made a commitment to provide coverage to 349 "highly rural" communities.

  • Enterprise customers of cloud company Neutrality.one in the Middle East, Africa and Asia will be able to connect to more than 350 data centers in 40 countries across the globe thanks to a collaboration between Neutrality.one and PCCW Global through the latter's Console Connect platform.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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