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Eurobites: Go easy on us or we'll miss the fiber deadline, BT tells UK government

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Three Ireland switches on 5G; Oaktree buys majority stake in Zzoomm; Arm jobs under threat, says UK politician.

  • Analysis commissioned by BT has found that full fiber coverage will only reach 70% of UK homes and businesses by 2025, unless the government makes a number of new policy commitments and regulatory changes. In its election manifesto, the government had promised to bring full-fiber and gigabit broadband to every home and business by 2025. Without policy interventions, the government's target may not be delivered until 2033, the study warns. To make up the difference, BT is proposing that the government:
      – grants "fair and equal access to infrastructure that is already in the ground," including revising the rules that allow fiber builders to use gas, electricity and water infrastructure to lay fiber;
      – sets up a subsidy scheme to help pay for the recruitment thousands of new network engineers;
      – forces local authorities to allow, "as standard use," the latest digging technology, and allow the laying of fiber across the front of a terraced house rather than digging up the street;
      – grants the industry the same rights as utilities, which have a statutory right to build across land when it is deemed necessary;
      – ends the higher business rates imposed on a fiber connection when compared to an older, copper one.

    The analysis was carried out on behalf of BT by Analysys Mason, which analyzed all 1.7 million postcodes across the UK. (See Eurobites: Openreach Finally Puts 'Fibre First'.)

  • Three Ireland is switching on its 5G network today (Monday), claiming 35% population coverage from day one, according to RTE. Ericsson has supplied the core and radio parts of the network, says the report. Rival operators Eir and Vodafone launched their 5G services in Ireland last year. (See Eurobites: Eir Turns On 5G, With Ericsson Assist and Eurobites: Vodafone Launches 5G in Ireland.)

  • Oaktree Capital Management is to pay £100 million for a majority stake in the crazily spelt Zzoomm, a UK fiber network infrastructure provider, the Financial Times reports. Zzoomm (which has nothing to do with the all-conquering videoconferencing app) has already built a fiber network in the southern English town of Henley-on-Thames, and is now looking to expand. Zzoomm was founded by Matthew Hare, who also launched rural broadband provider Gigaclear in 2010.

  • An opposition member of the UK parliament has warned that "hundreds" of jobs at Arm's graphics processing division in Cambridge could be under threat from the Nvidia's takeover of the chip designer. As the Telegraph reports, Daniel Zeichner told a parliamentary debate that the fact that Nvidia already has staff working on graphics processors "could be a perfect match, or it could mean rationalisations and job cuts," adding that there is "little sign of much meaningful consultations of those who work for the company." Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser has been highly vocal on what he sees as the negative and far-reaching implications of the sale of the UK-based firm to the US chipmaker. (See Arm sale to Nvidia a disaster for UK, warns co-founder.)

  • A problem with the government-approved coronavirus app for England and Wales, which meant that many positive test results could not be logged, has been solved over the weekend, according to the BBC. However, people who test negative for the virus are still unable to share their result via the app if their test hadn't been booked through it. Some users of the app also reported receiving notifications from the app's underlying Google/Apple-created technology platform that they had been in close proximity to the virus which were not backed up by the app itself.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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