Eurobites: Openreach pushes UK fiber further into the sticks

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Safaricom unveils new content platform; MTN enables funds transfers via WhatsApp; Google antitrust case in France nears conclusion.

  • Openreach, the semi-autonomous network access arm of incumbent operator BT, has announced plans to bring full-fiber broadband to "at least" 3 million more homes and businesses in hard-to-reach rural corners of the UK. The move, says BT, will be key to achieving the UK government's goal of delivering "gigabit capable broadband" to 85% of the UK by 2025, and has also prompted the creation of a further 1,000 new engineering jobs during 2021/2022, on top of the 2,500 jobs that were announced in December 2020. BT says that the "vast majority" of the new locations covered fall within the "final third" or "Geographic Area 3," which is defined by communications regulator Ofcom as the 9.5 million premises in the least commercially viable areas of the UK in terms of broadband upgrades. (See BT ups FTTP target to 25M premises by 2026 and BT to build fiber 'like fury' after Ofcom ruling.)

    Fiber-to-Llanymawddwy: Other unpronounceable Welsh villages are also available.
    Fiber-to-Llanymawddwy: Other unpronounceable Welsh villages are also available.

  • Kenya's Safaricom has unveiled Baze, a new, "mobile first" digital content platform. Baze will offer a selection of local and regional short-form videos covering genres such as comedy, drama and music. It will also include an additional, YouTube-style sub-platform that will allow content creators to share their cat videos (or whatever) for profit. Potential customers can choose from two subscription plans: all all-day pass at 10 Kenyan shillings (US$0.09), and an all-day pass with 200MB of data at KES20.

  • MTN, the South African operator, has teamed up with electronic funds transfer specialist Ozow to allow its customers to safely buy airtime and data via WhatsApp. According to MTN, making payments via WhatsApp is relatively new, having been initially tested in India in 2018 and officially launched in Brazil in June 2020.

  • Google is close to reaching a settlement in an antitrust case in France concerning the way the search giant uses its advertising server, DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP). According to the Wall Street Journal (partial paywall applies), DFP gave Google's online advertising auction house, AdX, an unfair advantage over rival auction operators.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

    Eurobites returns on Tuesday, June 1, following another UK-wide celebration of the British banking system.

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