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Eurobites: UK broadband subsidy scheme comes under fire

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telia pushes private networks in Norway; Nokia does IoT with Mobily in Saudi Arabia; Viasat brings cybersecurity jobs to UK.

  • The UK government is facing flak for what are being seen as failings in its voucher-based subsidy scheme for rural broadband rollout, which allows potential fiber customers in hard to reach villages to club together and get a gigabit connection, despite it being financially unviable for a broadband company operator to provide one. As the BBC reports, many of the voucher applications are still unapproved, despite Wednesday's deadline fast approaching. A new version of the voucher scheme launches in April, but changes to the scheme means that some previously eligible areas will now fail to meet the appropriate criteria.

  • Telia is pushing private networks to companies and public sector organizations in Norway with the launch of its Enterprise Mobile Network (EMN) offering. The operator, drawing on licensed spectrum over 4G and 5G, is targeting industries such as mining, manufacturing and logistics. EMN can, says Telia, be deployed through Telia's public mobile network (but with a custom-built radio network) or as a complete private network, with both a local core and radio network installed at the customer site.

  • Nokia has completed a narrowband IoT deployment in the 800MHz band for Saudi operator Mobily, connecting more than 4,000 sites. As part of the project, Mobily's existing LTE basestations have been upgraded to facilitate NB-IoT in all of Nokia's Saudi footprints without additional hardware but with a simple software update. The project will allow Mobily to offer new services to its enterprise customers.

  • Degroof Petercam, a financial services company with operations across Belgium and Luxembourg, has completed an upgrade of its IT infrastructure with the help of Proximus subsidiary Telindus. Part of the project saw old, energy-hungry servers being ditched in favor of an "environmentally optimized" external private cloud.

  • US satellite broadband company Viasat has opened a new network operations center and cybersecurity hub in Aldershot, UK. The twin facilities, says Viasat, will support defense, government and commercial organizations who need to fend off increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks perpetrated by a growing number of adversaries. More than 75 new network, analysis and security jobs will be created.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) has cut the ribbon on UV T-Growth, a venture capital fund focused on late-stage investments into innovative companies with what is seen as high growth potential. The fund was first announced last summer by United Ventures, an independent VC firm specializing in digital technologies, with TIM named as the anchor investor through its company TIM Ventures. According to TIM, the fund has already attracted subscriptions for €100 million (US$117 million), the goal being to reach €180 million ($211 million) by 2022. 5G, artificial intelligence and Industry 4.0 are just some of the areas falling within the scope of the fund.

  • Telefónica UK (O2) is offering a range of payment plans on various pricey devices – AirPods and HomePods among them – that can even be used by those who aren't on O2's network. The plans range from three to 36 months in duration, depending on the product being paid for. Certain products will also bring with them six months' free use of the Apple Music streaming service.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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