Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Facebook faces €5 million fine in Italy; Telia selling location data; French hopeful of tech tax progress; Apple battles EU on phone ports.
Swisscom is trumpeting the success of the private 5G network it set up at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Lausannne. The demonstration, which saw Swisscom working with a number of partner organizations, ran from January 17-22 and was designed to completely replace wired audiovisual installations, using 5G to connect all the production equipment at the venue. According to the trial's backers, the resulting reduction in the number of staff and amount of equipment required results in "substantial savings" and lessens the environmental impact of such events. The project serves to underline how mobile operators are increasingly seeing private networks as a potentially important income stream. (See The Role of Mobile Operators in the Private Networks Sector.)
The Italian communications regulator, AGCM, has started non-compliance proceedings against Facebook, alleging the social media giant provided insufficient clarity on how it sought to monetize the data of its users and failed to publish an "amending statement" demanded in previous proceedings. Facebook now faces a minimum fine of €5 million (US$5.5 million).
Nordic operator Telia has confirmed that it sells its customers' location data to city authorities and private entities, YLE reports. City officials can use anonymized data to map people's movements, while companies can use it as a guide to the best place to set up retail outlets and so on.
Meanwhile, over in Davos, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has been telling Reuters that he is still confident of reaching a deal on the global taxation of digital companies, despite earlier threats from the US that it would retaliate with tariffs on typically French exports such as champagne and cheese if France went ahead with a tech tax.
Apple has kicked back against the European Parliament's plans to force all phone makers to adopt a universal port, saying that the move would result in millions of its Lightning ports -- used on its iPhones -- being sent to landfill. But, as the BBC reports, the European Commission estimates that obsolete cables generate more than 51,000 tonnes of waste per year.
In these days of mobile technology being used to convey all sorts of unpleasantness around the world, it is heartening to hear of a connectivity project that simply does good. A combination of 4G, 5G and virtual reality technologies was used to enable a group of young art students growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp to be given a hosted tour of the treasures of London's National Gallery. In London, a 5G Gigacube was used to provide a stable Internet connection across the gallery floor, relaying 8K footage to the refugee camp in Kakuma, where students used Oculus Go VR headsets and tablet/laptop access for a 360-degree viewing experience. The picture below really says it all…
Students at Kenya's Kakuma refugee camp check out the artworks at London's National Gallery, with help from Vodafone.