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Eurobites: BT braces for £1.3B class action

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: OneWeb delays drag down Eutelsat's outlook; mobile RAN security within EU wannabes; Unite slams Vodafone-Three merger (again).

Paul Rainford

January 29, 2024

4 Min Read
BT Group sign on front of office building
(Source: BT)
  • BT is up in court today facing a £1.3 billion (US$1.65 billion) class action centered on allegations that it has been overcharging its landline-only customers, many of whom are elderly and often classed as "vulnerable." As City A.M. reports, the claim, fronted by consumer activist Justin Le Patourel, alleges that BT overcharged for standalone fixed voice services between 2015 and 2018. The class action, which is up before the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal, could encompass as many as 2.31 million individuals, according to its backers, though they noted that more than 500,000 of the BT customers who only had a landline phone have already died. If the class action is successful, the estates of those deceased individuals will be able to apply for compensation.

  • On a less controversial note, BT says it's looking to recruit 446 apprentice and 111 graduate roles for its September 2024 intake, covering such work areas as software engineering, customer service and data analytics. Looking longer term, however, BT is planning to reduce its workforce by up to up to 55,000 by 2030, with AI being predictably predicted to replace around 10,000 human jobs.

  • Eutelsat Group has downgraded its full-year outlook in the face of ground-network rollout delays at its OneWeb since its acquisition in September of last year. Revenues are now expected to fall in a range of €1.25 billion ($1.35 billion) to €1.3 billion (compared with €1.32 billion to €1.42 billion previously), while adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) is expected in a range of €650 million to €680 million (compared with €725 million to €825 million previously).

  • A new report from analyst firm Strand Consult into the security of mobile radio access network equipment in ten neighboring countries aspiring to join the European Union reveals a mixed picture, with only four of the ten countries – Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia – having 100% non-Chinese RAN. According to Strand, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkey and Ukraine have 60-76% of mobile RAN from "non-trusted vendors," while Ukraine is perceived as particularly at risk, with Kyivstar having 100% of its mobile RAN from Chinese vendors, Vodafone standing at 75% and Lifecell at 50%.

  • The Unite labor union has once again called on the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to block the proposed merger between mobile operators Vodafone and Three. Unite's executive head of operations, Sarah Carpenter, said in a statement: "The merger between Three and Vodafone must ring alarm bells for competition authorities. We've seen too often how these mega-mergers promise the earth but deliver little more than job cuts and price hikes, all for the sake of corporate profits." The CMA announced last week it was formally launching Phase 1 of its inquiry into the deal.

  • The latest Rootmetrics review of UK mobile operators' performance, covering the second half of 2023, failed to reach a decision on who rules the roost when it comes to 5G speeds. Three surpassed EE in terms of "providing the strongest combination of 5G availability and 5G performance," said Rootmetrics, though EE somehow managed to "remain the strongest performer during UK-wide testing." A total of 634,942 tests were conducted across the UK on the latest Samsung 5G-enabled handsets during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors, covering 24,179 miles and 788 indoor locations.

  • In other testing news, Switzerland's Salt has landed the top spot in Nperf testing for fixed broadband performance. Download speeds of 714.24 Mbit/s and upload speeds of 551.55 Mbit/s, combined with 10.09ms latency, were enough to bring home the gold medal.

  • Still in Switzerland, Sunrise has negotiated a 1.7% pay rise for its lower-level workers, in line with the country's inflation rate.

  • Telia has hooked up with smart-home products company Danfoss Leanheat for "indoor climate" monitoring of Finnish apartment blocks. A jointly developed offering involves installing Telia sensors in each apartment to collect temperature and humidity data. The sensors are connected to a cloud service that enables the data they collect to be stored and analyzed via a user portal. The data can be combined with weather forecasts, outside temperature data and historical heating consumption information to automatically optimize the building's heating and thereby reduce energy consumption.

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Europe

About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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