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Eurobites: Stop the fiber blather, Ofcom tells providers

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: TalkTalk's fighting talk on mid-contract price rises; OneWeb signs Libyan connectivity deal; Virgin Media has its knuckles rapped.

Paul Rainford

December 13, 2023

4 Min Read
'Blah, blah, blah' written on wall
(Source: Krasimira Nevenova/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • In response to what it says is considerable confusion on the part of consumers, UK communications regulator Ofcom is demanding greater clarity from broadband providers on the different types of fiber-based services they offer. According to the regulator, only 46% of customers who reported being on full-fiber broadband were living in areas where it is actually available. In guidance issued to providers, Ofcom says that at point of sale consumers should be provided with a short description of the underlying technology powering the service being offered, "using one or two terms that are clear and unambiguous, such as 'cable', 'full-fibre', 'copper' or 'part-fibre'," cautioning that the "use of the word 'fibre' on its own for describing the underlying technology is ambiguous." Providers are being given nine months to comply with the new regulations.

  • In related news, the CEO of UK broadband provider TalkTalk has come out fighting in response to yesterday's announcement by Ofcom that it was proposing to ban inflation-linked, mid-contract price rises. Tristia Harrison points out that the introduction of inflation-linked price rises in 2021 was a "direct result" of Ofcom's own decision to raise wholesale prices in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). "If Ofcom is to push ahead with tying industry's hands on CPI indexed price inflation, we urge them to urgently review similar CPI inflation for BT Openreach at a wholesale level," argues Harrison. "The link between the two is obvious; is essential for protecting both consumers and competition, and needs addressing."

  • Eutelsat OneWeb has signed a multi-million-dollar distribution agreement with Rawafed Libya for the delivery of satellite-based connectivity. OneWeb will provide Rawafed with exclusive access to its low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, delivering full connectivity over Libya from early 2024. The deal should be of particular benefit to its customers in the oil and gas, cellular backhaul and humanitarian sectors, says Rawafed.

  • Swisscom has chosen Netcracker's Network Domain Orchestration (NDO) software to help upgrade its new terabit IP transport aggregation network, Titan. According to the US-based vendor, the deal forms part of a large-scale OSS transformation program at Swisscom. Netcracker promises, among other benefits, "a single source of truth." Steady, guys.

  • UK cable operator Virgin Media has had its knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for what was judged to be the misleading nature of its broadband promotion, in particular the phrase "Get the fastest WiFi Guarantee of any major provider," which appeared on its website. Vodafone argued that consumers would interpret this as meaning Virgin offered the fastest Wi-Fi, period, when what it actually meant was that customers on the WiFi Max package would be sent three signal-boosting Wi-Fi pods if they did not obtain download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s in each room, whereas other broadband providers offered similar guarantees but they related to speeds of less than 30 Mbit/s. Virgin was told the ad must not appear again in its current, offending form.

  • But it's not all doom and gloom for Team Virgin; the first phase of Virgin's fiber rollout in the town of Brentwood, Essex, has now been completed, offering 19,000 homes and businesses the chance to sign up for the (up to) 1,130Mbit/s broadband service should they so desire. The project was made possible by a recent investment by Nexfibre, the joint venture between InfraVia Capital Partners and Virgin Media O2's shareholders, Liberty Global and Telefónica.

  • Following the massive cyberattack on Tuesday that basically put it out of action, Ukrainian operator Kyivstar has revealed that it has partially restored its fixed-line services. It warns, however, that the full restoration of services will be a gradual process.

  • Speaking of which, the UK's Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy has produced a report claiming that UK is very vulnerable to a "catastrophic" ransomware attack and criticizing the progress-reporting of the UK's National Cyber Strategy. "If the UK is to avoid being held hostage to fortune," thunders the report, "it is vital that ransomware becomes a more pressing political priority, and that more resources are devoted to tackling this pernicious threat to the UK's national security."

  • Slovenia's Kontron is to make more energy-efficiency information available on its broadband access hardware, including details of the products' energy consumption and test methodologies. In 2022 Kontron conducted a survey which found that five out of six operators preferred vendors to use energy-efficiency labels.

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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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