Eurobites: UK's Labour Party commits to standardizing, mandating broadband 'social' tariffs

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: future of Orange Bank uncertain; Deutsche Telekom saves energy; what consumers want from 5G.

  • The UK's opposition Labour Party has promised to mandate an industry-wide "social" (or discounted) tariff for low-income families should it get into power at the next General Election. As the Guardian reports, several broadband providers already provide social packages at a range of monthly prices but not all of them do, and take-up of what is on offer has been very low. Labour also says it will empower communications regulator Ofcom to increase consumer protections against mid-contract price rises and early termination penalties, as well as taking action on the raising of wholesale broadband prices in line with inflation.

  • The future of Orange's loss-making banking arm looks like it is still in the balance after a spokesperson refused to deny a report in French newspaper Les Echos that the telco was planning to offload it. As Reuters reports, Orange said it was "considering all opportunities to develop Orange Bank's activities and support its growth." (See Orange fails to land partner for ailing bank business.)

  • Deutsche Telekom says it plans to reduce its energy use by at least 10% by 2024 through the shutting down of "various legacy systems." The operator has also announced that by 2025 half of its electricity requirement will be covered by power purchase agreements (PPAs), which are direct purchase agreements with renewable energy producers.

  • A new Ericsson report into where 5G stands with consumers predicts that, among things, at least 30% of smartphone users intend to take up a 5G subscription within the next two years. But it also warns that the next, less geeky wave of 5G users have high expectations of 5G performance, especially when it comes to network coverage, compared with the early adopters, who were more concerned about what whizzy new applications 5G could facilitate.

  • Openreach, the semi-autonomous network access arm of UK incumbent operator BT, has announced a further 32 exchanges that will stop selling legacy analogue services to encourage the adoption of new digital services over a full-fiber connection. This latest roll-call brings the total number of locations switching to digital-only to 672, covering a total of around 5.9 million premises.

  • Neos Networks, the UK business connectivity provider, has completed its full-fiber network in the Scottish city of Aberdeen. The dark fiber network stretches for 275km and connects 192 public sector buildings, as well as being within reach of 44,000 homes and 1,700 business premises. The project is the result of a combined regional investment of £10.5 million (US$11.7 million), which included contributions from the UK and Scottish governments.

  • Sky's content creation arm, Sky Studios, has announced a multi-year deal with Tortoise Media, which will see Sky adapt Tortoise Media's podcasts into TV programs. Since 2019, Tortoise Media has produced a number of successful podcast series such as Sweet Bobby and Hoaxed.

  • Telia has appointed Mathias Berg as its SVP and head of TV & Media, succeeding Casten Almqvist, who is leaving the company. Berg is currently a senior executive at TV4 Media, a Telia subsidiary since 2019.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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