Broadband services

Eurobites: Ofcom Closes In On Openreach

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia wins big in Mexico; Sky buys content creator; Microsoft opens machine-learning lab in Munich.

  • "Bad Month for BT" continues today with the announcement by regulator Ofcom that it intends to cap the UK incumbent's wholesale broadband charges levied by Openreach , BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s network access unit. The operator plans to reduce the wholesale cost of Openreach's "40/10" (40 Mbit/s download, 10 Mbit/s upload) broadband package from the current level of 88.80 (US$110.76) per year to 52.77 ($65.83) in 2020/21. However, Ofcom is not proposing to cap Openreach's wholesale charges on its higher-speed options, including those running on its planned new G.fast network. Ofcom's thinking is that regulating the price of the mid-range and most popular package will help BT's rivals compete on a more level playing field. The regulator also hopes the measures will provide an incentive for BT's rivals to invest in their own "ultrafast" networks in the long term.

    And to further tighten the screw on Openreach, Ofcom is proposing a set of tougher quality-of-service standards on the company, among them the requirement to complete 93% of fault repairs within one to two working days of being notified (compared with 80% currently) and provide an appointment for 90% of new line installations within ten working days of being notified (compared to 80% within 12 days currently). (See Eurobites: BT 'Fesses Up to Compensation-Fiddling on Ethernet Services and Eurobites: Brits In Line for Cashback Over Fixed-Line Fails.)

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has landed a fat fajita of a contract in Mexico for a new carrier, Altan Redes. In what is the Finnish vendor's largest ever contract win in Latin America, Nokia will design, build and operate a new nationwide LTE network over the 700MHz band. The contract forms part of the Red Compartida (or Shared Network) project, a public-private partnership that is expected to generate a total investment of $7 billion over nine years.

  • Sky , the UK-based pay-TV giant, is hoping its acquisition of social content producer Diagonal View will help it engage better with a younger and more digitally savvy audience. Diagonal View's content, it says here, ranges from quantum physics to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. We know which one we'll be watching.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is to open its latest IoT & AI Insider Lab this month, in Munich, offering companies the chance to access Microsoft technology and its boffins' expertise in machine learning, AI and the cloud. Two other such labs are already up and running, one in Shenzhen, China and the other in Redmond, Wash.

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) says its new range of 600MHz products will be ready for commercial deployment in North America by the third quarter of 2017. US operators will receive access to the spectrum for wireless broadband services following the FCC's completion of the final phase on its incentive auction. Separately, the "Cicscosson" partnership of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Ericsson has secured its first contract in Brazil, supplying and installing IP routers for Nextel. (See Cisco + Ericsson: From Soup to Nuts.)

    Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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