Eurobites: BT pauses 'Digital Voice' rollout after customer backlash

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia stands accused of helping Russia spy on its enemies; Vestager's cool with the cloud; SES adds a third bird from Thales.

  • BT has decided to pause its rollout of Digital Voice – which sees users connecting their handset to a broadband router rather than a traditional phone socket – after admitting that it had gone, in the contrite words of CEO Marc Allera, "too early, before many customers – particularly those who rely more heavily on landlines – understood why this change is necessary and what they needed to do." The key issue for many is that such router-reliant phones don't work in a power cut, which means that if they don't have mobile coverage they would be unable to make any calls, not even to the emergency services. Back in 2021, David Mitchell, the high-profile comedian and actor, used his column in the Guardian to lambast BT for what he considered its dishonest presentation of something that was basically an inconvenience for most of its customers as something akin to one small step for mankind. "What I can't stand," wrote Mitchell, "however, is the way BT is presenting [the program] to customers. I am aware of this because my landline was moved over to Digital Voice last week. This lamentable development was heralded by an email entitled 'You're good to go'. The message began by announcing, with eye-watering self-importance: 'It's the moment you've been waiting for' … This vacuous positivity belies a deep-seated contempt for the customer. BT is attempting to extort gratitude from the people on whom this system, for which they did not ask, is being imposed." Ouch.

  • Ericsson may have had its Isis-related troubles, but now it's Nokia's turn to face the music, ethics-wise. In the New York Times the Finnish vendor has been accused of providing equipment and services to the Russian government that essentially allows its SORM surveillance system to link up with the network of operator MTS. As the New York Times points out, SORM has been used to track supporters of the Russian opposition leader, Aleksei Navalny, who has just been sentenced to nine years in a labor camp after what was widely seen as a sham show trial. Investigators also alleged had intercepted the phone calls of another opponent of the Kremlin, who was later assassinated. In a statement, Nokia described the article as "misleading," stating that "Nokia does not manufacture, install or service SORM equipment or systems."

  • Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission's antitrust chief, says that she and her minions have "no concerns" about the growing market clout of public cloud giants such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft. As Reuters reports, she is confident that the EU's Gaia-X cloud initiative will boost competition in the sector.

  • Luxembourg-based SES has added a third satellite from Thales Alenia Space to extend its connectivity services across Europe, Africa and Asia. The SES-26, which uses both Ku-band and C-band frequencies, will replace SES's NSS-12 satellite at 57 degrees East, one of SES's longest-held and most valuable orbital positions.

  • Telefónica has gone 5G use-case crazy in the Spanish city of Malaga, successfully completing eight new applications of the technology for the Malaga Police and the University of Malaga in sectors such as security, smart cities and education. In the case of the police, 5G was used to explore ways of achieving more efficient "urban mobility management," such as video transmissions with the police control center.

  • South Africa has postponed the switch-off of its analogue TV system from March 31 to June 30, 2022, to allow sufficient time to complete installations of set-top boxes for households who have registered for the process.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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