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Eurobites: BT reassures UK users over network resilience

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: French operators could get tough with bandwidth-guzzlers; Proximus and Salt do their bit for the COVID-19 fight; ETSI's hackfest show goes on.

  • Is COVID-19 giving you the collywobbles? Just keep calm because there's plenty of network capacity that will enable you to work from home. That's the message from BT's group chief technology officer, Howard Watson, who has filmed himself sending out a message of reassurance to those faced with the prospect of eschewing the commute to the office in favor of working from their kitchen table. In the video, Watson points out that peak time for BT, in terms of data traffic, usually falls between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., and that daytime traffic constitutes only around a quarter of that peak, so those joining the remote-worker army should not worry about networks not being able to take the strain. "Our core networks and access networks will be able to cope," says Watson in the video (possibly with his fingers crossed behind his back).

  • It's a slightly different story from France, where the head of the country's telecom lobby group, FFT, has warned that operators will have to exercise greater discipline in the way that bandwidth is allocated as France prepares for a huge increase in the number of people of working from home because of the coronavirus. As Reuters reports, FFT head Arthur Dreyfuss said: "We are entering an era of collective social discipline, which must be accompanied by digital discipline on the part of the telecom operators." This could translate into restricted access to the likes of Netflix and Facebook – an industry source tells Reuters that on an average evening, YouTube, Netflix and Facebook account for around 80% of the total bandwidth provided by France's four main operators.

  • Meanwhile, European operators are doing their bit to help people cope with ramifications of COVID-19. Belgium's Proximus has removed data caps, closed its retail outlets and "will limit interventions at the customers' premises to the essential activities of maintaining its telecommunications services." Similarly, Switzerland's Salt says it will support its business customers who decide to work from home by providing them with unlimited mobile Internet, free of charge, until the end of May.

  • Industry specifications body ETSI says its OSM (Open Source MANO) group has managed to successfully complete its latest hackfest remotely: The event had originally been scheduled for an in-person gathering in Madrid. "With more than 20 hours of presentations, hands-on sessions and demos led by key contributors from the OSM community, the Hackfest gathered over 100 highly motivated participants, who were able to complete hands on sessions remotely on a shared lab environment provided by ETSI, through their Hub for Validation and Interoperability (HIVE)," notes ETSI in this announcement.

  • Portuguese communications regulator Anacom has suspended the migration of the country's DTT network – which was supposed to happen this week – due to the effects of the coronavirus. The process will be resumed once the conditions associated with the pandemic permit.

  • Telenor has switched on what it says is the first commercial 5G network in Norway, in the city of Trondheim. Ericsson got the radio access network gig, and "enhanced" mobile broadband services are being delivered on the 3.6GHz band.

  • Further from home, Ericsson has expanded its managed services partnership with Oman's Omantel. The deal includes network functions virtualization and the deployment of automation platforms intended to increase network efficiency.

  • Telefónica UK (O2) has become the exclusive UK mobile network distributor of Disney+, the OTT video streaming service that is due to launch in the UK on March 24. New and upgrading postpaid customers will be able to get six months of Disney+ at no extra cost across ten devices.

  • Sigfox, the France-based IoT network operator, has teamed up with Energo Capital, a venture capital company operating across Russia and the Baltics, to launch Sigfox's first network in the Russian Federation. Sigfox Russia will use "ultra-long coverage" basestations to create a nationwide network covering more than 85% of the population, large industrial sites, transport hubs and corridors.

  • British BSS solution specialist Cerillion has landed a deal with major African tech and media company Ignition Group to supply an online charging system for the company's MVNE (mobile virtual network enabler) business unit, MVN-X. For more details, see this announcement.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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