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Eurobites: BT's Allera demands net neutrality rethink

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Deutsche Telekom combines on EVs, again; Apple plans European chip center; how to regulate online services; and more.

  • Can net neutrality be made to work for network operators? That's the question being posed by BT's Marc Allera, who uses a personal blog to declare that now is the time to "explore what the future [of network neutrality] should look like." According to Allera, the coronavirus pandemic has shown that there are "very good reasons to enable preferential access to certain platforms." BT's Lockdown Learning support program included the zero-rating of various educational websites, allowing children from disadvantaged families to engage with online learning. This week children in England have returned to school, and because of that BT is now reviewing that zero-rating policy. "The problem we face is," writes Allera, "allowing access for free to certain websites is incompatible with current net neutrality arrangements." He calls on the government to "adjust" net neutrality rules, a move which would, he says, enable BT to "ensure content is presented as the creators intended, without disruption to other parts of the net."

  • Deutsche Telekom has its foot to the floor when it comes to electric vehicle charging technology. Yesterday it announced a partnership with Vattenfall on a Germany-wide buildout of a charging infrastructure for EVs; today it's trumpeting something similar with Envision Digital. The two companies have come up with a charging system for EVs which enables vehicle owners to charge their cars quickly at private parking spaces. The charger, says Deutsche Telekom, is no bigger than a briefcase, can easily be attached to a wall and charges the car five times faster than a conventional power socket.

  • Apple has revealed plans to establish a European Center for Chip Design in Munich, Germany. As 9to5Mac reports, the facility forms part of Apple's long-term strategy of moving away from a reliance on silicon from Qualcomm for its devices.

  • Cambridge Broadband Networks Group has welcomed a report from the GSMA extolling the virtues of millimeter wave for 5G-based fixed wireless access networks. "With 3.5GHz being more suited to mobile access, mmWave considerably improves the business case for FWA by offloading capacity demands," said William Webb, CBNG's chief technology officer, in a statement.

  • The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF), a UK talking shop comprising communications regulator Ofcom, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), has outlined its priorities for a more fruitful approach to the regulation of online services. Strands being considered are: algorithms, and the misuse thereof; the development of "joined-up" regulatory approaches; and the more efficient sharing of expertise.

  • Ofcom has also issued a guide to its latest spectrum auction, which is being launched this week. Bids are being invited for two different bands: 80MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band, and 120MHz of spectrum in the 3.6-3.8GHz band. EE, Hutchison 3G UK, Telefónica UK and Vodafone will all be submitting bids. The reserve price for each 700MHz individual frequency lot is £1 million (US$1.38 million), and there are four lots of spectrum (each of 10MHz). The reserve for each 700MHz paired frequency lot is £100 million ($138.7 million) and there are six lots of spectrum (each of 2x5MHz). The reserve price for each 3.6GHz lot is £20 million ($27.7 million) and there are 24 lots of spectrum (each of 5MHz).

  • Preston, the city considered by many the jewel in Lancashire's crown, is the latest beneficiary of CityFibre's fiber rollout. Once the £30 million ($41.6 million) project is complete, nearly every home and business in the city will have access to full-fiber broadband, says the company.

  • Eir has announced itself as the first Irish telco to issue a Gender Pay Gap report, which identifies the difference in the hourly wage of men and women, irrespective of their job, qualifications, experience or working pattern. Eir's gender pay gap stood at 11.2% for 2020, which is 2.7% below the national average – though the operator wants to shrink it further in the coming years. The fact that Eir is led by a woman, Carolan Lennon, should help expedite the matter.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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