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Eurobites: Too many in UK still struggling to afford connectivity – Ofcom

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Private 5G? Ericsson and Three are milking it; Sterlite buys Clearcomm; EE gets an A* from RootMetrics.

Paul Rainford

July 22, 2021

3 Min Read
Eurobites: Too many in UK still struggling to afford connectivity – Ofcom

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Private 5G? Ericsson and Three are milking it; Sterlite buys Clearcomm; EE gets an A* from RootMetrics.Companies still need to do more to help people on low incomes afford decent mobile and fixed-line connectivity, according to new research from Ofcom, the UK communications regulator. Although the cost of mobile and broadband services has fallen in real terms since 2015, around 2 million UK homes struggle to afford Internet access, says Ofcom. While acknowledging that several communications providers have launched cheaper tariffs to help the hard-up stay connected during the coronavirus pandemic, Ofcom accuses these same providers of not promoting these cheaper tariffs well enough, pointing out that only 40,000 households have signed up for them. This represents around 0.15% of all UK homes – which is only 1% of those in receipt of out-of-work benefits.Ericsson and Three have combined on a private 5G network at Glanbia's dairy processing plant in County Kilkenny, Ireland, with Ericsson supplying its Radio Dot System and Three the 5G spectrum. Glanbia, which was one of the participants in the EU-funded Horizon 2020 5G project, will trial a number of applications, augmented reality and virtual reality among them. Ericsson and Three Ireland launched 5G together in September 2020, initially rolling out the technology to 315 sites and achieving 35% population coverage.Sterlite Technologies (STL) is to acquire Clearcomm, which is described as a UK-based network integration company. The £15.5 million (US$21.3 million) deal, says STL, complements data center interconnect capabilities in Europe with FTTx and network integration chops creating, inevitably, "a unique end-to-end proposition."UK mobile operator EE has come up smelling of roses in the latest RootMetrics network test, achieving an aggregate median download speed of 58.8 Mbit/s – more than twice as fast, it claims, than any of its rivals. In the words of the report, "EE delivered consistently fast speeds and excellent reliability, and it provided the strongest combination of widespread Everyday 5G availability plus fast 5G speeds." (See Eurobites: EE spreads the 5G love, wins at gaming and BT's 5G rollout is slow-going, but it seems ahead of its rivals.)Orange has expressed an interest in participating in the partial privatization of Ethiopia's Ethio Telecom, despite declining to bid for an operating license in the country in May. As Telecoms.com – a sister company to Light Reading – reports, the announcement came in a Twitter post from Henok Teferra Shawl, Ethiopia's ambassador to France.CityFibre, one of the UK's burgeoning band of alternative network providers, has chosen a contractor for its forthcoming £50 million ($68.7 million) fiber rollout in the city of Norwich. Telec Networks has got the nod, and CityFibre says it will use "a range of construction methods" on the job, which starts in September.Colt Technology Services has launched SD WAN Remote Access, which it describes as "a feature designed to meet the secure remote access needs of its SD WAN customers, as they move towards a hybrid way of working." SD WAN Remote Access is based on technology from Versa and offers users secure access to the data and applications they need regardless of their physical location.— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

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