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Eurobites: UK lawmakers call for more 'joined-up' digital thinking

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Swiss government ups the broadband ante; South Africa invites spectrum bids; Proximus gets into cyber-insurance.

  • The "horizon scanning" efforts of individual digital regulators in the UK need to be more "joined-up" to avoid gaps and overlaps, according to new report from the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee. An existing body, the Digital Regulation Co-operation Forum (DRCF), is criticized in the report as lacking robust systems to coordinate various regulators' objectives. The committee wants to see the setting up of – guess what? – another committee to oversee digital regulation. You can't have too many committees…

  • The Swiss government is considering setting 80Mbit/s download and 8Mbit/s upload as the new minimum for basic broadband service, hiking up the existing minimum threshold by a factor of eight. As Reuters reports, pandemic homeworking and homeschooling has convinced the government that broadband expectations needed to be raised. This could mean a headache for Swisscom, which currently holds the concession to provide basic service.

  • ICASA, the South African communications regulator, has issued a final call for mobile spectrum bids. Applications will need to be in by close of play on January 31, 2022, with the announcements of qualifying bidders and start of the actual "auction phase" scheduled for February 21, 2022 and March 8, 2022 respectively.

  • Proximus has teamed up with AXA Partners to launch an insurance policy against cybercrime – the first of its kind, according to the Belgian operator. The policy is aimed at consumers, and, for €4.99 (US$5.62) a month, offers round-the-clock help for those who fall victim to digital fraud.

  • Vroon, a Netherlands-based shipping company, has chosen Blue Wireless to supply LTE on-board connectivity for its approximately 120 deep-sea and offshore vessels around the world. Blue Wireless will use Cradlepoint's 4G LTE routers to augment the existing on-board satellite infrastructure.

  • Orange is opening another one of its ODC training centers, in Cairo. The center, the seventh of its kind in Africa and the Middle East, will comprise various elements, including a coding school and a startup accelerator.

  • The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is to take a close look at Microsoft's $16 billion takeover of Nuance Communications, the company that provides the speech recognition engine for Apple's Siri. As Reuters reports, the regulator fears the deal could lessen competition in the UK market. (See Microsoft bags US approval for $19.7B Nuance buy.)

  • Over the weekend the UK's Guardian carried an obituary of John Midwinter, who, says the newspaper, "did much to transform telecommunications from a simple phone-based service in the 1970s to the full broadband and internet network that we have today." In the days before BT even existed, John headed up the GPO's optical communications division, overseeing the installation of the world's first optical fiber system, between Martlesham and Kesgrave, in Suffolk, successfully demonstrating the live transmission of data over approximately 8km of fiber.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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