Eurobites: Virgin Media Offers 'Free' Broadband Boost

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Synamedia scores at Etisalat; Vodafone's Sanches joins Kaltura; African pay-TV market set for subscriber boom.

  • UK cable operator Virgin Media is promising more than half a million of its customers that it will at least double their broadband speeds to 108 Mbit/s, with a select few benefiting from a fivefold speed upgrade, by upgrading them to Virgin's M100 package. Once the M100 upgrade is complete, Virgin says its average download speed will rise to more than 150 Mbit/s. The majority of customers receiving the upgrade are currently on Virgin's M50 package. (See Eurobites: Virgin Media Gets Picky, Loses 53,000 RGUs in Q3.)

  • Battling to gain our attention at the CES show in Las Vegas this week amid the pointless robots and Impossible Pork is UK-based Synamedia, whose Infinite platform has been chosen by E-Vision, a subsidiary of Middle Eastern group Etisalat, for its new multi-country, multi-tenant OTT service. The platform is already live in Egypt and will launch soon in Saudi Arabia.

  • Vodafone veteran Nuno Sanches is joining video technology company Kaltura as its general manager, based in its London office. Prior to his time at Vodafone, where he led development of the operator's cloud-based TV service, Sanches held several roles at ZON Multimédia (now NOS Comunicações) and Portugal Telecom (now Altice Portugal), Portugal's largest pay-TV operators.

  • Africa's pay-TV market is set to grow 54% in terms of subscribers by 2025, from 30.7 million currently to more than 47 million, according to a new forecast from Digital TV Research. Nigeria is tipped to overtake South Africa this year as the continent's largest single market (by subscribers), and is forecast to reach 10 million users by 2025. For more details, see this story on our sister site, Connecting Africa.

  • A number of customers on O2's UK network using the iPhone XR handset are experiencing problems, with some losing their signal for much of the time, according to a BBC report. In the time-honored tradition of IT support, the operator suggested anyone affected should turn their phone off and turn it back on again. The iPhone XR was released in October 2018, but is still available on an O2 contract for £30 (US$39) a month.

  • On a more positive note, O2 is doing its bit for young people's mental health by launching the Instagram-focused #OwnYourFeed campaign, which aims to encourage young people to use social media in ways that are less harmful to their wellbeing, such as unfollowing or muting things that tend to bring them down. This is surely an area where social media's enablers -- the operators -- will be expected to do more as the long-term effects of social media use start to become more apparent.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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