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EE Still Best Mobile Network: RootMetrics

MOBILE operator EE has retained its crown as the UK’s best mobile network in the first half of 2022, according to performance testing house RootMetrics. The network, now part of BT, won or jointly won every category (reliability, availability, speed, data, call quality and SMS) – the 10th time in a row it has swept the board. The survey also found EE’s aggregate median download speed of 66.2mbps was more than twice as fast as its nearest rival.

The report also found encouraging performances for Three, where 5G rollout is pushing speed and performance up, Virgin Media 02 and Vodafone in specific areas.

Read the whole report here.

China and India to dominate full fibre connectivity league table

YOU might think it fairly obvious that the world’s two most populous countries are set to have the most full fibre connections by 2030, at least according to the latest forecast from Point Topic. What might surprise you is the margin by which the two countries are set to lead the rest of the world.

You can read the whole report here but TL:DR – China is predicted to have over 500 million full fibre connections by the end of this decade – that’s nearly 30% of all such connections worldwide. India, though a long way back on 110 million subscribers, will still account for over 8% the planet’s full fibre customers by itself.

And the rest? Well, the US is predicted to hit 80 million by 2030, with Indonesia fourth on 60 million and Brazil completing the BRIC acronym on 42. The UK comes in seventh, although our fibre penetration rate is forecast to be second only to Spain.

BT Vows To Keep Services Running As Strike Looms

BT Group may soon follow rail in experiencing its first strike in three decades after members of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) voted by 91.5% (BT) and 95.8% (Openreach) to strike over pay. EE members will not strike despite a 95% vote in favour after its ballot failed to reach the required turnout.

BT says the proposed pay award represents “the highest pay rise for frontline colleagues in more than 20 years – an average 5% increase and up to 8% for those on the lowest salaries.” The former incumbent also argues that all pay awards must be balanced against its current “once-in-a-generation investment programme”, including the huge capital investment in moving to full fibre and 5G.

But CWU officials say that the offer, payable to staff as an across-the-board increase of £1,500, falls below the current RPI inflation rate, pointing out that the firm posted a £1.3 billion in profit last year, with CEO Philip Jansen’s pay package increasing by 32% rise and over £700m paid out in dividends.

The next move rests with the CWU, which is required to give BT management a minimum notice period for any industrial action.

Introducing the Digital Connectivity Forum

The Digital Connectivity Forum has launched today. The Forum (or DCF) brings together the biggest players in telecoms infrastructure and content creation aligned to a new vision and mission for the UK’s leading advisory body to government on digital connectivity. The Forum will build upon the work of the Broadband Stakeholder Group with a refreshed identity, vision and mission to actively address the transformed connectivity value chain.

With a redefined vision to ensure the UK has an economy and society empowered by seamless digital connectivity, the Forum has been created after extensive discussion among sponsor members and non-members. In late 2021 and early 2022, the Digital Connectivity Forum Executive convened groups of network operators, equipment manufacturers, ISPs, content producers, broadcasters, business groups, government, regulators and representatives of civil society.

The result is a revamped expert body, with an expanded remit proactively to promote seamless connectivity throughout the UK.  We look forward to working across the entire sector value chain and alongside government and regulators. Together with the existing focus on digital infrastructure, the new Digital Connectivity Forum will develop a distinct technology neutral work programme, concentrating on content demand and network design.

Stephanie Liston, Chair of the Digital Connectivity Forum, said:

“The last two decades have seen a dramatic transformation in the UK’s digital eco-system. Consumers and businesses today enjoy a huge number of internet-enabled services delivered over a variety of networks. Working with industry, government and others we are today launching the Digital Connectivity Forum with an expanded and ambitious agenda to meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities of the next 20 years.”

Alex Mather, Head of the Digital Connectivity Forum, said:

“In the 21 years since the Broadband Stakeholder Group was first formed, the UK has gone from dial-up internet to surging gigabit availability, 5G, satellite and other technologies. In 2001, getting broadband Britain up and running was the focus.  Today, the ambition is seamless, universal digital connectivity, across all technologies and industry sectors. The new Digital Connectivity Forum has a crucial role in realising this greater ambition.  We look forward to proactively engaging with government to advise and inform their policy decisions.”

“As the range and diversity of services delivered via the internet has ballooned, the relationship between infrastructure and content has become more central. We want to deliver a new focus on content and distribution while continuing to facilitate discussions on delivery of better infrastructure. New working groups for each will help us to address this challenge.”

Telecoms industry agrees to new cost-of-living plan

The UK’s biggest broadband and mobile operators have agreed to a raft of new commitments to further help customers with the rising cost of living following a government-led summit at No 10 Downing Street.

These include measures such as allowing customers struggling with bills to move to cheaper packages without charge or penalty, or agreeing manageable payment plans, and options to improve existing low cost offers and increasing promotion of existing deals.

The measures, put forward by the government in consultation with the industry, will ensure people struggling with bills due to the economic aftermath of the pandemic and war in Ukraine can continue to make calls, send texts and get online. More information is available here.

New Digital Strategy unveiled

Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy Chris Philp has launched the government’s Digital Strategy aimed at making the UK “a global tech superpower”. Among the document’s commitments are welcome restated goals for gigabit broadband, 4G availability and rural connectivity, although the existing 5G target may need an upgrade. It is interesting to note that the Strategy now defines the 2030 gigabit coverage target as being ‘at least 99%’ – previously this had been described as ‘nationwide’.

Another welcome feature of the Strategy is its focus on investment, although it would have been good to see digital infrastructure alongside start-ups and scale-ups. Digital infrastructure, so vital for the rest of government’s ambitions, needs huge investment ahead of consumer demand.

Alongside the Digital Strategy, the government also published and/or updated a number of other related policy statements. These included the Data Strategy and the Plan for Digital Regulation.

Project Gigabit: Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Public Review

As part of Project Gigabit, Building Digital UK (BDUK) is consulting on a new procurement to extend the coverage of gigabit-capable broadband across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in South West England. BDUK is requesting information and supporting evidence on gigabit-capable broadband infrastructure within the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly intervention area and would like to hear from all relevant stakeholders in relation to the target intervention area found in the Request For Information document. (more…)

Detailed Overview of the Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy Scheme

The government has published ‘Delivering a gigabit-capable UK: Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy‘ which provides an end to end overview of how the government will manage the Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy scheme within Project Gigabit.

By way of background, the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review published in July 2018 laid out a vision for a full fibre and 5G future for the UK highlighting the considerable potential benefits to the UK. One key finding was that the UK was in danger of falling behind on rolling out fibre and 5G connections and proposed as part of a wider range of measures an “outside in” procurement approach, named the Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy. (more…)

Ofcom report ‘Technology Futures’

Ofcom published a report that looks at some of the emerging technologies that could shape the way we live, communicate and entertain ourselves in the future. The report highlights potential future developments such as innovative technologies to help providers roll out better mobile and broadband services by using automation and robots, satellite technology that could be used to provide connections for people who live in hard-to-reach areas, developments in the broadcast sector, such as enhanced, bespoke coverage of sporting events, and new immersive technologies that bring a sensory element to communications services.

More projects to trial 5G broadband and wireless technologies

As part of the £200m 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, the Government has announced a further nine UK technology trials under the 5G Create scheme, reflecting a total investment of £28.3m (comprising £15.2m from the Government and £13.1m from the project partners) to help test various new 5G based broadband and wireless technologies. More than half of the projects in this round will use new OpenRAN technology and support greater diversification in the 5G supply chain. (more…)

Local councils boost funding for Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme for rural areas


The announcement today builds on the earlier government update, setting out that a further 250,000 English homes and businesses are now eligible for boosted funding from 17 English councils for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

More than £22 million of additional funding has been provided by local councils to top-up the values of the vouchers in their areas. The Scheme targets areas where the cost of building new gigabit broadband infrastructure is likely to be too high for commercial operators to cover alone. Since May 2019, vouchers worth up to £3,500 for small and medium sized businesses and up to £1,500 for residential premises have been available to cover these costs in rural areas across the UK.  (more…)

Benefits of high speed internet: BDUK case study research

DCMS has published a BDUK paper on the benefits of gigabit-capable connectivity made possible through the DCMS Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme which ran from March 2018 to May 2020.

High level findings:

  • Gigabit voucher recipients are generally positive about their fibre connection.
  • Residents reported mixed experiences; for some the connection does not make a huge difference while for others it provides confidence in considering future plans. Residents in rural areas reported lower level use, for example daily communications, online finance and entertainment.
  • SMEs are using connections at low levels for general admin in care homes, online retail, event management and outdoor cinema events. SMEs reported higher level use and include industries such as gaming, TV and film, and digital content.

(more…)

Cross sector comparisons

The UK Regulators Network (UKRN), regulators in telecoms, water, energy and banking have partnered to compare how customers rate the biggest companies who provide services people rely on every day. The level of customer satisfaction in telecoms varies between 79% to 96%. The scorecards also capture some metrics on perceptions of value for money. Between 82% and 97% of customers in telecoms are satisfied with the value for money they receive from their supplier. Complaints across mobile, landline and broadband complaints are below 1%. (more…)

Ofcom’s proposals for stimulating greater investment in fibre broadband

Ofcom has published its first combined five-year review of Wholesale Fixed Telecoms regulation which maps out how it will regulate Openreach between April 2021 and March 2026 for both the residential and businesses connectivity markets (previously the regulator separately assessed the Wholesale Local Access Market Review of residential, and the Business Connectivity Market Review).

Ofcom’s four-point plan aims to support competitive investment in fibre networks and competition in gigabit capable services, ensuring world class broadband services are available to as many people and businesses as possible. (more…)