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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Speiser

Research Round-up June 2023

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

UK Plus' monthly round-up from the UK telecoms sector, including ISP news, government, and Ofcom updates

Point Topic turns 25 this year and CEO Oliver Johnson, marked the event with an insightful piece on The Evolution of European Broadband Mapping, demonstrating why Point Topic has been an Internet and broadband mapping leader for over two decades.

Figure 1: FTTP Coverage in Europe, 2021, at NUTS3-level.  Source: Expert Intelligence/Point Topic
Figure 1: FTTP Coverage in Europe, 2021, at NUTS3-level. Source: Expert Intelligence/Point Topic

Other key telecoms sector news items for the month can be found below.

BT Group News

1 June – Openreach published NGA2012/23 briefing to inform CPs about the launch of a trial in which, for a charge, Openreach will install ONTs with a 2.5Gb interface for certain FTTP bandwidths as specified by CPs. On 1 July 2023 it will begin a 12-month trial to allow CPs to specify that 2.5Gb ONTs should be installed by default instead of the standard 1Gb ONT for specified FTTP downstream bandwidths lower than 1Gb. Each CP participating in the trial can select speed tiers, no lower than 55Mb downstream, for which it wants all future end customer connections to be delivered using a 2.5Gb ONT, rather than the standard 1Gb ONT that otherwise applies to all orders for FTTP connections at speed tiers up to and including 1Gb.

7 June – Q1 2023 Openreach progress update on Wales FTTP build contract.

8 June – EE adds over 400 new small cells to increase 4G capacity and reduce congestion in the busiest areas, bringing total EE small cell sites to 611 nationwide.

15 June – BT Group’s Digital Unit is accelerating the Group’s cloud transformation with the successful completion of an assessment conducted by ProjectiveGroup, covering all key aspects of managing data for increased value and reduced risk. The assessment was based on the EDM Council’s Cloud Data Management Capabilities (CDMC) Framework, a comprehensive set of industry standard guidelines, standards and best practices for organisations to move their data into cloud, multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud ecosystems.

19 June – Openreach published NGA2014/23 FTTP Advanced Pilot Extension that will see the extension to the term of the FTTP Advanced Pilot. The current published end date of 30 June 2023 will be extended to 31 December 2023. This was communicated to CPs at the CFPCG (Copper and Fibre Product and Commercial Group) on 14 June 2023.

20 June – BT's new home phone service, Digital Voice, to be rolled out across the East Midlands.

21 June – GEN035/23 Openreach Industry consultation - How we propose to exit the 103 priority exchanges by 2030.

22 June – BT has secured a major new networks contract with the Army – paving the way for the rollout of smart bases across the UK. The company’s Business unit has won the five-year contract with the British Army to deliver a managed Wi-Fi service, referred to as MOD Wi-Fi. The deal will see BT provide managed secure Wi-Fi across 162 new UK army sites, with the future potential to expand the contract to other Defence customers, including the RAF and Royal Navy. The new contract will expand on the existing 200 Ministry of Defence (MoD) sites that BT’s Defence team currently manage in the UK, Cyprus and Germany, following over a decade of partnering with the MoD for its Wi-Fi network requirements.

27 June – BT Group announced that it will provide refreshed external KPIs and historical pro forma disclosures. Following the formation of Business, on 1 April 2023, BT has refreshed its KPI disclosures to present this business on a pro forma basis. In light of this, and the formation of Digital and Networks, BT has also adjusted the methodologies used to allocate shared fixed costs across its CFUs to more closely align them to their actual consumption. Finally, BT has also refreshed its CFU financial and operational KPIs to better align them with the internal metrics used to manage each unit.

27 June – Lyca Mobile, the world’s largest mobile virtual network operator, announced it is partnering with BT Wholesale – giving customers access to EE’s network, as it targets a new phase of growth in the UK. The move is part of Lyca Mobile’s strategy to build on its heritage of delivering reliable, low-cost international calling to target a broader value-seeking market by satisfying customer demand for cost-effective mobile connectivity built around three priorities: value, service and reliability.

27 June –Openreach’s NGA2015/23 1Gbit/s+ Pilot Extension briefing published to inform all CPs about an extension to the end date of the 1Gbit/s+ Pilot to 30 September 2023. Openreach announced an extension to the Pilot for GEA-FTTP speeds above 1Gbit/s. The current published end date of 31 July 2023 will be extended to 30 September 2023. The Pilot locations have been expanded to Swansea and Ipswich exchanges, as well as various exchanges in Northern Ireland. We reserve the right to expand the number of Pilot locations further to scale-up operations and supply chain in preparation for launch.

29 June – BT announced a partnership with HPE to offer customers a new managed service powered by HPE Aruba Networking delivering improved performance, flexibility and control of local area networks (LANs). It combines BT’s global reach and extensive experience in the design, deployment and management of in-building wired and wireless connectivity with the latest HPE Aruba Networking LAN solutions.

29 June – Openreach £5.4m full fibre network build in Dunfermline, has reached 18k homes and businesses – more than 60% of premises in the city. However, thousands of residents have yet to upgrade, with less than 27% of households adopting the service where it’s available, lagging behind the UK average of 30%.

Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) News

19 June – Nokia announced that it has won a new three-year deal with Virgin Media O2 to supply Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment from its market-leading AirScale portfolio, continuing the long-standing partnership that exists between the two companies. Nokia will supply Virgin Media O2 with its latest generation of Habrok massive MIMO radios and AirScale Baseband and Interleaved Passive Active Antennas (IPAA), both powered by its new energy-efficient generation of ReefShark System-on-Chip (SoC) technology. This will bring enhanced 5G performance to O2 customers, while increasing energy efficiency. The equipment uses 30 percent less energy and provides a 40 percent reduction in weight and volume, helping minimize the impact on site infrastructure and accelerating network deployment.

CityFibre (CF) News

22 June – CityFibre announced that it has now been granted wayleaves to connect over 1m local authority and housing association premises.

Independent Operators (AltNets) News

1 June – Opensignal report that 53% of UK Mobile Users See Average Downloads Below 30Mbps.

2 June – Cuckoo (Giganet) withdraws UK FTTC Openreach based products due to cost.

6 June – Digital Infrastructure supported by ISP BeFibre announced that it is well on its way to rolling out to a fully designed base of 400k premises, with over 100k now ready for connection and also announced that they have appointed a new CEO, Paul Doyle.

6 June – Shell has announced it will be selling both Shell Energy and Shell Energy Broadband after it carried out a review of their retail division in January 2023.

8 June – Zzoomm announced the connection of their first customers in Tadcaster, Yorkshire. This comes a week after announcing their first customer in Richmond, Yorkshire as Zzoomm continue to successfully expand their full fibre broadband network across the county. Followed by the announcement of the first connected customers in Congleton, Cheshire on 12 June, and parts of Bewdley, Worcestershire on 14 June. On 30 June, it announced that it had reached the 150k premises ready for service milestone.

8 June – Connectus Business Solutions has secured new funding with Time Finance – in a partnership which will help accelerate its growth. Connectus will use Time Finance’s revolving credit facility to help fund an “exciting new phase” of its development that is set to include expansion, additional staff hires and new acquisitions.

8 June – Gigaclear announced that it had secured equity investment up to £420m from Equitix to support its long-term plan to provide full fibre broadband service to more than a million premises by 2027. On 28 June, Gigaclear announced that work had begun to extend its network to more than 16k homes and businesses in Yorkshire.

12 June – KCOM announced it has expanded its network into East Cottingwith in East Yorkshire.

13 June – Home Telecom signs agreement with F&W Networks to resell its gigabit-capable FTTP services.

14 June – BDUK change stalls one of B4RN’s rural FTTP builds in Cumbria.

16 June – Hyperoptic announced it is to cut around 110 jobs - mostly engineers - as build slows.

27 June – County Broadband announced that it has now connected 200 remote homes and businesses on the outskirts of villages across the East of England as part of its multi-million-pound investment in its Bespoke Connections Team.

27 June – Grain announced that it has launched services in Hull to finally rival the incumbent in the area, KCOM. Grain’s network covers around 20k premises.

Other News

6 June – Project Gigabit Northern Ireland launched its public review request for information running until 6 July, after the outcome of the Open Market Review (OMR) in September 2022. The OMR indicated that planned commercial coverage for gigabit-capable broadband would reach approximately 879,605 premises, and would therefore leave the remaining 85,504 premises in Northern Ireland without access to gigabit-capable broadband.

6 June – OneWeb, the global low Earth orbit (LEO) communications network, announces today it is launching its “Try Before You Buy” maritime service. The service will take bookings from maritime users who want to benefit from OneWeb’s 100mbps+ enterprise-grade flexible connectivity packages at sea.

7 June – Government appoints UK’s first Rural Connectivity Champion.

8 June – Generative AI – which includes tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney – has gone from being a relatively unknown technology to a topic that dominates daily headlines across the globe. Benedict Dellot, Anna-Sophie Harling and Jessica Rose Smith from Ofcom’s Technology Policy and Online Safety Policy Development teams discussed how Ofcom is responding to these developments.

12 June – Starlink expands UK coverage to include all of remote Shetland Islands.

14 June – Vodafone and CK Hutchison Group Telecom Holdings Limited (“CKHGT), have entered into binding agreements in relation to a combination of their UK telecommunication businesses, respectively Vodafone UK (“Vodafone UK”) and Three UK (“Three UK”) (the “Transaction”). Vodafone will own 51% of the combined business (“MergeCo”) and CKHGT 49%.

14 June – The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology announced £54 million boost to develop secure and trustworthy AI research.

14 June – Eutelsat exits the retail satellite broadband ISP business.

23 June – Ofcom and the UK’s biggest telecoms companies announced they have come together to sign a new pledge, committing to help get more women build technology careers across the industry.

27 June – Since Openreach’s independence was established in 2018 – which saw it become a distinct company with its own staff, management, purpose and strategy within BT Group – Ofcom have been closely monitoring its compliance within this framework. Ofcom published its latest monitoring report on Openreach’s independence.

30 June – The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology announced Online Safety Bill bolstered to better protect children and empower adults.

30 June – The Scottish Government announced that its R100 FTTP build programme has topped 24k premises.

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