Bad news for UK broadband customers, a move towards a safer internet in Europe and news of a revived M&A deal for Telenor are at the top of today’s news pile.
BT has faced severe criticism for its decision to increase consumer broadband and telephone line prices by an inflation-dampening average 9.3%, particularly at a time when UK households are expecting domestic bills (particularly for utilities) to rise in 2022 have to. While BT notes that prices for “financially vulnerable customers on BT Home Essentials, BT Home Phone Saver and BT Basic” will not change, and tries to justify the move with a list of reasons why it needs to charge more ( retaining investor dividends made no mention), the operator has drawn criticism for the hike in the UK media, with one national newspaper (The Telegraph) calling the price hikes a “labour tax” and estimating that 14 million customers will see their bills reduced as a result will increase at the end of March. BT is not alone – VodafoneUK increases its broadband prices by 9.3% and TalkTalk by 9.1%.
More good news for BT, its mobile division, EE, is by far the best performing mobile operator in the UK based on extensive testing conducted by RootMetrics (now owned by Ookla) in the second half of 2021. In this announcement you will find all the results and statistics that will be shared.
The European Parliament has agreed to this Digital Services Act which aims to “tackle illegal content, ensure platforms are held accountable for their algorithms, and improve content moderation”. Danish MEP Christel Schaldemose commented: “Today’s vote shows that MEPs and EU citizens want ambitious, future-proof digital regulation. A lot has changed in the 20 years since the E-Commerce Directive was passed. Online platforms are becoming more and more important in our daily lives and bring new opportunities, but also new risks. It is our duty to ensure that what is illegal offline is illegal online. We need to make sure we introduce digital rules for the benefit of consumers and citizens. Now we can start negotiations with the Council and I believe we will be able to meet those issues.” You can read the European Parliament’s announcement here and read this EurActive article for more details on late changes to the law text.
TelenorThe sale of its operating unit in Myanmar to Lebanese firm M1 Group is back underway after the country’s ruling military junta gave its blessing to the sale after M1 has a local partner on board as part of the deal. In July 2021, Telenor agreed to exit the market due to an increasing number of restrictions and agreed to sell its Myanmar operations to M1 for US$105 million, but the deal was allegedly blocked by the military in September because there was no local involvement. Now Reuters is reporting that the junta is ready to approve the deal after M1 partnered with local firm Shwe Byain Phyu Group. Earlier this week, Telenor announced an agreement to sell its 51 percent stake in Digital Money Myanmar (aka Wave Money) to Yoma MFS Holdings for $53 million. (See Telenor Group Agrees to Sell Its Interest in Wave Money to Yoma Strategic.)
SoftBank raises 30 billion Japanese yen (US$264 million) through new bond issuance to develop its “High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) business aimed at deploying large-scale and stable telecom networks from the stratosphere.” SoftBank highlighted its HAPS plans as it outlined the major challenges the communications sector faces as it transitions “beyond 5G” and into the 6G era.
The English cricket team may have lost miserably and miserably (once again) to Australia in the biannual Ashes series of friendly matches, but the Brits and Australians remain staunch friends and allies. Hence today’s announcement that the two countries will work together in a cyber and critical technology partnership to “stop cyberattacks before they happen.” Full details have not yet been released, but the underlying intent is to “increase deterrence by increasing the cost of hostile state activity in cyberspace, including through strategic coordination of our cyber sanctions regimes.” In other words, try Whether it’s from/with the UK or Australia, both countries will retaliate against the attackers with coordinated technological responses, deterrents, sanctions and penalties Standards to ensure global standards meet our security priorities, commercial interests and reflect our values”. The agreement is part of the newly formed AUKUS partnership of Australia, UK and US in an alliance to counter aggressive Chinese expansionism in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It will “focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional underwater capabilities.”
Here is another example of the shamelessness and arrogance of US “big tech” companies: They have fought regulation for years, trying to prevent the passing of laws that would limit their overwhelming power. However, now that both Democrats and Republicans alike are up against Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, etc. in a bilateral determination to clip their wings, things are beginning to move and antitrust legislation is finally being worked out. In response to something that has already taken an unimaginable amount of time, the giants of Silicon Valley and their ilk, together the powerful phalanx of their very well-paid lobbyists, are indeed complaining that Capitol Hill is “rushing through” bills aimed at to shrink them . And it’s from a group of companies that have historically been so deliberately slow to respond to complaints about their monopolistic, anti-competitive tendencies that the movement of the tectonic plates looks like a Formula One Grand Prix by comparison. In an effort to further delay the introduction of new legislation, trade groups representing the interests of big tech companies are whining that the Senate Judiciary Committee is going above and beyond by beginning to draft antitrust laws without first holding a series of hearings where Silicon Valley “experts” could spend weeks and months “criticizing and providing feedback” on proposed legislation while the companies they represent blithely go about their unhindered and well-trodden path. None of this is new for Facebook and Co. The US authorities have already conducted a 16-month investigation into Big Tech and published a 450-page report on their findings, according to which Big Tech must be controlled and monitored by strict regulations and laws – and that despite renewed screeches of Cupertino and Mountain View, it looks increasingly likely that they will be.
Today there is news of research you wouldn’t necessarily expect to be done by a payday loan company, but by Cashfloat, a UK company that’s been described as “a technology and data-driven lending company”. [that] develops and integrates technologies to enable affordable online lending” has just published a report on the relative longevity of UK start-ups, with telecoms bottom of the top 10 list. It seems that there are an average of 7,800 Google searches on “how to start a business” every month in the UK. With one in five startups failing, Cashfloat decided to find out which industries had the most successful survival rates. It examined the survival time of 3.2 million new companies on the UK Companies House register in various sectors identified by the Standard Industry Classification Code (SIC) and company number, then analyzed the period between the inception of a new company and its Dissolution and Closure or Acquisition. Data was collected in November 2021 and shows that start-up companies in the water industry (including water technology and water and wastewater plant construction) are the most successful with an average survival rate of 2,718 days (approx. 7 years and 4 months). That’s 1,375 days (or roughly 3 years and 7 months) longer than the least successful start-up sector, telecoms. Number 2 on the list is the gambling sector with an average life expectancy of 2,315 days (6 years and 3 months), followed by specialized research companies established for a specific and limited purpose. They stay in the game for an average of 2,061 days (5 years and 6 months). It is followed by the broadcasting industry with an average survival rate of 1,735 days (4 years and 7 months) and the financial services sector with 1,558 days (4 years and 2 months). Pulp and paper, transportation, culture and electronics rank sixth through ninth, with poor old telecommunications creeping in at number 10. While the research is interesting and valuable, it is necessarily a comprehensive approach, so without serious delving into a mass of data, it’s not immediately apparent that telecoms should fare so poorly by comparison, but the sector is known (or notorious) for endless rounds of consolidation . And that goes for retail stores that sell cell phones and accessories, as well as infrastructure manufacturers and providers.
And finally a quick update on Tonga going through very difficult times after the undersea volcanic explosion and ensuing tsunami killed and injured islanders, destroyed and damaged property and infrastructure and left the Pacific island nation without any communication with the outside world. As we reported yesterday, limited 2G phone service covering 10 per cent of the population has been restored and this morning news broke that satellite company SES was able to restore services to Digital Tonga, the local telecoms company. Relief flights from Australia have also delivered much-needed supplies, but crew are required to remain on board the plane and have no contact with others as local ground crew unload the cargo. Because to date there have been no cases of Covid in Tonga and the government wants it to stay that way. And there are other offers of help, including from Elon Musk, who made a half-hearted offer of Starlink satellite broadband terminals before realizing how difficult it would be to actually offer a service to those in Tonga…
– The staff, TelecomTV