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Eurobites: Vodafone, Ericsson trial safe-skies tech for drones

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia and A1 switch on private network for Siemens; BT and Transatel renew MVNOs partnership; TIM and Google combine on "Voice Smart" calling.

  • Vodafone and Ericsson say they have carried out successful trials of new technology that allows professional drone operators, the emergency services and others to use drones to deliver medical and commercial supplies in "safe sky corridors" where they will avoid potential hazards such as wind farms, tall buildings and large crowds of people on the ground below. The trials were carried out at Vodafone's 5G Mobility Lab in Aldenhoven, Germany, using information from the mobile network to produce coverage maps that enabled the drone to stay in areas that had a good signal in the air. Vodafone can use these to provide key data to trusted third parties via application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable them to plot a path for the drone, ensuring constant contact with the drone control center, even when out of sight.

  • Another day, another private network: This one's been put together by Nokia and operator A1 for energy giant Siemens at its microgrid campus project in Vienna, which embraces solar generation, electric vehicle (EV) charging, building management and battery storage. Siemens will use the private network to connect all its assets to manage the grid, ensuring load balancing between energy demand and availability.

  • Still in Nokiaworld, the vendor has joined forces with Saudi Telecom Company (STC) on a new innovation center in Riyadh. As part of the collaboration, Nokia will be charged with helping STC engineers to develop a more entrepreneurial mindset, conducting competitions to stimulate new ideas. Think hackathons.

  • Transatel, a serial MVNO launcher that is part of the NTT Group, has renewed its partnership with BT, allowing Transatel's customers to benefit from BT's Wi-Fi calling, VoLTE and 5G, among other things. Transatel's customers in the UK include China Telecom Europe and Plusnet.

  • BT is also supporting the call for the UK's mobile phone stores to be classed as essential and therefore immune from coronavirus lockdown closure. In his latest blog, Marc Allera, CEO of BT's consumer brands, points out that although England's "non-essential" stores including EE's retail outlets can reopen on December 3 after a month or so of lockdown, many of those in Scotland and Northern Ireland face being closed for longer.

  • Telecom Italia (TIM) is cozying up further to Google, extending its "TIM Voice Smart with Google" service with a new function that allows users to receive and make calls from their Google Nest device via their home landline. In addition, TIMMusic, its streaming platform, will be available on Google's smart devices. So it's "hey Google, call mum." But in Italian.

  • A new broadband study from testing company Global Wireless Solutions finds that 30% of UK households are grappling with download speeds of lower than 2 Mbit/s or upload speeds lower than 1 Mbit/s. GWS tested the speeds of home Internet connections in more than 2,000 households, as well as conducting research into how home Internet performance has affected people over the course of the pandemic. As you would expect from a company that carries out 5G testing, GWS is touting 5G as a possible remedy for dodgy fixed-line broadband: Its study also found that around a quarter of UK consumers think that 5G will help fix the nation's "digital divide."

  • Cybersecurity firm Allot has published the European edition of its Cyber Threat Report for the third quarter of 2020, in which it reveals that its software had to stop more cyberattacks in their tracks as the second wave of the pandemic began to wash over the continent. In September, attack blocks rose to 267 million, up from 238 million in August, as locked-down populations spent more time in front of their laptops and smartphones. "Phishing" remains the predominant form of website attack in Europe.

  • A former Vodafone bigwig, Tobin Ireland, is one of six new appointees to the Content Board of Ofcom, the UK communications regulator. Ireland is a busy feller, and one of his other roles is as senior independent director of Lovehoney, which he describes on LinkedIn as "the world's leading sexual happiness brand." Matron!

    Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading


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