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UK mobile carriers agree on Shared Rural Network deal
by Paul Hill
O2, Three, and Vodafone have announced that they are partnering to build and share 222 mobile masts that will deliver 4G coverage to under-served rural areas. According to ISPReview, EE is not mentioned in today’s announcement because it already has coverage in the so-called Partial Not Spots - it will, however, ramp up participation in areas where there’s no coverage from any carrier.
The Shared Rural Network was announced back in March 2020 and aims to bring the four mobile carriers together to bring coverage to hard-to-reach rural areas. By 2025, the aim is to cover 95% of the country with 4G mobile connectivity. The biggest beneficiaries will be Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
According to the three carriers revealing their news today, the masts will begin construction this year and are scheduled for completion by 2024. Before each mast can be built, the firms will need to find suitable sites, get a power supply to each site, and get the necessary permissions to build the masts through the planning system.
Commenting on today’s news, UK government Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said:
After the SRN has been fully implemented, 84% of the UK’s landmass will be served by 4G compared to today’s 67%. O2 said that Partial Not Spots will be virtually eliminated by 2025 and each mobile operator will serve at least 90% of the country with a combined coverage of 95%.
UN and UK sign agreement on space sustainability
by Paul Hill
The United Nations and the United Kingdom have signed an agreement that promotes the safe and sustainable use of space “for future generations.” It’s hoped that the agreement will help reduce the risk of collisions between space debris and vital space satellites as well as find a way to deal with satellite constellations that disrupt other space activities such as astronomy.
Of course, signing an agreement is only a declaration, that’s why the UK has also created an £85,000 fund that will help to fund events and outreach programmes that promote the safe and sustainable use of outer space. The UK’s efforts will also help inform the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and will help all those involved with space to implement measures to achieve the agreement’s framework: the Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities (LTS guidelines).
Commenting on the agreement, UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:
The most high-profile satellite constellation is SpaceX’s Starlink which has begun beaming internet down to the Earth for a hefty price. Some major telescope operations have said that they can compensate for the satellites but others have complained that it makes astronomy more difficult. The increase in space satellites also increases the chances of a collision with space debris.
By Jay Bonggolto
Facebook app's dedicated News section rolls out in the UK today
by Jay Bonggolto
As it promised last month, Facebook announced today that the News section in its mobile app finally goes live in the UK. The new section provides a central hub for curated and personalized news content.
Along with the rollout, Facebook also introduced new publishing partners whose content will be featured in the new destination on its mobile app. These new publishers include the Financial Times, Sky News, Telegraph Media Group, Channel 4 News, DC Thomson, and the Daily Mail group. They will join existing publishers that previously participated in Facebook News such as The Guardian, The Economist, The Independent, STV, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Vogue.
Facebook News features top stories of a given day and news content tailored based on their interest. Users can also control what articles, topics, or publishers they see on their dedicated feed. News digests covering major news stories such as those pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic will also appear with a focus on “original and authoritative reporting".
For publishers, the News section expands their opportunity to reach more audiences and gain new paying subscribers. It was first tested in October of 2019 in the U.S. and Facebook plans to bring it to Germany and France next.
Virgin Media launches its 5G service on Vodafone's network
by João Carrasqueira
Virgin Media has launched its 5G services in the United Kingdom, the company announced today. To be clear, Virgin is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), meaning it's not actually its own network, and instead the service is based on Vodafone's 5G network. Because of that, the 5G service from Virgin is available in the same locations as Vodafone's - which includes 100 towns and cities across the UK.
The company's 5G service promises average speeds of 176.62Mbps, 4.5 times that of its average 4G speeds. 5G is available on the company's existing plans at no additional cost, and that includes SIM-only plans as well as some bundles with phones, such as a Samsung Galaxy S21 with unlimited data for £42/month for three years. 5G service is also included with the company's Oomph plans, which bundle home broadband and mobile plans.
With the launch of 5G, Virgin Media now touts "next-generation connectivity" both at home and on the go, since it has been expanding its Gig1 broadband network.
Virgin's 5G service is the first to rely fully on Vodafone's network, whereas the company previously partnered with EE for its 4G services. That deal will continue through late 2021, after which point Virgin will transition to Vodafone's 4G network, too. That transition is expected to be completed by early 2022.
Free Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Razer Kishi Controller when you buy Samsung Galaxy S21 on EE
by Sylvester Addo
British mobile network operator, EE, is giving away 12 months free access to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with cloud gaming (beta) and a Razer Kishi Controller with a purchase of a new Samsung Galaxy 21 series smartphone.
The offer is available to customers who purchase any of the recently announced Samsung Galaxy S21 series smartphone; S21 5G, S21+ 5G and S21 Ultra 5G on an EE Smart Plan. These customers will also become the first to receive a new service called the exclusive Gaming Unleashed bundle.
The exclusive Gaming Unleashed bundle gives customers access to over 100 Xbox games on the go with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with cloud gaming (beta) and a Razer Kishi Controller valued at £131.88 and £99.99 respectively.
Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with cloud gaming (beta) allows gamers to play Xbox games on an android device from the cloud.
EE customers will get the opportunity to trade in their current eligible Samsung Galaxy smartphone for up to £350 off one of the new Galaxy S range. The smartphones are available to pre-order via EE telesales and on ee.co.uk.