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UK government announces 500,000 premises now gigabit-ready
by Paul Hill
The UK government has announced that a milestone has been met with regards to the gigabit broadband rollout that it has invested money in. It said that government investment alone has made nearly 500,000 premises gigabit-ready. The work to get more premises gigabit-ready has been on-going since the summer of 2018. The government will have invested £1 billion through the end of 2021 and a further £5 billion is expected to be spent to help connect hard-to-reach areas.
The government’s funding has been accompanied by commercial investment, in total, more than 7.5 million premises can now access gigabit broadband compared to just 1.4 million premises two years ago. With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the trend to work at home, faster internet connections will become more necessary and this investment better prepares the country for that transition.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman, as part of the announcement, called on people and businesses to take advantage of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme which is available until March. They can be used to subsidize the cost of gigabit broadband infrastructure to homes and businesses. This scheme is targeted at those in rural areas with poor internet connections that aren’t likely to be connected through the commercial rollout of gigabit networks soon.
Commenting, Warman said:
The broadband speeds available at the moment in most areas of the country are satisfactory for existing technologies, but over the next decade with an increase in VR, AR, and game streaming the demand for faster internet will grow. Getting gigabit infrastructure in position now will make the country ready for these emerging technologies.
UK funds innovative projects that utilise 5G technology
by Paul Hill
The UK government has announced a new £30 million fund through ‘5G Create’ which seeks to help innovative projects that will utilise 5G technologies. The £30 million package consists of £16.4 million from the government that is matched by organisations. This investment is part of the wider £200 million 5G Testbeds and Trials programme (5GTT).
Several projects that will benefit from the investment were outlined by the government, for example, in Manchester AI-controlled traffic lights that reduce pollution and congestion will be trialled. In Brighton, the potential for remote music festivals using 5G will be tested by Brighton Dome. In Liverpool, a private 5G network is being developed to provide remote NHS video consultations for low-income families unable to afford good connectivity, and BT Sport is exploring how 5G can let people watch sports through virtual reality.
Commenting on the investment, Matt Warman, Minister of Digital Infrastructure, said:
Until now, the government has funded 24 5G testbeds across the UK which have trialled around 70 5G technologies, products, and applications. The government says it will fund a second round of new project through 5G Create which will be announced in September, October, or November.
UK telecoms remove data charges for victim support websites
by Paul Hill
The UK government has announced that it has struck a deal with EE, Vodafone, O2, Three, Sky Mobile, Virgin Media, Tesco Mobile, and Giffgaff that will allow customers to access victim support websites without using up their mobile data. With the on-going lockdown, victim support websites have revealed that they are seeing a substantial increase in traffic.
According to the announcement, the following websites are now accessible without using up mobile data: Victim Support, Rape Crisis, The Survivors Trust, Male Survivors Partnership, Refuge, National Domestic Abuse Helpline, Women’s Aid, Welsh Women’s Aid, and the NSPCC.
Commenting on the newly struck deal, Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said:
Internet providers have already removed data allowance caps on current fixed broadband services so access to these websites will not cost you any more if you are typically subjected to a usage cap.
By Usman Khan Lodhi
Smartphone shipments in China rose 17% in April
by Usman Khan Lodhi
Government data released on Tuesday revealed that smartphone shipments in China increased by 17% in April compared to the same month last year, according to Reuters. This is an indicator that life in China is back to normal after the country put in strict lockdown orders to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a state-based think tank, stated that there were around 40.8 million smartphone shipments in April, compared to 34.8 million in April 2019. The firm did not reveal what percentage of the shipped devices constituted of Android phones, which then indicates how many phones were sold by Apple in China each month.
Private research firms that track the smartphone industry have reported a decline in Apple shipments in Q1 2020, with the Cupertino firm shipments declining to low single digits. Smartphone makers like Apple and its competitors do not publicly reveal regional shipments.
According to the research groups, shipments for Shenzhen-based Huawei did not show any major change in the quarter, while other Chinese smartphone makers like Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi have had their shipment volume decreased by double-digit percentages.
UK government teams up with games industry to fight COVID-19
by Paul Hill
The UK government has announced partnerships with UK games companies in order to get “essential health messaging” about coronavirus into more UK homes. Gamers will see the government's COVID-19 slogan: ‘Stay At Home, Save Lives’ when playing titles such as Candy Crush Saga, Sniper Elite 4, DiRT Rally 2.0, and Farm Heroes among other titles.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is hoping that the added reminders will persuade people to stay at home and not make unnecessary trips outside. With people staying at home, it’s expected that the disease’s spread will be lessened and that the burden will be taken off the National Health Service (NHS).
Commenting on the development, Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:
According to the announcement, 37 million people in the UK play games so the potential reach for this digital campaign is huge. To help reach more gamers, the government is inviting more game developers to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to introduce in-game messaging to their products.