Coronavirus

Launch of Government’s National Data Strategy

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden announced Government’s National Data Strategy to drive growth, boost innovation, create new jobs and improve public services. Government will develop a clear policy framework to determine what interventions are needed to unlock the value of data across the economy and help drive the recovery from Covid-19. It proposes an overhaul in the use of data across the public sector and a programme of work will be launched that will transform the way data is managed, used, shared internally within government, and with wider public sectors organisations. (more…)

Government guidance to drive 5G and fibre deployment

DCMS and MCHLG updated valuation guidance to facilitate siting of digital infrastructure 

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman and Local Government Minister Simon Clarke have today written to local authorities setting out how they can help boost gigabit broadband rollout and 5G mobile coverage, pointing to new government advice on land access and valuations. The advice aims for quicker deals that grant access for new digital infrastructure, such as 5G masts and full fibre broadband cabinets on public land, and with reasonable rents attached.

 While councils are obliged to get ‘best value’ when agreeing land access agreements, non-monetary benefits such as enhanced connectivity for residents to work from home and SMEs to trade online, should be taken into account, as highlighted in our report ‘Impact at a local level of full-fibre and 5G investments’.  (more…)

Ofcom – Changes to WiFi, EECC update, Guidance for Vulnerable Customers and Call for Evidence on Emerging Technologies

Ofcom is making airwaves in the lower 6 GHz band available for WiFi services without the need for a licence, following a consultation earlier this year. The technical requirements for WiFi routers are also being amended to ease congestion and help meet the growing demand for wireless services now and in the future.

A further consultation on revised proposals to implement the new EECC has been launched, ahead of the final decisions due to be published in the autumn. These are (i) changes to the scope of the rules on annual best tariff information and (ii) revised definitions for ‘microenterprise’, ‘small enterprise’ customers and not-for-profit organisations. Deadline is 11 September. (more…)

DCMS Select Committee report ‘Misinformation in the COVID-19 Infodemic’

The Online Harms White Paper published in April 2019 proposed a duty of care on tech companies and an independent Online Harms Regulator. The DCMS Select Committee opened an inquiry in March this year calling for evidence to help understand the causes and impact of COVID-19 and how it can be tackled.

On 16 July, the Committee published a report ‘Misinformation in the COVID-19 Infodemic’ which sets out some recommendations.  On 5G specifically, the report mentions written evidence from BT stated that between 23 March and 23 April there were 30 separate attempts of sabotage on the UK’s digital infrastructure and around 80 attacks across sites operated by all four mobile networks, with 19 occurring near critical infrastructure such as fire, police and ambulance stations. EE personnel and subcontractors faced 70 separate incidents, including threats to kill and vehicles driven directly at staff.  (more…)

Ofcom publications

Consultation: Copper retirement – process for determining when copper regulation can be removed (supplementary consultation to the WFTMR)

The consultation proposes to delay decisions about Openreach’s copper retirement process until after Ofcom has determined the outcome of the WFTMR. Justification is that Openreach’s fibre roll-out is still in its early stages and Ofcom would prefer to wait for more details on the Salisbury and Mildenhall trials.  The consultation period ends on 3 September and the outcome of the WFTMR is due to be published in Q4 2020/21.  (more…)

UK is world leader in online safety innovation

In the Online Harms White Paper government set out a programme of action. As part of this DCMS has published a study ‘Safer technology, safer users: The UK as a world leader in Safety Tech’ which provides an overview of the UK’s Safety Technology sector. It highlights some of the UK’s most innovative businesses focused on tackling online harms through a range of technical solutions.

The report sets out government’s proposed measures to boost the Safety Tech sector in the UK, as well as measures to help users manage their own safety online and the wide range of Safety Tech products and services that already help make online platforms safer.

The full report can be found here.

Government guidance on traveller exemption from UK border rules

Government has published guidance explaining exemptions from new UK border rules being introduced on 8 June.

Passengers arriving into the UK will be required to self-isolate for 14 days to minimise the risk of a second wave. They will also be required to provide address and contact details to allow tracing and spot checks. Penalties will be introduced for those that break these mandatory measures, of up to £1,000, and infringements could result in criminal prosecutions. Those that refuse to comply could be refused entry to the UK.

There is a list of exemptions, including IT and telecommunications professionals who are needed to provide an essential or emergency response to threats and incidents relating to the security of any network and systems, including work for the BBC’s broadcasting transmission network and services. They will still need to follow the same rules as people who live in the UK, even if exempt from self-isolating for 14 days.  (more…)

Government launches ‘The Skills Toolkit’

A new online learning platform was launched today by Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, to help people while they are asked to stay at home.

The Skills Toolkit is made up of free online resources to help improve digital and numeracy skills to and allows furloughed employees in particular the opportunity to keep up their skills development while at home. Digital courses include tools for using email and social media more effectively at work, to creating online content developed by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding, to understand the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing from Google Digital Garage, as well as Open University courses. All courses are free, online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace.

(more…)

Broadband-enabled BBC “Bitesize Daily” to help deliver remote learning across the UK

The last month has shown more than ever the importance of digital connectivity to all our lives. Despite some initial concerns in the media, the UK’s broadband and mobile networks have been able to comfortably accommodate traffic increases with existing capacity. There have inevitably been peaks in demand, but we are now seeing a general plateau pattern across the UK and Europe.

The UK’s public service broadcasters (PSBs) have seen increases in demand too. During the week 23-29 March, the BBC reported a record-breaking 198% increase in unique visitors to its BBC Bitesize website (4.8m, beating a previous record of 3.3m). Its children’s entertainment channels were also in high demand: with a 94% increase in requests for CBBC (10.6m). The last few weeks have seen record numbers of people using BBC Sounds too, more than 3.5 million each week, with listeners turning to live radio as well as on demand content.

Today – ordinarily the start of the summer term for most children and teachers now living in exclusively online classrooms – marks the launch by the BBC of a new and extensive educational initiative. The aim is to help ensure that every child in the UK has the opportunity continue to follow the appropriate core parts of their nation’s school curriculum during COVID-19. (more…)

Major telecoms providers pledge support to the NHS during the COVID crisis

In a joint statement between the major telecoms providers and Government, BT/EE, Openreach, Sky , TalkTalk, Virgin Media, O2 , Three, Vodafone, Cityfibre, Gigaclear, Tesco Mobile, giffgaff, Hyperoptic and KCOM, have committed to providing further support to the NHS and its staff during the pandemic. This is over and above the work they continue to do to keep the nation connected, including ensuring that the new emergency hospitals being built across the country have the connectivity they need and providing zero-rated access to nhs.uk on mobile connections.

(more…)

COVID-19 guidance for telecommunications infrastructure deployment in England

Government yesterday underlined the inclusion of telecoms infrastructure—fixed and mobile—as a critical sector in new government regulations and legislation in response to dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. Recognition of the vital underpinning of the telecommunications sector for the UK at this time is essential together with any measures that ensure industry can continue to provide capacity and resilience in support of homes, businesses and the public sector. The measures are set out below. (more…)

COVID-19: New guidance on street works

Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee (HAUC) has today published Government-endorsed guidance on street works during the COVID-19 pandemic. The document has been agreed by the Department for Transport (DfT), HAUC, JAG (UK) and Streetworks UK, and is designed to provide clarity to all English Highway Authorities (HAs) on the continuation of street works, with separate advice notices expected from the Welsh and Scottish Governments. (more…)