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  • Is Westminster the most connected London Borough?
    Westminster Council has a commitment to deliver full fibre broadband to all council properties in the borough by the end of 2021. Which sounds good, but will leave numerous non council owned homes and business buildings potentiallyt missing out. The headline of most connected borough is based on the latest Ofcom Connected Nations data which is saying the City of Westminster is at 56.1% FTTP coverage. Our own data has the borough at 53.52% and it is likely that a lot of the difference is down to us not recorded leased lines in our data, so lots of business buildings will show as FTTP in the Ofcom data but not in our data. While no one will fight against the notion that full fibre coverage is a good metric to aim for universal or near universal availability, at this point in time the availability of other slower broadband types is of paramount importance, i.e. what a small business or resident can order today.
  • EE Starts Deploying Ultrafast 5G in 13 More UK Towns and Cities
    Mobile operator EE (BT) has today confirmed that their new 5G ultrafast mobile broadband network has now started to go live in the busiest parts of a further 13 towns and cities across the United Kingdom, which includes locations such as Halifax, Leamington Spa and St Albans. The development means that their 5G network is now live across parts of 125 UK locations, although it will often take a long time for the coverage in each area to reach a similar level to that of their existing 4G infrastructure (network deployments are a very gradual affair, starting small and growing big over months and years).
  • Ofcom Updates Scorecards for Comparing Mobile and Broadband ISPs
    Ofcom and the UK Regulators Network (UKRN), which includes data from CCW, FCA, Ofgem and Ofwat, have today published an updated series of scorecards that are intended to help consumers compare several key performance areas from the largest broadband, mobile, phone, energy, water and financial providers. In short, these scorecards they allow people to compare providers by overall satisfaction, complaints to Ofcom per 100,000 subscribers and a Net Promoter Score. Mobile operators are also given a satisfaction score for value of money.
  • The most important job in tech has just been filled, but not the way it was planned
    For about a year and a half now, the UK government has been on the hunt for one of the biggest jobs in tech. The Cabinet Office has been recruiting for its next Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO), a £200,000-a-year role operating at the most senior level of the civil service, to accomplish a seriously daunting task: to lead the public sector’s digital transformation. Now, fifteen months after the GCDO’s job was first advertised, and despite confirming on various occasions that the recruitment process was ongoing, the government has quite dramatically changed its course of action. Instead of hiring a digital leader, as originally planned, the Cabinet Office has announced that a whole new organization will be set up later this year to carry out the exact same duties as the ones laid out in the GCDO’s job specs. DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION 3 ways SMBs use machine learning to power digital transformation Overnight digital transformation: Welcome to the year 2025, 60 months early Digital transformation: Legacy technology, lack of skills, and funding are holding back NHS plans After the remote working rush, here comes the CIO’s next challenge ​What is digital transformation? Everything you need to know Digital transformation: It’s time to invent the future we want (TechRepublic) Called the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO), the new body will open in early February 2021. The GCDO-to-be was to usher the UK government into a new chapter of technologically enhanced public services; the CDDO will, in replacement, be made up of a council of experts who will shape the government’s strategy in fields ranging from automation to cybersecurity, through cloud, data, product and service design.
  • Lockdown Laptop Map lists close to 1,000 schools in need of tech supplies
    An estimated 1.8 million UK schoolchildren lack access to an internet-connected device at home. A group of UK technologists and campaigners has created a map which highlights which schools are in need of tech supplies, such as laptops, tablets, or SIM cards, in a bid to make it easier for them to connect with tech suppliers. TechForUK, the group behind the AllOfUsTogther map which last year highlighted those organisations and businesses offering free meals to qualifying children, has now directed its tech expertise towards the digital divide, so far tracking close to 1,000 schools around the country on its Lockdown Laptop Map.
  • Covid-19 immunity passport tests to begin in UK
    A Covid-19 immunity and vaccination passport developed by two UK firms and backed by Innovate UK has entered the live testing phase The system, jointly developed by two UK firms, Mvine and iProov, and backed by Innovate UK – which funded the development of a working prototype – the Covid-19 passport will be tested by directors of public health across the UK, with the aim of completing two trials before the end of March 2021. The firms said this should give the health services the confidence to then deploy the system at scale to benefit citizens. The system, jointly developed by two UK firms, Mvine and iProov, and backed by Innovate UK – which funded the development of a working prototype – the Covid-19 passport will be tested by directors of public health across the UK, with the aim of completing two trials before the end of March 2021. The firms said this should give the health services the confidence to then deploy the system at scale to benefit citizens.
  • Vodafone, Telefónica Commercialise the UK’s Largest Tower Company Cornerstone
    Vodafone UK and O2 Telefónica UK on Monday announced that they have signed agreements to commercialise Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure (Cornerstone), the 50:50 owned joint venture company that owns and manages their passive tower infrastructure in the United Kingdom. Vodafone UK and O2 UK have each entered into long-term Master Services Agreements with Cornerstone, which have initial terms of 8 years from 1 January 2021, with three 8-year renewal periods, and which establish Cornerstone as a preferred supplier of new sites for both operators. Vodafone intends to transfer its 50% shareholding in Cornerstone to Vantage Towers in January 2021.
  • BT creates digital transformation unit, poaches Bharti Airtel exec to lead it
    UK telecoms group BT reckons there might be something in this digital transformation thing, so it’s setting up a special silo to focus on it. The new business unit is simple called Digital, and will focus on ‘the development and rapid delivery of innovative products, platforms and services in key areas such as healthcare and data.’ A new silo means a new c-suite exec and in this case it’s Harmeen Mehta, who has been appointed Chief Digital and Innovation Officer. Mehta was previously Group CIO at Indian telco group Bharti Airtel, where she also ran its cloud and security business. “I am really excited to be part of the future of BT as we build a customer centric digital organisation bringing new products and services to delight our customers and create new opportunities of digital growth in the business,” said Mehta. “There never has been a more interesting time to play such a meaningful role in the lives of our customers and I’m excited to play such a key role in delivering the exciting ambition that Philip and his team have set out.”
  • Edge Cloud and 5G Poised to Impact Next Era of Networking
    The edge cloud will not only become the new point of service delivery and experience but also the point of innovation and monetisation. While this year presented many challenges, we’ve also seen great resiliency and innovation from the entire ecosystem – from users to network providers to application providers. Despite being forced to move quickly into a near-shutdown environment, businesses across every industry were able to quickly transition to remote operations relatively seamlessly, thanks to the reach and agility of multi-access connectivity networks. Future challenges might be aided by 5G and edge cloud. With recent studies showing that up to 30 percent of the workforce will still be working remotely through the end of 2021, the lines between enterprise and consumers have permanently blurred. As working from home becomes the new norm, there is a change in traffic patterns, and enterprise customers, by extension, now need to be served at home as well. This means service providers should prepare to architect their networks and services around this new reality, designing for far better experiences for users, wherever they might be. To solve for this, 5G and the distributed edge cloud have become an even more prominent part of the service provider’s move to cloud-native network architectures to deliver secured and assured service experience at much faster speeds and lower latency while bringing agility for the unknown. The edge cloud will not only become the new point of service delivery and experience but also the point of innovation and monetization, allowing various ecosystem players such as content providers, Hyperscalers, and enterprise application providers to work together. Together 5G and the edge cloud will define the next era of networking. Here’s how.
  • Signal won’t replace WhatsApp, the cofounder of both encrypted messaging apps says. Instead, people will use the 2 services for different conversations.
    The encrypted messaging service Signal won’t replace WhatsApp, the cofounder of both apps predicted. Downloads of Signal have skyrocketed since WhatsApp announced it would make users share some personal data with its parent company, Facebook. Brian Acton, the executive chairman of the Signal Foundation, said there was room for both apps. “I have no desire to do all the things that WhatsApp does,” he told TechCrunch. He said he expected people to rely on Signal to talk to family and close friends while continuing to talk to other people via WhatsApp. Acton cofounded WhatsApp and then sold it to Facebook for $22 billion in 2014. He left the company in 2017.
  • Signal’s downloads skyrocketed 4,200% after WhatsApp announced it would force users to share personal data with Facebook
    WhatsApp informed users Wednesday that they would have to start sharing some personal data with its parent company, Facebook, starting February 8. Data indicates this helped lead to a huge spike in downloads on the rival encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram. Signal saw 7.5 million downloads last week, a 4,200% increase on the previous week. Telegram saw 9 million downloads, a 91% increase. India was the biggest source of downloads for both. Signal received significant publicity following WhatsApp’s announcement, with public figures including Elon Musk and Edward Snowden endorsing the app as a WhatsApp alternative.
  • Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service has been approved in the UK, and people are already receiving their beta kits
    Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service has been approved by the UK regulator Ofcom. Starlink, from Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, will compete with the likes of BT Group and OneWeb to provide internet to people across the UK. People in the UK have already started receiving the Starlink kit. One user told Insider that he received his Starlink equipment on New Year’s Eve and that his download speed jumped from 0.5 megabits per second to 85 Mbps.
  • Government strengthens digital leadership
    Alex Chisholm, Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office has today announced the appointment of three senior Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) leaders by the Government: Paul Willmott will Chair a new Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) for the Government Joanna Davinson will be appointed the Executive Director of CDDO Tom Read will be the new Chief Executive Officer of Government Digital Service (GDS) The Cabinet Office will establish the Central Digital and Data Office for Government – the new strategic centre for Digital, Data and Technology for the Government – in early February.
  • Openreach fires the starting gun on phasing out legacy analogue services
    This summer has marked a significant milestone in the digital transformation of our landline business: at well over 100 locations around the UK, covering around 1.2 million premises, Openreach gave 12 months’ notice that it will stop selling legacy analogue services. And this is only the start. Just three years from now, Openreach will stop selling products that rely on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). And over the next five years, we’ll upgrade some 15 million analogue lines – including the now ageing traditional landline telephone service – to digital All-Internet Protocol (All-IP). Ultimately, the plan to withdraw all services that rely on the old PSTN by December 2025 and, from that point on, Communications Providers (CPs) will own the delivery of voice services.
  • Government spends £87m on extra 460,000 laptops to support remote learning
    The Department for Education spent £87m with its major supplier of laptops for remote learning to cover the delivery of an additional 460,000 machines, procurement documents reveal. Newly published transparency data shows that Computacenter was awarded the one-year deal on 11 November. Of the one million or so devices bought for the DfE’s Get Help With Technology programme since the start of the pandemic, around 850,000 have been procured from the Hertfordshire-based IT firm – at a cumulative cost of £200m. The most recent batch, which is the biggest single order for the programme, covers 210,000 Windows laptops and 150,000 Chromebooks, as well as 50,000 Windows tablets and 50,000 iPads. The contract also provides for an optional “potential requirement” of 50,000 Android tablets. “While price plays an important factor, the department will look to derive the long-term value of remote education and technology in the classroom through these devices,” the contract said. “Devices should present a sound long-term investment and be robust enough to give value for several years in an education setting.”
  • The tech sector cannot build back better from the kitchen table
    While following government guidance and remaining safe is the priority, we still need to make the case for bringing Britain’s tech sector back together again when the time is right.
  • Email is killing productivity, new research finds
    Poor email processes are killing productivity, with a quarter of UK-based employees spending nearly one working day each week managing their inboxes. That’s according to research by Mail Manager, which surveyed 500 business leaders and decision-makers in the UK. It found that one in four respondents spent at least one hour a day going through their inbox, which amounts to almost one full working day spent on managing emails. This is despite email being the most-often used form of communication. 90% of respondents indicated that they use email to communicate with their clients, while Skype and WhatsApp, by comparison, were used by 55% of those surveyed. Just 15% of those surveyed said that Slack was their go-to communication platform.
  • 2020 the busiest year on record for cyber attacks against UK firms
    Businesses faced a 20% rise in cyber security threats last year versus 2019, with the first COVID-19 lockdown in March serving as the catalyst for a year of increased efforts to infiltrate corporate networks. Businesses in the UK each faced 686,961 attempts on average to breach their systems online in 2020, according to specialist internet service provider Beaming. This equates to an attempted attack every 46 seconds, with 2020 proving to be the busiest year on record for cyber attacks. Last year’s threat landscape represents a 20% rise against comparable figures from 2019, when businesses each faced 576,575 attacks on average. This significant rise in attempted cyber attacks can be chiefly attributed to COVID-19, as well as the massive shift to remote working.
  • Government’s ‘litany of failures’ leaves citizens facing many years of slow broadband
    UK consumers are likely to be “struggling with slow broadband for many years to come” after the government has thus far failed deliver on meeting its election promises. The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report examining progress towards meeting the Conservative party’s 2019 manifesto pledge of ensuring universal gigabit-capable broadband by 2025; this marked a significant acceleration on the previous government’s target of achieving this goal by 2033. In November, evidence provided by officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport led the committee to conclude that the new target was “unachievable” – something which the government itself has now accepted. Its revised ambition, set out alongside the recent spending review, is to deliver gigabit connectivity for no less than 85% of the country by 2025. The current figure is 27%. PAC claims that ensuring this programme delivers to the hardest-to-reach 20% of the UK will require a government subsidy of £5bn – less than a quarter of which was provided by the review, which committed just £1.2bn
  • What should your internet presence look like in 2021?
    As the world adapts to new ways of working, this is what your business should be doing online Companies are settling into a new normal, and it’s clear that the role of the internet has shifted. Of course, it was already woven into most business models, but now we’re facing another evolutionary step – one in which the internet develops from one leg of the stool, as it were, into a core capability, arguably even a life or death determinant for businesses as well as people. That may sound like an exaggeration, but as individuals we’re more dependent than ever before on businesses serving us online. For businesses, it’s never been more important to reach customers online. Speaking from a business strategy perspective, this is a good thing. Normally, when we come to address big questions of what your company ought to be doing, the answer involves a large element of “it depends”. But when it comes to online presence at a time when everybody is spending more time at home, there’s no “it depends”. The message is clear: every business needs to be visible.
  • Parts of rural UK could wait years for 1GB broadband
    Rural homes and businesses in the UK may continued to be denied fast broadband connections for years to come, thanks to a government failure to progress quickly towards the roll-out of gigabit broadband to all UK homes and businesses, according to a new report by the UK Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The Covid-19 lockdowns have driven major changes in work and leisure time, with huge increases in homeworking and in streaming of home entertainment content. But in many parts of the UK internet speeds still lag well behind the optimum level for Zoom meetings, let alone 4K streaming of Hollywood films. The PAC report, Improving Broadband, identifies a number of flaws in the strategy employed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). These include a failure to remove regulatory barriers to fibre roll-out, such as building regulations; and a failure to resolve a number of questions related to how broadband providers will compete to offer, and set prices for, services in rural areas. It also criticises the DCMS for taking an insufficiently transparent, overly centralised approach.
  • The UK’s competition regulator has launched an investigation into Google’s plans to remove tracking cookies from Chrome
    The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has launched in investigation into Google’s plans to remove third-party tracking cookies from Chrome. As part of the probe, the CMA is also investigating Google’s “Privacy Sandbox” project, where it is proposing new, privacy-conscious technologies to replace cookies for advertising and measurement purposes. The CMA said it had received complaints from Marketers for an Open Web (MOW), a coalition of technology and publishing companies, which allege that Google is “abusing its dominant position” with the proposals. MOW alleges the Privacy Sandbox proposals would concentrate more advertising spending on Google’s own services.
  • The known unknowns of post-Brexit data transfers
    With many aspects of the trade deal still to be ratified, organisations that transfer data to and from the EU need to start preparing now
  • UK ranked second for value of GDPR fines issued in 2020
    The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) collected the second-highest total value of fines for data protection violations last year, with businesses paying up €43,901,000 (roughly £39.7 million) for breaching GDPR. Only Italy’s data watchdog collected more in fines than the ICO, accruing €58,161,601 (approximately £52.6 million) in financial penalties. However, the UK figure was only collected over three cases, which means the ICO was among the territories least active in terms of issuing fines, ranking sixth of 24 countries examined by Finbold. The ICO’s overall enforcement action during 2020 included fining BA £20 million for a data breach that affected 400,000 customers and Marriot £18.4 million for a 2014 incident that affected 339 million gues records worldwide. This is in addition to a £1.25 million penalty issued to Ticketmaster for failing to protect its users’ data sufficiently.
  • New PPN gives guidance for Minimum Purchasing Thresholds
    In December2020, the Cabinet Office issued a new Procurement Policy Note PPN11/20 ‘Reserving Below Threshold Procurements’. This is one of the changes we will see in a post-Brexit world where the UK is no longer tied to EU rules.
  • A successful experiment gets us one step closer to a quantum internet
    The tech could revolutionize computing fields like cryptography and search. The quantum internet is one step closer to becoming reality. This week, a joint team of researchers made up of scientists from Caltech, the Department of Energy’s Fermilab, AT&T, Harvard University, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and the University of Calgary announced that they successfully teleported qubits of photons across approximately 27 miles of fiber-optic cable. While other scientists have worked on similar projects, this group is the first to beam quantum information across such a great distance. What’s more, they did so across two separate networks and with a fidelity greater than 90 percent. One of the researchers on the team told Motherboard they built the networks using “off-the-shelf” components, and that their tech is compatible with existing telecommunications equipment.
  • Openreach to hire 5,000 new engineers to support full fibre rollout
    Its entire 27,000-strong commercial fleet will be replaced with electric vehicles by 2030. Openreach is to hire over 5,000 engineers to help in building up the UK’s full-fibre network, an effort that will also see its entire commercial fleet switching over to all-electric by 2030. The BT subsidiary is looking to fill the roles within the next 12 months and the expansion includes more than 2,500 full-time jobs in its service and network-build divisions, as well as an estimated 2,800 positions in its UK supply chain.
  • UK government maps post-Brexit shake up of public procurement
    With the UK no longer bound to comply with EU procurement rules from 2021, a green paper and policy note set out wide-ranging changes to how public bodies tender contracts Immediate changes to public procurement regulations kick in from 1 January 2021 to reflect the end of the Transition Period and the move to the UK being a member of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). With the UK no longer bound to comply with the European Union’s directives on public procurement, there is scope for the government to make wide-ranging changes to the rules that public bodies must follow when choosing with whom to contract. On 15 December 2020, the government published the Green Paper “Transforming Public Procurement”, setting out its proposal for a major overhaul of the legislation in England that regulates how public bodies run tender competitions and the rights that suppliers have for challenging the process and contracting decisions.
  • Government announce £15.8bn funding for police
    The Government have announced that £15.8bn worth of funding for the police force for 2021. The funding will be used to provide 20,000 new police officers by 2023, focussing on issues such as counter-terrorism, county lines and sexual abuse. The funding serves as an increase of £636m when compared to last year, showing the commitment that the Government has to improving the police force a across the nation.
  • Five things for public sector digital in 2021
    The experience of the pandemic is set to have a significant effect on priorities for the coming year Public sector digital teams have been on the frontline of the response to Covid-19 over 2020. It may not have hit the headlines in the general press, but anyone in the sector will be aware of their role in maintaining internal and public facing services through the lockdown – especially in supporting the widespread move to home working – and in quickly developing new services to support the response.
  • Ericsson says its 5G rollout will create 800 British jobs by 2022
    During a time when unemployment figures are at record highs, it’s heartening to hear Ericsson’s job creation expectations. Swedish telecoms vendor Ericsson predicts that its 5G rollout will create an additional 800 jobs in the UK over the next couple of years. Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “I welcome this investment in the UK by Ericsson which will create hundreds of skilled jobs across the country and accelerate the nationwide rollout of 5G. We’re working hard to build a world-class 5G network, including introducing landmark legislation to boost telecoms security and a new strategy to diversify the supply chain. We will continue to support Ericsson and other providers however we can to deliver an infrastructure revolution for Britain.”
  • BT Aim to Establish UK’s First Commercial Drone Corridor
    Broadband and mobile giant BT has today announced that they will lead a new Government backed consortium as part of ‘Project XCelerate‘, which seeks to establish the UK’s first commercial drone corridor in open and unrestricted airspace (i.e. enabling automated drones and manned aviation to safely co-exist). The project, which is supported by the Future Flight Challenge Fund, envisages a future where drones could be used for all sorts of industry tasks, such as assisting the police with road traffic incidents (faster and cheaper response than helicopters), assessing high-voltage electricity pylons, supporting search and rescue teams and transferring medical supplies between rural hospitals. As part of this the first commercial drone corridor is expected to be established south of Reading (Berkshire) during Summer 2021. The area will see flight trials being conducted along an 8km-long corridor, which seeks to demonstrate how drones can operate safely in the same airspace as manned aviation.
  • Union raises concerns over Cabinet Office bullying
    he civil service’s biggest union has written to Cabinet Office permanent secretary Alex Chisholm raising concerns about staff responses on bullying submitted to this year’s Civil Service People Survey. Although the 2020 results have yet to be published, the PCS union said preliminary figures showed an increasing reluctance on the part of staff to report incidences of bullying – even though the proportion of Cabinet Office staff who said they had been bullied has dropped. The PCS said the draft survey results found 10% of Cabinet Office staff indicating they had been bullied over the past year – a drop of five percentage points on 2019. But it said the figure was accompanied by a 14% drop in those who said they reported incidents of bullying they had experienced and a 15% rise in people who felt they had been punished for raising incidents. In his letter to Chisholm, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said the 2019 People Survey results had shown that some 34% of staff had been keen to leave the Cabinet Office within the next year while just 22% had wanted to stay on for at least another three years.
  • Is the UK government’s plan for digital upskilling on track?
    Eighteen months after plans to build a “world leading digital economy” were announced, is enough being done to achieve it? In June 2019, the government commissioned a report through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to “help inform the development of evidence-based digital skills policy”. It positioned this alongside another piece of research from a year earlier, with Margot James, then minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, saying: “I want the UK to have a world leading digital economy which supports business needs and promotes technological innovation.” 18 months on, and with the Coronavirus pandemic putting a strain on every area of public policy and investment, can this country still meet that aim? Or will its competitiveness and knowledge base lag behind nations that are doing more to address the growing skills gap worldwide?
  • Facebook will move UK users’ data to the US post-Brexit
    The move raises concerns as the US has much weaker data protection laws than across the EU Facebook is planning to shift its UK-based user accounts to data privacy agreements with its corporate headquarters in California. User data is currently stored at Facebook’s European head offices in Dublin. However, due to the UK leaving the EU, in which Ireland remains, the legal relationship between the two countries is subject to change. The move could mean that UK authorities are better able to recover data for criminal investigations, thanks to the CLOUD Act that has made cross-border data transfers much easier. However, it has raised concerns as the US has much weaker data protection laws than Europe, and sources suggest Facebook is making the change partly because the EU privacy regime is among the world’s strictest.
  • New plans set out to transform procurement, providing more value for money and benefitting small business
    New plans to overhaul procurement rules, cutting red tape and making it easier for smaller businesses to win government contracts have been launched today. Green paper will set out long-planned changes to UK’s procurement rules, putting value for money and transparency at the heart of the new approach Plans will cut red tape, reduce bureaucracy and help unleash wider social benefits from public money spent on procurement New rules for lower value contracts will allow more UK based SMEs to win government business The measures, which have been developed over the last 14 months by a team of specialists in international procurement and set out in a green paper, take advantage of new powers now that we have left the European Union.
  • Procuring in a crisis: The government must learn from the PPE uproar
    Covid-19 has revealed a great deal about how governments respond to crises. The results have been varied: from unprecedented schemes to support furloughed workers up and running a matter of days, to a contact tracing app still plagued with issues months later. In fact, while the pandemic may have shown how quickly things can be delivered, this urgency has unveiled holes in the government’s response. And nowhere is this more glaring than in the procurement process.
  • Why can’t tech firms decide on working from home strategies?
    You’d have thought companies that peddle digital transformation would have more conviction in it Is working from home a good thing? Should employees be allowed to continue working remotely even after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided? How much flexibility is enough? Despite its reputation for finding answers to almost every question out there, Google is apparently struggling with these. Currently, it’s testing a “hypothesis” for a flexible two-day remote working strategy to see how it affects “productivity, collaboration and wellbeing”, according to The New York Times. This is despite already having nine months of mass remote working to check all of that out, both using internal data and any intel it’s gleaned from those of us who use its services.
  • How has coronavirus impacted local government IT spending?
    It recently emerged that, to pre-empt the anticipated negative impact of the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December, Worcestershire County Council is looking to stock up on £20,000 of essential IT items before the end of this year. The quickfire procurement exercise suggests that next year could be a challenging one for any local authorities planning to make investments in IT or digital services. And analysis of government data conducted by PublicTechnology shows that the impact of Covid-19 – both operationally and financially – has already noticeably stymied local government spending on tech. In 2020’s third quarter spending across the sector on IT products, technology services, and software development was considerably lower than in the corresponding period last year – with the number and values of deals shrinking noticeably.
  • Designing Internet First Digital Services
    NHS-Digital have issued guidance for organisations that are designing services aimed at the Health and Social Care market. Building or remediating a Digital Service to be available over the public internet will involve the following steps.
  • Remote Working Drives New Growth for 5G and Edge Computing
    As data centre technology is being designed for 5G and the edge, there is a need for increased performance, open-source software, and new data standards. Since the dawn of the internet, our world has been becoming increasingly data-driven each day. The World Economic Forum estimates that there is 44 ZB of accumulated data generated by this year. That’s 44 sextillion bytes – 40 times more bits of data than exist stars in the (observable) universe. But the pandemic drastically accelerated that process. It’s been over six months now since most Americans started quarantining and social distancing to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. With businesses relying on and enforcing remote working policies during these months, employees have learned to become masters of the art of Zoom and embrace dozens of new digital services to support their work. Naturally, this digital boom strained the network infrastructure – almost to the point of breaking. In the starting months of quarantine, Netflix and YouTube had to enact resolution caps to keep up with the increased traffic, while Zoom couldn’t handle the initial stress and crashed. It became obvious that the infrastructure these solutions were relying on wasn’t up to snuff. This quickly led to immense investments in the latest hardware solutions in 2020, which are only expected to continue into 2021 as businesses accelerate their digital transformation plans.
  • Google Cloud, AWS and Azure want to ‘friend’ telcos, but not every telco is ready to click ‘accept’
    Because, in part, of their millions of last mile connections and central offices, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud are directing a laser-like focus on telcos. Google Cloud made some noise last week in the telecommunications space by announcing an ecosystem of over 30 partners that will serve up more than 200 partner applications at the edge. Earlier this year, Google Cloud announced its telecommunications strategy that included its Anthos for Telecom, which is a platform for delivering workloads to the network edge on Google Cloud. Anthos is an open hybrid and multi-cloud application platform that offers telecommunications companies the flexibility to modernize existing applications, build new ones and securely run them on-premises and across multiple clouds.
  • Weak and declining government effectiveness contributed to UK, Spain, Belgium and Italy being ravaged by first wave of COVID-19 says LSE
    Weak and deteriorating government effectiveness in the UK, Spain, Belgium, and Italy, compounded by failures to strike society-wide consensus, played a key role in these European countries being hit hardest by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, reveals a new study by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The research highlights that these countries — which had the highest share of excess deaths in Europe between January 1 – June 30, 2020 — have also seen the biggest relative decline in government effectiveness, as measured by the World Bank, over the last 20 years. Factors (1) such as government effectiveness, social connectivity, size and density of population, readiness of health systems, age structure, climate and air pollution were statistically analysed by the researchers to determine why some countries were hit harder than others by COVID-19.
  • This CEO Just Brilliantly Explained How Remote Work Will Change the World by 2030, and It’s Next-Level
    As more and more companies rush to adapt new remote work policies, many find themselves behind the curve. But what if you could look into the future? What if you could see how remote work will change the world over the next decade? Chris Herd believes he has. Herd is founder and CEO of Firstbase, a startup focused on helping solve its customers remote work problems. Over the course of the past nine months, he’s spoken to more than 1,500 people about the future of remote work, and how it’s likely to change the world in the very near future. Herd summed up his insights recently in a brilliant Twitter thread. Below you’ll find the highlights, along with my personal commentary.
  • AWS improves SD-WAN-to-cloud connectivity with Cisco, Aruba, Arista and others
    Amazon Web Services has rolled out a new, more native way to connect SD-WAN infrastructures with AWS resources. Introduced at its re:Invent virtual event, AWS Transit Gateway Connect promises a simpler, faster, and more secure way for customers to tie cloud-based resources back to data centres, remote office workers or other distributed access points as needed. Thirteen networking vendors including Cisco, Aruba, Arista, Alkira, Fortinet, Palo Alto, and Versa announced support for the technology, which offers higher throughput and increased security for distributed cloud workloads.
  • Vodafone targets £1B UK market for ‘military-grade’ security
    Vodafone has been selling services with “military-grade” levels of security to parts of the British government since 1989, when telecom for most organizations was just a fixed line into a building. Today’s businesses must deal with the whole mix of broadband, mobile and machine-based communications. Add in a pandemic, and the changes to working practices it has wrought, and top-notch communications security is a big deal outside government circles, too. Cue the launch of a new business unit promising those organizations the same high levels of security that Vodafone has offered to government customers for the past 31 years. Vodafone Business Security Enhanced (VBSE), as the division is called, will cater to an addressable market worth about £1 billion (US$1.3 billion) in revenues each year, says Steve Knibbs, the head of VBSE. He is confident Vodafone can boost annual revenues from about £70 million ($93 million) previously, when government demands were the focus, to about £150 million ($200 million) in the next two-and-a-half years. “We are on track to do that,” he tells Light Reading. Security, of course, is already a component of Vodafone’s offer to business customers. What distinguishes VBSE is an extra level of guarantees that could appeal strongly to providers of critical national infrastructure and organizations with a repository of sensitive data. Knibbs says Vodafone has effectively taken a lot of existing knowledge and services and created another “onion layer” around them.
  • ISP Sky Broadband Sets New UK Traffic Record of 18.29Tbps
    Customers of UK ISP Sky Broadband helped to push internet traffic up to a new peak of 18.29Tbps (Terabits per second) last Sunday 6th December 2020, which is up sharply from the previous peak of 16.6Tbps recorded only last month (here). Sky said their network coped well with this surge. Rival internet provider TalkTalk also set a new record last Sunday (here), which was largely attributed to cold weather and COVID-19 helping to encourage consumers to watch live football matches and films on various different video streaming services. Sky told ISPreview.co.uk that they saw a similar trend, particularly on their own services and via Netflix.
  • ISP Zen Internet UK Warns of XMas Day Internet Traffic Surge
    A new Censuswide survey of 2,005 UK gamers, which was commissioned by broadband ISP Zen Internet, has warned that internet traffic could jump higher than usual on Christmas Day as people unwrap the new generation of video game consoles (Xbox X, PS5) and games, most of which will demand large software updates. Zen fears that gamers could be “sat twiddling their thumbs on Christmas morning” as slow WiFi and broadband worries threaten to turn the festive season into a frustrating one. The ISP suggests that gamers who download could face an average wait of 45 minutes for updates and installations (we aren’t told how they calculated this), with 6% admitting they’ve had to wait 3 hours to download games in the past.
  • BT fined £6.3m for breaking Ofcom rules in Northern Ireland tender
    Ofcom has today fined BT £6.3m after its network division failed to give a rival company the same information as BT’s own bid team during the tender for a public sector telecoms contract in Northern Ireland in 2017/18. The penalty of £6,300,000 is the result of an investigation into a complaint made to Ofcom by telecoms company Eir. It incorporates a 30 per cent reduction to reflect BT’s agreement to settle Ofcom’s investigation by admitting full liability. The complaint related to BT’s conduct during the tender for a high-value contract to provide essential telecoms services to public sector organisations in Northern Ireland. Ofcom said Openreach and BT cooperated with its investigation.
  • Wales Infrastructure Report Wants Focus on Mobile, Not FTTP Broadband
    The National Infrastructure Commission for Wales (NICW) has published a report that calls on the Welsh Government to “urgently establish” a Barrier Busting Taskforce to aid investment in broadband, but they also warn that “too much attention” has been paid to FTTP and “not enough” on improving Mobile Broadband (e.g. 5G). According to the latest data from Thinkbroadband, just 18% of premises in Wales can today access a “full fibre” (FTTP) broadband ISP network, which rises to nearly 26% for gigabit lines (combines FTTP and Cable DOCSIS) and 95% for “superfast” (30Mbps+) speeds. Meanwhile Ofcom’s data from May 2020 found that outdoor 4G mobile coverage by all operators is 93%, but this drops to just 58% when looking at geographic coverage.
  • Five things we’ve learned from researching the GOV.UK account
    We are trialling a GOV.UK account. Why? The answer is probably completely unsurprising: we believe a GOV.UK account can help us better meet our users’ needs. GOV.UK was built to help transform how people interact with the government. It achieved this by making government services quick to find, easy to understand and simple to use. For simple tasks, where the user knows what they are looking for and can achieve their goal quite quickly, GOV.UK works well. But often things users need to do are complex and involve multiple steps and interactions across time. When these different steps cross departmental boundaries, things can get particularly difficult because government departments are not always joined up. And unfortunately there is a risk that this could get worse as each government department builds their own account functionality to meet their specific purposes. We know that there are over 100 places on GOV.UK where a user can login already, and that trend will only continue.
  • Panasonic clarifies timescales for communication business closure
    anasonic has clarified timescales following the news that it will be closing its business communication unit. The company will end business in this sector in March of next year, but will continue to support channel partners and customers until December 2022. A spokesperson explained, “Panasonic has decided on a global basis to terminate its Communication Business and Document Business. This is not a regional or local market decision. We regret that we will be unable to continue this business which indeed has a long history. However, due to major changes in the business environment for both categories and an overall shrinking market in these categories and thereby a continuing deficit over a longer period of time, we have been investigating about the future of this business further but had to come to the conclusion we would not be able to ensure profit any time to be foreseen.
  • Bank of England moves to ‘unlock potential’ of cloud
    The Bank of England (BoE) appointed Appvia, a London-based cloud services start-up, to help it integrate cloud technology across its operations last week. The BoE’s head of digital platforms, Oliver Tweedie, said the partnership would “help us realise the Bank’s cloud ambitions and unlock the potential of the cloud” and “build the future of cloud services across our organisation”. The appointment marks a significant step up in the BoE’s interest in cloud technology. The bank said Appvia will support its teams to test and deploy code in cloud environments; integrate the cloud into operational and cybersecurity processes; and roll out information governance compliance to support secure collaboration. Jon Shanks, Appvia’s chief executive and co-founder, said the BoE would be taking a “step-change in its approach to the cloud”. He added: “We look forward to working with all stakeholders at the BoE to support its technological transformation.”
  • Government issues public procurement guidance ahead of Brexit
    he Government has issued guidance surrounding public procurement ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union at the end of the transition period on December 31st. The guidance sets out several key points explaining how public procurement is due to change at the end of the transition period.
  • Digital transformation spending will catapult to $6.8 trillion by 2023
    IDC has forecast that global spending on digital transformation (DX) will reach a staggering $6.8 trillion globally by 2023. Furthermore, due to the impact of Covid-19, International Data Corporation (IDC) forecast that 65% of the world’s GDP would be digitized by 2022. One of the constant refrains this year related to Covid-19 is that the pandemic has accelerated companies’ digital transformations. With millions of employees working from home, the pandemic has led to an increased focus on putting more workloads and applications, such Microsoft 365 or Salesforce, into various cloud.
  • Wessex Internet Start 5G Project to Connect Rural Dorset Farms
    UK ISP Wessex Internet has today kicked off their side of the 5G RuralDorset (5GRD) project, which will use a mix of 5G technology and their existing fibre optic infrastructure to help bring data connectivity to remote rural farms. All of this will support the use of new sensors, drones and other so-called Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. At present Wessex Internet is probably better known for having deployed various Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband networks across rural parts of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire. Earlier this year they also joined the 5GRD project, which is being led by Dorset council and supported by £4.33m of public funding from the UK government.
  • Cityfibre Preps £75m FTTP Broadband Rollout in Bradford UK
    After a long wait Cityfibre has finally confirmed that they will begin the £75m rollout of a new 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP network in the West Yorkshire city of Bradford in Spring 2021. The city was first included into their plan two years ago, but until now not much has happened. The work will form part of the operator’s wider £4bn investment programme (here and here), which currently aims to cover around 1 million premises by the end of 2021 and then 8 million across 100+ cities and towns (c.30% of the UK) – the latter target is expected to be “substantially completed” by the end of 2025.
  • To Procurement and beyond — bridging the supplier information gap
    In many large businesses, it’s still very much the case that Procurement and Accounts Payable work separately. In fact, we could ask, do they really “talk” to each other at all? And that goes for other business units too. Why shouldn’t everything that touches sourcing, supplier, contract and risk management go beyond procurement and into the realms of other business lines? Traditionally we work in a very closed shop, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Certainly it could benefit the whole organization if it weren’t operating in silos.
  • Cloud spend to rocket in 2021, says Deloitte
    The coronavirus pandemic means the forecast for 2021 involves clouds. In fact, cloud spending worldwide will grow seven times faster next year than overall information technology (IT) spending, says a report today by Deloitte, the British multinational professional services firm. Cloud revenue growth will remain over 30% for each year between 2021 and 2025, predicts Deloitte’s Technology, Media, and Telecommunications report.
  • UK broadcasters ‘unlikely to survive’ without overhaul to regulations, claims Ofcom
    The UK’s traditional broadcasting industry ‘is unlikely to survive’ without the overhauling of broadcast laws and regulations, claims an explosive report from regulator Ofcom. According to its review of public service broadcasting (PSB), Ofcom has found that public service content is important to audiences and the creative economy but that it is at a critical juncture. Despite the continued success of British content and audiences taking increased value in seeing their own areas on screen, much of this is coming at the expense of traditional PSB channels – the BBC, ITV, STV, Channel 4, S4C and Channel 5.

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