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  • Data use in government: Where we’re going next
    Sue Bateman, Deputy Director for Data and Innovation at the Government Digital Service (GDS), explores data use in government and in this vein, where we’re going next
  • Openreach Consult on Closure Plans for 4,600 UK Exchanges
    Network access provider Openreach (BT) has today launched a new consultation on their plans to close 4,600 exchanges across the United Kingdom, which is largely reflective of the inevitable move away from copper-based broadband lines and toward a Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) orientated future.
  • Zoom tops the 2020 mobile app charts
    Both Apple and Google have un veiled their app ‘awards’, but since the criteria for these are opaque and presumably have a commercial element, they’re fairly meaningless. Of much more interest are the simple charts showing which were downloaded the most. Apple has published these for 2020, but Google just has its standard charts, which presumably cover the past few weeks.
  • UK brings forward its deadline for carriers to ditch Huawei
    he British government has brought forward a ban preventing carriers from installing Huawei’s telecoms equipment. Operators are banned from installing Huawei’s equipment in the UK’s 5G networks from September 2021, the government has said. The vendor’s gear is still banned from purchase as of 31st December 2020.
  • Openreach Takes UK ISP TalkTalk to Court Over Unpaid Fees
    Network access provider Openreach (BT) has confirmed that they’ve “reluctantly” begun a high court case against budget broadband ISP TalkTalk, which reportedly centres on a dispute over unpaid fees (said to be worth c.£16m) for wholesale access to its high-speed fibre optic based Ethernet products.
  • Concerns Grow Over Delays to Devon and Somerset Broadband
    The troubled Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) project faced heavy criticism yesterday after UK Government MPs in the House of Commons highlighted on-going delays in awarding the new Phase 2 rollout contract(s), which aim to extend “superfast broadband” into more rural areas. But Christmas may bring a resolution.
  • The intelligent way to automate the network
    What part can artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) play in the automation of the network? A panel of experts give their thoughts on the future of smart connectivity.
  • Openreach in Salisbury stops selling copper based services – updated
    Salisbury is the pilot for the eventual retirement of the Openreach copper network and anyone in the exchange area now upgrading, regrading or switching their broadband or telephone provider they will only be able to order FTTP (full fibre) products.
  • What’s Your Work From Home DR Plan?
    It’s almost December and the signs are pointing to a continuation of the current state of working from home for a lot of people out there. Whether it’s a surge in cases that is causing businesses to close again or a change in the way your company looks at offices and remote work, you’re likely going to ring in the new year at your home keyboard in your pajamas with a cup of something steaming next to your desk.
  • How public sector procurement can get better
    In a year when public sector procurement has been subject to intense scrutiny, open data could be the key to regaining the public’s lost trust
  • UK review urges mandatory transparency on use of algorithms in public sector
    There should be a “mandatory transparency obligation” for UK public sector organisations that use algorithms to make decisions affecting people’s lives, an independent review has advised. The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI), a panel that advises the UK government on artificial intelligence and data-driven technology, said public bodies should be required to publish information on how the decision to use an algorithm was made, the type of algorithm used, how it was used, and the steps taken to ensure fair treatment.
  • Fury as Alternative UK Fibre Networks Hit by New Openreach Fee UPDATE2
    Openreach (BT) has generated a furious response from alternative UK broadband networks (AltNets) after they introduced a new fee on certain FTTP linked connections, which broadband ISPs have described as being “punitive” and a “blatant attempt by [the operator] to regain a monopoly” that is likely to “slow the rollout of full fibre.”
  • How service level agreements can ensure real uptime
    Large telcos and networking vendors have long used service level agreements (SLAs) to overpromise and underdeliver, leaving customers with serious service issues and substandard connectivity
  • New rules from 01 Jan 2021 Take action now
    The UK has left the EU, and the transition period will end on 31 December 2020. For businesses and organisations in the telecoms and information services sector, general guidance on the actions needed by December 31 can be found below.
  • A reminder that superfast and high speed broadband is not the same as Gigabit broadband
    This week saw a big change in ambition from the Government in terms of helping deliver a Gigabit UK. The Spending Review saw the old as close to 100% coverage of Gigabit broadband target watered down to 85% with £1.2 billion of funding to help in the non commercial areas.
  • The Race To Crack Battery Recycling—Before It’s Too Late
    Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. These cells, produced on site by Panasonic, are destined to be bundled together by the thousands in the battery packs of new Teslas. But not all the batteries are cut out for a life on the road. Panasonic ships truckloads of cells that don’t pass their qualification tests to a facility in Carson City, about a half hour’s drive south. This is the home of Redwood Materials, a small company founded in 2017 with an ambition to become the anti-Gigafactory, a place where batteries are cooked down into raw materials that will serve as the grist for new cells.
  • Study of 5G and 4G Congestion Finds Three UK Suffers Most
    Crowdsourced benchmarking firm Tutela has just published the results of a new study, which examined the effect of network congestion on 4G and the latest ultrafast 5G based mobile broadband networks from EE (BT), Vodafone, O2 and Three UK. Sadly Three suffered the most and slowed by over 36% during peak hours, on average.
  • TalkTalk Considers Legal Action to Stop Openreach Price Rises
    Budget UK phone and broadband ISP TalkTalk has reportedly approached Sky Broadband and Vodafone about the possibility of combining forces in a legal challenge to halt a key change in Ofcom’s Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review 2021-26 (FTMR), which could result in Openreach (BT) charging higher wholesale prices.
  • UK’s Big Four auditors await shake-up as corruption probes add up
    Britain’s audit sector, dominated by the so-called Big Four accountancy giants, is shortly expected to discover how it must reinvent itself amid a series of probes into alleged corruption, including one linked to the collapse of German electronic payments group Wirecard.
  • The Clever Way Augmented Reality May Help Rollout Full Fibre
    The on-going rollout of gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP networks across the UK, as well as in other countries, may soon be starting to benefit from the use of Augmented Reality. This can help engineers to see – with more clarity than ever – exactly what sort of infrastructure already exists under the surface.
  • Union calls for rethink on Civil Service pay freeze after 100,000 sign petition
    A petition calling on the Government to reverse a pay freeze on civil servants has been signed by more than 100,000 people. The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union called for a parliamentary debate following support for its campaign to reward civil servants with a decent wage rise after a “decade of pay restraint”. The union said Civil Service pay has fallen in value by around 20% over 10 years while government workers have been “overpaying“ to their pension contributions.
  • The Treasury must release more money – and relinquish more control
    Rishi Sunak has spent billions of pounds rescuing the economy during the year of Covid, but he needs to go further. To start with, the chancellor, who set out his 2021-22 spending plans last week, needs to make permanent the £20-a-week increase in universal credit which is due to expire in the spring. Without that increase, about 6 million households, many of them the most vulnerable to financial shocks, will lose £1,000 a year of vital funds just as the unemployment rate is expected to hit its post-pandemic peak. He also needs to reverse the £10bn of cuts to Whitehall departments due to take effect next year. These are spending reductions that will hammer the budgets of those areas left unprotected by his guarantees to boost spending for health, schools and the military.
  • Matt Hancock’s temporary NHSX chief still in charge, a year on
    The chief executive of an organisation championed by Matt Hancock to promote a “digital transformation” in the NHS remains in post a year after the health secretary appointed him, without interview, on a temporary basis. NHSX has been heavily promoted by Hancock, who created it in 2019 to spur digital change in the health service. During the pandemic he has assigned it high-priority projects as part of the UK’s coronavirus response. Excerpts from a draft Deloitte audit, compiled in January and seen by the Guardian, state that Matthew Gould, a former diplomat and civil servant, was appointed chief executive of NHSX by the health secretary on a “temporary” basis.
  • Algorithmic transparency obligations needed in public sector
    Public sector’s use of algorithms with social impacts needs to be more transparent to foster trust and hold organisations responsible for the negative outcomes their systems may produce, says report
  • CCS looks to hire CDIO
    Crown Commercial Service is offering nearly £150,000 for the role of chief digital information officer, who will be in charge of developing and delivering its digital and data strategy
  • Microsoft’s Creepy New ‘Productivity Score’ Gamifies Workplace Surveillance
    Microsoft rolled out its new “Productivity Score” feature this month, which lets bosses track how their employees use Microsoft’s suite of tools. If that sounds like an Orwellian nightmare in the making to you, you’re not alone—privacy experts are criticizing the company for essentially gamifying workplace surveillance
  • CCS launches Technology Online Purchasing Content framework
    Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has launched a new procurement framework for off-the-shelf technology such as laptops, desktop screens and accompanying software.
  • How we designed the GOV.UK accounts trial
    We’ve just launched our first trial of a GOV.UK account. We blogged about it recently, and it’s a big part of the GOV.UK strategy for the future. We want users to experience a government that is more proactive and tailored to their needs, and we think accounts could help us do that.
  • Vodafone using mobile networks to map drone flight paths
    Vodafone is working with Ericsson to use mobile network data to help map flight paths for connected drones Vodafone and Ericsson claimed a technological breakthrough yesterday, using network data to hel devise flight paths for drones, allowing the devices to remain reliably connected to the mobile network
  • UK Government tightening telco security laws
    Large fines could be in store for operators who do not keep their networks up to scratch The UK government is set to pass a new law aiming to increase the cybersecurity standards of the country’s telecoms networks.
  • AI Can Run Your Work Meetings Now
    A new wave of startups is trying to optimize meetings, from automated scheduling tools to facial recognition that measures who’s paying attention.
  • The Perfect Storm: How Digital Transformation is Reshaping Security and Networking
    Businesses need network security that is more resilient and able to adapt as the business embraces innovation, the networks evolve, and the threat landscape changes.
  • Data Mobility and Freedom Maximizes Its Business Value
    Companies that fail to manage their unstructured file and object data often end up with unstructured data silos, leaving valuable intelligence on the table.
  • What next for digital identity in the UK? Industry welcomes latest DCMS plan
    The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which is responsible for supporting digital identity in the private sector, has held a series of “listening exercises” with interested companies to outline its plans for a UK digital identity and attributes trust framework.
  • Vodafone unveils new range of IoT services to get your business connected
    Vodafone is launching a new range of end-to-end Internet of Things (IoT) services as it continues its transition from being a pure telecom business to the wider world of connected technology.
  • Public sector health procurement: Spark DPS
    Intended as a helpful route to market for cutting edge technologies – something that the public sector has struggled to achieve for years – Spark Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) offers a more streamlined procurement framework to address this problem.
  • New Bill Laid to BAN Huawei and Boost UK Telecoms Security
    The Government will today publish their Telecommunications (Security) Bill, which imposes new rules to improve the security of UK networks (mobile and broadband) and ban “high risk vendors” like Huawei, while also threatening fines of up to £100k a day (or 10% of turnover) against operators that fail to meet the standard.
  • Vodafone Target Net Zero Total Global Carbon Emissions by 2040
    Mobile network operator Vodafone has today become the latest telecoms giant to make a major climate related commitment, which will see them reduce their total global carbon emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2040 (i.e. removing as many emissions as they produce) – ten years sooner than previously planned.
  • Chrome extensions will have to show how they use your data
    Google’s ongoing efforts to crack down on wayward Chrome extensions now include more transparency for your data. The internet giant is introducing a policy in January 2021 that will require data use disclosures for extensions in the Chrome Web Store. Creators will have to explain the kinds of data they’re collecting, such as sign-ins or personally identifiable info. They’ll also have to promise they honor the new policy, which bans selling data to third parties, using data for unrelated purposes and relying on data for credit checks and moneylending.
  • UK national security and investment bill set for Commons reading
    Ministers are close to publishing a long-awaited national security and investment bill, aiming to tighten the rules governing foreign investment across Britain’s critical infrastructure and parts of its defence industries. The proposals emerge at a time of heightened political concern about Chinese ownership in key parts of the economy – while the coronavirus pandemic has also revealed dependencies on foreign suppliers for critical goods. A bill had been promised in December’s Queen’s speech and sources indicated it could be published and given its first reading later this week, with a view to a second reading in the Commons the week after.
  • 10 Future Cloud Computing Trends To Watch In 2021
    Cloud computing, which underpinned the world’s economy, global supply chains and remote workforces during the coronavirus pandemic, will continue to be an essential target for organizations looking for increased scalability, business continuity and cost efficiency in 2021. “The effects of COVID-19 will linger throughout 2021, as businesses will look to lay a foundation for increased […]
  • How Dominic Cummings wasted the greatest opportunity of his life
    When Dominic Cummings took the stage in London at the Institute for Public Policy Research, a think-tank, in November 2014, few outside the Westminster political bubble had heard of him. Dressed in a plain black suit with a skinny black tie, he looked like he’d walked off the set of “Reservoir Dogs”. He was introduced as a person with “interesting and controversial views”. Though he would later gain a reputation as a snarling hatchet-man, he laid out in measured tones his views about “fundamental aspects of the way the world works”. This involved a helter-skelter tour of disciplines such as astronomy, entomology and neurology (Stars! Ants! Neurons!). Quite what this amounted to was hard to say, but he spoke with the confidence of a man who thinks that everyone appreciates how right he is.
  • UK and Bharti take control of failed satellite firm OneWeb
    The OneWeb satellite operator has formally emerged from bankruptcy. Ownership has transferred to a new company with its principal shareholders now being the UK government and the Indian conglomerate Bharti Global Ltd. The new holding takes possession of all the operator’s assets, including the 74 satellites it has in orbit and all the ground infrastructure to support them. It means the London-headquartered business can now crack on with building its broadband megaconstellation.
  • Investigation into government procurement during COVID-19 pandemic
    The National Audit Office (NAO) has reported a lack of transparency and adequate documentation of some key decisions, such as why particular suppliers were chosen or how government identified and managed potential conflicts of interest, in the awarding of some contracts while government was procuring large volumes of goods and services at high speed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some contracts were also awarded after work had already begun, and many were not published in the timeframe they should have been. By 31 July, over 8,600 contracts, worth £18.0 billion, related to government’s response to the pandemic had been awarded. Individual contracts ranged in value from less than £100 to £410 million. Ninety per cent of the contracts by value (£16.2 billion) were awarded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and its national bodies. In comparison, in 2019-20 DHSC awarded 174 contracts worth £1.1 billion, less than seven per cent of what it and its national bodies awarded between January and July 2020 in response to the pandemic.
  • Impact of New Government Policy on Social Value in Public Procurement
    The UK Government has issued a policy note that, for the first time, requires some contracting authorities to evaluate social value when awarding public contracts. The likelihood of social value being the determining factor between bidders in a tight procurement will now increase. In this short briefing, we will highlight the key aspects of the policy and its implications for authorities and businesses
  • This Is Getting Ridiculous
    As a political weapon, Section 230 is becoming a mutually assured destruction device. I’m old enough to remember a time when the phrase “Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act” meant nothing to the general public. It was about 18 months ago, and in the meantime, millions of people have become self-declared experts on the topic. We’ve suffered through countless congressional hearings that were touted as an exploration of how to improve the law only to descend into lawmakers accusing CEOs of shadow-banning their best friend’s band. We’ve seen some half-assed efforts to tweak the law in ways that haven’t gathered any traction. And gradually, somehow, both Republicans and Democrats began to say that they support changing the law in the future.
  • Anyone Can Wear Alexa on Their Face Now
    Amazon’s Echo Frames smart glasses aren’t invite-only anymore. That’s right, baby, the plebes can now preorder the Alexa-enabled glasses for $250. Announced last year, the Echo Frames were initially part of Amazon’s Day One Editions initiative—sort of like a beta test program where a few people are invited to try new products. That version of the glasses had a retail price of $180. So what gives with the $70 price bump? For the public launch, Amazon says it’s beefed up the glasses with better audio, longer battery, new color options, and a few new features as well.
  • BT may mull sale of Openreach stake, says CEO
    BT’s Philip Jansen said he was ‘open minded’ about the idea of a sale once the fibre regulatory framework was agreed in 2021
  • IT supply chain: Product-delivery delays; Tablets up, smartphones fall; Prices volatile
    020 has undoubtedly been a challenging year for many, with new ways of working driving demand and constraint for work-from-home IT products. Naturally, the confluence of demand on the shared B2C and B2B supply chain has seen delays in getting these products through to end users as online retail has boomed. However, as supply chain investment starts to yield deliveries and the flow of product under constraint eases, the last quarter of 2020 presents a more positive outlook.
  • Government awards £490m in Covid ICT contracts
    The UK government had awarded contracts worth nearly half a billion pounds for IT and telecoms related to the Covid-19 pandemic by the end of July, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).
  • Government’s Rushed, Biased Procurement Process Exposed by SPENDING WATCHDOG
    A new National Audit Office report – which found that the Government established a ‘high-priority’ lane for PPE suppliers with political links – does little to dispel the notion of cronyism at the heart of the Boris Johnson administration
  • Did a University Use Facial Recognition to ID Student Protesters?
    University of Miami students accuse the campus police of using the software. Administrators deny it, but they had previously touted the capability.
  • What Will the Future Hold for Building and Campus Networks
    2020 has been a year of seismic changes in the way we work and live. The Covid-19 pandemic’s impact has been felt in every area of life, and it has brought new changes to venues and campuses struggling to stay relevant in a time of mass isolation. For many building owners, nice-to-have technologies have become must-have technologies in the age of Covid-19, accelerating technology improvements that were formerly on the back burner. Let’s look at some key trends impacting building and campus networks that we expect to see in 2021.
  • Achieving WAN Transformation with Security-Driven Networking
    The need to maximize user experience, whether for employees or customers, has been a driving force behind much of the digital transformation networks have undergone. Things like business-critical applications, data-driven manufacturing and supply chains, immediate access to essential information, and advanced productivity tools require uninterrupted access to information from any place, using any device, and from any location. One of the areas of the network that has undergone the most significant transformation, largely in response to data and resources being distributed throughout the increasingly distributed network—most often in the cloud—has been the WAN. SD-WAN provides the flexibility, performance, and reliability—providing almost instant ROI—that today’s complex networks require. They enable accelerated access to applications while reducing or eliminating delays and jitter that can come from streaming high-performance applications over the public internet.
  • NHS completes transition to HSCN
    All 950 NHS, social care, private sector and local authority organisations have migrated from the legacy N3 network to the Health and Social Care Network
  • GDS looks for head of technology and architecture
    GDS role is offering up to £85,000 a year and includes being responsible for developing the programme as government aims to make it a platform for content, rather than just a publishing system
  • Government creates £1bn deal to buy direct from major software vendors
    The government is creating a £1bn-plus framework to allow organisations across the public sector to buy a comprehensive range of back-office software tools direct from major vendors. The Crown Commercial Service has published a contract notice inviting bids for a procurement vehicle covering the supply of software licences and related support. The deal, which will not be split into subsections, will include publishers that can offer one or more of an array of back-office programs. CCS said: “There will be one lot covering the following: enterprise resource planning; human capital management; financial accounting; procurement; reporting; customer relationship management; workflow technologies; content services; service portal; integration software; [and] support and maintenance for these services.” The framework, which will be worth an estimated £1.2bn, is due come into effect in April 2021 and will last for an initial term of two and a half years, with the option to extend this by a further 18 months.
  • Judopay partners with UK Government to drive the adoption of digital payments across the public sector
    The strategic partnership will also help to boost financial inclusion in the UK Judopay, a leading mobile-centric payments provider, today announces it has been appointed to the UK Government’s Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Payment Acceptance Framework, which will help all public sector entities reduce their costs and create better, seamless payment experiences. In a successful bid in the RM6118 Payment Acceptance framework, Judopay is now offering its payments solutions to all of the customer organisations that fall under the CCS framework. Working in the public sector, and funded by the taxpayer, these entities required access to not only a broad range of digital payments but a high-quality, secure, reliable and cost effective payment service. Judopay is looking to help all public sector entities improve their payments experience while reducing costs, to make everything from tax payments to donations to charities more adaptable both during and post-COVID. Additionally, Judopay’s “acquirer agnostic” approach will allow public sector entities to benefit from innovative payment solutions without having to uproot existing acquiring relationships.
  • Government explores creation of in-house ‘Crown Consultancy’
    The government is considering creating an in-house consultancy arm in a bid to stem the use of consultants that one minister has said is infantilising civil servants. The Financial Times reported earlier this month that the government was planning to create the so-called Crown Consultancy to cut the use of external consultants, which has risen in recent years to provide extra capacity and skills to aid with Brexit planning and the response to coronavirus. The project is being led by Cabinet Office minister Lord Agnew, who warned earlier this month that the use of such external suppliers was “providing poor value for money” and “infantilises the civil service by depriving our brightest people of opportunities to work on some of the most challenging, fulfilling and crunchy issues”. In his letter in September, Agnew said the government seemed to be ineffectual at using graduate Fast Stream civil servants to carry out work that is outsourced to consultants, “using similar people at a vastly inflated cost”.
  • Millennials push enterprises into the circular economy
    The millennial generation is becoming a driving force behind the circular economy of used IT equipment. IT shops have typically bought used gear if they needed to replace old equipment and couldn’t get parts from the vendor. But the idea of buying a low-mileage server with one or two years of use wasn’t very popular. Companies typically bought new. But that’s changing. IT shops of all sizes are increasingly buying used gear, both brand name and white box brands from China, according to IDC. The research firm puts the CAGR at 5% and estimates sales of used IT infrastructure gear will reach $36 billion by 2024. The deals are being done through the major OEMs as well as resellers like ITRenew, which buys servers from hyperscalers, refreshes them, certifies they are functioning, and resells them.