Tech News

BT offers unlimited data for remote learning

Aiming to help children who need support in virtual schooling during the UK’s third Covid-19 lockdown, BT has launched the Lockdown Learning Support Scheme.

In response to the closure of schools and colleges, all major UK broadband companies have removed data caps on their broadband packages and, on 5 January, the government launched its Get Help With Technology programme, which aims to increase data allowances on mobile devices to support disadvantaged children.

It is designed to expand temporarily allowances for mobile phone users on certain networks, so that children and young people can access remote education if their face-to-face education is disrupted. Schools, trusts and local authorities can request mobile data increases when schools report a closure or have pupils self-isolating, also on behalf of children who cannot attend school face-to-face because they are clinically extremely vulnerable or restrictions prevent them going to school.

Networks involved in the scheme

Qualcomm appoints new CEO

Expressing confidence that it now has all of the necessary corporate building blocks in place to preside over what its retiring chief executive regards as the single largest opportunity in the company’s history, communications technology processor firm Qualcomm has announced Cristiano Amon as successor to Steve Mollenkopf as CEO.

The move will be effective from 30 June, after Mollenkopf informed the company’s board of his decision to retire as CEO following 26 years with the company.

Mollenkopf became CEO in March of 2014, and began his career as an engineer. For nearly three decades, he has helped define and lead Qualcomm’s strategy and technology roadmap.

The company credits his work helping to propel smartphones into the mainstream and making Qualcomm a leader in 3G, 4G and now 5G.

He also oversaw the firm’s expansion into new industry segments such as the internet of things (IoT), RF front end and automotive

Trump bans Chinese payment apps

US president has signed an executive order banning the use of eight Chinese payment apps, including Alipay and WeChat Pay.

As Donald Trump is dragged kicking and screaming from the White House, he signed his latest order – set to become law in 45 days – which cites the Chinese apps as a threat to US national security.

The executive order said: “The US must take aggressive action against those who develop or control Chinese-connected software applications to protect our national security.”

It said that by accessing personal devices such as smartphones, “Chinese-connected software applications can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information”.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said the ban goes against fair competition.

The executive order could be quashed in the coming days when president elect Joe Biden takes office.

In August, Trump signed two executive orders banning Chinese

Operators join UK government’s kids’ mobile access scheme

As teachers and pupils alike take onboard the spectacular volte-face by the UK government to transition from declaring schools safe to a Covid risk in a matter of hours, the authorities have responded to concerns that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds will lose out as lessons move to exclusively online remote learning for the foreseeable future.

Mass availability to high-quality broadband connections and good mobile connectivity were already hugely contentious issues in the UK well before the pandemic hit and the first lockdown was declared in March 2020.

Research from UK comms regulator Ofcom in December 2020 noted that while the UK’s domestic networks coped well with the added strain of mass home working and fibre roll-out gathered pace, a small but significant number of properties were still struggling to get connected. Ofcom estimated that 43,000 premises could not access either a decent fixed broadband service or good 4G coverage indoors.

Qualcomm expands 5G capabilities of Snapdragon 480 mobile devices

Communications technology provider Qualcomm Technologies has announced the Snapdragon 480 5G mobile platform, said to be the first four-series mobile platform equipped with 5G.

The company says the technology will give users access to truly global 5G connectivity and what it calls “series-defying” performance to power in-demand productivity and entertainment experiences. The new platform has a CPU with running capability up to 2.0GHz to deliver up to 100% performance improvement in CPU and GPU, and up to 70% artificial intelligence (AI) performance improvement compared with the previous generation.

Built-in capabilities for 5G and connectivity include the Snapdragon X51 5G modem-RF system to support mmWave and sub-6 GHz 5G; standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) modes; time division duplexing (TDD), frequency division duplexing (FDD) and dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) for top mobile performance and connectivity.

The modem also enables multi-gigabit 5G connections for what Qualcomm claims are near instantaneous uploads and

Openreach announces massive job creation plan for gigabit network deployment

BT’s broadband provision division, Openreach, has announced a massive job creation programme.

The new roles, located in communities throughout the country, are designed enable the company to continue improving service levels across its existing networks, while building and connecting customers to its new, full-fibre broadband network.

The expansion includes more than 2,500 full-time jobs in its service and network build divisions, and about 2,800 positions in its UK supply chain, through partners such as Kelly Group, Kier, MJ Quinn and Telent. Of the positions, 2,552 will be in direct labour and there will be 2,800 subcontractor roles, of which 1,600 are in service delivery, 700 chief engineering, and 500 in fibre network and delivery.

The announcement comes as BT hit a record build rate for its full-fibre broadband programme, which has set out to reach 20 million homes and businesses by the mid- to late 2020s –