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UK finally makes it onto Europe’s list of the top countries in fibre broadband (right at the bottom)



UK falling behind in fiber broadband network race
As the UK slides further down the broadband rankings, can a new approach to rollouts fix the problem?

The UK has finally made it onto Europe’s table of top countries in fibre broadband to the home (FTTH) and to the building (FTTB). Admittedly, the UK is still at the bottom of this European table, which requires a penetration of just one percent to qualify. This compares with Latvia, which topped the table for the third year in a row with 50.3 percent, though it’s only 11th worldwide. Happily, Ofcom, which regulates the UK communications market, has plans to improve things.

The table was published at the FTTH Council Europe conference held in Amsterdam this month, along with the FTTH Market Panorama prepared by IDATE.

According to the Market Panorama, Spain added the most new FTTH/B subscribers with 1,858,743, ahead of France with an extra 1,480,220 subscribers.

FTTH European ranking table 2018

Of course, not everyone who can get fibre broadband actually subscribes to it. The average availability for the EU’s 28 countries is 36.4 percent, while the average take-up rate is only 38.2 percent. However, in many countries – including Andorra, Belarus, Belgium, Latvia, the Netherlands and Romania – the take-up rate is over 50 percent. This is obviously important to ensure the profitability that drives investment.

The UK now has a penetration rate of only 1.5 percent and a take-up rate of 13.1 percent. This is desperately poor, but a marked improvement. The report says that FTTH/B subscriptions grew by 83 percent compared to September 2017, and there are now 369,250 UK subscribers out of 2,817,000 homes passed.

In some ways this gives a misleading impression of Britain’s broadband because of the popularity of FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) services such as BT Infinity. This uses old copper wiring and VDSL2 to deliver high-speed broadband from the street cabinet, but does not count as FTTH/B. According to Ofcom, the UK ranks second in the EU’s “big five” countries in ADSL. As a result, around 94 percent of UK premises can get “superfast” speeds of at least 30 Mbps, though only 45 percent subscribe to them.

SEE: IT pro’s guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)    

Ofcom published its £200 million plan to support full-fibre investment in July 2018. Its stated goal is “to deliver full-fibre to 15m premises by 2025 and to all premises in the UK by 2033”. Before that, says Ofcom, the UK government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) will allow people and businesses the legal right to request a decent broadband connection, “delivering download speeds of at least 10 Mbps and upload speeds of 1 Mbps by 2020”. Currently, only two percent of UK premises can’t get those speeds, according to Ofcom (PDF).

The UK’s progress was reflected at the end of the FTTH Conference when Greg Mesch, founder and CEO of CityFibre, was presented with the first Charles Kao Award (named after a Nobel prize-winner for optical communications) “for his extraordinary contribution to the acceleration of full fibre deployment in the UK, a country that has until recently sat far behind in the European rankings for FTTH/B access” (PDF)

CityFibre and Vodafone plan to cover 5 million homes by 2025.

Other companies are also contributing to the growth of FTTH/B in the UK. TalkTalk has set up a new company, FibreNation, to deliver fibre to 3 million homes, Virgin Media plans to reach 4 million premises by 2020, while Hyperoptic is delivering a full fibre network to 50 towns and cities. As usual, however, BT will be a major contributor, with Openreach planning to cover 10 million homes by 2025. There also are a lot of smaller contributors, many of whom are members of INCA, the Independent Networks Cooperative Association.

Copper switch-off

The real problem with the UK’s slow progress in FTTH/B is that it delays the desired “copper switch-off”. This is essential to avoid the high cost of maintaining two different networks. It will also increase reliability, reduce maintenance costs, cut energy use by 40-60 percent, and increase customer satisfaction, according to an FTTH Council Europe report by WIK-Consult (PDF).

Of course, switching off the copper network is one way to drive users to move to fibre broadband. Without that, idleness and inertia would keep many users on copper forever.

Australia started its copper switch-off in 2014, and New Zealand is also making progress. In Estonia, Telia has already switched off 70 percent of its copper exchanges, and Sweden 42 percent. This may involve using wireless connections rather than fibre for rural areas.

However, copper switch-off is a new idea to most UK users, and it may be another decade before they even have to think about it.

FTTH Global Ranking table 2018

No European country makes the top 10 in the world rankings for the adoption of FTTH and FTTB.

FTTH Council Europe


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LG’s Rollable Phone Is Dead, But Samsung Will Give You A Slidable Screen Instead



Choi didn’t go into detail about the screen resolution figures and whether the slideable concept was an OLED panel or an IPS LCD screen. In May 2022, Samsung Display showcased a few screen innovation prototypes, and one among them was a slideable OLED panel. However, it was geared toward phones with an Android UI running on them instead of PCs. We also don’t know if Samsung only plans to sell slideable panels for PCs, or whether it will be the first brand to actually make one such PC. Unlike its foldable smartphones that come in clamshell and tablet hybrid form factors, Samsung has been playing it relatively safe with its lineup of Galaxy Book laptops.

But that’s not where the tale of uncertainty for innovative PC form factors ends. Microsoft hasn’t really been keen on optimizing Windows for crazy form factors like foldables, and now, slideable PCs. In fact, the company abandoned its own ambitious dual-screen foldable PC, the Surface Neo, after announcing it at the 2019 hardware launch event. In fact, Microsoft even dumped the Windows 10X project, which was set to power foldable touchscreen-first PCs like the Surface Neo. With such as shaky history, any OEM on the planet would think twice before burning millions of dollars to make a slideable PC with a poorly optimized operating system to boot.

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2023 Bentley Bentayga EWB First Drive: Living Like The Super-Rich



Beyond the longer rear doors, what you don’t see are the mechanical changes. This is, Bentley is at pains to point out, no simple stretch of the regular SUV. There’s an entirely new underbody, unique to this Bentayga, and 2,500 or so new parts compared to the existing short wheelbase car. Enough that th automaker is insisting that this is effectively a new, standalone line, rather than just a derivative.

The 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 is carried across, here tuned for 542 horsepower and 568 pound-foot of torque, along with all-wheel drive and an eight speed, dual-clutch transmission. 0-60 mph arrives in 4.5 seconds, Bentley says, just a tenth of a second slower than the standard wheelbase SUV with the same engine. Surging out of tunnels like a silicone-lubed lobster down a length of cast iron pipe, the Bentayga’s healthy torque feels like a happy precursor to the automaker’s all-electric evolution.

Right now there’s no sign of a hybrid Bentayga EWB, or one using Bentley’s mighty W12 engine. The latter propels the Bentayga Speed from 0-60 in a mere 3.8 seconds, and bests the EWB’s 180 miles per hour top speed by another 10 mph, but it’s a heavy powertrain. With the Bentayga EWB V8 already 13 pounds heftier than the Bentayga Speed W12, and a couple hundred pounds more than the regular Bentayga V8, it’s clear that pairing the longer SUV with the twelve-cylinder engine would result in a something even beefier.

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How To Use Active Noise Cancellation On Your Apple AirPods Pro 2



Now that you know how to activate ANC, here are a few ways you can tell if whether active noise cancellation is enabled. The most obvious way to check is to put both AirPods Pro earbuds in your ears; if you can hardly hear anything around you, it’s enabled. This isn’t always a given though, because ANC and Transparency modes sound very similar when you’re in a quiet room. If you suspect ANC isn’t working on your AirPods Pro, you may want to make sure earwax or debris isn’t building up on the earbuds’ mesh (via Apple). If you need to clean the AirPods, we have a guide on how to safely do so.

Another way to check whether ANC is enabled is directly on your iPhone. With the AirPods paired to it, do the following:

  1. Activate Control Center by swiping down from the top right corner (if you have an iPhone with Face ID) or by swiping up from the bottom (if your iPhone has Touch ID).
  2. Press and hold the volume widget.
  3. Tap Noise Control.

From there, your iPhone will tell you if you’re in Noise Cancellation, Off, or Transparency mode. Of course, you can toggle yourself into the ANC mode in this menu if it’s not already enabled. If you don’t want to mess with software, another thing you can do is tap and hold the stem. The AirPods Pro makes two distinct chimes when switching between Transparency and ANC modes. When going from ANC to Transparency mode, you’ll hear two high-pitched tones in succession. While going from Transparency to ANC mode, you’ll hear one deeper chime.

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