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BT ANNOUNCES TRIAL RESULTS OF RECORD BROADBAND SPEEDS AT BROADBAND WORLD FORUM

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BT announces trial results of record broadband speeds at Broadband World Forum

CEO of BT Group confirms commitment to deliver on ultrafast broadband vision and announces new technology at global telecoms conference

This year’s Broadband World Forum event was central to setting the future agenda on the industry with a number of high profile announcements and previews of the latest technologies. BT confirmed its commitment to delivering ultrafast broadband speeds to 10 million properties by 2020 in a keynote speech delivered by Gavin Patterson, Group CEO of BT. The operator confirmed that premises on the Openreach G.fast trial are now reaching download speeds of up to 330Mbps, more than 10 times the UK average. Provided the trials prove successful and UK regulation continues to encourage investment BT is set to launch wide-scale commercial availability of G.fast next year.

BT also demonstrated their latest G.fast technology during the exhibition, giving attendees an exclusive look at a key part of BT’s ultrafast vision for the decade ahead.

Patterson went on to announce that the company had been testing a new technology entitled XG.Fast with Alcatel-Lucent, at BT’s research and development facility at Adastral Park in Suffolk, with a record speed of 5Gbps achieved in early lab trials.

Speaking on building a fixed-mobile hybrid Patterson confirmed that BT will look to Europe for guidance if the proposed acquisition of EE is approved by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Other highlights
Virgin Media’s CEO, Tom Mockridge, called for a level playing field from UK policy makers during his keynote speech, but added that he did not agree with the forced divestment of Openview.

The show’s opening speakers from Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and ZTE, all voiced the expectation that fixed networks will shortly be offering data speeds in excess of 1Gbps.

Meanwhile on the show floor, providers such as Huawei, Ericsson and Overture demonstrated NFV Proofs of Concept to the crowds, and it was a full-house at the Internet of Things Partners Pavilion where the latest ground-breaking technologies were demonstrated. Of particular interest in the exhibition was the smart home with solutions from D-Link, Huawei and devolo in live demonstrations of the fully networked home – with the latest innovations on display.

Also well attended was The Road to 2025 Theatre, hosted by industry analysts, Ovum. Named after the upcoming report Digital Economy 2025: The Future of Broadband, the theatre hosted talks on the changing role of the service provider, consumer services, device evolution and the impact of regulation and policy. With Ovum having forecast the digital economy would hit $4.8 trillion by 2025, a significant finding was that the enterprise technology sector would account for an increasingly large proportion of this figure, with spending on that sector to reach $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

Ben Agnew, Director, Broadband World Forum said: “We are delighted with levels of attendance and engagement at this year’s Broadband World Forum. The show saw the world’s largest players in the broadband & services markets come together and host pioneering technologies which are set to drive the global connected society and the digital economy. The event was attended by more visitors than ever before and was a great success.”

Broadband World Forum 2016 will again be held at ExCeL, London on 18-20 October.

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Car sector seeks more UK government support as output tumbles

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Car sector seeks more UK government support as output tumbles 1

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak should use next week’s budget statement to help boost the car industry’s competitiveness, a trade industry body said on Friday, as production tumbled to its lowest January level since 2009.

Sunak is due to detail how he will further support the economy amid COVID-19 restrictions on March 3.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the furlough scheme that protects jobs should be extended, more support for training was needed and manufacturing investment should be encouraged through reform of the business rates tax.

“Next week’s budget is the chancellor’s (finance minister) opportunity to boost the industry by introducing measures that will support competitiveness, jobs and livelihoods,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.

“We need to secure our medium to long-term future by creating the conditions that will attract battery gigafactory investment and transform the supply chain.”

Output in January fell by 27% year-on-year to 86,052 vehicles, hit by factors including dealership closures during a latest COVID-19 lockdown, international supply chain problems and the change in trading terms with the European Union.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by William Schomberg)

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Exclusive: Portugal sees green hydrogen output by end-2022, $12 billion in investment lined up

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Exclusive: Portugal sees green hydrogen output by end-2022, $12 billion in investment lined up 2

By Sergio Goncalves

LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal will start producing green hydrogen by the end of 2022 and already has private investment worth around 10 billion euros ($12 billion) lined up for eight projects that are expected to move forward, Environment Minister Joao Matos Fernandes said.

He told Reuters in a telephone interview there were also several “pre-contracts for the purchase and assembly of electrolysers” to produce the zero-carbon fuel made by electrolysis out of water using renewable wind and solar energy.

Such hydrogen is more expensive to extract than the heavily polluting conventional method of using heat and chemical reactions to release hydrogen from coal or natural gas, known as brown and grey hydrogen respectively.

Hydrogen is now mostly used in the oil refining industry and to produce ammonia fertilisers, but sectors such as steelmaking, transportation and chemicals are beginning to develop large-scale hydrogen applications to gradually replace fossil fuels as countries try to reduce pollution.

The European Commission has mapped out a plan to scale up green hydrogen projects across polluting sectors to meet a net zero emissions goal by 2050 and become a leader in a market analysts expect to be worth $1.2 trillion by that date.

“By the end of 2022, there will certainly be green hydrogen production in Portugal,” Matos Fernandes said. “Green hydrogen will, over time, allow Portugal to completely change its paradigm and become an energy exporting country.”

He said seven groups had submitted applications under Europe’s IPCEI scheme for common-interest projects to make part of a planned export-oriented “hydrogen cluster” near the port of Sines, from where hydrogen could be shipped to Rotterdam. Total investment there is estimated at some 7 billion euros.

A consortium including Portugal’s main utility EDP, oil company Galp, world’s largest wind turbine maker Vestas, among others, is behind one of the projects.

In Estarreja in north Portugal, local firm Bondalti Chemicals aims to invest 2.4 billion euros in a hydrogen plant.

Altogether, these envisage an installed capacity of over 1,000 megawatts (MW).

Matos Fernandes said Portugal was also negotiating with Spain the construction of a pipeline for renewable gases, including hydrogen, from Sines to France, crossing Spain.

LITHIUM PLANS

Spain and Portugal also want to develop an ambitious cross-border lithium project taking advantage of the geographical proximity of their lithium deposits and aiming to cover the entire value chain from mining to refining, cell and battery manufacturing to battery recycling, he said.

Portugal is already a large producer of low-grade lithium mainly for the ceramics industry, but is preparing to make higher-grade metal used in electric car batteries.

A much-awaited licensing tender for lithium-bearing areas that has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic should take place by the year-end, Matos Fernandes said.

He promised the tender would address environmental concerns by local communities and there would be no lithium mining “at any cost”.

The minister also said Portugal would use its six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union to finalise a landmark law that would make the bloc’s climate targets irreversible and speed up emissions cuts this decade, expecting it to be approved in the first half of 2021.

(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Andrei Khalip and David Evans)

 

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Under fire in EU, AstraZeneca CEO says ‘hopefully’ will meet vaccine supply goals

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Under fire in EU, AstraZeneca CEO says 'hopefully' will meet vaccine supply goals 3

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot said on Thursday he hoped to meet the European Union’s expectations on the number of COVID-19 vaccines the company can deliver to the bloc in the second quarter, after big cuts in the first three months of the year.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker has been under fire in the EU for its delayed supplies of shots to the 27-nation bloc, which ordered 300 million doses by the end of June.

“We are working 24/7 to improve delivery and hopefully catch up to the expectations for Q2,” Soriot told EU lawmakers in a public hearing.

Under its contract with the EU, the company has committed to delivering 180 million doses in the second quarter.

Soriot did not mention the 180 million target, but said he was confident the company will be able to increase production in the second quarter using factories outside the EU that had no production problems, including in the United States.

He confirmed the company was trying to get 40 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the EU by the end of March, which is less than half the amount it promised for the quarter in its contract.

The EU, which has fallen far behind the United States and former member Britain in vaccinating its public, has repeatedly urged the firm to deliver more.

Lower-than-expected yields – the amount of vaccine that can be produced from base ingredients – at its factories hurt output in the first three months.

Asked about supplies to Britain, which relies on the same factories used by the EU, Soriot said the former EU member with a population of around 66 million was smaller, and noted that most doses produced in the EU were used to serve the EU which has a population of about 450 million.

Executives from rival drugmakers that have developed or are testing COVID-19 vaccines, including Moderna Inc and CureVac NV were also part of the panel.

But most questions were directed at Soriot amid anger that the company has failed to deliver promised vaccine quantities to the bloc on schedule.

Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said the company has experienced fluctuations as the U.S. biotech group ramps up output of its COVID-19 vaccine.

He said usually a company would stockpile product ahead of a launch, but it is shipping every dose it makes, leaving it without any spare inventory.

His comments came a day after the company increased its output target for this year and 2022 as it invests in additional manufacturing capacity.

(Reporting by Josephine Mason in London and Francesco Guarascio in Brussels; Editing by Susan Fenton, Bill Berkrot and Keith Weir)

 

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