Also today, UK wholesaler CityFibre sticks to its knitting, two Chicago MDUs get smarter, Altice France speaks set-top-box and Mediaset wins big in Italy.
Days after BT warned it may not pay dividends to finance its fiber deployment, the UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport erased all references to target dates for the rollout of high-speed networks in a statement of strategic priorities, published July 18. A Bloomberg report noted that in a February 2019 draft, the stated goal was to make ultra-fast networks available to 15 million UK premises by 2025 and nationwide by 2033, but those details have not been removed. Cynical observers might note that Boris Johnson -- widely expected to become the next Prime Minister when the Conservative party vote is revealed next Tuesday -- and his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, both promised voters they would deliver nationwide fiber broadband coverage within six to eight years. Apparently, some people took those opportunist assurances to be meaningful.
Regardless of the next PM's plans, altnets such as CityFibre continue to meet their own goals. The full-fiber wholesaler just added 14 more municipalities to its "Gigabit City Club," bringing the total to 26. This deployment forms the next phase in CityFibre's £2.5 billion ($3.1 billion) investment plan to bring full-fiber infrastructure to more than 20% (5 million homes) of the UK. The 14 new cities add 1 million-plus premises to the existing 1 million covered by the 12 prior cities; construction is underway in 10 cities and gigabit-capable broadband services are live and available to customers in five, according to the wholesale operator.
Home, Smart Home
Xfinity Communities, a Comcast business, partnered with Kass Management to provide smart-home solutions in 50 apartments within two Chicago multi-dwelling units, including this one. (Image source: Kass Management)
Xfinity Communities -- part of the Comcast family of businesses -- teamed up with Chicago property-management company Kass Management Services to deploy the operator's Smart Communities platform at two multi-family rental properties. Fifty units were kitted out with smart devices such as thermostats and lighting, which renters controlled via the Xfinity Communities app. Property managers could combine the app with Xfinity Internet service to eventually expand the platform to include security cameras and smart locks, for example. Managers also can oversee smart devices in communal areas, such as gyms and pools, to improve energy efficiency and security, the partners said.
Altice France/SFR will next month launch a new 4K-compatible set-top box to its fiber and DSL customers. The AFR Box 8, designed by Altice Labs and which incorporates WiFi 6 connectivity, will debut in France and then roll out to other Altice Europe markets. AFR Box 8 also includes OK SFR, Altice's in-house assistant that allows subscribers to use voice commands for TVs and connected home devices, once the SFR Home platform becomes available: That capability is expected to launch soon, according to Altice.
Overall peak usage on US cable networks continues to flatten out and even decline slightly, but sustained higher levels of usage on the upstream path have persisted, according to the latest data from the NCTA.
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