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2019

The government of the Netherlands has announced plans to invest more in digital literacy to ensure easy accessibility and usage of ICT enabled services. The devoted budget amount of EUR 425 million for digital literacy covering the years 2020-24, shows an increase of EUR 35 million compared to the amount that was allocated for 2015-19.

Specifically, the money will be channelled into programmes that will help people learn the usage of computers, smart phones and the Internet. According to the government, these are indispensable skills that all citizens must acquire to be able to access critical services in today’s society. The programme implementation will be done by the local government authorities as well as by employers.

The Internet Society and the Pew Research Center have launched research on mobile connectivity in emerging economies. The results of the research conducted in 11 emerging economies have shown, among others, that majorities (67%) think that the mobile phones have been beneficial for education. According to the report, since 2014 public opinions about influence of the internet on education have grown more positive in six of the countries subject to the research (Jordan, South Africa, Kenya, Vietnam, Lebanon and Mexico).

The European Union (EU) Parliament has approved the enactment of the European Disabilities Act. This is considered as an important first step that will pave the way for EU legislation to that will ensure that products and services become accessible for persons with disabilities. 

More importantly the Act will ensure that people living with disabilities within the EU have access to information Communication Technology (ICT)s services and devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets, TV sets, banking ATM and services, payment terminals, e-books and e-readers, e-commerce websites and mobile apps and ticketing machines.

40 UK MPs have written to the UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, to ensure it keeps a close check on the four mobile network operators, as they fulfill their obligations to increase mobile network coverage in rural areas. The MNO’s plan for 90% geographic coverage on their 4G networks will require the installation of around 500 new masts which will be located in sparsely populated areas and not likely generate great financial benefit for the level of investment. The Parliamentary group has asked Ofcom to review the deployment of the new masts before the scheduled date in 2024.

Microsoft has has announced the opening of its first datacenters at two locations in Africa: Cape Town and Johannesburg , South Africa. The new datacenters on the continent will make Microsoft Azure cloud services available to benefit organizations with increased computing sources and connectivity.

The new cloud regions in South Africa will ensure that Africa is fully connected to Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure which will increase business opportunities, help accelerate new global investment, and improve access to cloud and Internet services across Africa.

Ofcom, the UK telecom regulator has introduced a new code of practisewhich requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide their users with a minimum expected broadband speed, failure which the customers can leave the ISP penalty free if the service is not improved within a month. 

The code of practise which came into force on 1 March 2019, although not binding has been signed by key players such as BT, EE, Plusnet,  Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. This minimum speed guarantee is applicable to ADSL broadband, fire-to-the-cabinet and cable services. There is also a requirement for the providers to give customers realistic speed estimates for peak times, which are defined as between 8pm and 10pm for home users and between 12pm and 2pm for businesses. This will help the customers to better measure their expectations.

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