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Press release: Mobile and Broadband Boost for UK Consumers

first_img World-class digital infrastructure: Building world-class digital infrastructure for the UK, reflecting the conclusions of the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review Furthering the interests of telecoms consumers: Safeguarding the interests of telecoms consumers, including the vulnerable and less engaged, by ensuring they are better informed and protected Secure and resilient telecoms infrastructure: Ensuring the UK’s telecoms networks and services are secure and resilient Postal services: Protecting a universal postal service and making sure industry and Ofcom to work together to secure the long-term sustainability of the sector Ofcom’s planned 700 MHz spectrum auction to materially improve mobile coverage across the UK, particularly in rural areas and on the UK’s major roads Tackling the “loyalty penalty” which sees loyal customers who do not shop around typically pay higher prices than more savvy consumers. The combined effect of the loyalty penalty incurred by customers of broadband and mobile is £1.3 billion per year. Ofcom should address this, and Government will consider new legislation if the regulator believes it does not have sufficient powers. Examining the costs and benefits of options to introduce mobile roaming in rural areas in a bid to improve consumer choice and tackle partial not-spots (areas where at least one operator is present, but all four are not) Ensuring that regulation supports investment in reliable, gigabit-capable broadband networks across the country The measures will be instrumental in helping to deliver the Government’s commitment to nationwide full fibre broadband coverage by 2033 and increasing geographic mobile coverage to 95% of the UK by 2022.Consumers rely more than ever on fixed and mobile connectivity in their everyday lives. However, concerns around mobile coverage, availability of high speed, reliable broadband, and unfair business practices in some areas, has led to lower customer satisfaction than in other sectors.In a consultation being published today, Government has set out its strategic priorities for Ofcom which will improve digital infrastructure and customer satisfaction, including: The Government has set out clear, ambitious targets for the availability of new digital networks in the UK. Those targets include: Making gigabit-capable networks available to 15 million premises by 2025, with nationwide coverage by 2033; increasing geographic mobile coverage to 95% of the UK by 2022 to address ‘not-spots’ and improving the connectivity on the UK’s main roads and railways; and becoming a world leader in the next generation of 5G mobile technology, with deployment to the majority of the country by 2027. The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) set out the changes that need to be made to the UK telecoms market and policy framework to help secure world-class digital infrastructure. The review’s conclusions support the UK Digital Strategy’s ambition for this country to be the world’s best place to start and grow a digital business. They also underpin the UK’s modern Industrial Strategy, which set out four Grand Challenges in areas where the UK can lead the global technological revolution. The FTIR’s recommendations form the basis of this Statement of Strategic Priorities (SSP) for telecommunications and the management of radio spectrum. The SSP also sets out the Government’s strategic priorities and outcomes in relation to safeguarding the interests of telecoms consumers, the security and resilience of telecoms networks, and postal services. In relation to consumers, the Government is determined to work with Ofcom, industry and other stakeholders to improve the quality of consumer experience in the sector. The power for the Government to designate an SSP for telecommunications, spectrum and post was introduced in the Digital Economy Act 2017. This is the first time the Government is exercising this power. Ofcom must have regard to the statement when exercising its regulatory functions. The introduction of this power brings the legislative framework for Ofcom into line with other sectors such as energy and water, where the Government also has the power to designate a Statement of Strategic Priorities. If Ofcom is unable to consider regulatory options that would contribute to achieving the strategic priorities set out in this SSP due to the existing statutory framework, the Government will consider legislation to allow it to do so. The consultation closes on Wednesday 27 March 2019.NOTES TO EDITORScenter_img As the UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom has a critical role in realising our shared connectivity aspirations for the UK. As well as ensuring the necessary improvements to broadband and mobile services, consumers must also be protected. I urge Ofcom to tackle harmful business practices and remove barriers to switching. DCMS Secretary of State, Jeremy Wright, said: As set out in the Digital Economy Act in 2017, Ofcom will be required to take account of the Government’s new Statement of Strategic Priorities (SSP) when carrying out its regulatory duties. This will bring the legislative framework for Ofcom into line with other sectors such as energy and water for the first time.The SSP follows the publication of the Government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) in July 2018 and reflects the conclusions of that review. The FTIR set out a national, long-term strategy for digital infrastructure in the UK, with the aim of securing world-class connectivity that is gigabit-capable, reliable, secure and widely available.The SSP sets out Government priorities in four areas that Ofcom will now have to take into account in their work going forward:last_img read more

Montpelier designated as a state growth center

first_imgThe Vermont Downtown Development Board today announced that the City of Montpelier has been awarded Growth Center Designation. In action taken Monday by the Vermont Downtown Development Board, the designation comes after several months of discussion between Montpelier, the Downtown Board and its advisory group. Growth Centers were enabled by the legislature in 2005 to encourage communities to plan for denser and mixed use development in areas surrounding the state s downtowns and village centers. I am very pleased that Montpelier has received this designation, which will help support the City in its planning efforts, Governor Jim Douglas. This is why I signed the Growth Center bill, to encourage communities to create more compact and dense mixed use development in appropriate areas.Montpelier s Growth Center is located in the area surrounding and including the City s Designated Downtown. Designated Growth Centers have several important benefits that help support increased development. Of particular importance is that housing and mixed use projects that include an affordable housing component may not need Act 250 review. In addition, the City may also more easily meet the requirements for a Tax Increment Financing District, which would allow it to access state funding to support investment in water, wastewater and transportation in the district.To gain this designation the Town had to show the Downtown Board that it had met state standards including:The Growth Center meets the statutory definition, is included in the Town Plan and is implemented in the Town s bylaws;The Town has or has planned for the roads, water and wastewater systems, and other infrastructure necessary to support the planned growth;The Growth Center be adjacent to an existing Designated Downtown or Village Center, and that the Growth Center support such areas;It protect natural and historic resources both within and outside the growth center;It be designed to accommodate a majority of growth anticipated by the municipality over the next twenty years; andIt include a mix of uses, including affordable housing. This is very consistent with the Governor s promotion of growth in these targeted areas, and with the legislature s Growth Center bill passed in 2005, said Kevin Dorn, Chairman of the Downtown Board and Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. At the same time, we will be reducing development pressures on important natural resource lands outside the designated areas.Several other communities are working toward Growth Center Designation, including Hartford and St. Albans City.For more information about the Growth Centers Program, please visit: http://www.dhca.state.vt.us/Planning/GrowthCenters.htm(link is external).Source: State of Vermont.last_img read more

Joy Ride: Can a Competitive Mountain Biker Kill His Instincts and Just Gape?

first_imgPhoto Courtesy of Devon O’NeilNo matter how good you get at something, it’s important to remember when you sucked at it. Both for your sake and others’.As a mountain biker, my period of sucking is boiled down to one very vivid memory. It was June 2004. I had just bought my first pair of clip-in pedals, and I went for a ride to test them out. The switchbacking trail behind my home gained 200 vertical feet before you could catch your breath. I was almost at the top when I came up short on a rock, couldn’t complete the pedal stroke and my bike stopped. I tried to unclip with both feet but failed, all the while sloooooowly teetering over like a Jenga tower.Splat!I hit the ground and immediately felt an uncomfortable warm sensation on my right wrist. I looked down and saw the dog poop at precisely the moment its odor filled my mouth and nose, which, as I lay on the ground, hovered about four inches from the still-steaming pile. I gagged. Somehow the vomit stayed down.I picked myself up, used a pine branch to clean my arm, turned my bike around and rode home, humiliated. I glanced around on my way down the hill to gauge whether anyone saw. As far as I could tell, no one did.After briefly considering whether to find something else to do with my time, I stuck with mountain biking and grew to love it. Now I ride five days a week all summer and fall. I write about the sport and its colorful characters for magazines. Some of my favorite adventures involve pedaling a full-suspension rig on a remote trail, hungry, thirsty, beat up from crashing, kind of screwed in the mind, wondering how and where the day will end.And inevitably on days like that, I come across at least one tourist, sometimes more, who looks like he just got off the bus from Amarillo and has a hundred questions but is too proud to ask them. This, in mountain-town-local parlance, is a “gaper.” (Perhaps you have seen the bumper sticker that reminds fellow locals to “Love thy gaper”?)I have never liked that term. It sounds negative to me. Plus, I have been the guy in the foreign place, gaping, literally, at the new and interesting sights, probably while driving like a grandmother. I don’t mind being a gaper, but I don’t think I should be chastised for it either. That’s why I have a problem with the term as it’s used in resort towns, no matter how well the stereotype fits a certain percentage.The problem is that as human beings we’re wired to impose our will wherever we can. It’s instinctive, on some level, to claim superiority, and the outdoors is not immune, which is really too bad. Nature deserves better.I refer to this as the outdoors relativity complex, and it goes beyond just calling tourists gapers. In fact, it exists in strikingly parallel form in towns across the country and throughout the world, bridging languages and cultures, sports and stereotypes.The relativity stems from the way we get so concerned with where we stack up in nature that our competitiveness—trying to outdo the next guy—drains the experience of its actual benefit. I’m 35, so maybe it doesn’t sound so curmudgeonly when I say it baffles me to see a runner or biker going so fast down a trail that not only does he not have time to say hello to someone going up, but neither to yield.The line between instinct and intent gets blurry, but it’s easy to take oneself too seriously. It happens to all of us, myself included. The ego is built into the brain. It gets hungry. So we feed it. But in doing so, we drift from the beauty of coexistence and develop a less compassionate grasp of what being outside is all about.This tendency exists in the rest of life too. For as long as I’ve understood socioeconomic class structure, I have wanted to end up stranded on an island with Donald Trump, armed with more survival know-how than he, and observe him gradually come to terms with how helpless such a rich man can be sans credit card and communication. Wouldn’t you pay to watch that?Overzealous outdoorsmen often fit familiar molds: the über-competitive guy or girl who can’t just go for a casual run or ride, no matter what they say at the trailhead. The climber who chides someone who’s still dialing in his rope work. The skier who heckles beginners from the chairlift.Funny, isn’t it, how we focus on whom we’re better than, instead of who’s better than us? Why else do so many average athletes enter races if not to see how many people they can beat? The psychologists at Strava know this. If you only cared how fast you could do something, stopwatches would still be in vogue and king of the mountain would still be a game kids played on snowbanks in the schoolyard.What those who draw their entire self-worth from their place on a results sheet miss is that there is only one person on earth who’s the best at something, and only one who’s the worst at something. Everyone else falls in between—each of us is faster than some, slower than others. Yes, you may rank substantially higher on that list than your fellow local trail users, but it can help to remember there are plenty of people elsewhere who would crush you. As one of my ski chums says when he hears people brag about their conquests, “Don’t be too proud. Somebody probably did it decades ago in leather boots and on skinny skis.”The outdoors relativity complex doesn’t consume everyone, of course. Plenty of men and women exhibit a genuinely humble attitude, including elites who win races. But for those who do get consumed, the complex can drive everything they do, sapping the fun and beauty.It is also related, indirectly, to the “how long have you lived here” status symbol—a misguided favorite in resort towns, whose communities are built around residents’ shared interests, not tenure. Plus, longevity is relative. How do you think the elk feel when they hear some 25-year-old get all puffy because he’s been here six years and someone who’s only been here four is trying to tell him about the trail network?Stifling pride, as it were, takes conscious effort and doesn’t feel as good. The ego wants.Let it want.Sometimes we need to simmer down, gape at our surroundings like tourists, and remember that we’re in the greatest place there is: outside.last_img read more

Violins Unite Gang Girls in El Salvador

first_img ‘‘Karina’‘ is a 16-year-old gang member who learned to play the violin, and now she is part of a string orchestra that includes 30 girls from two rival gangs that subjected the country to violence and set its crime rates among the highest in the world. ‘‘The most difficult part was to know that we were going to be near the other gang. It was difficult to sit by their side. But once we started to learn how to play the instruments, we focused on that in order to move the orchestra forward,” the young lady confirmed to AFP, under the fictitious name of ‘‘Karina’‘. The Female Orchestra of the Salvadoran Institute for Childhood and Adolescence (ISNA), created for young girls (between the ages of 14 and 17) that were members of the “Mara Salvatrucha” (MS-13) and “Barrio 18” gangs, was featured with the National Youth Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert that took place on the evening of September 20. The orchestra is sponsored by the Organization of American States (OAS) as part of the truce agreed between the maras (gangs). An enterprise foundation theater, located in the west of San Salvador, was the setting where the ladies debuted as musicians, playing violins, violoncellos, and violas to interpret four pieces with the philharmonic: ‘‘Cuerdas al Aire’‘, ‘‘Canción del Folclor Francés’‘, ‘‘Brilla, Brilla Estrellita’‘, and ‘‘Cumbia’‘. The orchestra is part of a pilot project organized by the Inter-American Commission for Drug Abuse Control (CICAD), and the OAS’ Department of Education and Culture, along with Colombia’s Batuta Foundation. According to official figures, Salvadoran prisons hold over 10,000 gang members, while about 50,000 are free in local districts and streets. By Dialogo September 25, 2012last_img read more

Medford Man Arrested for Shooting Neighbor’s Dog With BB Gun

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Martin FreyA Medford man has been accused of shooting his neighbor’s dog with a BB gun on Sunday evening, Suffolk County police saidOfficers responded to a 911 caller’s report that her dog had been shot on Lincoln Road and upon arrival they found a German Shepard bleeding with a BB gun pellet lodged in his nose at 7 p.m.The dog owner’s neighbor, 54-year-old Martin Frey, was charged with animal cruelty and criminal possession of a weapon after police said he was found to be in possession of a gravity knife.Frey will be arraigned Monday at First District Court in Central Islip.The dog’s injuries were not life-threatening.last_img read more

IRS final regulations regarding withholding certificates like the W-8BEN

first_imgEarlier this month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published final regulations that explained due diligence and reporting rules applicable to persons, including credit unions, making U.S. source payments to foreign persons. The final regulations, among other things, clarified the requirement for a withholding agent to obtain a foreign taxpayer identification number (foreign TIN) and date of birth on a withholding certificate.Background InformationBefore getting into what the regulation did, it may be helpful to understand what some of these terms mean. IRS Publication 515 provides background information about the withholding of tax for foreign persons. It defines a foreign person as “a nonresident alien individual, foreign corporation, foreign partnership, foreign trust, foreign estate, and any other person that is not a U.S. person.” On the other hand, the IRS’s definition of a U.S. person includes a citizen or resident of the United States, several types of domestic entities, and anyone that is not a foreign person. U.S. source income is income earned within the United States. A withholding agent is “a U.S. or foreign person, in whatever capacity acting, that has control, receipt, custody, disposal, or payment of an amount subject to chapter 3 withholding.”IRS Publication 515 notes that foreign persons are usually subject to a U.S. tax of 30% on U.S. source income unless there is an applicable exemption. If the credit union has members that are foreign persons under the IRS’s definition, it is possible that the members could be subject to a 30% tax on any U.S. source income payments made by the credit union (e.g., the payment of dividends). ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

Airline fares cut to boost sales amid COVID-19 scare

first_img“The government is very concerned about this matter. [It will] issue important policies to save the tourism industry, which can benefit locals who work in the industry,” Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio said in a press statement on Tuesday.Airfare discounts make up part of the Rp 298.5 billion (US$21 million) in government incentives, announced on Tuesday, allotted to airlines and travel agents to attract foreign tourists to Indonesia. The incentives will run from March to May.The government hopes to buoy the sinking tourist industry as would-be visitors cancel their vacation plans in the country over fears of the deadly COVID-19 outbreak. The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) has reported 40,000 room and 20,000 visitor cancellations in Bali since the outbreak in early January.The incentive is expected to attract about 736,000 tourists from foreign markets who have a high average spending level on vacation, Wishnutama said. One of the markets highlighted was Australia, whose tourists spend an average of US$1,800 per arrival in Indonesia. Another was the Middle East, whose tourists spent $2,200 on average.The minister added that the expected increase in tourism would contribute about Rp 13 trillion to Indonesia’s economy.Authorities will allocate a separate Rp 443.39 billion in discounts for domestic tourists to the 10 tourist destinations outlined in the program.“In the future, the government will prepare other incentives that will follow the development of the coronavirus and its impacts on the economy in early or late April,” said Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.Topics : The general public is expected to see a drastic drop in airline ticket prices in March as the government prepares incentives to encourage tourism to and within the country amid the COVID-19 outbreak caused by the novel coronavirus.A document issued by the Transportation Ministry and obtained by The Jakarta Post on Tuesday shows that airfares will fall by 40 to 50 percent on routes to 10 destinations deemed most affected by the outbreak.The 10 destinations will include Yogyakarta; Malang, East Java; Manado, North Sulawesi; Bali; Mandalika, West Nusa Tenggara; Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara; Bangka Belitung province; Batam and Bintan of the Riau Islands; and all regencies around North Sumatra’s Lake Toba.last_img read more

Ministry aims to provide income in rural areas with Rp 2.25t irrigation projects

first_imgThe ministry has reallocated Rp 36.19 trillion of its Rp 120 trillion annual budget to help cushion the impact of COVID-19 in the country. The largest portion of the reallocated budget, Rp 24.53 trillion, will go toward direct aid or activities directly linked with COVID-19 mitigation efforts.Under the program, local farmers receive daily or weekly payment to improve their irrigation system by installing paved lining through the channel, the ministry’s press release reads.Read also: Migrant workers repatriated from Malaysia to get construction jobs at homeThe number of recipients in the irrigation improvement acceleration program was increased following the ministry’s budget changes from an initial 6,000 locations to 10,000 locations in 33 provinces across Indonesia. Construction under the project has already begun in 458 locations in 11 provinces, including West Java, Central Java and East Java.Besides providing steady income for local farmers through labor-intensive infrastructure projects, the ministry also aims to employ former Indonesian migrant workers who previously worked in Malaysia through the scheme.“We are working closely with the Foreign Ministry to identify the hometowns of migrant workers who were repatriated from Malaysia. We will [then] establish labor-intensive projects,” Basuki said during an online press briefing on April 13.Topics : The Public Works and Housing Ministry is moving forward with its labor-intensive projects in rural areas, which include the irrigation improvement acceleration program (P3TGAI) to provide steady income for people in rural areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.A total of Rp 2.25 trillion (US$144.5 million) has been allocated for the irrigation improvement program, around a quarter of the Rp 10.2 trillion budget for labor-intensive program (PKT), according a press statement issued by the ministry on Thursday.“Besides decreasing unemployment and helping maintain people’s purchasing power, the PKT also aims to improve the irrigation infrastructure in rural regions,” Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said in the statement.last_img read more

O’Rourke misses out

first_img Press Association Ireland’s Derval O’Rourke missed out on a 60 metres hurdles medal by just 0.01 seconds at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg. She continued: “It’s the best indoor run I’ve had since 2006 and possibly the most disrupted preparation I have had. “I had an injection in my Achilles in November and then got a sinus infection in December and lost 4kg. “I believed I had a chance to win and that’s why I came. I got a fantastic start, there was not a whole heap wrong with the race. It’s hard to criticise 7.95 but right now I am gutted.” center_img O’Rourke, a former world indoor champion, finished fourth in a season’s best 7.95secs to fall agonisingly short of a place on the podium. Indeed, her time was only 0.06secs off gold medal winner Nevin Yanit. O’Rourke said: “I ran it to win it, not finish second or third, but I would love to have a medal. I thought I had silver because I was right next to Yanit. And I wish they would change the photo-finish.” last_img read more

BH Tennis Player Mirza Basic won the first ATP Title in his Career!

first_imgBH tennis player Mirza Basic won the first ATP title in his career.Twenty-six-year-old player from Sarajevo managed to win against Romanian tennis player in the ATP 250 tournament that was played in Sofia with the result 2: 1 in sets, after two hours and 20 minutes.Both tennis players opened the match with secure services, but Basic managed to achieve break already in the third gem, which he held until the tenth gem when the first set went into the tie-break.Mirza made a mistake in his first service, and Copil scored for 4: 1. However, Basic returned his concentration and reached the score 4: 4, after which he made another mini-break and resolved the first set in his favour with the score 7: 6 (5).Copil made a break already in the first gem of the second set and he held it until the tenth gem when he served but Mirza played perfectly and returned the break and equalized the score at 5: 5.Then, the second set went to a tie-break in which Copil was better and he managed to equalize it at 1: 1 with the result 7: 6 (4).Basic requested a time-out due to back pain in the break between the second and third set, but this did not affect his game in a decisive set.Basic made a break in the ninth gem and got a chance to serve for the match. Mirza used this opportunity and routinely served in the third set with the result 6: 4 and with this victory, he won the first ATP trophy in his entire career.Basis entered the tournament through qualifications, and he won against Mayer (6: 4, 6: 1), Kohlschreiber (7: 5, 7: 6), Marterer (6: 4, 4: 6, 6: 3 ) and Wawrinka (7: 6, 6: 4).With 250 points, Mirza also received 85,945 EUR and he will be ranked on the 76th place in the ATP list, which represents the best result of his career.(Source: E. B./Klix.ba)last_img read more