Broadband, Mobile & Energy News: Weekly Roundup 17/08/18

Here’s a selection of the top stories from the world of broadband and energy this week:

Virgin Media announces 2018 price increase

ISP, TV and cable operator Virgin Media has joined a long list of providers who have announced  price increases which will come into effect later this year.

Despite the price hike, Virgin has assured their customers that this increase will be smaller than last year’s (an increase of 4.5% as opposed to 4.7%.) The official word from Virgin is that annual costs will be increasing for a “significant majority” of their customers with most people seeing price rises of between £2.00 and £4.00 per month.

The ISP has made it as clear as possible that the monthly price increases “have nothing to do with the recent agreement we have reached with UKTV to restore its channels”. They were referring to a recent dispute between Virgin and UKTV which resulted in Virgin TV subscribers being left without certain TV channels such as Dave and Gold.

If you are affected by the lasts price increase you will be happy to know that Ofgem has regulations in place that offer customers some protection from mid-term price increases. This means that you will be able to terminate you Virgin Contract without incurring a penalty fee as long as you do so within 30 days of the price hike announcement.

Vodafone roaming to extend to 29 new locations

Vodafone customers who are subscribed to the mobile operators “Red Entertainment” plan will soon be able to take advantage of 4G connectivity in 77 new areas across 29 new countries.  Some of the new countries added to the list include top holiday destinations such as Canada, the U.S and much of the Caribbean.

Vodafone’s Red Entertainment sim only plan costs £24 a month, whichgives you 20GB of data, global roaming, unlimited calls and texts, and comes with a complimentary three month trial of Secure Net. You are also able to choose from a NOW TV entertainment pass, Spotify, Sky Sports Mobile or Amazon Video.

Prior to this announcement, Red Entertainment customers could only get free roaming from 48 destinations and connecting in any additional areas came at a cost of £6 a day. An additional 29 countries will be included when Vodafone introduces its Global Roaming Plus Feature. The new, upgraded deal will also give 500 minutes when in any EU destination meaning that you can call both landlines and mobiles for no additional cost.

Coal usage hit record lows while UK decarbonisation project slows down

According to Drax’s latest Electric Insight paper covering April – June this year, coal usage fell to its lowest point in recorded history and was responsible for only 1.3% of the UK’s power, with less than 1% of power being derived from coal in June alone. On top of this, the UK ran without the use of coal for a continuous 812 hours in Q2 this year which is greater than the total number of hours the fossil fuel wasn’t used in the entirety of 2016 and 2017.

The report has led Drax to the conclusion that the UK could feasibly run throughout the summer without the use of coal which is predominately used for stability to keep the power supply running throughout the night.

Meanwhile, there is also evidence to suggest that the UK’s decarbonisation programme might be slowing down. Figures for Q2 carbon intensity were 195g CO2/kWh, which although showing progress towards the 100g CO2 target by 2030, were only 2% down from Q2 in 2017. This, coupled a slowdown in investment and installation in the renewable sector, has led Drax to believe that an “era of slow progress may already be upon us”

SSE reaches installs 1 million smart meters

SSE has announced that they have installed their one millionth smart meter in the UK, a major milestone in the smart meter rollout. The aim of the smart meter is to provide both customers and energy companies with up to date information on how much energy each household is using. The rationale is that people will only pay for the correct amount that they are using, making the process fairer.

Suppliers have been given a target of installing 53 million smart readers across the country by 2020, which is looking unlikely by current estimates. SSE is going to invest over £1bn in total to install 7 million out of the 53 and said that their customers are already taking advantage of the services and saving themselves money.

The rollout has come under fire after failing to hit several targets, causing the government to defend its policy and assert that smart meters still represent  a “smart choice” for energy customers. A recent report from the British Infrastructure Group of Parliamentarians slammed the smart meter rollout saying that it would only save around £11 per household.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “This milestone for SSE contributes to the 11m meters already empowering customers to reap the rewards of a smart meter. With 400,000 additional meters installed every month, more and more consumers are choosing to take charge of their energy use.

“Smart meters are helping families save money on their bills. They are a vital upgrade to our infrastructure as we move to a smarter, cleaner and more flexible energy system of the future.”

Over 1 quarter of UK businesses see renewable energy as “passing trend”

Despite the UK deriving more than a third of its energy from green sources, over 25% of British businesses are hesitant about making the switch to clean power. A survey undertaken by Haven Power showed that out of 1,000 companies across the UK 27% were not convinced that renewable energy sources were feasible in the long term. The financial sector was the most sceptical, with 40% of  its companies doubting the staying power of clean energy.

“It’s concerning to see the proportion of businesses that still view renewable energy as a passing trend, despite evidence showing that a move to cleaner energy is essential for the environment,” said Paul Sheffield, Chief Operating Office of Haven Power.

Although seemingly concerning, the figures also show the majority of businesses (59%) were convinced by the need for green energy and saw the long term importance of it in terms of its environmental impact. Somewhat unsurprisingly, businesses in agriculture were the most open minded when it came to the long term importance of green energy.

Even though it’s clear that doubt still lingers in the minds of many utility decision makers in businesses, interest in the renewable sector has never been higher. Figures gathered from Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that companies globally derived 7.2GW of clean energy so far this year which is already a massive take-up from the 5.4GW sourced in 2017.

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