Cypriot nationals no longer need a pre-arranged visa to visit Qatar, it was announced on Wednesday.According to an announcement, nationals of 80 countries – Cyprus among them – can now obtain a visa waiver upon arrival in Qatar.Cyprus is on the list of 33 countries whose nationals’ visa waiver will be valid for 180 days from the date of issue and entitle its holder to spend up to 90 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips.The waiver of nationals of a second group of 47 countries – among them the US and the UK – will be valid for 30 days from the date of issue and entitle its holder to spend up to 30 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips. This waiver may be extended for a further 30 days.Travellers will be required to present a passport valid for at least six months and a return ticket.“The visa exemption scheme will make Qatar the most open country in the region,” Hassan al-Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development officer at Qatar Tourism Authority said on Wednesday.The move is deemed as an effort to encourage air transport and tourism amid a two-month boycott imposed on the Gulf state by its neighbours.For more information: https://www.visitqatar.qa/plan/visas-requirements.html You May LikeFigLeaf Beta AppHow to Become Fully Anonymous Online in Less Than 3 Minutes? Better safe than sorryFigLeaf Beta AppUndoYahoo SearchResearch Compact SUVs. New SUVs May Make You Want To Trade Yours In Today – See For Yourself!Yahoo SearchUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
03May Rep. Whiteford to host local office hours State Rep. Mary Whiteford today announced plans to meet with Allegan County residents during her scheduled office hours.Office hours will take place on Friday, May 18 at Allegan County Transportation, 750 Airway Drive in Allegan from 9 to 10:30 a.m.“Engaging with residents in a casual setting is a great way to foster dialog and share ideas,” Whiteford said. “I look forward to having discussions with people in the community about making our state a better place to live, work, and raise a family.”No appointment is necessary. Those unable to attend are invited to contact her Lansing office by phone at 517-373-0836 or email MaryWhiteford@house.mi.gov. Categories: Whiteford News
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares January 6, 2014; Washington PostOn December 20, lesbian and gay Utahans got a surprise holiday gift from U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby, who ruled that the state’s ban on same-gender unions was unconstitutional. Hundreds of couples rushed to get marriage licenses, resulting in what Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker called a “thrilling pandemonium.” Within a week, close to 1,000 marriage licenses were issued to gay couples, easily shattering records and providing counties with thousands of dollars in revenue.The ruling caught conservative Utah by surprise, and state lawyers scrambled to halt marriages, asking both Shelby and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency stay as Shelby’s decision was being appealed. The requests were not granted, prompting the state’s Attorney General’s office to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to step in.On Monday, the nation’s highest court took away the gift of legal unions from same-sex couples who were about to get licenses and left those who got married during the past two weeks in legal limbo. The justices gave no indication which argument convinced them to halt marriage equality in Utah or who among them dissented.Opponents of the freedom to marry may count this as a victory, but the tide has long turned. Not counting Utah, 17 states and the District of Columbia have sanctioned unions for couples who happen to be of the same gender. A majority of Americans view marriage equality favorably. Moreover, in states all across the union, lesbian and gay couples are fighting in the courts for their right to marry. However the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Utah, there are many cases in the pipeline. It can only get messier. In time, though, all couples will be recognized, not by their biology but by their love and commitment.—Erwin de LeonShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share14TweetShare77Email91 Sharesgrietas / Agustín RuizJuly 19, 2016, Project SyndicateThe Arab world comprises the 22 countries and territories of the Arab League. It possesses some of the world’s greatest oil reserves, but it’s running out of water. This crisis might lead to more political convulsions and war, or it could force cooperation. Brahma Chellaney shares his astute assessments at Project Syndicate.In short, the Arab world is increasingly trapped in a vicious cycle. Environmental, demographic, and economic pressures aggravate water scarcity, and the resulting unemployment and insecurity fuels social unrest, political turmoil, and extremism. Governments respond with increased subsidies on water and other resources, deepening the environmental challenges that exacerbate scarcity and lead to unrest.As Crown Prince Gen. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said at an international water conference in Abu Dhabi last January, “For us, water is [now] more important than oil.” Water scarcity in the Arab world arises from climate conditions (low rainfall, high evaporation rates and frequent droughts) and unsustainable overabstraction. A 2013 UN Development Program study titled “Water Governance in the Arab Region: Managing Scarcity and Securing the Future” warns, “The average Arab citizen has eight times less access to renewable water than the average global citizen, and more than two thirds of surface water resources originate from outside the region.” This study estimates that more than 87 percent of the Arab world’s terrain is desert possessing 14 of the world’s 20 most water-stressed countries. A seven-year study showed that freshwater losses in the region nearly equaled the volume of the Dead Sea. During the time of this study, this region lost more freshwater than any other spot on earth. According to this extensive study produced by the Water Governance Programme for Arab States, a project of the United Nations Development Programme Regional Bureau for Arab States (UNDP-RBAS), by the year 2025 the water supply in the Arab region will be only 15 percent of what it was in 1960. Arab nations are expanding the use of technology to manage water, including desalination (the UAE is already entirely dependent on desalination), reclaiming and treating wastewater, rainwater harvesting, cloud seeding, more advanced irrigation techniques, and the reclamation of drainage water. Jordan and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement and invested more than $1 billion to protect and manage the Disi aquifer the two nations share. This UNDP report provides another example of cooperation in managing shared water resources in the North Western Sahara Aquifer System shared by Algeria, Libya and Tunisia.With support from UNESCO and other bi- and multi-lateral donors, scientists from two of these countries have been working together since the 1960s to develop a common database and agree on the impacts of use scenarios. Libyan experts joined the cooperation in 1998. This case illustrates the advantages of processes to agree on datasets and plans and build consensus before large-scale exploitation gets underway.The nonprofit newswire at NPQ reported on a small but exemplary example of water management cooperation in a date orchard in the West Bank led by Build Israel Palestine, a U.S.-based organization. The date farmers live in Auja, a village located in the Jordan Valley surrounded by Israeli settlements, and they are finding solutions. Chellaney makes the case that water scarcity contributes to the cycle of violence in the region. He notes that the Arab Spring uprisings had much to do with rising food prices, which resulted directly from the worsening water crisis. One reason water insecurity in the Arab states does not receive as much attention in the West as global warming is because the region is understood to be mostly desert and its news is almost entirely about war and terrorism, not the deprivations of and natural threats to its people. A sustainable water future for the Arab world will require planning and cooperation. There is no other sane choice.—James SchafferShare14TweetShare77Email91 Shares
Share6Tweet8ShareEmail14 SharesTasnim News Agency [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia CommonsNovember 16, 2017; Al JazeeraWith major faults covering some 90 percent of the country, Iran often experiences earthquakes. The 7.3 magnitude earthquake last Sunday on Iran’s border with Iraq was the deadliest in the world this year to date. At least 530 lives were lost, 7,460 people injured, 12,000 homes were destroyed, and 15,000 more were damaged. The Kermanshah province was the area hardest hit, but cities as far away as Tehran and Baghdad felt the tremors.Around the world, the Iranian diaspora and many others also felt the shaking, and some of them were compelled to respond to the emergency. Kianoush Rostami, the Iranian Rio 2016 Olympic weightlifter, put his gold medal up for auction via Instagram to raise money for the victims.Al Jazeera’s Ted Regencia shares stories about good intentions hitting frustrating barriers. Members of the Facebook group Persian Americans (65,827 followers) gave $80,000 within the first few hours of their Facebook-based appeal, and by Wednesday, the sum exceeded $200,000. Facebook initially informed the group’s leader that the funds would be held until the US Department of Treasury authorized disbursement. On Thursday, Facebook dismantled the group’s fundraising page, informing the leader “personal fundraisers are not eligible to receive funds for nonprofits.”An Iranian-American journalist used the YouCaring crowdfunding site to raise support for the earthquake survivors. YouCaring removed her page after she raised $2,000 in the first 30 minutes “because the country you provided is part of an embargoed region.”“The United States Treasury Department does not allow our platform to disburse funds directly to, or be routed by proxy to a state or person that is currently located in an embargoed region,” the letter read.Here is a page with dozens of links having to do with the current Iran sanctions, offering guidelines, licenses, licensing policies, executive orders, statutes, rules and regulations, and even the United Nations Security Council resolutions. This page has links to all the US Sanctions Programs and Country Information, from Belarus to Zimbabwe. It is one thing to spontaneously raise support for those in urgent need around the world. It is something entirely different to comprehend the level of complexity involved in winning the authorization to get the money and relief supplies to the intended beneficiaries. We would see the same stories of donor frustration if the emergency were in Sudan or Venezuela.The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of Treasury administers and enforces these economic and trade sanctions. Executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter just appeared before Congress for a public reckoning for their tools being used to deploy a Russian misinformation campaign during the US 2016 election. Facebook and crowdfunding sites like YouCaring are justifiably cautious about the risks of violating US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted countries, terrorists, narcotics traffickers, and those involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. No one wants to receive administrative subpoenas for being on the wrong side of these issues with the OFAC.Ted Regencia points out that the OFAC does make provisions for channeling humanitarian relief to sanctioned countries such as Iran via OFAC-approved NGOs. The problem is that the very NGOs most capable of accomplishing the most good and raising the most money are not authorized by the OFAC to do so.Transfers of personal remittances “to assist a family member or a friend” is also allowed provided that the payment is processed through a third-country financial institution. However, experts say foreign banks are often reluctant to process such donations out of fear of potential fines and other complications.US-based donors are not permitted to send funds directly, even to charitable and humanitarian groups already on the ground in Iran, such as the Iranian Red Crescent, a group with a wide network and presence in many areas.Regencia notes that the Iranian Red Crescent Society is not an OFAC-approved NGO. Formed in 1922, a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, this NGO has already reportedly “reached 90 percent of the areas affected by the quake.”What are the OFAC-approved charities? Moms Against Poverty, Child Foundation, Children of Persia, and Relief International. These are the four nonprofits listed by Al Jazeera, Newsweek, USA Today, and presumably by most everyone else. Their annual expense budgets, according to their latest Form 990 filings on GuideStar, are MAP $727,000; Child Foundation $2.7 million; Children of Persia $145,000; and Relief International $28 million (showing a $2.3 million deficit in 2015, and a $3.4 million deficit in 2014). Here is the Iranian Red Crescent Society’s lengthy 2015 annual report for comparison.There is a serious problem with this picture. I am sure these four charities mean well, and it no doubt took some doing to be authorized by the OFAC, but the be the primary channel for humanitarian aid to a country in desperate need is very likely a scenario they did not anticipate or wish upon themselves. Incompetence can cost lives. Every hour counts after an earthquake.US sanctions also influence the behavior of foreign banks.Ellie Geranmayeh, an Iran expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said that “it is virtually impossible” to donate directly from Britain to humanitarian relief organizations already in Iran helping with earthquake victims. Geranmayeh cited “over compliance” of the UK banks has prompted them to “refuse to transact to accounts with ‘Iran’ in the title.”“The process is everything it’s not meant to be when responding to a disaster: Slow, complex and at times impossible,” she told Al Jazeera.There have been exceptions to the rule. Following the 2012 earthquakes in Iran, the Obama administration temporarily lifted sanctions to permit donations to US NGOs for a period of 45 days, which the Obama extended permanently in 2013. But, of course, that was then, and this is now.—Jim SchafferShare6Tweet8ShareEmail14 Shares
The US pay TV market could decline by 200,000 subscribers next year as a result of people deciding not to subscribe to services, according to Credit Suisse analyst Stefan Anninger.Anninger, who has previously predicted that the US pay TV universe would expand by 250,000 next year, said that pay TV penetration fell from 84.1% to 83.2% by the end of the third quarter, with overall numbers remaining flat, largely as a result of an inability on the part of providers to attract new subscribers.Anninger said that, as over-the-top services improved and the economy remained weak, the chances were that more people would become ‘cord avoiders’ rather than ‘cord cutters’.
Portugal Telecom ended 2011 with over one million pay TV customers after adding 212,000 Meo subs during the year.The telco’s TV base totaled 1.042 million at the end of the year, up 25.5% year-on-year. PT reached the one million-mark in November, three-and-a-half years after it launched its IPTV service.The number of broadband customers increased by 10.4% during the year to 1.105 million.
Russian service provider MTS has launched digital cable services in 10 cities in central Russia.MTS is now offering digital services in the cities of Vladimir, Ivanovo, Kaluga, Ryazan, Smolensk, Tambov, Tver, Orel, Kursk and Belgorod. MTS offers a basic package of 76 channels and a number of thematic packages.
Music channel iConcerts has signed a deal with Universal Music France that will bring programmes featuring artists including Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Nelly Furtado and Oasis to the France-based network.The iConcerts HD channel offers video coverage of popular and classical music concerts to over 80 countries. The deal with Universal will see iConcerts airing footage of Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix concerts, amongst other artists.“Thus far, iConcerts has worked closely with artists and concert producers, but this deal marks the first time we have collaborated with a major music label – a logical and exciting step in the development of our brand,” said Natalia Tsarkova, iConcerts founder and CEO.
BBC Entertainment in Norway is to have advertising for the first time in the new year after BBC Worldwide Channels struck a deal with Fox International Channels.The move is intended to increase the amount of money that BBC Entertainment can invest in acquiring and commissioning content for the channel.BBC Entertainment is available in Norway through Canal Digital, Get, Altibox and RiksTV and advertising sales will be sold through Fox International Channels’ local advertising teams.The channel airs series including QI, Alan Carr Chatty Man, Dragon’s Den and London Calling.Carolyn Gibson, senior vice-president, international sales for BBC Worldwide Channels EMEA said: “We are hugely excited to announce this news as Norwegian viewers continue to flock to BBC Entertainment to watch the finest mix of British comedy, award-winning factual entertainment and the best of British crime drama. This provides a highly attractive, far-reaching environment for advertisers, and makes speaking directly to an upscale diverse audience a reality. Having recently announced that RiksTV will feature BBC Entertainment from 1 November 2012, this significant distribution deal demonstrates our commitment to enable even more viewers to access quality BBC programmes from the BBC Worldwide original commission Richard Hammond’s Crash Course to Graham Norton and QI to name but a few”.Anders Borge, commercial director at Fox International Channels Nordic and Baltic added: “It is a great honor to FIC to be able to offer BBC Entertainment in our channel portfolio to our Norwegian advertising partners. The BBC brand resonates very well in Norway, and compliments the strong brand values of our own channels, National Geographic Channel and Fox Crime. I am thrilled that FIC’s success in the Norwegian market has convinced the BBC that we are the best local partner for them. My team is eager to get started.”
France Telecom and private-equity group Mid Europa Partners have completed the sale of mobile operator Orange Austria following approval of the deal by competition regulators.The pair have sold the operator to Hutchison Whampoa’s Austrian subsidiary Hutchison 3G Austria Holdings in a deal that values the company at €1.3 billion. France Telecom had a 35% stake in the operator, while Mid Europa Partners held 65%. France Telecom’s cash proceeds from the deal amount to about €70 million.
A new music channel for the UK, Now That’s What I Call Music TV, will launch on October 23 on the Sky and Freesat platforms.The channel will target young people and families with a mix of current music during the daytime and evening programming focused on the Now brand’s 30-year old catalogue. The launch will feature a Top 100 favourite videos from 30 years of Now, the results of a poll conducted across Now’s Facebook and Twitter sites.The channel is a joint-venture between Now owners Universal Music and Sony Music, and All Around the World TV, which operates existing music channels including Clubland TV, Planet Pop and Channel AKA. Dolphin TV will act as media agency for the channel.“It’s a perfect time for us to be doing this,” said Now joint managing director Steve Pritchard. “The Now generation is the one that corresponds almost exactly with the advent of the music video.”
Liberty Global-owned cable operator UPC Cablecom has boosted the number of unencrypted HD channels it provides in German-speaking Switzerland.UPC Cablecom is now offering over 60 unencrypted channels in its basic package, including 27 HD services, following the addition of HD services Star TV, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and the three most popular French channels: TF1, France2 and M6.UPC Cablecom has also added new Swiss entertainment channel S1 TV in HD to its basic package.UPC Cablecom said it was also upping the number of channels in its Compact, Classic and Comfort packages to 17, depending on the subscription, including RTL Nitro and DMAX.To make space for the new services, the operator is reducing its analogue offering to comprise the 25 most watched channels, down from 35.
Deutsche Telekom-owned Montenigrin telco Crnogorski Telekom has launched a new Pick’n’Play music portal as part of its roster of services.The music portal will be available free of charge to ADSL, Extra TV and Extra Trio subscribers until May 15.Users can obtain a password via the Extra TV menu, while ADSL customers can register via their online account.Users of the service can search for individual songs and artists, choose genres or playlists and personalise the experience.The music portal can be accessed via the web or via Android and iOS smartphones. Apps are available for download from the Google Play and Apple App stores.
Music network Vintage TV has launched on UK digital terrestrial platform Freeview, taking the 242 channel slot on the EPG. The channel is already available on the Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media platforms, having launched on the latter in April.Vintage TV first launched in 2010 and airs a range of original music programming, classic concert footage, and interviews and documentaries.Its launch on Freeview comes after Vintage partnered with communications infrastructure and media services firm Arqiva. Vintage launches on Freeview using Arqiva’s Connect TV service, which lets broadcasters combine content delivered on the terrestrial broadcast network alongside IP delivered content, presenting it on a single channel number on the Freeview EPG.“By offering Vintage TV via Connect TV on Freeview, we’re delighted to be bringing our extensive range of music shows to an even larger audience,” said Vintage TV CEO and founder David Pick.
TalkTalk’s YouView boxUK telco TalkTalk has chosen Harmonic to deliver an integrated headend solution from Harmonic to help deliver its IPTV services.TalkTalk will use Harmonic’s Electra 9200 universal multiservice encoder and ProStream 9100 with ACE stream processor and transcoder to deliver live and VoD content and an increased channel lineup to subscribers’ set-top boxes.Harmonic’s Electra 9200 will provide MPEG-4 AVC encoding of video content for TalkTalk’s IPTV services, while ProStream with ACE can transcode up to 60 SD MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 AVC broadcast services.“YouView from TalkTalk is Britain’s fastest growing TV service. To deliver our growing range of content to more than a million subscribers, we needed an IPTV headend solution that would increase our encoding efficiency and support future growth,” said Naresh Raj, broadcast systems team leader at TalkTalk Group.“Harmonic’s integrated video processing solutions provide outstanding video quality while lowering our capital and operating expenses through density and scalability. Relying on a unified headend from Harmonic, we have the flexibility to support additional subscribers and add more channels as our market requirements change.”
Cirkus, the UK content SVOD service, has launched in Finland.The service has launched on the Sonera IPTV platform, which is run by Swedish/Finish telco TeliaSonera. It rolled out this week on the Finnish service and will then launch on the Telia service in Sweden in January.Cirkus is a low-cost SVOD service for pay TV operators and is seen as a way for pay TV incumbents to insure themselves against the threat of the wave of new OTT platforms.It offers on-demand access to shows from distributors including All3Media International, BBC Worldwide and Endemol Worldwide Distribution. It also has content from ITV Studios, the content arm of UK broadcaster ITV, which bought into Cirkus earlier this year.The service has fared well in the Nordic territories, where UK programming is popular with viewers, launching on Com Hem and Boxer in Sweden.
Digital TV Research has downgraded its pay TV revenue forecast for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by US$1 billion.The research firm now predicts that MENA pay TV revenues will reach US$4 billion in 2021, down from an earlier forecast of US$5 billion.“Along with long-running conflicts and slower economic growth, several countries – notably Turkey and Egypt – have suffered substantial currency devaluation,” said Digital TV Research principal analyst, Simon Murray.Turkey experienced the largest downgrade, with Digital TV Research cutting US$361 million from its 2021 pay TV revenue forecast.Israel came next with a decrease of US$220 million, with the report noting that this market in particular is seeing over-the-top services compete with traditional pay TV operators.The UAE followed with a US$174 million cut in estimated revenues, while Saudi Arabia will suffer an estimated US$149 million drop.Overall, Digital TV Research said that Turkey, Israel, the UAE and Saudi Arabia will account for 90% of the revenue shortfall between its last two Middle East and North Africa Pay TV Forecasts.However, Murray said: “It’s not all bad news, with Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE enjoying good growth.”By 2022, the research claims that MENA pay TV revenues will reach US$4.12 billion, while the number of pay TV homes will hit 19.52 million.The number of TV households that paid for TV signals in 2016 was 18.7%. This is tipped to grow to 22.2% by 2022. Meanwhile, Digiturk is expected to remain the region’s largest pay TV operator in terms of subscribers.
Media content and distribution companies have an opportunity to branch out into new markets that are adjacent to the traditional entertainment business as growth in their core market tapers off, according to Lee Chow, chief marketing officer, video product line at Huawei.Speaking at TV Connect in London this morning, Chow said Huawei was playing a critical role in enabling media companies to compensate for declining box office and pay TV revenues, through security solutions and innovation in the user experience, among other things, she said.Chow said that theatrical box office returns and pay TV revenues are growing only slowly if at all, tailing off even in formerly high-growth markets such as China. “Operators have responded by providing skinny bundles like DirecTV Now and Sling TV, and even YouTube TV,” she said. “These represent innovative business models. We are also seeing different bundling models, with multi-play emerging.”OTT is continuing to expand, with 60% of US homes expected to have one or more SVOD subscriptions by 2020. However, OTT is not expected to exceed 10% of pay TV revenues, meaning that it is more a complement than a threat, she said.Chow said that delineation between producers and distributors is shifting, with distribution platform like Netflix investing in content production and Time Warner merging with AT&T. On the other hand, content production companies had moved into distribution.“We are seeing saturation of pay TV penetration in mature markets, but there is still room for growth in emerging markets,” she said.However, Chow said Huawei believes there are opportunities in adjacent markets such industrial video, UGC and communications video as well as entertainment.Chow said the Chinese market presents interesting opportunities, with an ageing population creating opportunities for services targeted at assisted living environments, with new services such as communication video, housekeeping services and in-home dining services layered on to a core entertainment offering.Huawei has built its own Video PaaS offering on the basis that the same video technology can “be leveraged in adjacent markets”, she said. “This strategy enables service providers to first engage in the entertainment space and then grow into adjacent markets,” she said.In addition to adjacent markets, there is an opportunity to grow by “horizontal convergence”, she said. “This horizontal convergence enables cross platform features and a seamless user experience” across mobile, fixed and OTT video, she said.
Matthias KurthCable Europe has called for an investment-friendly and predictable regulatory environment, following last week’s discussions on the Electronic Communications Code.Telecoms ministers from the EU member states last week discussed the Maltese Presidency’s progress report on legislation designed to help Europe’s transition to a ‘gigabit society’.Cable Europe said that while it broadly welcomes the progress made to date, it warned that a failure to adequately address a number of proposed barriers to investment would “fundamentally damage Europe’s connectivity ambitions”.The trade body for cable broadband operators said that an investment friendly framework was the initial objective of the EU Commission, and called upon member states to keep intact “the nature and intent of the Electronic Communications Code”.“We all share the same goals for a connected continent. Despite this, the progress report published by the Maltese Presidency shows that well established and effective principles enshrined in competition law are being called into question by some Member States,” said the executive chairman of Cable Europe, Matthias Kurth.“This would endanger the predictable and stable regulatory environment essential for investment, the creation of which was the commission’s primary purpose when making digital goals a top priority, and ultimately damage our chances of success.“We urge the European Institutions to stick to the necessary toolkit, to limit access to networks when they are not dominant, and to promote infrastructure competition.”The news follows recent research, commissioned by Liberty Global, which claims that Liberty’s €14.5 billion investment in super-fast networks over the past four years has generated total economic activity in the region of €23.5 billion and has provided a ‘net social benefit’ of €7.1 billion.