Tech Digest daily roundup: £100m tax payer money for Britishvolt gigafactory


Plans for a new British-owned battery gigaplant in Northumberland have been boosted by the commitment of around £100m of government funds to the £3.8bn scheme. The Britishvolt project intends to manufacture power cells for 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs a year at a new factory on the site of the former Blyth Power Station. The injection of taxpayer funding comes via the Automotive Transformation Fund, and will be augmented by £1.7bn of private funding raised by real estate fund manager Tritax and investment manager abrdn. Sky News 

BT has said most customers will see bills rise by more than 9% from the end of March as households are squeezed by cost of living pressures. The telecoms giant said broadband and phone bills will jump by 9.3% following a “dramatic increase” in data usage over the last few years. Affected customers will pay an extra £3.50 a month on average from 31 March. But households on certain packages, as well as those claiming benefits, will be exempt. Around two years ago, BT changed how it raised bills, saying it would make one increase a year at the end of March of 3.9% plus inflation as measured by the consumer price index to reflect “rising costs to the business”. BBC 

Rolls Royce’s Spirit of Innovation plane (above) has been confirmed as the world’s fastest electric vehicle

Rolls-Royce’s Spirit of Innovation electric plane has been crowned as the world’s fastest electric vehicle after its speed records were officially accepted. The battery-powered plane flew at 345 miles an hour (555 kilometres an hour) over a distance of 3km in November, and did 330 miles an hour (532 km/h) over 15km, smashing two previous records, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale confirmed. The plane reached a top speed of 387 miles an hour (623km/h) in the test flights to claim the title of the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle. Telegraph 

The next big Samsung Unpacked event, where we expect to see the Samsung Galaxy S22 for the very first time, is now set for February 2022. We’ve yet to find out the exact launch date, but a new blog post from TM Roh, President and Head of Samsung MX, confirms the launch will happen during February. Leaks have pointed to February 9 as the launch date, and one recent source was even confident to predict the exact timing of the event at 7am PT / 10am ET or 3pm GMT on that date. Tech Radar 

Instagram and TikTok are reportedly both testing subscription-based services for their influencer’s feeds. While Instagram announced yesterday in a blog post that it was beginning to test the idea of subscriptions with a small number of creators, a report from The Information suggests that TikTok may well be doing the same. According to the report, a spokesperson told the outlet that TikTok is “testing the idea of allowing its creators to charge subscriptions for their content,” though declined to elaborate further on what those tests entail. IGN

Users of Amazon’s Alexa complained that the voice assistant was not working on Friday morning. According to the website Down Detector, the problem appeared to affect the UK and parts of Europe and lasted about an hour. Some users posted on social media that they had been unable to get Alexa to respond or help with their morning routine. Amazon has not yet posted about the problem. BBC

Chris Price
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