Displaying items by tag: US

TikTok rejects Microsoft, chooses Oracle as “tech partner”

Written on Monday, 14 September 2020 07:25

ByteDance has rejected Microsoft’s offer for its TikTok operations in the US and has reportedly chosen Oracle as “trusted tech partner”.

The Oracle bid would next need approval from the White House and Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, with both parties under the belief it would meet US data security concerns.

TikTok has been at the center of a diplomatic storm between the US and China, and President Donald Trump has given Americans a deadline to stop doing business with TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance – effectively compelling a sale of the app to a US company.

Microsoft had indicated at the beginning of August that it was interested in acquiring TikTok's US operations, but later announced that bid had been rejected.

Microsoft expressed disappointment in the rejection and said it was confident its proposal would have been good for TikTok users, while protection national security interests. 

"ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok's US operations to Microsoft," the US tech giant said in a statement.

 "We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok's users, while protecting national security interests," it added.

Under the deal with Oracle, at least some of ByteDance’s existing investors will get stakes in the venture. These investors include Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic. Meanwhile, Walmart said in a statement that it is thinking of joining Oracle and that it is still in talks with ByteDance “leadership and other interested parties.” 

Sources said Oracle is mainly interested in TikTok to boost its cloud-computing business. For Microsoft, owning TikTok would have helped the company build its presence among everyday consumers, and given it more data on young users.

Downloaded 175 million times in the United States, TikTok is used by as many as a billion people worldwide to make quirky, short-form videos on their cellphones. It has repeatedly denied sharing data with Beijing.

TikTok meanwhile has filed a lawsuit challenging the crackdown by the US government, contending that Trump's order was a misuse of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act because the platform is not "an unusual and extraordinary threat."

Controversially Trump has demanded that the US government get a cut of any deal, which critics contend appears unconstitutional and akin to extortion.

Bidding for TikTok comes amid a broader deterioration of relations between the world's top two economies in recent months, with the US and China locked in fierce recriminations over trade disputes, human rights and the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Published in Finance

What happened to Google and Facebook’s subsea cable plans?

Written on Thursday, 10 September 2020 09:11

Following security concerns from US officials, it has been announced that Google and Facebook have scrapped plans for a giant subsea cable from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.

The Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) was first announced in 2016, with backing from Google, Facebook and other companies including Pacific Light Data Communication and TE SubCom.

The PLCN is a high-capacity fiber-optic undersea cable running for approximately 12,800km under the Pacific Ocean between Hong Kong and Los Angeles. In 2016, Google said that the PLCN would have an estimated capacity of 120TB per second, making it the highest capacity trans-Pacific route.

“In other words, PLCN will provide enough capacity for Hong Kong to have 80m concurrent HD video conference calls with Los Angeles,” the company said at the time.

The 12,800 km long cable has already been laid, costing hundreds of millions of dollars. However it needs permission from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in order to operate.

Breakdown of plans

A US government committee, known as Team Telecom, raised concerns about Dr. Peng Telecom and Media Group’s involvement, citing its "relationship with Chinese intelligence and security services".

While Google and Facebook can be considered the most high-profile stakeholders, much of the cable’s fiber optics belong to Pacific Light Data Communication, which is owned by Dr. Peng Telecom.

In light of these concerns and the delays they were causing, Google sought permission from the FCC to activate only the self-owned portions of the subsea cable network in February 2020, effectively cutting Pacific Light Data Communication from the project.

In April of this year, Google were awarded temporary authority for construction and testing. The FCC said it would allow the company to operate the segment of cable between the US and Taiwan – but not Hong Kong – for six months, pending a final disposition of the license application.

However, as tensions between the US and China continue to grow, it became increasingly likely that US officials would reject the use of the cable on the grounds of national security.

What’s happening now?

While the special temporary authority wasn’t due to expire until the end of September, Bloomberg reported a few weeks ago that Google and Facebook have dumped their original plans for a subsea cable between the US and Hong Kong.

Instead, the companies submitted a revised proposal that incorporates the links to Taiwan and the Philippines, but crucially leaves out Hong Kong-based Pacific Light Data Communication.

A spokesperson for Google told the BBC: “We can confirm that the original application for the PLCN cable system has been withdrawn, and a revised application for the US-Taiwan and US-Philippines portions of the system has been submitted.

“We continue to work through established channels to obtain cable landing licenses for our undersea cables.”

While the fight to use the PLCN drags on, Google also announced in July of this year that it is building another subsea cable, named the ‘Grace Hopper’ cable, connecting the UK, US and Spain.

The cable marks Google’s first investment in a private subsea cable route to the UK and its first ever route to Spain. Today, 98pc of international internet traffic is carried around the world by subsea cables.

Published in Infrastructure

US telcos need $1.8 billion to replace Huawei, ZTE equipment

Written on Monday, 07 September 2020 05:50

US telecommunications networks, which have relied on network equipment from China’s Huawei and ZTE, have told the government that it would cost $1.837 billion to replace those switches and routers, the Federal Communications Commission said.

In June, the FCC formally designated Huawei and ZTE as threats to US national security, a declaration that bars US firms from accessing an $8.3 billion government fund to purchase equipment from the companies.

FCC commissioners said the report shows the need for Congress to approve funding to replace that equipment. Congress has authorized reimbursements but has not approved the money.

The FCC said it believes the carriers would be eligible for reimbursements of about $1.62 billion.

“By identifying the presence of insecure equipment and services in our networks, we can now work to ensure that these networks — especially those of small and rural carriers — rely on infrastructure from trusted vendors,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, urging Congress “to appropriate funding to reimburse carriers for replacing any equipment or services determined to be a national security threat so that we can protect our networks.”

Published in Telecom Operators

Huawei is ramping up efforts in its cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) business, which still has access to US chips despite sanctions against the company, in a move to secure its survival, according to the Financial Times.

Huawei has seen rapid growth in its cloud computing business, which sells computing power and storage to companies, including giving them access to AI.

The cloud business is key to stabilizing Huawei in its home market, as Beijing will increasingly support the company through public cloud contracts.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic struck, Huawei observed the acceleration of cloud computing – putting its unit on an equal footing with its smartphones and telecoms equipment businesses.

In January, the company announced changes to its organizational structure and management team, creating a fourth business group for its cloud computing and AI divisions in a sign that the telecom giant is aiming its attention at this growing sector.

A focus on cloud computing puts Huawei in direct competition with the biggest Chinese players including Alibaba and Tencent, as well as global heavyweights such as Amazon and Google.

The changes echo Huawei’s “Cloud Only” strategy in which the company pledged to invest more resources and funds to build a “full-stack cloud platform.”

This shift in focus is necessary because the outlook for Huawei’s smartphone and other consumer products unit is impaired in the face of US restrictions. The consumer unit was responsible for half of Huawei’s $122 billion revenue last year.

The Trump administration has restricted technology exports to Chinese companies in particular, notably Huawei, citing national security risks.

Meanwhile, vendors of semiconductors needed for cloud computing are still allowed to ship to Huawei if they have a license exempting them from the restrictions.

Published in Telecom Vendors

TikTok’s CEO quits amid growing political tensions

Written on Thursday, 27 August 2020 06:18

TikTok’s CEO said he has quit the company as tensions soar between Washington and Beijing over the Chinese-owned video platform.

Kevin Mayer said that he was resigning after the company came under sustained pressure from the Trump administration over its alleged ties to China.

Mayer's resignation comes days after TikTok filed a lawsuit challenging a crackdown by the US government over claims the wildly popular social media app can be used to spy on Americans.

TikTok has been at the center of a diplomatic storm between the US and China, and President Donald Trump signed an executive order on August 6 giving Americans 45 days to stop doing business with TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance, effectively setting a deadline for a sale of the app to a US company.

TikTok, which has been downloaded 175 million times in the US and more than a billion times around the world, argued in the suit that Trump's order was a misuse of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act because the platform, on which users share often playful short-form videos, is not "an unusual and extraordinary threat."

Former Disney executive Mayer, who has only been in the post since May, said in a letter to staff that the "political environment has sharply changed" in recent weeks.

"Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company," he wrote.

"I understand that the role that I signed up for, including running TikTok globally, will look very different as a result of the US administration's action to push for a sell-off of the US business."

TikTok said in a statement: "We appreciate that the political dynamics of the last few months have significantly changed what the scope of Kevin's role would be going forward, and fully respect his decision. We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well."

Published in Reports

Oracle joins Microsoft, Twitter in race to buy TikTok

Written on Tuesday, 18 August 2020 08:08

Software giant Oracle is weighing a bid to join Microsoft and Twitter in the race to acquire part of TikTok, it is reported.

Oracle is “seriously considering” buying TikTok US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, according to the report.

The Financial Times sources added that ByteDance is also working with investment firms such as General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital to find a buyer. 

The US government has ordered TikTok parent ByteDance to sell off its US operations within 90 days. Under the emergency order, the US government will also have the final say on who gets to buy the Chinese company’s operations

China meanwhile slammed Washington for using "digital gunboat diplomacy" in the TikTok case.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said TikTok had done everything required by the US, including hiring Americans as its top executives, hosting its servers in the US and making public its source code.

But the app has been "unable to escape the robbery through trickery undertaken by some people in the US based on bandit logic and political self-interest," Zhao said at a regular press conference.

TikTok separately announced an alliance with music distribution platform UnitedMasters, playing to budding artists and their fans despite US steps to bar the popular app.

The deal to integrate UnitedMasters into TikTok promised to build on a trend of the platform being a way for musicians to be discovered by posting short-clip videos.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Published in Finance

US tightens restrictions on Huawei’s access to technology

Written on Tuesday, 18 August 2020 08:02

The Trump administration announced it will further tighten restrictions on Huawei, aimed at cracking down on its access to commercially available chips.

A Commerce Department statement added 38 Huawei affiliates around the world to the "entity list," claiming that the company was using international subsidiaries to circumvent the sanctions which prevent export of US-based technology.

Ramped-up US restrictions are likely to cut off the Chinese smartphone maker’s access to even off-the-shelf chips and disrupt the global tech supply chain once again, executives and experts cautioned.

“It will have a huge impact,” said Gu Wenjun, chief analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy ICWise, referring to tighter U.S. curbs. “It will throw off Huawei’s plans to obtain chips by purchasing them externally, rather than relying on HiSilicon.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Huawei and its affiliates "have worked through third parties to harness US technology in a manner that undermines US national security and foreign policy interests."

US officials have argued Huawei poses a security risk because of its links to the Beijing government, a claim denied by the company.

The toughening of sanctions comes amid heightened US-China tensions and claims by Washington that Chinese firms are being used for spying, despite repeated denials.

President Donald Trump has also sought to ban the wildly popular mobile application TikTok if it is not divested by its Chinese parent firm ByteDance.

5G

The Trump administration has banned Huawei from 5G wireless networks in the United States and has pressed allies to do the same.

In the meantime, Huawei became the largest global smartphone manufacturer in the past quarter, largely due to sales in the Chinese market, even as Washington moves to deny the company access to much of the Google Android system.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a separate statement that the Trump Administration "sees Huawei for what it is – an arm of the Chinese Communist Party's surveillance state."

Pompeo said the new sanctions were imposed "to protect US national security, our citizens' privacy, and the integrity of our 5G infrastructure from Beijing's malign influence."

The Commerce Department action affects Huawei affiliates in 21 countries including China, Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, Singapore, Thailand and Britain.

The order blocks any of the companies from acquiring US-based software or technology used in products or components.

US officials said there would be no further extensions for the sanctions waivers from the Commerce Department which had been allowed to minimize disruptions.

The Semiconductor Industry Association said that “these broad restrictions on commercial chip sales will bring significant disruption to the U.S. semiconductor industry.”

“We are surprised and concerned by the administration’s sudden shift from its prior support of a more narrow approach intended to achieve stated national security goals while limiting harm to US companies,” the association said.

Published in Government

DZS appoints Charlie Vogt as President and CEO

Written on Tuesday, 04 August 2020 07:05

DASAN Zhone Solutions, a leading enabler of the emerging hyper-connected, hyper-broadband world, has announced the appointment of Charlie Vogt as president, CEO and director.

Vogt, a distinguished information technology and communications executive, joins DZS from ATX Networks, where he remains a member of the board. He succeeds Yung Kim, who has retired after a successful 40-year international telecommunications career and nearly four years at the helm of DZS.

“It has been an honor to lead DZS as we’ve grown into a global top five next-generation broadband access vendor,” said Kim. “I am pleased to now pass the reins to Charlie, a transformation specialist in the communications industry who is well-known for his work driving acquisition integration, innovation, and rapid growth. His depth of experience in broadband, combined with his energy, entrepreneurial spirit and leadership skills, uniquely position him to lead DZS into its next chapter.”

“Yung Kim has led DZS through a critical period marked by mergers and acquisitions that have elevated the company’s position as a leading global broadband and networking solutions provider to many of the world’s most innovative service providers and enterprises,” said Min Woo Nam, chairman of the DZS board of directors.

“We thank him for his leadership and look forward to his continued support while serving as an advisor to the company. As the communications industry evolves at an ever-increasing pace, we are confident that Charlie, with his clear vision and experience transforming both companies and industries, will strengthen the leadership role of DZS in ushering in a new era of broadband connectivity, and enabling the leading communications service providers and enterprises of the future.” 

“I am thrilled to lead DZS as innovations in fixed and wireless broadband access solutions and SDN, NFV, and analytics technologies enable the dawn of a hyper-connected world with new opportunities for agile service providers and enterprises,” said Vogt.

“Throughout my career, I’ve helped transform industries through generational change – from TDM to VoIP in telecom, from baseband to IP in media broadcast, and most recently, extending the life of broadband service provider networks by 25 years through cutting-edge Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial and spectrum innovation. How people and devices connect, the scale and speed at which they communicate, and the intelligence that informs the quality and optimization of their experience will rapidly transform the communications industry and create extraordinary opportunity. DZS’ innovation and strong relationships with industry leaders uniquely position the company to capitalize on this sea change, and I look forward to working closely with the company’s outstanding team, board, partners and customers to transform this promise into reality,” he added.

A lifelong entrepreneur, Vogt has spent the past two decades leading organizations through high growth and rapid change in challenging and competitive environments. Vogt was most recently president and CEO of ATX Networks, a leader in broadband access and media distribution, where he led the company through extensive transformation and growth.

Prior to ATX, Vogt spent five years as president and CEO of Imagine Communications, where he directed the company through revolutionary change as it evolved its core technology, including large-scale restructuring and rebranding and multiple technology acquisitions as he implemented a disruptive vision and growth strategy. Before joining Imagine Communications, Vogt was president and CEO of GENBAND (today known as Ribbon Communications), where he transformed the company from a startup to the industry’s global leader in voice over IP and real-time IP communications solutions.

His professional career has also included leadership roles at Taqua (Tekelec), Lucent Technology (Nokia), Ascend Communications (Lucent), ADTRAN, Motorola and IBM.

Vogt will be based in the new DZS headquarters in Plano, Texas.

Published in Reports

UK makes U-turn decision on Huawei after US pressure

Written on Tuesday, 14 July 2020 13:09

Huawei has called on the UK government to reconsider a ban on the purchase of its 5G equipment, saying London had reacted to pressure from Washington rather than security concerns.

The Chinese telecoms giant's UK spokesman Ed Brewster called the move "disappointing", adding: "Regrettably, our future in the UK has become politicized, this is about US trade policy, not security."

Britain's digital minister Oliver Dowden announced in parliament that it approved the phased removal of Chinese technology giant Huawei from the country’s 5G network, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired meetings with his Cabinet and the National Security Council.

The policy reversal hands a major victory to US President Donald Trump's administration in its geopolitical and trade battle with China.

However, it threatens to damage Britain's relations with the Asian power and carry a big cost for UK mobile providers that have relied on Huawei equipment for nearly 20 years.

In January Britain said that Huawei equipment could be used in its new 5G network on a limited basis. Since then, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced growing political pressure domestically to take a harder line against Beijing, and in May the United States imposed new restrictions to disrupt Huawei’s access to important components.

"Given the uncertainty this creates around Huawei's supply chain, the UK can no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment," Dowden said.

"From the end of this year, telecoms providers must not buy any 5G equipment from Huawei," he told lawmakers.

The new guidelines also require all existing Huawei gear to be stripped out by the end of 2026.

Published in Government

Huawei said it will invest $1.2 billion in a chip research and manufacturing center in Britain that has been strongly opposed by the United States.

Published in Telecom Vendors
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