Displaying items by tag: Australia

Tech titans face clampdown from Australian regulator

Written on Sunday, 23 June 2019 11:33

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) called for new regulations on Facebook, Google and other tech behemoths which could have far-reaching ramifications on their money-making procedures and their ability to choose which content consumers would consume.

The country’s competition watchdog devised some recommendations which, if confirmed, would be among the most restrictive towards tech giants. These recommendations were created in an effort to limit the power of these tech giants due to global concerns of their influence and various other issues such as anti-trust, privacy abuse and the role they play in spreading discriminatory content and misinforming the public.

The ACCC plans to issue its final report by the end of June, following its 18-month inquiry into the issue. This report is expected to comprise of various proposals pertaining to controls that will be imposed on tech giants which handle a large quantity of personal data to use for marketing purposes such as the use of algorithms to coordinate which advertisements to display to customers, which tailored search results will appear and other tailored content.

In the lengthy preliminary report which was issued in December last year, the ACCC raised concerns about the market power of tech companies like Facebook and Google and how their operations are characterized by a “lack of transparency”, especially with regards to the use of our data.

The report, which was initiated by the conservative government, read,: “We are at a critical point in considering the impact of digital platforms on society.” It also shed some light on the impact the tech giants had on Australia’s new industry.

In fact, it was found that since 2014, two tech titans were receiving a huge fraction of the revenues generated from digital advertising which resulted in the number of newspapers and online journalists falling by over 20 per cent.

“While the ACCC recognizes their significant benefits to consumers and business, there are important questions to be asked about the role the global digital platforms play in the supply of news and journalism in Australia,” read the report.

The competition watchdog stated that it wanted to make sure the big firms did not “favor their own business interests, through their marketing power and presence across multiple markets”.

“There are also issues with the role of digital platforms in determining what news and information is accessed by Australians, how this information is provided, and its range and reliability.”

Rod Sims, ACCC chairman, stated that regulatory authorities In the UK, Europe and the U.S. were monitoring the outcome of their inquiry very closely as they are all still in the process of determining their policies regarding the issue.

Many are of the belief that the ACCC’s recommendations are impractical and a little radical.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has already begun to take action against the growing influence of Big Tech. This includes enabling criminal penalties for social media execs which allow the spread of violent or hateful content on their platforms.

Head of  DIGI, the lobbying group formed by various tech behemoths to deal with the regulator, Sunit Bose, said, “We obviously need really clear rules for the internet that protect privacy, safety, the economic and social benefits of technology while also protecting competition and innovations.”

She also argued that the Australian regulator’s recommendations would hurt Big Tech, as well as start-ups and smaller companies that lack the resources to deal with the new regulations.

“the prospect of having to disclose such sensitive information will serve as a deterrent to global digital companies and start-ups initiating or expanding their operation in Australia,” she said.

Published in Government

On Saturday, the Australian government pledged to introduce new laws on social media executives in light of the latest terrorist attack in New Zealand.

The new law would be imposed on social media executives of big tech companies which could lead up to a three-year prison sentence if they fail to remove extremist material from their platforms.

This new legislation is to be discussed in parliament next week.

Facebook has said that it removed around 1.5 million videos which comprised of the livestreamed massacre which took play on March 15 in Christchurch mosque in New Zealand. It was a 17-minute video which was filmed by the terrorist himself going on a rampage and killing 50 innocent people. This video was almost immediately available online and Facebook quickly took the video down several hours after the attack.

“Big social media companies have a responsibility to take evry possible action to ensure their technology products are not exploited by murderous terrorists,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Morrison met with several tech companies on Tuesday some of which included Facebook, Twitter and Google. At the meeting, Australia stated that it would advise other G20 countries to do the same and hold social media firms accountable.

At the meeting, Facebook said that it was “committed to working with leaders and communities” in order to “help counter hate speech and the threat of terrorism.” However, the tech company refused to give any further comments.

Attorney General Christian Porter said that the new legislation would make it a criminal offence if social media platforms fail to discard “abhorrent violent material” such as murder, rape and terror attacks.

The fines for such an offence are expected to be worth billions of dollars.

Porter stated, “Mainstream media hat broadcast such material would be putting their licence at risk and there is no reason why social media platforms should be treated any differently.”

Nigel Phair, a cybersecurity expert, hinted that this new law could not possibly imprison social media executives. He stated that jail was reserved for “serious criminal matters” and that executives based in Australia were not company “decision makers”.

“Jails is for violent offenders, not marketing representatives in Australia of an American social media company.”
He said that the social media firms could have done more than what they pledged to do on Tuesday. He added, “They didn’t read the tea leaves back then, it’ll be different how they read the tea leaves now.”

Published in Apps

Facebook’s new app will cover news across 400 US cities

Written on Thursday, 29 November 2018 12:27

Facebook has announced it is expanding its local news alert to 400 US cities, and is testing the feature in Australia. “Today In” includes previews that link to news websites and relevant government pages about top headlines, current discussions, weather and more. A separate section within the app will allow users to receive local updates.

A decline in the number of local news organizations is said to have inspired Facebook’s “Today In” section. It is understood the social network will monitor the app in a bid to remove fake news and biased sensationalism.

"Earlier this year, we started testing Today In after we did research in which over 50 percent of people told us they wanted to see more local news and community information on Facebook -- more than any other type of content we asked about," said product manager Andrea Watson Strong in a blog post.

"The research showed that people wanted both what might be traditionally understood as local news -- breaking news or information about past events like city council meetings, crime reports and weather updates -- as well as community information that could help them make plans, like bus schedules, road closures and restaurant openings.

The app will also feature a First Responder page which could be used to inform citizens in emergencies such as floods or hurricanes. 

"People tell us it is important to receive timely, local updates in situations that directly affect them or that require them to take action, such as major road closures, blackouts or natural disasters," Strong said.

Published in Apps

Australian telco to commence 5G roll out in 2019

Written on Sunday, 11 February 2018 09:00

Australian telecom provider Optus has announced its intention to commence the roll out of 5G technology in Australia by early 2019 with a fixed wireless product in key metro areas. This announcement follows the launch of a successful outdoor trial for 5G New Radio, which showed 2Gbps download speeds using a potential device for a fixed wireless service in the home and business.

“People have been hearing about 5G for some time, and there is pent up expectation, but to date a lot of the talk has been highly theoretical,” said Optus Managing Director of Networks Dennis Wong.

“By successfully testing commercial grade customer equipment, we’re able to pave the way for Optus to begin testing 5G technologies from a consumer perspective,” he added. “We continue to be involved in the fine tuning of the customer equipment with our partner – Huawei, to ensure that the equipment meets the standards as they are being endorsed.”

Throughout the trial, both C-band and mmWave were incorporated as these are considered to be global pioneer bands for 5G, delivering the low latency and extreme speeds associated with 5G. C-band is within the same spectrum range of Optus’ 3.5GHz, which has been earmarked for 5G deployment.

“As we continue to develop Optus 5G technologies and prepare for deployment in 2019, it is also important to ensure people understand the capabilities it can offer, and how it is able to benefit their day-to-day lives” added Mr. Wong.

During the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Optus will be hosting a 5G technology showcase, allowing visitors the ability to experience what 5G will have to offer.  From being able to play sports real-time in virtual reality; to competing against machines in games, and to remotely controlling robots’ movements these use cases will provide a small glimpse into the capabilities of 5G and how it differs from current technologies.

Optus has been working towards the delivery of 5G technology since 2016, focusing on taking key technological evolutionary steps and working with global partners to ensure the correct foundations have been put in place for eventual roll out.

Throughout 2017, Optus achieved several key milestones, including the launch of 4.5G technology and a world-first trial of 3CC CA Massive MIMO technologies.

Additionally, Optus secured a variety of new metropolitan licenses for its customers in the 2300 MHz and 3500 MHz spectrum bands during recent Spectrum Auctions, further strengthening its spectrum holdings in the relevant fields for 5G technologies.

“Now 3GPP has finalized most parts of the world-wide standardization of 5G technologies, Optus can increase momentum and throughout 2018, Optus is going to lead the Australian market in the development and deployment of pre-5G and 5G technologies,” said Mr. Wong.

Published in Telecom Operators

Hawaiki Transpacific cable system ready for service by June 2018

Written on Wednesday, 24 January 2018 12:09

New Zealand-based company Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP, and TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity company specializing in undersea communications technology, announced that more than half of the 15,000km of undersea fiber-optic cable that comprise the Hawaiki transpacific cable system have been implemented by TE SubCom.

“The start of 2018 finds Hawaiki closer and closer to ready for service”, said Remi Galasso, CEO of Hawaiki. “Landing the cable in its home country represents a major event for our team and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our New Zealand partners for their continuous support. Hawaiki will bring huge benefits to New Zealand in terms of greater connectivity to Australia and the US, security of supply, diversity and increased business opportunities for the telecom and IT industries.”

With several thousands of kilometers of undersea fiber-optic cable on board, TE SubCom’s cable-laying vessel CS Responder is now berthed in Auckland, poised to begin marine activities for the New Zealand leg of the transoceanic cable system later this month. The operation will include the landing of the Hawaiki cable in Mangawhai Heads.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license was granted to Hawaiki in December 2017. The US domestic segment between Oregon and Hawaii was completed in the last quarter of 2017. The international segment between Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii has been underway since early November 2017.

Cable landings in Pacific City, Oregon; Oahu, Hawaii; and Sydney, Australia have been successfully completed. Cable landing in American Samoa is scheduled in March 2018, and the Hawaiki cable system will be ready for service in June 2018.

Chris Carobene, vice president, Marine Services, TE SubCom said, “We’re proud of the progress to date on the Hawaiki system and look forward to it being ready for service later this year. The project showcases the SubCom team’s expertise in the transpacific market and has been a great example of the kind of partnership that results in a successful venture.”

Hawaiki will link Australia and New Zealand to the mainland United States, as well as Hawaii and American Samoa, with options to expand to additional South Pacific islands. With more than 43 Tb of new capacity available to the market, Hawaiki will introduce true competition and dramatically drop the cost of connectivity across the Pacific region.

As the first and only carrier-neutral cable system between Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., Hawaiki will be in a unique position to meet new market requirements and deliver tailored capacity solution at the most competitive price.

Published in Telecom Industry

Australia gets NB-IoT network roll-out

Written on Tuesday, 23 January 2018 12:41

Australia’s largest telecom provider Telstra announced a major step forward in the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) in Australia with the successful deployment of Narrowband technology in its IoT Network.

Telstra now offers Narrowband coverage in major Australian cities and many regional towns. This is in addition to the around three million square km of Cat M1 IoT coverage Telstra turned on in 2017. Through the Telstra IoT Network, Telstra is the only carrier in Australia and one of the first carriers in the world to offer both Narrowband and Cat M1 IoT technologies.

Telstra Chief Operations Officer, Robyn Denholm, said Narrowband technology would accelerate IoT in Australia by opening up the opportunity to connect millions of new devices sending small volumes of data at very low power levels over Telstra’s mobile network.

“We already offer our customers Australia’s largest and fastest mobile network and with our IoT Network now we have added the ability to support millions of new devices like sensors, trackers and alarms operating at very low data rates that can sit inside machines and vehicles, reach deep inside buildings and have a battery life of years rather than hours and days,” said Ms Denholm.

“These devices will be the centre-piece of the Internet of Things, which involves enabling everyday objects to send and receive data and will transform the way we all live and work in the years ahead.

“We are already leading the emergence of IoT in Australia – we connect more than two million IoT devices today and offer connected lights, cameras and motion sensors on the Telstra Smart Home platform. We expect the new mobile network capabilities we have deployed will drive rapid growth and over the next five years we forecast we will be connecting four times more devices than we do today.

“This new capability has been delivered as part of our Networks for the Future program, which is a key pillar in the up to $3 billion capital investment Telstra is making over and above business as usual to transform the way we serve customers, digitize our operations, meet the growing demand for data and lay the groundwork for 5G and IoT,” said Ms Denholm.

Telstra has embraced both Cat M1 and Narrowband to give its customers, particularly enterprise customers in industries like transportation and logistics, mining, manufacturing and agriculture, the opportunity to choose which technology best suits their needs.

“Cat M1 is well suited to applications with data in the 100s of kilobits per second with extended range and long battery life, such as a personal health monitor or a device used to measure vehicle performance. Narrowband is better suited to applications sending even smaller amounts of data and operating with an even longer battery life, such as a moisture sensor or livestock tracking device,” Ms Denholm added.

Published in Infrastructure

Nokia signs five-year agreement with Australian telco

Written on Thursday, 18 January 2018 12:20

Nokia and Australian telco Optus have signed a five-year agreement under which Nokia will manage and maintain key components of Optus' network infrastructure, operations and field maintenance. As part of the contract, Nokia and Optus will develop a Network Operations Centre (NOC), building on global best practices and leveraging local talent to deliver higher performance networks.

"We are pleased to work with Optus to help them use automation and other network management tools to further enhance the customer experience, operational capability and quality,” said Friedrich Trawoeger, head of Managed Services at Nokia. “This initiative is in keeping with Optus' vision to transform into a mobile-led, multimedia organization. We are leveraging the benefits of our unique Global Delivery Model, which brings together global expertise with local insights, to fully meet the needs of our customers."

Consumers are increasingly demanding faster networks and seamless connectivity, and operators need to keep pace with these demands without disrupting ongoing operations. To deliver on these growing needs while enhancing its services and ensuring operations efficiency, Optus will tap Nokia's Global Delivery Model to streamline its network operations. Nokia will also leverage its extensive global services expertise to help Optus bundle, standardize and automate its processes. 

Optus will benefit from reduced operational complexity. Nokia will also work with Optus to review its network structure and operations periodically to ensure Optus' competitive advantage and ability to respond to customers' evolving needs.

Nokia will provide network operations and software services, and deploy robotics, artificial intelligence and extreme automation to help Optus standardize and scale its operations, while Nokia Field Services will manage all components of work associated with mobile base station equipment and facilities.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Hawaiki transpacific cable system ready for installation

Written on Sunday, 01 October 2017 10:57

New Zealand-based Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP and TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity Ltd company, announced that the 14,000 km of undersea fiber-optic cable that comprise the Hawaiki transpacific cable system are in the final stages of being loaded aboard TE SubCom’s cable laying vessels ‘CS Global Sentinel’and‘CS Responder’. Installation of the system will commence in early October 2017.

“The coming months will see the realization of our vision for Hawaiki, a system that will impact the capabilities and economies of hundreds of Pacific communities,” said Remi Galasso, CEO of Hawaiki. “Considering the scope of the project, the progress to date has been staggering. It is a thrill to reach the installation phase and know that we will soon be ready to light the system and deliver much needed capacity to the region.”

Manufacturing has concluded at SubCom’s Newington, New Hampshire, U.S. facility, including more than 14,000 km of cable for Hawaiki and more than 170 completed repeaters. Cable has been fully loaded onto the ‘CS Global Sentinel’, and the ‘CS Responder’load is near completion. Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for the cable landing in Pacific City, Oregon and Sydney, Australia has been completed.

All installation permits for Australia, New Zealand and Oregon are already in hand, and continue to progress as expected in Hawaii. In Sydney, the construction of the land duct route is complete, the installation of the terminal equipment has started and the pulling of the land cable is scheduled to begin shortly. In New Zealand, the construction of the land duct route is complete and the construction of a new cable station is underway. The system is on schedule for completion by mid-2018.

Hawaiki will link Australia and New Zealand to the mainland United States, as well as Hawaii and American Samoa, with options to expand to additional South Pacific islands. Hawaiki will be the highest cross-sectional capacity link between the U.S. and Australia and New Zealand. The carrier-neutral cable system was co-developed by New Zealand-based entrepreneurs Sir Eion Edgar, Malcolm Dick and Remi Galasso.  

Published in Infrastructure

Vodafone Australia takes action to deliver better broadband

Written on Sunday, 03 September 2017 10:26

Vodafone Australia unveiled plans to deliver “much needed simplicity” and service innovation for customers connecting to the nbn (“Australia’s new broadband network” replacing parts of the existing phone and internet infrastructure) in a bid to lift the fixed broadband experience in the country.

As a new entrant to the fixed broadband market, Vodafone said it’s committed to resisting the status quo and driving change as it makes preparations to launch its nbn service. The service will initially launch in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Geelong, Newcastle and Wollongong and progressively roll out to other areas.

Vodafone General Manager of Broadband, Matthew Lobb, said that while the nbn is a massive upgrade to Australia’s broadband infrastructure, the telecommunications industry is not seizing the opportunity to deliver better solutions for consumers and business.

“We see enormous potential in the nbn to finally provide Australia with world class broadband. However, what we’re seeing is the old guard telcos bamboozling Australians with techno-speak, confusing plans and poor customer experience,” said Mr. Lobb.

“It’s clear to us that Australians are seeking an alternative to what’s currently available in the market, and more importantly, a provider that is willing to be accountable,” he added. “Today we are proud to announce a unique set of service innovations that aims to lift the game rather than deliver more of the same.”

Vodafone Australia customers will be offered 30 Day Network Satisfaction Guarantee where they can ‘love or leave’ Vodafone nbn within the first 30 days of their contract after service activation if they are not satisfied. The company also said it will refund any monthly access fees paid by the customer as long as the Vodafone Wi-Fi Hub is returned to a Vodafone store within 10 days.

In addition, among other offerings, Vodafone Australia said it will provide freedom to change speed plans once per bill cycle without fees, and will also run a speed test on the customer’s line within the first 15 days of activation.

“Customers want simple and straightforward plans that are relevant to their use of technology. As a first for a major telecommunication company, we’ll be providing bonus mobile data rather than insisting customers receive an outdated, plain old fixed telephony service,” said Mr. Lobb.

He said the nbn is giving “more speed to people as their needs change.”  Vodafone Australia, he said: “Wants to make sure that when our customers move onto the nbn, they will get a better experience than they do today.”

“Over the past year Vodafone has listened to what many Australians who have connected to the old DSL services or the nbn have had to say about their experience. People are feeling frustrated with the connection process, underwhelmed by the products and information they were provided by when they signed up, and are confused about the speed options on offer,” said Mr. Lobb.

He said nbn offers new speed choices for customers and Vodafone will give customers relevant advice about the different speed tier plans to help them choose the right product for their needs.

Lobb said Vodafone will conduct speed tests with customers and give them the freedom to change plans at no extra charge once per bill cycle.

“We’re really keen to be transparent and work with customers during the connection journey. There are a number of factors that affect speed and some of them we will only know after connection. This is why we’re going to do a speed check after the service activation to make sure our customers are on the right speed tier plan for their needs,” said Mr. Lobb.

Published in Telecom Operators

Telstra shares plunge after announcing dividend reduction

Written on Sunday, 27 August 2017 07:14

Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, saw its shares dive to a five-year low on August 17 after announcing it will reduce its dividend this financial year. The operator reported a 1 percent lift in its full year profits amidst tough competition, but attention quickly centered on the announced cut to its dividend from next year.

The company says the cut to its dividend will help it create a battle fund so it can better fight new competitors in the market. Telstra paid 31 cents a share for the year just ended, but now plans to pay a total dividend of 22 cents a share for the financial year to end next June, after reassessing its dividend policy.

The move saw Telstra’s shares drop in morning trade on August 17. Shares were down 8.3 percent, or 36 cents at $3.95, Herald Sun reported, which is the lowest it’s been since September 2012. Lack of confidence in the firm resulted in $4.4 billion being wiped from its market value.

Telstra now expects to pay around 70 to 90 percent of its earnings in dividends, a historical shift away from its usual practice of paying out almost all of its profits. The new ratio, it says, is “more in line with global peers and local large companies.”

The move was “about setting the business up for success” said Telstra CEO Andrew Penn.

Published in Finance
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