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The US-led campaign against Chinese telecommunications behemoth Huawei is now facing resistance from a number of major European operators.
Washington has been engaged in a sustained offensive attack on China’s major telecommunication vendors Huawei and ZTE over the last number of years.
However, that has heightened in recent months, with the United States labelling Huawei and ZTE as a severe threat to national security. US President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order later this week which would prohibit both Chinese vendors from being involved in wireless networks in the US.
In addition to this, lobbyists on behalf of the US convinced its allies Australia and New Zealand to prevent either company from participating in the rollout of their respective 5G networks. The US is now pressuring Europe to follow suit. Earlier this week, comments by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added further fuel to the ongoing saga when he said that countries that use Huawei technology could hurt their relationship with the United States.
However, that has been met with resistance from major European operators who have discovered that they will have to fork out more to replace equipment from Huawei and ZTE, and that a blanket ban on both companies would significantly impact its ability to launch 5G services in the next twelve months, as Huawei is the global leader on 5G equipment.
A number of prominent executives from Europe’s top operators told The Wall Street Journal that Huawei hardware was much better than the rest on offer and often cost less; not using it could well mean that Europe would lag Asia and countries in other regions that use gear from Huawei for their 5G rollouts.
In addition to this, Nick Read, chief executive of Vodafone Group, was quoted as saying in January that a total ban on the carrier's use of Huawei equipment “would have significant financial cost, would have significant customer disruption and would delay 5G rollout in several countries”. The UK's four major wireless operators — Vodafone, BT Group, Telefonica and CK Hutchison Holdings' Three — were all against a ban.
But it is not only big carriers who prefer Huawei equipment, with Jersey Telecom, a publicly-owned company operating in the Isle of Jersey, also expressing a preference for Chinese equipment.
The company sought bids from both Chinese and Western companies in 2014 for its wireless network and while Huawei's bid 20% below the lowest Western offer, ZTE was 40% cheaper. Jersey Telecom chief executive Graeme Millar went with ZTE, and commented: "I have a genuinely high-class, low-cost supplier with ZTE, who haven’t let me down yet.”
The US stands accused of using Huawei and ZTE as political pawns in the ongoing trade war standoff between Washington and Beijing.
Social media networking colossus Facebook has vowed to begin constructing homes in an attempt to alleviate the housing problem which has plagued Silicon Valley. Facebook, which is headquartered in the technological hub of the US, has announced that it plans to build 1,500 units - which will be located near its HQ.
However, many have said the housing issue in Silicon Valley has been caused by the growth of tech organizations such as Facebook and Google. The neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay area were not adequately prepared for tens of thousands of working moving there in the last decade – and as a result of this mass influx, house prices and commute times have subsequently increased.
Tech firms have been trying to respond to the issues which have been on-going for some time, by introducing measures such as internet-equipped buses for employees who faced long commutes. In addition to this, it was reported that Facebook was offering employees $10,000 in incentive payments to move closer to its offices.
However, those measures have not had the desired effect, and the volume of complaints which claim tech companies are responsible for making communities ‘unaffordable’ has not subsided. An economist at real estate research firm Core-Logic, Sam Khater, said the policies introduced by Facebook and other tech firms failed to address the primary issue, which is a shortage of homes in the area. He said: “The problem with Silicon Valley is you don't have enough supply to keep up with the demand."
Facebook has now decided to meet the issue head on - and take the housing crisis into its own hands by announcing its construction vision. Facebook has disclosed that it plans to invest in Menlo Park, which is a city located about 45 miles (72km) south of San Francisco where it moved in 2011. In addition to this, the global social media giants also said it would construct a ‘village’ which will include shops, hotels and a pharmacy. "Part of our vision is to create a neighborhood center that provides long-needed community services," John Tenanes, Facebook's vice president for global facilities.
However, the properties will be open to anyone, and are not just for Facebook employees, although it’s been claimed that 15% of the homes will be offered at below market rates. Facebook said that it expects the review process into the project to take around two years. Google’s Alphabet has also entered the fray, although on a much smaller scale. It has purchased 300 modular apartment units for short-term employee housing, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal last month.
The Mayor of Menlo Park, Kirsten Keith expressed her concern that Facebook’s plan would increase traffic. Urban congestion is already a problem in the San Francisco Bay area – and the Mayor added that the city’s planning department would study Facebook’s plans in an effort to establish how much traffic would be increased by the new construction. She said, though, that Facebook's plan fits with the city's own long-term plan for development, and that the city was excited about the additional housing.
Apple announced its intentions to start manufacturing their products in India a number of weeks ago – and now speculation is rife that the first device it will produce in the region will be the iPhone SE. Sources have suggested the manufacturing process will take place in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.
The US tech giants disclosed its plans to start building phones in India by the end of April. However, there was some confusion expressed when IT Minister of the State of Karnataka, Priyank Kharge, tweeted the details of the announcement which signaled when Apple will begin operations, but then subsequently deleted it.
Reports circulating in India have indicated that Apple will produce between 300,000 and 400,000 iPhone SE units in a plant that will be handled by Taiwanese manufacturer Wistron. However, the company’s Indian director claimed that they’re unaware of any such arrangements.
Analysts believe that producing the iPhone SE could make sense for Apple – the SE will be cheaper and smaller than some of its recent flagship models. The device has a powerful A9 processor and 4-inch Retina display, and is capable of shooting 4K video with its 12 megapixel camera.
The fact that the SE may well be manufactured locally should result in significantly reducing the cost even further, thanks to tax benefits of about 12%. This should inevitable result in attracting more Indian customers to Apple’s ecosystem which includes additional services such as iTunes and Apple Music.
The US tech leaders had previously south incentives which including a tax holiday and other related exemptions in order to pave the way for its entry into the India manufacturing market. However, India’s revenue secretary said it was impossible to extend such benefits to Apple, as the country is about to implement a unified Good and Services Tax system in the forthcoming financial year.