Displaying items by tag: Row

Indian operator Reliance Communications has made a partial payment of $18.6m to Ericsson in an effort to defuse their ongoing dispute after the Swedish vendor had called for the imprisonment of its chairman Anil Ambani after the company’s failure to pay the entirety of the services charges owed.

In a statement released by RCom, it confirmed that it had deposited a payment of $18.6 with the Supreme Court registry from operational funds it had at its disposal. In addition to this, it said it was taking all required steps towards enabling a settlement.

The Indian conglomerate also stressed in the statement that it remained fully committed to making the outstanding payment to Ericsson, and said it would be able to do so with the proceeds of a spectrum asset sale to Reliance Jio.

Ericsson is owed $78.5m in unpaid service charges, but the dispute between the pair escalated when RCom failed to settle the service charge on the date it was instructed to by the Supreme Court. In response to this, Ericsson increased the pressure on the Indian firm by filing a second contempt of court case against Anil Ambani, and said he should be detained in civil prison until the outstanding amount is settled.

RCom, which has all but exited the Indian mobile market, missed the original 30 September deadline to make the payment, but was then granted a reprieve until 15 December, a deadline which it also missed.

The company argued it was unable to make the payment in time because of delays by regulator Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in approving its spectrum sale to Reliance Jio, a deal first struck in December 2017. RCom reached a deal to sell off the majority of its mobile assets to Reliance Jio after creditors, including Ericsson, took action against the company over huge debts.

Published in Telecom Vendors

South African telecommunications firm Vodacom has been forced to delay its planned rollout of 4G services in some of the most rural and remote locations in the country - after it ran out of spectrum. The company’s CTO Andries Delport confirmed that the operator had exhausted its spectrum which subsequently limited urban availability of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A).

In addition to this, Vodacom’s CTO said that its rural 4G coverage initiative had reached 44% of the population, but due to the exhaustive demands on spectrum it was unable to expand its coverage further until more bandwidth is released by South Africa’s regulatory authorities.

Vodacom’s Head of Innovation, Jannie van Zyl echoed the sentiments of her colleague and stressed that the LTE-A rollout was also being constrained by the lack of spectrum assets available. It’s been a long-term problem in South Africa, with the country’s telecommunication operators long raising its displeasure with the slow release of the country’s airwaves, amidst internal squabbles and rows about how the spectrum should be allocated.

Vodacom’s CTO highlighted delays in clearing sub-900MHZ airwaves currently used for analogue broadcast. He believes that allowing access to the airwaves would dramatically quicken and increase the availability of 4G in rural areas.

However, clearing the band has been a long drawn-out process in South Africa, and operators have encountered red tape over the years. South Africa’s authorities were initially working to a deadline of January 2011 in relation to switching off analogue TV signals. The deadline has been moved several times in the years, with the move to digital only occurring in February 2016.

Delays in allocating new bandwidth for wireless services in South Africa has also been a long-standing problem. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa came under intense pressure from operators and government departments over its long-awaited 4G auction. Despite pressure and criticism the process was also postponed from its initial date of January 2017, after a row broke out over communications in the country.

The South African government formally announced a shared network deal in an attempt to increase broadband coverage on a national basis. This would see an open access network created which any operator could access through wholesale agreements.

Published in Telecom Operators

Italian telecommunications incumbent Telecom Italia has appointed a new general manager – in a move that sees its largest shareholder tighten its grip on the operator. Vivendi’s Amos Genish will now run the company’s day-to-day operations.

Vivendi has a 24% stake in Telecom Italia, and the new appointment comes just days after CEO Flavio Cattaneo departed the company after just sixteen months at the helm, following a number of clashes with the French shareholder.

The new general manager has enjoyed a decorated career, he was CCO at Vivendi, and he formerly headed the Brazilian subsidiary of Spanish operator Telefonica, and also founded GVT, a leading Brazilian mobile operator. Genish, a 57 year-old former Israeli captain will now oversee all of the company’s operations and will be based in Rome.

Cattaneo is the second CEO to leave Telecom Italia in less than just two years after he repeatedly locked horns with the French group which is led by billionaire Vincent Bollore. He has previously expressed an ambition to establish a southern European media powerhouse. Vivendi CEO, Arnaud de Puyfontaine who also acts as Telecom Italia’s executive chairman - will assume the responsibilities of CEO on a temporary basis.

In addition to this, it was also disclosed that further announcements on governance will be made in September. Analysts have claimed that many investment funds that have shares in Telecom Italia, remain unflustered by the latest leadership reshuffle, and are confident that Genish can reinvigorate the operator with a number of deals, which may include a possible sale of the Brazilian unit to a spin-off of the Italian fixed-line network.

De Puyfontaine has admitted that he plans to establish a joint-venture between Telecom Italia and Vivendi’s pay TV unit Canal+, which would play into the French company’s vision of expanding its content distribution across platforms. The Italian operator’s only asset abroad remains its Brazilian unit, and de Puyfontaine said it was doing a good job, but remained coy in relation to a potential sale.

The idea of TIM exiting Brazil has been gaining traction among investors since Vivendi became a top shareholder, because the French group sold its own Brazilian operations before investing in Italy.

Published in Telecom Operators

US chipmaker Qualcomm has reignited its ongoing dispute with Apple following its decision to call on the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban the sale of certain iPhones. Qualcomm is calling for the prohibition of sales on the devices because it alleges that Apple has infringed up to six of its patents.

Qualcomm issued a direct and blunt statement in which it claims Apple had ‘engaged in the unlawful importation and sales’ of some iPhones – and confirmed that it is currently in the process of filing an official complaint with the ITC. Qualcomm which unveiled its Snapdragon 835 processor at CES 2017 in January, has argued that the patents in question involve ‘key technologies’ that enable important features and functions in iPhones, which includes the capacity to prolong battery life and overall efficiency of the devices.

Qualcomm has urged ITC to begin an investigation into Apple’s conduct, infringing imports and that they issue a Limited Exclusion Order (LEO) to bar importation of the devices into the US. It stressed that the ITC must stop Apple’s unlawful and unfair use of Qualcomm’s technology. This row is the latest in a long-running feud between the two technology titans, and Qualcomm added that it’s also seeking an LEO against iPhones that used cellular baseband processors other than those supplied by Qualcomm affiliates.

Analysts have suggested Qualcomm are talking about Intel indirectly, although they never name Intel in its official statement. But it is widely known that Intel began supplying chips to some iPhone 7 devices in September 2016.

Through a Cease and Desist order, Qualcomm is also attempting to block the sale of devices already in the US it believes infringe on its patents. Apple’s iPhones are assembled in Asia. Don Rosenberg, EVP and general counsel at Qualcomm said: “Apple continues to use Qualcomm’s technology while refusing to pay for it. These lawsuits seek to stop Apple’s infringement of six of our patented technologies.”

The row began in January when Apple sued Qualcomm alleging them of being guilty of overcharging them for chips, and refused to pay $1 billion in rebates. Qualcomm hit back in a counterclaim against Apple for breaching agreements and a number of other allegations.

Qualcomm then subsequently initiated legal proceedings against four Apple iPhone manufacturers for failing to pay royalties and breaching licensing agreements, before Apple launched a legal attack on Qualcomm’s business at the start of this month. Despite Qualcomm’s latest onslaught, the short-term impact on Apple is expected to be limited. Qualcomm has indicated that it expects the ITC to begin an investigation in August, but the case will not be tried until next year.

Published in Telecom Vendors

US government is set to intervene into the long-running saga between technology giants Apple, the EU and the Irish government. The EU ordered the iPhone maker to pay back €13 billion in taxes it claimed it owed Ireland.

However, in a bizarre turn of the events the Irish government rejected the EU’s ruling that it was owed €13 billion in back taxes and said that Apple hadn’t breached any tax laws in Ireland. The EU insisted that Apple had secured favorable tax incentives from the Irish government which amounted to illegal subsidies and issued the record tax demand against the US tech leaders.

Apple decided to take its case to Luxembourg-based General Court, which is Europe’s second highest in December in light of the ruling by the EU. The decision by the EU was heavily criticized by the Obama administration which alleged that the EU was attempting to help itself to cash that should have ended up in the US.

The Trump administration has subsequently proposed a tax break on $2.6 trillion in corporate profits being held offshore as part of its own tax reform, although it has not stated anything in public in relation to Apple’s tax row with the EU.

A source close to the case that who wishes to remain anonymous confirmed that the US had filed an application with the EU in relation to the long-running saga between Apple and EU decision-makers. The source said, “I can confirm the United States filed an application with the European Union General Court to intervene in the case involving the retroactive application of state aid rules to Apple.”

It has also been reported that The General Court will deal with the case in late 2018, although that has not been officially confirmed. Apple firmly believes that it is a convenient target for the EU and that EU competition enforcer used an ‘absurd theory in coming with the punitive figure. Other companies currently embroiled with the EU in relation to tax issues in Luxembourg are Amazon and McDonalds.

Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Starbucks, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and several other companies that were also ordered to pay back taxes to other EU countries have similarly challenged their EU rulings.

Published in Government

US drone row with China sparks new security fears

Written on Monday, 19 December 2016 13:43

Political tensions between the US and China may have now calmed, but the incident has only served to increase further fears over security. Political tensions were heightened between the two nations when China decided to inexplicably seize an underwater research drone owned by the US.

Senator John McCain described the act as a ‘gross violation of international law.’ President-elect Donald Trump also became embroiled in the political row and denounced China’s actions - before later appearing to reverse his statement via Twitter, by telling China they should keep the drone.

The incident according to political analysts has served only to heighten domestic fears over security following the high-profile hacking scandal - with both the CIA and FBI confirming they suspect Russia was behind the hacks which derailed Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

China have engaged directly with Pentagon officials in Washington and confirmed it will return the research drone, although they’ve been critical of the US for the way they dealt with the incident claiming they hyped up the incident into a diplomatic row which was played out in the public eye.

Senator McCain suggested China could have gained a lot of valuable information by seizing the drone, claiming China can perform an act called reverse-engineering on the drone in order to retrieve information. McCain said: “The Chinese are able to do a thing called reverse-engineering, where they are able to, while they hold this drone, find out all of the technical information. And some of it is pretty valuable. China’s act is a gross violation of international law.”

President Trump initially tweeted: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters - rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.” He later suggested China should keep the drone. When Trump’s Public Relations team was queried as to what this last tweet meant, Jason Miller, his communications director claimed that China were likely to return a chunk of metal and a bag of wires after seizing the drone for several days.

China’s ministry of defence pledged an “appropriate” return of the drone on its Weibo social media account, while also criticizing the U.S. for hyping the incident into a diplomatic row. It followed assurances from Beijing that the governments were working to resolve the spat.

The drone incident was disclosed by the Pentagon on Friday. China’s ministry said the U.S. “hyped the case in public,” which it said wasn’t helpful in resolving the problem. The U.S. has “frequently” sent its vessels and aircrafts into the region, and China urges such activities to stop, the ministry said in its Weibo message.

China is very sensitive about unmanned underwater vehicles because they can track our nuclear ballistic missile submarines fleet,” said retired Major General Xu Guangyu, a senior researcher at Beijing-based research group the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association. “If one from the Bowditch can be detected and even snatched by a Chinese naval ship, it shows it’s getting too close to the sensitive water areas.”

The tensions unleashed by the episode underscored the delicate state of relations between the two countries, weeks before Trump’s inauguration. Trump has threatened higher tariffs on Chinese products and questioned the U.S. approach to Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory. Meanwhile, China is growing more assertive over its claims to disputed sections of the South China Sea.

 

Published in Government

An offer from 21st Century Fox to buy Sky TV has sparked a major political row in the UK – as Rupert Murdoch makes his bid to reassert total control in the company. The billionaire media mogul was forced to take a step back from Sky in 2010 – following the phone hacking scandal. However, Murdoch who owns 21st Century Fox has now made a fresh offer of 18.5bn for Sky TV.

The bid has seen shares in Sky TV rocket by over 30% since the announcement of the bid emerged. But news of the potential takeover has been met with anger in some quarters with former Labor leader Ed Miliband calling for Prime Minister Theresa May to move swiftly to block the takeover bid and refer it to the CMA(Competition and Markets Authority).

Miliband tweeted: “Do we want Rupert Murdoch controlling even more of the media landscape? No. Government must refer bid for Sky TV to CMA/Ofcom. He added the following in a separate tweet. “On the steps of Downing Street, Theresa May said she would stand up to the powerful. No better test than Murdoch bid for Sky. Over to you.”

The chief executive of 21st Century Fox is Mr Murdoch's son James, who is also Sky's chairman - and he was the predecessor to Sky's current chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

His son's return to the company, after he was forced to resign when the Murdoch media empire became engulfed by public outrage at reports of phone-hacking at the Murdoch-owned News of the World newspaper, led to rumours that Rupert Murdoch would make a fresh swoop for the UK-based satellite broadcaster. His empire abandoned its bid in 2011 because it was 'too difficult to progress in this climate'.

When he started the bid in 2010, his portion of Sky and his British newspapers were part of the same company, but they have since been split up. His bid vehicle owns Fox television and film studios, but not the Sun and the Times newspapers.

MP Chris Bryant waded into the row and tweeted: “It would be bad for our broadcasting ecology, for UK political life and for media plurality for Murdoch to be allowed to take back Sky.”

If the deal is confirmed, culture secretary Karen Bradley will have 10 working days to decide whether she will issue a public interest intervention notice (PIIN).That will need to detail the concerns she has with the deal - she could raise concerns about whether Rupert Murdoch is a 'fit and proper' person, or highlight issues of competition.

If she submits a PIIN, Ofcom will conduct an initial investigation within 20 days. If it has concerns, Ms Bradley will have to ask Fox to address any issues, and decide whether to accept what they suggest.

A rejected compromise would send the bid to the Competition and Markets Authority for full review, which could take up to six months. After their scrutiny, Ms Bradley will have 30 days to block, or approve the deal with conditions. Many believe Ms. Bradley will have to submit a PIIN because to do nothing could lead to accusations of bias. 

Published in Finance