Displaying items by tag: US

US technology colossus Apple is reportedly renegading on a previous commitment that they made to the Irish government on the construction of $1 billion data center in rural Ireland. Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has publicly disclosed that Apple CEO Tim Cook will no longer commit to the ambitious project.

However, the Taoiseach stressed that Dublin would do everything necessary in order to keep the project alive and facilitate whatever Apple needs to see the data center constructed. Apple initially disclosed its intentions to erect the facility in a rural location in the West of Ireland in February 2015. Its decision to go to a rural location was to take advantage of green energy sources located nearby.

However, the project has been subject to lengthy delays due to a number of planning objections over the last two years, and now Apple is eyeing up other potential location for the construction of its new data center. Varadkar met Apple’s CEO, but admitted that Cook did not commit to the proceeding with the project.

The Taoiseach said, “We didn’t get a start date, or a definite commitment or anything like that, but I did stress to Apple that the government would do anything within our power to facilitate the resumption of the project.”

Ireland’s Prime Minister is currently touring the US meeting potential new investors. Ireland relies heavily on foreign multinational companies like Apple for the creation of one in every 10 jobs created across the economy and sees major investments such as data centers as a means of securing their presence in the country.

Apple declined to commit when pressed on whether they remained committed to the project. A similar Apple center which was announced at the same time in Denmark is set to begin operations later this year, whilst Apple also announced in July that it would build its second EU data center in the Nordic region.

The government has said it is considering amending its planning laws to include data centers as strategic infrastructure, thus allowing them to get through the planning process much more quickly. However, such legislation is expected to be met with opposition by those within parliament.

Ireland has a checkered history when it comes to planning permission and previous governments have been brought down due to shady financial agreements between developers and politicians. A change in legislation to facilitate Apple’s attempts to construct their data center is not likely to be well received by the general public still dismayed at the country’s refusal to accept an EU ruling that Apple owed the state €13 billion in unpaid taxes.

Published in Infrastructure

The White House has intervened in a business transaction between a Chinese-backed private equity firm and a US chipmaker. US President Donald Trump has blocked Canyon Bridge Capital Partners planned $1.3 billion acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor Corp. The decision has sent a clear message to Beijing that Washington will vehemently oppose any takeover deals that involve technologies that may have potential military applications. The bid by the Chinese-backed equity company was one of the largest ever attempted on the US microchip sector.

US regulators became more focused on the business activities Canyon Bridge were engaging in when it emerged that the firm was largely funded by capital from China’s central government and had indirect links to its space program. In addition to this, Canyon Bridge came across the radar of US defense officials when it became clear that company behind the Lattice acquisition bid was backed by the Chinese government – and this subsequently sparked severe security concerns.

Lattice Semiconductor Corp is headquartered in Oregon and makes chips known as field-programmable gate arrays, which enables companies to put their own software on silicon chips for different uses. The company publicly stated that it didn’t sell its chips to the US military anymore, unlike its two biggest competitors, Xilinx and Intel’s Altera.

It has been reported that President Trump stated in an executive order that Lattice and the Chinese-backed private equity firm shall take all steps necessary to fully and permanently abandon the proposed transaction within 30 days. Trump’s decision echoes the sentiments of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), which is a body that scrutinizes deals for potential national security threats.

US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin issued a statement confirming that both the CFIUS and the President have assessed that the transaction between the two companies pose a risk to the national security of the United States, and furthermore can’t be resolved through mitigation. The US Treasury Secretary did highlight that the risk of national security was related to the potential transfer of intellectual property and the Chinese government’s direct involvement in the deal.

However, China has expressed their disappointment and concern regarding the decision made by the US President and the US Committee on Foreign Investment. Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said he respected the US was fully in within its rights to examine the security implications surrounding potential foreign investment, but he was disappointed by how the US had conducted itself during its investigation.

He said, “We believe conducting security examinations of investments in sensitive sectors is a country’s legitimate right, but it should not become a tool for advancing protectionism and we hoped that the United States could view Chinese firms’ acquisitions objectively and provide fair treatment to what was their “normal commercial behavior”. Lattice and Canyon Bridge released a joint statement on Wednesday declaring that they had terminated the proposed deal. Lattice also said it is committed to achieving profitable growth.

Published in Government

US cities Seattle and Portland are set to get ‘smarter’ following the launch of a free app which allows users to search for on-demand rides. It will be formally introduced after the completion of a successful three-month test period.

The application which is entitled Migo, is basically a search engine that allows users to search, compare and hail multiple type of ride-hailing transportation like Uber, Lyft, Car2Go and Seattle Yellow Cab, without engaging in the time consuming process of jumping from one application to the other.

The Migo ‘free app’ display real-time data to users and estimates their wait and walk time, whilst in addition to this the applications enables you to search, hail and book a ride service all from within the application.

The new service which is being launched in Seattle and Portland first will be initially only available on the iPhone, but a spokesman for Migo has confirmed that it will be quickly expanding to additional markets such as Android. Seattle and Portland have been identified as ‘key’ cities for the launch of Migo because of their role in the White House Smart Cities Initiative, which was launched in 2015. The program was specifically designed to accelerate the delivery of smart city solutions which includes eco-friendly transportation options that best leverage the cities resources and infrastructure.

The CEO and founder of Migo, Jeff Warren claimed that both cities were the ideal locations to engage in testing on innovative transportation services such as its free application.

Warren said: "Seattle and Portland are hotbeds for testing new transportation services and models, like car-share, ride-share, carpooling, bikes and taxi services. Migo was designed to help residents first discover and then easily choose their best ride option – whether that means closest, cheapest, most environmentally friendly or simply the coolest option to get from place to place. And with the rapidly expanding populations of both Seattle and Portland, we see Migo as a key partner to help keep the cities moving."

Published in Apps

Two Texas counties – Aransas and Refugio – were left with more than 50 percent of cell sites down, as of August 28, after the US state was hit by Tropical Storm Harvey, according to a report on the status of communications services in geographic areas impacted by the storm, provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

55 counties on the coast of Texas and Louisiana were part of the “disaster area”. Texas’ coastline towns felt the brunt of the tropical storm as it swept in from the Gulf of Mexico. The FCC’s report said that 4.7 percent of the cell sites were down in the affected area, as of August 28, up from 4.1 percent the previous day. In addition, around 190,000 cable system and wireline subscribers were left without service in the affected area.

“To date, the storm has most severely impacted communications networks near where Harvey made landfall,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a release. “In Aransas, Calhoun, and Refugio Counties, for instance, most wireless cell sites are currently out of operation. We are also keeping close tabs on the effect that widespread flooding could have on communications networks in Harris County and surrounding areas in the hours and days to come.”

Mr. Pai said he was in contact with representatives from network operators in the affected areas to get first-hand assessments of the situation. He also emphasized that the FCC stands ready to help those affected.

“The worst of tragedies brings out the best in people,” Paid said. He praised broadcasters and other news outlets for playing a critical role in conveying emergency information, and in some cases, even coordinating live, on-air rescues. “Everyone who is pitching in deserves our gratitude and support,” Pai said. “We’re all in this together.”

Published in Infrastructure

T-Mobile recently announced plans to roll-out its new 600MHz LTE network in the US, leveraging the massive haul of super-premium low-band spectrum the operator won in the government broadcast incentive auction concluded earlier this year. The announcement came just two months after the company received its spectrum licenses from the FCC.

The first of T-Mobile’s 600MHz LTE network sites were switched on in Cheyenne, Wyoming using Nokia equipment. Starting in rural America and other markets where the spectrum is clear of broadcasting, T-Mobile plans to deploy the new “super spectrum” at “record-shattering pace” – compressing what would usually be a two-year process from auction to consumer availability into a short six months.

The operator said additional 60MHz sites are slated for locations including Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Maine, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia, and Eastern Washington. Those deployments and other network upgrades will help T-Mobile increase total LTE coverage from 315 million Americans today to 321 million by the year’s end, it predicts.

“Earlier this month, wireless customers coast to coast proved T-Mobile already delivers America’s best unlimited network. We swept the competition in OpenSignal’s report on all counts—a global industry first. And that was before we started lighting up the world’s first 600 MHz LTE network,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile.

To meet this aggressive timeline for getting this “super-spectrum” into customers’ hands, T-Mobile said it has been coordinating closely with infrastructure providers, chipset makers and device manufacturers to bring 600 MHz LTE to customers at breakneck speed. Nokia and Qualcomm have launched new technology, and both Samsung and LG plan to launch phones that tap into this new spectrum in the fourth quarter of this year.

T-Mobile is also working closely with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and broadcasters like PBS to clear the spectrum in record time, investing where necessary to preserve programming consumers care about while paving the way for new wireless coverage and competition for consumers.

“To work with T-Mobile in lighting up the world’s first 600 MHz LTE network is a momentous achievement,” said Rajeev Suri, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nokia. “We knew this spectrum would be key for covering wide areas, providing bandwidth in hard-to-reach places, augmenting capacity and improving data speeds, so we began testing and readying 600 MHz network infrastructure equipment and software long before the incentive auction was over.”

Published in Telecom Operators

South Korean conglomerate Samsung have announced that its voice-based assistant entitled ‘Bixby’ is now available for Galaxy S8 users in over 200 countries worldwide following its release in the US last month.

The world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer had launched Bixby domestically and in the US, but now voice-assistant technology is available in countries such as the UK, Canada, Australia and South Africa. Samsung developed the feature in an attempt to catch-up with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.

Bixby currently only supports English and Korean, and issued a statement highlighting the fact that not all accents, dialects and expressions will be recognized. It stressed that it will take time for Bixby to adapt and understand regional dialects.

The statement read, “Natural language understanding allows Bixby to continuously improve its ability to interpret regional dialects. But since Bixby learns more frequently used command terms more quickly, it will take more time for Bixby to fully understand regional dialects that are used less frequently.”

The electronics colossus has revealed that Bixby’s features include Quick Commands which allows users to create a custom voice command to use instead of a sequence of one or more demands. In addition to this, Samsung’s voice-assistant can also grasp the understanding of cross-application commands and features deep learning technology which can improve over a period of time which can then recognize personal preferences and ways of talking.

The statement added that when an application becomes Bixby-enabled, the platform will support every task the application is capable of performing using voice, touch or text. EVP and Head of Research and Development at Samsung Electronics mobile, Injong Rhee has predicted that the emergence and evolution of Bixby will lead to a more seamless connection for users across a range of devices.

Rhee said, “The expansion of Bixby’s voice capabilities is an initial step in the continued rollout of Bixby functionality. In the future, Bixby will have the learning power to offer more intelligent and personalised interactions and seamless connections across more devices.”

It has also been disclosed that Samsung is intending on expanding Bixby’s voice capabilities to additional countries, languages, devices, features and third-party applications. Samsung first unveiled its voice-assistant back in March, but it suffered some teething problems when the launch of the English version of the product was delayed. It then targeted a launch date in May, but that was pushed back to the end of June, before Bixby was eventually launched in the US in July.

However, it now places Samsung amongst the ever-competitive AI voice-assistant market and analysts are predicting Bixby to be a biggest success for the South Korean colossus.

Published in Devices

South Korean multinational conglomerate Samsung and Chinese vendor ZTE have both adopted aggressive strategies in relation to investment for 5G infrastructure – and many analysts are predicting that this approach will both disrupt and threaten the traditional trio of networks players which include Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.

ZTE has focused largely on the development of 5G specifications in the last twelve months, which is much more than any of it previous forays in relation to mobile technology. The Chinese telecommunications equipment and systems colossus has doubled its R&D spending on 5G in 2016 to $400m – and has assigned 1,600 employees to work on the technology at four dedicated research facilities located in China, the US and Europe.

Director of Wireless Standardization, Wang Xinhui has claimed that ZTE’s inactivity with 2G, 3G and 4G was down to the fact that it lacked maturity, and declared it was now much better equipped for the forthcoming era of 5G. At a 5G Summit in Tokyo in May, he told Mobile World Live: “In the past we were simply less mature. With 2G and 3G, and even with 4G, we weren’t that big. But in the era of 5G, we were well prepared. We’ve spent a huge amount of money and devoted so much human resources, particularly towards the New Radio specifications.”

Chief analyst at Global Data Technology, Peter Jarich said it made perfect sense for an entity like ZTE to attempt to penetrate the 5G market, as the technology will require new expertise and infrastructure. He feels it’s a natural and logical progression from ZTE to invest heavily in 5G, as they recognize it as a phenomenal opportunity.

South Korean smartphone giants Samsung have also adopted a similar approach, and have been working on 5G since 2012, when it started its first mmWave research and development. It has previously stated that it firmly believes that strong 5G infrastructure will help ensure Samsung executes its mission which is to ‘connect everything’.

Samsung has boldly set its sights on becoming a top-three player in the 5G infrastructure market, and it has estimated that network equipment sales will treble to $8.6 billion in 2022. It has been disclosed that Samsung, which is the world’s largest smartphone maker plans to accumulate market share by moving swiftly and targeting the US market.

The reason behind its strategic targeting of the US market is that its Asian competitors such as Huawei and ZTE may face a ban on selling networking gear due to security concerns which have been raised by the government. In May, Samsung publicly announced that it had conducted the world’s first field trial of a multi-vendor, pre-standard 5G network with US telecommunications firm Verizon. In addition to this, more recently Samsung and UK communications firm Arqiva announced it had conducted the first field trial of 5G Fixed Wireless Access Technology in Europe that went live in Central London.

VP of next-generation business and products at Samsung Networks, Woojune Kim, has expressed his confidence they can become a top tier network player in 5G, citing the fact that its Finnish and Swedish competitors are currently struggling. This stark assessment of its rivals was evidenced by the CEO of Nokia, Rajeev Suri conceded that the fact 5G was accelerating much faster than originally expected, would almost inevitable create some near term risks for his company, with the timing and completion of certain projects now uncertain. 

Published in Telecom Vendors

Chinese telecommunications conglomerate ZTE has increased its market share in the US smartphone industry. Analysts have suggested that its success is down to a combination of aggressive marketing and its manufacturing of cheap and affordable devices.

Research from Counterpoint Technology has indicated that the Chinese firm has enjoyed a rise of 36% in the shipment of its smartphones to the US. ZTE sold 4.8 million units in the second quarter of this year. However, the launch of another big-screen, budget-friendly smartphone in the US is estimated to bring more success for the Chinese vendor.

ZTE is already the fourth largest smartphone vendor in the US, and is increasing the pressure on its rivals which include LG, Samsung and Apple. ZTE has formally announced that it will launch the Blade Z Max after it agreed to enter a partnership with Metro-PCS. It has been disclosed that the new device will retail at $129, which is the same price point as the ZTE Max XL.

ZTE strategy is quite clear, and it is also evident that it is proving to be a very successful one. CEO of ZTE’s mobile devices, Lixin Cheng said the firm’s latest device focuses on high-end specifications at an affordable price in order to make it available for the masses.

ZTE’s new device does boast a number of premium features, which include a six-inch full HD IPS LCD display with a scratch resistant screen. When compared with its much more expensive counterparts such as the iPhone 7 and the OnePlus 5, it has many of the same features and capabilities as those devices. The Blaze Z Max has dual rear cameras at 16 megapixels.

It has been announced that Metro-PCS will begin taking pre-orders for the Blade Z Max online, whilst it will also be available in some selected Metro-PCS stores from August 28th. In addition to being the fourth-largest smartphone vendor in the US, ZTE has also established itself as the second-largest vendor in the no-contract market sector.

The encouraging latest figures released show that ZTE’s US strategy is having the desired effect, and with this latest device launch, which is expected to be a massive success, the future looks bright for the Chinese conglomerate as its aims to accelerate its growth in the US market in 2018.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Some of the most prominent figures in the US technology sector have publicly expressed their dismay and anger following the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last week. Microsoft, Apple and Facebook have all announced they will implement measures in a bid to fightback against the rise of white supremacists in the US.

Apple CEO, Tim Cook criticized President Trump’s response to the events last week - and in a letter to his employees said counter-protesters were standing up for human rights. Cook said, “I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.”

Cook revealed that Apple would contribute $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, who are both human right groups. In addition to this, he said it was suspending its Apple Pay support on websites that sell white supremacy clothing and accessories. E-commerce platform PayPal has also implemented similar measures.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella also voiced her concern at the violence in Virginia, and said there was absolutely unequivocally no place for such racist rhetoric in the US. In a letter to employees, Nadella said, “There is no place in our society for the bias, bigotry and senseless violence we witnessed this weekend in Virginia provoked by white nationalists.”

Cloud security and performance firm Cloud-flare also publicly announced that it has now terminated its account with neo-Nazi outlet ‘The Daily Stormer. The publication drew widespread criticism following the publication of a hate-filled feature on the victims of the Charlottesville violence.

Social media colossus Facebook has also moved swiftly to take action and suspended the account of infamous white supremacist Christopher Cantwell’s accounts on both Facebook and Instagram. Twitter has also removed the online account of The Daily Stormer from its platform.

President Trump drew criticism from technology leaders following his appointment to The White House in November. His controversial policies on immigration were widely condemned in Silicon Valley, and while President Trump has taken steps to build relationships with technology firms in Silicon Valley since taking office – there scathing criticism of his response to Charlottesville will not be well received by either Trump or his republican administration in Washington DC.

Published in Government

In a US wireless industry first, Verizon, Ericsson, and Qualcomm Technologies announced on August 2 they reached 953 Mbps (just under 1 gigabit per second) in a joint commercial network deployment in Boca Raton, Florida. While lab tests have shown comparable speeds in recent months, this is the fastest announced speed achieved in a real-world, dynamic network environment leveraging Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technology.

The demonstration used all commercially available Verizon network components including a cell site, hardware, software, and backhaul. Riding on the backbone of Verizon's most reliable network infrastructure, Ericsson provided the most advanced remote radio head in the industry.

The micro Radio 2205 for LAA, designed for unlicensed spectrum use, provides small dimensions, flexible mounting and superior performance, and is a component of the Ericsson Radio System, an end-to-end modular radio network portfolio of hardware and software designed to fit all site types and traffic scenarios as networks grow in scale and complexity on the road to 5G.

Qualcomm Technologies provided a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 mobile platform test device, with Gigabit LTE capability thanks to the integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem.

Verizon was the first national wireless provider to introduce 4G LTE speeds in 2010, spurring an ecosystem of video viewing and data sharing at a pace not realized before. Since that time, Verizon and its partners have continued to evolve the 4G LTE network, enabling it to carry more robust applications and solutions for consumers, enterprise customers and government agencies.

"Today's milestone is a great example of our approach to new technology - we deploy the latest capabilities reliably and in real-world environments, not just in a lab," said Nicola Palmer, Chief Wireless Network Officer for Verizon. "By continuing to deploy the latest technologies on our 4G LTE Advanced network, we pave the way for better and faster performance for the things our customers do now, and provide the groundwork for our future advancements."

A combination of the latest 4G LTE wireless technologies is required to reach these industry-leading speeds. Carrier aggregation, a key technological advancement, bands multiple spectrum channels together to allow data to flow more efficiently resulting in dramatically faster peak speeds.

Verizon led the industry last summer when it launched LTE Advanced with two channel carrier aggregation nationally and has completed deployment of three channel carrier aggregation using its licensed spectrum.

To reach gigabit class speeds, Verizon used a combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrum for the first time. This four carrier aggregation uses LAA (License Assisted Access) to combine Verizon's spectrum holdings with unlicensed spectrum, which takes advantage of spectrum where home and commercial Wi-Fi technologies exist. In addition to four channel carrier aggregation, other technological advancements include:

  • 4x4 MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) which uses multiple antennae at the cell tower and on consumers' devices to optimize data speeds
  • 256 QAM which enables customer devices and the network to exchange information in large amounts, delivering more bits of data in each transmission, significantly enhancing data speeds

"It is exciting to see Gigabit LTE momentum globally and in the US, especially as we move closer to a 5G world. With leading operators and infrastructure vendors like Verizon and Ericsson, we will continue to develop and deploy innovative technologies to power future networks and devices," said Mike Finley, SVP & President, Qualcomm North America.

Published in Telecom Vendors
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