Displaying items by tag: US

New subsea cable system to connect the Caribbean and the US

Written on Wednesday, 26 July 2017 11:31

Deep Blue Cable announced it has contracted TE SubCom to build and deploy the Deep Blue subsea cable system. The pan-Caribbean system design spans nearly 12,000km with initial landing points in 12 markets throughout the region, including the Cayman Islands, Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, and Turks & Caicos Islands, with dual diverse landings in the U.S., which will include the first landing of a cable on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
Speaking to Telecom Review, Deep Blue CEO Steve Scott said the Deep Blue subsea cable network will offer an initial capacity of 6 Tbps per fiber pair and is projected to be completed in Q4 of 2019. It will ensure availability, competitive pricing and capacity resilience, he said.
The Deep Blue network will benefit the region’s businesses and consumers by offering significantly higher design capacity, lower unit costs, lower latency through direct connectivity, and the ability to leverage advancements in reliability such as improved route planning and installation techniques. 

Based in St. Lucia, Deep Blue cable is the developer, owner and operator of the system that will provide connectivity across the Caribbean islands and to the United States. By ensuring competitive pricing and resilience through alternative supply, Deep Blue cable will provide connectivity to international and regional telecommunications operators, regional network providers, Over-the-Top (OTT) providers, data centers, governments, and large enterprises, including financial services, and oil and gas companies.

“Deep Blue Cable has great confidence in TE SubCom and its ability to build a state-of-the-art subsea cable system that will provide long overdue advanced connectivity across the Caribbean islands and to the Americas,” said Scott. “The Deep Blue cable system will play a critical role in serving developing Caribbean countries that are now experiencing a surge in demand for advanced telecom services and currently rely on fibre-optic connectivity that is technologically and economically disadvantaged.” 

The Deep Blue cable system will be a network providing direct fibre connectivity between major traffic hubs, as well as optical add/drop connectivity to many smaller markets throughout the region. Using TE SubCom’s proven OADM (optical add/drop multiplexer) branching unit technology, Deep Blue Cable can cost-effectively supply international bandwidth across a range of Caribbean markets, large and small, in a scalable manner over time. 

“TE SubCom is pleased to be entrusted by Deep Blue Cable with the construction of their fibre-optic subsea cable system, which will expand and enhance connectivity across the Caribbean region and to the Americas,” said Mike Rieger, vice president of sales at TE SubCom. “In a region that has experienced no significant fibre-optic deployment in recent years, this submarine cable will satisfy not only the current spike in demand for connectivity in developing Caribbean countries, but also future requirements driven by projected growth.”

Published in Infrastructure

Canadian multinational firm BlackBerry has officially announced it has sold its messaging tools which can be used for encrypting phone calls and text messages to the US federal government – following an endorsement from the National Security Agency (NSA). BlackBerry confirmed that it received notification from the NSA’s National Information Assurance Partnership which reviews commercial technology products to see if they meet enhanced security standards for governments use.

There fear that eavesdroppers are listening in to government communications continues to rise, and has done so over the last number of years. In 2014, one of the first high-profile cases of calls being intercepted was an encrypted mobile phone conversation between a senior US State Department officer and the US ambassador to the Ukraine - the call was intercepted and subsequently leaked online.

BlackBerry is providing the NSA with messaging tools based on technology from Secusmart which is the start-up business the Canadian company acquired in 2014. The start-up had garnered international attention after it won the contract to secure German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone in the wake of allegations by a former US intelligence contractor that her phone had been hacked by the NSA.

However, the case into the alleged phone bugging was dropped in 2015, when German prosecutors declared it had not found enough substantial evidence to continue the investigation. BlackBerry has confirmed that its encrypted voice and text messaging products are by other government agencies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, although Germany remains its biggest customer.

US politics is currently rife with allegations of hacking with two separate investigations underway to determine if Russia played a role in the US presidential election, or if any of Trump’s team conspired with Russian authorities in relation to the election. The FBI and CIA both said it believed Russia was responsible for the e-mail hacking of Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton.

Published in Government

A group which represents a number of major US technology firms has appealed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to retract its proposed plans to reverse a landmark decision taken in 2015 which prohibited internet service providers from blocking or slowing consumer access to online content.

The Internet Association which represents companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Netflix and Microsoft has filed a complaint to the FCC in relation to the reversal on the decision made in 2015. It cited that the dismantling of the established net neutrality rules would create significant uncertainty in the market and disrupt a careful balance that has led to the current circle of innovation in the broadband ecosystem.

In May, Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressed his opposition to the order implemented by the Obama administration in 2015. The FCC voted 2-1 to advance the chairman’s plans to reverse the order which would reclassify internet service providers as if they were utilities. Pai has previously enquired if the FCC has authority or should keep its rules barring internet companies from blocking, throttling or giving ‘fast lanes’ to some websites, known as ‘paid prioritization’.

The FCC chairman has claimed that the order by the Obama administration is unnecessary and harms jobs and investment, and whilst he hasn’t committee to retaining any rules, he has stated that he would prefer an ‘open internet’. However, representatives on the Internet Association said that there is no reliable evidence whatsoever to reinforce Pai’s claim that ‘provider investment’ had fallen.

It has been disclosed that over 8.3m public comments have been filed on the proposal, and Pai will face questions at a US Senate hearing later this week. US telecommunications entities such as AT&T, Verizon Communications and Comcast Corp all vehemently opposed the order in 2015, saying that the order discouraged investment and innovation.

Telecommunication providers have insisted that they strongly support open internet rules and will not block or throttle legal website without legal requirements. However, they have conceded that ‘paid prioritization’ makes sense at times, citing self-driving cars and healthcare information. Internet firms say opening the door to prioritization could enable providers to "destroy the open nature of the internet that allows new or smaller streaming video providers to compete with larger or better-funded edge providers."

Internet providers have expressed their desire to see Congress resolve the long-running dispute over net neutrality and open internet protections. The Internet Association said it was open to alternative legal bases for the rules, either via legislative action codifying the existing net neutrality rules or via sound legal theories offered by the commission.

Published in Government

US technology leaders Microsoft has shocked its workforce by announcing that it plans to cuts ‘thousands’ of jobs as part of company reorganization strategy. However, it’s been reported from a source close to Microsoft that most of the reductions will be made outside of the US, and will target staff in its sales and marketing departments.

Some analysts are claiming that the restructuring of the organization is being driven by the fact Microsoft aims to double down on its fast-growing cloud business. Microsoft shares have suffered a decline and are down 0.7% at $68.63. The Washington-based company employs 120,000 people globally, and figures indicate that around the marketing and sales staff account for around 19% of that figure.

In addition to this, the source also claimed that some Microsoft employees have already been informed of their fate, although in some locations, the firm allegedly plans to notify employees that their jobs are under consideration.

Since assuming responsibility as CEO in 2014, Satya Nadella has been praised by many for reenergizing Microsoft, and he has certainly sharpened the organization’s focus on its cloud computing unit in a bid to counter a prolonged slowdown in the PC market.

However, the news still come as a huge surprise to many, with the scale of the job losses really taking some technology analysts by surprise. According to them Microsoft are under the tutelage of a dynamic and driven leader in Nadella, and are performing extremely well overall, despite the decline in its share price.

Published in Finance

Cybersecurity is once again under intense scrutiny and focus following a spate of recent hacking scandals and crises which have engulfed the ICT sector. The global ransomware attacks served only to show that many nations are still extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks which can completely destabilize major organizations and institutions, such as the NHS in the UK, which is a high-profile victim of the recent ransomware attack.

However, a survey conducted by the ITU on cybersecurity has once again unearthed some worrying statistics over the practices and defenses some of the world’s leading countries have in place to combat the on-going cyber-threat.

The UN revealed that Singapore has a near-perfect approach to cybersecurity, but alarming many other economically prosperous countries have holes in their defenses, and some poorer countries are showing them what approach they should adopt when it comes to cybersecurity. According to the ITU, wealth breeds cybercrime, but it does not necessarily generate cybersecurity, so it has insisted that governments must ensure they are prepared for attacks at any time.

A spokesman for the ITU survey said, “There is still an evident gap between countries in terms of awareness, understanding, knowledge and finally capacity to deploy the proper strategies, capabilities and programs.”

Singapore came out on top of the ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Index survey, and whilst the United States was ranked second, many other high profile and influential countries were rated poorly, lagging behind many developing nations and economies.

The rest of the top 10 were Malaysia, Oman, Estonia, Mauritius, Australia, Georgia, France and Canada. Russia ranked 11th. India was 25th, one place ahead of Germany, and China was 34th. It was disclosed that ranking was based on each countries’ legal, technical and organizational institutions and their research and educational capabilities. In addition to this, their cooperation in information-sharing networks was also examined.

The ITU added, "Cybersecurity is an ecosystem where laws, organizations, skills, cooperation and technical implementation need to be in harmony to be most effective. The degree of interconnectivity of networks implies that anything and everything can be exposed, and everything from national critical infrastructure to our basic human rights can be compromised."

The ITU also stressed the critical importance of adopting and implementing a national security strategy, but added that 50% of countries have none. Amongst some of the countries that placed higher than their economic development was 57th placed North Korea;  however, it’s been suggested they were let down by its cooperation score, but still ranked three spots ahead of the much-richer Spain.

The smallest rich countries also scored badly - Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino were all well down the second half of the table. The Vatican ranked 186th out of 195 countries in the survey. But no country did worse than Equatorial Guinea, which scored zero.

Chinese e-commerce colossus Alibaba has taken its first venture into developing artificial intelligence home devices by launching its voice assistant speaker, which has drawn comparisons to Amazon’s ‘Echo’.

Alibaba’s voice assistant which will be a low-cost device has been named ‘The T-mall Genie’ after its e-commerce platform T-mall. It will retail at $73.42 which is significantly less than that of its US competitors Amazon and Google’s Alphabet which range between $120-$180 dollars. 

The ‘smart home’ voice assistants are activated by voice commands to perform daily tasks such as searching for weather reports, changing music, using AI to control other ‘smart home’ devices. China’s top technology firms have all expressed their ambitions to become global leaders in relation to AI – which has been evidenced by companies like Amazon and Alibaba increasingly competing in the same markets.

China’s search engine colossus Baidu, has also invested heavily in emerging technologies, and recently announced its investment with the Chinese government for an artificial intelligence lab, whilst it recently launched its own device which was based on its own Siri-like ‘Duer OS system’.

Alibaba’s ‘T-mall Genie has been specifically programmed to use Mandarin as its language and will only be available in China. It is activated when a user recognized by the system utters the words ‘T-mall Genie’ in Chinese. In a demonstration which was streamed live, engineers ordered the device to perform a series of tasks such as order some Coco-Cola, play music, add credit to a phone and activate a smart humidifier and TV.

In addition to its foray into AI devices, Alibaba has continued to invest heavily in offline stores and big data capabilities in an effort to capitalize on the entire supply chain as part of its retail strategy. Analysts have claimed it has striking similarities to strategies already adopted by Amazon.

Published in Internet of Things

T-Mobile announced on June 26 it had completed the United States’ first mobile broadband data session live in the field using License Assisted Access (LAA) on its commercial network. The field testing, which began in Los Angeles, showed blazing 741 Mbps download speeds using 80 MHz of aggregated spectrum.

In addition, T-Mobile is the first national wireless provider to make LTE-U available to customers. LTE-U uses publicly available 5 GHz airwaves to bolster existing LTE capacity and give a speed boost to what is considered America’s most advanced 4G LTE network. T-Mobile LTE-U is live in select locations in Bellevue, WA; Brooklyn, NY; Dearborn, MI; Las Vegas, NV; Richardson, TX; and Simi Valley, CA, with more rolling out later this year.

For T-Mobile customers, LTE-U delivers even more capacity and faster speeds. And there’s no need to turn on or download anything. It just works for T-Mobile customers in LTE-U locations with compatible smartphones. LTE-U provides similar speed and capacity benefits for consumers as the trifecta of technologies T-Mobile launched last fall – Carrier Aggregation, 256 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) and 4x4 MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) – with less licensed spectrum.  

“LAA is just the latest example of how T-Mobile is innovating the way forward. While our competitors scramble to deal with the way unlimited data plans are slowing down their networks, we’re already moving on to what’s next,” said Neville Ray, CTO at

T-Mobile. “This means that the fastest LTE network – that’s T-Mobile – will only get faster. I hope AT&T and Verizon like eating our dust!”

Earlier this year, the FCC cleared the way for LTE in unlicensed spectrum, enabling wireless providers to use unlicensed airwaves in the 5 GHz band that are frequently underutilized. LTE-U and LAA devices and equipment intelligently tap into and share underutilized unlicensed spectrum without affecting other users on the same band, including those using conventional Wi-Fi. Building on years of research, development and testing, T-Mobile immediately began the rapid rollout of new network hardware to support LTE in unlicensed spectrum.

LAA enables greater carrier aggregation than LTE-U, so mobile operators can combine larger amounts of unlicensed and licensed spectrum. LAA will allow T-Mobile to deliver even more bandwidth and faster speeds to customers in the future. T-Mobile is first to use this LTE Advanced technology. The Un-carrier plans to further densify its network with small cells which include LAA functionality starting later this year.

Published in Infrastructure

US President Donald Trump recently met with tech leaders at the American Leadership in Emerging Technology event which was attended by executives from the country’s leading operators such as AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. Trump said he will give US companies the competitive advantage they need to lead the way in new technological development.

The White House event, which is part of FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s Tech Week in the US, centered on discussions about emerging technologies such as drones and 5G. In a speech addressing the executives at the event, Trump said, “We’re on the verge of new technological revolutions that could improve, virtually, every aspect of our lives.”

Trump promised he would support US companies by helping to “unleash the next generation of technological breakthroughs that will transform our lives and transform our country, and make us number one in this field.”

The President added: “This is a very, very competitive field. You see what’s going on in China and so many other countries and we want to remain number one. We want to go to number one in certain areas where we’re not number one and we’re going to give you the competitive advantage that you need.”

The event also included the US president meeting with other technology leaders such as representatives of Amazon, Google and Microsoft to discuss the government’s technology systems earlier in the week.

In a blog post published prior to Trump’s meeting, Ajit Pai expressed the importance of removing “barriers to innovation” – a topic frequently brought up by the chairman. He said: “In order for us to expand prosperity and extend economic opportunity to more Americans, we must remain on the cutting edge.”

Pai added: “This means that government at all levels must focus on removing barriers to innovation and ensuring that technological advances aren’t strangled by bureaucratic red tape.”

Published in Government

200 million US citizens have had their sensitive personal data exposed accidently by a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee. The data – which included 1.1 terabytes worth of information such as birth dates, home addresses, telephone numbers, and political views of about 62 percent of the entire US population – was available on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server.

The vulnerable data, according to a BBC report, was discovered by Chris Vickery, a cyber-risk analyst with the security form UpGuard. The huge amount of data appears to have been collected from a wide range of sources, including posts on controversial banned threads on social network Reddit, to committees that raised funds for the Republican Party.

The data was stored in spreadsheets uploaded to a server owned by Deep Root Analytics, a media analytics firm. According to the BBC, it has last been updated in January when President Donald Trump was inaugurated and had been online for an undisclosed period of time.

Alex Lundry, the founder of Deep Root Analytics, told tech website Gizmodo: “We take full responsibility for this situation. Based on the information we have gathered thus far, we do not believe that our systems have been hacked.” Lundry added: “Since this event has come to our attention, we have updated the access setting and put protocols in place to prevent further access.”

The data included very personal details about US citizens such as their suspected religious background and affiliations, their ethnicity and political stances, such as where they stood on controversial issues like gun control and abortion rights. The file names and directories suggested that the data was supposed to be used by Republican political organizers to create a profile on as many voters as possible by using all available data.

A blog post by Dan O’Sullivan on UpGuard’s website reads: “That such an enormous national database could be created and hosted online, missing even the simplest of protections against the data being publicly accessible, is troubling.”

O’Sullivan added: “The ability to collect such information and store it insecurely further calls into questions the responsibilities owed by private corporations and political campaigns to those citizens targeted by increasingly high-powered data analytics operations.”

The information leak is said to be the largest in the US to date and has caused grave concern among privacy experts because of the sheer scale of the data gathered. Privacy International’s policy officer, Frederike Kaltheneur told the BBC: “This is deeply troubling. This is not just sensitive, it’s intimate information, prediction about people’s behavior, opinions and beliefs that people have never decided to disclose to anyone.”

Published in Government

The United States is planning to increase its scrutiny of Chinese investment in Silicon Valley in an effort to protect what it describes as ‘sensitive technologies’ which are seen as vital to US national security. China has shown a particular interest in AI and machine learning and both technologies have received a significant amount of Chinese capital in recent years.

The US has expressed concern that the cutting-edge technologies being developed in the US could be used by China to bolster its own military capabilities. However, the US government has now taken steps to strengthen the role of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which is the inter-agency committee that reviews foreign acquisitions of US companies on security grounds.

It has been disclosed that an unpublished Pentagon report has raised concerns that China is skirting with US oversight in relation to gaining access to sensitive technology through transactions that don’t currently trigger CFIUS review. A member of the Trump administration said they had the review CFIUS due to the ‘predatory practices’ of China. The official who was not granted authority to speak said, “We're examining CFIUS to look at the long-term health and security of the U.S. economy, given China's predatory practices in technology.”

Under the administration of former US president Barack Obama – CFIUS prevented a number of attempted Chinese acquisitions of high-end chip makers. One Republican in the senate, John Cornyn, is currently drafting legislation which would enable the CFIUS to have much more power to block technology investments it expresses concern about.

A spokesman for the Senator said, “Artificial intelligence is one of many leading-edge technologies that China seeks, and that has potential military applications. These technologies are so new that our export control system has not yet figured out how to cover them, which is part of the reason they are slipping through the gaps in the existing safeguards.”

It is believed one of the most contentious issues over Chinese investment in advanced technology comes at a time when the US military looks to incorporate elements of AI and machine learning into its drone program. The program which has been entitled ‘Project Maven’ has been specifically designed to provide relief to military analysts who are part of the war against Islamic State.  Analysts currently have to endure spending long hours staring at big screens reviewing video feeds from drones as part of its attempts to snuff out the threat of insurgents in war-torn places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

China has made no attempts to hide its ambition to become a major player in developing technologies such as AI, through a series of foreign acquisitions. In March, China search engine colossus Baidu Inc. launched an AI in conjunction with China’s state planner the National Development and Reform Commission. On example of this was Baidu’s decision in April to acquire U.S. computer vision firm xPerception, which makes vision perception software and hardware with applications in robotics and virtual reality. “China is investing massively in this space," said Peter Singer, an expert on robotic warfare at the New America Foundation.

Published in Government
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