Displaying items by tag: US

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

Telia Carrier announced that it has launched two PoPs in the Portland area in Oregon, US, bringing improved diversity and high speed connectivity to service, content and cloud providers in the Pacific Northwest.

Telia’s new PoP locations include Hillsboro, a key connection point for sea cable landings coming from the west as well as international traffic from Asia. Telia’s expansion to the Portland area gives (OTT) providers, hyperscale cloud networks and carriers the ability to directly connect in market rather than backhauling traffic to other regions, which adds latency.

The Portland metropolitan area or Silicon Forest as it is commonly referred to has become a hub for carriers and content providers as well as regional education and city networks connecting to greater Portland and Eastern Oregon. Tax incentives and green power sources have driven significant growth in the last two years. Large-scale data center construction in the region is accelerating due to terabit traffic demands and an abundance of sustainable, low cost hydro-power.

As a new market entrant, Telia Carrier’s two PoPs in the region provide unique network routing. The Hillsboro location is designed with long haul routes that establish diversity from downtown Portland, where many of the legacy carrier facilities are located.  Careful selection of the routing at river crossings ensures additional reliability.

“With continued investment in large-scale data centers and as new sea cable landings come online next year to support traffic demand from the Asia Pacific region, Hillsboro is a prime location for us to introduce new PoPs,” said Art Kazmierczak, Telia Carrier’s director of business and network development.

“By expanding to Portland, we continue to deliver best-in-class IP transit performance for education and broadband customers with minimal network hops, high resilience and inherent route diversity. These capabilities ensure our customers get the best possible connectivity and ultimately, they enhance the online experience for end users.”

Published in Infrastructure

Smartphones are now in 80 percent of U.S. homes – a six percentage point increase year-over-year (YOY) – and U.S. consumers now own 27 million more smartphones than they did just last year, according to new research from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

CTA’s 19th Annual Consumer Technology Ownership and Market Potential Study also shows televisions remain the most popular technology device in the U.S., as they have for decades – almost every household (96 percent) owns at least one TV. Additionally, from 2016 to 2017, the U.S. market saw an increase in the overall installed base of connected devices including smart home devices, smart TVs, wearables and wireless speakers.

“Connectivity – the anytime/anywhere access to information and entertainment we now expect – is a driving trend of our time, supported by the continued growth we’ve seen in smartphone ownership,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA.

“Smartphones are our personal hubs for innovative technologies like smart homes, connected cars and voice-recognition services. And, as more of us recognize the ability of technology to change our lives for the better, smartphones will continue to be one of the most pervasive technologies owned in homes throughout the U.S.”

“Three of the top five most frequently owned technology devices are products with screens – televisions, smartphones and laptops – and those numbers will continue to grow as one-third of consumers tell us they’ll buy at least one smartphone in 2017, and one-fifth say they plan to buy a television or laptop in the coming year,” said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research, CTA.

“U.S. consumers are quickly embracing the rapid rise of today’s ‘screen culture,’ demonstrating their appetite for connected devices that enable easy and accessible consumption of content of all types.”

Smartphones and in-vehicle communications/safety systems saw the largest gains in household ownership among connected devices – both increasing by six percentage points YOY. Almost half (45 percent) of U.S. households now have at least one vehicle with a driver-assistive safety or communication system such as back-up sensors, rearview cameras or hands-free calling. Smart home devices, smart TVs, smartwatches, wearable activity trackers and wireless speakers each saw an increase in household ownership of four percent YOY.

“Our research last year showed most consumers are excited about automated driving features and self-driving cars, but there’s still some hesitancy about the technology,” said Koenig. “This report is further evidence that, despite that wariness, more and more drivers want innovations that help keep them safer on the road. So, as a broader range of our driving tasks are automated via driving-assist technologies, eventually, riding in a self-driving car will be just an incremental step from the in-car tech we’ve all come to know and love.”

Among emerging technologies, 4K Ultra HD (UHD) television is enjoying the fastest growth in ownership. CTA’s research analysis shows 16 percent of U.S. households now own a 4K UHD TV – up nine percentage points YOY – and 11 percent of U.S. households plan to purchase a 4K UHD TV in the coming year. Other emerging technologies expected to experience significant YOY ownership growth in the year to come include voice-activated digital assistants, drones and virtual reality headsets.

The 19th Annual Consumer Technology Ownership and Market Potential Study ascertains ownership and purchase intent of consumer technology products among U.S. households across various categories. The report was administered via a dual-frame telephone interview to 2,014 U.S. adults between Feb. 2-13, 2017.

Published in Devices

Apple recently launched a new app development curriculum designed for students who want to pursue careers in the fast-growing app economy. The curriculum is available as a free download from Apple’s iBooks Store.

App Development with Swift is a full-year course designed by Apple engineers and educators to teach students elements of app design using Swift, one of the world’s most popular programming languages. Students will learn to code and design fully functional apps, gaining critical job skills in software development and information technology.

Starting this fall, six community college systems serving nearly 500,000 students across the United States will be among the first to offer the innovative curriculum. At many campuses, local businesses will also offer students mentoring and internships.

“We’ve seen firsthand the impact that coding has on individuals and the US economy as a whole. The app economy and software development are among the fastest-growing job sectors in America and we’re thrilled to be providing educators and students with the tools to learn coding,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

“Community colleges play a critical role in helping students achieve their dreams, and we hope these courses will open doors for people of all ages and backgrounds to pursue what they love.”

The curriculum will be offered by the Alabama Community College System, Columbus State Community College, Harrisburg Area Community College, Houston Community College, Mesa Community College and San Mateo Community College District, among others. Select high schools across the country will also be teaching the App Development with Swift curriculum starting this fall. Houston Community College is opening an iOS Coding and Design School that will teach Apple’s new curriculum.

“The world calls Houston a knowledge capital because of the incredible concentration of ideas and innovation in our great city,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Apple’s investment in our community with the launch of the app development curriculum will tap into the creativity of our students, inspire new possibilities and foster our culture of technological transformation.”

“We are focused on preparing our students for life in a global and technological society, and in 2017 that means making sure our students have access to a state-of-the-art coding curriculum,” said Houston Community College Chancellor Cesar Maldonado.

“We are thrilled Apple is offering this incredible opportunity to advance student learning, which will especially help us bridge the gap in computer science training for minorities and women. We can’t wait to see what these students will do and already have local businesses offering mentoring and internship opportunities.”

App Development with Swift is an extension of Apple’s existing K-12 Everyone Can Code curricula which offer everyone the power to learn, write and teach coding. Swift is Apple’s powerful and intuitive programming language that gives developers the freedom and capabilities they need to create the next generation of cutting-edge software.

Popular apps including Airbnb, KAYAK, TripAdvisor, Venmo and Yelp are all created with Swift. In addition to over 1 million downloads of Swift Playgrounds, there have been over 430,000 downloads of the additional Everyone Can Code materials and over 1,000 schools across the US plan to teach with Everyone Can Code materials in the fall.

Earlier in the month, Apple announced the creation of the Advanced Manufacturing Fund focused on creating jobs in the US throughout our supply chain, with an initial investment of $1 billion. The new Swift coding curriculum is another example of Apple’s commitment to economic development and will help create even more career opportunities for students across the country. Apple now supports 2 million jobs across all 50 states, including more than 1.5 million jobs attributable to Apple’s app economy.

Published in Apps

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has announced a proposal to add an alert option to the nation’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) to help protect the United States’ law enforcement officers.

Called a “Blue Alert,” the option would be used by authorities in states across the country to notify the public through television and radio of threats to law enforcement and to help apprehend dangerous suspects.  The Chairman unveiled the proposal at an event hosted by the Department of Justice announcing the nationwide rollout of the National Blue Alert Network.

 “As we have learned from the very successful AMBER Alert initiative for recovering missing children, an informed public can play a vital role in assisting law enforcement,” Chairman Pai said.  “By expanding the Emergency Alert System to better support Blue Alerts, we could build on that success – and help protect those in law enforcement who risk their lives each day to protect us.”

Blue Alerts can be used to warn the public when there is actionable information related to a law enforcement officer who is missing, seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, or when there is an imminent credible threat to an officer.  As a result, a Blue Alert could quickly warn you if a violent suspect could be in your community, along with providing instructions on what to do if you spot the suspect and how to stay safe.

Chairman Pai’s proposal would amend the FCC’s EAS rules by creating a dedicated Blue Alert event code so that state and local authorities have the option to send these warnings to the public through broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline video providers.

Some states have individual Blue Alert programs that use various methods to issue warnings.  The Chairman’s proposal would build on these efforts through the development of a nationwide framework that states can adopt.  This goal is consistent with the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015.  The Act, which is being implemented by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), directs cooperation with the FCC.  The COPS Office has expressed the need for a dedicated EAS code for Blue Alerts.

The Chairman plans to ask his fellow commissioners to vote on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) at the FCC’s June 22nd Open Meeting.  If adopted, the NPRM would pose questions and invite public comment on the proposal.

Published in Government

Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP and TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity Ltd. company and an industry pioneer in undersea communications technology, announced that new milestones have been reached in the manufacturing of Hawaiki, the 14,000 km transpacific cable system that will link Australia and New Zealand to the mainland United States, as well as Hawaii and American Samoa, with options to expand to several other South Pacific islands.

The manufacturing progress, as well as continued advancement with the installation permitting process in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S., keeps Hawaiki on schedule for completion by mid-2018.

At SubCom’s Newington, N.H. USA facility, more than 13,000 km of cable for Hawaiki has been manufactured, along with more than 150 completed repeaters. All installation permits for Australia, New Zealand and Oregon are in hand, and are progressing as expected in Hawaii.

Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for the cable landing in Pacific City, Oregon has commenced and will be completed in the coming weeks. In Sydney, the construction of the land duct route is moving forward – with more than half of the conduits already installed – and the HDD operations are scheduled to start early next month. The first cable load including 7,000 km of cable will begin in June 2017.

Hawaiki will be the highest cross-sectional capacity link between the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. As a carrier-neutral cable system, Hawaiki will usher in a new era of international connectivity benefitting businesses and consumers across the Pacific region. The system was co-developed by New Zealand-based entrepreneurs Sir Eion Edgar, Malcolm Dick and Remi Galasso.

“We’re very close to completing the manufacturing stage of Hawaiki and are preparing to launch installation in just a matter of months,” said Remi Galasso, CEO of Hawaiki. “Once live, this cable system will help eliminate the distance between all Pacific communities and provide an economic boost to a region consistently starved for broadband access.”

“As expected, our manufacturing team has made rapid progress on Hawaiki,” said Debra Brask, vice president, project and program management, TE SubCom. “Each stage of the Hawaiki cable system project has proceeded without issue and we’re looking forward to an on-time delivery in mid-2018.”

Published in Infrastructure
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