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Telenor Exits Myanmar, Whatsapp In Legal Trouble, New 6G Initiative In The US – Telecom Weekly

After months of heated discussions, Telenor decided to close its Myanmar operations and sell the business to a Lebanese investment firm. WhatsApp is in trouble with the European Consumer Organization following the updates in its privacy policy. China is working on a new, updated cybersecurity plan. Cellnex just completed a huge acquisition of the Polish Polkomtel Infrastruktura. A surprising report on the state of IoT in the US and the UK shows the sector may not be living up to its potential. The U.S started a new 6G initiative and it already got several big telecoms on board. The Department of Defense in the United States decided to cancel its $10 billion contracts with Microsoft as it claims the tech giant is no longer meeting DoD’s needs. Nokia launched new software that can facilitate cellular IoT. Lumen started an edge computing partnership with Microsoft. Tel Aviv startup introduced the first fully comprehensive Digital Risk Protection solution. Take a look at the most important telecom stories from the past week. 

Telenor Finishes Its Myanmar Operations, With A $105 Million Sale 

After months of controversies and discussions circling around whether the Norwegian telco company Telenor will continue its operations in Myanmar, the decision has been reached. In a $105 million deal, Telenor sold its Myanmar unit to the Lebanese investment firm M1 Group. The reason behind the sale is the continuous difficulties the company faced under the military junta. Myanmar business accounted for 7% of Telenor’s earnings last year. 

“There are three reasons why we think a sale is necessary: it is the safety of our employees, but also the regulatory conditions and also that there is good compliance,” Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke told Reuters. “When we wrote off the business in May, we felt we could still operate in the country, although it was challenging. But after that, it has worsened.”

Back in May, Telenor recorded a $738 million loss following the military coup that occurred in Myanmar at the beginning of the year. The operations of Telenor have been very restricted after the coup and in mid-March, the junta started a nationwide shutdown of mobile data. The activists in Myanmar have voiced their concerns connected to Telenor’s exit from the country. The Scandinavian telecom is one of two foreign operators in Myanmar, with the other ones being state-controlled. 

“We are mostly relying on Telenor,” campaigner Thet Swe Win told Reuters. “Most of the activists rely on it as a company which has respect for human rights. I hope that the new company will respect human rights as Telenor did in the past.”

However, Telenor’s decision has been met mostly with enthusiasm back in Norway. 

“It is positive to see that Telenor did not compromise on their basic principles regarding human rights,” said Janicke Scheele, head of responsible investments at DNB Asset Management, Telenor’s 6th largest investor.”We have had multiple dialogues with Telenor on this and this undoubtedly presented a considerable dilemma for the company,” she added.

WhatsApp In The Fire Of EU Consumer Complaints 

Yesterday, Whatsapp had to face several complaints by the European Consumer Organisation over its privacy policy. Back in January, the Facebook-owned Whatsapp introduced a new privacy policy that allowed the company to share some of the user data with Facebook and other group firms, highlighting the changes would not impact personal conversations. The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and eight of its members have since publicly criticized the updates in Whatsapp’s privacy policy and now, they have filed official complaints with the European Commission and the European network of consumer authorities. 

“The content of these notifications, their nature, timing, and recurrence put undue pressure on users and impair their freedom of choice. As such, they are a breach of the EU Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices,” the groups said in a joint statement. “WhatsApp has failed to explain in plain and intelligible language the nature of the changes… This ambiguity amounts to a breach of EU consumer law which obliges companies to use clear and transparent contract terms and commercial communications,” they said.

New Cybersecurity Industry Plan Is Drafted In China 

On Monday, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced it is drafting a three-year action plan to expand its cybersecurity industry. It is estimated that by 2023, the country’s cybersecurity sector’s worth may reach $38.6 billion. The move is connected to the Chinese government’s plan to improve data storage, data transfer, and personal data privacy. 

Cellnex Completes The Polish Expansion With A $1.6 Billion Deal 

Last week, the Spanish infrastructure expert Cellnex announced it completed the acquisition of the Polish Polkomtel Infrastruktura. The deal was first announced in February and had to go through a process of authorization by the Polish competition authority. By July, Cellnex added over 7000 towers and a lot of active infrastructure such as RAN gear, microwave radio links, and fiber backhaul to its portfolio. 

“We celebrate both a long-term strategic partnership with one of the most significant players in the Polish telecommunications market, as well as the relevance and strategic value of an agreement which involves two main derivatives,” said Cellnex CEO Tobias Martinez. “First, it allows Cellnex to rapidly consolidate and reinforce its position in Poland following the recent acquisition of towers and sites from Play. Secondly, it exemplifies our commitment to evolving the traditional tower operator model towards an integrated telecommunications infrastructure management model, combining the operation of passive elements and active elements such as transmission equipment, radio links, and fiber-to-the-tower.”

“This is nothing new for Cellnex,” said Àlex Mestre, Deputy CEO of Cellnex. “In several markets, e.g. France, we have already signed agreements to roll out and operate the fiber backbone and backhaul; to manage ‘data centers’ (voice and data traffic concentrators) that will be part of the 5G ‘edge computing’ ecosystem; or to operate distributed antenna systems (DAS) in sports and commercial venues, hospitals, transport networks, etc. Our expansion into active infrastructure is undoubtedly a qualitative leap and heralds a new reality for the company that broadens the development and growth options for Cellnex in Europe within telecommunications infrastructures.”

New Report Shows IoT Is Not Completely Living Up To Its Potential 

A surprising new report was released, showing that IoT in the US and UK is not living up to its potential. According to the report, 77% of the companies that implemented one or more IoT projects during the past year said the project was at best “somewhat successful”. The report was compiled by the IoT connectivity provider Eseye and included 500 respondents that serve as IoT decision-makers in the US and the UK. The survey was conducted by the UK research firm back in April. 

The report stressed that security is the biggest challenge for enterprises that invest in IoT, with 39% of respondents choosing it as the biggest challenge. Device onboarding and cellular connectivity across multiple locations were picked as some of the most pressing challenges as well. However, almost 90% of the surveyed individuals pointed out they plan to increase their IoT budget over the next two years. 

Eseye’s report also showed that a mere 2% of all respondents deployed more than 100 000 devices, meaning the cellular IoT ” have still not reached anywhere near critical mass,” the company said.

New U.S 6G Initiative Gets Telecom Giants On Board  

The US has launched yet another 6G initiative and it already got several telecom giants such as Qualcomm on board. The project is called 6G@UT, due to its location at the University of Texas in Austin.  The founding members are AT&T, Interdigital, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Samsung.

“The advances in both wireless communications and machine learning over the past decade have been incredible, but separate,” said 6G@UT Director Jeffrey Andrews, a professor in UT Austin’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Coupled with vast new sensing and localization abilities, 6G will be defined by an unprecedented native intelligence, which will transform the ability of the network to provide incredible services.”

“From the application of AI/ML in the RAN to leveraging network sensing and added spectrum bands, 6G will enable new and transformative applications,” said David Wolter, assistant VP of radio technology at AT&T. “In our long collaboration with UT Austin, they have demonstrated a unique ability to help define advanced wireless technologies and contribute valuable and targeted research. This new effort continues our collaboration into a new era of wireless communications.”

“Collaborative research projects are integral to shaping our technology road map, and InterDigital is thrilled to be working alongside The University of Texas and industry peers to establish 6G@UT,” said Donald Butts, senior Director of Strategy at InterDigital. “This collaborative endeavor will drive advancements in embedded machine learning and sensing technologies to enable new physical experiences in a zero-latency world.”

“6G will be an inflection point for the use of AI and machine learning in sensing and wireless communications,” said Ronnie Vasishta, SVP of telecoms at Nvidia. “We are excited to partner with the UT Austin team on this innovative 6G research that will help realize the communications systems of the future.”

“Driving wireless technology research and innovation forward to enable new applications is a key priority for Qualcomm, and we are proud to collaborate with UT Austin on their 6G@UT research center in our shared vision to embrace foundational technology intersections with industry for new verticals,” said John Smee, Head of Wireless Research at Qualcomm.

“Samsung is excited to embark on the approaching 6G era with UT Austin, which is one of the leading global universities on wireless research,” said Charlie Zhang, head of the Standards and Mobility Innovation Team at Samsung Research America. “Together, we will unlock the potential of machine learning in future networks and devices, harness the power of new spectrum in THz bands, and bring to life futuristic applications such as holographic calls and immersive AR/VR.”

US Department Of Defense Cancels Its Massive Cloud Contract With Microsoft 

The US Department of Defense made a decision regarding its $10 billion cloud contract with Microsoft. The contract will now be canceled as the DoD announced it does not meet its needs anymore. The contract was signed less than 2 years ago and it was supposed to last for 10 years which is why many were surprised by the DoD’s decision. 

“JEDI was developed at a time when the department’s needs were different and both the CSPs technology and our cloud conversancy was less mature,” said John Sherman, acting DoD CIO. “In light of new initiatives like JADC2 and AI and Data Acceleration (ADA), the evolution of the cloud ecosystem within DoD, and changes in user requirements to leverage multiple cloud environments to execute the mission, our landscape has advanced and a new way-ahead is warranted to achieve dominance in both traditional and non-traditional warfighting domains.”

Lumen Teams Up With Microsoft On A Edge Compute Deal 

Lumen Technologies has closed a series of deals connected to edge computing lately and the latest one we just recently heard about is a long-term partnership with Microsoft. Dave Shacochis, VP of Lumen’s enterprise portfolio strategy, revealed the collaboration aims at integrating Microsoft’s Azure stack with  Lumen’s bare metal edge compute service. Shacochis highlighted that such integration will enable private 5G deployments that leverage software technology. 

“A lot of what we’re doing between our edge and all of the cloud players is really just making sure our edge computing capabilities are compatible with as many software development pipelines that will create the workloads of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Shacochis explained. “What this then allows us to do is get into the entire software ecosystem that’s formed up around Microsoft Azure.”

The bare metal edge computes service of Lumen was launched at the end of last year and already has over 35 locations across the United States. Shacochis said that currently, Lumen sees the most traction in the financial industry and media industry, however, he pointed out the company also saw a lot of interest from “asset-intensive industries” including education, healthcare and retails. He added that they “see applications across both those categories by leveraging Azure stack on Lumen edge.”

Nokia Launches iSIM Secure Connect Software To Support 5G IoT 

Finland’s biggest telecom gear maker, Nokia, has just launched new software that aims at helping operators with 5G IoT device provisioning and subscription management. The new software is called iSIM Secure Connect, and builds on embedded SIM (eSIM) and integrated SIM (iSIM) technology. iSIM Secure Connect links the eSIM and iSIM technology to digital identification, allowing telecom operators to authenticate and manage cellular IoT devices in a quick, safe, and efficient manner. 

“As part of Nokia’s Cloud and Network Services product portfolio, iSIM Secure Connect will help our customers both streamline the process of managing millions of more device subscriptions and deliver more innovative services quickly and securely,” said Hamdy Farid, head of business applications at Nokia’s Cloud and Network Services unit, in a statement.

The market for eSIM and iSIM devices is growing dynamically, and its worth is estimated at over $6 billion by 2025, being driven by IoT growth.  

Israel-Based Cyberprint Launches First Fully Comprehensive Drp Solution 

On Monday, the Tel Aviv-based Cyberprint launched an ultra innovative Digital Risk Protection platform, Argos Edge, which is a fully SaaS-based solution that provides real-time responses to cyber threats that are occurring beyond the traditional security perimeters. In its approach, Cyberprint combines external Attack Surface Monitoring (ASM), advanced threat intelligence, extensive phishing detection, and social media and brand abuse monitoring. All the elements cooperate in the Argos Edge platform and are able to identify any weaknesses that other solutions are not able to detect easily. 

“Only by constant analysis of hundreds of millions of data points of threat intelligence and an ongoing monitoring of their external attack surface can organizations counter the threat actors’ constantly evolving threat landscape,” says Cyberint CEO Yochai Corem.

More Telecom News:

Update On Kaseya Ransomware, IoT 5G Satellite Launched Into Orbit, First 700 MHz Standalone 5G In The World –  Telecom Weekly

Mobile World Congress, 5G Partnerships, Huawei Ban Upheld – Telecom Weekly

Huawei Loses Against FCC, Canada Launches 5G Auction, And IoT Spending Increases -Telecom Weekly

 

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