Spy hearing, USA

Huawei and ZTE‘s Hearing Against US Spying Charges

The House Intelligence Committee brought executives from two Chinese telecommunications gear makers to Capitol Hill to press them on potential threats they pose to national security regarding their workings in USA.

“I can say that I am a little disappointed today,” committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said at the end of the hearing investigating Huawei and ZTE. I was hoping for a little more transparency… Other inconsistencies worry me greatly.”

Rogers and his fellow committee members pressed executives from the two Chinese companies repeatedly; they indicted that some of their equipment has been installed with codes to help spying and relay sensitive information back to China.  The committee alleged that the companies either take orders from the Chinese government or are at least influenced by it. They feared that the Chinese government will be able to use the companies’ networking gear to snoop on American companies and individuals.

“How will you deal with your Chinese government if they order you to give information about your customers in the United States?” C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, asked Huawei Senior Vice President Charles Ding.

The Huawei executive told the committee that the company would reject the request.

“We have never, nor will we ever, harm the networks of our customers,” Ding said through an interpreter. “This would be corporate suicide.”

“Even if it meant you would go to jail?” Ruppersberger pressed.

“Why would the company put us in jail?” Ding replied.

The three-hour hearing was filed with similar exchanges between the doubtful lawmakers and the companies’ representative.

The committee, which has visited China to meet with executives from both companies there, is set to release a report in two to three weeks that will likely include suggestions for policy makers and the private sector for next steps.

Shinese smartphone

Acer Cancels Chinese Smartphone Launch Following Pressure from Google

Taiwan’s Acer has called off a press conference to launch a new smartphone based on an operating system developed by China’s Alibaba Group, allegedly following pressure from Google.

The Chinese firm made a statement regarding the issue saying “Our partner was notified by Google that if the product runs Aliyun OS, Google will terminate its Android-related cooperation and other technology licensing with our partner.”

Alibaba is a giant Chinese conglomerate which is also operates Yahoo’s Chinese portal. The company had been working on its own smartphone OS, called Aliyun, which is already available in phones from Haier and K-Touch. The Aliyun based smartphones are currently available in China only.

The move made by Google seems unusual considering the fact that even existing Android loyalists such as HTC and Samsung offer handset with other operating systems in them.

A spokesman for Alibaba Cloud Computing, developer of the Aliyun 2.0 cloud OS, called Google’s action “clearly unfair to consumers and we are concerned about the impact on customer access to competitive products.”

Neither Acer nor Google are commenting on the allegations

Kyrgyzstan cellco

Sky Mobile expands HSPA+ network

The Kyrgyz cellco Sky Mobile, which operates under the Beeline brand, has expanded its 3G HSPA+ network. New base stations have been deployed in Bishkek and Tyup. Meanwhile, 2G base stations were installed in Talas, Issyk-Kul and Jalal-Abad.

 

Sky Mobile is the second largest cellco by subscribers in Kyrgyzstan, claiming a market share of 39.7% at the end of June 2012.

LTE technology

AT&T sets its sights on CenturyTel spectrum

AT&T Mobility is seeking Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval for the purchase of 51 Lower 700MHz ‘B Block’ licences, four Lower 700MHz ‘C Block’ licences and six Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) licences, Fierce Wireless reports citing a recent regulatory filing.

AT&T has indicated that it wants the spectrum to boost capacity and spectral efficiency, notably for its in-deployment Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. The frequencies in question cover 54 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) located in 14 states, and if the deals are approved, AT&T would hold a maximum of 55MHz of spectrum below 1GHz in 25 of the markets involved. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The projected deal caps off a frenzied spell of activity for the mobile operator, which has concentrated on smaller spectrum agreements since the failure of its controversial USD39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA last year.

AT&T Mobility announced that it has agreed a deal worth up to USD600 million to acquire San Diego-based spectrum holding company NextWave Wireless, a major holder of 2.3GHz Wireless Communication Services (WCS) frequencies. In recent months           the cellco has AT&T has continued to add to its already-substantial 700MHz spectrum holdings, lining up a number of small-scale regional transactions.

There is undoubtedly a sense of urgency behind AT&T’s activities; on 28 September the FCC is poised to stage a thorough review of how much bandwidth a mobile carrier should be able to hold, with a particular focus on whether or not to treat lower-band spectrum differently to higher-band radio waves.

SCO

Mobilink, SCO to initiate infrastructure sharing

Mobilink Pakistan and Special Communications Organization (SCO) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, according to which both companies will initiate infrastructure sharing from now on.

Under the agreement, Mobilink and SCO shall share tower and backhaul media as part of Infrastructure sharing arrangements. This will enable both organizations to economically manage their growing subscriber base in the urban and rural areas of Azad Kashmir (AK) & Gilgit Baltistan (GB). It will also optimize the utilization of energy and fuel resources, leading to reduced carbon emissions and thus helping both organizations achieve broader environmental goals.

Tariq Rashid, Chief Strategy Officer, Mobiink said “At Mobilink, we are highly conscious of our corporate social responsibility and we make continuous efforts to strategically optimize our utilization of Pakistan’s precious resources. This collaboration with SCO is a continuation of similar arrangements made in the past as part of our commitment to expand our cellular network, whilst ensuring the protection of Pakistan’s ecology and environment.”

Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) and the Government of Pakistan showed their full support to this new deal. It will provide an economical and environmentally conscious option for cellular companies to expand their network coverage and services.

Apple

Apple Announces LTE Enabled iPhone 5 Smartphone

­Apple has shown off the long-anticipated upgrade for its iPhone range, with the LTE enabled iPhone 5.

The new model is also claimed to be the thinnest smartphone on the market at just 7.6 mm thick, comes with a larger 4″ screen, which also now comes in the industry standard 16:9 aspect ratio. Although the screen size has been enlarged, it is still smaller than comparable models from its handset rivals.

The new smartphone is also 20% lighter than its previous model. The camera is the same as the previous model at 8 megapixels, although upgraded software is said to improve photography in low light situations.

The handset will come with the improved A6 chip, designed by Apple and is said to be twice as fast as its predecessor.

The most significant omission though was the second upgrade to miss off NFC compatibility for mobile payments.

Fred Huet, Managing Director at Greenwich Consulting noted that the “decision to omit NFC in the iPhone 5 could cost Apple. It is just a matter of time before the smartphone replaces the plastic card, and by skipping this technology, Apple may have missed a valuable opportunity to take the lead in this market.”

The other downside for existing Apple users was the expected confirmation that the connectors will be a different size, requiring a replacement of accessories, or the use of an adaptor the company will offer as an extra.

The iPhone 5 will also use the latest version of the iOS software, which will also be offered as a free upgrade to owners of older iPhones from the second generation (3GS) upwards.

The LTE connectivity is also compatible with networks outside the USA, and the added support for DC-HSPA will fill in European markets where LTE is not available. China was not mentioned in the presentation, although it is expected that a purpose built model will be available shortly.

The new iPhone will go on sale in retail stores on the 21st September with a retail price in the USA of US$199 for the 16Gb model and $299 for the 32GB model.

Pre-orders will be accepted from this Friday in the USA, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK.

GSM

Afghanistan’s GSM base grows to 18.64 mln in June

Afghanistan’s GSM base grew to 18.64 million at the end of June from 18.11 million at end-March. The country also counted 150,874 CDMA users, up from 221,276 three months earlier, according to statistics from the ICT ministry. The number of landlines totaled 86,482, up from 83,904 and penetration of communications services remains at rose to 70 percent from 66 percent. The number of telecommunications base stations totaled 4,670 versus 4,539 in March while total investment stood at USD 1.84 billion.

LTE services

Rebranded EE to introduce commercial LTE by end-2012

Everything Everywhere has made a number of notable announcements, chief among them being a corporate rebranding and the release of a timeframe for the commercial launch of 4G services.

While confirming that it plans to continue using the Orange and T-Mobile brands for customers, Everything Everywhere has revealed that it is rebranding simply as EE, with the new moniker also set to be used as a customer-facing brand for its to-be-launched Long Term Evolution (LTE) services. In line with the name change, EE has also revealed that it expects to open more than 700 EE-branded retail stores across the UK, replacing the existing Orange and T-Mobile shop fronts.

EE has also set out its timetable for the inauguration of LTE services, while also revealing that it will add fibre-based broadband services to the range of products that it offers. The operator has announced that it’s 4G network has already been switched on in four cities – London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham – in order to allow engineers to begin live testing and systems integration, ahead of the consumer launch. In terms of commercial access, meanwhile, the operator has said that it aims to launch in a total of 16 cities by Christmas 2012, with those being: London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton. This initial coverage, EE claims, will mean that its LTE network covers around a third of the population (or more than 20 million people) by the end of the year. Looking ahead, the operator has said it expects coverage to increase to 70% by the end of 2013, before rising to 98% by end-2014.

LTE services

Spirent Solution Helps Mobile Operators Control LTE Smartphone Return Rates

­Spirent Communications today announced the launch of a new LTE Call Reliability test solution on its 8100 Test System. The company said that it has been validated by an unnamed North American wireless operator for immediate use in its acceptance testing of pre-launch devices.

A significant percentage of returns are attributable to subscribers who experience problems in daily use as a result of device performance shortcomings. Call reliability testing, often called “stress testing” is aimed at identifying issues that can cause returns before devices are commercially deployed. Unlike the standard conformance tests that pre-commercial devices must pass, call reliability testing replicates realistic user scenarios in which the device is used over long periods of time.

Call Reliability test scenarios include subjecting the device to repeat handover and call setup operations under challenging network conditions. The tests help to identify issues specific to a particular device model that can occur after a period of use, such as an inability to handover between LTE and legacy 3G technologies, or a device freeze that requires a hard reset.

“Spirent pioneered stress testing methodology for 3G device testing, which brought substantial value to wireless operators in helping them to control device return rates,” said Spirent Vice President Hesham ElHamahmy. “Our customers’ confidence in Spirent’s extension of this methodology into LTE device testing was reinforced when we uncovered significant issues with some popular commercially-available devices during validation of our LTE Call Reliability solution.”

3G auction

10 Firms Show Interest in 3G Auction in Thailand

Ten companies have picked up application forms for the upcoming 2.1 GHz spectrum auction in Thailand. Mobile operator Advanced Info Service (AIS) has seen three subsidiaries picking up the forms, two DTAC subsidiaries have shown interest, and three subsidiaries from the True Group. Furthermore, Cable Thai Holding and ACT Mobile (a TOT subsidiary) have also picked up forms but said they will only observe, The Nation writes. All ten companies will be allowed to attend the information session. Applications for the auction are due on 28 August and the auction will open on 16 October. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is expected to announce qualified bidders on 10 October. On auction are nine spectrum slots of 5 MHz with a reserve price of THB 4.5 billion. Each bidder is limited to a total of 15 MHz.

 

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