Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘telecommunications’ Category

The Sprint to T-Mobile

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Can you hear that pin drop?

That’s the sound of two telecommunications giants attempting to become one.

Over the weekend, T-Mobile US Inc. agreed to acquire Sprint Corp. for $26.5 billion in stock, according to a report from Bloomberg.

This mashup would reduce the U.S. wireless industry to three major competitors from four, writes Bloomberg, which it said ensures “heavy scrutiny from regulators.”

T-Mobile CEO John Legere explained “We’re going to have an impact on America…We are going to drag the rest of the players kicking and screaming to the prize, which is American leadership in fifth-generation (5G) networks.”

Some details:

Operating as T-Mobile, the company would have about $74 billion in annual revenue and 70 million wireless subscribers. Verizon is the largest U.S. carrier with $88 billion in 2017 wireless revenue and 111 million subscribers, and AT&T would be No. 2 with $71 billion in wireless revenue and have 78 million regular subscribers.

Fascinating to see the “America First” spin geared towards both regulators and the Trump Administration (obviously to help them navigate and get the blessing of regulators).

Axios picks it up there:

  • Executives stressed the deal would help America outpace China and others in 5G wireless development. “The combination of the 600 megahertz [in wireless spectrum] and other assets that we have are critical building blocks of what America needs to deploy to take its rightful place,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere.
  • Many in D.C. worry about China outpacing America in 5G development. Earlier this year, a now-departed senior official in the National Security Council circulated a planto nationalize a 5G network.
  • The company’s project job growth in retail and customer service operations, with an emphasis on rural areas.

So, to recap: This deal helps us beat China to the 5G punch (National security!), is GREAT for consumers (even though there will now be one less player on the U.S. telecom chessboard), and it will create new jobs in rural ‘Merica.

Written by turbotodd

April 30, 2018 at 9:35 am

No Big (Qualcomm) Deal

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First, let me thank the rest of the world for their concern for Austin, Texas, and the two horrific bombings that occurred here yesterday, and the other that killed another man on March 2nd. 

To recap, that’s three bombings in ten days that have left two people dead and three people wounded after opening packages left at their doors.

While police have suggested none of these packages were delivered by the usual suspects — USPS, UPS, FedEx, Amazon — it is enough to make you second guess picking up any package off your front porch.

Coincidence these bombings occurred the first full weekday swing of SXSW Interactive, where the world’s media has descended? Or that the bombs were all placed at the homes of minorities?  

Austin Police either don’t know or aren’t saying yet, but it’s hard not to harken back to Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber), whose methods weren’t entirely dissimilar (although in his case Kaczynski was targeting individuals involved in developing modern technologies).

While we wait to learn more, President Trump has taken the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and decided to block Broadcom’s proposed buyout of Qualcomm, citing national security concerns.

Despite Broadcom’s having agreed to move its headquarters from Singapore to the U.S. in an effort to save the deal, CNBC reports that both companies were ordered to immediately abandon it post haste.

But Bloomberg suggests there was more at stake, some geopolitical and technological chess being played by the world’s biggest state actors. 

Their suggestion: CFIUS was concerned Broadcom would cut back on R&D funding at Qualcomm, which in turn would strength China-based Huawei, giving Chinese companies like they and ZTE the upper hand in steering the direction of wireless communications development, most notably 5G. Never mind the fact that the U.S. House Intelligence Committee blacklisted Huawei and ZTE in 2012, again citing security risks.

Bloomberg reminds us that Huawei uses Broadcom’s chips in networking products such as the switches that direct data between connected computers…and Qualcomm also works with Huawei. So if China’s 5G (and beyond) standards start to become just that, well, it leaves the American telcos potentially out in the cold Beijing snow.

Huawei is among China’s top filers of international and domestic patents, ranging from data transmission to network security, and Bloomberg suggests Huawei may even own a 10th of essential patents on 5G, and has been “angling for full-scale of commercialization of 5G networks by 2020.”

There’s a lot of money, and ergo, influence, at stake in the 5G decision. And apparently it’s not one that the Trump Administration  wants to possibly leave in the hands of President Xi.

Written by turbotodd

March 13, 2018 at 9:42 am

Posted in 2018, 5G, telecommunications

Tagged with , , ,

AT&T’s 5G Rollout

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Getting ready for Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, much?

Apparently AT&T is.

According to Engadget, AT&T is starting to show its hand on its 5G rollout, having confirmed that parts of Atlanta, Dallas, and Waco, Texas will be the first to adopt the next gen mobile technology by the end of this year.

That is expected to be followed by nine other yet-to-be-publicly-named cities in coming months.

Engadget reports that AT&T’s initial 5G coverage will use "millimeter wave" spectrum, which is very high frequency but apparently not great for range. Greater range will only come later when AT&T moves its 5G to more commonly used bands.

"Can you hear me now?" Oh, wait, sorry, that’s Verizon.

TechCrunch also reported this story, and spoke with an AT&T exec about the rollout:

“After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards, conducting multi-city trials, and literally transforming our network for the future, we’re planning to be the first carrier to deliver standards-based mobile 5G – and do it much sooner than most people thought possible,” said Igal Elbaz, SVP of Wireless Network Architecture and Design at AT&T.

The roll-out is ahead of availability of consumer 5G devices. It’s a chicken and egg problem. Both hardware makers and wireless carriers need to closely time launching 5G devices and networks so the return on investment is maximized. If one launches significantly early or late, the other will suffer. There’s a good chance major hardware makers will announced some of the first 5G devices next week at Mobile World Congress.

​Did you hear that pin just drop?

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Todd "Turbo" Watson
Twitter:@turbotodd
Blog: www.turbotodd.com
Email: toddhttp://about.me/toddwatson

Written by turbotodd

February 21, 2018 at 9:13 am

Posted in 2018, 5G, telecommunications

Tagged with ,

A National 5G?

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The other major IT news looming over this Monday morning centers around a Power Point presentation and memo – both produced by a senior National Security Council official – which were presented recently to senior officials at other agencies in the Trump Administration.

According to a report from Axios, the documents indicate America needs a centralized, nationwide 5G Network within three years, and lays out two options for how such a network would be built and paid for.

One, the US government would pay for and build the single network.

Two, an alternative plan would have wireless providers build their own 5G networks. But Axios goes on to point out that a source familiar with the document drafting says option 2 is really no option at all, because a single centralized network is what’s required to protect America against China and other bad actors .

The Wall Street Journal’s reporting of this story leads by writing that “the threat from China, in particular, justifies a ‘moonshot’ government  effort like the construction of the interstate highway system.”

What happened to a laissez faire, hands-off Republican approach (a la the FCC’s rescinding of the so-called “Net Neutrality” rules?

The answer: National security, natch.

But it may not be that easy for Uncle Sam to do the build:

The problem, according to people working on the White House’s 5G plan, is that the U.S. is almost uniquely ill-suited to build such a national network due to several factors, including an effective oligopoly among telecommunications and cable companies, tight regulations and the lack of indigenous manufacturers. Meanwhile, China is progressing swiftly with its development of 5G, and whoever ends up deploying the technology more quickly will gain a significant competitive advantage, these people say, because 5G is expected to provide the underlying architecture of the global information economy. A national network is a prerequisite for self-driving cars, automated farming and other technologies.
– via WSJ

And yet…

Some in the White House have concluded that the only path forward for the U.S. is to build a single network because multiple networks wouldn’t have enough bandwidth. The current debate is focused on whether the government should build the network or if a private consortium of companies should get together to build it, according to people familiar with the discussions. The plans being discussed at the White House are only focused on midband 5G technology—officials always planned to leave private- industry players to build their own low- and high-band 5G, which is where most of the margins are, these people said. Officials had been planning soon to begin formal outreach to industry players to gauge their interest.
– via WSJ

We may be in uncharted bandwidth here…

Written by turbotodd

January 29, 2018 at 10:42 am

The Data Unlimited

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Lotsa news on the telecommunications and smartphone front leading up to Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress later this month.

Verizon threw down its gauntlet on unlimited data, its first since 2011 according to MacRumors. The new plan unveiled Sunday includes unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data, and will cost $80/month for a single smartphone or tablet.

But unlimited isn’t completely unlimited, as “Verizon Unlimited” includes a potential slowdown after customers exceed 22 GB of data usage in a single billing cycle.

Over at Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, they’re looking to introduce their own code-named processor, “Pinecone” within the month, writes Ars Technica. This moves Xiaomi into an alternative smartphone processor universe, considering that most every Android OEM other than Samsung and Huawei have been Qualcomm customers.

Meanwhile, Android Authority reported that Huawei defied slowing global smartphone sales trends and shipped 139M units in 2016, a nearly 30 percent YOY increase. It’s consumer division revenues grew 42% to $26B.

But probably the most intriguing numbers to recently appear were new device activations leading into the Christmas holidays. Flurry has apparently done this analysis every year for several years, and this year, the headline was this: For every Samsung device activated, Apple saw two activated devices (44 percent for Apple, 21 percent for Samsung).

Admittedly, Samsung had a bit of a rough 2016, but yet and still, 2 to 1…and this as Apple recently announced record earnings, sending their stock price to an all-time high.

The sub-headline was that the so-called “phablet” was the dominant form factor by the end of 2016 (with phablet being defined as a smartphone having a screen intermediate in size, between that of a typical smartphone and a tablet computer.

Written by turbotodd

February 14, 2017 at 8:52 am

Did You Hear THAT Pin Drop?

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The Raspberry Pi just got an upgrade, with the $35, credit-card sized computer adored by geeks everywhere recently obtaining an upgrade to 512MB RAM, double that what it used to offer at the same price. With this upgrade, the latest Pi can now handle multimedia, high memory and mobile applications. This should also enable the tiny computer to run a future version of an Android 4.0 OS.

Whew.

That’s all I have to say after the brutal 30+ hour journey back home from Singapore.

Jet travel = one big giant petri dish, and after I took ill during the first leg of my trip from Singapore to Tokyo, my sinuses took it upon themselves to become completely inflamed and congested, so I learned yet another helpful travel trick: Pack sinus spray in the carry on at all times.

Fortunately, my head never got to the point that it exploded mid-flight, and I was sentient enough when I landed in Austin to be able to drive home. Where I promptly slept for 10 hours.

The weekend in sport was just as daunting: My UT Longhorns got on the wrong side of the Sooners in the Red River Showdown, my Cowboy’s QB doesn’t know how to count in seconds at the end of a football game, and my New York Yankees lost their beloved captain Derek Jeter in an ankle-wrenching, season-ending heartbreaker, now heading to Detroit down 0-2 to the Tigers in the ALCS.

And then, to awaken today bright and early and discover more potential consolidation in the telecommunications space, this time with SoftBank’s 70% stake its buying in Sprint, which amounted to a $20B U.S. stake!

TechCrunch reported the news brought down the Sprint website overnight.

As has been widely reported, Sprint is well behind in the LTE game, and the SoftBank infusion is expected to help Sprint with their continued rollout of the new network technology, as well as consolidate their position in wi-fi broadband provider, Clearwire.

Faster, cheaper, better. Isn’t that (almost) always the objective in the technology game?

Speaking of, if you’re made in the spirit of a tried and true “Maker Fairean,” DIYer, the new Raspberry Pi is now shipping with double the RAM (512MB!) at the same tiny price tag of $35.

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that runs several variants of Linux and is primed for attraction to emerging growth market countries looking to move into the computing realm at a ridiculously affordable price.

And if that news is music to your geekish ears, also on the Monday morning news run down is Microsoft’s announcement it’s moving into the digital music game, using its X-Box as a music streaming Trojan Horse.

The Xbox Music service will be available through the Xbox Live service, and on Windows 8 tablets, PCs, and Windows mobile phone devices, and will include free and paid models for streaming AND downloads.

While you’re at it, how about delivery of a patch that keeps the  “blue screen of death” from ever darkening my virtual door again?!

Okay, that’s enough silly news banter for the moment.

I have to get back to work — Information On Demand 2012 is less than 7 days away (more on that shortly!). In the meantime, stay tuned for more interviews conducted last week at IBM InterConnect 2012.

The Blackout In India

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To my friends in India, I hope you’re fairly weathering your blackout.

I was just reading through some BBC coverage which has reporters spread across northern India, including Utter Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, and West Bengal.

The report suggests Calcutta was not as badly affected as other regions, because it has a private electricity board, but that power went out across the rest of West Bengal state.

Thus far, coverage suggests the power breakdowns in India are mainly in the north, the east, and the northeast, and that about 600 million people have been in affected in over 20 Indian states.

To put that in perspective for those of us here in the west, that would be like the power going out across all of the U.S. and all of the United Kingdom, at once.

Yes, just imagine that.

Obviously, there will be lots of fingerpointing until an investigation can get to the bottom of this, but in the meantime it demonstrates once again how fragile infrastructure can be, in both emerging and advanced economies.

In the Northeast blackout of 2003 here in the U.S., some 55 million U.S and Canadian citizens were impacted and some left without power for up to 16 hours.

Though there was no major civil unrest during that particular blackout, one need simply just read the Wikipedia entry of that event to remember how many “systems” were impacted: everything from transportation to healthcare to water supply.

In India, telecommunications are being particularly hard hit in this outage, because so many people there depend on mobile phone service for their communications.  Even if the cell towers have backup generators, many folks in rural India have no alternative method of recharging their cell phones once that primary charge dissipates.

Also, business process outsourcing companies such as Wipro, Genpact, WNS and others have “kicked in business continuity plans” to ensure continuity of services to global clients. Thus far, The Hindu Business Line is reporting that the IT-BPO industry, which accounts for over 7% of Indian GDP, are running their operations at centers in the north and eastern India using backup generators running on diesel.

The Wall Street Journal India has an “IndiaRealTime” blog where you can follow the latest on the India power outage.

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