2021 in Review: July-September
Inmarsat announce ‘world first’ network combining satellite and 5G technology, ensuring customers can receive a reliable connection wherever they may be in the world. ‘Orchestra’ fuses geosynchronous (GEO) and low earth orbit (LEO) satellites with terrestrial 5G infrastructure into a single network, blending coverage and capacity.
Google announces plans to build two more undersea internet cable systems to boost network capacity between the Middle East, southern Europe and Asia. The two systems – named Blue and Raman – are to be constructed in partnership with communications company Sparkle and equipped with a whopping 16 fibre pairs, each capable of carrying millions of high-definition videos simultaneously.
CDN provider Cloudflare criticises Amazon Web Services (AWS) for its high egress fees claiming they make it harder for its customers to move their data to a different cloud. This follows AWS’s refusal to join the Bandwidth Alliance (a campaign to reduce egress fees) which counts 15 other major cloud computing providers as among its members.
The Federal Communications Commission unveils compensation scheme for Huawei & ZTE customers. The move follows a decision by FCC in March to ban Huawei and four other Chinese companies from supplying network equipment as they were a threat to national security. Any US operator with up to 10 million customers that bought Huawei or ZTE kit before the end of June 2020 became eligible for compensation to replace it.
Google Cloud launches ML network analytics tool. Vodafone’s European operations rolled out a machine learning service developed by Nokia to spot anomalies in network operations. The service would be hosted on Google Cloud, said Nokia, which developed the technique at its Nokia Bell Labs research operation.
Xavier Niel launches a bid to take Iliad private. French businessperson Niel launched a surprise bid to take Iliad, the telco of which he controls 71%, completely private. He offered€182 a share, which is 61% more than the previous night’s closing price. The share price immediately rose from Thursday’s close of €113.15 up to €182.10, and then settled back to €182, valuing the company at a market cap of €10.85 billion.
Lumen unveils plans divest US CenturyLink assets to Apollo Funds for $7.5bn. The enterprise tech manufacturer is to sell its incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) business across 20 states, to funds managed by Apollo Global Management (Apollo Funds) for $7.5 billion.
Macquarie Asset Management finalises agreement with Enel to buy a 40% equity stake in Open Fiber for €2.12 billion ($2.5 billion). Under the terms of the deal CDP Equity will own the remaining 60% stake. As the operator of Italy’s largest fibre-to-the-home network, Open Fiber has surpassed more than 12 million households across the country, with ambitions to deploy more than 19 million households with its wholesale-only network.
SpaceX agrees to buy Swarm Technologies, the company that has started a nanosatellite-based internet of things (IoT) business. Neither SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, nor Swarm, co-founded by CEO Sara Spangelo (pictured) and CTO Ben Longmier, formally confirmed the deal in any public statement at the time, though it was later confirmed in November.
South Korean electronics and military equipment company Hanwha Systems becomes the latest investor in satellite operator OneWeb. Hanwha invested US$300 million for an 8.8% share in UK-based OneWeb, joining India’s Bharti Enterprises, the biggest investor, plus Eutelsat, Hughes Network Group, SoftBank and the UK government.
Facebook and Amazon seek US government approval to run a new subsea cable connecting Philippines and California. According to Reuters, the two companies told Federal Communications Commission (FCC) they intend to launch the system in late 2022, following the exit of China Mobile from the project. The system is set of deliver increased capacity on high-demand routes. Specifically, the joint filing said that the new system will help support Facebook applications and provide Amazon with capacity needed to support its cloud services and connect its data centres.
AT&T announces that it is to enable 5G connectivity for millions of General Motors vehicles in the US over the next decade, starting in select models from 2024. This forms part of the companies’ strategy to launch the world’s largest fleet of 5G-enabled vehicles. The announcement follows a two-year collaboration that included test-driving connected vehicles on GM grounds in Milford, Michigan.
Huawei gets approval to use US chips for cars. The US government grants Huawei licences to buy microchips for car components, in the first sign of easing in the battle with the Chinese vendor. The US Department of Commerce put Huawei on its banned list in May 2019, with more sanctions following a year later. The ban is universal, hurting Huawei’s market for telecoms equipment and for phones.
OpenAI launched Codex, a new machine learning algorithms that can recognise everyday language and translate it into computer code. Designed to accelerate a coder’s work, by typing in written prompts, the computer can effectively turn normal language into computer code.
Abrdn acquires Exo Investing, an AI-driven wealth management solution business, for an undisclosed fee, with the aim of building an “industry-leading” technology offering.
The deal is expected to complete in Q4 of 2021 and will see Abrdn – formerly Standard Life Aberdeen – launch a “24/7 digital wealth management” app.
Ransomware attacks recorded in the first half of 2021 already exceeded the entire volume of attacks in 2020. According to a new report released by Cyber security company, SonicWall, which says that global ransomware volume hit 304.7 million in the first half of 2021, surpassing last year’s full total of 304.6 million.
Zoom agrees to pay an $85 million settlement fee after customers accuse the videoconferencing company of violating users’ privacy and enabling ‘zoombombing’ incidents which saw unapproved attendees dropping into private meetings and sharing offensive and hateful content and imagery The lawsuit, filed in March 2020 in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, accuses the firm of sharing its data with third-party companies such as Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn.
Equinix and IBM announce partnership to develop hybrid cloud journeys. Their goal is to help partners and customers integrate multiple cloud solutions in hybrid environments, automate time-consuming work, solve digital transformation challenges, and simplify collaboration. Ultimately, they want to make it easier for their joint customers to access IBM Cloud services from their digital infrastructures on Platform Equinix globally via direct and secure interconnection of hybrid IT infrastructures.
T-Mobile confirms data breach after customer data posted online. In a statement, T-Mobile acknowledged the intrusion but said that it had “not yet determined that there is any personal customer data involved.” The company said that its investigation would take time to investigate.
US Senators compromise on cryptocurrency regulations ahead of bill vote. US Senators have reached a compromise on who classifies as a ‘digital asset broker’ in the bipartisan infrastructure bill – a change that makes sure cryptocurrency miners and engineers are exempt from the proposed regulations. Congress is introducing stricter rules to make it more difficult for crypto investors to avoid paying taxes whenever they buy or sell digital cash such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.
Biden meets with Big Tech chiefs to discuss cybersecurity. It is reported that Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella were among those meeting in the Whitehouse, as well as execs from Google, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and Southern Company.
Microsoft teams with Verizon on 5G Edge. Microsoft Azure has been added to Verizon’s 5G edge computing platform, meant for retailers, manufacturers and other industries that have applications that require ultra-low latency to mobile devices. The partnership integrates the Verizon 5G Edge with the Microsoft Azure Stack Edge cloud computing platform. Verizon has also provided similar product integration with AWS since 2019.
US firms back Bill Gates green scheme. Various US companies, including American Airlines, Microsoft, and General Motors have committed to boosting clean energy by joining Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Program. The program’s purpose is to boost development of technologies that will aid in achieving the target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The initiative also aims to raise money from governments, companies and philanthropists to make capital investments in an effort to bring down the cost of clean technology.
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