Category Archives: telecom

Pegasus scandal involves over 10 countries and targets thousands via smartphones

By Otmar Lahodynsky – EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has expressed ‘great concern; over reports that sophisticated spy software was used worldwide against journalists and politicians, most notably in the EU n Hungary.

“If this is the case, it is totally unacceptable and a violation of all the values and rules we have in the EU regarding media freedom,” she said at a press conference on July 19 in Prague, adding “Media freedom is a fundamental principle of the EU.”

An international research network of more than 18 media led by the French non-profit organization Forbidden Stories has uncovered a worldwide network of wiretaps targeting politicians, journalists and lawyers. According to the report, those who were victims of the hack were located in more than 10 countries, including – Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Mexico and India. They were spied on with the help of the Pegasus spyware that was designed by the Israeli company, NSO Group.

The spying was done via smartphones, whose vulnerabilities made it possible to listen in on telephone calls, as well as through SMS and chat messages. The most prominent victim in the EU was French President Emmanuel Macron, who was intercepted by Morocco’s secret service via at least one of his official mobile phones. This has already caused a veritable crisis in bilateral relations. Furthermore, the government of Saudi Arabia is believed to have wiretapped the entourage of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in Istanbul in 2018, both before and after the murder. In India, according to the British newspaper The Guardian, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rival Rahul Gandhi was also placed under Pegasus’ surveillance. more>

Updates from ITU

How AI can improve agriculture for better food security
ITU News – Roughly half of the 821 million people considered hungry by the United Nations are those who dedicate their lives to producing food for others: farmers.

This is largely attributed to the vulnerability of farmers to agricultural risks, such as extreme weather, conflict, and market shocks.

Smallholder farmers, who produce some 60-70% of the world’s food, are particularly vulnerable to risks and food insecurity.

Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), however, have been particularly promising in tackling challenges such as lack of expertise, climate change, resource optimization and consumer trust.

AI assistance can, for instance, enable smallholder farmers in Africa to more effectively address scourges such as viruses and the fall armyworm that have plagued the region over the last 40 years despite extensive investment, said David Hughes, Co-Founder of PlantVillage and Assistant Professor at Penn State University at a session on AI for Agriculture at last week’s AI for Good Global Summit. more>

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Updates from Ciena

What’s Next for Cable Business Services?
By Darren McKinney – The state of cable business services, fiber versus coax, the addition of mobile services along with the advent of 5G (friend or foe), new service offerings, service level agreements, the move to virtualization, and more, were all hot topics at the recent Light Reading “Future of Cable Business Services” conference.

I have attended this conference for several years, and as it falls at the end of year it’s always a good time to reflect on what this means for the cable industry moving forward. Here are my top takeaways from the 2018 event, and what I’m thinking about heading into 2019.

For years business services represented 20%+ year-over-year revenue growth for cable MSOs – a significant growth engine given MSOs have experienced declining video subscribers (due to OTT competition), and have generally had consolidated revenue growth of 5-10% in recent years. MSOs have experienced higher growth rates in business services with small (100 employees), where these customers require more sophisticated services and competitive service level agreements (SLAs). more>

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Where Did Qualcomm Go Wrong?

By Bolaji Ojo – It’s a justifiable question. The Qualcomm–NXP trip was an expensive sortie: Qualcomm has paid $2 billion in mandatory break-off fees to NXP, but the bill for the hidden costs may be much higher. For nearly two years, the communications IC and IP supplier and its target endured prolonged uncertainties. Even now, the spasms from customer disruptions remain strong while many employees, though heaving a sigh of relief, must figure out where they truly belong in the enterprise.

Qualcomm is moving on resolutely from the NXP debacle. It must. However, the implications and lessons — if any — are industry-wide. One of the largest acquisitions in the history of the semiconductor industry foundered because of oppositions from various fronts, including customers who might have benefited from it. Simply dumping the blame on nebulous factors and faceless regulators will result in the industry learning nothing from the experience. Perhaps the transaction was destined to fail. Perhaps it could have been better managed and successfully, too. A thorough assessment of why this deal collapsed would offer lessons that can be applied to future deals.

There are no signs that Qualcomm will conduct a detailed analysis of why and how the bid unraveled. It is easier — again — to simply toss more money at stakeholders and move on. NXP’s management and shareholders who had tendered their equity could slake their thirst with $2 billion in Qualcomm’s money. more>

American power at stake in great innovation race


By Peter Engelke – Americans like to think of themselves as the most innovative people in the world. At least since 1945, they have had good reason to believe so. During the Cold War, the United States built the most formidable technology-producing innovation system the world has ever seen.

Coordinated action by the U.S. government, the private sector and academia, combined with America’s unique postwar culture, crafted this system.

But the American system has seen better days. America’s leaders, at federal and state levels, have failed to maintain this system much less upgrade it.

As a result, America’s long list of difficulties includes falling public investment in research and development (R&D, a critical and under-appreciated factor in national innovativeness), an under-skilled workforce, flagging support for public higher education, decaying infrastructure and much more.

The global tech-innovation economy therefore is more than a just crowded place. It is also crowded where it counts: at the very top, where it no longer can be said that the U.S. stands alone. Several of the countries listed here, plus others, routinely score higher than the United States in global innovation rankings.

The U.S. will not long remain the global leader in innovation unless it takes decisive action across several fronts. more>

Why you should use cloud direct connect

datacenter.com – Cloud direct connect allows enterprises to access public cloud services (i.e. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, TencentCloud, etc) over a dedicated, private connection rather than over the public Internet. The benefits of direct cloud connections to your own network include greater reliability, better performance (better speed, lower latencies) and a higher security than typical connections over the Internet.

The costs of WAN and public Internet connectivity can be significant. The cost of moving a lot of data to your cloud provider vary per provider, but often are expensive. By using a neutral data center, you have access to multiple carriers who can provide you the necessary public Internet connections and direct cloud connect services. By segmenting the various network workloads, you can often realize savings in bandwidth and reduce the costs of moving data to your public cloud provider.

By replacing a “best effort” network, such as the public Internet with a direct connection to your cloud provider, you gain consistency in throughput and performance. As the mathematical principle states, “the shortest distance between two points is a line.” By using cloud direct connect services you’re connecting to the cloud provider in a straight line and increasing your performance. more>

A goal realized: Network lobbyists’ sweeping capture of their regulator

By Tom Wheeler – “Here’s how the telecom industry plans to defang their regulators,” a September 12, 2013 Washington Post headline announced. “[T]elecom giants including Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have launched multiple efforts to shift regulation of their broadband business to other agencies that don’t have nearly as much power as the FCC,” the article explained.

The companies’ goal: to move regulatory jurisdiction from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Strategically, it is a brilliant sleight of hand since the FTC has no rulemaking authority and no telecommunications expertise, yet the companies and the policymakers who support them can trot out the line that the FTC will protect consumers.

With this vote, the FCC walked away from over a decade of bipartisan efforts to oversee the fairness and openness of companies such as Comcast, AT&T, Charter, and Verizon. These four companies control over 75 percent of the residential internet access in America, usually through a local monopoly. Henceforth, they will be able to make their own rules, subject only to very limited after-the-fact review.

The assertion that the FTC will be able to provide that protection adequately is an empty promise. The people at the FTC are good people, but they have neither network expertise, nor the authority to make rules. more>

The FCC’s net neutrality proposal: A shameful sham that sells out consumers

By Tom Wheeler – Fighting against monopolization in the internet era…meet ideologically-driven “do what the big guys want.”

A fair and open internet is the backbone of the digital economy. The FCC has sold out to the wishes of the companies it is supposed to regulate over the consumers it is supposed to protect.

For more than a decade, previous Republican and Democratic FCCs have tried to bring fairness and balance to the delivery of the internet to consumers. Every one of those efforts has been opposed by the corporations that consumers rely on to deliver the internet. Now the Trump FCC has simply cut to the chase, there is no need for the big companies to sue—they’ll just be given everything they want.

The assertion that the FCC proposal is somehow pro-consumer is a sham that doesn’t pass the straight-face test. It is impossible to find anything pro-consumer in the expert telecommunications agency walking away from its responsibilities in favor of an agency with no telecommunications expertise or authority. more>

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David Brooks Is Mistaken: The Economy Is Broken

By Steve Denning – Brooks concludes blithely that “the market is working more or less as it’s supposed to.” It is therefore wrong to conclude that the U.S. economy has “structural flaws.” That is “a story that is fundamentally untrue.”

The difficulty with the argument, as Brooks well knows, is that one or two good years don’t make an era. Two years of income growth don’t undo the trauma flowing from 50 years of wage stagnation, much less lead to the conclusion that there are “no structural flaws” in the economy.

The brute fact remains that median salaries have stagnated for some 50 years. That’s the real problem of the U.S. economy that economists ought to be talking about.

When moderates deny the obvious, the disaffected inevitably turn elsewhere.

If moderates want to be listened to, they will need to take a harder look at what is going on, come up with coherent explanations for what has gone wrong, and offer plausible remedial action. more> https://goo.gl/zuoJbQ

The Difference Between Real And Pretend Strengths

BOOK REVIEW

The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, Author: George Bradt.

By George Bradt – Real strengths are made up of talent, knowledge and skills. It’s not enough to study a subject. Expertise is born of practice.

Real strengths enable people to do what they need to do. Pretend strengths may be intriguing at first, but end up disappointing.

Too many people think they should be able to sell because they’ve worked with salespeople before, either as buyers themselves, providing support to sales, or making products or services that others sell. They can’t sell. Selling requires talent, knowledge and skills born of practice.

Too many people think they can teach because they’ve been students.

Frontier Communications bought AT&T’s wire line services in Connecticut. They were excited because the transaction was going to: “be accretive” and “improve Frontier’s dividend payout” while customers “will have the same products and services that they currently enjoy”. (From their press release.)

Wasn’t true. The day of the transfer, my voicemail service got “disabled”. And it stayed disabled for 11 days. Each of the four times I called Frontier I was informed that they would “open a ticket”. I didn’t want a ticket. I wanted voicemail.

Frontier’s not a real phone company. It just plays one on TV. more> https://goo.gl/pH2m1L