Huawei Loses 5G Bid In Singapore To Nokia, Ericsson

This photo taken on June 23, 2020 shows a Huawei global flagship store ahead of its opening in Shanghai. STR / AFP
This photo taken on June 23, 2020, shows a Huawei global flagship store ahead of its opening in Shanghai. STR / AFP

 

Nokia and Ericsson have been chosen as Singapore’s main 5G network providers, telecom operators said, leaving Huawei with only a minor role as the Chinese tech giant faces growing US pressure.

Huawei has been dogged by allegations of stealing American trade secrets and aiding China’s espionage efforts, with Washington pushing countries to bar the company from involvement in their next-generation networks.

Huawei has denied ties with the Chinese government.

Singtel, one of the city-state’s main telecom operators, on Wednesday said it had chosen Sweden’s Ericsson to build its 5G network after the government gave final approval.

A joint venture that includes the country’s two other major telecom operators, M1 and StarHub, announced it had opted for Nokia to build its main 5G infrastructure.

However both M1 and Starhub said that other firms, including Huawei, could have some involvement in the project.

Huawei only won the contract to be a provider for a smaller, local network system, operated by TPG Telecom, a more minor player.

The Southeast Asian city-state tries to maintain good relations with both the US and China, and Information Minister S. Iswaran insisted that no company had been excluded in the selection process.

“We have run a robust process spelling out our requirements in terms of performance, security and resilience,” he said, adding that mobile network operators also had their own criteria.

“There is a diversity of vendors participating in different parts of the 5G ecosystem, and… there remain prospects for greater involvement in our 5G system going forward.”

Singapore is aiming to have ultra high-speed internet coverage for half of the country by the end of 2022, and expand it to cover the entire island by the end of 2025.

The US government launched a worldwide campaign against Huawei, the world’s largest supplier of telecom network equipment and the planet’s number two smartphone maker, about 18 months ago.

Washington essentially banned Huawei from the US market last year, although earlier this month it let the firm back into the fold when it comes to companies working together to set standards for 5G networks.

 

AFP

Over 30 Firms Join Alliance Calling For ‘Open’ 5G Systems

Commuters walk in front of a 5G advertisement screen at a train station in Bangkok on May 5, 2020. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP
Commuters walk in front of a 5G advertisement screen at a train station in Bangkok on May 5, 2020. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

 

More than 30 technology and telecom firms unveiled an alliance Tuesday to press for “open and interoperable” 5G wireless systems that eliminate the need for a single supplier.

The move comes amid heightened global debate over politically sensitive deployment of the ultrafast fifth-generation networks in a market-led by Chinese-based Huawei, along with European-based Nokia and Ericsson.

The new Open RAN Policy Coalition said an open-standards system with competitive bidding for various components in a “radio access network” would avoid depending on any single technology supplier.

The alliance of 31 firms is “letting (wireless) providers know there are options” other than “a single vendor with a closed proprietary system,” said Diane Rinaldo, coalition executive director.

The group includes large technology firms Microsoft, Google, IBM and Cisco; carriers including AT&T and Verizon in the United States and global operators Vodafone, Rakuten and Telefonica; and hardware and chip-making firms Qualcomm, Intel and Samsung.

Rinaldo told AFP that “the coalition was not formed to address concerns about any particular company but to discuss the need to have a robust supply chain and prevent any one company from dominating.”

The move comes however with Washington banning Huawei from American networks amid what officials say are national security concerns, and urging US allies to follow suit.

“As evidenced by the current global pandemic, vendor choice and flexibility in next-generation network deployments are necessary from a security and performance standpoint,” Rinaldo said.

“By promoting policies that standardize and develop open interfaces, we can ensure interoperability and security across different players and potentially lower the barrier to entry for new innovators.”

Rinaldo said the alliance is promoting privately deployed networks in the United States, with the federal government helping to foster a diverse supply chain and fund research into these open networks.

The alliance points out that most mobile networks have typically been deployed using fully integrated systems where the radio, hardware and software are provided by a single manufacturer. An open system can work, the group noted, as long as standards are consistent.

It added that there are already examples of successful mobile deployments of 4G or 5G networks using open standards in Japan, India and other parts of the world.

“This concept has been out there,” Rinaldo said.

“Our coalition is helping to amplify the message on this.”

 

AFP

Nokia CEO Suri To Step Down In September

Nokia’s new President and CEO Pekka Lundmark (C) shakes hands with resigning President and CEO Rajeev Suri after a press conference at the Nokia headquarters in Espoo, Finland on March 2, 2020. Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva / AFP

 

Nokia’s chief executive officer Rajeev Suri will leave the telecom equipment provider in September and be replaced by the current head of Finnish energy group Fortum, Nokia announced on Monday.

Pekka Lundmark will take over on September 1, Nokia said.

Suri, who has been Nokia’s president and CEO since April 2014, had “indicated earlier to the board that he was considering stepping down from his role at some point in the future, provided a solid succession plan was in place,” the company said.

“After 25 years at Nokia, I have wanted to do something different,” Suri said.

Lundmark has also served as CEO of Konecranes, a global material-handling technology leader. Prior to that, from 1990-2000, he held various executive positions at Nokia, including vice president of strategy and business development at Nokia Networks.

Lundmark also has “extensive experience in China,” he told a press conference on Monday — a market which Nokia last year announced it was backing away from in the light of growing support there for local vendors.

Nokia’s share price rose by four percent on the Helsinki stock exchange to 3.6 euros shortly after opening at 0800 GMT, before falling back somewhat.

The group has remade itself as a 5G network systems company since its mobile phone business was wiped out by Apple and Samsung.

Suri is behind Nokia’s recent transformation, including its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent and the creation of a standalone software business, and the return of the Nokia brand to mobile phones.

He also oversaw the launch of ‘internet of things’ products designed to revolutionise specific sectors, such as soil sensors for agriculture or tracking systems for logistics firms.

However, Nokia’s attempts to break into the 5G equipment market have faltered in the face of fierce competition from Huawei and Ericsson.

Last year Nokia downgraded its 2020 earnings forecast, while chief executive Suri played down the firm’s delays in delivering some equipment orders.

Nokia went on to beat expectations in a “challenging” 2019 and last month posted its first full-year net profit since 2015 of 7.0 million euros, and an operating profit of 2.0 billion euros.

At Monday’s press conference, Suri defended his record, saying that when he took over as CEO of Nokia Siemens Networks in 2009, the year’s operating profit was 28 million euros.

“I’m not entirely satisfied with last year but we still had 2 billion compared to that 28 million,” he said.

AFP

Nokia Reduces Third Quarter Losses And Launches New Savings Drive

(File Photo)

 

Finnish telecoms equipment maker Nokia reported a reduction in its third-quarter losses of almost 57 percent on Thursday, as it launched a cost-savings programme in a bid to restore profitability.

The company announced a net loss of 79 million euros between July and September, compared to 183 million euros for the same period last year.

Nokia also released details of a 700 million euros cost-savings programme between now and the end of 2020, of which 500 million is expected to come from operating expenses.

The improved results, driven by a pickup in commercial 5G deployments in the US, saw Nokia reiterate its guidance to investors after a difficult start to the year.

“Nokia’s third-quarter results validate our earlier view that conditions would improve in the second half of 2018,” CEO Rajeev Suri said in a statement.

“This was particularly evident in our excellent momentum in orders, growth across all five of our Networks business groups, and improved profitability,” Suri said.

However, Mikael Rautanen, an analyst at Inderes, said the size of Nokia’s new cost-cutting programme came as a surprise.

“They will have to squeeze in more cost cuts than what was expected in order to meet the targets that they have set for 2020,” Rautanen said.

“Investors and the market were already skeptical about Nokia’s ability to meet those targets if you look at the forecasts that are out there in the consensus. I would say they still have work to do to restore investor confidence.”

In a statement, Nokia said its 700 million euro savings programme will look to cut costs through a wide range of measures. These include further investment in digitization “to drive more automation and productivity”, and “significant reductions in central support functions”.

The group’s turnover fell 1.0 percent in the third quarter to 5.46 billion euros, due to unfavorable exchange rates, but Nokia reduced its operating loss from 230 million euros to 54 million.

Nokia’s share price rose 0.5 percent on the opening of the Helsinki stock exchange following the publication of the results.

AFP

Nokia Announces Nearly 600 Job Cuts In France

(File Photo)

Finnish telecoms giant Nokia said on Thursday it planned to cut around 600 jobs in France as it seeks to make cost-savings and refocus its loss-making businesses.

The group said it planned to reduce its headcount in France by 597, a little over 10 percent of its total workforce in the country, with French trade unions calling the move “unacceptable.”

Nokia, which no longer makes handsets having sold that business to Microsoft, bought French-American telecoms equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent in 2015 in a deal that was expected to lead to savings.

The cuts in France will be focused on administrative and support services and will not effect research and development as it refocuses on high-speed 5G telecom networks, cyber security, and Internet-linked appliances, the group said.

Nokia is aiming to make 1.2 billion euros (1.4 billion dollars) in total cost savings by the end of 2018 following net losses of 766 million euros last year.

AFP

Chinese Employees At Microsoft’s Nokia Arm Protest Mass Layoffs

microsoft“Hundreds” of Chinese employees at Microsoft Corp’s Nokia phone business protested on Friday against mass layoffs that the U.S. tech company announced last month, according to an employee present and pictures posted on social media networks.

Protesters held banners and shouted slogans against “Microsoft’s hostile takeover and violent layoffs” for five hours until “they had sore throats,” said the employee who participated in the demonstration and so declined to be identified.

The protesters would convene on Friday afternoon to discuss demands they would present to the company, the employee said.

Microsoft announced on July 17 the deepest job cuts in its 39-year history, amounting to 18,000 positions. Microsoft said up to 12,500 of those jobs would come from Nokia, the Finnish handset maker it bought in April in a $7.2 billion friendly takeover.

The protests took place at a Beijing research center and factory employing 2,400 people, according to a statement from organisers and amounted to the latest in a string of troubles for the U.S. software giant in China.

Microsoft offices in four cities were raided this week by Chinese authorities as part of an ongoing anti-monopoly investigation announced on Tuesday.

More broadly, labor disputes have risen across China over the past year in tandem with a slowdown in growth in the world’s No. 2 economy.

Since taking the helm of Microsoft in February, Chief Executive Satya Nadella has pledged to slim down his company to compete with nimbler internet-based rivals.

Microsoft earlier this year said it would make changes company-wide within 18 months of closing the Nokia acquisition that would lead to costs-savings of up to $600 million per year.

The latest cuts, which will be completed by June 30, 2015, represent about 14 per cent of Microsoft’s worldwide workforce.

A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to provide immediate comment by telephone and did not respond to questions by e-mail.

BBC’s iPlayer To Debut On Windows Phone Platform

The BBC has announced that its iPlayer will land in Windows Phone platform soon

Making the announcement, BCC confirmed that all handsets running Microsoft’s mobile operating system currently cannot access the catch-up TV and radio service and to end this, the corporation said it will have to allow a web-based version of iPlayer to be accessed via a live tile – or square icon – on the Windows Phone home screen despite work going on to complete its Android app.

The head of the iPlayer team; David Price previously said that Android was “complex and fragmented with a huge difference between video playback capabilities” for different devices, causing problems for his developers.

By wrapping the iPlayer mobile website together with its proprietary Media Player plug-in, the broadcaster can offer access to streamed feeds of its material but will still not be able to let users download programmes for offline use – as is the case with its iOS app.

The move comes months after Microsoft agreed to pay the BBC a fee to use some of its online news stories within its Windows 8 desktop Bing Daily news app.

Nokia recently revealed that the Windows Phone Store now hosts more than 130,000 apps.

However, the marketplace still has notable holdouts including Instagram, Photoshop and an official Dropbox app as well as games including Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto and Temple Run.

However, a spokeswoman for BBC Global News said this latter agreement was a “commercial content licensing deal” and completely separate to the iPlayer contract.

Nokia Launches Music+, Ready To Do Battle With Other Streaming Services

World’s largest vender of mobile phones, Nokia is ready to battle with streaming services like Spotify which has spearheaded others with its playlist provisions as it launches Nokia Music+, a premium music service that builds on the existing Mix Radio available to Lumia users only for now.

This move by the Finnish phone-making company will likely tempt Lumia users to flee from other streaming services, like Spotify one of which has customised most smartphones users who are also music lovers.

The service will sit on top of the already outstanding Nokia Mix Radio and let users cache an unlimited number of playlists as well as skipping and downloads – all for the princely sum of £3.99 a month.

Jyrki Rosenberg, Nokia’s vice president of entertainment said, “Nokia Music is great for discovering new music, and we’ve found that there’s a core of users that want even more of it. This is how Nokia Music+ came about. By introducing features like infinite skips and unlimited downloads, we’re opening the doors for unlimited music discovery,”

“This is for people who care enough about music to pay something for more quality and choice, but don’t want to pay €9.99 monthly.”

The new service also lets you listen at eight times the audio quality and access lyrics for those impromptu on-the-fly karaoke sessions.

Bratislavia Symphony Orchestra hired by Nokia for ringtones

The 25 original classical tunes were recorded with the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra and some are already available on some Nokia Lumia models.

Nokia said they decided to hire the orchestra after a study revealed that classical music ringtones were the second most popular.

According to the Telegraph, the pieces were composed by the mobile phone giant’s in-house ‘sound designers’ before being recorded with the 55 members of the orchestra.

Some of the recordings are already available on the new Nokia Lumia 920 and Nokia Lumia 820. They will be available on some soon-to-be released smartphone models.

Aleksi Eeben, a sound designer at Nokia, said: “The 25 original pieces, called ‘miniatures’ were composed by five Nokia Design in-house sound designers.

Samsung ships a whooping 157million smartphones ahead of Apple in Q3

Samsung increased its lead in terms of smartphone shipments as estimate shows that the total number of smartphone shipments exceeded 157 million in Q3 2012. The Korean company shipped a record 56.3 million which was almost double the number of iPhones shipped by Apple (26.9 million). The Galaxy S III played a key role for Samsung with estimated sales of 18 million in the third quarter. Things are getting so dire for RIM and Nokia that ZTE has got ahead of them. LG did well amongst the Tier 2 players compared to rivals like Huawei, Motorola and HTC.

Nokia’s insistence on failing to ship an Android based handset and stick to its Windows Phone (W7 Mango) devices meant sales fell a whacking 63 per cent compared to Q3 2011.

The Finnish company shipped just 6.3 million smart devices in the third quarter. Though there’s hope for Nokia as the Xmas season always see strong sales growth for everyone.

In its report, ‘Smartphone Evolution Strategies: Premium, Standard & Economy Markets 2011-2016′, Juniper says, “Samsung has been highly effective in leveraging its global brand strength and the popularity of the Android OS to drive sales of smartphones in all price tiers.”

With Windows Phone 8 devices due to become commercially available shortly plus the fact that in the UK, for example, its offers handsets to run on EE’s 4G LTE network.

No such luck for RIM which unbelievably won’t actually ship a BlackBerry 10 smartphone until Q1 2013 – just when everybody has bought a new phone.

At least the Canadian firm managed 7.7 million quarterly smartphone shipments, so it piped Nokia.

Given RIM’s emphasis on the business sector missing Xmas may not harm its Q4 sales as much as expected.

Even LG sold more smartphones than Nokia as it posted a 24 per cent quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) growth to a record 7 million smartphone shipments.

ZTE shipped almost 20 million smartphones over the first three quarters with third quarter sales exceeding both Nokia and RIM.

The phenomenal success for Samsung has been the Galaxy S III which is, of course, an Android based device.

Windows phone 8 smartphone unveiled by Microsoft thanks to HTC

HTC has produced two new smartphones for Microsoft, running on its Windows Phone 8 operating system.

Microsoft and HTC yesterday unveiled the first two “signature Windows Phones”, the Windows Phone 8X and 8S. Both devices will be available from November, though more than 150 mobile operators worldwide, although pricing details have yet to be revealed.

The X and the S nomenclature mirror HTC’s existing one product line. The 8X is the higher device of the two, with a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 4.3-inch display and 8-megapixel camera (with the now obligatory burst mode). There’s also an 88-degree wide angle 2.1MP front-facing camera, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of memory and NFC capability.

The 8S is physically smaller and less capable, with a dual-core 1GHz S4 chip, 5MP camera and a non-HD 4-inch display. Both models come in a variety of bold colours, rather akin to Nokia’s Lumia series. Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, stretched credulity somewhat when he said:

“Windows Phone has clearly emerged as one of the top mobile ecosystems and is competitive against any other smartphone platform in the world.

We’ve been inspired by Windows Phone 8 to create new smartphones that give the platform the iconic design and personality it deserves.”

That’s salesmanship for you. Microsoft is going to need more support from HTC and others to bolster the early efforts of Nokia in getting more devices out into the market – and devices that truly stand out from the very capable Android and iPhone alternatives. And as Motorola showed earlier this week with its new Intel-powered RAZR i phone, the battle now is for those feature phone owners who have yet to be persuaded (either through price or complexity) to switch to smartphones.

The new HTC models certainly appear to span the market from low to high-end Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, added:

“Pairing these beautiful new HTC phones with our Windows Phone brand is a big milestone for both of our companies and our partnership. Together we are offering customers a simple choice and a truly unique experience.”

Chris Weber, Nokia’s Head of Marketing, made a blatant attempt to deflect attention away from HTC and towards Nokia (well, he certainly got some column inches here, so his tactic worked). “It takes more than matching colour to match the innovation of the Lumia 920”, he tweeted, as well as later alluding to the fact that HTC has chosen to merely “tactically re-brand their products”. You would have thought Nokia would have been grateful for more market support for Windows Phone, but his aggressive negativity simply highlights the rotten culture at the once great Nokia.

We shall leave him to his little tweets and instead welcome the expansion of the Windows Phone line-up. Let’s not forget HTC was the OEM behind some of Microsoft’s earlier forays into mobile – the iPAQ and Orange SPV.

Nokia to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide

Nokia said Thursday it will cut up to 10,000 jobs worldwide by the end of next year, part of an accelerated cost reduction program at the Finnish cellphone maker.

The company also warned that increased competition in the smartphone sector would hit its financial results in the second and third quarters, causing its operating loss margin to be bigger than previously forecast.

These planned reductions are a difficult consequence of the intended actions we believe we must take to ensure Nokia’s long-term competitive strength,” said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, in a statement.

As part of its cost reduction efforts, Nokia plans to close research and development facilities in Germany and Canada.

Nokia said it plans to focus more on the development of its Lumia phone. The Lumia, which uses a Microsoftoperating system, is Nokia’s attempt to take on Google and Apple  in the cellphone market.

Nokia is not the only cell phone company struggling with the new competition. Blackberry maker Research in Motion, RIMM, has hired Wall Street firms to consider itsstrategic options, which generally means it is considering a sale of the company, and it is plans deep cost cuts that could eliminate jobs.