US Bans Gear From China’s Huawei And ZTE Over Security Risk

This file photo taken on May 31, 2021 shows a Huawei logo at the flagship store in Shenzhen, in China's southern Guangdong province. STR / AFP
This file photo taken on May 31, 2021 shows a Huawei logo at the flagship store in Shenzhen, in China’s southern Guangdong province. STR / AFP

 

US authorities announced a ban Friday on the import or sale of communications equipment deemed “an unacceptable risk to national security” — including gear from Chinese giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE.

Both firms have been on a roster of companies listed as a threat by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the new rules bar future authorizations of their equipment.

The move is the latest in a series of actions to limit the access of Chinese telecom firms to US networks, and comes during a long-running standoff between the world’s two biggest economies.

US officials have shown growing wariness in recent years of Chinese telecommunications companies and technology.

“The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders,” said chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement.

She added that the new rules are a part of ongoing work to guard against security threats.

A Huawei spokesperson offered no comment on the ban when contacted by AFP.

The order also affects other companies, including video surveillance equipment firms Hangzhou Hikvision and Dahua Technology.

The FCC said Friday that it was also seeking comment on future action relating to existing authorizations.

Previously, Washington had banned Huawei from supplying US government systems and strongly discouraged the use of its equipment in the private sector, with fears that Huawei equipment could be compromised by Chinese intelligence.

In 2019, it put Huawei on a trade blacklist that barred US suppliers from doing business with it, cutting off the Chinese firm — also a top smartphone brand — from Google’s Android mobile operating system.

The United States has cited national security fears as well to restrict the operations of China’s big three state-owned mobile carriers.

Five Things To Know About The UN Telecoms Agency

In this file photo taken on February 25, 2021 the United Nations logo is seen inside the United Nations in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 25, 2021 the United Nations logo is seen inside the United Nations in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP

 

 

The UN’s telecoms agency, which chooses either an American or a Russian as its new chief on Thursday, plays a key role in the rules governing radio frequencies, satellites and 5G.

The International Telecommunication Union is holding its quadrennial main conference until October 14 in Bucharest, with all eyes on who its next secretary-general will be.

Here is a look at the oldest agency in the United Nations fold, which behind the scenes sets the global standards underlying mobile phones, television and the internet.

What the ITU does

It allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits and develops technical standards that ensure networks interconnect.

The ITU was created to manage international telegraph networks but expanded its remit to new technology such as telephones, radio, television, satellites, mobile phones and the internet.

It brings together 193 member states as well as about 900 companies, universities, and international and regional organisations.

“Every time you make a phone call via the mobile, access the internet or send an email, you are benefiting from the work of ITU,” it says.

ITU’s history

The ITU was founded in 1865. Twenty countries gathered at a conference in Paris to make cross-border communications more efficient, standardising telegraphy equipment and setting uniform operating instructions.

It established “SOS” as the Morse code international maritime distress call in 1906. Following the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, a common wavelength was agreed for ships’ radio distress signals.

Its headquarters moved in 1948 from Bern to Geneva, where it today is situated in a 15-storey pentagonal silvery tower near the UN’s Palais des Nations. It joined the UN fold in 1949.

TV, mobiles, internet

The ITU’s first TV technical standards were released in 1949. Now more than 150 standards cover sound and vision broadcasting to a multitude of devices.

In 2000, technical specifications for 3G systems were agreed, allowing full interoperability of mobile systems for the first time, laying the foundation for high-speed wireless devices able to handle voice and data connection to the internet.

The ITU says the internet’s expansion from early modems to broadband owes much to its standards.

Climate change is now a major theme of the ITU’s work, notably through satellite-based weather monitoring and disaster warning systems.

Contenders for leadership

China’s Houlin Zhao reaches the end of his second four-year term as ITU secretary-general on December 31.

The two candidates to replace him are the ITU’s American development chief Doreen Bogdan-Martin and Russia’s former deputy telecoms minister Rashid Ismailov.

Bogdan-Martin, considered the favourite, wants to get more of the world online with high-speed access; Ismailov wants to humanise technological development rather than focus purely on expanding it.

The winner will be chosen by secret ballot on Thursday in Bucharest during the ITU’s plenipotentiary conference, its main decision-making body.

How it is run and funded

The ITU’s work is divided into three branches: radiocommunications, standardisation and development.

A regionally-balanced 48-member council serves as its governing body.

The ITU’s total budgeted revenues in 2021 were around 164 million Swiss francs ($165 million), of which 76 percent came from membership fees — including 66 percent from countries — with the rest from “cost-recovery activities”: publication sales, registration fees and radiocommunication filing.

Samsung Admits Galaxy S10 Fingerprint Access Flaw

A billboard advertising the brand-new Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus smartphones in Hong Kong on April 3, 2019. EyePress News / EyePress

 

Tech giant Samsung Electronics on Friday acknowledged a major flaw with its fingerprint system that allows other people to open its top-end smartphones, advising users to delete all registered prints.

Samsung is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung Group and crucial to South Korea’s economic health. The conglomerate is by far the biggest of the family-controlled empires that dominate business in the world’s 11th-largest economy.

But it has a history of humiliating setbacks with major products, most notably a worldwide recall of its Galaxy Note 7 devices in 2016 over exploding batteries, which hammered its reputation.

Earlier this year it had to delay the launch of its first foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold, after pre-release users found faulty screens.

READ ALSO: Lebanon To Tax Calls On Messaging Apps

Samsung’s latest problem emerged after a user in the UK told the Sun newspaper earlier this week her Galaxy S10 smartphone could be unlocked by someone else simply by putting on a screen protector and applying an unregistered fingerprint.

The flaw meant anyone who got hold of her phone could transfer funds using her financial apps, the user told the British paper.

In a statement released Friday, Samsung said the issue involved “fingerprint sensors unlocking devices after recognising three-dimensional patterns appearing on certain silicone screen protecting cases as users’ fingerprints.”

The firm advised users of the Galaxy Note10, 10+ and Galaxy S10, S10+, and S10 5G to “delete all previous fingerprints” and register their data anew.

“Please refrain from applying a silicone screen protecting case to your device until a software update, which is planned to be released beginning next week,” it added.

The statement was released a day after Samsung said it would soon roll out a fix, but did not specify what the problem was.

The world’s biggest smartphone maker has touted the Galaxy S10’s in-display fingerprint sensor as “revolutionary”.

“When you place your thumb on the screen, it sends ultrasonic pulses to detect the 3D ridges and valleys of your unique fingerprint to quickly and accurately recognise you,” the firm has said about the technology involved.

Kakaobank, South Korea’s internet-only bank, has told its customers not to use fingerprints to access its mobile banking services and employ passwords and pattern locks instead until the problem is fixed.

Reps Summon 9mobile, Other Telecom Chiefs

Reps Urge Osinbajo To Swear In Ministers-Designate
File photo

The House Of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating the operations of telecommunications service providers in the country, on Thursday summoned some company heads over allegations of non-payments of taxes and the required percentages of their profits to the Federal Government.

According to Chairman of the Committee, Ahmed Abu, the heads of 9mobile, Etisalat Nigeria and Globacom Nigeria, are being summoned following their failure to appear before the committee despite repeated invitations.

Moving the motion during the meeting, Mr Darlington Nwokocha requested that bench warrants by issued to compel their appearance.

The committee, however, resolved to summon them instead.

N541bn Debt: Banks Reject Etisalat Nigeria’s Loan Restructuring Plan

NCC, CBN Get Reprieve For EtisalatThe Etisalat Group, parent company of Etisalat Nigeria, has informed the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange that a group of Nigerian commercial banks have refused to agree to the restructuring of 541 billion Naira debt owed by the company.

A statement issued on Tuesday by the telecoms group, said its total shares in the subsidiary, Etisalat Nigeria have been transferred to United Capital Trustees Limited.

The deadline for the transfer of the shares has been agreed to extend till 5:00 pm Nigerian time on Friday, June 23.

Abu-Dhabi based Etisalat group established Etisalat Nigeria with effective 45 per cent and 25 per cent ordinary and preference shares respectively.

Reuters quoted an official of Etisalat Nigeria as saying that discussions with the group of Nigerian commercial lenders are ongoing to find a ”non-disruptive” solution to the 1.2 billion U.S. dollar-debt.

Olamide Moves On From Etisalat

Olamide, EtisalatYBNL boss, Olamide, has moved on from Etisalat after his three-year ambassadorial deal with the company.

The telecommunication giant took to Instagram on November 14, 2016, to wish him well.

“It’s been three amazing years of working with you. All of us @etisalatnigeria wish you the best in your future endeavours.” they said.

In response to this, the artist also thanked them saying, “God bless my @etisalatnigeria family for the love and support all through the years. Thanks for believing in me and for helping me grow”.

The Shakitibobo crooner, who is known for rendering his rap mostly in Yoruba, and classified as Nigeria’s biggest rapper, has swiftly risen to new heights in his music career.

From winning several awards such as the most recent African Muziq Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA), in which he bagged the Best Male West Africa, to signing on new artists such as rapper, Davolee, who recently joined the label, Olamide has continued to thrill his fans.

NFF given N350m for sponsorship by Globacom

To reassure the Nigeria Football Federation of its promise to sponsor the national teams of the country yearly, telecommunications giant Globacom splashed a whopping N350m on the NFF.

This news was disclosed by the marketing director of the football federation Idris Adama saying the fund is meant for the daily running of the programmes the football federation for the period of 2012/2013 football season.

It would be recalled that during the reign of the former president of the federation, Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi the communications company and the football federation fell out over the same deal saying a better deal would have been brokered.

With this present deal signed and sealed by the Nigeria Football Federation which the body felt is fair and it has been decided that the signed agreement will last for four years.

The marketing director said further that the federation appreciates Globacom’s gesture stressing that the amount would go a long way to augment the financial requirements of the football federation especially as it prepares the various teams for the continental qualifiers and other tournaments.

It will be recalled that while the Flamingoes are in Azerbaijan for the FIFA U-17 Championship, the Super Falcons are presently camping in Abuja preparatory to the Africa Women Championship in Equatorial Guinea.

The Flying Eagles are also prosecuting qualifying matches for the Africa U-20 Championship.

Android-powered desktop unveiled by Motorola

Phone-making company, Motorola has introduced new desktop computer powered by Android which also offers cloud-based services provided by Wasu, including games, high-definition television and movies and web browsing.

A partnership agreement was done between Motorola Mobility and Wasu Digital a cable and telecommunications service provider to launch a new android powered computer “HMC3260″”.

The HMC3260, which is dubbed as CloudBroadBand, features an 8.5 inch LED touchscreen, Android 2.3.4 operating system and broadband internet access through EuroDOCSIS.

It also features 1 GB DDR RAM, 4 GB NAND flash memory, LAN and Freescale i.MX53 ARM Cortex A8 1GHz.

With the new CloudBroadBand, Wasu’s customers can access to a host of cloud entertainment services such as an on-demand high-definition media, games, applications and storage space.

Motorola Home Division Asia vice president and regional general manager Kevin Keefe said the Motorola HMC3260 provides subscribers with a fast broadband connection and also offers cloud-based services provided by Wasu, including games, high-definition television and movies, web browsing and more.

The powerful touchscreen interface capitalizes on the power and flexibility of Android to enable Wasu to differentiate itself from operators who only offer a pipeline for data.

Blackberry maker hands layoff notices to workers

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has started to hand out layoff notices after it said on Friday it would cut an unspecified number of jobs, a local newspaper said on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Canadian company could not be reached immediately to confirm the report in the Waterloo Region Record, which serves the Ontario city where RIM is headquartered.

The report gave no specific numbers on the layoff notices, but noted that RIM employs about 17,500 workers globally, including 9,000 in the Waterloo region.

Shares of RIM, which once dominated the business segment of the smartphone market, have dropped about 27 percent since it revealed dismal quarterly results and lowered its full-year outlook on Friday.

The stock is down more than 50 percent this year after a series of missteps as it tries to keep pace with Apple Inc and other innovators in the smartphone and tablet computer markets.

REUTERS

Vodafone to buy C&W Worldwide for $1.7 billion

Mobile phone group Vodafone has agreed to buy Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW) for 1.04 billion pounds ($1.7 billion), giving it a British fixed-line network to relieve the strain on its wireless operations from data-hungry smartphone users.

The world’s biggest mobile phone operator by revenue said on Monday buying corporate telecoms specialist CWW would make it a leading player in both fixed-line and mobile telecom services to Britain’s businesses, and it could make cost savings by using CWW’s networks, both in the UK and internationally.

“There is a good overlap between Cable & Wireless’ fibre network and our base stations which will significantly reduce the cost to us of managing the growth in data traffic,” Vodafone Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said in a call with analysts.

He said the deal would make Vodafone the second largest telecoms supplier in the UK after BT, and would double the size of its enterprise business in Britain, which serves companies.
“This positions us very well to capture the growth demand for unified data services in enterprise,” he said, referring to companies’ demand for both fixed-line and mobile services.

Vodafone is offering CWW shareholders, who have had a torrid time since the group split from the former Cable & Wireless in March 2010, 38 pence a share in cash, a 92 percent premium to the price before it declared its interest in February.

CWW has issued three profit warnings, had the same number of chief executives and has suspended its dividend since it split.

Vodafone can use CWW’s 20,500 kilometres of fibre cables to shift data from its wireless network, which is under strain as more and more people use data-hungry smartphones. The mobile giant currently rents fixed lines for such capacity – a process called backhaul – from the likes of CWW and BT.

The deal also boosts Vodafone’s enterprise business with the addition of contracts to provide voice, data and hosting services to British government departments and companies, and it gains CWW’s international cable network.

India’s Tata Communications was also in talks to buy CWW, but withdrew last week when the two sides could not agree on a price. It was said to have indicated it could offer 35 pence a share.

Shares in CWW were 14.2 percent higher at 36.5 pence by 0937 GMT, reflecting shareholders’ relief that a bid had materialised after Vodafone was granted three extensions by Britain’s takeover panel. Vodafone’s shares were broadly flat.

“It’s positive for Cable & Wireless because there was still some scepticism in the market whether Vodafone would bid at all, particularly after Tata stated it was unlikely to bid,” said Espirito Santo analyst Nick Brown.

He said Tata could re-enter the race, but thought it was unlikely to at this price level. “They would be unable to compete if Vodafone did enter a bidding war,” he said.

UNIFIED STRATEGY

Robin Bienenstock at Bernstein said Vodafone was increasingly focused on fixed lines because it needed backhaul capacity as next generation wireless technology rolled out and it targetted business with companies.

“The UK is a good place to test this strategy as so much UK wireline business is concentrated in the hands of BT and given that Vodafone has a strong business brand here,” she said.
Vodafone’s offer, which CWW said was “fair and reasonable”, is backed by shareholders holding 18.6 percent of CWW’s stock.

Analysts had said Vodafone could use some of CWW’s losses to offset some of its tax bill, but Vodafone said it did not believe it could utilise the tax losses.

CWW’s history stretches back to the middle of the nineteenth century, when it laid a telegraph cable between London and Dublin. Links between Britain and India, the Caribbean, Asia, Australia and the United States followed.

The group ran into trouble, however, within months of its demerger from Cable & Wireless Communications in 2010, a deal engineered by former chief executive John Pluthero, who pocketed more than 10 million pounds in bonuses from the business.

Pluthero returned as chief executive of CWW in June 2011 but left within six months after the group posted a 433 million pounds half-year loss.

CWW’s shares have plunged from a high of 98.5 pence when it listed to a low of 13 pence in November 2011, as it blamed a faster-than-expected drop in voice revenue, intense competition in data services and government cutbacks for its woes.

UBS is acting as sole financial adviser to Vodafone. Barclays and Rothschild are acting as joint financial advisers to CWW.

REUTERS

Govt to liquidate NITEL, MTEL as no one wants to buy them

Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), the country’s state-owned fixed-line telecoms provider, and its mobile arm M-TEL are to go into liquidation after the companies amassed huge debts, Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises said Thursday.

Chukwuma Nwokoh, spokesman for the BPE, which is in charge of the privatization of state-owned companies, said in a statement that the council has approved “guided liquidation” for NITEL and M-TEL “in view of the huge liabilities of both companies.”

The government has been trying to sell both companies since 2006. In 2009, their operations were taken over by a government-appointed technical committee, which was mandated to privatize the firms.

The committee, Mr Nwokoh said, recommended the guided liquidation of both companies and that “there was no viable financial alternative presented by the management of NITEL and M-TEL.”

The Nigerian government in June 2009 blocked the sale of NITEL and M-TEL to Transnational Corp. of Nigeria PLC, alleging that Transcorp failed to adhere to the terms of the sale.

In 2006, Transcorp acquired 51% of NITEL and M-TEL, with the Nigerian government holding the remaining 49%. But Transcorp was unable to properly fund the companies’ operations, the government said.

The BPE spokesman didn’t provide further details on the process.