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Rethink IoT News ATW 198: Around The Web Roundup

Editor’s Note: Riot ATW is now only available to Paid and Trial subscriptions. It is no longer available to free subscribers. // M&A, Strategies, Alliances // Google has poached Samsung Electronics’ former CTO, Injong Rhee, who will now serve as ‘entrepreneur-in-residence’ under the cloud computing CEO Diane Greene, for IoT unity. Google has bought Xively from LogMeIn, apparently for $50m. The Xively PaaS always seemed like a strange purchase for LogMeIn, initially called Pachube/Cosm. // Laws, Regulation, and Lawsuits // Intel now faces 32 separate class-action lawsuits, in the wake of the Meltdown and Spectre revelations. Comprising 30 customer and 2 securities suits, Intel also faces 3 individual shareholder complaints. This could have serious financial ramifications for Intel. A Robinson…

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Virgin Media (UK)

Virgin Media is the incumbent cableco in the UK, and has been owned by Liberty Global since 2013. The Virgin Media TV Anywhere app launched in November 2012.   Operations and figures: Virgin Media lost 1,800 basic video subscribers in Q4 2017, dropping to 24,600 in total, but gained 2,100 enhanced video subscribers to bring its enhanced video base to 4.09 million subscribers. For the year, Virgin added 86,000 video RGUs, compared to a 36,000 loss in 2016. More than 1 million have now taken the new V6 set top. Broadband subscribers increased by 26,000 in the quarter and 196,000 for the year, totaling 5.48 million. It also has 3.05 million mobile subscribers, adding 12,500 in 2017. Annual revenue grew…

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Slovak Telekom (Slovakia)

Slovak Telekom is the largest operator in Slovakia, and is now owned by Deutsche Telekom. Its Magio Go OTT service was launched in June 2013. Operations and figures: Slovak Telekom reported Q3 revenue of €186 million ($232 million), down 2.6%, but EBITDA grew 3.6% to €86 million ($107.4 million). Slovak Telekom ended Q3 with 2.2 million mobile customers, up 0.4%, and 661,000 broadband lines, up 0.9%. It gained 7,000 TV subscribers in Q3 to reach 581,000 on IPTV, satellite and cable. DT reported that the bulk of its total TV subscriber base growth in Q3, up 3.7% to 4.2 million, was driven by Slovakia and Hungary. Technology suppliers: Magio is built around the architecture MCore, using Microsoft Mediaroom and Microsoft…

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ARM launches Project Trillium in AI and ML silicon push

SoftBank-owned ARM has unveiled Project Trillium, a new initiative that aims to add new processor designs that cater for AI and Machine-Learning (ML) applications. Supported by new software tools, the two designs, ML and OD, are being pushed as a way of adding advanced AI capabilities to mobile devices. Strangely, Project Trillium is not going to be the brand name for the commercial chips. Apparently, this codename will be replaced in due course. Of course, ARM has rivals in this wave of ML-focused silicon. Google has its TPU, Intel is developing chips based on its Nervana acquisition, and CEVA and Ambarella launched new products before CES. A host of smaller startups will hope to pile on the pressure – including…

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Nokia’s EDF alliance for LPWAN testing reveals its loosening ties with MNOs

This article first appeared in Riot’s sister publication Wireless Watch. Nokia has been loosening the ties with cellular technologies and cellular operators in a bid to expand its business model and appeal to enterprises and alternative service providers. In doing so, it may start to compete with some of its traditional customers, potentially offering services – especially in the Internet of Things – which bypass the MNO and go straight to the enterprise or vertical industry. In the longer term, much of that business-to-business activity revolves around Nokia’s platforms for cloud-based core networks and network slicing. In the near term, a clear step towards the slicing nirvana is seen in its rising support for unlicensed spectrum technologies alongside cellular. Last…

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First Solar wins 50MW battery deal in Arizona with APS

Arizona Public Service (APS) has signed a 50 MW battery installation deal with First Solar, a solar power plant provider, in a deal that will provide ‘solar shifting’ capabilities for a new 65 MW solar farm in the state. Announced shortly after Arizona announced an 80% clean energy and 3 GW storage mandate, APS is hoping to get ahead of the curve – deploying what is currently scheduled as the largest battery in the US. APS, Arizona’s largest utility (with around 1.2m electricity customers), plans on using the 135 mWh battery to help store the electricity generated by the solar farm and deliver it when it is most needed. Broadly, the battery will store energy when customers are away from…

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Siemens, Honeywell, launch Industrial AR tech, brace for big 2018

The technology has a lot of doubters, but Augmented Reality (AR) has found a niche in hands-free industrial applications, as a means of augmenting the capabilities of technicians and assembly line workers. This week, AR-vendor Daqri announced a product win with Siemens, and Honeywell has unveiled a Microsoft-powered staff training system that it hopes to address a growing skills gap in the industrial sector. Siemens has been working with Daqri since 2016, where a proof-of-concept test saw engineers using a Daqri AR helmet to more efficiently assemble a gas turbine. In that test, Siemens said that a first-timer was able to build a gas burner in around 45-minuites. Typically, that competency would be reached followed a day of classroom learning.…

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The Sigfox climb-down – just 2.5m devices, €50m revenues

Sigfox has released updated numbers and confirmed that it is a long way off what many in the analyst community expected the LPWAN provider to have achieved. It comes after a period of intense speculation surrounding executive departures, and a growing sense that 2018 will be the year that makes or breaks the company. Sigfox said that it had 2.5m active devices on its global network in 2017, up 65% since the year before – meaning it had 1.51m in 2016, adding 984,848 in the year to reach that 2.5m. In terms of revenue, it posted €50m in 2017, up 56% from 2016 – meaning 2016 revenues were €32m. Sigfox missed its revenue target this year by around €10m, but…

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Uber settles Waymo case in abrupt fashion, blushes spared?

The Waymo-Uber case has been settled, in an abrupt fashion that throws up a lot of questions. The deal is worth around $245m in Uber stock, or just 0.34% of the company – which currently values itself at an extremely inflated $72bn. Reuters had previously claimed that Waymo was seeking $1bn in cash, which would have been very problematic for Uber – a company that does most of its deals in stock, and is believed to hold very little cash. Uber also rejected a $500m settlement earlier this week, which means that Waymo is now settling for only around 25% of what it apparently initially wanted – which is still pocket change for a company of its size. Part of…

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OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Spanish media group Mediapro, which owns a sizable chunk of soccer broadcasting rights, has been acquired by Chinese private equity firm Orient Hontai for €900 million ($1.1 billion). Orient will hold a 53.5% stake. Google and UK game studio Preloaded have helped develop the BBC’s new virtual reality service BBC Earth: Life in VR, which will allow Google Daydream headset users to explore natural environments inspired by the broadcaster’s hit programs Blue Planet and Planet Earth. Liberty Global’s UPC lost 51,000 TV subscribers in Switzerland in 2017 to end the year with 1.2 million TV subs, while its internet subscriber base remained flat at 749,000. Revenue grew 0.4% year on year to $1.46 billion. In the mobile segment, UPC grew…

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Arris income down, outlook optimistic as Comcast deploys Gen 2 CCAP

Business looks dandy at Arris, even with an operating loss of $10.9 million for the fourth quarter, down from $72.5 million in operating income the previous year. Finances were hit by the equipment maker’s $822 million acquisition of Ruckus Networks, which Arris claims is already contributing to results and building a platform for future growth. As revenues slipped slightly by 1% to $1.74 billion for the quarter and down 3.1% to $6.6 billion for 2017, CEO Bruce McClelland spoke about shifting to broadband in the CPE business being central to Arris’ strategy going forward, in other words moving away from legacy TV set tops. The increasing dominance of Arris in the CCAP market is expected to boost 2018 revenues along…

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RTL to unleash new SpotX on Europe, once in-house ad tech is revamped

European entertainment heavyweight RTL Group can soon begin flaunting the ad tech force at its fingertips, as the merger of SpotX and Smartclip completed this week. What makes the merger more interesting is the knowledge of RTL recently terminating its ad tech contract with OTT technology vendor Ooyala, suggesting the new outfit will first be tasked with overhauling RTL’s in-house advertising systems, before expanding the SpotX brand to broadcasters across Europe. The platform is initially being deployed at German commercial broadcaster Mediungruppe RTL Deutschland in March, supplying an all-in-one ad serving and programmatic platform for reaching various connected screens. Through RTL and Smartclip, SpotX has reportedly expanded its footprint by 40% outside of the US – but the European advertising…

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Unilever turns to IBM Blockchain tech to bring transparency

The digital advertising space has experienced a bumpy year as marketers, brands and agencies struggle to adapt to the increasingly complex world of data-driven advertising and the growing technology stacks needed to navigate it effectively. The current landscape of ad tech, dominated by programmatic solutions and sometimes opaque business practices, has proven itself prone to misfires, mistakes and a lot of outright ad fraud – not to mention growing brand safety concerns. The growing discontent among brands with digital advertising bubbled up to the surface last year at the IAB’s annual Leadership Summit, when Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard took to the stage to deliver a scathing opinion of the industry, topped with an announcement that the…

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Investors wary as Hulu losses surge, can Disney achieve the impossible?

Panic stations were triggered at Hulu last week after the true extent of cash losses were uncovered and projected out for 2018 – making for rather unnerving reading. However, perhaps the simplest way to approach the assessment of these financials is by comparing them to Netflix, which famously took a long time to reach profitability, but today is one the most valuable companies in the world. Hulu made losses of $760 million last year, rising from $531 million in 2016 and forecast to rise to $1.6 billion in 2018, according to BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield. BTIG’s projection was made after digesting results from Hulu’s four parent companies Disney, Comcast, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner, where growing losses at…

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NCTC hopes OTT distribution deals will buoy smaller operators

The National Cable Television Cooperation (NCTC) in the US is looking towards a future of OTT distribution for its tier 2 and tier 3 cable TV and broadband members. The body has struck a series of deals with OTT services that open up distribution to its 850 smaller cablecos, who are “eager” for new video products to offer to customers, according to Rich Fickle, NCTC’s president and CEO. NCTC has made three such OTT deals in the past eight months to benefit its operators, which collectively reach about 9 million subscribers in the US. The latest such deal is with CuriosityStream, a science-oriented subscription OTT service launched in 2015 by Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks. The deal was announced at…

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Breaking China: A Disney fairytale with an unhappy ending

How does a content provider break into China? Partnering with a Chinese internet titan increasingly looks like the only possible route in and a safe bet given tightening Chinese media regulations – but such a move is a gamble nonetheless. Disney found this out the hard way when its DisneyLife streaming service was booted out of China last year after just five months, when it partnered with e-commerce company Alibaba in 2015, and the US studio has been working on reaffirming its status in the country ever since – even going so far as to build a mega theme park in Shanghai. Disney is now having a second stab at OTT video in China through Alibaba’s video streaming service Youku…

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M7 finally shifts to DTH hybrid in Germany – 4 years on

M7 Group is planning a hybrid DTH OTT service in Germany, a story revealed in an interview with Broadband TV News. M7 acquired KabelKiosk from Eutelsat, a fiber delivered wholesaled white label TV service back in 2014, which at its height reached some 3.7 million homes in total. At the time, M7 execs mentioned an interest in upgrading it to a full DTH (Direct to Home satellite) service in Germany, but it has taken almost 4 years for it to materialize. M7 Group elsewhere has been a lover of the DTH model and supports services in Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and the Czech Republic and Slovakia, with a variety of business models and channel offerings over satellite and has 3.2…

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TDC trades expansion for $6.6bn – the new face of Nordic triple play

TV, broadband, telecommunications and content markets across the Nordics are in farcical states. The collapse of Modern Times Group’s merger with Danish operator TDC this week, before the ink was even dry on the initial announcement, was the latest in a spate of frantic M&A activity – which we feel is essentially all about overseas private equity firms jostling to conquer the entire Nordic region. A consortium of local pension funds and Australian investment bank Macquarie have scrambled together $6.6 billion to acquire TDC, triggering TDC to abandon its $2.5 billion bid for MTG’s Nordic broadcasting and entertainment business. Potentially providing another plot twist, Swedish telco Telia has also been investigating a takeover offer for TDC, which has actually been…

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Netflix completes “re-encoding” catalog for bandwidth efficiency

When it comes to bandwidth efficiency the big OTT streamers find themselves between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand they are under mounting pressure to deliver the best quality possible given limited bandwidth, but they have also been hounded by ISPs accusing them of swamping their networks with traffic. Netflix in particular has been at loggerheads with major broadband service providers in the US, such as Comcast and Verizon and so to an extent compressing its content into the least possible bandwidth, while maintaining the baseline quality offers an element of goodwill, as well driving competition against rivals such as Amazon, HBO and Hulu. After all, Netflix usage on its own accounts for almost 40% of…

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Chinese satellites threaten emerging markets; SES U-turns on C-band

Just days after technological sensations at SpaceX inspired us to voice a rare show of optimism for the satellite market, Northern Sky Research (NSR) goes and shoots itself in the foot by claiming Chinese firms will dominate emerging satellite markets – meaning fewer growth opportunities for the already troubled fleet operators. Chinese companies will take a larger share of the global satellite communications market and disrupt Europe and Asia, according to the report from the satellite research group. These are some of the damning conclusions for satellite fleet operators which have been talking up failsafe options in emerging countries to offset losses in Western regions. Specifically, for GEO-HTS (geostationary high throughput satellites), Chinese state-owned companies will manufacture and launch over…

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