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Viacom/CBS talk again, as investors seek the shadowy hand of Verizon

The US media community is now starting to be seen in terms of two done deals and one that some analysts feel must get done – the AT&T purchase of Time Warner, the acquisition of Fox assets by Disney pre-Christmas, and the potential for Apple to go after or create a Netflix, a move we have already dismissed as weak, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. So now US financial analysts are looking at the deal we suggested back in late 2016, that is the merger of CBS and Viacom once more, from the businesses which separated back in 2006. But seen in the context of the AT&T deal for Time Warner, investors are more worried about AT&T’s rival…

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JEM threatens to strangle HEVC in adolescence

The future of video codecs is as uncertain as ever with little consensus emerging among vendors or service providers over which ones will prevail, at least on the distribution side. The situation has not been helped by MPEG’s own decision to proceed with a successor to HEVC even while that codec is still beset by wrangling over licensing and intellectual property. This is tantamount to an admission that HEVC’s performance improvement over its H.264 predecessor has been underwhelming in the face of unprecedented demand for encoding efficiency driven by the advent of ultra HD and proliferation of OTT services. This proposed HEVC successor called JEM (Joint Exploration Mode) arose from an evaluation team set up jointly by MPEG and the…

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Huawei’s hopes of AT&T handset deal reportedly dashed

Huawei has succeeded in taking the number one spot in the mobile infrastructure market, and third place in the smartphone space, despite being effectively barred from tier one business in the US, still the world’s second largest mobile market by revenue. If it overcame government hostility and national security fears, and gained full access to the US (and some other countries), there would be no stopping it. However, the prospect of a breakthrough device deal with AT&T, heavily reported over the holiday, has apparently fallen apart. Neither company has confirmed they were in talks but several sources have said this was the case at the tail end of 2017. If so, the failure will be a major blow. It would…

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WiFi Alliance beefs up WPA security protocols to address vulnerabilities

Technologies which run in unlicensed spectrum are always dogged by fears about privacy and security, and these will only become more critical to address, as wirelesss networks enable ever-more critical services. The WiFi Alliance has announced its latest security protocol, to improve on the capabilities of existing WPA technology and address a series of vulnerabilities in the 802.11 standards. This is the third generation of WPA (WiFi Protected Access), which was originally introduced to the 802.11 platform in its third iteration to improve on the initial, and weak, security protocol, WEP. There are four new features in WPA3, three of them targeted at both personal and enterprise networks. These are: Measures to supplement security when users have passwords over-simple passwords.…

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Apple strengthens royalty-free video codecs with support for AOMedia

Apple very quietly slipped its membership application to royalty-free video compression group the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) at the turn of the year. This is simply a practical step. It will no doubt take about five years for all devices to support AV1, for its performance claims to be borne out and for the royalty free element to be guaranteed. That means that for Apple, a company that likes to take control of all its key architectures, it is time to develop some influence in the enemy camp. It is only from inside this camp that Apple can assert its own patents in compression, but being so late into this game, we would suggest that Apple’s claim to own…

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China is running away with cellular IoT market, say three reports

Cellular IoT, the catch-all term for 2G, 3G, and 4G IoT connections, is the subject of a trio of new reports from analyst houses, and by their accounts, China is running away with the competition. With strong government support for IoT projects, as part of its ongoing industrial transformations, as well as its response to environmental challenges, China seems to be driving NB-IoT growth in a major way. Figures from Counterpoint Research note that China Mobile expected to add 100m IoT devices in 2017, and had hit 150m total by mid-year – although the Chinese MNO doesn’t breakdown the ‘smart connections’ by application or connection protocol. However, it dwarfs globally second-placed Vodafone, claiming 32% of global connections, compared to Vodafone’s…

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First fixed-mobile merger of 2018 as Tele2 Sweden buys Com Hem

The first case of European consolidation in 2018 has already emerged, as Swedish mobile operator Tele2 announced a $3.3bn takeover of cable TV and broadband provider Com Hem. A mega triple play operator will be born through the merger, putting pressure on incumbent MNO Telia and cable TV rivals TeliaSonera and Telenor’s Canal Digital – in a country renowned for its exceptional broadband speeds. Com Hem has invested significantly in network infrastructure in recent years and also bolstered its TV and fiber to the home opportunities by acquiring Boxer less than two years ago, as well as embracing multiscreen and IP with open arms, which has transformed the company’s TV fortunes. The cable provider has long been looking for a…

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Sharp and Japan Display may join forces in OLED challenge to Samsung

The long saga of the rescue of ailing Japanese electronics vendor Sharp ended in summer 2016, making its majority shareholder Foxconn. The Taiwanese manufacturer defeated a proposal, in late 2016, for Sharp to be merged with Japan Display to create a united Japanese front against the mighty South Korean display and chip suppliers, and the emerging giants of China. However, that Japanese group may still materialize in the crucial area of OLED screens, since Sharp and Japan Display are looking to work together to challenge the leadership of Samsung and LG, according to reports from Taiwan. If true, the alliance’s timing probably relates to Apple’s conversion from advanced LCD screens, to OLED displays, for the high end iPhones. Japan Display,…

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Softbank and Xiaomi may seek IPOs this spring

Two of the companies which have emerged from Asia to move the goalposts in the mobile industry, Softbank of Japan and Xiaomi of China, are both considering IPOs (initial public offerings). Softbank could be set for an $18bn IPO value if it goes ahead with reported plans to spin off its domestic telecoms units as a separate entity, thereby offering about 30% of its shares to the market. In a statement to the Tokyo stock exchange, Softbank said: “We are always studying various capital strategy options. The listing of Softbank Corp. shares is one such option, but no decision has been made to officially proceed with this course”. However, some analysts expect the IPO to be launched as early as…

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T-Mobile USA announces NB-IoT tariffs, but LoRa is undaunted

The world of low power wide area networks (LPWANs) has started the year in turmoil. T-Mobile USA has become the latest in a very short line of operators to reveal national pricing schemes for these services, bringing a small dose of clarity to a very immature business model. Other operators are still focusing heavily on unlicensed spectrum options like LoRa, which is being expanded significantly by Proximus in Belgium. But another cheerleader for unlicensed LPWAN, Sigfox, has started 2018 with major cutbacks and question marks over its future. In the US, T-Mobile announced the country’s first Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) service plan for low power connected devices. Consumers can access the network – which is deployed on existing LTE infrastructure and spectrum…

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Sprint CTO describes “bridge to 5G”, cold on mmWave spectrum

Sprint CTO John Saw has thrown cold water, again, over the hype about millimeter wave spectrum for 5G. With Verizon and AT&T vying to be first to deploy 5G (initially for fixed wireless) in high frequency spectrum, Sprint is focusing on its biggest asset – its plentiful holdings of midband spectrum in 2.5 GHz. The US operator was crowing recently when the 3GPP adopted its 2.5 GHz band – which it already uses for high capacity LTE – as an official spectrum option for 5G New Radio (NR). This gives Sprint the chance to refarm 2.5 GHz spectrum in future for 5G, and to make use of some of the airwaves which are currently unused. At the Citi conference in…

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Airtel uses CloudAIR across three RATs, in a precursor of future networks

The next generation of wireless technologies will require creative approaches to spectrum. Each radio upgrade brings diminishing leaps in terms of mobile performance and so it becomes more important to be able to harness more spectrum, and use what is already available more efficiently. That will involve many techniques in 4G expansion and 5G, some of them being developed in the 3GPP standards process, some emerging from individual vendors. The table summarizes the main options which will be available to MNOs in the coming years. Some of these solutions, including full duplex and advanced cognitive radio, are still in their infancy, but other emerging techniques are immediately usable and, initially at least focused on existing and even legacy technologies. Huawei’s…

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Operators try to keep control of edge compute momentum ahead of 5G

Deutsche Telekom is to place its edge compute activities in their own unit, to be branded MobiledgeX. This is just the latest announcement from an operator which is hoping to ride on the tide of interest in edge computing to support new revenues and business relationships. But as we have argued before, this can be a double-edged sword for operators. While ETSI’s Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) architecture has strong telco roots (and was originally mobile-specific), other edge compute platforms clearly envisage enterprises or cloud providers having the upper hand in the value chain. The rise of the connected edge will support the distribution of cloud services and content closer to the user. This will be important to reduce strain on…

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CES: Qualcomm’s RF360 progress shows how it can defy Broadcom

Any company which has previously struck gold by focusing primarily on the cellular market now needs to move beyond that as quickly as possible. Nokia, MediaTek, even Apple are feeling the strain of the slowdown in revenue growth in mobile networks and devices. Perhaps the most vulnerable has been Qualcomm – so dominant in chips and patents, it had the furthest to fall, and its past few years have been heavily driven by the need to extend its engineering and licensing expertise to new sectors. At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, it was talking up the successful aspects of those efforts, even under the shadow of a hostile takeover bid from Broadcom. Indeed, one of the…

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Rethink IoT News ATW 193: 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 // AVX has acquired Ethertronics, a maker of antenna systems, for $142m, including $8m in debt. The all-cash deal see AVX focus on expanding IoT, defense, and aerospace offerings. Context Labs has acquired IoT ImpactLABS, hoping to add ImpactLabs’ proof-of-concept production plant to Context’s Immutably blockchain-based supply chain platform. // Forecasts, Surveys. Reports, and Blue-Sky Thinking // Cellular IoT subscriptions grew 56% in 2017 to reach 647.5m, according to Berg Insight, which expects that figure to reach 1bn by the end of 2018, and 2.7bn in 2022. // Hardware // CEVA has launched its ClearVox…

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UPC Romania

Liberty Global’s UPC Romania is the second largest cable operator in the country. Its TV Everywhere service Horizon Go has been available in Romania since November 2014.   Operations and figures: UPC has 1.28 million video subscribers in Romania, with a net gain of 7,500 subs in Q3 2017, but just 663,400 of these are enhanced video users, while 355,000 are DTH and 263,000 basic. There are also 568,700 UPC internet subscribers in Romania. CEE revenue grew 5% in Q3 2017 to €1.96 billion, while operating income declined 3% to €144 million. Technology suppliers: Liberty Global uses Envivio encoders, and Horizon TV uses Cisco Snowflake UI and in-house designed middleware. thePlatform MPX system is used for content management and Metrological…

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UPC Polska (Poland)

UPC is the largest cable TV operator in Poland and is owned by Liberty Global. The Horizon TV service and set top launched in Poland in January 2015, along with Horizon Go multiscreen and Liberty Global’s SVoD service MyPrime.   Operations and figures: UPC’s strongest Horizon TV additions came in Poland with 63,000 in Q3, bringing its total video subscriber base to just over 1.2 million, 1 million of which are enhanced. It also has 1.1 million internet subs and 4,300 on mobile, down 300 for the quarter. CEE revenue grew 5% in Q3 2017 to €1.96 billion, while operating income declined 3% to €144 million. Technology suppliers: Liberty Global uses Envivio encoders, and Horizon TV uses Cisco Snowflake UI…

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Semtech unveils new LoRa chip, looking to sew up LPWAN market

LoRa-owner Semtech has announced a new reference design for its LPWAN technology, claiming ultra-low power consumption, smaller form factors and longer range wireless connectivity – which could help LoRa proponents enable new use cases for the technology. Semtech claims that LPWAN is going through a major shift, from trials to large scale deployments in smart cities, buildings, healthcare, logistics, and agriculture – more mature and advanced chipsets will be required to serve these large volume orders. On that note, Semtech has recently said that it has doubled LoRa revenue to $50m, and expects to exceed $100m in 2018. The new LoRa radio extends the technology’s link budget by 20%, with a 50% reduction in receiver current (to 4.5mA) – meaning…

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Sigma unveils new Z-Wave chips, jumps to ARM, claims big improvements

In the midst of its acquisition by Silicon Labs, Sigma Designs has taken the wraps off of its new 700-Series Z-Wave chips. With heaps of smart home devices being unveiled at CES, Sigma is hoping to push its new silicon’s capabilities into a growing ecosystem that seems to finally be ready to take off. Z-Wave’s chief rival Zigbee shows no signs of going anywhere, but it has been a very notably quiet CES for Thread – though it might still be too early to pass judgment on the newest mesh networking rival, Bluetooth Mesh. The most notable new Z-Wave feature is the claimed ten-year battery life, for devices sending up to ten messages per day, using a coin-cell battery. For…

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CES Automotive roundup: Samsung, Intel, Ford, Qualcomm, Toyota, Amazon

CES 2018 was packed with new deals and products in the automotive sector. Autonomous driving has once again seen a host of announcements, particularly in terms of real-time mapping, while multiple proponents of Cellular-Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X) have used the show to release their plans for the technology. Here is a rundown of the most notable automotive news from the show so far. Samsung reveals Drvline platform, C-V2X telematics box: Samsung has revealed DrvLine, a modular hardware and software-based platform for autonomous driving. Samsung is claiming that the biggest selling point of DrvLine is that it is an open platform, meaning that OEMs will be able to decide precisely which hardware and software they wish to incorporate in their autonomous…

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