There have been a number of interesting telecom developments over the last week. Business technology journalist Antony Savvas takes a closer look.
The number of business activities at the edge continues to increase today thanks to the growing Internet of Things (IoT) and the global rollout of 5G.
BT has now announced a “multi-million pound investment” to offer its UK business customers 5G and 4G mobile edge computing services in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS).
The initiative combines AWS Wavelength cloud processing offering with BT’s EE cellular network to power not only business analytics and commerce, but also autonomous vehicles, cameras for police and other public services to protect communities, live media production for Outside broadcasts and intelligent industrial robots and remote community health care.
AWS Wavelength embeds cloud compute and storage services on 5G and 4G networks, providing mobile edge computing infrastructure for ultra-low latency applications. Hosting services right at the edge of EE’s UK network will reduce delays by allowing application traffic to reach servers running in an AWS Wavelength Zone without leaving BT’s network.
“This opens up a mobile edge computing infrastructure for enterprises to securely develop, deploy and scale mobile IoT applications over BT’s existing 5G network,” the two partners said.
The move is part of the telco’s effort to also get more out of its network, after spending megabucks on securing 4G and 5G spectrum over the years. Having previously committed to a ‘cloud-first’ strategy, BT is targeting £2bn (€2.27bn) of annual cost savings by the end of FY24, making the move to AWS a good one fits.
Other telcos are, of course, exploring similar new service measures to get the most out of their networks. The cloud hyperscalers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are knocking on their door to help, while at the same time getting closer to their own existing and potential new customers via the telco edge.
BT is initially turning on a new AWS Wavelength Zone in Manchester, North West England, which will run trials for businesses and public sector organizations within a 100km radius, including major cities such as Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield. BT then intends to roll out AWS Wavelength to business customers across the UK.
“By building cloud edge services into our 5G and 4G EE network, we can accelerate cross-industry innovation and bring fast and secure computing closer to where our business and wholesale customers need it most,” says Alex Tempest , Managing Director of BT Wholesale .
Last week, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew attended a US Congressional hearing to answer questions from politicians, some of whom are calling for the social media platform to be banned in the US. They allege that the company’s owner, ByteDance, is accountable to the Chinese government, which may obtain US citizens’ personal information and also use the platform to spread misinformation to US citizens.
However, the head of TikTok struggled, stating he was a Singaporean citizen, served in the Singapore Army, went to college in London and the US, and was married to a US citizen, and he also confirmed details of Project Texas. As a result, US citizens’ TikTok data is now stored exclusively on segmented and protected servers managed by Oracle in Texas, with no potential access at all to the Chinese government, he claims.
However, that wasn’t good enough for some of his questioners, who claimed that the feeds provided by TikTok were poisoning young people’s minds with articles related to self-abuse and suicide.
When Shou Zi Chew took the witness stand, it was revealed that the parents of a boy who allegedly took his own life after watching TikTok clips were present at the hearing and subsequently sued the company.
On February 18, 2022, Chase Nasca, 16, of Suffolk County, New York, died after walking in front of a train.
The lawsuit, filed in New York State Superior Court, alleges that TikTok Chase “deliberately sent more than 1,000 videos that promoted suicide, hopelessness, and self-harm” in order to maximize its engagement on the platform, “which leading to higher advertising revenue for TikTok”.
TikTok did not select this “deadly content” for Chase based on his search history or the TikTok creators he followed. Instead, TikTok simply selected the footage and sent it straight to its “For You” page.
“We’re trying to blame TikTok for engaging in dangerous and harmful practices that put our children at risk of self-harm, all in the name of ‘engagement’ to increase their advertising revenue,” says Matthew Bergman, Founding attorney for the Social Media Victims Law Center, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Chase’s parents.
“On the Chinese version of TikTok, minors are limited to 45 minutes online per day and are directed to science experiments, museum exhibits, and patriotic and educational videos,” Bergman adds. “While the US government has focused primarily on protecting our national security, it needs to focus more on protecting our nation’s children.”
Chase went to the gym and worked out, then stopped at the train tracks on his way home. Chase texted his friend on Snapchat, “I can’t take it anymore,” and was hit by a moving train.
The arguments surrounding the addiction techniques built into social media; the debates about the power and control Big Tech has over business and culture; and the largely unproven claims that governments plan to spy on citizens of other countries on an industrial scale using everyday technology; are negative enough for the communications industry, but the case of Chase Nasca and others like him could potentially be even more damaging.
BlackBerry, now a specialist provider of security and IoT products and services, has struck a deal to sell most of its non-core patents and patent applications to Malikie Innovations, a newly formed subsidiary of Key, for up to $900 Patent Innovations, sell million (836 million euros).
These patents relate to the technology that made BlackBerry the leader in datacom phones until the iPhone came along. The fact that someone is paying so much for patents that are no longer used by any BlackBerry phone on the market shows that parts of the technology are still being used by other products and will be useful to others in the future.
BlackBerry’s demise is a good example of how a company can suffer from the overconfidence that comes from its success, by turning a blind eye to potential competition and simply suffering from the stupidity of its executives. All of this is laid out in the excellent 2015 book on BlackBerry entitled Losing the Signal, written by some of Canada’s leading business journalists.
Now BlackBerry is getting the dramatized movie treatment, with a movie due out in May covering the whole very ugly story set out in the book. Having seen the very funny trailer of “BlackBerry” following its performance at the recently held Berlin International Film Festival, I am excited for its theatrical release.
The author is Antony Savvas, a global freelance business technology journalist.
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