This Week In Tech And Telco: Google’s Been Busy

Tech and telco time again! Good morning readers. Here in the UK, our long weekend and thus short work week is finally coming to an end. Have you managed to catch up on emails?

That's why Radial Path put together this weekly roundup - because we know that you're busy. Heck, we are too, so we know it's easy to miss things. Find the latest news in tech and telco here, every Friday.

Google spinoff’s drone delivery business first to get FAA approval

A spinoff of Alphabet Inc.’s Google is now the first drone operator to get government approval as an airline, an important step that legally allows it to start dropping products to customers.

The subsidiary, Wing Aviation LLC, now has the same certifications that smaller airlines receive from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation.

It will begin deliveries of small packages in two rural communities in Virginia within months, but operations will remain limited as drone regulations still don’t permit most flights over crowds and urban areas.

Google employees facing retaliation for walk out

And with good news, of course, must come bad.

Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton, two of seven Google employees who organized a mass walkout last November, say they have received retaliation for the action, which saw 20,000 Google workers briefly walk out to protest the company’s mishandling of sexual harassment claims.

Whittaker, who leads Google’s Open Research, said that after the company disbanded its external AI ethics council she was told that her role would be “changed dramatically.”

In order to stay at the company, she would have to “abandon” her work on AI ethics and the AI Now Institute, a research center she co-founded at New York University.

Stapleton, a 12-year veteran of the company, said two months after the protest she was told she would be demoted from her role as marketing manager at YouTube and lose half her reports.

After escalating the issue to human resources, she said she faced further retaliation. “My manager started ignoring me, my work was given to other people, and I was told to go on medical leave, even though I’m not sick.”

It’s one those moment when you look at something and get the impression that something’s wrong. Like you look at the sky and see your web browser on the screen of your computer ;)
Photographer: Paweł Czerwiński | Source: Unsplash

Facebook is working on a voice assistant

Facebook is working on a voice assistant to rival the likes of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.

The effort is coming out of the company’s division that works on long-term tech projects and hardware, including the company’s virtual reality Oculus headsets.

But Facebook’s assistant faces stiff competition. Amazon and Google are far ahead in the smart speaker market with 67% and 30% shares in the U.S. in 2018, respectively, according to eMarketer.

In 2015, Facebook released an AI assistant for its Messenger app called M. It was supposed to help users with smart suggestions, but the project depended heavily on the help of humans and never gained traction. Facebook killed the project last year.

Who knows when and how Facebook’s voice assistant will take off, but it’s worth paying attention to how voice will integrate past smartphones and speakers.

Samsung developing ethereum-based blockchain, may issue own token

Blockchain is back in the books! Samsung is developing its own blockchain network and eyeing the issuance of its own token further down the road.

An exclusive CoinDesk Korea report on Tuesday, citing a person “familiar with Samsung’s internal situation,” said that the company’s blockchain task force – part of its wireless division – is building a blockchain main net based on ethereum. The work, however, is still at the “internal experimental” stage.

Telco Samsung is developing its own blockchain
Photographer: Bitcoin BCH | Source: Unsplash

Huawei to build non-core 5G network

Following months of campaigning by the US for allies to block Huawei's involvement in 5G infrastructure following national security concerns, the UK government is allowing the Chinese company to build “non-core” parts of the British 5G network.

The US told allies not to use telecoms equipment maker Huawei out of concerns it could be used for Chinese spying, which Huawei has categorically denied.

The company can provide tech including antennas, according to The Daily Telegraph, but Reuters reports that access to non-core parts will be restricted.

The move comes after warnings from some UK ministers and the US over the potential impact on security cooperation.

Still have time for more telco?

  • Equinix made a small acquisition over Easter that boosts the company's European footprint with another data center in the Amsterdam. Switch Datacenters has sold its Dutch facility, AMS1, to Equinix for €30M. The data center will be renamed as AM11. becoming Equinix's 9th IBX in the Dutch capital, and its fifth in the southeastern region. (Telecom Ramblings)
  • The proportion of UK firms reporting a cyber-attack has jumped 15%, and most businesses admit they are under-prepared for breaches, according to research from Hiscox. The insurer found 55% had faced an attack in 2019, up from 40% last year. (BBC)
  • Google's submarine cable empire now hooks up another corner of the world. The company's 10,000km Curie submarine cable has officially come ashore in Valparaiso, Chile. (Telecom Asia)
  • Vapor IO and Crown Castle have jointly developed a service that seamlessly interconnects Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge with Amazon Web Services (AWS) via Crown Castle’s high-speed Cloud Connect. Technology integration and direct fiber will unlock new classes of applications, with this service enabling a new class of mobile and wireless edge applications that span the continuum from edge to core. (Capacity Media)
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