This Week In Tech And Telco: 5G For All

Hey there, welcome back to our weekly round-up of tech and telco news. My colleague refers to this as TNT [tech and telco] but also because it has 'explosive content', ayy. I've always referred to it as TWITT [this week in tech and telco], what do you think?

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More doubts about Huawei and its 5G tech

A 5G supplier from a “hostile” country could be forced by its home government to allow, if not cause, cyberattacks on the network, a European Union report has warned.

While the report did not name Chinese telecom Huawei, context would suggest a finger pointed in that direction. The US, followed by some of its allies, blacklisted the company after the White House labeled it a tool for espionage by Beijing.

Because 5G networks rely heavily on software, a major concern is that Huawei will build a back door for the Chinese government, which would leave entire countries using the 5G infrastructure at risk.

The EU Commission is expected to publish a “toolbox” of measures that member states can take to mitigate the risks, but it can’t force them to comply.

>> In other 5G news

Verizon plans to have 30 5G cities by the end of the year. “We are at 13 right now so we’re adding every week. We added New York last week. We have also updated 13 NFL stadiums with 5G and the NBA season hasn’t even started. We believe that our 5G for the consumer is just crushing it,” said Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon Communications.

>>>> More from Verizon

Verizon has used an optical sensor to collect data from in-ground fiber cables in a new proof of concent field trial.

>> More 5G...

BT's 5G is live in the UK, beating other phone networks to the punch. The 5G network brings an increase of up to 150Mbps over LTE speeds, while providing a much more reliable connection, even in busy areas.

Is 5G tech there?
Photographer: Mika Baumeister | Source: Unsplash

Are we moving forward with conversational AI?

This one can selectively ignore bits of dialogue to improve its responses.

AIs never seem to be out of the news thanks to controversial privacy policies or racial slurs, but researchers at Rasa, a startup developing a standard infrastructure layer for conversational AI, believe selective attention might play an outsized role.

They have detailed a system that selectively ignores dialogue history, enabling it to skip over responses if it doesn't directly relate to the previous utterance.

“Conversational AI assistants promise to help users achieve a task through natural language. Interpreting simple instructions like 'please turn on the lights' is relatively straightforward, but to handle more complex tasks these systems must be able to engage in multi-turn conversations,” wrote the co-authors.

“Each utterance in a conversation does not necessarily have to be a response to the most recent utterance by the other party.”

This technology could revolutionize customer service in health care, insurance, telecom, banking, and other enterprise verticals. Adobe recently used Rasa’s tools to build an AI assistant that enables users to search through Adobe Stock using natural language commands.

Just what we wanted – 5G flying bikes are here

The UAE telecom provider Etisalat shocked attendees at the GITEX Technology Week with a big unveil of a 5G flying motorbike, in efforts to boost Dubai’s autonomous vehicle strategy.

The Moto Volante flying motorcycle can convert from a regular motorbike to ‘fly mode’ in just 60 seconds – all at the click of a button.

The Dubai Government hopes autonomous vehicles will make up 25% of all transportation in the emirate by 2030, a goal Etisalat is supporting by bringing futuristic technologies from around the world to the region.

On its official Twitter account, Etisalat announced: “With an 8-cylinder engine, four jet turbines, and in just 60 seconds, you can ride Lazareth Switch from driving mode to flight mode.”

Credit: Lazareth Auto-Moto

Is Google's Waymo ready to be completely driverless?

Waymo, the autonomous vehicle branch of Google's parent company Alphabet, sent an email to customers of its ride-hailing app to let them know their next trip might not have a human safety driver behind the wheel, which is currently the case.

A copy of the email, claiming “Completely driverless Waymo cars are on the way”, was posted on Reddit.

Waymo has already been running self-driving shuttles within a geofenced area that covers several suburbs, however, they have always had a human safety driver behind the wheel. This is a pivotal moment for autonomous tech.

TikTok bans political ads

TikTok, a Beijing-based short-form video app that’s been making quite a stir over the last year, has banned political ads from its platform.

“Any paid ads that come into the community need to fit the standards for our platform, and the nature of paid political ads is not something we believe fits the TikTok platform experience,” says Blake Chandlee, TikTok’s VP of global business solutions.

“To that end, we will not allow paid ads that promote or oppose a candidate, current leader, political party or group or issue at the federal, state or local level — including election-related ads, advocacy ads or issue ads,” he says.

While the app came under fire for allegedly advancing Chinese foreign policy by censoring topics like Hong Kong’s protests and pro-LGBT content, let’s give credit where credit is due. It’s refreshing to see a tech company stand against the use of social media in election campaigns.

Other stories you shouldn’t miss

  • How is Brexit set to impact data? Despite strong data protection laws, which somewhat surpass GDPR, post-Brexit UK will be automatically considered a third country not bound by GDPR, therefore able to diverge from the regulation if parliament so decides. As a result, data from EU countries would not be able to flow freely to the UK. (WIRED)
  • The Iraqi government appeared to cut internet connectivity within the country last week, in an apparent attempt to quell protests. That came after NetBlocks reported earlier in the day that access to major social media networks Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp had been blocked. (Netblocks)
  • Snap (owners of Snapchat) CEO Evan Spiegel expects it will be ten years before consumers widely adopt augmented-reality smart glasses. (CNBC)
  • People in China applying for new mobile and data services will have to have their faces scanned by telecom providers, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said. (Quartz)
  • Half of the world’s population has no internet connection but Microsoft’s Airband initiative, which aims to get 40 million more people connected to the internet by July 2022, is expanding. The program will now focus on better internet access across Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. (The Verge)
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