Opinion: Universities need more company research money, not less

NYU Wireless funders 230Some of the very best ideas in telecom go nowhere because it’s so hard to get funding. A world-renowned researcher struggled recently although his ideas were endorsed by some of the best in the business. (I think that’s solved.) The U.S. is paying a very heavy price for letting Bell Labs go and not requiring the remaining companies to invest in research. 

Fortunately, many of the top Professors have found corporate funding for their research. Gerhard Fettweis is Vodafone Professor at the University of Dresden. NYU Wireless, probably the world’s leading 5G center, has 16 funders in the picture at left. Nokia sponsors their Brooklyn 5G conference, the best of the year.

Some China fearing Congressmen want to knock Huawei off that list because they are Chinese. Huawei now spends more on R & D then the next three telecom suppliers combined. They are the world leaders in several areas of telecom technology, so they bring expertise as well as technology. Huawei provides support to almost every major academic research center. I visited many, and the Huawei support has made a difference.

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Bitcoin finds a use: Helping Iran avoid U.S. sanctions

Vint Blockchain 230Bitcoin’s unreal hype has obscured that it is mostly used to facilitate drug deals, ransomware, tax evasion, and even the occasional murder for hire. After the 60% price drop, demand for bitcoin mining gear has fallen so much TSMC has to lower sales estimates for 2018. (That’s good news for telecom. Qualcomm and probably others are close to going into production on 5G chips at TSMC. But Apple has bought up so much of TSMC’s 7 nm capacity that chip quantities could be severely limited until well into 2019 unless TSMC demand drops.)

Now, Austrian Ambassador in Tehran Stefan Scholz has suggested it could be a powerful boost to the European intent to bypass the U.S. economic blockade. That could provide demand for $billions of bitcoins.

Financial Express quotes Scholz, “One of the ways for safeguarding European interests in Iran is to tap the digital payment methods and cryptocurrency channels.” He added, unorthodox and innovative measures” were being considered to allow banking transactions to continue. We are all in this together, since the EU is facing a net loss of 10 billion euros ($11.7 billion) in lost trade with Iran next year.”

Blockchain is potentially good stuff, routing around institutions in a sometimes useful way.

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Apple & 100 mobile phone factories supporting Made in India

India mobile phones Economic Times IDCApple sales in India are down 30% this year. ET has a good write-up. India now has the second largest smartphone market in the world. They don’t want all the profits and jobs going to Chinese and Koreans. India is using 20% tariffs to encourage, “Make in India.” The first factories are mostly simple assembly, but India has a plan to rapidly increase local content as well. Samsung has just opened a $107M plant.

The emerging Indian phone market was devastated the last few years by lower-priced Chinese companies. Three of the top five mobile brands in 2015, but aggressive Chinese competitors and a quick shift to 4G  knocked them out of the running.  Apple has been demanding huge giveaways from the Indian government before starting manufacturing. “We’re Apple. India needs us.” India refused, and Xiaomi & Vivo have been grabbing the market. Apple probably still makes the best phones in the world, but half a dozen others are so close the functional differences are trivial.

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India’s TRAI: All your data are belong to you

For Google, Facebook, & phone companies, the regulator offers a clear statement: “Each user owns his/ her personal information/ data collected by/ stored with the entities in the digital ecosystem. The entities, controlling and processing such data, are mere custodians and do not have primary rights over this data.” This applies to “all entities in the digital ecosystem, which control or process their personal data.”

Potentially important, “The Right to Choice, Notice, Consent, Data Portability, and Right to be forgotten should be conferred upon the telecommunication consumers.” Data Portability is crucial to any large-scale challenge to Facebook’s near monopoly, althought that remains a difficult task.

TRAI  other sensible suggestions include:

“It should have provisions for revoking the consent, at a later date, by users.”

“Multilingual, easy to understand, unbiased, short templates of agreements/ terms and conditions be made mandatory.”

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Newsbreak: CTO Steve Unger leaving OFCOM

OFCOM logo 230Steve has earned respect for OFCOM’s technology ability. He’s leaving after 18 years, some of which he spent as acting CEO. Previously, he had been a world-class Astronomer and part of the boom time startup scene. He may be heading for business; his Linkedin now says, “I am looking for a new role where my skills and experience will let me make a difference.” Sounds like he doesn’t intend to become a lobbyist, like so many here in the U.S. Steve writes, “I really don’t know what I’m going to do next. I never planned to become a regulator, but I ended up really enjoying my time at Ofcom. So it will be interesting to see what turns up!”

Under Unger, OFCOM has done advanced work in spectrum sharing and network measurement. 

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