Tech / Telecom news — 28 Feb 2017

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Mobile competition in the US shifting fast to unlimited data plans at the moment, at least in the premium segment, with even initially reluctant AT&T improving the attractiveness of their unlimited offer, now unbundled from the DirecTV service. They just applied a -$10/month discount and included 10GB of tethering (Story)

Video

Consistent with their view of themselves as a broadband company, more than as a video business, Comcast keeps opening its Xfinity X1 platform to external parties, now including Google’s YouTube. Integration involves not only showing the app in the X1 menus, but also listing YouTube content in users’ thematic search results (Story)

In other news, YouTube is “on pace to eclipse TV”, with a 10x viewership increase since 2012 and having just crossed the threshold of 1bn video hours viewed per day (vs. 1.25bn hours for live + recorded TV). The company is linking this growth with better personalisation algorithms, “surfacing the content that each user likes” (Story)

Devices

Huawei keeps aiming to become the number 1 smartphone vendor, and is reinforcing its position in premium devices, as a way to capture share in advanced markets. So they’re now investing in Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence features, with a view of the smartphone as a personal assistant, or a “robot” (Story)

NETWORK

In its effort to “connect the unconnected”, Facebook is now planning to partner with operators Bharti Airtel and BCS in Uganda to provide fibre backhaul to operators’ base stations. Facebook plans to finance the deployment of 500 miles of fibre cable, but won’t initially be involved in providing final wireless services (Story)

Regulation

The new FCC chairman has given reasons for the coming de-regulation of net neutrality and online privacy in the US, claiming that existing rules are linked to a recent decrease in network investments, and going so far as to ask for “regulatory humility” when approaching new 5G and fibre networks (Story)

O2 UK’s CEO compared yesterday the state of fibre networks in the UK vs. Spain, increasing pressure on the British regulator to take regulatory measures to create incentives for investment. Apparently the Ofcom Chairman has recently visited Telefónica in Spain to understand Spanish regulations on this issue (Story)

BIG DATA & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

At his MWC keynote, SoftBank’s M Son played his role as the chief evangelist of the telecom industry, with claims that “super intelligence will definitely happen in the next 30 years”, with robots with “IQs up to 10,000” dramatically changing society. He also said he was focusing ARM into IoT connectivity and security (Story)

OPERATIONS

Snapchat’s parent Snap, a key innovator in social apps, with Facebook copying many of its newer features, has however a very traditional approach to management and internal operations, with no headquarters, a rather secretive CEO, and “difficult” internal communications or collaboration, according to former employees (Story)

M&A MOVES

Better perspectives for the approval of AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. In the same interview yesterday where he defended net neutrality de-regulation, the FCC Chairman also said he didn’t expect the agency to have a role in reviewing the deal, as the companies are avoiding issues that would have triggered the review (Story)