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Can the roll out of 5G continue as normal in the United States?

Inside Telecom Staff

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The United States is one of the last nations to feel the full impact of the Coronavirus, which is now rapidly spreading throughout the country. There have already been substantial ramifications to the economy in general and the Dow Jones index has been down 25% since the middle of February. But will the telecoms industry be able to resist the worst of the impact?

 “We believe the telecom sector has a lower level of risk to economic pressures as a result of the Coronavirus, particularly when compared with other sectors, such as airlines, non-food retail, restaurants, lodging and leisure, automotive, and media,” said a source from Fitch Ratings.

Obviously, this lower risk is a result of the very nature of wireless services in the daily lives of consumers and payments are predictable and supported by low post-paid churn levels. Therefore, wireless phone services retain a high position in the payment priorities of consumers.

For both AT&T and Verizon, who have stronger balance sheets, the impact of free cash flow (FCF) would certainly be limited even though the rest of the industry should also be in a healthy position. A last option would be dividend cuts, however, analysts believe that this is a long shot as the industry should be in a strong enough place to continue their strategic investments in 5G networks and the necessary spending in fibre infrastructure.

One theory which currently holds true, is that connectivity contracts are likely to be one of the last bills to be cut back on. More and more people are facing lockdown and the money flowing into the telecoms industry should be sustainable (with a possibly of increase) as the internet becomes the very core of social lives and working remotely.

One thing that is worth taking into account, is that enterprise revenues have been factored into ROI calculations over the long-term. Currently, the funds for 5G pilot schemes and projects are likely to have been diverted elsewhere by enterprise organisations, however, this only becomes a physical problem for the sector if the COVID-19 crisis shows no sign of letting up and the world continues to be under strict lockdown.

One such risk, is that of a recession. Unemployment is on the rise in the US, meaning that subscriber’s churn could increase and so could defaults of payments and device financing plans. Customers on a lower income may convert post-paid accounts into pre-paid services in an effort to cut down on outgoings. All of this would inevitably result in less revenue for the industry.

Looking at this in the long term and assuming that the world returns to a kind of normality, 5G should be able to stay on track. However, this is only taking into account the financial capabilities of the telecoms companies and not the external implications.

Employees could be forced to remain at home due to illness and engineers may have to be redeployed to prioritise other projects like improving the resilience of 4G networks before supply chains are impacted. In spite of this, from a financial standpoint, the 5G roll out should continue as forecasted, but there are many factors that remain sensitive to the ever-changing situation.

We’re a diverse group of industry professionals from all corners of the world. Our desire is to provide a high-quality telecoms publication that caters to an international market, offering the latest and most relevant telecoms information to businesses, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts.

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FCC decision: A challenge for the telecom industry

Ranine Awwad

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FCC decision: A challenge for the telecom industry

“There is no reason that we should be lagging behind” tweeted President Trump about 5G. The United States has been working hard to assume its position as an international leader of 5G technology. In fact, the US has been advocating against China Telecom giant Huawei claiming that the company could create a real threat for the internet.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a key factor in the 5G policy. It aims to facilitate US leadership in the 5G technology. In 2016, the FCC rolled out the 5G Fast Plan to accelerate the deployment of high-speed broadband in rural America. “The FCC priority is making America lead the world with wireless innovation,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a video released on the FCC website. Moreover, he added, “We want the United States to be at the forefront of this innovation and that’s why the FCC is doing everything it can to encourage 5G”.

The 5G fast plan includes aims to push more spectrum into the marketplace, update infrastructure policy, and modernize outdated regulations. The FCC is also looking to transition important incumbent users in the C-band—3.7 to 4.2 GHz

On March 23, 2020, US President signed two laws designed to boost wireless and broadband networks: the Secure 5G and Beyond Act and the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act. Under the 5G Act, President Donald Trump must consult with FCC, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and other agencies to submit to Congress a plan for rolling out secure 5G. In addition, under the second law signed by Trump, the FCC has to change the kind of information to be collected so that the Federal Government has more information about where the broadband can be found.

However, on June 2, 2020, 24 Democrats members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have signed a letter asking FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to delay vote on a Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – scheduled for June 9, 2020-, which could dilute local Government’s role in 5G.

Back to April 1, 2020, the Congress has sent a letter asking to postpone and reschedule public hearings and meetings and to extend public comment by at least 45 days beyond the end of the declared national emergency. In addition, agencies were asked to extend the deadlines while still complying with statutory and judicial requirements. Congress sheds light on the right of Americans to engage in the Administrative process “The right of the Americans to meet with federal agencies and comment on proposed actions is invariably affected by the ongoing pandemic” the letter states.

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, began rolling out 5G services. However, despite all efforts from the US, it seems that 5G challenges continue.

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Fintech – Advancing financial services provide more equality and opportunity

Karim Hussami

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Fintech – Advancing financial services provide more equality and opportunity

The expanding rate of mobile phone and internet use has enabled many people to access services that help facilitate the obligations of daily life. As such, financial technology (Fintech) is being adopted and utilized at a fast rate and aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of services across the globe.

In Asia, studies show that 3 million people do not have access to the services of a bank or similar financial organization, but advanced mobile solutions and digital background have facilitated the development of alternatives. 5G technology and deployment has also accelerated the availability and equality of opportunities to access financial services.

What activities does Fintech include? Initially referring to computer technology applied to banks or trading firms, can be described nowadays as money transfers, depositing a check with your smartphone, bypassing a branch to apply for credit, raising money for a business startup and managing your investments without the help of a person.

Fintech can operate with artificial intelligence to help customers with basic tasks and keep down staffing costs, as well as fighting fraud – which has become a growing concern as of late.

When coronavirus hit the world, digital payment transaction dropped 30% owing to people accumulating cash for unexpected circumstances amid a wide lockdown.

Fintech services are helping to evolve the world of e-commerce, with smarter, faster and more secure payment platforms. As per Statista estimate, total transactions through digital payment will reach US$4,769,370m in 2020 – a year-over-year (YoY) increase of over 15%. It is important to highlight that the spread of COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst in the growth of digital payment platforms. According to a report from Digital Commerce 360, there was a 33.3% increase in the total number of online grocery orders—62.5 million in April vs. 46.9 million in March.

5G and its active use in the internet of things accelerated financial inclusion in emerging markets in Asia, therefore the unbanked and underbanked are giving more opportunities.

This advancing method of financial transactions will be backed up by the increasing number of smartphone users in Asian countries like 89.9 million in Indonesia by 2022 with penetration rate growing from 26% in 2018 to 33% in 2023.

India may expect to have 36% of smartphone users in the country by 2022 (10% more than 2018).

In addition, the commercial adoption of 5G is driven by the rise of smartphone penetration in Asia-Pacific (APAC) annually by 10.8% on average.

As a result, about 3 million of the unbanked and underbanked will get access to financial services in both Vietnam and Philippines by 2025, Indonesia will have 9-11 million and India-60 million.

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DDos: an unlawful tool used to silence activists

Inside Telecom Staff

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DDos: an unlawful tool used to silence activists

Participating in a protest and sharing your views on the Internet are considered a human right. Based on domestic law, authorities shut down the internet in order to silence protestors. However, in late May 2020, cyber-attacks were used to silence activists especially those working in anti-racism organizations.

Since George Floyd’s death, anti-racists groups and government websites have been facing cyber-attacks. Cloudflare, which blocks attacks designed to knock websites offline, said that since Floyd’s murder, there were more attacks than before.  Over the weekend of May 30/31, Cloudflare blocked 135,535,554,303 cyberattack HTTP requests. Cyberattack requests increased by 17% compared to the Weekend of April 25/26. According to Cloudflare, the most targeted website in cyber-attacks are those belonging to Advocacy groups. In April 2020, these groups did not register any attack. However, since May, each site registered 20000 requests per second. Organizations such as Black Lives Matter (BLM), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) websites were hit by cyber-attacks.

Cloudflare founded a project entitled “Project Galileo” aiming to provide protection from cyber-attacks for vulnerable targets like humanitarian organizations. The blocked cyberattack HTTP requests on US anti-racism organizations in Project Galileo showed a dramatic increase between May 29, 2020, and June 1, 2020.

On the other hand, large attacks on governmental websites were registered in the United States. Attacks on Government websites are up to 1.8x and attacks on military websites are up 3.8x month on month. Last weekend of May, the Minneapolis police department website was temporarily taken down in a suspected Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The sites were facing access problems requiring visitors to enter “captchas” verifying they were not bots.

The Hacktivist group “Anonymous” appears to have re-emerged. In fact, they have used the DDos attacks in the past. In 2008, they used this tool to knock some of “The Church of Scientology” websites offline. The disruption of the police websites came after a Facebook page claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous released a video “Message to Minneapolis Police Department” on May 28. “We are legion. Expect us,” said Anonymous. On May 31, 2020, Anonymous posted a picture on their twitter account using the hashtag #GeorgeFloydProtests. On June 2, they posted a tweet saying, “Anonymous earlier today hacked the Minnesota State Senate Website. This is a series of attacks that will keep continuing in response to #GeorgeFloyd’s death”.

Anyone can be a victim of a DDos attack and many web services are offering the tool. Sometimes, DDoS attacks are used to distract IT staff while another cybercrime such as data theft or malware injection is carried out. Jake Moore, a cybersecurity specialist at ESET said  “Such attacks can last a matter of minutes or go on for days depending on how big their egos are in terms of trying to get media attention” according to The Verdict.

Launching a DDos attack is considered a criminal offense under the 2006 amendment to the Computer Misuse Act 1990. If Anonymous is asking for justice, who is conducting cyber-attacks on anti-racism organization websites?

 

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