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EU Commission announces plan to establish an R&D center for internal security

Ranine Awwad

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EU Commission announces plan to establish an R&D center for internal security

The European Union Commission has announced it is considering creating a European innovation hub for internal security, according to the strategy for EU security published on July 24, 2020.

The hub will be based at Europol aiming to develop technologies with both a security and an economic benefit. “The project is still in its inception phase”, said an EU official according to Science Business. Information about staff, budget, and relation to academia and the private sector cannot be revealed now.

The European Commission has set out a new strategy for the period 2020 to 2025, focusing on priority areas where the EU can bring value to support the Member States in fostering security to all those living in Europe, according to the press release. The EU strategy focuses on Critical infrastructures, cybersecurity, terrorism, child abuse, and drugs, according to EU observer.

“From protecting our critical infrastructure to fighting cybercrime and countering hybrid threats, we can leave no stone unturned when it comes to our security”, said EU commission Vice-president Margaritis Schinas. The commission wants to increase cybersecurity efforts to respond to the increased amount of cyberattacks especially during the rollout of the critical 5G network.

The creation of a hub for internal security to enhance innovation and research comes as part of the European Union commission aiming to strengthen the Europol mandate.

In 2017, the EU spent almost €320 billion on research and development, according to Eurostat. In 2019, there were around 400 ICT projects signed for a total EU funding of approximately €2.2 billion, according to the Digital Society Index 2020.

“EU-funded security research is a key instrument to drive technology and knowledge in support of security solutions”, states the European Commission. EU leaders have already agreed to the European Defense Fund demand to get a budget of €7 billion for the next 7 years. The Digital Europe programme was allocated €6.76 billion out of the budget. Some of this amount to be spent on cybersecurity projects across member states.

Ranine joined Inside Telecom as an Investigative Journalist. Her extensive fieldwork and investigations shed light on many socio-economic issues. Over the past few years, she has transformed her key findings into in-depth analytical reports. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication.

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5G and cybersecurity challenges in the aviation sector

Ranine Awwad

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5G and cybersecurity challenges in the aviation sector

The aviation industry has become more digitalized. Thus, the dependence on technology has engendered more cybersecurity risks. In December 2018, Finland Helsinki Airport became the first 5G airport in the world. This achievement came out after a collaboration between the Swedish Telecom provider Telia and the Finnish airport operator Finavia. However, aviation cybersecurity is becoming more and more complex with emerging technologies like the 5G network, according to Security Boulevard.

The adoption of the fifth generation technology would improve the passenger’s experience. Moreover, 4G technology can manage around 10, 000 devices per square kilometre but a 5G network can manage a million, according to the National. The high-speed Internet will facilitate communication between aircraft and their ground control system. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global 5G in the aviation market size is expected to reach $4.2 billion by 2026.

With an increasing demand for connectivity, providing a 5G network at the airport becomes crucial. Finnish Telecommunications Company, Nokia, has been collaborating with Belgian mobile operator Citymesh aiming to enable the use of 5G at Brussels Airport by the end of March 2020. However, many challenges arise when talking about the deployment of the 5G network across the aviation market. ImmuniWeb report entitled “State of Cybersecurity at Top 100 Global Airports” states that “97 out of 100 world’s largest airports have security risks related to vulnerable web and mobile applications, misconfigured public cloud, Dark Web exposure or code repositories leaks”.

Airports have suffered from different cybersecurity attacks such as DDoS attacks or incidents in which hackers stole building plans and sensitive security protocols, states Trip Wire.

In 2020, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has shed light on the consideration of emerging cybersecurity challenges in the aviation industry. The report states that the aviation sector will suffer from cyberattacks amid the digitalization process. Cybersecurity threats in the aviation sector are difficult to detect and control resulting in economic losses, and negative impacts on passenger’s experience. According to ‘Building cyber resilience in airports’ report published by PA Consulting, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said that 1,000 attacks on aviation systems happen each month.

5G will increase the entry point for attackers. The UK Civil Aviation Authority CAA has launched the Assure Scheme aiming to strengthen the aviation industry’s cybersecurity resilience.

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5G subscriber growth in South Korea

Karim Hussami

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5G subscriber growth in South Korea

As long as countries improve their telecoms infrastructure and enhance their offerings in mobile services, internet and wireless, they can expect to generate more subscriptions over time.

The latest 4G and 5G networks are getting the most subscribers especially in light of plans for wider deployment. As of late, 5G mobile subscribers have exceeded 7 million in South Korea in June, according to reports.

The reason behind this rise is South Korea’s ambitious efforts to offer the fastest mobile service, which began in April last year, in parallel with the anticipated increase in the number of 5G subscriptions later this year after the launch of new phones like Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20.

As such, 10 percent of the country’s 69.6 million mobile subscriptions in total is represented in the latest figure. As shown by data compiled by the Ministry of Science and ICT, the country had 7.37 million 5G users as of June – up 493,101 from the previous month.

The government said in a statement, “Local operators had already deployed over 115,000 5G base stations across the country.”

South Korea has the highest number of broadband users today.

SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+ are Korea’s three main telecommunication companies with the first having the most 5G subscribers at 3.35 million, followed by KT Corp. at 2.24 million and LG U+ at 1.78 million.

The world’s first commercial 5G network rolled out in the country on April 3, 2019.

The three operators vowed last month to invest up to 25.7 trillion won to speed up improvements to 5G services and install a nationwide network by 2022.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic delaying telecom investment plans for the year, the steady growth in 5G users comes as the country pushes for the network’s wider deployment.

Although 5G is being implemented efficiently with these advanced services resulting in additional users, the 4G network has 55 million subscriptions and represents roughly 80 per cent of total mobile accounts.

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Videotron suspends international calls charges after Beirut explosion

Ranine Awwad

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Videotron suspends international calls charges after Beirut explosion

Lebanese citizens living in Canada will not have to worry about long-distance call charges. On August 6, 2020, Videotron, a Canadian communications company announced in a press release that it has suspended charges for calls from Canada to Lebanon until August 23, 2020. This move came to allow Videotron customers to reach out to their friends and family after the Beirut port explosion.

Videotron states that a long-distance call in Canada is free and unlimited. However, the company has several international calling plans. For calls to the Middle East including Lebanon, a Canadian Customer will pay $1.64/ minute for calls to a mobile phone, and $1.62/ minute for a call to a landline, according to Videotron website. On the other hand, the overseas long-distance calls scheme costs $5 per month. Under this option, a customer can make up to 10 minutes of calls to the Middle East.

Customers do not need to contact the company to make a free call to Lebanon. Videotron international charges to Lebanon are automatically canceled for all residential, business, and mobile accounts.

In 2019, Videotron’s total revenue was over 3.47 billion Canadian dollars. The company has already provided free services for its customers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, data caps on Videotron residential and business plans were suspended between March 13 until June 30, 2020. Furthermore Videotron suspended charges for the Daily Traveler Pass and canceled roaming charges for travelers outside Canada to help its customers until they were able to return home, according to the company’s website.

Canada has been home to many Lebanese people who decided to immigrate to secure jobs, healthcare, and a future for their children. Many Lebanese students are living in Canada to pursue their university studies. Videotron’s decision is crucial for Lebanese Canadians who are worried about their relatives after the Beirut blast that happened on August 4, 2020.

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