Globe Telecom, one half of the Philippines’ telco duopoly, held its first Wonderful Wold with Globe event last June 24. And on the sidelines of the evening’s program that saw Netflix, Sports Illustrated, and Turner Broadcasting, among others, joining Globe’s growing list of content partners, we spoke with Globe chief advisor Dan Horan about data capping, expanding fiber-internet service in the Philippines, what the Netflix partnership will look like and mean for customers, and his company’s evolution into a content provider.
Spoiler alert: Data capping — two words you should never ever say to an avid internet user — is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Or at least as far as Globe’s mobile and broadband services are concerned. On a more positive note, Horan hinted at the likelihood that data rates would drop over time.
This interview has been edited and shortened for clarity.
GadgetMatch: You introduced several new content partners this evening. How will your expanded list of streaming services affect your data-capping scheme?
Dan Horan: Obviously, over time content changes. Now, we’re seeing lots of on-demand videos. As you know, we just launched a partnership with Netflix.
One of the things that’s really important is that we’re continuously building our networks to allow services to truly operate well. Earlier, you saw speeds of up to 100Mbps, which is more than enough for video services. We’re also building our WiFi networks. In many shopping malls, you see our up-to-100Mbps WiFi connections. We offer those connections for free, and not just to Globe customers. We’re also building our broadband network, which is physically the hardest because you have to go from house to house.
All of those have different cost structures and different capabilities, and they cost a lot of money. The investment in San Miguel Corporation alone cost us three quarters of a billion U.S. dollars. As much as I would love to offer our carrier services for free, we do need to recover some money. So it’s a delicate balancing act between making our shareholders happy and getting content in the hands of consumers affordably and fast.
You’ll see over the next few months that we will start to introduce more and more data options. And in the coming years, we will be adjusting our packages and prices to allow the Filipino community to get as much content as we can give them.
Fiber expansion is a topic of interest among internet users in the country. What are your plans for the future?
We have so many new things coming. One of the things we’re working on right now is that we’re putting future builds on our website to give you an idea when fiber will be available in your area. We also have $60 million in terms of upgrades happening on a lot of existing infrastructure as we speak.
Binondo is a good example, where we installed fiber everywhere. So if you want gigabyte speeds in that area, we can give it to you finally. I can also tell you that we have a big investment right now, and within the next three or four months, you’re gonna be seeing a lot of new locations that we’ll be upgrading with fiber. In Quezon City, there will be a lot of locations.
Netflix mentioned earlier that Globe is its first partner in the Philippines. How will the deal impact consumers?
So we signed an exclusive agreement with Netflix. And what that means is that customers will soon start to see services from Globe and Netflix that won’t be available anywhere else. It will be a mixture of both content and streaming packages. I can’t be more specific, but you’ll start to see things that are currently not available in the Philippines.
Let’s talk about Globe’s transformation into an entertainment company. Is this the next crucial step for your company?
Absolutely. We don’t treat ourselves as a telco anymore. I don’t think anybody mentioned megabytes or gigabytes or things of that nature tonight. You saw stories, you saw emotions, you saw brands that bring content to life. For us, those brands go hand-in-hand with our networks. The two have to work together.
With Globe Studios (which will produce original films and shows for the company), for example, we have the ability to make our own content, which we couldn’t have done before, and deliver it to anyone, anytime, anywhere. For me, that’s where we start to think of things from a lifestyle perspective.
A big question is where Globe Studios will put the content it creates. Will it only be available on Globe portals?
No, not at all. What’s great is that we can put the content in different platforms. We can put it in the cinema, and take it from cinema to subscription and so forth. The others we can upload to YouTube; some we can put in services like Astro, HOOQ, and Netflix. What Globe Studios gives the Filipino community is a platform to create content and monetize it internationally. If we have something that’s marketable worldwide, then why not?
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Cybersecurity threats to lookout for in 2021 and beyond
Threats to intelligent edge computing and 5G-enabled devices will increase
Researchers from Fortinet have identified several cybersecurity threats for 2021 that will greatly impact both the consumer and enterprise sector. By 2021, cybersecurity threats on intelligent edge computing and 5G-enabled devices will double as most companies continue to implement remote working schemes.
A new wave of cybersecurity threats will also arise due to advances in computing. These threats have the potential to disrupt a large number of businesses and consumers in the future. Thus, preparation and eventual mitigation are key to stemming the potential disruption by these threats.
Threats on the intelligent edge are on the rise
Intelligent edge computing is more popular than ever thanks to remote work with most employees making use of personal and interconnected devices to access the company network. However, intelligent edge computing presents new threats as cybercriminals exploit these “edges” (i.e. connected IoTs, personal devices) thanks to a decentralized approach by companies.
These threats can run the gamut from ransomware to malware. As intelligent edge computing booms, cybercriminals can specifically target edge devices with malware that could disrupt corporate networks. They can design malware that could understand usage patterns, adapt accordingly, and attack networks with little to no risk of suspicion. Moreover, sophisticated malware may spread through networks to propagate additional attack commands or disrupt more networks and devices.
Ransomware on the rise
This 2021, consumers and businesses should be more concerned with social engineering-based attacks and ransomware. One of the most common forms of social engineering-based attacks is phishing. In phishing, cybercriminals send fake emails supposedly from legitimate entities coercing users into sending their personal information. For example, a user may receive a fake bank email notice warning of impending account closure but contains malicious links instead.
These attacks may even lock users from their personal data, holding them hostage until they pay a hefty amount of cash. Ransomware attacks do just that, affecting not only consumers but also the enterprise sector. As more businesses rely on edge devices for critical operations, the potential for a future ransomware attack rises significantly posing more risks than ever before.
Human lives are also at stake with ransomware attacks that blow out of control. An example of this happened last year when several hospitals across the US were hit by a variant of the Ryuk ransomware. As a result, several hospitals have to transfer their patients to other facilities since their systems cannot perform patient monitoring and other critical operations.
Advances in crypto mining and attacks on satellite-based networks
Bringing artificial intelligence and machine learning could also open up advances in crypto mining. While not inherently bad, cybercriminals can infect consumer devices more easily and gain access to system resources. When abused, crypto mining could potentially impact any device and affect users’ experience.
Meanwhile, network operators should prepare for more advanced attacks as they become reliant on satellite-based systems. Cybercriminals could infect a satellite base station and propagate malware to connected devices. Satellite-based networks could become a conduit for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks in this way.
As an example, a cybercriminal could hijack a base station and inject scripts into other devices. In turn, infected devices could run malicious commands that could disrupt the connection of other networks.
Quantum computing, preparing for present and future threats
Quantum computers are the next big thing in computing, relying on qubits instead of the traditional binary bit present in all devices today. Research in quantum computing has made significant progress over the years, with working quantum computers not too far on the horizon.
Quantum computers, however, could also pose a new problem in the future. In the future, these can break traditional encryption algorithms rendering encryption moot. Fortinet advises businesses to adapt accordingly by using the principles of crypto agility.
In the meantime, businesses can readily adapt to these threats through a careful combination of technology, people, training, and partnerships. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are also key technologies for preparing against and mitigating future cybersecurity threats. Businesses can train AI to spot attack patterns and identify threats even before they become a reality.
Partnerships are also vital in stemming the tide against cybercriminals. The enterprise sector, for example, could partner with law enforcement agencies for information sharing and dismantling of malicious networks.
Cybersecurity threats are here to stay
Connected devices have transformed society by enabling instant communication and richer user experiences. However, it also opens up new threats from cybercriminals willing to exploit and gather sensitive data.
There’s an old adage that says that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The same adage applies all the more in cybersecurity. Threats are here to stay, so consumers and businesses should prepare and mitigate potential impacts as much as possible. Thankfully, it is easy to stay safe and protected by following best practices.
Google completes acquisition of Fitbit despite antitrust probes
EU has approved the deal though
Fitbit is a household name in the fitness tracking segment, and Google is among the world’s most famous websites. The two giants are now closer than ever since Google has finished the acquisition of Fitbit for US$ 2.1 billion.
However, the acquisition is still under investigation from the US Department of Justice over anti-competition and anti-trust charges. The Department of Justice said, “it has not reached a final decision about whether to pursue an enforcement action.”
In response, Google says, “it complied with the DOJ’s extensive review for the past 14 months, and the agreed-upon waiting period expired without their objection.”
Thankfully, Google won an EU antitrust approval last month for its bid after agreeing to restrictions on using customers’ health-related data. The Fitbit deal could have potentially given Google access to a huge amount of data. But Google has agreed not to use users’ health and location data for advertising.
In a blog published this week, Google outlined how it would protect users’ data, saying its purchase was “about the devices, not the data.” Google has also agreed that Fitbit data will sit alone, virtually quarantined, away from the marketing business.
Fitbit users will be able to continue connecting to third party services. If they prefer another health app, they will still have an option to connect their Fitbit account.
Samsung boss has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison
For bribery charges four years ago
Despite its clout in the smartphone industry, Samsung certainly has one of the most controversial corporate structures out there. For years, the company’s heir apparent, Lee Jae-yong has been stuck in an endless controversy over bribery charges. Now, despite a huge public apology, the Samsung boss has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.
Almost four years ago, Lee was indicted for bribing the South Korean president’s office to facilitate his inheritance of the entirety of Samsung. At the time, Lee’s father was still alive and acting as the head of the business. He died in October 2020, leaving behind his company and a US$ 21 billion inheritance.
Lee left prison shortly pending a retrial. During the period, he issued a public apology for his charges. It wasn’t enough as the retrial found him guilty once again. This time, Lee is behind bars for two and a half years.
Though the move will surely cause a bit of disarray, Samsung is currently doing well on its own. The company recently launched the Galaxy S21 series, starting the year off with a bang. Still, the company is still finding a way to move forward without a potential head honcho waiting in the wings.
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