Enterprise

Trade war: How the US played its trump card wrong

The dragon is no longer sleeping

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The US and China are embroiled in a trade war and the last few months have witnessed unprecedented escalation from both sides. Tensions between the two countries are ongoing and virtually two power blocs have been created. The conflict has also changed everyone’s outlook on technology forever.

US President Donald Trump banned American companies from working with Huawei, one of China’s largest technology companies. This meant Huawei could no longer use American technology, including Android. Thankfully, an interim resolution lets Huawei transact with American counterparts right now.

However, this was a blaring reminder for China. It depends too much on the US for technology and this needs to end. For two power blocs, interdependence isn’t an option. And the US played its trump card at the wrong time, in a wrong way.

Trade war affecting free flow of tech

Technology has been freely flowing since the inception of the Internet. Everyone has been connected to a neutral medium of communication except for a few countries. The flow of information has been so fast, yet transparent. Adding to this, open-source has been a boon for everyone since technology is never restricted and everyone gets a chance to experience it.

Even if a service or product is proprietary, companies have been quick to monetize it via licensing. There are apps that are built in one country and used by citizens of another country that’s thousands of miles away. In a nutshell, we’ve always imagined modern or digital technology to be easily transferable.

But, the US proved it can stop this flow of sanctions or bans, only to reverse the decision. We can call this saber-rattling. They wanted to serve a warning and the message has been received. However, China also realized one thing, it needs to become truly independent.

China’s alternatives

The Chinese internet is different from the rest of the world’s internet. It’s guarded by a nation-wide firewall and heavily censored by the state. A few services like Google and Facebook aren’t available. This has already made way for homegrown alternatives like Baidu, Weibo, and WeChat.

Now, Huawei is gearing up for the worst. It accelerated work on its own operating system, HarmonyOS. It’s expected to roll-out slowly in the coming quarters. In a bid to challenge Google Maps, they’re also planning to unveil a mapping service known as Map Kit.

Every Chinese company would be scrambling to create a backup plan, preparing for the worst. In the short term, they’ll suffer due to sudden shortcomings. But in the longer run, the US loses its leverage.

The ban is bad for progress

The US government’s ban on Huawei is ill-timed. The company is a leader in 5G deployment due to its patents and manufacturing ability. The world needs Huawei to effectively deploy the next standard of wireless communication. If the US wants its allies to avoid Huawei, alternatives need to be available, and that’s not the case.

Even US companies aren’t very fond of getting dragged in the trade war. Trump agreed that tariffs on China will hamper Apple’s ability to compete with Samsung. Not to forget all the revenue US companies lose after sanctions are applied or the Chinese develop their own alternative.

Other countries also have only two options — get in line with the US or develop its own cushion. A territorial divide has also prompted countries like India to lobby for data localization. In case relations turn sour tomorrow, how much control do you want to give others?

These questions and hypothetical scenarios are often considered to be an exaggeration. And I don’t blame them. But the US could’ve used this trump card later, actually benefiting from it.

Enterprise

Globe launches network upgrade to improve connectivity by 2021

The telco is building more cell sites and rolling out fiber cable upgrades

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During the 2020 State of the Nation Address, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte urged telcos to improve their service as most Filipinos work or learn from home. Now, Globe is embarking on its largest network upgrade to keep up with growing demands for a reliable and faster Internet connection.

A three-pronged strategy for Globe network upgrade

As part of its upgrade, the telco has laid out a three-pronged strategy to improve connectivity for customers. The first part of the strategy is building more cell sites throughout the Philippines. The telco is working with different government sectors to make this possible. Through the support of the Anti-Red Tape Authority and Bayanihan 2, the process of obtaining permits to build cell sites is much faster and simplified.

This simplified process enabled Globe to construct 900 cell sites alone in 2020. The telco obtained 190 permits from 80 local government units, making key upgrades in several areas of Visayas and Mindanao possible. It has also built 32 new towers in several barangays across Quezon City.

The second part of Globe’s strategy is diversifying 4G frequencies for increased frequency and speed. Through this, more Filipinos can now enjoy faster 4G speeds and coverage anywhere in the country.

The final part of Globe’s strategy is intensifying its fiberization efforts nationwide. The telco is upgrading its old copper cables to newer fiber optic cables. A rollout of fiber lines happened in key areas of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Batangas, Cebu, and Davao del Sur within the span of eight months.

Overall, the rollout represented a full 51.4% increase over its 2019 fiberization efforts. By now, the telco is in the process of migrating customers from copper lines to fiber.

Moving to 5G

Globe is also busy rolling out next-generation 5G networks across the country. Recently, it expanded the reach of its 5G network to nine more cities within Metro Manila. The network expansion follows the initial rollout that happened in busy commercial districts such as Makati, Ortigas, and Bonifacio Global City.

Globe hopes to complete its network upgrade by 2021. It has already spent a considerable amount of money on undertaking this huge initiative. Hopefully, the promise of the better connection surfaces as the new year begins. After all, the Internet in the Philippines remains one of the slowest in Asia.

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Enterprise

Intel can legally supply Huawei with chips

Application approved

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Since last week, Huawei can no longer legally work with American companies or companies using American technologies. As such, the Chinese company is in total survival mode, stockpiling supplies to mitigate the losses. However, outside of their control, other companies are also working to restore balance to Huawei’s businesses. For one, Intel can legally supply Huawei with chips starting today.

Since the start of the Huawei debacle, barred companies can continue operations with Huawei through a government-sanctioned operating license. To get one, the companies must still apply for one. And the government hasn’t exactly rushed to approve applications.

Now, Intel’s application has officially passed approval from the government, according to a Reuters report. With the license, the chipmaking company can legally ship components for Huawei. The approval might help Huawei fill its stockpile for near-future smartphones or even find a permanent supplier for the long run.

Besides Intel, other component companies have also applied for similar licenses. Currently, China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation is pending approval to continue business with Huawei. According to another report, Qualcomm has also applied for such a license.

Without a doubt, component companies are also feeling the sting of Huawei’s ban. Though Intel received its approval, the successes of other companies are still shrouded in mystery. At this point, no one knows how the Huawei debacle will finally end.

SEE ALSO: Huawei Store is your one-stop shop for everything Huawei

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Enterprise

Facebook took down pro-China, pro-Duterte accounts

Reportedly China-sponsored and inauthentic accounts

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With the American presidential elections fast approaching, Facebook is taking an active approach against potential election interference. For one, the social media platform is moderating its content more stringently for misinformation. Now, erring accounts are on the chopping block. Today, Facebook took down pro-China, pro-Duterte accounts in the Philippines.

If you’re worried about a potential violation of the right to free speech, the platform claims that the ban affects “inauthentic Chinese accounts,” according to a new security report. In a list containing more than 200 accounts, most were potentially interfering in Asian and American politics. Facebook also included more than 40 pages, nine groups, and more than 20 Instagram accounts.

Most of the accounts were based in the Philippines, commenting (and supporting) China’s claims on the West Philippine Sea and President Rodrigo Duterte’s actions. They also criticized Rappler. Posts were in English, Filipino, and Chinese.

On the flip side, the smaller chunk of suspended accounts is in the United States, showing support for both Democrats and Republicans.

Whereas the American-based accounts have only around 3,000 followers, the Philippines-based accounts have amassed more than 376,000 followers at the time of suspension. Meanwhile, the implicated groups drew in more than 60,000 followers. The accounts spent US$ 60 on ad spending in Chinese yuan. They also spent a whopping US$ 1,100 in Philippine peso.

Undoubtedly, Facebook is taking a more active approach against political interference. It marks a renewed approach compared to its efforts in 2016. Back then, the platform received a lot of flak for affecting the elections in both the United States and in Southeast Asia.

SEE ALSO: Facebook is paying users to delete their accounts

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