‘Remove China Apps’ was top of the Indian Android charts until Google removed it

China seems to be falling out with everyone these days, as symbolised by the popularity of an Indian app designed solely to help uninstall Chinese ones.

The FT reports that ‘Remove China Apps’ was taken down from the Google Play store because Google’s policies don’t allow apps that help people delete or disable other apps. Judging by the cached app page, which you can see a screenshot of below, the developer tried to get around that stipulation by insisting the app merely served to inform people of the country of origin of their apps. If so, they somewhat undermined that effort with the naming of the app.

Onetouch Applabs, which developed the app, managed evade the Android police for a week or two, however, in which time it was apparently downloaded five million times and was briefly at the top of the download chart. The most intriguing aspect of this story is not that the app was taken down, but that it was so instantly popular.

“The focus of the prime minister Narendra Modi’s fifth televised address on Covid-19 was ‘Atm Nirbhar Bharat’ or a self-reliant India,” explains the developer. “Remove China App will help people to support “Atm Nirbhar Bharat’ by identifying  the origin country of the applications installed in their mobile phones.” Modi doesn’t seem to have named China specifically, but there’s plenty of evidence that’s the country he’s most keen to be less reliant on.

At the end of April India moved to protect its domestic assets from Chinese acquisition. More recently there has been significant tension at a bit of disputed border between India and China, at the Galwan Valley. The belligerent in that dispute appears to have been China, which is especially keen on claiming random bits of land these days.

Symbolically, the Galwan Valley region is near the ancient Silk Road between China and Europe/Africa. China’s Belt and Road strategy takes its name from that and is generally viewed as an attempt at economic imperialism. With India growing increasingly hostile to China and the US ramping its own antagonism, the country is running out of people to do business with. Unfortunately China seems likely to double down on its own belligerence in response to this resistance, which makes a new global cold war ever more likely.

Tencent carves out $70bn for Chinese cloud expansion

Hong Kong-based Tencent has said it plans to expand its business into cloud computing services, ranging from traditional data centres to enterprise AI services.

While it might be a titan in certain segments of the telecoms and technology world, enterprise cloud services is not a significant earner for Tencent. That said, the Chinese cloud computing market is only a fraction of what it could be as it is still pushing through its digital transformation programme.

“As one of the leading cloud service providers in China, Tencent invests heavily in talent and technological innovation, actively promoting the development of the Industrial Internet,” a Tencent spokesperson said.

“We recently announced our new initiative to invest RMB500 billion ($70 billion) in new digital infrastructure over the next five years. The investment will focus on a number of fields including cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain technologies, servers, large-scale data centres, supercomputers, Internet of Things, 5G networks, audio and video communications, cyber-security, quantum computing and more.”

The team has said it will construct a series of large data centres, each of which will contain more than a million servers. With more companies having their eyes opened to the benefits of remote working and cloud computing, this might be a sensible time to push forward with such plans.

China cloud computing market Q4 2019
Company Market share
Alibaba 46.4%
Tencent 18%
Baidu 8.8%
Others 26.8%

Source: Canalys

For the final three months of 2019, total spend for cloud computing was $3.3 billion. This is still the second-largest market worldwide but considering the scale and breadth of the Chinese economy, there are huge profits on the horizon.

What is not entirely clear is whether this strategy is a prelude to an assault on the international cloud markets.

A strategy which is becoming common for Chinese telecoms and technology companies is to generate significant revenues in the domestic market before looking internationally. Huawei did it for base stations and consumer devices, Xiaomi is attempting this move for its own smartphones and Alibaba is attempting to implement the expansion for cloud services.

The Chinese cloud computing market can act as a springboard for greater profits in the future, but for the moment, there is incredible opportunity as this monstrously large economy shifts into the cloud.

A look back at the biggest stories this week

Whether it’s important, depressing or just entertaining, the telecoms industry is always one which attracts attention.

Here are the stories we think are worth a second look at this week:


Facebook reignites the fires of its Workplace unit

Facebook has announced its challenge to the video-conferencing segment and a reignition of its venture into the world of collaboration and productivity.

Full story here


Trump needs fodder for the campaign trail, maybe Huawei fits the bill

A thriving economy and low levels of unemployment might have been the focal point of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, pre-pandemic, but fighting the ‘red under the bed’ might have to do now.

Full story here


Will remote working trends endure beyond lockdown?

It is most likely anyone reading this article is doing so from the comfort of their own home, but the question is whether this has become the new norm is a digitally defined economy?

Full story here


ZTE and China Unicom get started on 6G

Chinese kit vendor ZTE has decided now is a good time to announce it has signed a strategic cooperation agreement on 6G with operator China Unicom.

Full story here


ITU says lower prices don’t lead to higher internet penetration

The UN telecoms agency observes that, while global connectivity prices are going down, the relationship with penetration is not as inversely proportion as you might think.

Full story here


Jio carves out space for yet another US investor

It seems the US moneymen have a taste for Indian connectivity as General Atlantic becomes the fourth third-party firm to invest in the money-making machine which is Jio Platforms.

Full story here


Telecoms.com Daily Poll:

Can the sharing economy (ride-sharing, short-stay accommodation etc.) survive COVID-19?

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US ramps up the ‘5G race’ rhetoric

The US Attorney General has been banging on about 5G, hot on the heels of demands the country wins at 6G too.

Never before has telecoms been so politicised. US President Trump is increasingly relying on his demonization of Huawei for political capital and now Attorney General Bill Barr has decided to position the ‘race to 5G’ as a matter of critical national security importance.

Speaking at a Global CTO Roundtable on 5G Integrated and Open Networks Barr said “The United States and our partners are in an urgent race against the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to develop and build 5G infrastructure around the world. Our national security and the flourishing of our liberal democratic values here and around the world depend on our winning it.

“Future 5G networks will be a critical piece of global infrastructure, the central nervous system of the global economy. Unfortunately, the PRC is well on its way to seizing a decisive 5G advantage. If the PRC wins the 5G race, the geopolitical, economic, and national security consequences will be staggering. The PRC knows this, which explains why it is using every lever of power to expand its 5G market share around the globe. The community of free and democratic nations must do the same.

“To compete and win against the PRC juggernaut, the United States and its partners must work closely with trusted vendors to pursue practical and realistic strategies that can turn the tide now. Although the ‘Open RAN’ approach is not a solution to our immediate problem, the concept of Integrated and Open Networks (ION), which was the topic of yesterday’s roundtable, holds promise and should be explored. We can win the race, but we must act now.”

This seems like another strong buying signal for Ericsson, Nokia and US vendors like Cisco to get some easy public money in the name of mucking in to the collective effort, especially with O-RAN apparently being downgraded as a panacea. The two Nordic kit vendors will need to tread carefully before getting too cozy with the US state, however, or they can kiss what business they do have in China goodbye.

Meanwhile the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions has issued a call to action to promote US 6G leadership. “While innovation can be triggered in reaction to current market needs, technology leadership at a national level requires an early commitment and development that addresses U.S. needs as well as a common vision and set of objectives,” said Susan Miller, President and CEO of ATIS, possibly in acknowledgement of the panic the US has got itself into over 5G and of recent developments in China.

Mobile standards are, of course, global, so talk of regional races is somewhat disingenuous. What Barr presumably means is that, since Chinese vendors are banned from US telecoms infrastructure, he’s worried US 5G is going to be rubbish compared to the Chinese equivalent. Any non-Chinese telecoms company with a few bright ideas would be well advised to stick close to the US government as the public money tap seems to be well and truly open.

Trump needs fodder for the campaign trail, maybe Huawei fits the bill

A thriving economy and low levels of unemployment might have been the focal point of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, pre-pandemic, but fighting the ‘red under the bed’ might have to do now.

In 2016, Donald Trump won the Presidential election for numerous reasons, but one very important element was his ability to mobilise the vote of elements of society who wouldn’t have had any interest in politics otherwise. One reason was because of who Trump was and is, a celebrity more than a statesman, but perhaps a more critical element was the message.

Trump ignored political correctness, seemingly appealing to racism and xenophobia as the Make America Great Again slogan was born. He proposed the deportation of all illegal immigrants, the construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border and a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the US. The forgotten men and women of the US were the focal point of this campaign.

This campaign, focusing on a single message of foreign people are bad for patriotic US citizens, worked. If Trump is to repeat the success of his 2016 Presidential Election in November, there will have to be another message at the core of the campaign to rouse the masses and build a slogan on.

There has been a suspicion that the success of the economy and low levels of unemployment would have been this focal point. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy was on the rise. From Trump’s entry to the Oval office on 6 January 2017, to the final days before lockdown in February, the Dow Jones grew from 19,963 to 29,398, a 47% surge. Unemployment was down to 3.5%, slowly eroding through the three-year period.

The message could have been ‘look what four years of Trump has gotten you, wouldn’t you like four more?’. But then coronavirus hit, and the economy went down the toilet.

The Dow Jones will recover, as will unemployment, but the Trump campaign would be playing with fire by making this the central point of the campaign. Many believe Trump was too slow to act against the coronavirus after spending months claiming it was little more than the common flu. At its worst point, the Dow Jones fell to 18,591 while unemployment is currently as high as 14%, and likely to go higher.

Using the economy as a reason for re-elections is offering ammunition to the Democrat candidate, the opening round of a slug match where Trump can be undermined and embarrassed.

Without this weapon in his arsenal, Trump will have to find a new focal point to build a campaign around; China and Huawei could fit the bill.

Trump needs to redirect attention away from his failings as a leader during the pre-coronavirus weeks. People generally need an enemy when times are hard, and the invisible enemy of today will not do; you can’t get people angry about a virus, not in the way that the Trump campaign will want. If Trump can further vilify the Chinese, he can position himself as the hero, the man to champion US values, whatever they might be.

Huawei has been made the proxy of the Chinese Government in the eyes of the US. If the US is scared about the ‘red under the bed’, the idea of communism creeping into democratic societies secretly, the successful telecoms vendor can be made public enemy number one.

This is clearly not a new campaign of hate from the President, but it is one which had quietened off over the last few months. It is an on-going conflict point between the US and Chinese Governments, and fuel was thrown onto the embers last week.

In a new assault from the US Department of Commerce, further efforts were made to inhibit the ability of Huawei to source semiconductor components for smartphones and base stations. The US is perhaps hoping the globalised nature of the technology industry, which has allowed Huawei to thrive, can be weaponised against it as few (if any) companies could operate without a single trace of the US in its supply chain.

“We have survived and forged ahead despite all the odds,” Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping said at a virtual conference this week. “The US insists on persistently attacking Huawei, but what will that achieve for the world?”

Conflict with the Chinese might not sound good for economic reasons, but for political ones, it is fantastic. Trump needs an enemy so he can be the champion of for the forgotten men and women of the US.

While it is clear there are a lot of US politicians buying into the anti-China campaign of hate, we asked Telecoms.com readers how they feel about the on-going aggression towards Huawei:

Telecoms.com Poll: Do you feel the US Government is justified in its action against Huawei?
Yes, it is effectively a pawn for the Chinese Government 43%
Yes, but Government links are not there 1%
Maybe, but show us the evidence of foul play first 12%
No, Trump shouldn’t punish a company just because it is Chinese 22%
No, international competition should be left to sort itself out 22%

Huawei might have enjoyed a brief breather over the last few months, but the signs are there to suggest there might be greater conflict on the horizon. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark Esper both drew battle lines.

“Let’s talk for a second about the other realm, cybersecurity,” Pompeo said during his speech. “Huawei and other state-back tech companies are trojan horses for Chinese intelligence.”

“Under President Xi’s rule, the Chinese Communist Party is heading even faster and further in the wrong direction,” said Esper. “More internal repression, more predatory economic practices, more heavy handedness, and most concerning for me, a more aggressive military posture.”

Further sanctions and more aggressive policies against Huawei specifically, as well as other Chinese companies in the international markets, could be on the horizon. Huawei executives have certainly expressed concern, but there are numerous other companies who should also be sitting uncomfortably.

The US Senate recently passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (S.945) which could result in numerous companies who do not pass strict criteria being delisted from US stock exchanges. China is of course a target with this legislation.

“The SEC works hard to protect American investors from being swindled by American companies,” said Senator John Kennedy, one of the politicians to introduce the original bill.

“It’s asinine that we’re giving Chinese companies the opportunity to exploit hardworking Americans – people who put their retirement and college savings in our exchanges – because we don’t insist on examining their books. There are plenty of markets all over the world open to cheaters, but America can’t afford to be one of them.”

This legislation would not impact Huawei, it is a private company after all, but it is further evidence of increasing aggression towards China, and suggestions there could be rising tensions.

And while Huawei might be attracting the most attention from US Senators right now, there are certainly more which could fall into the crosshairs. Tencent owns TikTok which has already come under criticism, Alibaba is hoping to expand its cloud computing venture into international markets, while the likes of OPPO and Xiaomi are proving to be quite successful in gaining interest as challenger smartphone brands. These are all companies which would perhaps fall foul of US opinion.

The first Trump campaign rallies will give more of an indication of what will be the focus of his scorn and hatred over the coming months, and where the pent-up frustrations of US citizens could be directed. We suspect Huawei could be in for a rough few months as Trump further vilifies the Chinese Government and looks for an opponent to bureaucratically challenge during the campaign.

Taking down Huawei could be the feather the Trump campaign is looking for in its quest for re-election to the White House.


Telecoms.com Daily Poll:

Can the sharing economy (ride-sharing, short-stay accommodation etc.) survive COVID-19?

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ZTE and China Unicom get started on 6G

Chinese kit vendor ZTE has decided now is a good time to announce it has signed a strategic cooperation agreement on 6G with operator China Unicom.

For a country with such a novel approach to contract law, they do like to make a public show if signing agreements over in China, almost as if they’re trying to convince themselves they’ll be honoured. The ceremonial signing of the agreement also seems to double as a public show of strategic intent and corporate ambition.

They don’t go so far as to say what 6G actually is, however, other than one more G. There’s talk of technical innovation, integration with satellite networks and various flavours of IoT, so at this early stage we’re basically looking at 5G on steroids, which is fair enough. The announcement does move on to list some potential key technologies, which include three dimensional connectivity, Terahertz communication, and integrated communication/sensing, which all sound fun.

“ZTE and China Unicom will also verify the feasibility of these technologies through both the verification tests and the prototyping trials to achieve the 6G network performance targets, such as the peak data rate of 1 Tbps, the user experienced data rate of 20 Gbps, the volume traffic  capacity of 100Gbps/m3,” says the announcement.

There is a certain symbolism to banging on about 6G when the previous generation has only just got started and the world is preoccupied with more immediate concerns. On the other hand, the announcement could just be a massive trolling exercise designed to wind up the internet nutters. ‘If you thought 5G was bad, get a load of this,’ they seem to be saying.

China throws money at domestic chip firm as TSMC stops taking orders from Huawei

The US move to impose a ban on any US tech being used in the production of Huawei chips has sent shockwaves through the semiconductor industry.

A couple of reports illustrate this well. Bloomberg notes that the Chinese state is pumping $2.25 billion into Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation. This will apparently give the Chinese state even more control over the company than it had anyway and is clearly a move designed to accelerate the country’s move towards silicon self-sufficiency, despite the company name.

Meanwhile the Nikkei Asian Review reports that TSMC has stopped taking new orders from Huawei as a direct result of the US ban. This is pretty massive for TSMC as Huawei is one of its biggest customers, so you have to wonder if the decision was influenced by incentives as well as threats from the US.

Huawei, of course, is not impressed with the latest US move against it. Here’s the statement made earlier today at its virtual analyst event in full.

Huawei categorically opposes the amendments made by the US Department of Commerce to its foreign direct product rule that target Huawei specifically.

The US government added Huawei to the Entity List on May 16, 2019 without justification. Since that time, and despite the fact that a number of key industrial and technological elements were made unavailable to us, we have remained committed to complying with all US government rules and regulations. At the same time, we have fulfilled our contractual obligations to customers and suppliers, and have survived and forged ahead against all odds.

Nevertheless, in its relentless pursuit to tighten its stranglehold on our company, the US government has decided to proceed and completely ignore the concerns of many companies and industry associations.

This decision was arbitrary and pernicious, and threatens to undermine the entire industry worldwide. This new rule will impact the expansion, maintenance, and continuous operations of networks worth hundreds of billions of dollars that we have rolled out in more than 170 countries. 

It will also impact communications services for the more than 3 billion people who use Huawei products and services worldwide. To attack a leading company from another country, the US government has intentionally turned its back on the interests of Huawei’s customers and consumers. This goes against the US government’s claim that it is motivated by network security.

This decision by the US government does not just affect Huawei. It will have a serious impact on a wide number of global industries. In the long run, this will damage the trust and collaboration within the global semiconductor industry which many industries depend on, increasing conflict and loss within these industries.

The US is leveraging its own technological strengths to crush companies outside its own borders. This will only serve to undermine the trust international companies place in US technology and supply chains. Ultimately, this will harm US interests.

Huawei is undertaking a comprehensive examination of this new rule. We expect that our business will inevitably be affected. We will try all we can to seek a solution. We hope that our customers and suppliers will continue to stand with us and minimize the impact of this discriminatory rule.

According to the Global Times, Huawei had a cunning plan to order loads of chips from TSMC during the grace period included in the US measures, but the Nikkei story would appear to scupper that. To add insult to injury, Nokia has just announced a 5G network deal win with Taiwan Star Telecom. It increasingly looks like Taiwan is doing everything it can to distance itself from the Chinese state, something the latter is very unlikely to take lying down.

Huawei says US is only hurting itself with sanctions

Speaking at this years’ virtual Huawei Analyst Summit, Rotating Chairman Guo Ping hit back at the US, suggesting it will only do more damage to itself by pursing its current course.

The keynote session from the newly rotated executive was one of defiance as a confident face was put on newly refined aggression from the US. The latest actions to inhibit Huawei’s supply chain will almost certainly have an impact, but it will continue to be a very prominent player in the telco industry.

“We have survived and forged ahead despite all the odds,” Ping said, while also boasting of the $120 billion in revenues achieved in 2019. “The US insists on persistently attacking Huawei, but what will that achieve for the world?”

Ping is referring to additional sanctions placed on Huawei at the end of last week. Announced by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the US will prevent any company around the world from using US equipment, IP or software to work with Huawei. The aim is to choke the vendors supply of components and semiconductors, a critical element of smartphones and telecoms base stations.

To mitigate these actions, Ping has said R&D is on the up, to remove dependence on US suppliers, while the business has been stockpiling. But there will be a material impact on operations eventually.

This is a mitigation strategy, softening the blow but it is not a concrete solution. The US semiconductor industry can do want few others can, cultivating specialisms which have taken years to fine tune. This cannot be replicated by China overnight.

“Our business will be inevitably impacted,” said Ping. “But we are confident in finding a solution soon.”

Huawei has consistently stated such actions for the US would be a net loss for the industry, but what is the risk? Ping is pointing towards industry fragmentation.

This is of course a dirty word in the telecoms industry, but Huawei’s warnings should be taken with a pinch of salt. Ping warned of standard fragmentation, which is a long-term risk, but it is not one which is emerging now. The immediate risk is two, independent ecosystems, the creation of two distinct markets. Suppliers would hate this, and there is a chance competition (and therefore prices) would be impacted for telcos.

However, there is not really a risk of standard deviation is the short-term. Like the US, Huawei seems to be playing a bit fast and loose with rhetoric and muddied statements.

Ping also suggested this would be a severe consequence for the US telcos, a lesson which they should have already learned.

According to the executive, during the 2G era US telcos did not align on standards whereas European counterparts did. This offered scaled business opportunity to European suppliers, while the US vendors have to deal with fragmentation. Ultimately, the US has no remaining vendors because of this, while the likes of Ericsson and Nokia have thrived.

This is a mishmash of the truth, half-correct statements, half-informed assumptions and missing information.

Firstly, European telcos backed GSM standards. The fragmentation of standards was not US in-fighting, but a Europe versus North America situation, with Europe winning out. Secondly, yes, US vendors were swallowed up by bigger and more successful rivals, but so were European ones. The likes of Siemens and Alcatel have been acquired during the same period.

The reason there are so few suppliers is because previous generations of bureaucrats embraced market consolidation in a way which would have turned stomachs today.

Should the US continue to pursue Huawei in this manner, it will hurt everyone. It could lead to industry fragmentation, the separation of the East and West into two separate markets and much more isolationist policy making.This will hurt Huawei, it will hurt market competition, it will hurt the telcos, it will hurt US suppliers and it will hurt the industry on the whole.

There might be some inaccuracies here, but the overall message is very relevant; isolationist policy is not the friend of the telecommunications industry.

US targets Huawei semiconductor supply chain as 5G battle continues

With muted success in combating the sustained success of the Huawei juggernaut, the US has revealed its latest offensive play; attack the vendors semiconductor supply chain.

The US Department of Commerce announced new rules on Friday (May 15) designed to cause chaos in Huawei’s operations. The move is likely to douse more petrol on flaming tensions between Washington and Beijing, as the US attempts to inhibit Huawei’s ability to source semiconductor components for various products, including smartphones and base stations.

This latest action could take White House intervention beyond US borders, which would complicate matters for Huawei but also place the US at odds with allies.

“Despite the Entity List actions the Department took last year, Huawei and its foreign affiliates have stepped-up efforts to undermine these national security-based restrictions through an indigenization effort,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

“However, that effort is still dependent on US technologies.”

This is the ace card which is held by the US; there probably isn’t a manufacturing site, production facility or office in the world which doesn’t have some form of US technology. The success of the US economy is now a weapon for the political elite; screw us and we’ll mess with your supply chain. It is effectively an economic dirty bomb.

While Huawei might be able to shift its manufacturing capabilities and find new suppliers to replicate the likes of Qorvo or Broadcom, it becomes a lot more difficult to remove every single element of US technology, intellectual property or software from its supply chain. If enforced properly, this could be very damaging to Huawei.

For example, it might shift some of its semiconductor purchasing to an Indian supplier, but if that company uses US software to design elements of the product it is another risk for Huawei as sales to the firm could be blocked by Washington. This is truly a trump card for the US in its continued battle.

The move comes at a time of heightened tension between the US and China which has taken a new twist over the last few months.

President Donald Trump has always found fault with the Chinese, whether it be currency manipulation or making use of Chinese vendor’s products to spy on other nations. This time the coronavirus is taking centre stage, with the US blaming the severity of the pandemic on China’s actions during the first few months, but it of course has nothing to do with the fact the White House ignored the danger of COVID-19 for two months.

The anti-China rhetoric in the US does seem to be heightening. Missouri’s Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit against the Chinese Government in pursuit of compensation from the Chinese Government. There are numerous other lawsuits floating around, including a class action lawsuit from the Berman Law Group which is attempting to claim the Chinese Communist Party is not entitled to immunity as it is not a foreign government or an official agency of the Chinese Government.

Legal experts have suggested these lawsuits will fail, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 states governments cannot be sued, but it can serve as a temperature test for the political administration.

With sentiment once again turning against the Chinese in the US, the White House is effectively being given an endorsement to be combative with the Chinese Government. Unfortunately for Huawei, this could mean the current sanctions enforced to the letter of the law, as well as further actions being taken against the firm in the future.