Mavenir looks to cash in on US xenophobia

At times, US anti-China rhetoric flirts with the line between protectionist and xenophobic, but that won’t bother the likes of Mavenir as it touts its All-American credentials.

It what appears to be a relatively unprompted submission, Mavenir lawyers have filed documents with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stating the firm is as patriotically-US as apple pie, watery lager, high-powered rifles and gas-guzzling jeeps.

The objective here is quite clear; the US political administration does not like China, is prepared to spend big to supercharge an alternative telco vendor to the likes of Huawei or ZTE, and Mavenir wants to get rich as the establishment attempts to drown the success of China’s technology industry under the patronising veil of national security.

It is opportunism at its finest.

“Mavenir noted that it is the industry’s only US-owned, US-headquartered, end-to-end network software provider delivering OpenRAN and virtualized networks,” the filing states.

There are of course other companies who could be deemed American, though it appears they have their own faults. Parallel Wireless, for example, is headquartered in New England, is funded by Californian moneymen, but some of its founders are Indian. It almost ticked all the boxes!

Although it is an unusual strategy from Mavenir, it might work.

US politicians might be losing the political battle to extend its anti-China rhetoric throughout the world but presenting a genuine alternative might be one way to aid this propaganda campaign. An alternative which is also driving forward the attractive OpenRAN technology to add a cherry on top.

While it might still be a technology in its infancy, OpenRAN is capturing the hearts and minds of those who want to force through disruption in the RAN ecosystem. The Nokia/Ericsson/Huawei cartel does not present a significant amount of competition, which OpenRAN could help with, while it could also make the economics of 5G network deployment more attractive.

There are a few initiatives which are progressing around the world. Rakuten is deploying a fully virtualised network with the OpenRAN community at the heart. Admittedly it doesn’t have to worry about legacy technologies muddying the waters, but Vodafone, MTN, Telefonica and Etisalat are attempting to blend OpenRAN into a more traditional network work environment, with legacy complications and all.

Earlier this month, the Democrat Senator for Virginia Mark Warner introduced a new bill to Congress. The Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act will aim to provide $1 billion to create Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE. This is the prize the Mavenir gold-diggers are chasing.

And to sweeten the deal, Mavenir has also suggested it is able to help the poor rural providers dig out the dangerous technology from naughty Huawei and ZTE. We suspect it will all be done for a patriotically attractive price, or at least attractive to the Mavenir swashbucklers.

This is what some might call underhanded PR, a tactic which is more at home on ‘The Thick of It’ than the telecommunications slugfest. But it is an excellent of opportunism, which will probably be successful for the All-American vendor.

Seems the White House is all bark and no bite on intel sharing

The UK was threatened with intelligence embargoes should it allow Huawei to operate in its 5G industry, but Downing Street has seemingly won that game of chicken with the White House.

As part of the US lobby efforts over the last few months, access to valuable security data and intelligence was put on the line. The US Government believed allowing Huawei to contribute components to the UK’s 5G networks would compromise its own national security. The threat was made, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the White House bluff. Now it seems the US delegation in London is moonwalking away from the intelligence sharing ban.

The White House has been surprisingly quiet on the UK’s Supply Chain Review conclusion. Either President Donald Trump has his hands full with the on-going impeachment enquiry, or perhaps this an embarrassing outcome, a sign the Special Relationship is not as powerful as some would have thought, and the White House is not as influential as it currently believes.

Speaking at an event in London, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has suggested intelligence sharing between the two countries would continue.

“That relationship is deep, it is strong, it will remain,” said Pompeo.

Pompeo has remained resolute in his belief Huawei is a threat to Western democracies, believing the firm to be in-effect the intelligence gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party. The Secretary of State even suggested there would be an opportunity for the UK to reconsider its decision in the future.

Although Pompeo is now on his way to Kiev, Ukraine, yesterday saw meetings with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. The aim is to underline the commitment of both parties to the Special Relationship and work towards a trade deal. Pompeo has suggested a new deal between the US and UK could be on the table by November.

While the UK has made its position very clear, there is still plenty of work for Pompeo to do; the UK is just one European nation after all.

“Our view of Huawei has been that putting it in your system creates real risk,” Pompeo said to reporters before leaving the US on the 28th January. “This is an extension – an extension of the Chinese Communist Party with a legal requirement to hand over information to the Chinese Communist Party.

“We’ll evaluate what the United Kingdom did.  It’s a little unclear precisely what they’re going to permit and not permit, so we need to take a little bit of time to evaluate that.  But our view is that we should have Western systems with Western rules, and American information only should pass through trusted networks, and we’ll make sure we do that.”

This trip abroad will see Pompeo have meetings in Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and while there will certainly be lobbying taking place, the Secretary of State will also be keeping a keen eye on developments across Europe.

Germany is yet to make a formal decision, while France and Spain have not shown enthusiasm for banning the Chinese vendor. The UK is an influential voice in the European political arena, despite the offence Brexit might be causing, and if it can avoid retaliation from the temperamental President it adds confidence others could too.

Ultimately it was always likely to be an empty threat from the White House. Intelligence sharing works both directions, as the US will use data from allies to build its own databases. If the US banned intelligence sharing with every country where Huawei was operational in 5G, it might find itself to be very lonely.

In the greater game of political chess, the US is losing. If it is not able to convince arguably its closest ally, the UK, to its own way of thinking it might not have much success elsewhere. Thanks to Brexit, the UK was in a difficult position after all. Some might have suggested the UK would appease the White House in pursuit of a valuable trade deal, but Prime Minister Johnson has more of a spine than some have given him credit for.

Looking across the continent, Belgium looks unlikely to enforce a ban, having found no evidence that telecoms equipment supplied by Huawei Technology could be used for spying. France’s cybersecurity agency has seemingly given Huawei the thumbs up. Germany is holding off from a decision until after the EU Summit in March, though a ban is unlikely. Hungary is pro-Huawei. Italy has passed legislation to safeguard networks, but allowing Huawei in.

The US has seen lobby efforts gain traction in some nations such as Japan and Australia, though it has not been able to exert the same influence in Europe. This would have been unthinkable a decade ago, but it does appear the European nations are inclined to ignore the huffing and puffing from the Oval Office nowadays.

Boris Johnson is starting to look short of friends

Transatlantic conflict was to be expected following the Supply Chain Review decision, but Downing Street could soon become the battleground for some ‘blue-on-blue’ warfare.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is en route, presumably to sit in Downing Street before huffing and puffing, but it is enemies closer to home which might case the most immediate of problems. Alongside the enthusiasm for the Huawei compromise, there have of course been just as many critics.

The House of Commons proved to be somewhat of a tough test for the Supply Chain Review.

“The Prime Minister has gone for the cheapest, least secure option, but it does not take a genius to work out why Huawei is so competitive in cost,” said John Nicolson, an MP representing the Scottish National Party. “It is the Chinese Communist party branded as a company, and the Conservative Government have chosen low cost over security.”

“I cannot work out whether it is naivety or arrogance that prevents the UK Government from seeing the high risk presented to our national security by Huawei,” said Carol Monaghan, another SNP MP. “This is a company financed by the Chinese Communist party, and we are giving it an open door to our security.”

And unfortunately for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, there are also vocal critics within his own party.

“It was founded by a member of the People’s Liberation Army. Even if it were not an arm of the Chinese Government, the 2017 law requires that it take instruction from the Chinese intelligence agency,” said Conservative MP David Davis. “In the future, the size and complexity of the problem we are trying to protect against will be enormous. Huawei alone—forget the rest of China—has tens of thousands of researchers working on this, and I am afraid that the only way to protect our safety is to ban it.”

“I have spoken at length to security officials, who will always say that defending in cybersecurity is a game of catch-up – always catching up with the next algorithm change, and we can never guarantee that we spot it sometimes until too late,” said another Conservative MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith.

Criticism from the other side of the political aisle is part and parcel of the game, but internal sniping, blue-on-blue warfare if you will, could cause damage. With Brexit still a potential hot spot for Downing Street, Johnson could use as much support as possible internally.

That said, the impact of the Supply Chain Review on European relations might be somewhat positive, though this is a long-shot.

The UK stance on Huawei and relationships with China now looks much more aligned with the Europeans than the US. In 5G security guidance offered to member states, the European Commission has suggested nations air on the side of caution, but it has made no direct links to Huawei or China as a state. The dangers have been identified, but the finger of accusation has not been pointed.

There are also European nations who are looking to the UK. Germany and France, amongst others, might well be buoyed by the decision. Numerous EU member states have been distancing themselves from a complete ban, and the UK might well be the first domino to fall in favour of Huawei. Despite the Brexit fracas, the UK is still an influential voice; if Huawei is considered safe for London, it might well gain traction elsewhere on the bloc now.

This is of course the polar-opposite position from the US, where the reaction to the Supply Chain Review has been varied.

“Allowing Huawei to build the UK’s 5G networks today is like allowing the KGB to build its telephone network during the Cold War,” said Senator Tom Cotton.

Cotton is one of the most strident opponents of Huawei, who’s attitudes towards China flirt with the line of xenophobia, so it is hardly surprising to hear such statements. Although President Donald Trump has been relatively quiet on the announcement, Cotton has effectively been a White House puppet over recent months, very enthusiastically portraying the party line.

“British decision to accept Huawei for 5G is a major defeat for the United States,” said Newt Gingrich, a former-Speaker of the US House of Representatives. “How big does Huawei have to get and how many countries have to sign with Huawei for the US government to realize we are losing the internet to China? This is becoming an enormous strategic defeat.”

This is perhaps what the UK and the US will have to accept over the coming months; the special relationship is coming to an end. In dismissing demands and threats from the White House with regard to Huawei, the UK is effectively distancing itself from the US. This is a strained friendship already, and we suspect the White House does not like to be ignored.

The issue with many compromises is that no-one is entirely satisfied. This decision from the UK Government looks to be the most logical and proportional response to genuine concerns on both sides of the argument, though as it is a half-way house, it has been opened-up to political dissection.

With disagreements in the Conservative Party and contradiction to US policy, the Prime Minister is losing friends. In aligning the telecoms policy with the European Commission, he might look to the continent for allies, though considering the on-going Brexit conflict, this will also be a tricky sell. Downing Street is looking like a very lonely place.

UK PM equivocates on eve of Huawei 5G decision

With his final decision on allowing Huawei’s involvement in the UK 5G networks expected as soon as tomorrow, Boris Johnson is still sitting on the fence.

At a Prime Ministerial event at King’s College London mathematics school, BoJo granted the beeb a short interview in which he was asked about Huawei. His government is expected to finally make a call tomorrow on whether or not, and to what extent, to ban UK network operators from including Huawei gear in their 5G networks.

“The way forward for us, clearly, is to have a system that delivers for people in this country, the kind of consumer benefits they want, through 5G technology or whatever, but does not in any way compromise our critical national infrastructure, our security, or jeopardise our ability to work together with other intelligence powers around the world,” said BoJo. “So the Five Eyes security relationships we have, we’ve got to keep them strong and safe.

“We’re going to come up with a solution that enables us to achieve both of those objectives, and that’s the way forward. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have technological progress here in the UK, allow consumers and businesses in the UK to have access to fantastic technology, fantastic communications, but also protect our security interests and protect our key partnerships with other security powers.”

In other words we’re not going to constrain the market but we’re going to make sure we’re safe and we’re not going to upset the Americans. Maybe such a thing is possible, but with the US adopting such a zero-tolerance approach to Huawei it’s hard to see how we could keep them happy without a total Huawei ban.

As if further evidence of the intensely political nature of this decision was needed, good old Tom Tugendhat was banging on about it once more in the house of commons today, with what he presumably hoped would be viewed as a rakish metaphorical flourish. Meanwhile much of the mainstream media are displaying such ignorance on telecoms matters that the mere act of ignoring them usually provides positive educational benefit.

UK officials reportedly set to recommend a limited role for Huawei in UK 5G

Ahead of his final decision on whether to block Huawei from involvement in the UK 5G network, the PM is being advised that he should allow it to have a presence in the RAN.

There has been no formal announcement, but Reuters was given a leak following a meeting of a bunch of UK officials and security experts. The long and short of it seems to be that the people charged with advising the government on its imminent final decision regarding Huawei have seen nothing to make them change their position.

Last summer the Science and Technology Committee concluded there was insufficient evidence of the claimed security threat posed by Huawei to justify banning it entirely.  For all the US lobbying that has taken place since then, it looks like no significant new evidence has been presented, hence the consistent advice.

The reported advice that the government only permit the use of Huawei gear in the radio access network and not the core somewhat contradicts that finding, however. Either Huawei is a security threat or it isn’t and if it’s not then what’s the problem with using its kit in the core? So these experts appear to be hedging their position, probably as a concession to political considerations.

So, in summary, the recommendation is to try a classic British fudge. Politically, that’s unlikely to be a success, however, as the US has repeatedly made its zero-tolerance for all things Chinese clear and and restriction is likely to draw the ire of said Chinese. This is ultimately a political, rather than a security or technological, decision. Whatever Boris Johnson decides, he’s going to upset a lot of powerful people, but the US is by far our most important ally and he may decide that consideration trumps the rest.

Pelosi rips into Facebook for ‘shameful’ behaviour

Democrat Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has sent a tsunami of abuse towards Facebook, suggesting the social media giant has zero interest in serving its users.

Speaking during her weekly press briefing, the defacto leader of the Democrat party tore into Facebook’s policies of refusing to factcheck statements made by politicians, facilitating the sponsored misleading of voters by Russian parties during the last election, and cosying up to the current political administration for no other reason than for financial gain.

“I think the Facebook business model is strictly to make money,” said Pelosi. “They don’t care about the impact on children, they don’t care about truth, they don’t care about where this is all coming from, and they have said even if they know it’s not true, they will print it. They have been very abusive of the great opportunity which technology has given them.

“All they want are tax cuts and no anti-trust action against them, and they smooze this administration in that regard.”

Pelosi isn’t necessarily saying anything which numerous people are thinking. Facebook is a profit-making machine and has demonstrated on numerous occasions its executives put money before the privacy rights of customers or the experience of the platform. Pelosi coming out in such an aggressive stance against the social media giant is certainly an interesting twist though.

As a company, Facebook should be a bit nervous about any Democrat momentum heading into the November General Election. Although the Democrat candidate has not been named yet, there are plenty who have been very critical of Big Tech in general and Facebook in particular.

The bookies currently have Joe Biden as the favourite to win the Democrat nomination for the General Election, a man who recently said he would get rid of Section 230, the law that shields Facebook from liability for what their users post. Elizabeth Warren is another who is attracting attention, and she launched her campaign for nomination under the promise she would break-up Big Tech. Bernie Saunders and Pete Buttigieg, two more front-runners, has echoed Warren’s desire to dismantle Silicon Valley.

In years gone, the Democrat party was traditionally the side of the political sphere which would favour Silicon Valley and its disruptive residents. This is far from the truth today, as Big Tech is finding it has few friends sitting on either side of the aisle.

2020: convergence, divestment, disappointment and political posturing

With 2020 drawing to a close, it’s only fair to have a look at how the industry has been shaped over the last few months, and what to expect in the build up to Mobile World Congress.

Although the headlines have been continually dominated by friction between the worlds’ two most dominant super-powers, there have been other trends to pay attention to. Here, we are going to dissect four of the trends we feel will make a mark over the coming months in the build up to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, most notably:

  • Continued political posturing as decision day looms large
  • Convergence as the new status quo for telecom operators
  • 5G delivers, but delivers very poorly
  • Telcos gradually hand their fate over to the money men

The Huawei white-noise will reach deafening levels

2019 has been a year defined by political conflict. Almost everywhere you look there is collateral damage from more extreme and absolutist politicians wielding the power afforded to them by public vote (or not in some cases). The concept of tolerance and compromise almost seems to have disappeared as bullying tactics and misleading statements are the go-to plays in politics.

In the telecoms industry, this political friction has been concentrated to the fate of Huawei. Huawei is somewhat of a proxy, representing the rise of China’s influence in the technology world and a loosening grip from the US. Some might believe the US is acting as the champion of the world, countering the espionage threat of China through its telco champion, but a lack of evidence presented to the industry will always undermine these claims.

And while the continued barrage of political propaganda, from both sides might we add, was stuttering towards intolerable at times, perhaps we should brace ourselves for an onslaught in the New Year.

Italy has recently made noises about greenlighting Huawei, Germany’s incumbents are already reliant on the firm and soon enough someone in the UK will have to make a concrete decision regarding the Supply Chain Review. These are three very influential nations and could dictate the fate of Huawei throughout the rest of the European bloc.

But final decisions have not yet been made.

In each of these markets, the telcos are chomping at the bit to drive forward with 5G deployment, but without the certainty of a Huawei decision only stuttering progress can be made. If these national economies are to compete in the digital economy, scaled 5G networks will need to be present soon enough; a decision needs to be made.

If a decision is on the horizon, expect some hardcore lobbying over the next couple of weeks, especially as we build towards the annual bonanza in Barcelona. The Huawei noise is perfectly poised to reach deafening levels.

Convergence is King

The idea of convergence, the bundling together of products and services into a single bill, is not new but it is starting to gather momentum.

It does seem like we have been talking about it for years, though it is only today the telcos have finally aligned all the relevant pieces to make a competent offer. This is a strategy which is expensive to develop, but the rewards do appear to be significant.

What is worth noting is that there are telcos who bought into the trend very early and are reaping the benefits today, Orange is a prime example. This forward-looking telco has been building towards the convergence dream for years and now looks as far away from the commoditised business model as possible.

This is a business which should be envied. It has a solid mobile and fixed business, a banking brand, fingers in the content pies and is even starting to make headway in areas like consumer security. Convergence is one reason for this as it has driven loyalty and trust through creating products which people want to buy and at a price which is tolerable.

Convergence works both ways. For the consumer, bundling two services into the same bill is cheaper in the long-run, and for the telco, it reduces churn, increases ARPU and creates opportunity to sell additional services. Theoretically, everyone benefits.

More telcos are driving towards the convergence dream, though some are not. What may emerge in the future, is a two-tiered telco industry (although it arguably already exists today). At the top, you have the telcos who have embraced convergence early, and at the bottom, the pure-play companies who believe there is nothing to the hype.

Convergence works. And those companies who have ignored it, will be the also-rans of the telco community.

Be surprised if people are happy with 5G

5G will be a lot of things, and above all else, we suspect it will be a disappointment.

This might sound incredibly negative and counter-intuitive, but it is being realistic. Today’s consumer is demanding, impatient and cash-conscious. 5G has been launched by numerous parties across the world, though the geographical footprints of these networks are minimal.

Realistically, the telcos have done an excellent job in delivering 4G connectivity. In most advanced nations, coverage is almost guaranteed, unless you are a farmer. Unfortunately for the telcos, this experience will count against them as we push into the 5G era, as the consumer will expect the same. Few will have been educated to understand that emulated the scale of 4G in 5G will take years to achieve.

This is a challenge the telcos will have to address over the next couple of months. Consumers will have to be upgraded to 5G tariffs, but they will not want to pay anything extra, irrelevant of the geographical coverage. Telcos might well have to introduce a premium on these tariffs to raise the funds to continue deployment, as the efficiency gains of 5G connectivity over 4G are highly unlikely to be enough to fund the required investments.

Enterprise customers will of course provide a lot of stimulus for the industry to drive forward with 5G deployment, though everyone in the industry should brace themselves for an unhappy consumer as the sparse 5G connectivity gets negative reviews.

Money men start to erode telco influence in telco industry

2019 has already seen numerous money men get more actively involved in the telco industry but it looks like this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Goldman Sachs bought CityFibre, Elliott Management has been wrestling for control of Telecom Italia and Brooking Infrastructure is hoovering up assets throughout the industry. These are only a few examples, but the financial and investment industry is looking much more attentively at telecoms.

But why?

Firstly, the consumer is increasingly showing a willing to spend more money on connectivity services and products. This sounds strange, but more families are upgrading to fibre, more users are taking up unlimited mobile tariffs and more products are embedded with connectivity. The consumer appetite looks attractive to these companies.

Secondly, governments are setting in place the right policies to encourage investment in connectivity infrastructure. Red-tape is being removing, ransom rents are being killed off, access to public infrastructure is being opened-up and government subsidies are becoming more common place. Return on investment for communications infrastructure is looking much more achievable.

Thirdly, the enterprise segment looks like it will be a cash-bonanza in the future. Digital is finally embedding itself in industry as more companies realise that digital-first is the only way to survive. This opens up huge potential for telcos to make more money from assets which once laid have incredibly life-spans.

Finally, the telcos need cash. The digital dream is one which is very expensive, and these are companies which have taken a beating over the last decade. Despite the promise in the future, the telco industry is a difficult one to make profitable today. This presents a bargain opportunity for the money men to engage the telcos who are desperate for cash injections to drive through 5G and fibre deployments.

As we have said before, 2019 saw a lot more engagement from the financial and investment community, though this is likely to accelerate over the coming months.

US starts huffing and puffing over Huawei again

The US Government is on the Huawei offensive once again, throwing another warning to the UK and suggesting the industry should open-source 5G technology to counter the threat.

The security argument is one which the US feels might hit home, despite European counterparts erring on the side of evidence. It seems quite remarkable to us that the US Government feels by saying the same thing, only a bit louder each time, that there might be success, though we do not have the political savvy which flows freely through the halls of the White House.

“They are just going to steal wholesale state secrets, whether they are the UK’s nuclear secrets or secrets from MI6 or MI5,” Robert O’Brien, US National Security Adviser, told the Financial Times.

The US does have some leverage over the UK, this is an economy on the other side of a very lucrative trade deal after all, but it doesn’t seem to address the basic demands of the European Governments. Time and time again, European administrations have said they will take an evidence-based approach, and while some sceptics may call this political rhetoric, the fact Huawei is yet to be banned suggests there is some truth to the claim.

This approach to the Huawei-conundrum seems to be a lot more personal however, seemingly targeting the fears of a delicately balanced electorate to force the hand of popularity-craving public figures.

“If you get all the information on a person and then you get their genome, and you marry those two things up, and you have an authoritarian state wielding that information, that is an incredible amount of power,” said O’Brien. “Why the UK would sign up for such a programme is astonishing.

“German citizens just are not ready to sign up for their state to become a vassal of Beijing, and the first step on that path is allowing Chinese 5G into Germany.”

Huawei does seem to be winning the backing of the European bloc. There are of course dependency issues which will perhaps be more of a defining factor than anything else, but the Chinese vendor is doing something very different to the US propagandists; it is working with the nations to come to a solution.

The UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and countless other nations will find it very difficult to ban Huawei. Competition is needed to drive down the cost of deployment, due to the scale of the telcos, while the rip-and-replace of 4G technologies would be an incredible cost. The US has neither of these problems; there are effectively only four MNOs serving 300 million people and Huawei does not have any equipment in the network to cause backwards compatibility concerns.

But while the US is simply shouting across the Atlantic, commanding those it sees as inferior nations to its will, Huawei is working with the telcos to create a solution. In March, it opened a cybersecurity centre in Brussels to allow customers to validate security credentials and this month it christened the 5G Innovation and Experience Centre in London.

This is a firm which understands the concerns over its products and has boots on the ground to manufacture new products which are more suitable for the world of tomorrow. It is proactively managing the concerns instead of simply huffing and puffing from the other side of the world. Is there any wonder why the US is being largely ignored?

Interestingly enough, this is not the only proclamation which has made its way out of the White House and across the Atlantic.

Speaking with the freedoms attributed to those with little thought to the concept of irony, the Pentagon’s Lisa Porter is proposing 5G technologies should be open-sourced.

“The beauty of our country is that we allow that marketplace to decide the winners,” said Porter. “The market will decide. If someone is dragging their feet, that’s up to them to decide, but then the market will decide from there who wins.”

There was of course no mention of the isolationist or protectionist policies which have been rolled-out by the White House over the last few years.

In open-sourcing 5G technologies, a tsunami of technology companies could get in on the act. This of course would be incredibly beneficial for the telcos who’s procurement processes could potentially be buoyed by a race to the bottom as numerous off-the-shelf alternatives appear on the market.

This has been deemed a means to counter the threat of Huawei, ripping away the valuable advantage of years’ worth of R&D. But at the same time, it would destroy the proposition for European vendors, Nokia and Ericsson for example, as well as US technology powerhouses, Cisco and Oracle.

Perhaps the Christmas break is coming at an excellent time. There will be several Huawei announcements made in the New Year and plenty of opportunity for political ping pong. We suspect January will be a very busy month for Huawei’s PR team.

TechUK joins the manifesto bonanza

With the UK General Election only weeks away, the chest pumping, and ego stroking will only become more fabulous, but there might have been a few surprises to see a TechUK manifesto emerge.

Representing companies which employ roughly 50% of all tech employees in the UK, TechUK has unveiled its manifesto for the next sitting Parliament. The report features 25 recommendations to drive towards five core goals for the UK digital economy; digitising more public services, increasing investment, rethinking security policies, ensuring talent is developed in the UK and maintaining the strong position the UK currently holds in the global digital economy.

“To move forward towards a better future, we need to be both optimistic about the opportunities ahead and realistic about the challenges we face,” said Julian David, CEO of TechUK.

“The UK must build on its success not only to be the best place to start, grow and scale a tech business, but also to lead the world in using digital technology for good – to make things better for people, society, the economy and our planet.”

As it stands, the UK is in a useful position. Being one of the first to launch 5G, international investors will look at the small isles as an attractive proposition. As it did with 4G, the new connectivity landscape will encourage the creation of new business models, products and services. The last decade has seen the likes of Uber, AirBnB, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix, reach unprecedented heights of success and influence. But this success is as much a credit to the innovation-friendly landscape in the US as it is to the innovators at the heart of the companies.

This is where the risk lies for the UK. The current position looks promising, though there are plenty of risks present which are driving uncertainty. The Supply Chain Review, Brexit and the General Election are three events which have already introduced uncertainty, the enemy of progress, though whether this has a lasting impact on the UK’s position in the global economy remains to be seen.

As you can expect with such statements from an industry lobby group, the recommendations are not too extreme, but are perfectly logical to support the growth ambitions of the industry. More than anything else, this is perhaps a very timely nudge to politicians to have perhaps forgotten one aspect of their jobs is to drive the UK economy forward.

With all the bickering which is now second-nature to the House of Commons, the real risk is one of relevance. In the digital world, the UK is currently relevant, thanks partly to the aggressive push forward with 5G and fibre infrastructure, though whether that remains to be the case after the current political ding-dong is the big question.

Access the full report here.