USB4 specification unveiled, featuring Intel Thunderbolt 3

The next generation USB standard will be based on Intel’s Thunderbolt protocols, as well as be backward compatible with earlier generations of USB.

Intel earlier announced that its upcoming 10nm processor will be the first to integrate Thunderbolt 3, and it has already been supported by both Windows 10 and macOS. According to the latest announcements from both Intel and the industry association and standardisation body USB Promoter Group, Intel has made the Thunderbolt 3 specifications available for royalty free use by the industry.

“Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification is a significant milestone for making today’s simplest and most versatile port available to everyone,” said Jason Ziller, General Manager, Client Connectivity Division at Intel. “By collaborating with the USB Promoter Group, we’re opening the doors for innovation across a wide range of devices and increasing compatibility to deliver better experiences to consumers.”

The USB community is obviously happy to see that the move from Intel will likely avoid the branching of the next generation USB standards. “The primary goal of USB is to deliver the best user experience combining data, display and power delivery over a user-friendly and robust cable and connector solution,” said Brad Saunders, USB Promoter Group Chairman.

The key advantages of USB 4 include:

  • High speed: up to 40 Gbps operation, which will double the 20 Gbps speed of USB 3.2 and Thunderbolt 2, or more than 80 times faster than the USB 2.0 speed of 480 Mbps;
  • Multi-channel data communication: enabling multiple simultaneous data and display protocols
  • Backward compatibility: USB4 will be compatible with USB 3.2, USB 2.0, and Thunderbolt 3

“The USB 4 solution specifically tailors bus operation to further enhance this experience by optimizing the blend of data and display over a single connection and enabling the further doubling of performance,” added USB Promoter Group’s Saunders.

After making the Thunderbolt specs public, Intel’s role will expand to industry wide testing, auditing and certification.

The USB4 interface is likely to continue with the USB Type-C standard, which will save more real estate for computer OEMs, if they can replace most of the legacy ports. When it comes to mobile devices, the co-existence of different standards of USB connections for charging and for data transmission has been a source of consumer frustration as well as a key contributor to electronics wastes. Apple has also been notorious for going its own way with cable standards, though recently there has been rumour that the next iPhone might ditch Lightning for USB Type-C connection.

The USB4 specifications will be published around mid-2019, according to the USB Promoter Group announcement.

KT and Nokia will join hands to launch first ‘true’ 5G this month

Korea’s mobile operator KT is going to launch nationwide 5G service this month and will collaborate with Nokia to provide services and tools for the business and the public sectors.

Hwang Chang-Gyu, KT’s Chairman and CEO, recently announced that KT’s nationwide 5G network will be switched in March to cover 24 major cities, key transport routes such as expressways, subways, high-speed railways, large universities, and neighbourhood shopping areas. This will be an upgrade from the synchronised launch of 5G services with limited scale on 1 December 2018 by all the three national mobile operators.

“In March, KT will be the first in the world to introduce ‘True’ 5G mobile services,” said Hwang. “In the 5G era, neckband cameras, AR glasses and all kinds of devices will be connected to 5G, contributing to a better life for mankind.” That this was a personal historic moment should not to be lost. Exactly four years ago at MWC 2015, Hwang predicted a commercial 5G network by 2019. “Today, I would like to announce that the promise I made four years ago has finally been fulfilled,” Hwang added in his MWC speech.

The current 5G service that KT, SKT, and LG Plus are offering is fixed-wireless access targeted at business users. During the recent MWC, KT demonstrated plenty of 5G gimmicks for the consumer market, from a 5G connected robot butler bringing a bottle of water to the doorstep to a 5G and AI powered robot barista fixing cocktails.

KT is clearly banking big hope on 5G. Its Economic and Management Research Institute predicted that the socioeconomic value created by 5G will contribute to 1.5% of the country’s GDP by 2025. To realise such potential and to achieve serious monetisation of 5G, KT is looking towards the enterprise market and the public sector. The company announced that it plans to focus on five key areas with its 5G offers: smart cities, smart factories, connected cars, 5G media, and the 5G cloud. It says it is collaborating with various businesses as well as the Korean government to develop 5G services for both Business to Business (B2B) industries and Business to Government (B2G) sectors.

This is an echo to what Marcus Weldon, Nokia’s CTO and the President of Bell Labs, called for during his own speech at MWC. Weldon suggested the telecom industry should focus more on serving other verticals instead of on consumer markets, to deliver the true value of 5G. He did concede that it would need three to five years before telcos can see meaningful revenues from enterprise 5G. But when they do, Weldon predicted the business will soon equal that being made in the consumer 5G segment.

It just happened that KT and Nokia are going to collaborate closely in 5G. During MWC the two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on various 5G technologies. “We are excited to partner with Nokia to conduct these path-breaking trials,” said Jeon Hong-Beom, KT’s CTO. “This collaboration will ensure that we are able to leverage Nokia’s proven solutions and best-in-class professional services to provide a superior and differentiated experience to our subscribers.”

“With Korea, one of the lead countries in the early deployment of 5G, we are delighted to be working with KT to help them build a future-ready network,” added Bhaskar Gorti, President of Nokia Software. “Nokia’s end-to-end portfolio will empower KT to improve its customer experience and network efficiency.”

The key areas of the collaboration will include Service Orchestration and Assurance for the 5G era, with the aim of delivering end-to-end automation and new revenue opportunities for KT’s enterprise customers. This will be supported by the enabling technologies like NFC and network slicing. The joint work will start in Seoul later this year.

We’re simpler, faster and cheaper – Huawei

For years the Huawei message has been we’re better, but its MWC tag-line might have a slightly different look to it this year.

With security concerns continuing to rage around the world, the vendor has to prove itself more than worthy to be considered in 5G plans. And it seems to be doing that quite effectively. As of today, Huawei claims to have shipped more than 40,000 5G base stations to customers around the world, and has signed 18 5G commercial contracts in Europe, nine in the Middle East and three in Asia Pacific. But with the US on an anti-China road-trip, what is convincing these telcos to buddy up with the Chinese vendor?

Simpler, faster and cheaper

Simpler, in terms of ease of deployment, faster, in terms of speed of deployment, and cheaper, in terms of running a 5G business. These are the promises for the new products and business model undertaken by Huawei.

The 5G base stations which were paraded around the conference room this morning certainly fit the bill. A 64T64R 5G base station on display was roughly 40% of the size of its 4T4R 4G counterpart, and when you combine the weight of 32kg, Ryan Ding, CEO of Huawei’s Carrier Business Unit, claims the kit can be installed by two people in a matter of hours. No need for expensive cranes anymore.

Another interesting factor to consider is the power consumption of this kit. Huawei claims the kit is much more energy efficient than previous generations, when you factor in the increase in capacity and performance, generating a much more compelling business case. Ding was also bold enough to insist Huawei equipment is 30% more energy efficient than anything else on the market. While it might not sound like the most glorious of statements, it fits into the message which was booming off the stage this morning.

For Ding and co. the aim over the next couple of years is to reduce the cost-per-bit for telcos. With the pressure on for telcos to rollout 5G at a faster pace than 3G and 4G, this could come as a very important consideration. When you also ponder the network densification requirements of tomorrow’s world of connectivity, the boring arguments of energy consumption and ease of deployment become much more significant. Ding’s claim here is Huawei can reduce cost-per-bit for connectivity by 80-90% compared to 4G.

There are many around the world who would consider Huawei the leader in terms of innovation, but when combined with ease of deployment and an attractive reduction in OPEX, the Huawei machine could keep churning forward despite the security concerns. In fact, this doesn’t seem to be too much of a bother for Ding.

Looking at the revenues of the Carrier Business Unit, Ding pointed to the last two years as some of the toughest the business has faced. Huawei is not alone here, though Ding suggested revenues were only growing by 2-3% for the unit over 2017 and 2018. With 5G spending expected to ramp up, Ding expects the business to hit attractive growth numbers once again.

Coming back to the elephant in the room, the security concerns will have an impact, but only marginally. Ding suggests the markets where Huawei has been snubbed are not traditionally its most successful.

“In regard to security concerns, there will be some impact in some countries, but not in 95% of their markets,” said Ding.

Korea is an excellent example of this point. It is the world leader in the 5G race, and of course it would have been of interest to Huawei, but you have to consider the competition. Samsung, as a domestic technology champion, was always going to have home-field advantage over the competition.

While the security accusations directed towards Huawei will remain for years to come, the tides do seem to be turning. The US might have found some early success in turning governments against Huawei, but recent months have not been as fruitful. The UK and Germany are seemingly insistent on welcoming the business, while US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s propaganda tour of Eastern Europe was met with an icy hello. Perhaps the statesman should not accuse the bloc of a susceptibility to corruption before arriving next time.

For those who have been predicting the downfall of Huawei, now might be time to reconsider. It certainly won’t have the same tsunami of success it experienced in the 4G world, but trends suggest it will maintain its leadership position not only built on a booming portfolio, but also a more tender consideration of telcos bank accounts.

Simpler, faster and cheaper.

Ericsson bigs up ten named 5G deal wins ahead of MWC

At a pre-MWC briefing in London Ericsson was keen to bring attention to the ten 5G deal wins it already has in the bank.

All four US MNOs, Vodafone UK, Telenor, Swisscom, Wind 3, SK Telecom and Telstra have all put pen to paper on contracts with Ericsson for either RAN or core 5G gear. Ericsson didn’t explicitly call out any of its competitors but it seems very likely that this revelation was made with Huawei in mind, which has been crowing about its 30+ deal wins for some time but has yet to publicly name any of them.

Ericsson 5G deal wins

Chatting to Ericsson execs on the sidelines of the event, we got the impression this number could have been higher, but Ericsson is erring on the side of caution. It’s not really Ericsson’s style to publicly beat its chest, but there is also the matter of getting the green light from its customers to bang on about the fact that they’ve bought some of its shiny new 5G kit.

Most of the actual news at the event was embargoed until tomorrow, so watch this space, but we’re confident of not giving away any trade secrets by revealing 5G will be the dominant theme for Ericsson at this year’s telecoms fest.

With that in mind Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm wrote a blog the other day entitled ‘The world is talking about 5G. We are deploying it.’ As the headline implies this is a rare bit of chest-beating from Ericsson, which clearly wants to generate some buzz leading up to MWC. Ekholm refers to the ten named 5G wins as well as no less than 42 MoUs and the standard one-upmanship about standard-essential patents.

One thing he flags up, which we’ve heard echoed by the impressively on-message Ericsson execs at this event, is the danger of Europe dropping the ball on 5G. Ekholm is unsurprisingly keen to stress that if that does happen it won’t be fault of vendors, but instead “lack of spectrum, high spectrum fees and heavy regulation.”

“As we talk with our customers, it is clear they are impacted by this uncertainty,” he continues. “They have made large investments and will continue to make large investments to have strong performing networks. They have a lot at stake, and we understand that continued uncertainty will impact their ability to move forward.”

The elephant in the room is, as ever, Huawei, and the uncertainty around what European governments might decide to do on the fraught topic of Huawei and 5G security. Ericsson execs are far too discrete to address the matter directly but anytime Huawei is perceived as a threat, that presents an opportunity for them. However, as Ekholm implies, uncertainty can also result in a more general reluctance to invest, which is bad news for everyone.

Samsung looks to capitalise on Huawei’s woes

Samsung is reported to be investing heavily in infrastructure business to fill the market gap left by Huawei’s ban from 5G business in the developed markets.

Sources inside Samsung and other industry executives have told the Reuters that Samsung is pouring resources into its telecom infrastructure business unit, aiming to seize the opportunity created by the ban on Huawei in a number of important western markets. Samsung’s infrastructure business had been insignificant until recently, trailing Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, Cisco, and ZTE, according to figures from the research firm Dell’Oro Group. But it saw a chance when first ZTE then Huawei found themselves being shut out of the lucrative 5G markets in one country after another in the developed world.

To join the ranks of Ericsson and Nokia, Samsung is said to be moving strong management resources as well as software engineers from the smartphone unit to the infrastructure business and to have started charming Huawei’s current customers. One of the global heavyweights that has been impressed by what Samsung has got to offer is Orange. After visiting Japan, where Samsung was conducting a 5G trial, Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Orange’s CTO, was happy to include Samsung in its shortlist of alternative suppliers, after the telco decided to ban Huawei, its long-term top supplier, from its 5G business in France. An Orange 5G trial with Samsung will be conducted this year.

One difficulty Samsung needs to overcome is the shortage of talents. To start with it needs good engineers. To this end, Samsung’s heir apparent and de facto head Lee Jae-yong, or Jay Y. Lee as he is known in the western world, has sought the support from the Prime Minister when the latter visited Samsung in January. “We need more software engineers and want to work with the government to find that talent,” Lee was quoted by government officials. Samsung’s infrastructure unit has a workforce of about 5,000 people, both Nokia and Ericsson employ more than 100,000 people, and Huawei is said to have employed 200,000 people.

Another type of people Samsung needs to get onboard is those that can build operator relations. This needs a different skill sets from what Samsung has excelled in dealing with distribution channels for its smartphones, and it needs them to be in all the right places in the mature markets, and, better still, to have already worked with the potential operator customers. Due to the nature of business, trusty relationship with telcos often need to be cultivated for years or even decades.

However, Samsung may have just chosen a perfect timing for expansion. Both Ericsson and Nokia are laying off people, either wholesale shutting down of full business units, or selectively downsizing certain teams. Many of these functions have actually had customer interface experience. Huawei’s founder meanwhile has warned that the company may also need to adopt some cost control measures. Though they could not bolster Samsung’s strengths to the same level of its competitors, these could all be good recruitment targets for Samsung to pounce.

Is telecom losing Europe’s next generation employees?

Telecoms companies did not feature in the top employers’ lists chosen by the current and potential young employees in a recent multi-country survey.

The Swedish consulting firm Academic Work recently published the results of a survey on current and future young employees in six European countries, which asked the respondents to choose their most “aspired” employer, hence the title of the survey “Young Professional Aspiration Index (YPAI) 2018”. Among the three Nordic countries where it broke down the details of the employers the young people most like to work for, Google came on top in all of them (it tied with Reaktor in Finland, the consulting firm behind the country’s big AI drive). None of the telecom companies, be it telcos or telecom equipment makers, made to the top-10’s.

 YPAI 2018

The survey was done in the four Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark) plus Germany and Switzerland. Nearly 19,000 young people, a mixture of students (22%), current employed (59%), as well as job seekers (15%) answered the survey. The majority of the respondents came out of Sweden, while just under 1,000 respondents were registered from Finland and Norway. Presumably the sample sizes were not big enough in the other three countries to break down the top-10 company lists.

YPAI 2018 respondents

In addition to asking the respondents to name their preferred employers, the survey also asked them about their most important criteria when choosing a place to work. “Good working environment and nice colleagues” came on top in four out of the six countries (chosen by 60% of the respondents in Sweden, 78% in Denmark, 73% in Germany, and 66% in Switzerland). It tied with “Leadership” in Sweden. In Finland coming on top was “varied and challenging tasks”, chosen by 60% of those who answered the survey, while in Norway 64% of the young people surveyed chose “training / development opportunities” as the most important criterion.

Once upon a time (i.e. around the turn of the century), telecom was THE industry to work in. It has been losing some of its old lustre to the internet giants. If they “aspire” to re-take the top spot of the young people’s mind share, the Ericssons and Nokias and Telenors of the world may want to refer to these criteria when promoting their corporate image, as a starting point.

US Senate bill reintroduced to bring heat back on ZTE

US senators from both parties have re-introduced a bill to hold ZTE accountable in spite of the deal reached with the US government last summer.

On Tuesday (5 February), seven senators from the Republican and Democratic parties re-introduced the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act . The same bill was first introduced in September last year, following the deal between the Chinese telecom equipment maker and the US government, but expired when the last Congressional session ended with the mid-term election in November.

Like last time, the bill was sponsored by Marco Rubio, the former presidential candidate and Republican senator from Florida, and joined by his fellow senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The changes on the signatory included the absence of the Republican senator James Lankford of Oklahoma and the addition of Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Doug Jones (D-AL).

The press statements from the senators’ offices read largely similar to those from September. The law-makers reiterated that dissatisfaction with the lifeline the Commerce Department threw ZTE in the summer but believed the bill would serve as a deterrent. “While it was a mistake to strike a ‘deal’ with ZTE in the first place, this bill would ensure ZTE is held accountable if and when it cheats again,” said Rubio.

“When it comes to violating U.S. sanctions and deceiving our government, ZTE is a repeat offender. Companies like ZTE threaten our security and compromise American interests but this administration has failed to hold them accountable,” said Warner, who also serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “This much-needed legislation will force the telecom firm to play by the rules by imposing punitive measures if ZTE once again violates trade restrictions or its agreement with the U.S.”

A couple of factors make the timing of the re-introduction noticeable. The first was the high-level official meeting over the trade disputes between the US and China only finished a few days ago with no deal signed, but which the Chinese delegation claimed to have achieved “important progress”. The second is the legal cases recently filed by the US government against Huawei and its executives, ZTE’s domestic and international competitor. Another is Venezuela, which is in a highly volatile status. After reaching the deal with the US government in July, ZTE was suspected to have continued its business with the Venezuelan government officials under US sanction. Last but not least, collateral damage or not, the re-introduction fell on the first day of the Chinese New Year.

Apple slaps Google and Facebook on the wrist

One day after Facebook had its enterprise developer certificates revoked by Apple, Google ran into similar troubles with the iOS and App Store owner.

It turned out that Facebook was not the only naughty player attempting to circumvent Apple’s rules to forbid apps developed under enterprise certificates to be distributed outside of the company. Google was found to have distributed a data monitoring and survey app called Screenwise Meter. The app comes with Apple’s enterprise developer certificate granted to Google and has been distributed to a “panel” selected and maintained in partnership with the research firm GfK. The panel may include users as young as 13, or with the parents’ consent, those under 13 though the data monitoring method will be modified.

It is not clear if it was a reaction to the revocation of Facebook’s certificates, but Google stopped the distribution of Screenwise Meter before Apple acted. “The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program — this was a mistake, and we apologize,” Google said in a statement on Wednesday. “We have disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and always has been. We’ve been upfront with users about the way we use their data in the app, we have no access to encrypted data in apps and on devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time.”

However, Google’s developer certificates were still made invalid by Apple on Thursday, reported first by The Verge. This resulted in Google’s pre-release beta apps as well as employee-only apps, for example those for using Google’s shuttle bus or coffee shops, stopping working. (One cannot help but wondering how many employees in Google, which controls Android and releases its own Pixel smartphones, are using iPhone as their primary devices.) The tone from Apple, however, was much reconciliatory. “We are working together with Google to help them reinstate their enterprise certificates very quickly,” said the statement from Apple to BuzzFeed.

In comparison, Apple was much sterner when pulling the plug on Facebook. “We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple.”

To look at the two cases together, there are two types of issues Apple needs to deal with. To borrow the economics jargons, one is normative, i.e. based on principles, another is positive, i.e. based on facts. On the normative side, Apple should clarify whether Facebook and Google were punished for launching apps gathering users’ private data or for distributing the apps under the wrong type of certificates and through unofficial channels, i.e. not using the App Store.

Although most media coverage was focused on the Facebook app gathering user data, it looks that Apple was more annoyed by the fact that Facebook (and Google) has abused its enterprise developer certificates. It said in the statement related to Facebook: “Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case (of Facebook) to protect our users and their data.”

However, what drove Facebook to distribute “Facebook Research”, the app in question through unorthodox channels, looks to be that Apple has banned apps to gather user data as detailed as app history, private messages, and location, from being listed in the App Store. In its “App Store Review Guidelines”, Apple stated “5.1.1 Data Collection and Storage: (iii) Data Minimization: Apps should only request access to data relevant to the core functionality of the app and should only collect and use data that is required to accomplish the relevant task. Where possible, use the out-of-process picker or a share sheet rather than requesting full access to protected resources like Photos or Contacts.”

The rule above would be caught in a paradox in cases where the “core functionality” of an app is to gather detailed user data and is explicit with it. That was the case with “Facebook Research”. Facebook said in its statement: “Key facts about this market research program are being ignored. Despite early reports, there was nothing ‘secret’ about this; it was literally called the Facebook Research App. It wasn’t ‘spying’ as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate. Finally, less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens. All of them with signed parental consent forms.”

As an aside, despite the repeated furore towards Facebook recently, neither users nor advertisers seem to be deterred. The Q4 results recently published showed that in Europe, where GDPR went into effect mid-2018, Facebook’s monthly active users went up from 375 million in Q3 to 381 million, and the average revenue per user in Europe jumped from $8.82 in Q3 up to $10.98.

If Apple was unhappy with companies distributing apps developed under enterprise certificates to users outside of the enterprises, there would come the positive side of the issues, i.e. related how Apple implements the rule. Whether Apple was punishing Facebook and Google as a deterrent to other companies that have or might have distributed apps externally using enterprise certificates, or it will go after all offenders, remains to be seen.

If it was the former tactic, an old Chinese saying that goes “Kill the chicken to scare the monkey” would summarise it well, though the two chickens Apple has put the knife in are much fatter than most monkeys. On the other hand, if Apple were true to its word that it would act on “any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers”, it may find a long line of chickens (or monkeys) standing in the line. Alex Fajkowski, a Twitter user and iOS app developer, suggested that both Amazon and DoorDash were distributing apps to recruit temporary deliverers. Then a longer list of companies suspected of doing the same thing was drawn up, including companies like Square and Sonos (though Sonos looks to have removed the page recently).

Looking at it either way, it is clear that Apple is tightening the control over its already tightly controlled ecosystem. With Services becoming increasingly important, Apple would not want to see any loss of revenues from iOS apps distributed outside of App Store, nor would it want to be seen complacent or even complicit in any comprise of users’ privacy. Or, standing up to the internet giants which have been on the receiving end of much anger, could score a PR victory for Apple.

Both Facebook and Google had their enterprise certificates restored by Thursday evening.

China’s smartphone market plunged by 11% in 2018

The smartphone market in China declined by 11% in Q4 2018 and by similar magnitude the whole year, according to numbers from the research firm Strategy Analytics.

Quarterly shipments of smartphones in China dropped from 121 million in Q4 2017 to 108 million in the last quarter of 2018. The annual volume in 2018 came down to 409 million from 460 million the previous year. The market registered a fifth consecutive quarter of contraction, largely due to longer replacement cycle and weak consumer spending, according to the quarterly update from the firm. In 2018, China’s economic growth came to the lowest annual rate since 1990, reported media recently.

No everyone suffered equally though. Huawei beat the competitors as well as the market by shipping 30 million smartphones in the quarter, capturing 28% of the market, giving it a clear market leadership position. “Huawei’s growth soared 23% annually and it is now the clear market leader. A strong product portfolio, famous brand and extensive retail channels were among the main success factors,” commented Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics.

While Samsung, the global leader in smartphone market, has long underperformed in China and is nowhere to be seen on the leader board, Apple’s woes also continued. It is now occupying the number four position on the chart, with 10% market share. “iPhone shipments dropped 22% annually and this was the firm’s worst performance since early 2017. Apple iPhone has now fallen on a year-over-year basis in China for 8 of the past 12 quarters,” said Linda Sui, Director at Strategy Analytics. Similar to what we have seen in India, the majority of the Chinese consumers, faced with the abundant choices offered by the Android products, do not see enough value for money in the iPhone. “Apple is in danger of pricing the iPhone out of China,” Sui added.

The intense competition in China is driving some local brands to look elsewhere for new opportunities. Xiaomi, which just dropped below Apple in the latest quarter in the Chinese market, is eyeing Europe and Latin America for new growth. OnePlus is another Chinese brand trying to gain a foothold in the mature markets with strong specs at appealing price level. However they may find the consumers in these markets less receptive to new brands. For example, a recent research done by Tappable, a UK mobile app developer, suggests only 34% of consumers would consider purchasing from less known brands.

SA China smartphone market 4Q18

Ericsson CEO refuses to be drawn on Huawei

Börje Ekholm, Ericsson’s head honcho, did an interview with CNBC at the Davos forum and declined to comment on the Huawei situation despite repeated questioning.

The World Economic Forum has become the main event of the year for the global elite to get together and decide how the world should be run, while us mere mortals look on in awe. A major theme this year for the telecoms industry is the growing distrust of Huawei by the US and its allies, with its Chairman using the opportunity to have a bit of a moan.

Ekholm’s turn in the spotlight came courtesy of CNBC in some kind of ice studio, as you can see in the video clip below. It surely wasn’t too much for Ekholm to hope that there might be a heater in there somewhere, and the fact that the world’s greatest concentration of politicians, oligarchs and assorted fat-cats couldn’t seem to dig one up is a sad indictment of our times.

The Huawei angle was to try to get Ekholm to reveal what a handy thing it has been for Ericsson that Huawei is being given such a hard time, but he wasn’t having it. Having presumably been thoroughly briefed by his PR team, is first forward defensive stroke was to say he prefers to focus on what he can control, from which he deflected onto all the 5G R&D Ericsson is doing.

The interviewer decided to have one more go, for old times sake, and ask if Ericsson was experiencing any fallout from the Huawei situation. “What you see right now is that all operators around the world start to say, ‘Okay, what does this mean?’ so it creates a little bit of uncertainty, or a lot of uncertainty,” said Ekholm.

“We haven’t really seen anything in our order books, but we see worried customers, and concerned customers, and I think that is never good for the investment climate either, so how this is going to pan out, I don’t know, that’s why I still think it’s a debate that can be had better by others, we focus on what we can do.” Upon which he reverted back to his standard mantra around investment, and all that jazz.

Once they moved on from Huawei Ekholm expressed concern about the high levels of regulation, bureaucracy and spectrum prices in Europe, and how that might hold us back in the 5G era. He insisted it won’t be very expensive to roll out 5G and them highlighted the high bandwidth, low latency and massive IoT USPs, culminating in the ‘4th industrial revolution’ concept that lots of telecoms types have been pushing at Davos.