Pentagon Identifies More Bandwidth for Commercial 5G Network Sharing

The Pentagon and the White House have identified an additional 100 MHz in the coveted mid-band frequency spectrum to be used for the commercial 5G wireless technology network within the United States.The announcement on Monday takes frequencies previously designated for use by the Department of Defense and makes them available for spectrum sharing between the military and commercial telecommunication businesses.Senior administration officials say the spectrum, ranging from 3450 to 3550 MHz, is “ideal” for 5G because waves on that frequency can travel long distances at fast speeds, which could ensure more access to the network across the United States.Department of Defense chief information officer Dana Deasy testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in Washington, May 6, 2020.But that particular mid-band spectrum currently supports critical military operations ranging from air defense, missile and gunfire control, counter mortar, battlefield weapon locations and air traffic control, according to Dana Deasy, chief information officer of the Department of Defense.Deasy addressed concerns about sharing the spectrum Monday, stressing that the Pentagon was planning a spectrum relocation transition that would minimize any impact to military operations.United States White House CTO Michael Kratsios delivers a speech on the last day of the Web Summit in Lisbon on Nov. 7, 2019.“This particular part of the band between 3450 and 3550 MHz has been identified because it can be made available without sacrificing our nation’s great military and national security capabilities,” said Michael Kratsios, the Trump administration’s chief technology officer.Deasy said the latest mid-band transition would use rules similar to those agreed upon in previous government-commercial sharing plans.An auctioning of the right to share a nearby frequency band, dubbed the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, with the military is currently ongoing and could bring in as much as $10 billion.The latest moves will provide U.S. commercial businesses with a continuous spectrum spanning from 3450 MHz to 3980 MHz in which to build a new 5G network. 5G will come with faster data transfer, better responsiveness and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once.The United States and China are currently racing to deploy 5G with the hopes of dominating the technology’s standards, patents and leadership in the global supply chain. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will auction the latest 100 MHz spectrum beginning in December 2021 for use as soon as mid-2022, a process that senior administration officials say chops the typical time for mid-band availability from years to months.“This process reflects the fastest transfer of federal spectrum to commercial use in history,” Kratsios added.

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A Ban on WeChat and TikTok, a Disconnected World and Two Internets

President Trump’s new executive orders banning Chinese social media apps TikTok and WeChat marked a significant escalation in the ongoing technology tensions between the U.S. and China, according to analysts.On Aug. 6, 2020, Trump declared that TikTok and WeChat posed a threat to national security and invoked the International Emergency Economic Power Act. He prohibited Americans from carrying out any transactions with the parent companies of TikTok and WeChat beyond 45 days — meaning U.S. companies and individuals will not be able to advertise with the platforms, offer them for download via app stores, or enter into licensing agreements with them.WeChat logoVOA spoke with government officials, think tank experts and app users for perspective on the immediate and long-term implications of the decision to ban the two major Chinese apps.Two Internets: One controlled by US, other by ChinaMembers of the City Youth Organization hold posters with the logos of Chinese apps in support of the Indian government for banning the popular video-sharing ‘TikTok’ app, in Hyderabad on June 30, 2020.Mixed reaction from app usersTikTok is one of the world’s best-loved apps, with more than 800 million monthly active users in the United States.WeChat, while not as popular in the U.S. as TikTok, is extensively used by the Chinese diaspora to connect with family and friends in China.“I think my life will be hugely impacted if WeChat is banned,” said Helen, a Chinese international student at New York University (NYU). “WeChat is the only way of communication between me and my friends in China.”Most chatting apps, such as Line, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram, are banned in China. Currently WeChat is the only “super app” connecting people living in the U.S. and China and offers cross-border payment options.Kevin, who works in a restaurant in New York’s Chinatown, told VOA that it would be hard for him to connect with family back home. “I know some people who have houses here for rent and live in China, they are using WeChat to collect rent. If the app is banned, it will be a big problem for them,” he said.Chinese Americans who spoke with VOA, meanwhile, do not seem to be concerned with the ban on WeChat.“It’s not going to stop people from making other apps to chat, I don’t know what’s the point,” said Stanley, a nurse living in New York.Monica Xu,  Wenhao Ma contributed to this report. 

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Chatbots and Telemedicine Join Vietnam’s COVID-19 Fight

An idea is percolating in Vietnam as it fights COVID-19: “send in the robots.”  The pandemic has brought artificial intelligence (AI) more of a spotlight as nations around the world look for uses, from combing data for clues to predict an outbreak, to robot waiters that reduce human contact. In Vietnam, which has reported remarkably low infection and death figures, the possible uses are still being tested. They include chatbots to dispense information, face recognition technology, predictive mapping, and software to combat rumors about the disease.  For instance, FPT Corp., the nation’s biggest telecommunications and software company, introduced a web application that uses automation to assess COVID-19 risk. How it works: Vietnamese go to the Corona Check website and enter data on where they have been recently. The app then cross references that with data on the location, timing, and quantity of cases nationwide to calculate the odds someone has come into contact with the coronavirus.  “Our AI system is continuously updating data to improve itself,” Tran Hoang Giang, the FPT Software vice president, said. “Currently it could predict the probability of coronavirus infection with 90% accuracy. But it’ll get even better as more people submit self-assessments on the web.” The process is helped in part by the fact that Vietnam, which has had 841 COVID-19 cases this year, publishes uniquely detailed, anonymized data on patients’ movements so that others can check if they went somewhere at the same time as an infected person. For instance, one record showed the times that a patient had gone to a mall, a cafe, and a market. Warning system The work on machine learning sends a good message, according to FPT chairman Truong Gia Binh.   “Not only tech enthusiasts in developed countries but also young, talented Vietnamese have the opportunity to exchange knowledge and research about AI,” he said. Vietnam has also joined in on a popular AI strategy globally to map out many data points that might predict where the next cluster of COVID-19 cases will occur. The data points can number in the dozens and may not seem directly related, such as weather, density in a shopping center, or popular Google searches. However, taken together, the right data can correlate with disease outbreaks and serve as a warning system that detects risks before humans do.  In addition to models that assess the threat of a disease, Vietnam has a COVID-19 map that is paired with news articles, which are updated through automation software to dispel misinformation. The Southeast Asian nation has taken a hard line against pandemic rumors, which could prove deadly and in other nations have encouraged unscientific home remedies. Telemedicine  Beyond machine learning, COVID-19 is also spurring more interest in another emerging technology called telemedicine. For instance, the company Doctor Anywhere now has physicians assessing Vietnamese patients for signs of the disease via video consultations, which are also conducted in Thailand and Singapore.  All of this is part of Industry 4.0, a term for the latest advancements that are supposed to help economies move to the next stage of development. Vietnam expects these advances to help it recover from the pandemic, too. “AI is considered a core technology for Industry 4.0 that has implications for post COVID-19 healing,” Chu Ngoc Anh, the Minister of Science and Technology in Vietnam, said. His government is working with Australia, which said last week it donated 650,000 Australian dollars “to find new ways to use AI as Vietnam recovers from COVID-19.” The money will fund things like a contest in which programmers submit competing ideas to put machine learning to use. “In the face of the global pandemic, it [innovation] has become more important than ever,” Robyn Mudie, the Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, said.  She added: “This AI initiative is a great example of how new technology can be adapted quickly to respond to Vietnam’s emerging needs.” 

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Twitter Expressed Interest in Buying TikTok’s US Operations, Sources Say

Twitter Inc has approached TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance to express interest in acquiring the U.S. operations of the video-sharing app, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters, as experts raised doubts over Twitter’s ability to put together financing for a potential deal.It is far from certain that Twitter would be able to outbid Microsoft Corp and complete such a transformative deal in the 45 days that U.S. President Donald Trump has given ByteDance to agree to a sale, the sources said on Saturday.The news of Twitter and TikTok being in preliminary talks and Microsoft still being seen as the front-runner in bidding for the app’s U.S. operations was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.Twitter has a market capitalization of close to $30 billion, almost as much as the valuation of TikTok’s assets to be divested, and would need to raise additional capital to fund the deal, according to the sources.”Twitter will have a hard time putting together enough financing to acquire even the U.S. operations of TikTok. It doesn’t have enough borrowing capacity,” said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan.”If it (Twitter) tries to put together an investor group, the terms will be tough. Twitter’s own shareholders might prefer that management focus on its existing business,” he added.One of Twitter’s shareholders, private equity firm Silver Lake, is interested in helping fund a potential deal, one of the sources added.Twitter has also privately made a case that its bid would face less regulatory scrutiny than Microsoft’s, and will not face any pressure from China given that it is not active in that country, the sources said.TikTok, ByteDance and Twitter declined to comment.TikTok has come under fire from U.S. lawmakers over national security concerns surrounding data collection.Earlier this week, Trump unveiled bans on U.S. transactions with the China-based owners of messaging app WeChat and TikTok, escalating tensions between the two countries.Trump said this week he would support Microsoft’s efforts to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations if the U.S. government got a “substantial portion” of the proceeds. He nevertheless said he will ban the popular app on September 15.Microsoft said on Sunday it was aiming to conclude negotiations for a deal by mid-September.  

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TikTok Threatens to Sue after US Moves to Ban App  

TikTok reacted to President Donald Trump’s executive order barring U.S. companies and individuals from doing business with its parent company, ByteDance, by threatening to take legal action and urging its U.S. users to lobby on its behalf.  Trump ordered sweeping bans late Thursday prohibiting U.S. companies from doing business with ByteDance and Tencent, the owner of the messenger app WeChat. The executive orders targeting the Chinese companies go into effect in 45 days.  “We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process,” ByteDance said in a statement released Friday.  The company suggested that the executive order was illegal and that it might be challenged in court. “We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly — if not by the Administration, then by the U.S. courts,” the company said.  In the meantime, Tencent responded by saying it was evaluating the situation. “The company is reviewing the potential consequences of the administrative order in order to fully understand its impact,” Tencent said in a brief statement issued through Hong Kong Stock Exchange.  In addition to its hugely popular messaging feature, WeChat also links to finance and other services. It claims that the app has more than 1 billion users.  The Trump administration and U.S. lawmakers have expressed concerns that the Chinese social media services could provide American users’ personal information to the Chinese government. Both companies have said they do not share their data with the Chinese government.  The twin executive orders Thursday added new contention to growing U.S.-Chinese conflict over technology and security. The Chinese foreign ministry accused Washington of “political suppression” and said the moves would hurt American companies and consumers.  “The United States is using national security as an excuse, frequently abuses national power and unreasonably suppresses companies of other countries,” Wang Wenbin, a ministry spokesman, said.  Wang, who did not mention TikTok or Tencent by name, said China strongly opposed the move but gave no indication of how Beijing might retaliate.  The Trump administration has previously threatened to shut TikTok down if it remains under the ownership of Beijing-based ByteDance.  According to a memo sent Monday by Chief Executive Officer Zhang Yiming, ByteDance is exploring all possibilities to ensure that its subsidiary can continue operating in the United States. Without naming Microsoft directly, the company said Friday, “We even stated that we could sell our U.S. business to a U.S. company.”  The statement ended by calling on its 100 million U.S. users to put pressure on the Trump administration.  “As TikTok users, creators, partners and family members, you have the right to express your opinions to all levels of lawmakers, including the White House government,” the statement said.   

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Citing Security Concerns, Trump Orders Bans on TikTok, WeChat

U.S. President Donald Trump Thursday ordered sweeping bans on two Chinese consumer apps.He ordered the bans prohibiting U.S. companies from doing business with ByteDance, the owner of the video-sharing app TikTok, and Tencent, the owner of the messenger app WeChat. The executive orders targeting the Chinese companies go into effect in 45 days.Whether Trump has the legal authority for such actions is not immediately clear, analysts said.The move comes amid data collection and privacy concerns the Trump administration and U.S. lawmakers have expressed about the apps. However, no evidence has been cited to support the claims.Both companies have said they do not share their data with the Chinese government.“I am the first to yell from the rooftops when there is a glaring privacy issue somewhere,” mobile security expert Will Strafach told The Associated Press last month. ”But we just have not found anything we could call a smoking gun in TikTok.”Analysts said they expect China to retaliate.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the U.S. would not allow U.S. stores to sell Chinese apps because of security concerns.Millions of people around the world use the two apps.

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Trump Orders Bans on 2 Chinese Apps, Citing Security Concerns

U.S. President Donald Trump Thursday ordered sweeping bans on two Chinese consumer apps.He ordered the bans prohibiting U.S. companies from doing business with ByteDance, the owner of the video-sharing app TikTok, and Tencent, the owner of the messenger app WeChat. The executive orders targeting the Chinese companies go into effect in 45 days.Whether Trump has the legal authority for such actions is not immediately clear, analysts said.The move comes amid data collection and privacy concerns the Trump administration and U.S. lawmakers have expressed about the apps. However, no evidence has been cited to support the claims.Both companies have said they do not share their data with the Chinese government.“I am the first to yell from the rooftops when there is a glaring privacy issue somewhere,” mobile security expert Will Strafach told The Associated Press last month. ”But we just have not found anything we could call a smoking gun in TikTok.”Analysts said they expect China to retaliate.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the U.S. would not allow U.S. stores to sell Chinese apps because of security concerns.Millions of people around the world use the two apps.

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