What’s up with… Arm, AI, T-Mobile US

  • Arm to raise up to $10bn from Nasdaq IPO – reports
  • AI continues to cause concern, attract regulation and impact jobs 
  • T-Mobile US hacked again

In today’s industry news roundup: Arm preps its New York IPO; AI continues to hit the headlines, mostly not for positive reasons; T-Mobile US appears to have suffered yet another security breach; and much more!

Chip design giant Arm is set to raise up to US$10bn for its parent company SoftBank from an initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York, according to multiple reports including this one from Reuters. The company said it filed its IPO intentions with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in confidential documents, but stated that the “size and price range for the proposed offering have yet to be determined.” However, according to sources with knowledge of the matter, it seems SoftBank would retain a majority stake following the IPO and raise between $8bn and $10bn from the process. Having failed in its effort to sell Arm for $40bn to Nvidia, a deal that was blocked by regulators in early 2022, SoftBank, which acquired Arm in 2016 for $32bn, decided to raise funds from the UK-based chip design specialist from an IPO, but was torn as to whether or not to list Arm’s shares in London or New York (or both). Despite heavy lobbying by the UK authorities and government, London was sidelined in the process.   

Concerns over generative artificial intelligence (AI) developments, which serve as the basis for chatbots, such as ChatGPT, Bing and Bard, continue. The New York Times reported that Geoffrey Hinton, the person considered “the godfather of AI”, has departed from Google where he had worked for half a decade, so that he could be openly vocal about the dangers of the technology. According to the report, Hinton and two of his graduate students created technology in 2012 that became the foundation for the AI systems that big tech companies are developing. The AI expert has reportedly expressed concern that the race to deploy generative AI systems will lead to fake photos, videos and text, making it impossible for people to know “what is true anymore”. Another concern cited by Hinton suggested that AI-powered technologies will replace jobs that handle rote tasks, such as paralegals, personal assistants and translators. He is also reportedly worried that future versions of AI could, in fact, be a threat to humanity as these systems learn unexpected behaviour from the data they analyse and they can run computer code on their own. These concerns come shortly after thousands of AI experts, researchers and supporters, including Elon Musk, issued an open letter in March calling for an immediate pause on “giant AI experiments” for at least six months, so that the risks and capabilities of such systems can be thoroughly examined.

And with such concerns growing by the week, global authorities are looking to take some action. Citing comments made by Europe’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, over the weekend, Reuters has reported that the European Commission is on course to pass the world’s first AI law later this year following a preliminary deal by members of the European Parliament to push through the draft of the European Union’s Artificial Intelligence Act to a vote by lawmakers as soon as 11 May. That’s in the future, but here in the present…

IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna told Bloomberg News that the tech giant is putting new hires on hold while it figures out the impact of AI on its human resources requirements. The company estimates that up to 7,800 non-customer-facing roles could be replaced over the coming years by AI-enabled machines, reports Reuters.

Following a massive security breach between last November and January of this year involving the details of 37 million customers, T-Mobile US has been hacked again. “Our systems recently detected that a bad actor accessed limited information from a small number of T-Mobile accounts, including your T-Mobile account PIN,” the operator has notified an unspecified number of customers. “Personal financial account information and call records were NOT affected. Our systems and policies enabled T-Mobile teams to identify the activity, terminate it, and implement measures to protect against it from occurring again in the future. To further protect your account, we have already proactively reset your PIN… The information obtained for each customer varied, but may have included full name, contact information, account number and associated phone numbers, T-Mobile account PIN, social security number, government ID, date of birth, balance due, internal codes that T-Mobile uses to service customer accounts (for example, rate plan and feature codes), and the number of lines.” The operator added, “We take these issues seriously.” That’s not really very reassuring, though…

Further signs of stress in the UK fibre broadband altnet sector, where one of the more established players, Zzoomm, is reportedly laying off 300 staff, about half of its workforce, ISPreview has reported. In March, Zzoomm announced that it has passed 100,000 properties with its fibre access network and signed up its 10,000th customer

The European Union and US are leaning on Malaysia to resist awarding any 5G network deals to Huawei, according to a Financial Times report cited by Reuters. The country’s government had initially awarded a major US$2.5bn deal to Ericsson for the construction of a state-owned wholesale 5G network, but that deal is now seemingly under review, with Huawei regarded as a likely candidate to pick up any resulting business. Representatives of the US and EU have written to the Malaysian government to apparently warn of the national security and international investment implications of awarding 5G network contracts to Huawei. 

And speaking of the Chinese vendor… It has just reported first-quarter revenues of 132.1bn Chinese yuan (US$19.1bn), a year-on-year increase of 0.8%, and a net profit margin of 2.3%, down from 4.3% a year earlier. Huawei recently published its annual report, which showed the company is still a great deal bigger than its rivals but is currently taking a hit on its margins – see Huawei’s profits slump as it ups its R&D spending.

2Africa, the project behind what is claimed to be the longest subsea cable in the world, has marked a milestone on its deployment journey. The recently established connectivity subsidiary of Saudi Arabian operator stc, called center3, announced the cable has landed in Saudi Arabia for the first time and has been deployed at the cities of Jeddah and Yanbu. According to the CEO of center3, Fahad A. Alhajeri, the landing acts as a “significant step forward in our objective to make Saudi Arabia the regional hub connecting the three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe.” The project, which will see the deployment of a subsea cable spanning more than 45,000km, is driven by a consortium which, apart from center3, comprises of Meta, China Mobile International, MTN Group’s digital wholesale and infrastructure services arm MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC (also known as West Indian Ocean Cable Company). Its completion is expected in 2024 when it is set to connect 33 countries with internet services, resulting in “economic growth for the surrounding population” as it is said to act as a “catalyst for change in the broadband market, benefitting individuals and businesses,” the telco noted in its statement available here.

- The staff, TelecomTV