What’s up with… e& capital, Samsung, IoT security

TelecomTV Staff
By TelecomTV Staff

Oct 13, 2022

  • Middle East operator unveils major VC fund for tech startups
  • Samsung to open 6G R&D unit in the UK
  • US takes a run at IoT device security

In today’s industry news roundup: e& capital has a $250m fund and has started investing already; Samsung spreads its 6G research wings to the UK; IoT security plans are afoot in the US, but there are doubts about the approach; and more!

e& capital, the venture capital arm of Middle East operator e& (formerly Etisalat), has unveiled a US$250m fund and outlined some of its early investments, using the Gitex trade show currently taking place in Dubai to explain how it plans to support innovative startups that can help enhance the company’s efforts to meet the needs of its customers. Among its early investments are $20m in the series B round of Vuz, an immersive social media app that enables users to engage via extended reality (XR) and metaverse platforms. That investment ties in with e&’s strategy to develop metaverse services in the Middle East, something it is doing in partnership with South Korea’s SK Telecom, as we reported earlier this week. It has also invested in French startup Lablabee, which aims to provide hands-on, practical training in telco cloud skills using a suite of digital, virtual labs, as TelecomTV reported last month. “As the investment arm of e&, our vision is to invest in business ideas that empower a better and brighter digital future,” noted Kushal Shah, head of venture capital at e& capital. “Building on the strong foundations of e& as a global technology and investment conglomerate, we are now taking massive strides towards supporting visionary tech businesses by enabling synergies and providing access to innovation. Once this happens, the regional tech ecosystem will evolve dramatically. Major change never happens overnight, and we are gearing up for a long-term goal of enabling meaningful progress that moves the world forward. As we build a portfolio of fast-scaling businesses that are already proven winners, we are looking forward to setting things in motion in VC [venture capital] and growth investments, as we rely on a thorough process that will continuously build and maintain momentum.” 

Samsung Electronics is to establish a new 6G networks and devices research group in the UK based at the Samsung R&D Institute UK based in Staines upon Thames, called Samsung Research UK. “This new group marks a significant increase in investment in UK telecoms research talent by Samsung, and will be part of Samsung’s global 6G development project, spanning multiple overseas research centres,” noted the vendor in this announcement. “We envision that 6G will provide ultimate experiences for humans and everything through the next level of hyper-connectivity, and this idea serves as the foundation of our 6G vision,” noted Sebastian Seung, president and head of Samsung Research. “We believe that it is the right time to start preparing for 6G. Shaping 6G will require many years, as we have seen with previous generations, and will need lots of discussion and collaborations among players in industry and academia,” he added. 

In the US, the White House National Security Council is to introduce a consumer products cybersecurity labelling programme in an effort to improve digital security and safety on IoT devices. The Biden administration is to phase-in either three, maybe four, new cybersecurity standards that device vendors will be encouraged to adopt and apply. However, the initiative is purely voluntary, so there’s no telling which companies will follow the recommendations or which will ignore them. Next Monday (19 October), some 50 executives from consumer product associations, manufacturers and technology thinktanks will convene at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, DC for a “workshop” to discuss the matter. All too often, cybersecurity is little more than an afterthought where the security of consumer IoT devices is concerned, and the dangers inherent to that approach are obvious. The initiative is the remit of Anne Neuberger, the US Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and Emerging Technology: She is working with officials in the European Union (EU) to ensure the new cybersecurity labels can be applied, if not initially around the world, then at least on either side of the Atlantic. Last year the politically bipartisan, and now “sun-setted” US Cybersecurity Solarium Commission (presumably members met under sunlamps after a sauna), recommended Congress should create a not-for-profit national cybersecurity certification and labelling authority to “establish and manage a voluntary cybersecurity certification and labelling programme for information and communication technologies”. This would include software, devices and industrial control systems. The plan is that US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards will be used, even though the organisation does not yet have any standards in place for IoT devices. It looks as though the programme, which is scheduled to be rolled out next year, could soon be mired in bureaucracy and infighting. Critics say the whole thing is a waste of time and effort as the majority of consumer IoT devices bought by US householders are made in other countries. They also point out, with considerable justification, that similar initiatives are already well underway in the EU, the UK and in Singapore and that by far the easiest, quickest and cheapest option would be for the US to adopt any of those equally stringent and viable emergent standards. 

Ericsson has been busy this week. It is “extending the scope of its collaboration with the University of Texas (UT) at Austin on groundbreaking research into 6G-powered extended reality (XR),” the vendor notes in this announcement. “The extension reinforces the partners’ ambition to develop the foundation for future immersive and seamless XR experiences even in the most-demanding use cases,” it added. The vendor has also released reports on the future of microwave technology in wireless backhaul networks (and how such systems are now much more energy efficient), and on how enterprises are turning to technologies such as 5G to deal with “disruptive events”

A new report from Juniper Research reveals that in 2023, global ecommerce fraud is set to cost online merchants in excess of $48bn. It’s a huge sum, as is this year’s expected total of $41bn. Online payment fraud includes losses across the sales of digital goods, physical goods, money transfer transactions and banking, as well as purchases such as airline ticketing. Fraudster attacks can include phishing, business email compromises and socially engineered fraud. Juniper Research predicts the increase can be attributed to the ever-increasing use of alternative payment methods, including digital wallets and the questionable but, in a time of global inflation and job losses, increasingly popular buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) schemes. Juniper recommends that fraud prevention vendors should concentrate “on building platforms providing AI-powered risk-based scoring, which can be payment-method agnostic, to best suit changing market conditions.”. As far as geographical distribution is concerned, North America tops the ecommerce fraud league and is expected to account for 42% of all fraudulent transaction value in 2023. Juniper Research says the key factors behind the increase is the “vast volume of data breaches and the broad availability of stolen credit card information”. The report’s author, Nick Maynard, commented: “To combat this fraud, ecommerce merchants must implement simple steps, such as address verification, combined with risk-based scoring on transactions, which will allow merchants to best mitigate the massive fraud threats present.” We’ll see how that goes.

 Never mind the UK’s financial meltdown, rampaging inflation, increasing mortgage costs and the economics of the madhouse… Brits will soon all be united in cheering and waving the Baner Piran (the black banner with the plain white cross of St. Piran, the national flag of Cornwall – or Kernow, depending on your political leanings) as the first satellite launch from UK soil is celebrated. Spaceport Cornwall is a bit smaller scale than Cape Canaveral or the European Space Centre in Kourou, Guiana: It’s located in a corner of Newquay Airport at Mawgan in Pidar, on Cornwall’s north coast. Small it might be, but it is from here that nine satellites – each described as being “the size of a washing machine” – will be ferried into orbit “within the next few weeks”. The event won’t be on the scale of a blast off from the Kennedy Space Centre but a relatively low-key affair, with the satellites being stashed in a rocket under the wing of an ageing adapted Virgin Atlantic 747 jumbo jet called “Cosmic Girl”. Virgin Orbit’s “Start Me Up” inaugural flight will lift the rocket and its payload to 35,000 feet before LauncherOne is released to fly on into orbit. The mission has been eight years in the planning. Part of the payload is AMBER IOD-3, a UK-developed satellite designed to monitor marine environments. It is claimed to be the first of a 20-bird constellation that will collect “maritime intelligence”. There are also two Prometheus-2 cubesats from the UK's defence research agency, the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL): They'll be testing new imaging technology and will “monitor radio signals”. Then there’s CIRCE, comprising two more cubesats for the DSTL and the US Naval Research Laboratory that will carry “space weather" instrumentation to monitor disturbances above the Earth that are caused by the sun’s magnetic and particle emissions. DOVER, meanwhile, has been developed by Britain’s RHEA Group, is co-funded by the European Space Agency and will be used as part of the Navisp programme, which is developing next-generation technologies for precise positioning, navigation and timing applications. ForgeStar-0 from Space Forge is the first satellite developed in Wales: It will test the feasibility of making semiconductors and crystals in space and returning them to earth for inclusion in new technology devices. AMAN is a single earth-observation satellite that will test the feasibility of lofting yet another future mass constellation into orbit: It is Oman’s first venture into space. Finally comes STORK-6, a Polish partner to the AMAN initiative. In case you are unaware of the sainted Piran, mentioned at the start of this article, he was (allegedly) a monk who floated across to Cornwall from Ireland atop a millstone: It seems Archimedes’ principle did not apply to him – he may as well have walked. And finally… for those unfamiliar with the ways of south-west England, it’s worth noting the adjoining counties of Devon and Cornwall are great rivals. Despite the rivalry, this summer they agreed to co-operate to run a massive music festival that would headline with the reunions of both The Jam and Cream. Unfortunately, the event had to be cancelled when neither county could agree about which should go on first… That’s a joke that will be understood by many in the UK, but if you don’t get it, look it up.

The Carrier and Wholesale Services (C&WS) division of e& has struck a partnership with Microsoft and SES to host the co-located SES O3b mPOWER and Microsoft ground station at Ras Al Khaimah. The first of its kind in the region, the ground station will “facilitate one-hop connectivity to the cloud from remote sites so that customers can optimise their global business operations smoothly”. Read more

- The staff, TelecomTV

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