What’s up with… OneWeb, AWS, Huawei, Nokia
- OneWeb wins Canadian broadband contract
- Azure & AWS fight over big contract
- Putting Honor on the entity list
OneWeb wins coverage deal for Canada’s Deep North is today’s less obvious headline story
OneWeb, the Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite company rescued from bankruptcy in November 2020 by new owners, the British Government and Bharti Global (who each own 42 per cent of the equity of the speculative enterprise) has signed an MoU with Northwestel, a telco operating in northern Canada, to provide satellite/fibre-optic broadband to residents, businesses, government agencies and mining sites across the immense and sparsely populated area. Northwestel provides telecom services to 96 communities across vast swathes of northern Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon. OneWeb is headquartered in London, in the UK, has offices in California in the US and a satellite manufacturing facility in Florida, also in the US. If all goes to plan, OneWeb will eventually comprise a constellation of 650 satellites that will provide communications services to "everyone, everywhere", and serve broadband Internet access to rural and remote places across the globe. OneWeb’s service north of the 50th parallel in Canada, the north of the UK and Northern Europe will go live before the end of this year.
The bigger the contract the more likely the runner-up/loser will spend millions in lawyers’ fees and PR to object to its being awarded to a rival. Seems like an obvious rule of thumb and it’s being borne out again in the wake of the US National Security Agency (NSA) apparently awarding “a secret cloud computing contract worth up to $10 billion to Amazon Web Services,” according to Nextgov. The contract is being challenged by Microsoft in the form of a ‘bid protest’ filed with the Government Accountability Office. AWS is considered the market leader in cloud computing for federal agencies but Microsoft Azure is the youngish pretender in the cloud sphere and wants some of that government cloud action. Readers will remember that we’ve been here before with AWS and Microsoft tussling over the Defense Department’s JEDI cloud contract. In the end that $10 billion contract was cancelled.
A few months ago, Huawei of China, no longer the flavour of the month, the year or even the decade in much of the world, divested itself of its budget smartphone division, Honor. Citing intense and unmanageable supply chain pressure, Honor was bought by the Shenzhen Smart City Technology Development Group of which the government of Shenzhen is the biggest shareholder. In other words it went from Huawei, where the guiding hand of the Chinese Communist Party is moderately well-hidden but always there in the background and ready to squeeze if deemed necessary, to an overtly state-controlled entity. In the US, the ploy has not gone unnoticed by the Biden administration, which is pursuing the same successful hardline policy against Chinese technology companies as that introduced by Donald Trump. Now the pressure is on to add Honor devices to the “entity list” of Chinese companies prohibited from gaining access to US comms technology and the American market. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the push is being led by a 14-strong Republican Party congressional group dubbed the “China Task Force”. “This one will run and run”, as they used to say on Fleet Street.
Nokia says it has provided a private 4.9G/LTE wireless network to Western Power Distribution in the UK. The private LTE network will be used for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA*) testing, as well as other mission-critical systems such as voice services. WPD’s "LTE Connecting Futures" trial is testing a new LTE network to enable its smart grid. Read more...
Saving money from home: It had to happen, the forces of spite and nonsense appear to be on the rebound in the wake of the pandemic and the growing adoption of ‘work from home’. A UK cabinet minister has allegedly suggested that those working from home should perhaps expect to get a pay cut since, you know, they may be saving money by not commuting and that would never do - it should be clawed back. No mention of the money employees spend on providing their own power, heating and possibly broadband while they’re doing it. That would be too obvious. A more senior cabinet minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, quickly stepped in to pour cold water on the notion that civil servants (government employees, not polite domestic staff) could be faced with a pay cut. The originator of the ministerial remark is still not known, but the basis of the whole notion could have stemmed from reports that Google (of all companies) was considering tinkering with its pay scales taking location, commute time and working from home into account. According to the Guardian, however, a Google spokesperson said the company would not change an employee’s salary based on them going from office work to being fully remote in the city where the office is located. So there’s that. Even so, it’s not surprising that there might be a ground-swell of push-back from individuals working under close supervision in the office against those who they believe have escaped the leash.
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