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Spirent adds BeiDou Phase-3 signals to its GNSS RF constellation simulators

By Zenobia Hegde

Spirent Communications plc, the provider in BeiDou, GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) testing solutions, announced that BeiDou Phase 3 signals have been added to its GNSS RF constellation simulators.The addition of these new signals to the GSS7000 and GSS9000 simulators follows the launch of the first two Beidou-3 satellites in November 2017.

Phase 3 of the Chinese BeiDou system will extend its coverage from Asia to the whole world, and will provide receiver developers and integrators with additional GNSS signals to make positioning, navigation and timing systems more accurate, and help to support new applications, such as autonomous vehicles.

The new signals will use the same carrier frequencies as the GPS and Galileo systems, so chipset manufacturers and device developers will need to test integrated designs to avoid problems caused by confusing data from different GNSS.

“By offering the BeiDou Phase 3 signals, our customers can test their designs well before the system is fully operational, which is expected in 2020,” said Stuart Smith, lead product manager. “With signals already starting to appear, it is important for developers to have test tools that can ensure devices will successfully make use of all GNSS signals.”

BeiDou Phase 3 signals are available immediately on the GSS7000 and GSS9000 simulators, and existing users can obtain the software upgrade by contacting Spirent.

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What’s Behind Qualcomm’s Huge New Profit Promise

By Aaron Pressman

It seemed like quite the stunner: besieged mobile chipmaker Qualcomm promising this week that it could earn as much as $7.50 per share next year, almost twice what Wall Street expects. But dig into the numbers and the assumptions and the promises, and there may be less there than meets the eye.

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf is already dancing as fast as he can. He has to revive the company’s core mobile business that has seen revenue shrink for three consecutive years. He’s also fighting off an unwanted $105 billion takeover from Broadcom and its hard charging CEO Hock Tan. Oh, and Mollenkopf still needs to close on Qualcomm’s own $47 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors, and all the while engaging in a fierce legal battle with Apple, once the company’s best customer.

So there was Mollenkopf, looking sharp in a navy suit and blue tie, perched on a high stool alongside his top lieutenants on Tuesday, appearing in a surprise, half hour video presentation to investors. The CEO promised Qualcomm would bring in $6.75 to $7.50 per share in adjusted profit in 2019 (versus the current average analyst forecast of just $3.77 according to FactSet), largely due to the coming adoption of the next generation of wireless technology known as 5G, he said.

“Qualcomm today is at an important inflection point. Think about a world in which everything is connected…This is the world of 5G, which will impact almost every facet of people’s lives,” Mollenkopf explained. “Only a small handful of companies invest in the R&D that enables each generation of mobile technology. As we did with 3G and 4G, Qualcomm has been leading the development of 5G.”

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The aggressive stance perked up investors. Qualcomm


qcom



with its shares gaining almost 5% in mid-day trading on Wednesday. But at $68.57, the stock remains slightly below Broadcom’s current $70 offer price. It’s hard to tease out just what the price level means-some investors could be discounting the takeover bid because it would take a long time to get antitrust approvals, while other may believe Qualcomm will successfully fend off the suitors and bring in the larger profits it is promising.

Broadcom’s


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stock price has risen about 1% since the presentation.

And the unwanted suitor also issued its own response to the presentation by saying that Qualcomm management had “repeatedly overpromised and under-delivered” on past financial forecasts. “Qualcomm’s approach is a transparent attempt to sell a quick fix by the Qualcomm Board of Directors and management team and an obvious tactic to deny its own stockholders the opportunity to receive a compelling premium for their shares and significant upside potential in the combined company,” the company said in a statement.

When analysts dug into Qualcomm’s 2019 profit promise, however, they discovered that it relied on several key assumptions that had nothing to do with 5G.

First, about $1.50 per share relied on completing the acquisition of NXP, which sells chips to automakers and makers of connected gadgets in the Internet of Things market. Though European regulators where NXP is based are reportedly on the verge of approving the transaction, some NXP


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stockholders have complained that Qualcomm’s $110 per share offer is too low and may have to be raised. If the deal doesn’t go through, Qualcomm said it could boost earnings per share via a massive stock buyback instead.

Analysts typically don’t include the profit contribution from a company being acquired until the deal is closed, so that component of Mollenkopf’s profit promise wasn’t really much of an upside surprise.

Another almost 60 cents would come from a new $1 billion cost-cutting program Mollenkopf unveiled on Tuesday without giving many details.

And, most uncertain of all, a final $1.50 to $2.25 would come from settling outstanding legal disputes with Apple


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and another unidentified phonemaker. There has been no evidence that Apple is much interested in coming to the table without huge concessions from Qualcomm that may undermine its entire business of collecting royalties from licensing its technology to phonemakers, however.

Deduct those three less-than-definite components, and Qualcomm’s promise is equal to only about $3.18 per share in 2019, analyst Stacy Rasgon of Bernstein Research calculated–considerably less than Wall Street currently expects. That’s because Qualcomm may have to pay higher taxes under the new corporate tax rules adopted last year that limit the use of some kinds of international tax avoidance strategies. And Apple is likely to cut its purchases from Qualcomm further as it looks for alternative chip suppliers for the iPhone, Rasgon noted.

Even Qualcomm’s projected gains from 5G may be overly-optimistic, Tim Long, an analyst at BMO Capital wrote. “Management likely believes that the core mobile business will grow faster, but we are more cautious on 5G,” Long said in a report after the presentation. “Management expects (earnings per share) to grow at twice faster than revenues, though the company has struggled in the past growing EPS faster than sales.”

Qualcomm’s recent history doesn’t give investors much confidence, either, the analysts said. With the burgeoning legal battles over royalties paid by phonemakers and a slowing of sales growth of mobile phones, Qualcomm’s revenue has dropped from $26.5 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $5.27 at its peak in 2014 to $23.2 billion and $4.28 per share last year. Wall Street expects revenue to bottom out at $22.8 billion this year and then rebound to $23.4 billion next year, according to FactSet (not including the NXP deal, which would add another $9 billion or more of annual revenue). Adjusted earnings are forecast to hit a low of $3.48 this year and then rise to $3.77 in 2019.

But the fight with Broadcom, which has nominated its own slate of candidates for Qualcomm’s upcoming board election, seems to have lit a fire under underperforming Qualcomm, Nomura Instinet analyst Romit Shah noted.

“Qualcomm leadership is very smart, but over the last several years, the San Diego-based management team at times has been unassertive and complacent,” Shah wrote in a report on Tuesday. “Though now with Broadcom’s hostile takeover attempt analogous to a ‘gun to the head,’ we expect the company to more aggressively focus on driving shareholder value in order to remain a standalone franchise.”

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Driving the transition to Smart Transport Networks

By Zenobia Hegde

Global surveillance solutions provider Synectics has published a white paper to help transport operators gear up for an increasingly urbanised future. With estimates suggesting that 70% of the world’s population will be living in towns and cities in just three years’ time – the free resource aims to help operators handle and secure ever-increasing urban flows, and implement significant safety improvements, towards the goal of a Smart Transport Network.

The Synectics white paper – entitled ‘Smart Transport Networks: Integration, Interoperability and IoT’ ‒ looks at how evolving surveillance, data management, and edge-device technologies can be used to unify disparate technologies and systems, to create Smart Transport Networks, meet Smart City objectives and deliver connected services to customers.

The paper helps operators make the most of current data, surveillance and safety assets by providing practical advice about integrating both IP and analogue technologies, particularly those responsible for the operation of bus, rail, and light rail transport networks. It also illustrates potential customer improvements by taking the reader on a fully-connected passenger journey, highlighting where converged technology can play an important role such as sending alerts to an individual’s phone if their luggage is unexpectedly moved.

Iain Stringer, divisional director – Mobile Systems at Synectics said: “Transport is perhaps the most critical of all urban services given the imperative need to maintain the flow of people and goods. As our transport systems get busier, technology frameworks that unify systems and technologies are providing live, 360-degree oversight of journeys, as well as a platform to communicate more effectively with passengers and third-party operators.

“Not only can this streamline operations by delivering all relevant information at a glance, such as during an incident, but it can also help operators to reduce costs and more efficiently handle information requests from Police and other authorities.

“This white paper explains the practical steps towards systems convergence for those charged with the management of transport or surveillance data.”

Synectics designs and deploys field-proven systems for both infrastructure (stations, stops, control rooms) and on-vehicle (trams, trains, buses, coaches), making the company one of only a handful of suppliers able to deliver end-to-end, surveillance and security solutions spanning all aspects of transport.

Every year its solutions protect over 1 billion passengers travelling on one of Europe’s busiest metro networks, and over 3 billion worldwide, providing Synectics with a frontline view of changing industry requirements and expectations.

For more information on Synectics’ surveillance solutions for transport operators, please click here.

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Machfu Announces Release of MACH-3 Industrial Internet of Things Platform and Gateway

By IoT – Internet of Things

Machfu, an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology company, announced today the release of its MACH-3 IIoT Gateway, a device allowing companies in energy, water, oil and gas as well as other industrial segments to seamlessly connect legacy infrastructure to cloud based IoT and existing SCADA systems. The product was designed to both simplify the […]

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Preventing ‘Techlash’ in 2018: Regulatory Threats

By Megan L. Brown

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue on January 10, 2018, warned that “techlash” is a threat to prosperity in 2018. What was he getting at? A “backlash against major tech companies is gaining strength — both at home and abroad, and among consumers and governments alike.” “Techlash” is a shorthand reference to a variety of impulses by government and others to shape markets, services, and products; protect local interests; and step in early to prevent potential harm to competition or consumers.

These impulses lead to a variety of actions and legal standards that can slow or change the trajectory of innovations from artificial intelligence to the Internet of Things (IoT) to business process improvements. According to Mr. Donohue, “[w]e must be careful that this ‘techlash’ doesn’t result in broad regulatory overreach that stifles innovation and stops positive advancements in their tracks.” Here are a few examples of the challenges ahead:

  • Global privacy and security regulations impose compliance obligations and erect barriers to the free flow of data, products, and services. Examples include the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), its Network Information Security Directive (NIS Directive), e-Privacy initiative, and a nascent effort on IoT certifications. “A growing number of countries are making it more expensive and time consuming, if not illegal, to transfer data overseas.” [1] China’s new cyber law “requires local and overseas firms to submit to security checks and store user data within the country.” [2] Such efforts may be intended to level the playing field with large U.S. technology companies, but whatever their impetus, they create enormous compliance costs and impediments to multinational operations. [3] Emerging regulation around the world may do more harm than good, particularly to U.S.-based organizations.
  • Premature regulation and oversight drives up the costs of doing business, particularly for new entrants or disruptors. Government should act only when it has evidence of actual harms to consumers or competition and the benefits outweigh the costs. When government rushes in with a technical mandate, innovation suffers. Likewise, if the government demands business changes without evidence of anti-competitive effects, it distorts the marketplace. Premature regulations impose unnecessary compliance burdens, so governments should exercise “regulatory humility” and wait for experience and evidence.
  • Unjustified class action litigation over technology strikes fear in the hearts of innovators. The growth of “no injury” lawsuits in targeting the technology sector likewise is a concern. Class action plaintiffs were quick to sue GM and Toyota after news reports of a vulnerability in Jeeps, and dozens of plaintiffs immediately sued Intel after chip processor vulnerabilities named Meltdown and Spectre were reported. [4] While courts have generally rejected suits based on “risk of hacking,” [5] plaintiffs continue to push these theories, along with novel “economic loss” claims from “overpaying for” [6] vulnerable devices. Legal uncertainty about such claims, and the rush to obtain damages awards and attorneys’ fees, threatens to increase costs and chills companies’ willingness to engage.
  • State laws, such as those attempting to impose “net neutrality” and online privacy obligations at the state level, threaten to balkanize regulation of technology. “Lawmakers in at least six states, including California and New York, have introduced bills in recent weeks that would forbid internet providers to block or slow down sites or online services.” [7] State-by-state regulation of global ISP and carrier network practices is likely to create major inefficiencies. Likewise, state privacy laws create complexity for organizations whose operations, products, and customers cross state lines. Industry has decried “balkanized privacy regulation at the state level” which creates “a hazardous web of conflicting state-by-state laws for any company operating in the online space.” [8]
  • Local barriers, like restrictive zoning regimes, stunt technology deployment and innovation. Tomorrow’s innovations in health care, transportation, conservation, entertainment, and more depend on a robust technology infrastructure, including telecommunications facilities. [9] But many local jurisdictions are hesitant to allow deployment in public rights-of-way, and others see the explosion of small cell telecommunications facilities as a revenue stream. [10] Local barriers to deployment will slow innovation in communications technology, which may make many communities, and the United States at large, less competitive in the global economy. This is particularly troubling as other countries, like Japan and South Korea, welcome the next generation of communications technology.

2018 will be an important year for global regulation of technology, as issues from privacy to cybersecurity to competition percolate in legislatures around the world. As we enter what some call the Fourth Industrial Revolution, governments have to consider their role in supporting innovation. Hopefully the United States continues to lead by example, resisting “techlash” with a light regulatory touch and a lot of humility. The United States likewise should urge other countries not to punish success, and instead let innovators — not regulators — create the future.

[1] Cross-Border Data Flows: Where Are the Barriers, and What Do They Cost? https://itif.org/publications/2017/05/01/cross-border-data-flows-where-are-barriers-and-what-do-they-cost

[2] T. Miles, U.S. asks China not to enforce cyber security law, Reuters (Sept. 26, 2017) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-cyber-trade/u-s-asks-china-not-to-enforce-cyber-security-law-idUSKCN1C11D1

[3] Ann M. Beauchesne, Megan Brown, Sean Heather, Principles for IoT Security; The IoT Revolution and Our Digital Security (Sept. 2017), https://www.uschamber.com/IoT-security

[4] See S. Czarnecki, Intel faces dozen class action lawsuits over chip flaws, https://www.prweek.com/article/1454201/intel-faces-dozen-class-action-lawsuits-chip-flaws (Jan. 10, 2018).

[5] Cahen v. Toyota Motor Corp., No. 16-15496 (9th Cir. Dec. 21, 2017) https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7591856924921942948&hl=en&as_sdt=6&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr

[6] Id. While the court in Cahen found that the “economic loss theory is not credible, as the allegations that the vehicles are worth less are conclusory and unsupported by any facts,” a future Plaintiff may survive a motion to dismiss with stronger allegations.

[7] C. Kang, States Push Back After Net Neutrality Repeal, N.Y. Times (Jan. 11, 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/technology/net-neutrality-states.html

[8] Et tu, California? ISP Privacy Bill Moving through the Legislature (June 21, 2017) https://www.ana.net/blogs/show/id/rr-blog-2017-06-et-tu-california

[9] Thomas K. Sawanobori & Paul V. Anuszkiewicz, CTIA, High Band Spectrum: The Key to Unlocking the Next Generation of Wireless, 1, (June 13, 2016), https://www.ctia.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/5g-high-band-white-paper.pdf

[10] See Jonathan Babcock, Joshua Turner, and Anna Gomez, 5G Deployment Faces Unique Challenges Across The US, Law360 (Aug. 1, 2017) https://www.law360.com/articles/950330/5g-deployment-faces-unique-challenges-across-the-us

Written by Megan L. Brown, Partner at Wiley Rein LLP

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