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Energy storage can improve the delivery of smart energy solutions in smart cities, according to Navigant Research

By Zenobia Hegde

A new report from Navigant Research examines the relationship between energy storage and smart cities, providing an overview of relevant applications as well as drivers and barriers.

Smart energy technologies are increasingly expected to help address the sustainability needs of smart cities to reduce carbon-intensive peak energy use and to develop resilient energy systems.

“Smart energy technologies such as energy storage will increasingly be called on to address the sustainability needs of the urban energy transformation now underway,” says William Tokash, senior research analyst at Navigant Research. “Specifically, energy storage is now poised to support the delivery of low carbon DER to reduce peak energy use and improve the resilience capabilities of urban landscapes by enhancing access to reliable electricity supply.”

According to the report, energy storage has experienced significant growth in the past 2 years due in part to its unique ability to support the deployment of flexible energy capacity. The emergence of energy storage’s ability to make DER more flexible, less carbon-intensive, and more resilient is redefining how smart energy solutions can support the sustainability needs of an integrated smart city technology and solutions platform.

The report, Smart Cities and Energy Storage, examines the role energy storage can play in smart cities and how smart cities can drive the deployment of energy storage. The study provides an overview of energy storage applications within smart cities, including drivers and barriers for energy storage, and discusses how energy storage works within an integrated energy as a service framework. It also analyses the role of energy storage in the delivery of low carbon peak energy and improving resilience.

An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

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Navigant Research report shows global Revenue for Lighting as a Service is expected to reach $2.6 bn by 2026

By Zenobia Hegde

A new report from Navigant Research examines the global market for lighting as a service (LaaS) solutions in commercial buildings, providing market forecasts for revenue through 2026, as well as details on related services and the competitive landscape.

LaaS is the third-party management of a lighting system, including additional maintenance, financial, technical, or operational services. As more lighting products and controls come to market, LaaS is expected to experience a boost from customers who need assistance in choosing and maintaining up-to-date technologies that can provide cost savings to their businesses.

“We are seeing a shift in the LaaS market from a traditional financing model to an increased number of turnkey services, which provide the customer with a full-scale offering from audit and design to installation to management and maintenance of the system,” says Krystal Maxwell, research analyst with Navigant Research.

“The as a service business model, which shifts business spending from CapEx to OpEx, allows companies to focus on their core business areas and ensures the outsourced business (LaaS) is being kept up to date with market developments by the service provider, especially through the growing number of turnkey services.”

Krystal Maxwell

According to the report, this shift in business spending is the beginning of a trend that is anticipated to become more common over the next 10 years. Additional market growth is expected to be driven by a maturing LED market, interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) applications, and increases to the bottom line.

The report, Lighting as a Service, examines the LaaS market for commercial buildings, with a focus on financing, maintenance, and turnkey services. The study addresses market issues, including key drivers and barriers, related to LaaS solutions. Global market forecasts for LaaS revenue, segmented by service type, building type, and region, extend through 2026. The report also examines the key services related to LaaS, as well as the competitive landscape. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

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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


avgo



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


nxpi



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


aapl



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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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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More under: Cybersecurity, Internet Governance, Law, Policy & Regulation, Privacy

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Life Lessons: Ritam Gandhi, founder of Studio Graphene

By IoT Now Magazine

Ritam Gandhi, the founder of Studio Graphene (http://www.studiographene.com/), works
at the intersection of digital product design and IoT solutions. He thinks that one
of the most interesting facets of any culture is how they do business.

1: What job did you want when you grew up?

I oscillated quite a lot in terms of what I wanted to do, everything from being a pilot to a chef.

I think this stems from the fact that I went to a “free progress” school which informed a lot of my thinking. The school’s ethos was that every couple of weeks, we would learn something new that we were interested in. This made me want to do a job that involved variety, creativity and being inventive. Tech provides a great ecosystem for this and that’s why I always wanted to do a job that involved doing new things with technology.

2: If you had one business lesson to share with your younger self what would it be?

“Sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are behind… the race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself”. I’ve used this quote many times when working with start-ups or young entrepreneurs. It is something I am constantly trying to get better at, as achieving a sense of equilibrium keeps you grounded and allows you to make more rational decisions.

3: Which Internet of Things (IoT) use case has recently fired your imagination?

IoT’s ability to have a transformative impact on farming and the food supply chain is fascinating. The IoT ecosystem is allowing for longer range communication and lower utilisation of battery power, an example is the LORA Alliance. If you look at a country like India, roughly two thirds of the population are farmers, yet it is a net importer of food. This is purely because of inefficiencies in farming methods and the food supply chain, which IoT can change through automated temperature monitoring and soil analysis.

4: What lessons have you learned from doing business in other countries or organisations?

I think one of the most interesting facets of any culture is how they do business. If one doesn’t embrace these unique cultures, it is practically impossible to collaborate across countries and organisations. We have clients in South Asia, the Middle East, Europe and America, all of which have an entirely different approach to business. Some of our clients are start-ups, whilst others are corporates and government bodies, which means that we must constantly adapt and be receptive to other points of view as a business.

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