Friday roundup: A week in tech (07/12/18)

I knew 5G was going to lead to trouble.

At the weekend, would-be global-5G-delivering-wonder-firm Huawei saw its founder’s daughter arrested in Canada, where she now awaits extradition to the Land of the, still just about, Free.

robin-worrall-749755-unsplash.jpg

Meng Wanzhou, who is also the firm’s chief financial officer and deputy chair, was swept up by the scuffers in connection with possible violations of the US’s determined sanctions against current enemy-of-the-month, Iran.

Predictably, China is incensed and the Chinese embassy in Canada is demanding the CFO’s release etc. Huawei, meanwhile, is, equally predictably, playing dumb over the accusations.

Huawei is increasingly becoming THE tech global pariah. Last week, New Zealand became the latest country to forbid the firm from bidding for 5G licenses, over concerns about where it ends and the Chinese government begins.

According to various news reports, the troubled company is under investigation by US investigative types over suspected violations of sanctions against both Iran and North Korea (how many countries is the US currently enforcing sanctions against? There can’t be many left).

Additionally, some in the US boss class believe Huawei is a threat to the country’s national security, which is very serious indeed.

Yet – all this and glaringly corrupt crime nebulae Facebook remains at large and unmolested! What do you think of that?

***

The socialist paradise of Cuba is to get a big bag of 3G this week, gifting perhaps millions of its citizens the opportunity to stare at a small rectangle for most of the day.

Until now, islanders have had to rely on weird, archaic, slightly spooky things like internet cafes, with most of the population spending their time doing whatever it was we did 15 years ago.

Wonderful as the opportunity to go on Twitter and have utterly unproductive spats with idiots is, it won’t come cheap: 3G provider Etecsa wants $7 a month for a measly 600mb, but the average monthly wage on the island is only $30 – so you’ll have to be particularly desperate to view Dave from Axis Chemicals LinkedIn update on motivational management techniques to sign up.

For a communist people-loving state, Cuba seems reasonably relaxed about its subjects going on the internet, at least according to the information I am literally reading while I write this. Internet cafes in 2013; WiFi hotspots in 2015; home connections in 2017. Give it another 200 years and they’ll be allowed to make jokes about the government.

Interestingly, Etecsa hasn’t ruled out the possibility of ‘glitches’ within its 3G fabric – which might be code for ‘don’t look at stuff you’re not supposed to’. We shall see.

***

If you’re an O2 user you may have noticed that everything’s broken and the world’s come to an end. Having said that, there’s probably a very slim chance you can read this at all, so it’s all a bit academic really.

The big network provider’s…um…network went horribly down yesterday, plunging millions of screen-gazers into pre-internet primordial darkness.

(Anecdotally, my work phone is O2 and my personal phone is giffgaff, which is powered by O2, and I noticed nothing untoward going on. Having said that, I only use them to occasionally check the weather and to see if Holland & Barrett have sent me my latest £1.50 discount voucher, so I don’t think I truly fit into the ‘deeply troubled’ demographic.)

And this is a rolling news story: O2 is still blundering in the dark as I type, but is ‘confident’ everything will be fine at some point tomorrow (Friday).

And it’s not just O2 users who are feeling the pain: the bungling firm powers a wide-range of services, such as live bus timetables and payment systems – many of which also crumbled into digital oblivion in the mess.

Chief exec Mark Evans reckons the problem has been isolated and all will return to normal, claiming: ‘We have hundreds of people from both Ericsson and O2 working around the clock to identify the issue. We are starting to restore the network this evening, and we’re confident. Ericsson have given the assurance that by tomorrow morning it will have been fully restored.’

Do you remember, oh, some months ago or something when Visa’s network fell flat on its face, too? That was quite ominous. Back in the day, TVs never just stopped working – and if they had of, it would’ve made little difference as they weren’t interactive: you just looked at them.

But today, our payment methods and, increasingly, how we interact with the material universe hangs on the whims of vast and complex digital systems – systems that it’s imaginable collapsing, taking our access to the world along with ‘em.

Have a good weekend!

By Max Salsbury

Friday roundup: A week in tech (07/12/18)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s