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US unveils plans to speed up 5G wireless deployment



WASHINGTON: US officials unveiled plans to accelerate deployment of 5G wireless networks, including new funding to bring the ultrafast systems to remote rural areas.

At a White House event, the Federal Communications Commission announced new spectrum auctions for 5G systems and said a $20.4 billion fund would be established to help build high-speed broadband networks in rural areas over the next decade.

The new 5G networks “will improve Americans’ lives in so many ways,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai.

“From precision agriculture to smart transportation networks to telemedicine and more, we want Americans to be the first to benefit from this new digital revolution, while protecting our innovators and citizens. And we don’t want rural Americans to be left behind.”

The announcement comes amid an intense race by countries around the world to deploy the technology offering wireless speeds 10 to 100 times faster than currently available.

Earlier this month, South Korea launched what it said was the first nationwide 5G network while US carriers rolled out 5G in some locations. China is also moving quickly on 5G.

Friday’s announcement confirms that the US will rely on private networks despite some speculation it would seek to nationalize 5G on national security grounds.

Officials offered no new information on what if any actions it would take to block the Chinese tech giant Huawei — the largest supplier of networking equipment from 5G systems in the US.

Amid concerns of Huawei’s links to the Chinese government, the FCC is mulling rules to block Huawei from networks in the United States.

The new funding announced could be used to help cash-strapped rural carriers which have been considering the Chinese giant.

President Donald Trump said at the event that 5G is a priority for his administration.

“American companies must lead the world in cellular technology,” he said.

“5G networks must be secured. They must be strong. They have to be guarded from the enemy. We do have enemies out there.”

Harold Feld at the consumer group Public Knowledge said it was not clear if the funding for rural broadband would be new or simply taken from an existing program.

“Is the administration promising to provide new money for rural broadband through existing authority, or is the administration going to need to ask Congress to provide new money?” Feld asked in a statement.







Tesla unveils ambitious full self-driving chip for next-generation vehicles



SAN FRANCISCO: U.S. electric car manufacturer Tesla unveiled a new full self-driving (FSD) chip for its next-generation autonomous vehicles.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told investors during the company’s Autonomy Day that FSD-powered computers will turn its electric cars into self-driving vehicles without human intervention.

He said all new models of Tesla cars including Model 3, X and S have been equipped with the chips featuring full self-driving capabilities, but the next-generation chip, which is currently under development, would be “three times better” than the existing system.

Musk said Tesla will probably have more than 1 million cars with full driving capabilities running on the road by 2020.

“Probably two years from now, we’ll make a car with no steering wheels or pedals,” he said. He predicted the new powerful FSD chip will come out in two years.

Musk touted his company’s FSD technology while mocking the LIDAR technology by calling it a “fool’s errand.”








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Facebook hires high-ranking US State Department lawyer



SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook said Monday it has hired a high-ranking US State Department lawyer credited with helping craft the controversial Patriot Act as the social network’s new general counsel.

Jennifer Newstead will replace Colin Stretch, who announced in July that he planned to leave Facebook.

Newstead will oversee global legal functions at the California-based social network as it faces continued pressure from regulators regarding how well it safeguards user privacy and protects against the spread of misinformation or abuse on its platform.

“Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfill our mission,” Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement.

“We are also truly grateful to Colin for his dedicated leadership and wise counsel over the past nine years.”

Newstead was the first woman to lead the Office of the Legal Adviser at the State Department, a post she took in January 2018.







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Samsung delays launch of folding Galaxy smartphone



SAN FRANCISCO: Samsung said Monday it was delaying the launch of its folding smartphone after trouble with handsets sent to reviewers.

Some reviewers who got their hands on the Galaxy Fold early reported problems with screens breaking.

Samsung said it decided to put off this week’s planned release of the Fold after some reviews “showed us how the device needs further improvements.”

The South Korean consumer electronics giant planned to announce a new release date for the Galaxy Fold in the coming weeks.

Initial analysis of reported problems with Galaxy Fold screens showed they could be “associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge,” Samsung said.

There was also an instance where unspecified “substances” were found inside a Galaxy Fold smartphone with a troubled display, according to the company.

“We will take measures to strengthen the display protection,” Samsung said.

“We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer.”

A handful of US-based reporters were given the flagship Galaxy Fold phones, priced at $1,980, ahead of the model’s official release, and they reported screen issues within days of using the devices.

Samsung spent nearly eight years developing the Galaxy Fold, which is part of the leading smartphone maker’s strategy to propel growth with groundbreaking gadgets.

The company essentially gave reviewers a “beta product” without enough information, such as not to peel off a protective coating meant to be permanent, according to independent technology analyst Rob Enderle.

“It was all avoidable for a company the size of Samsung,” Enderle said.

The failure of a “halo product” meant to showcase innovation and quality could tarnish the brand and send buyers to rivals.

“If a halo product fails, people don’t trust that you build quality stuff,” Enderle said.

“It can do incredible damage. And Huawei is moving up like a rocket, so this could be good for Huawei.”







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