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Huawei’s Rivals Nokia and Ericsson Can’t Capitalize on U.S. Scrutiny



U.S.-led scrutiny of Huawei should have been good news for its two biggest competitors in the telecommunications-equipment business, Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson – but it isn’t turning out to be so simple, Wall Street Journal informed.

Major European wireless providers say Nokia and Ericsson have been slow to release equipment that is as advanced as Huawei’s. Nokia and Ericsson also face a new, deep-pocketed challenger in Samsung, the South Korean smartphone giant that is aiming to quickly grow its nascent cellular-infrastructure business.

And there is another big pitfall for the two: Both Nokia and Ericsson fear that if they are seen trying to take advantage, Beijing could retaliate by cutting off access to the massive Chinese market, people familiar with the matter said, the Journal adds.

In recent years, Huawei has surpassed the Nordic companies to become the world’s biggest maker of cellular-tower hardware, internet routers and related telecom equipment. For the first three quarters of 2018, Huawei had a 28% share of the global telecom-equipment market, Nokia had 17% and Ericsson 13.4%, according to research-firm Dell’Oro Group. That compares with market shares in 2017 of 27.1% for Huawei, 16.8% for Nokia and 13.2% for Ericsson.

According to the Journal, Huawei has dominated the world-wide industry despite being essentially barred from the U.S. over concerns that Beijing could order Huawei to spy on or disable communications networks. Recently, the U.S. has been urging allies to enact similar bans.

Governments and wireless providers in Australia, France, New Zealand and other countries are avoiding Huawei after saying the concerns are legitimate. Huawei says it is employee-owned and has never done espionage or sabotage on behalf of any government.

Major European wireless carriers that already use Huawei say switching to a different company would add both costs and complexity, since it would require training people to deal with different technology, the Journal noted.

Executives at one major British wireless carrier say Huawei can deliver products nearly a year before Nokia and Ericsson can offer hardware with comparable technology. They said they were telling U.K. officials, who plan to decide by spring 2019 whether to exclude major Huawei equipment from the country, that blacklisting Huawei could delay by nine months the U.K.’s launch of 5G, the coming generation of superfast wireless technology.

A Nokia spokesman said the Finnish company is already selling cutting-edge technology in leading 5G markets, including the U.S., and has the advantage of being able to sell its products “to the entire global market.”

An Ericsson spokesman said the company is focused on providing the best products and that “the competitiveness of our technology is what matters.”

The two Nordic providers, though, come with something Huawei now lacks – a seal of approval from much of the West’s national-security establishment. Nokia and Ericsson representatives have advised the U.S., Canadian and British governments over cybersecurity issues, according to people familiar with the matter, who say the talks are part of normal government relations.

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Iran Blocks Nearly All Internet Access



Iran imposed an almost complete nationwide internet blackout on Sunday one of its most draconian attempts to cut off Iranians from each other and the rest of the world as widespread anti-government unrest roiled the streets of Tehran and other cities for a third day, The New York Times reported.

The death toll for the three days of protests rose to at least 12; hundreds were injured; and more than 1,000 people have been arrested, according to semiofficial news agencies like Fars News.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, called the demonstrators “thugs” and endorsed the government’s decision to raise prices it sets for rationed gasoline by 50 percent as of Friday and by 300 percent for gasoline that exceeds ration limits. Even after the price hike, gasoline in Iran is still cheaper than in most of the rest of the world – now the equivalent of about 50 cents a gallon.

In a speech on Sunday, Khamenei said he would support rationing and increasing gas prices because heads of three branches of government had made the decision.

Khamenei also acknowledged that Iranians had taken to the streets to protest and that some had died – however, he blamed the protests on monarchists and opposition groups trying to destabilize Iran, the Times added.

The widespread discontent on display across the country marked yet another crisis for the country. Iran has been struggling with an economic crisis after the United States exited a nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions that ban Iran’s oil sales.

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HASC Chairman Claims Legislation to Create a Space Force in 2020 ‘Still Possible’



House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said last week that negotiations on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act are “proceeding reasonably well” but he expressed doubt that the NDAA will include language to authorize a Space Force as a separate military branch, SpaceNews reported.

“It’s still possible but by no means guaranteed,” Smith told reporters on Capitol Hill last week. When asked for specifics, Smith said, “I don’t think it would be helpful for me to make predictions.”

The biggest sticking point in the NDAA negotiations is language in the House version of the bill that restricts the use of military funds to pay for the wall that President Trump wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border, SpaceNews adds.

There are other dealbreaker issues. The authorization of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces is one of them, Smith said. Other contentious matters include extending the “war powers” legislation that authorizes the president to use military force, and allowing transgender people to serve in the military.

Smith said the House and Senate NDAA conference in recent weeks worked on compromise language on hundreds of provisions and “reduced the stack significantly, and we’re down to a few really contentious issues.”

Smith characterized the Space Force as a “higher echelon” issue that is proving divisive. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate continue to have reservations about the administration’s Space Force proposal, said Smith. “There is bipartisan concern on the proposal and bicameral concern about the specifics of that proposal.”

The House version of the NDAA creates a Space Corps and is closer aligned with what the administration proposed. The Senate bill would rename the Air Force Space Command the U.S. Space Force and does not specifically authorize a sixth branch of the armed forces.

Smith noted that the House has been a proponent of a military space branch since 2017 while the Senate had adamantly opposed it. “In their bill they didn’t have the same language that we did. But the president has persuaded them to look at it differently.”

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Gunman Kills Four at California Backyard Party



Police in the California city of Fresno were investigating a mass shooting at a football game party on Sunday in which at least 10 people were shot, killing four, with five others left in critical condition and another wounded, Reuters informs.

Three men died at the scene and another died at a hospital, Fresno Deputy Police Chief Michael Reed said in a late night news conference. Six more were hospitalized, he said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this thing,” Reed said. “This was senseless violence. We’re going to do everything we can to find out who the perpetrators were and bring them to justice.”

A gunman walked into a backyard and started shooting at a south Fresno home, where a gathering of about 35 family and friends was watching a football game before 8 p.m., said Reed. Neighbors soon flooded 911 dispatchers with calls for help, Reuters adds.

The suspect fled the scene and police were combing the neighborhood for witnesses and possible security camera footage, police said. Police did not release further information about the shooting in the city about 200 miles (320 km) north of Los Angeles, except that the dead were men between the ages of 25 and 35.

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