It was a week rife with worries about network security, cyber warfare, corruption and cancer risks – to say nothing of Nokia’s slumping share price.
India’s government unveiled a slew of telco security measures that operators must adhere to, or risk hefty penalties.
Measures include appointing only Indian nationals for network maintenance and nationwide location-based services capability within three years. Security breaches may be punished with a 500 million rupee (€7.6 million) fine, and even criminal charges.
The new measures were revealed against the broader backdrop of reports that Lockheed Martin and the US Department of Homeland Security had come under a cyber attack by (so far) unknown sources, while separately, China acknowledged the existence of a cyber security squad, described as an Online Blue Army, to defend state systems from online attack.
Meanwhile, reports emerged that China is coming down hard on alleged corruption at China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has sent teams of investigators to all three operators
People's Daily suggests that the investigation may focus on graft in China's booming new value-added services segment. And, according to AFP, 60 people including government officials and telecom employees are said to have been targeted in the probe.
China also found itself in the firing line, as Google again pointed the finger at the country over an attempted phishing attack on its G-mail service. The firm claims the attack - which targeted the passwords of US government officials, Chinese political activists, military staff and journalists – originated in Jinan.
Worries over mobile phone radiation resurfaced this week thanks to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B)”, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer.
IARC’s conclusion was that, while there’s no solid proof that mobile phones cause cancer, there’s enough evidence to warrant further study on the long-term effects of mobile phone use for heavy users. As usual, many media headlines downplayed the word “possibly” in favor of spicier words like “warning” and “concern” and “risk”.
In other news for the week, Nokia’s shares took a beating after the company cut its forecast for devices and services sales in the second quarter.
David McQueen, principal handset analyst for Informa Telecoms & Media, says the problems stem from growing competition from local vendors in India and China, which are putting heat on the low end that has sustained Nokia’s business up to now.
The week’s Big Deal: Australia’s NBN Co handed out more rollout contracts, including a $1.2 billion (€828 million) deal with construction company Silcar for the first large-scale deployment of fiber for the NBN, and a ten-year, $1.1 billion deal with Ericsson to design, build and operate the LTE portion of the network.
Belgacom unveiled plans to expand its data center capacity 15% with a new energy efficient site. Its timing could prove impeccable, with data center operator Digital Reality Trust revealing 82% of European businesses plan to grow capacity this year.
Satellite broadband operator Eutelsat opened its KA-SAT for commercial business, which it says will plug a gap in rural broadband services.
Research firm ComScore revealed growing acceptance of mobile banking in western Europe. Nearly 10% of subscribers in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK used the services during 1Q, with a further 5% making electronic payments.
And finally, it was the week in which Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak and two of his ministers were fined a total of $90 million for shutting off the Internet in January.