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Tech

Mobile Networks Expected to Improve During Coronavirus Lockdown

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

The digital industry has decided to act immediately in the larger national and consumer interest and to ensure the robustness of the cellular network.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: March 25, 2020, 4:03 PM IST

The Prime Ministers call for social distancing and now a total lockdown has led to people staying at their homes. This has caused an unprecedented surge in mobile internet consumption. As a result, the government and the telecom operators are concerned about its potential impact on the cellular network infrastructure.

The digital industry is acutely aware of this challenge and is committed to ensuring that all citizens are able to access mobile networks wherever and whenever they want. In order to achieve this, a meeting was organized on Tuesday by Uday Shankar, Chairman, Star & Disney India, with key stakeholders of the digital industry. The meeting, held virtually, was attended by NP Singh (Sony), Sanjay Gupta (Google), Ajit Mohan (Facebook), Sudhanshu Vats (Viacom18), Gaurav Gandhi (Amazon Prime Video), Punit Goenka (Zee), Nikhil Gandhi (Tiktok), Ambika Khurana (Netflix), Karan Bedi (MX Player) and Varun Narang (Hotstar).

The digital industry has decided to act immediately in the larger national and consumer interest and to ensure the robustness of the cellular network. It was unanimously agreed that as an exceptional measure, all companies will immediately adopt measures, including temporarily defaulting HD and ultra-HD streaming to SD content or offering only SD content, at bitrates no higher than 480p on cellular networks. These voluntary measures will be in effect until April 14. All participants are immediately taking measures.

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Tech

Much of the Essential Work we do Cannot be Done From Home: Jeff Bezos

Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has replied to US Senators who raised questions on his warehouse employees’ safety amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Four US Senators, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, sent a letter to Bezos last week, asking him how the company is keeping its warehouse staff safe as an Amazon warehouse worker was tested positive for COVID-19 at the company’s Queens, New York facility last week.

“There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this, and I know this causes stress for everyone. My list of worries right now like yours,” Bezos said in a company blog post late Saturday. “Much of the essential work we do cannot be done from home. We’ve implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees and contractors at our sites around the world,” the Amazon CEO said. Several warehouse employees have told CNN Business they feel the company should be doing more to shield those at the core of its business who can’t do their jobs from home.

Bezos said the company is ensuring everything from increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning to adjusting the company’s practices in fulfilment centers to ensure the recommended social distancing guidelines. “We are meeting every day, working to identify additional ways to improve on these measures,” he stressed. According to him, Amazon has changed its logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing, and third party seller processes to prioritize stocking and delivering essential items like household staples, sanitizers, baby formula and medical supplies. In a letter sent to Bezos on Friday, US Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sanders and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said. “Any failure of Amazon to keep its workers safe does not just put their employees at risk, it puts the entire country at risk. This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty. It’s also a moment in time when the work we’re doing is its most critical,” said Bezos.

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Tech

Not Just Apple, But Xiaomi, Oppo And Vivo Are Struggling With The Shutdown Due to Coronavirus

People wearing masks are seen at a subway station in Shanghai, China. (Reuters)

People wearing masks are seen at a subway station in Shanghai, China. (Reuters)

The outbreak, which has infected more than 72,000 and prevented many employees from returning to work due to travel and quarantine restrictions, was reverberating throughout the U.S. firm’s supply chain.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: February 18, 2020, 4:35 PM IST

IApple Inc’s surprise warning that it will likely fall short of this quarter’s sales target due to the coronavirus epidemic points to much pain for its chip and other suppliers as well as for rivals who also rely on China to build their products. Revising guidance set just three weeks ago, the world’s most valuable tech company said while many factories that make iPhones have reopened for work, they were ramping up more slowly than anticipated. The outbreak, which has infected more than 72,000 and prevented many employees from returning to work due to travel and quarantine restrictions, was reverberating throughout the U.S. firm’s supply chain, a source familiar with Apple’s operations in China said.

“If one component factory stays closed and they’re the only supplier, then everyone has to stop and wait. And if there are two suppliers and one is shut down, then we need the other to do more,” said the source who was not authorized to speak to media and declined to be identified. Stacy Rasgon, a Bernstein analyst, said Apple’s woes probably also mean fewer chips will be sold throughout the mobile device industry because the overwhelming majority are made in China. “Maybe this is the wake up call. I would be astonished if Apple is the only one,” he said. “Every electronic supply chain runs through China in a big way.”Research firm Canalys estimates both Apple, which outsources much of its manufacturing to Taiwan’s Foxconn, and rival Huawei Technologies have 99% of their production in China. The world’s No. 1 smartphone market is likely see sales halve in the first quarter due to the virus, analysts have said.

Chinese rivals Oppo, Xiaomi Corp (1810.HK) and Vivo have 83%, 72%, and 65% of their production in China respectively. Reuters reported last week that roughly 10% of Foxconn’s workers in China have resumed production, while other plants in the country remain largely shuttered. Foxconn denied the reports in a company filing without elaborating.

Shares of Apple’s chip suppliers fell on the news on Tuesday, with Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) losing 2.8%, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) (2330.TW) down 2.9% and SK Hynix (000660.KS) shedding 2.9%.

Analysts at ANZ noted Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) was vulnerable to disruptions caused by the epidemic as it supplies mobile modem chips to almost all major smartphone makers and generates nearly half of its sales from China. U.S.-based suppliers that do a lot of business with Apple include Broadcom Inc (AVGO.O), Qorvo Inc (QRVO.O) and Skyworks Solutions Inc (SWKS.O).

Broadcom makes a range of wireless components for iPhones and said last month it had signed a deal to supply Apple for contracts worth as much as $15 billion. Sales to Apple accounted for 20% of its annual revenue in fiscal 2019.

Qorvo, which sells parts that help phones connect to wireless data networks, generated around one third of its revenue from Apple in fiscal 2019. Skyworks, another wireless component supplier, got more than 10% of its annual revenue from Apple.

Other U.S. suppliers to Apple include Texas Instruments Inc (TXN.O). Its battery charging chips have been found in iPhone teardowns, although the company sells across a broad spectrum of the electronics industry.

In Europe, the Netherlands’ NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O) supplies Apple with the near-field communications chips used in the iPhone’s Apple Pay contactless payments feature, according to TechInsights teardowns and industry analysts. Chips made by Franco-Italian firm STMicroelectronics (STM.MI) (STM.PA) are used for wireless battery charging and for infrared cameras in iPhones, according to teardowns. Its shares lost 3.5% in morning trade. Investors in chipmakers have until now have been willing to look past temporary coronavirus disruptions, hoping for a sales recovery in the second half, said Bernstein’s Rasgon Mike Fawkes, who previously ran supply chain operations for Hewlett-Packard, said even if it wanted to, Apple was unlikely to find alternative production sources soon. “They’re stuck with China for some period of time,” he said. “It’s very hard when you’re managing a big battleship like they are.”

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Tech

Coronavirus Affects Tech Supply Chains as Korea Feels the Heat

The new coronavirus-triggered angst appears to be spilling over to the Korean corporate realm as the global supply chain is feared to face some disruptions, industry watchers said Sunday. With the new coronavirus killing more than 300 people in China so far, Beijing recently decided to extend its Lunar New Year’s holiday in some areas of the country in what could be a move that can disturb the normal operations of South Korean firms with manufacturing bases there, Yonhap news agency reported.

The extension of the holiday that originally started January 25 was earlier announced only in Hubei province in central China, where Wuhan, the epicentre of the new virus, is located but was later expanded to other areas as the number of patients skyrocketed at an alarming pace. South Korea’s exports are poised to face a setback should the spread of the virus not be contained soon, industry watchers said, as local firms with production facilities in China have been suspending or scaling back their operations in the world’s No. 2 economy.

South Korea’s top tech giant Samsung Electronics Co. decided to shut down the operations of its home appliances production line in Suzhou, eastern China, until next week in tune with the extended holiday. LG Electronics Inc. and SK Innovation Co. also plan to put off the reopening of their Chinese production line until the end of next week. LG Chem Ltd. said it has sharply lowered the operational level of its battery line in China as well. Korean chipmakers and display makers, on the other hand, have been maintaining the routine operation over the holiday, although LG Display Co. said it is considering closing down its facilities depending on the development of the issue.

“We already secured enough inventory in preparation for the Chinese New Year’s holiday, but it is inevitable for us to face troubles if the situation is drawn out over a long period,” a SK Innovation official said. Chipmaker SK hynix Inc. said South Korean firms will eventually face some disruptions in their operations and production if the issue is protracted. Industry watchers said the rapid spread of the new coronavirus has already prodded South Korean carmakers to scale down their production as the supply of some auto parts has been disrupted by the spread of the new virus.

SsangYong Motor Co. earlier said it will suspend the production of its plant in South Korea through February 12 amid a delay in the supply of wiring harnesses, a part used to supply power in an automobile. South Korean carmakers depend heavily on China for the supply of parts. “As many auto parts makers have relocated to China to cut costs, it will not be easy for them to return home,” said Lee Hang-koo, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade.

Numerous South Korean firms, including Samsung Electronics, have kicked off task force teams, but the companies are likely to continue to face uncertainties as the new coronavirus situation is changing every minute, industry watchers added.

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