Who was first to launch 5G? Depends who you ask

NEW YORK/SEOUL (Reuters) – When it comes to who triumphed in the multi-billion dollar global race to launch the world’s first 5G next generation wireless network, the winner is clear … depending on who you ask.

FILE PHOTO: People take photographs during a launching ceremony for SK Telecom’s 5G service, in Seoul, South Korea, April 3, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

Early Wednesday in South Korea, Reuters published a story quoting South Korean officials declaring victory over the United States and China as the site of the world’s first commercial launch of a fifth generation telecoms network.

They made their assertion on the basis that the new network connected to an actual 5G phone. U.S. carriers disputed South Korea’s claims to be first.

After the piece was published, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc intensified their angry rejections of South Korea’s boast in post-publication communications sent to Reuters on Wednesday.

AT&T said it was the victor because it announced on Dec. 18 that it planned to launch its 5G network in 12 U.S. cities that month. However, its network is available only to consumers using a mobile hotspot device, not on 5G phones.

Verizon, for its part, countered that it had come first. Hours after the Reuters report, it said it had already launched its 5G network and that it would be available on a new Motorola phone – though only in Chicago and Minneapolis.

“We stand by our story,” a Reuters spokeswoman said.

The intensity with which company representatives disputed each other’s claims underscores the high stakes in the battle for supremacy over an industry that is expected to spend $275 billion over seven years in the United States alone, according to Accenture estimates.

The winner is seen playing a central role in helping to generate some $12.3 trillion in annual revenue across a broad range of industries by 2035, according to IHS Markit.

The technology, which can provide data speeds at least 20 times faster than 4G, will also underpin the great advances of the next era, from self-driving cars and augmented reality to smart cities and artificial intelligence.

“Being first is important in our industry and we want that recognition,” an AT&T spokesman said.

Some experts point out that the jockeying will mean little to consumers. “The reason you’re getting that reaction is this is a battle of marketing vaporware rather than real network evolution,” said Craig Moffett, telecoms and communications analyst at MoffettNathanson.

“They’re tripping over themselves to claim they have a 5G network,” he said. “But we’re years away from it having any impact on user experiences.”

Bragging rights aside, being first is a matter of national pride. So excited was U.S. President Donald Trump about dominating the telecoms future, he invented a technology that does not yet exist – 6G – in a Feb. 21 tweet.

“I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind,” he tweeted. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

RACE TO LAUNCH

On Wednesday April 3, South Korea’s carriers announced plans to launch their 5G networks by Friday.

But by 5pm local time, word was spreading that Verizon was planning a surprise debut of its own 5G network around April 4, a full week ahead of its original intended schedule, an official at South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT told Reuters.

To snatch victory from the jaws of Verizon, the South Korean carriers raced against the clock and agreed to collectively light up the country’s 5G networks just six hours after finding out about Verizon’s plans, said the official, who declined to be named.

South Korean carriers including SK Telecom and KT Corp flipped the switch at 11pm local time (1400 GMT/1000 EST), nearly an hour ahead of when Verizon confirmed it had launched in the two markets in the United States at 10:55am EST (1455 GMT).

“It is a pretty big deal for every mobile carrier who can be called the world’s first,” the Ministry of Science official said.

On why Verizon accelerated its launch plan by a week, a Verizon spokesman said its network was ready. “Our customers were enthusiastic and ready to use 5G,” the spokesman added.

Reporting by Kenneth Li in New York and Ju-Min Park in Seoul; additional reporting by Angela Moon in New York; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Lyft's shares rise after Citron advises against shorting stock

(Reuters) – Shares of ride-hailing company Lyft Inc rose as much as 4 percent on Friday, setting the stock for its best day since its market debut last week, after short-seller Citron Research advised investors to hold on to the stock.

FILE PHOTO: Lyft supporters gather for the Lyft IPO as the company lists its shares on the Nasdaq in the first-ever ride-hailing initial public offering, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The number of active Lyft riders has surged fivefold to 18.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, from the first quarter of 2016, and those numbers are set to rise further, Citron said, listing several other reasons to not be short on Lyft.

As of Thursday, Lyft’s short interest was $937 million, with 13.38 million shares shorted, which makes up about 41.2 percent of its float, according to data from S3 Partners, a financial technology and analytics firm.

Citron, which has held a stake in Lyft for the last two years, said it has increased its position in the company in the open market.

Describing ride-sharing as a “megatrend”, and not just a fad, Citron said Lyft has good prospects, especially since millennials are foregoing car ownership for ride-sharing.

“This is not a trendy video game or a GoPro camera… this is a way of life that is saving people time and ensuring safety,” the note said.

“The entire rideshare market in the U.S. only accounts for 1 percent of miles traveled today…. we have only just begun,” Citron said.

But brokerage Seaport Global, which started coverage on Lyft with a “sell” rating on Tuesday, said it was skeptical that consumers will give up car ownership in favor of relying on ride-hailing services.

Daiwa Capital Markets also initiated coverage on the company on Thursday, with an ‘outperform’ rating and a price target of $80.

The rating reflects strong revenue growth potential ahead for the company, the brokerage said, but added it expects losses to increase through 2020, and then reach break even by the end of 2022.

Lyft’s shares fell below their IPO price of $72 on their second day of trading, erasing all debut gains, after market research companies cited lack of a clear path to profitability.

The company did not mention when it would turn profitable. It reported a loss of $911 million in 2018, wider than its $688 million loss in 2017, despite revenue doubling in 2018 to $2.16 billion.

Daiwa added autonomous robotaxis, currently under development at tech and auto companies, are among the biggest threats to the company.

Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel

Verizon Just Launched Its 5G Wireless Service a Week Earlier Than Expected

Verizon has flipped the switch on wireless 5G in Chicago and Minnesota, launching the service a week earlier than it had previously announced it would.

The move, which caught many by surprise, will give the customers who have 5G equipped phones access to wireless service with speeds of up to 1 Gps, roughly 10 times the peak speed of 4G.

“Verizon customers will be the first in the world to have the power of 5G in their hands,” said Hans Vestberg, Verizon’s chairman and chief executive officer in a statement.

The number of people who can actually take advantage of that service will be limited at first. Only one phone on the market—the Motorola Z3—supports 5G. Later this year, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G model, which will be exclusive to Verizon customers for a short period, will join that club.

The 5G service launched today will be limited to certain areas of the cities, Verizon warned.

In Chicago, 5G coverage is concentrated in areas of the West Loop and the South Loop, around landmarks like Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park and The Chicago Theatre. Customers also have 5G Ultra Wideband service in the Verizon store on The Magnificent Mile and throughout The Gold Coast, Old Town and River North.

In Minneapolis, service is concentrated in the Downtown area, including Downtown West and Downtown East, as well as inside and around U.S. Bank Stadium, the site of this weekend’s NCAA men’s basketball Final Four. Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service is also available around landmarks like the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minneapolis Central Library, the Mill City Museum, Target Center and First Avenue venues, The Commons, areas of Elliot Park and in the Verizon store in The Mall of America.

Verizon’s launch comes as the carrier feuds with AT&T, which has launched a service it calls “5G E” that is not actually connected to a 5G network. The company ultimately plans to roll out 5G mobile service to 30 U.S. cities. AT&T did launch a mobile 5G device to customers in December, though it came with some caveats, such as the required use of a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

Late last year, Verizon launched 5G home service in four cities, testing the technology in smaller environments.

Customers who want the 5G service will pay a $10 per month premium on their unlimited data plans, the company announced last month.

When to declare cloud application migration failure

One of the hip terms that you hear a great deal in Silicon Valley is “fail fast.” This means to find out what does not work so you can move on to what does. It’s solid advice, for the most part.

However, failing in some enterprises’ IT shops may get you put out of the organization, so many IT pros avoid failure at any cost—or at least never declare failure, even if it means spending millions of dollars in dealing with ineffective systems that are costly to run or even hurt the business.

For the cloud, you need to know when to declare a “fail,” when to hit the reset button and start from the beginning when doing migrations.

I bet if you look at your cloud migration projects now around the company, at lwast 20 percent are in big trouble. While the reasons for running into trouble that can lead to outright failure vary, these are the big three that I’m seeing:

  • Lift-and-shift is not working.
  • Data integration is an afterthought.
  • Compliance or security issues have not been addressed.

The biggest issue with migration of applications is the false belief that if it runs on premises on platform A (say, on Linux with four cores), provisioning virtual platform A on a public cloud using the same configuration means the application should work there as well. Umm, often no.

The result of such assumptions is that IT organizations run into issues around communications with systems that have not moved to the public cloud yet, or that their cloud bills are 300 percent higher than expected.

The reason: These lifted-and-shifted applications aren’t optimized for the cloud platform, either for functionality or costs. They don’t use native cloud features, so the value of moving to the cloud has gone out the window; indeed, it may cost you much more.

When that happens, there is nothing you can do other than declare failure and go back to the migration drawing board, this time refactoring to use cloud-native systems, as well as optimize it for the target cloud platform.

The other two issues—data integration, and compliance and security—are less frequent causes of outright failures, but they are still big issues.

Not considering the data integration needs before migration means that you’re not going to find the issue before you can do anything to fix it quickly. In many instances, the latency between on-premises systems and the cloud can’t be corrected. In such cases, you need to move back to the data center—after declaring failure.

Compliance and security issues often require systemic changes to the applications and databases in the cloud, and so need a lot of upfront planning. In a worst case, you end up with compliance or security failures so grave that you must start over.

It’s important to understand that failure is a part of cloud migration; after all, most organizations are still learning. So expect mistakes and build the fact of failure into the migration efforts. But do more than that: Also make sure you learn from the failures and thus continuously improve your practices, tools, and skills.

Flying on American, Southwest, United, JetBlue or Alaska Today? Check Your Flight. They All Had Problems This Morning

American, Southwest, United, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines, along with smaller regional carriers, were forced to ground flights across the United States this morning after a computer system error that affected many U.S. airlines.

The apparent problem, several airlines said, stemmed from a shared system that many airlines use — rather than any kind of simultaneous problem encountered by multiple airlines on their individually operated computer systems. 

Airline spokespeople at JetBlue and American Airlines both told me this morning that they put the blame on a system run by a company called Aerodata.  

A Federal Aviation Administration official also told The Washington Post that the Aeroplan system tracks “weight and balance of a plane,” and is also “used in flight planning.”

While it appears that most if not all of the flights are now cleared, and the problem resolved, airlines said they expected delays would likely reverberate across their schedules today.

So if you’re flying anywhere in the United States today on a U.S. carrier, it would be a good idea to check your flight’s status before heading to the airport.

Earlier, Southwest had said it grounded all fights across the United States for about 40 minutes Monday morning. 

“We’re working with customers on any impacts to their travel plans and we appreciate their understanding as we place nothing higher than the safe operation of every flight,” a spokesman said.

At Delta, it appeared the problem might have been confined largely to regional airlines operating as Delta Connection, although a spokesperson advised via USA Today, ” If you’re on a flight departing soon, please check the status of your flight via the Fly Delta Mobile App or Delta.com.”

Some reports said that JetBlue was most heavily affected, and as of about 8:30 this morning, the company told me in an email that it was still experiencing delays. At one point, it appeared the airline had grounded all flights due to the issue.

It appears the computer problem has been resolved as of about 9:30 a.m., but airlines expected some residual delays throughout the day as they work to get back on schedule. 

United Airlines said about 150 of its flights were affected Monday morning. 

“Some of our regional carriers experienced an issue with a flight planning program this morning that impacted operations, resulting in delays for select United Express flights. Our team worked quickly with our partners to resolve the issue,” a spokeswoman for United told me.

Alaska Airlines also reportedly had delays, but the company did not respond to my request for comment this morning.

Earlier reports — for example when the FAA reported via Twitter at about 7:42 a.m. simply that “several U.S. airlines” were “experiencing computer issues this morning” — led to some concerns that the problems might have been happening simultaneously on each airline’s separate systems.

While there’s no word on what caused the Aerodata issue, the good news here seems to be that there’s nothing like a concerted attack on multiple airlines’ systems–along with the fact that the airlines apparently responded quickly, and were able to resolve it all.

Three Research-Backed Strategies For Successful Work Management

According to a 2018 study conducted by Forrester Consulting, 35 percent of enterprise projects fail to meet their original business intent. Today’s business environment calls for a different approach to work management. 

1. Conduct a tool audit. 

Fixated on digital transformation and agile methodologies, organizations have morphed into SaaS-powered enterprises. The number of SaaS apps in organizations doubled from eight in 2015 to 16 in 2017, according to a 2017 report by BetterCloud. Workplaces are swarming with a potpourri of apps and communication tools. More often than not, these tools are haphazardly stitched together. 

The result is a Frankenstein’ed tool landscape that invites context shifting. Workers are constantly distracted by the string of pings emitted from their tool stack. A 2001 study by researchers at Loughborough University found that most workers react to incoming emails within a mere six seconds and proceed to squander an average of 64 seconds before resuming work. In a typical eight-hour workday, distractions by email alone amass to 90 minutes wasted. 

Forward-thinking businesses are embracing the value of conducting a tool audit, an end-to-end inventory of how workplace apps are being used (or not), which ones are duplicative, and which ones are improving (and impairing) productivity and collaboration. The more companies are able to consolidate and integrate tools, the lower the risk of context shifting. 

2. Adopt a centralized work management system. 

Not too long ago, project management was the exclusive domain of certified project management experts. In recent years, project management has been democratized. The need for greater project management proficiency across all teams has increased by 70 percent, according to the Forrester report. 

Alas, work management tools have become just another rung of the Frankenstein’ed tool stack. Companies are relying on a hodgepodge of different tools–including Evernote lists, paper to-do lists, Google docs, Trello, Slack, and more. The result is noise, a lack of transparency, and organizational silos. 41 percent of companies lack collaboration between IT, data and analytics, and business functions, according to a 2017 report by Forbes Insights and EY. The most common hurdle that knowledge workers face in using enterprise collaboration tools is ensuring that all employees are using the same tools and all stakeholders are included. 

Research has shown that collaboration improves when workers are co-located in the same physical environment. The same philosophy applies to collaborative technologies and work management solutions. When stakeholders rely on the same platform, collaboration and productivity increase. Without a central system of record, workers won’t have a unified view of organizational objectives and understand how their work funnels up into broader company goals. It’s no surprise that 78 percent of companies view collaboration across silos as critical and 69% view transparency across silos as critical to delivering on top business objectives, according to the Forrester research. 

3. Measure collaborative analytics. 

Despite the fact that enterprise-grade social tools have infiltrated the workplace, most companies aren’t paying attention to how collaborative work is getting done, and the cost of collaborative activities. Research by Babson College’s Robert Cross revealed that three to five percent of people in an organization account for 20 to 35 percent of the useful collaboration. Organizations need to recognize the importance of evaluating collaborative analytics. 

It’s especially important to assess the “dark side” of collaboration–the people who have a disproportionately negative impact on collaboration and fuel collaborative overload. Collaborative overload causes burnout, drives attrition, slows agility, and creates friction in networks. Cross’ research has also revealed that when a worker is heavily sought out, such that more than 25 percent of the people around them want greater access to them, burnout is especially common. One study found that the attrition rates around these individuals were more than 200 percent higher than leaders who were not overloaded.

Traditional organizational network analyses (ONA) informed by often-biased survey results do not shed light on the true extent of collaboration. Organizations need to measure collaborative activity by the digital exhaust of a company–the collection of email exchanges, chats, file transfers, and task assignments. When all this raw material is housed in a central work management system, the results can be transformative. Collaborative analytics can help prevent collaborative overload, reduce redundancy, and identify the individuals who are driving the most value-added collaboration. Research by Aberdeen Group found that collaborative intelligence can speed up decision-making by 46%

Today’s business dynamic is calling for a different approach to strategic execution. Organizations can’t afford to fly blind in their implementation of workplace tools. The philosophy that “more is better” is a recipe for disaster. The onus is on leaders to critically examine tool stacks and strategically select centralized tools that encourage transparency and a shared understanding of how individual tasks funnel up into larger organizational goals.