Europe plots catch-up in global 5G race

Europe plots catch-up in global 5G race
Global 5G mobile subscriptions are expected to reach 220 million by the end of this year, ‘with China accounting for almost 80 percent of the total.’ (Reuters)
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Updated 29 December 2020

Europe plots catch-up in global 5G race

Europe plots catch-up in global 5G race
  • European mobile operators have long been reluctant to start investing in 5G networks

STOCKHOLM: The year 2021 could be a do-or-die year for Europe’s efforts to catch up with China and the US in rolling out super-fast fifth-generation (5G) telecoms networks.

The mission to introduce the technology, which ultimately promises internet speeds up to 20 times faster than today, could be crucial to how competitively the continent emerges from the economic ruins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mindful of this, the European Union is funneling a fifth of its €750-billion ($914 billion) recovery fund to improve countries’ digital capabilities.

European mobile operators have long been reluctant to start investing in 5G networks, which could support smart factories and self-driving cars, because of a lack of political clarity about whether they must accede to US demands to exclude leading equipment supplier Huawei and other Chinese vendors.

But encouraged by the EU financial commitment to the technology in this area, at a time when the US administration is changing, and fearful of falling further behind globally, the industry is preparing to plow ahead in 2021.

“Europe is, unfortunately, behind,” Pekka Lundmark, chief executive of Finnish network equipment maker Nokia, told Reuters. But the rollout “is accelerating already and in 2021 I think it will gather more speed in most countries.”

Swedish equipment maker Ericsson forecasts Europe’s 5G coverage should grow from around 1 percent of mobile subscriptions across the continent in 2020, to 55 percent in Western countries and 27 percent in central and eastern states over the next five years, underpinning a longed-for economic recovery. Yet it is the mobile operators who must pay companies like Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei billions of dollars for the 5G equipment.

The EU agreed on its rescue package in July, and companies started drawing up digital plans.

“We spent the whole summer since the announcement working to set out tangible projects,” said Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, CEO of Spanish operator Telefonica.

A European Commission spokeswoman said the first payments could be made in the summer of 2021.

Among various digital projects, Telefonica calculates the funds could help cover all of Spain with fast fiber-optic internet and extend standalone 5G — capable of giving the highest performance — to around 85 percent of the country by 2025.

Geopolitical grapple

While an individual consumer can use 5G for making calls and browsing the internet, the technology’s main benefit lies in creating new businesses, automating factories and running critical infrastructures like power grids.

Global 5G mobile subscriptions are expected to reach 220 million by the end of this year, with China accounting for almost 80 percent of the total, Ericsson said in a report last month. North America is expected to have 4 percent.

“As with 4G, first movers advantage is huge and countries rolling out 5G early will see most of the innovation,” an Ericsson spokeswoman said.

“Unless Europe moves quickly, it risks lost growth and weakening industrial competitiveness in manufacturing and logistics that could cost billions of euros in new wealth.”

Geopolitics remains a major risk, however.

Pressure from the US on its allies to shun Huawei’s equipment from its networks is unlikely to disappear. The US accuses Huawei of facilitating Chinese spying, allegations denied by the company and Beijing.


Saudi stock market continues upward momentum

Saudi stock market continues upward momentum
Updated 6 sec ago

Saudi stock market continues upward momentum

Saudi stock market continues upward momentum

RIYADH: The Saudi stock market ended Tuesday’s session in the green zone for the third consecutive session, amid broad gains for Saudi Aramco shares, which coincided with oil prices recording their highest levels since October 2018.

The Tadawul All Share Index rose 0.12 percent to close at 11,382 points.

Liquidity in the main market amounted to about SR8.9 billion.

The Saudi Aramco stocks also managed to record a 33 percent rise in its market price since March 2020, while the shares recorded gains of more than 3 percent since the beginning of this year.

SABIC's share also continued its gains for the third consecutive session.

On the other hand, STC shares fell 1.6 percent for the fifth consecutive session.

The parallel market index Nomu ended Tuesday’s session with a slight decrease of 5.25 points, or 0.02 percent, compared to the previous session, and closed at 23918.12 points. The liquidity amounted to about SR88.1 million.


Crypto coins prices seesaw amid growing debate on digital currencies: Market wrap

Crypto coins prices seesaw amid growing debate on digital currencies: Market wrap
Updated 8 min 46 sec ago

Crypto coins prices seesaw amid growing debate on digital currencies: Market wrap

Crypto coins prices seesaw amid growing debate on digital currencies: Market wrap

RIYADH: Bitcoin traded lower on Tuesday, falling by 4.21 percent to $41,503.71 at 6:58 p.m. Riyadh time, while Ether slipped down by 7 percent at $2,844.81, according to data from CoinDesk.

Crypto exchanges are increasingly running into resistance from local regulators, who want to be able to monitor their operations better.

Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, said on Monday that users in Singapore would no longer be allowed to buy and trade cryptocurrencies on its main platform, to comply with local regulation.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore this month warned Binance.com that it could be in breach of local laws and should stop providing payment services to the city-state's residents.

From Oct. 26, users in Singapore will no longer be able to deposit fiat currencies, or buy or spot-trade cryptocurrencies on the platform.

In recent months, regulators in Britain, Italy and Hong Kong have said Binance units are not authorized to carry out some activities in their markets, and Malaysia’s financial regulator reprimanded the exchange for operating illegally there

 

Deposit

While cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase said its customers in the US will be able to use the direct deposit service for any percentage of their salary. They can also hold their dollars in dollars or instantly convert them into cryptocurrencies without fees.

“With direct deposit, customers can more easily access our crypto-first financial services and be ready for any trade or purchase,” Max Branzburg, vice president of product at Coinbase, said in a blog post.

“We’re determined to deliver the most trusted full suite of crypto-first financial services to our 68 million users.” 

 

Extreme views

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has spoken out about his stance on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, stating that anyone who borrows money to buy bitcoin is, in his opinion, a fool.

However, Dimon also acknowledged that there is a potential for the crypto sector to increase its value tenfold in the next years.

"I am not personally interested in bitcoin and am not a buyer. This does not mean that the price of Bitcoin cannot reach 10 times its price today in the next five years,” Dimon said in an interview with the Times of India.

 

Long road ahead

Anthony Scaramucci, CEO of Skybridge Capital, believes that there is still a long way to go for institutional investors to embrace bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general.

He stated in an interview with Bloomberg that according to his experience, most institutions are still not interested in cryptocurrency as an investment and only 10 percent are actively investing in cryptocurrency. While this may be a minority, it is a minority that has some influence.

“The institutions are not there. Anybody who’s telling you there’s institutional adoption into this space is not being totally honest or they’re seeing something that I’m not seeing,” Scaramucci said.


Saudia wins World’s Most Improved Airline award for 2021

Saudia wins World’s Most Improved Airline award for 2021
Updated 32 min 20 sec ago

Saudia wins World’s Most Improved Airline award for 2021

Saudia wins World’s Most Improved Airline award for 2021

RIYADH: Saudia has won the Skytrax award for the World’s Most Improved Airline for 2021, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

This award reflects an airline’s quality improvement in different areas. The Saudi airlines ranked 26 jumping 31 places in one year.

The national carrier earned this title for the second time. It first won the award in 2017. 


EV Metals partners with Yanbu Royal commission to build $900m battery chemicals complex

EV Metals partners with Yanbu Royal commission to build $900m battery chemicals complex
Updated 28 September 2021

EV Metals partners with Yanbu Royal commission to build $900m battery chemicals complex

EV Metals partners with Yanbu Royal commission to build $900m battery chemicals complex

RIYADH: The Royal Commission in Yanbu on Wednesday signed a $900 million investment agreement with EV Metals to establish and operate a factory for the production of electric battery chemicals.

The facility will be spread over 127 hectares and the investment volume is approximately SR3,375 million. The project is expected to create 494 jobs.


OPEC's Barkindo expects oil demand to continue upward pace beyond 2021

OPEC's Barkindo expects oil demand to continue upward pace beyond 2021
Updated 28 September 2021

OPEC's Barkindo expects oil demand to continue upward pace beyond 2021

OPEC's Barkindo expects oil demand to continue upward pace beyond 2021

RIYADH: The secretary-general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Mohammed Barkindo, is bullish on oil recovery and sees demand to pick up over the next few years.

“Energy and oil demand have picked up significantly in 2021, after the massive drop in 2020, and continued expansion is forecast for the longer-term,” Barkindo wrote today in the group’s World Oil Outlook.

“Non-OPEC liquids supply is projected to rise from 62.9 mb/d in 2020 to 70.4 mb/d in 2026, the key contributors to growth are the US, Brazil, Russia, Guyana, Canada, Kazakhstan, Norway and Qatar,” OPEC’s chief said in a virtual press conference.

Non-OPEC liquids output is set to decline from a peak of 71 mb/d around 2030 to 65.5 mb/d in 2045.

The WOO report says that more electric vehicles on the road for alternative energy will decline the demand for oil in rich countries.

Internal combustion engine vehicles are set to retain the largest market share at over 76 percent by 2045. Oil demand in the transportation sector is expected to stay around 46 mb/d after 2025.

Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Puri said: “OPEC should move toward reliable pricing globally as cost of prices plays a crucial role in global interest.” 

Dr. Ayed Al-Qahtani, director of research at OPEC, said that short-term investment is of paramount importance to prevent a potential hike in prices.

Brent oil dipped on Tuesday after topping $80 per barrel for the first time in nearly three years, as a five-day rally ran out of steam with investors locking in profits.

Oil benchmark prices have been on a tear, with fuel demand growing and traders expecting major oil-producing nations will decide to keep supplies tight when OPEC meets next week.

Brent dipped 75 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $78.78 a barrel at 12:37 a.m. EDT (1637 GMT), after reaching its highest level since October 2018 at $80.75.

US West Texas Intermediate crude fell 60 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $74.85 a barrel, after hitting a session high of $76.67, highest since July.