Thursday, July 27, 2017
YouTube boasts improved streaming speed in Cuba – Cuba
Content uploaded to digital video platform YouTube can now be streamed at high speeds in Cuba.
Media outlet CiberCuba reported that content from YouTube is available on the island at high speeds, as confirmed by Google’s head of Cuba operations Brett Perlmutter on his Twitter account. Although Perlmutter did not specify the download speed, he said it was far from slow.
Perlmutter had previously pointed out that content had to travel from a Google data center to Venezuela, and then to Cuba through the Alba-1 submarine cable. The process is now simpler and faster, as Google can store its content on the servers of state-controlled telco Etecsa.
ICT: The week in 10 stories – Regional
Telecom giant América Móvil saw its net profit rise 86% year-on-year in the second quarter of this year. The company reported a net profit of 14.3bn pesos (US$816mn).
América Móvil attributed its results to the appreciation of the Mexican peso against the US dollar. However, the company’s CEO Daniel Hajj underscored that América Móvil constantly rebalances its position in order not to be impacted by currency depreciation.
Mexican state-run telco Telecomm announced that it will develop the country’s national backbone network under a public-private partnership model. Telecomm’s partner will design, finance, build, expand, and operate the backbone, and will also be in charge of commercializing wholesale services. The state-run telco will conduct a public consultation until July 31 on the criteria to be used to tender the project.
Telecom Argentina will be the first company in Latin America to offer Oracle engineering systems infrastructure as a subscription model in the cloud and hosted in datacenters in Argentina.
Brazil’s government is doubling down on the approval of its telecom legislation, which the authorities expect to be approved and signed in August.
The bill amends Brazil’s 1998 general telecommunications law by allowing fixed-telephony concession holders to migrate to the private regime. The initiative is being backed by operators and the telecom industry in general.
Brazilian fiber optic systems company Padtec activated 530km of underwater fiber optics as part of a new stretch of the Amazônia Conectada project.
The company said it will light up a total of 3,600km of subfluvial optical networks as part of the initiative.
The board of directors of Brazilian telco Oi approved plans for a capital increase worth 8bn reais (US$2.53bn). The fund seeks to improve the financial condition of Oi’s balance sheet and the approval of the judicial reorganization plan. The cash boost is yet to be approved by corporate bodies and investors.
América Móvil’s Claro unit paid US$19mn for two blocks in the 1800MHz band and one block in the 2.1GHz band. Spanish operator Movistar picked up two blocks in 1800MHz and two blocks in 2.1GHz for US$24mn. The auction prices did not surpass the minimum asking price.
Luxembourg-based Millicom reported a record addition of 4G users in Colombia during the second quarter of this year. Colombia added 400,000 subscriptions out of the 900,000 additions the company had in Latin America in the period. The group also added 56,000 new subscribers to its hybrid fiber-coaxial network in the country.
Additionally, the number of public Wi-Fi spots in the island reached 370, up from the 200 reported last year. According to communications minister Amarelis Rodríguez, state-run telco Etecsa expects to deliver residential internet to 38,000 new households during the rest of this year.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will assist Dominican telecom regulator Indotel in reviewing the country’s telecoms legislation, which dates back to 1998. The initiative seeks to modernize the legislation to suit technological advancements and the accelerated pace of change in the telecom market.
Visa exploring new payment methods – Regional
The world of payments is undergoing a dramatic shift with new technologies such as tokenization, facial recognition and artificial intelligence set to ensure swifter and more secure means of purchasing, Fernando Méndez (pictured), Visa’s VP of emerging products for Latin America and the Caribbean, told BNamericas.
Tokenization is increasingly being used in credit card payments, where the sensitive primary account number (PAN) of the card is replaced with a different number for each device. If intercepted, the data contains no cardholder information, rendering it useless to a hacker.
This comes in useful for payment with wearable connected devices like bracelets and rings, which were used in the Olympics in Rio last as well as in the recent Confederations Cup and enable attendees to these events to reduce the risk of losing or having stolen wallets with sensitive financial data.
In Rio last year, Visa partnered with Samsung Pay and with local banks.
But such contactless payment is not limited to smartphones and wearables, but is starting to be incorporated in cars for automatic payment for gasoline, road tolls and parking spaces.
Visa is also looking at opportunities to expand contactless payments to public transport where smart cards are increasingly being used.
Méndez feels that the new payment methods will continue to coexist with traditional cards with a magnetic strip, as well as cash, though there is definite interest from certain governments to adapt new methods.
India, for example, eliminated small denomination coins, which could encourage the use of digital payments.
MAKING SURE YOU ARE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE
One of the challenges for new technologies is security and many hardware manufacturers are not necessarily that familiar with the financial services industry, according to Méndez. Visa is currently helping to create and accelerate the implementation of a global interoperable security standard.
The company also has the Visa Consumer Authentication Service, which is a hoisted Access Control Server (ACS) that delivers protection against e-commerce fraud through risk-based authentication. Issuers have full control of when and how they decide to authenticate based on their transaction risk threshold and fraud-detection tools.
Some 200 information fields are analyzed in a transaction to determine whether it is high or low risk.
Visa also has a Bank Authorization Solution, which leverages big data to analyze in real time more than 500 variables in milliseconds providing key information on the client’s behavior, their commercial history.
Other projects include an alliance with IBM to with the Watson artificial intelligence platform with a focus on IoT and connected cars.
Visa is working with several car manufacturers on prototypes to incorporate automatic payments through tokenization.
Visa is now working with Brazil’s Banco Neon on a project that allows a user to take a selfie to confirm using biometric identification that the customer is who they say they are when carrying out an e-commerce transaction.
“This project is very much aimed at the millennial segment who are 100% digital. You are sent a request to your phone asking you to identify yourself by taking a selfie. When the photo is authenticated, the transaction is complete,” Méndez said.
ICT tender watch: El Salvador, Barbados – El Salvador
El Salvador will hire a consulting firm to support the Central American country in its analogue switch-off.
The project’s objective is to estimate the economic valuation of the spectrum derived from the digital dividend in the country, according to a tender notice.
The wining consulting firm will carry out an economic valuation using international comparative methodology and making the necessary adjustments to the consumption propensity.
The consulting firm will also provide an economic spectrum estimation in the 600MHz band by prospective analysis of future demand and discounted cash flow, and a roadmap for an eventual second digital dividend in the 600MHz band.
The project is expected to last nine months.
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) launched a tender for the redesign, development and launch of its corporate website.
The winning consultancy will provide an electronic resource that better serves CDB’s stakeholders by improving the bank’s web presence through an updated and compelling visual design which includes intuitive information architecture and user experience, according to the tender notice.
The assignment is expected to last eight months and is for CDB member countries only.
Expressions of interest must be submitted no later than 16:00 Barbados time on August 4. Submissions should be in English and sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org in PDF format. The full terms of reference can be requested from the address below.
Redesign, Development and Launch of the Caribbean Development Bank Corporate Website
Caribbean Development Bank, P.O. Box 408, Wildey, St. Michael BB11000, Barbados, W.I.
Facebook gains strength on mobile advertising, Twitter flops – Regional
Mobile advertising continued to drive Facebook revenues in the second quarter as it made up 87% of advertising revenue, up from 84% in 2Q16.
The company also announced it had hit a 2bn-user milestone with 1.3bn daily users.
Advertising revenue rose 47% year-on-year to US$9.16bn, while total revenue rose 45% to US$9.321bn. Net income rose 71% to US$3.89bn.
Speaking during a conference call with investors, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg underscored the company’s three key priorities: helping businesses leverage the power of mobile, developing innovative ad products, and making ads more relevant and effective.
Facebook has realized the power of video and Shandberg said native mobile video ads outperform more traditional ads.
In terms of innovative ads, Shandberg said that so-called dynamic ads which show people products that are most relevant to them based on actions they’ve taken, are a priority.
The company is also devising ways to better measure the effectiveness of ads across Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said artificial intelligence is contributing to improvements for news feed, search, ads, security and spam filtering.
Zuckerberg alluded to recent incidents where people flagged horrific or illegal content on Facebook. “In the future, AI will be able to help flag more of this content faster before people have even seen it.”
Often compared to Facebook, Twitter saw a 5% y-o-y drop in revenue to US$574mn.
Advertising revenue fell 8% to US$489mn and the company’s net loss widened to US$116mn from US$107mn in 2Q16.
Focusing on the positives of the quarter, CEO Jack Dorsey underscored a y-o-y increase of 5% in monthly active usage and an increase of 12% in daily active usage.
Twitter’s COO Anthony Noto pointed to the increase in usage as an encouraging sign for potential advertisers.
“We continue to invest in revenue products and services that leverage Twitter’s unique value proposition and are delivering more value to advertisers than ever, with double-digit growth in daily active usage, improvements in ad relevance and better pricing,” Noto said.
Noto added that Twitter had received a positive response from advertisers regarding the live premium video content that debuted at Twitter’s Digital Content NewFronts.
The information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CANTO and/or its members