China to build first underwater platform in South China Sea


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BEIJING: China will build its first long-term underwater observation platform in resource-rich South China Sea, where it has territorial disputes with many south-east Asian countries including Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The platform aims to observe underwater conditions in real time.

“Construction work on the long-term observation platform covering key areas in the South China and East China seas will be done with the help of Shanghai’s Tongji University and the Institute of Acoustics,” Wang Pinxian, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said.

Building the observation network showcases that China is actively joining in the international competition, Wang told scientific forum in Shanghai last Saturday, state-run Global Times reported.

Institute of Acoustics refused to reveal the exact location and further details of the researches on the platform due to its sensitive nature, it said.

China has maritime disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

It claims almost all the waters, which carry a third of the world’s maritime traffic and has huge amounts of oil and natural gas BSE -0.15 %.

The waters are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. China also contests Japan’s hold over the islands in the East China Sea.

Quoting a report from ‘sciencenet’, Global Times report said the observation platform will probe the undersea physical, chemical, and geological dynamics, and will also be used for other purposes.

At an offshore drilling project led by Chinese scientists, 33 scientists from 13 countries including the US, France, Italy and Japan left Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong on February 7 for the South China Sea.

The scientists have completed the first drilling task of the expedition to the South China Sea.

The first hole, identified as U1499A, has reached 3,770 meters below sea level, for collection of sediment samples, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

According to Sun Zhen of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, chief scientist of the research expedition team, a preliminary lithologic study was conducted on sediment believed to have been formed eight million years ago.

The study will contribute to understanding how marginal basins grow.

A total of 66 scientists from 13 countries will participate in the expeditions, as part of the International Ocean Discovery Programme.

Source

Wait! Soon you can download movies in a second with 5G


The ministry aims to implement the tech -- about 1,000 times faster than the 4G services currently available -- within six years.

The ministry aims to implement the tech — about 1,000 times faster than the 4G services currently available — within six years.

South Korea, already one of the most wired countries on earth, announced a 1.6 trillion won ($1.5 billion) plan to roll out a next-generation 5G wireless service quick enough to download full-length films in a second.

The science ministry said it aims to implement the technology — about 1,000 times faster than the 4G services currently available — within six years.

“We helped fuel national growth with 2G services in the 1990s, 3G in the 2000s and 4G around 2010. Now it is time to take preemptive action to develop 5G,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Countries in Europe, China and the US are making aggressive efforts to develop 5G technology … and we believe there will be fierce competition in this market in a few years,” it said.

Under the roadmap, a trial 5G service will be rolled out in 2017 and a fully commercial service in December 2020.

Priority will be given to developing key features for the new network, including Ultra-HD and hologram transmission as well as cutting-edge social networking services.

Related industries will be able to rack up sales of 5G-related devices and infrastructure equipment worth 331 trillion won from 2020 to 2026, the ministry estimated.

The government hopes to implement the plan with investment and cooperation from operators such as SK Telecom and Korea Telecom as well as handset makers like Samsung and LG.

It also aims to expand the telecom infrastructure equipment industry, which is relatively weaker than the mighty mobile device sector.

Led by Samsung — the world’s top handset maker — South Korea has a leading 30-percent stake in the global mobile device market.

“But the (telecom) infrastructure equipment industry has only a 4.4 percent share in the global market, with exports very limited,” the ministry said.

Chinese equipment makers including Huawei have expanded their presence in the global market from 12 percent in 2007 to 26 percent in 2012.

Huawei announced in November that it was looking at a 5G commercial rollout by 2020, with a minimum investment of $600 million to develop the technology.

Seoul intends to take up to a 20 percent stake in the world’s telecom infrastructure equipment market by 2020, according to the ministry.

South Korea is renowned for being at the forefront of internet technology with broadband speeds that consistently out-pace those in Europe or the United States.

5G technology will allow users to download a 800-megabyte movie file in one second, compared with 40 seconds using 4G, the science ministry said, adding that such speeds would help South Korean firms win overseas deals.

Officials said the new service would also mean people on bullet trains running faster than 500 kilometres (310 miles) an hour would even be able to access the internet, compared with 300 kph currently.

Bullet trains around the world keep getting faster, with some in China running as fast as 500 and 600 kilometres per hour,” said one ministry official who declined to be named.

“If we have the technology to allow fast internet access in these trains, it can open new opportunities for us globally,” he said.

Samsung Electronics announced back in May that it had successfully tested 5G technology, managing data transmission of more than one gigabyte per second over a distance of two kilometres.

Samsung said it had found a way to harness millimetre-wave bands which have proved to be a sticking point for the mobile industry to date.

The test used 64 antenna elements, which the tech titan said overcame the issue of “unfavourable propagation characteristics” that have prevented data travelling across long distances using the bands.

However, it made clear that the technology would not be available commercially before the end of the decade.

Anonymous declares cyber war


Anonymous declares cyber war on Syria after country shuts down Internet

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Anonymous has declared cyber war against the embattled Syrian government just one day after the country sparked outrage by shutting down its citizens’ Internet access. As Network World reports, Anonymous has vowed to attack “all Web assets belonging to the Assad regime that are NOT hosted in Syria” in retaliation for the country’s suppression of its citizens’ digital communications.

Anonymous said that the Syrian government’s actions were particularly rash because it had “physically severed the fiber-optic and coaxial cables coming into Syria” which is “not damage that can be easily or quickly repaired.” The hacker collective said its first target will be a website belonging to Syria’s embassy in China.

UFO sightings inside Indian territory bordering China raise security concerns


Top security brass of the Indian government is battling a “mysterious” threat from the Chinese side these days: tennis ball-sized UFOs.

Hundreds of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have been sighted inside the Indian territory bordering China in recent months, raising security concerns. The issue, initially dubbed a minor one, has turned serious as India prepares to raise it at the diplomatic levelwith China.

Sources said a meeting of the boundary coordination mechanism – a highlevel official mechanism set up by the two sides to ensure that the boundary incidents between their armed forces do not escalate – is being scheduled later this month where the issue of “luminous objects” will be at the centre of the discussion.

The Indian delegation will be led by Gautam Bambawale, the head of the China desk in the external affairs ministry, while China will be represented by its director general, department of boundary and oceanic affairs. Security officials from both sides will also participate in the meeting.

Highly placed sources said over 150 such incidents have been reported in the last three months and that India’s protests at the local border personnel meeting with the Chinese have met with a cursory denial.

The government’s decision to raise the ‘UFO ‘ issue at the diplomatic level follows a detailed report sought from the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Indian Army, and a spectrum analyser to ascertain the objects.

Surprisingly, the radar could not detect these objects indicating that they were nonmetallic. Also, the spectrum analyser could not detect any signals emitted by them. The army also flew a reconnaissance drone in the direction of the floating objects, but it didn’t yield anything substantial.

“Earlier these reports coming from various sectors of the boundary were sketchy but now we have definite proof of these yellowish spheres coming from the Chinese side; and our concerns will be raised,” a source said.

According to the reports, in Ladakh sector, such an object was sighted in Thakung post on October 21 for around eight hours. It had an “intense continuous flash light.” Another incident was reported from Arunachal Pradesh’s Dichu area on October 19.

Earlier it was believed that the Chinese could be sending remote-controlled lanterns but that theory was shot down after an internal probe. Mail Today accessed a series of reports sent by the intelligence bureau, the army and the ITBP on the issue, which has been discussed at a high-level meeting on China in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Some of the top government officials suspect that these UFOs which appear to lift off from the Chinese side and traverse the sky for three to five hours before disappearing were high-intensity cameras. “We are worried that there may be a flare-up if the Indian troops decide to shoot these objects,” a source said.

Future of Nokia hangs on Windows Phone 8 rollout


For Nokia, it comes down to this: Is Microsoft’s new phone software going to get it back in the smartphone race, or is it going to be too late?

After being the top seller of cellphones in the world for 14 years, Nokia failed to meet the challenge when Apple in 2007 introduced the dazzling iPhone that caught the imagination of design-conscious customers and rattled mobile markets.

Photo: AP Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gives his presentation at the launch of Microsoft Windows 8, in New York, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012. Windows 8 is the most dramatic overhaul of the personal computer market’s dominant operating system in 17 years.

The Finnish company hit a downward spiral that has led to shrinking sales and market share, plant closures, thousands of layoffs and downgrades by credit agencies to junk status. On Friday, research firm IDC said that in the July-to-September period, Nokia slid for the first time off the list of the top five smartphone makers in the world. It’s still the second-largest maker of phones overall, but sales of non-smartphones are shrinking across the industry, and there’s little profit there.

The ailing company’s CEO, Stephen Elop, sees Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8 software as a chance to reverse that trend, describing it as a catalyst for the new models. On Monday, Microsoft Corp. is hosting a big launch event for the software at an arena in San Francisco. The first phones from Nokia, Samsung and HTC are expected to hit store shelves next month.

The launch of Windows Phone 8 follows on the heels of Windows 8 for PCs and tablets, which Microsoft released Friday. That operating system has borrowed its look from Windows Phone, meaning Microsoft now has a unified look across PCs and phones — at least if people take to Windows 8. The company has also made it easy for developers to create software that runs on both platforms with minor modifications.

Analysts are calling this a make-or-break moment for Nokia. “Nokia is placing a huge bet on Microsoft and if the gamble doesn’t pay off, the losses can be high,” said Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics, near London. “It’s putting all its eggs in one basket and that’s quite a high-risk strategy.”

In February last year, Nokia announced it was teaming up with Microsoft to replace its old Symbian and next-generation MeeGo software platforms with Windows. This move was made in the hope that it would rejuvenate the company and claw back lost ground.

Eight months later, they produced the first Nokia Windows Phone. Consumers didn’t warm to it, and it soon became clear that these phones, based on Windows Phone 7, were going to become obsolete. They can’t be upgraded to Windows Phone 8. Lumia sales slumped to 2.9 million units in the third quarter after reaching 4 million in the previous three months.

“Retailers withdrew marketing and promotion because no one wants to sell customers a device that ages in a few months,” says Michael Schroeder, analyst at FIM Bank Ltd. in Helsinki. “Had there been a seamless transfer to Windows 8 from the old (Lumia) devices, sales figures would have been much higher last quarter.”

Mawston gives Nokia until April to prove it’s still in the race. “If Nokia does not have more than 5 percent of the global smartphone market by the end of the first quarter 2013, alarm bells will be ringing,” Mawston said.

Analysts estimate Nokia’s current global smartphone market share to be some 4 percent — down from 14 percent a year ago. Meanwhile, uncertainty clouds its new venture with Microsoft. “We’re a bit in the dark here,” Schroeder said. “Right now we can’t really say anything about Nokia’s future. Everything depends on how the new devices are received in the market.”

Nokia says its Lumia 920 and 820 phones are just the beginning of a new range of Windows Phone 8 devices, but early evaluations suggest they lack the “wow” effect necessary to make a dent in the smartphone market.

Also, Windows Phone 8 lags behind in the number of third-party applications available. There are some 100,000 available. Google’s and Apple’s stores have six or seven times as many. “It’s a perception thing really,” Mawston of Strategy Analytics said. “Like in supermarket wars, if you have a store with lots of shelves with lots of apps, then consumers will choose you over a smaller store that has a smaller offering — even if you can’t use all those apps.”

Analysts expect 700 million smartphones to be sold worldwide this year. While network operators and retailers may welcome a third software system to challenge the dominance of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, it is the consumer who will ultimately decide Nokia’s and Windows Phone 8’s fate.

Beside the smartphone challenge, Nokia is feeling the pinch in the lower end with manufacturers in China and in Asia producing cut-rate non-smartphones — Nokia’s former domain. Earlier this year, Samsung overtook it as the world’s No. 1 mobile phone vendor, ending Nokia’s reign that peaked in 2008 with a 40 percent market share.

“Dumb” phones continue to be the backbone of Nokia operations, including in India where it’s a top seller. With strong and extensive distribution networks and a brand well-known in emerging markets, all might not be lost for the company that grew from making paper and rubber boots to being the biggest manufacturer of cellphones.

Mawston says that in theory, Nokia and Microsoft have a good chance of success as they offer an across-the-board system that stretches across home computers, mobiles, laptops, tablets as well as in the office, backed by Nokia’s strong distribution and hardware and Microsoft’s multi-platform software.

“If they can exploit that underlying market platform … and tie it all together in a good hardware portfolio, then potentially Microsoft and Nokia could be a very, very strong partnership — a bit like bringing together Batman and Robin,” Mawston said. “But, in practice, whether they can execute on that reality still is a great unknown and remains to be seen.”