Eurobites: Ex-BT big cheese joins Huawei board

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Imagination Technologies faces questions; now it's Dutch dingbats attacking mobile masts; UK's National Health Service in talks with Apple and Google over coronavirus app.

  • A former chairman of BT, Mike Rake, has potentially put the cat among the political pigeons by joining the board of Huawei, the controversial vendor accused by some of providing the Chinese state with a "back door" into mobile networks. Rake will serve alongside fellow non-executive directors on the Huawei UK board, John Browne, Kenneth Olisa and Andrew Cahn. The appointment comes as Huawei uses an open letter from its vice president, Victor Zhang, to make a case for continuing to play a significant role in the UK's networks once the world emerges from COVID-19 crisis. Says Zhang: "…we look forward to continuing to play our role as a key partner in improving the networks, benefiting the economy and ultimately everyone in the UK, ending the postcode lottery of good connectivity." In March, a group of rebel lawmakers from the UK's ruling Conservative Party tried but failed to overturn the UK government's decision to allow Huawei to continue to play a (limited) role in the country's developing 5G network. (See Eurobites: UK government rebels prepare to detonate H(uawei)-bomb.)

  • In similar China-paranoia territory, UK-based but Chinese-owned software outfit Imagination Technologies will face questions from British lawmakers today (Tuesday) relating to concerns over security. As the BBC reports, Imagination Technologies was bought by a Chinese state-owned investment firm, Canyon Bridge, in September 2017.

  • As if the coronavirus wasn't causing enough trouble, attacking mobile masts also seems to be contagious. In recent weeks it was reported that misguided Brits were attempting to sabotage telecom equipment in the belief that it was somehow responsible for the coronavirus. And over the Easter weekend, the presenter of one of the UK's most popular breakfast TV shows, This Morning, appeared to lend credence to the saboteurs' frankly barmy claims by criticizing what he called "mainstream media" for dismissing the wreckers' allegations out of hand because "it suits the state narrative." Now it's the turn of the Dutch to join the conspiracy-theorists' party, with several masts being damaged in the past week, according to Reuters, citing De Telegraaf. (See 5G malaise mounts as COVID-19 morons mangle masts.)

  • The UK's National Health Service is developing a smartphone app with Google and Apple that it hopes will help hasten the end of the coronavirus lockdown. As Reuters reports, citing a Sunday Times story, the system will use Bluetooth to alert those with the app if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

  • Swedish video software specialist Net Insight has joined the Zixi Enabled Network, which uses the Zixi protocol, which Net Insight describes as "the preferred retransmission protocol of Amazon Web Services when it comes to acquiring live content." The network comprises more than 700 customers and 170 OEM and technology partners utilizing the protocol.

  • Light Reading is sad to report that Alan Mayne, who ran telecom training courses for Informa, Light Reading's parent company, has died from complications related to the new coronavirus. Alan first joined Informa in 2001 and re-joined the company in 2018 as a contractor running its Telecoms Mini MBA courses. Alan leaves a wife, Sarah, and two children, Lauren and Andrew.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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