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Tech Time: SoftBank invests in US tech; Microsoft, Baidu ink self-driving deal

In this feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a bi-weekly global roundup of the latest developments in technology.

TOP STORIES

* SoftBank Group Corp. began the deployment of its over US$93 billion Vision Fund by making investments in U.S. technology, London's Financial Times reported July 19. The fund has invested in robotics company Brain Corp. and autonomous vehicle company NAUTO Inc., among others.

* Microsoft Corp. and Baidu Inc. plan to collaborate to bring autonomous driving technology, including technical development and autonomous driving adoption, around the world, according to a July 18 news release.

CLOUD

* Microsoft India launched Kaizala, a mobile-only work productivity app powered by Microsoft's Azure Cloud platform, according to a July 26 statement.

* Cloud solutions provider F5 Networks launched services that South African companies can use to deploy business applications in multiple cloud environments, IT News Africa reported July 24.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s cloud computing arm Alibaba Cloud announced the launch of a new digital hub in Malaysia with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corp., the New Straits Times reported July 20.

* Tencent Holdings Ltd. signed an agreement with data service provider China CCNET to build a cloud platform to hold data for the healthcare industry, China News reported July 17.

5G AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS

* India's Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd., or BSNL, is seeking rights to use radio frequencies in the 700 MHz band, which would be allocated for 4G and 5G, The Economic Times of India reported July 31.

* Telecom Italia SpA said July 17 that it struck an agreement with the Republic of San Marino to install a 5G network in the country.

* Singtel Optus Pty. Ltd. said July 25 it will completely switch off its 2G network across Australia, allowing the company to reallocate spectrum and look into technologies such as 5G.

* Nokia Corp. and Nedaa, the Dubai government's networks provider, agreed to designate Dubai as the headquarters of the company's Innovation and Creativity Lab, Telecompaper reported July 25. The lab is envisioned as a contributor to Dubai's Smart City program.

* T-Mobile US Inc. President and CEO John Legere on July 19 reaffirmed the company's plan to use part of its 600 MHz spectrum holdings to deploy a nationwide 5G network.

* Comcast Corp. said July 18 that it plans to expand its enterprise IoT service machineQ to 12 U.S. markets.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and América Móvil SAB de CV agreed to jointly develop and test 4.5G and IoT technologies in Mexico and across Latin America, according to a July 18 statement.

* Swiss chipmaker U-blox AG said July 14 that it teamed up with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Vivo, CAS Tecnologia SA and PinMyPet to conduct lab and field trials via Narrowband IoT networks in Brazil.

VIRTUAL REALITY AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

* Chinese mobile search engine Sogou Inc. wants to focus on boosting its AI capabilities, Reuters reported Aug. 1. The Sohu.com Inc. unit would also hike its investments in AI, big data and IoT.

* Lenovo Group Ltd. is setting aside at least US$1.2 billion over the next four years for AI, particularly on the research and development side, the South China Morning Post reported July 20.

* Sizmek Inc. said July 18 that it agreed to buy Rocket Fuel Inc., a predictive marketing platform that uses AI to anticipate optimal consumer response to messaging.

DRONES AND OTHER DEVICES

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. became the first South Korean telco to secure government permission to test its self-driving vehicles on public roads, the Nikkei Asian Review reported July 20.