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China targets VPNs; Samsung finds battery defects caused Note 7 fires

TOP NEWS

* China is launching a campaign targeting internet service providers, internet data centers and content delivery network companies that operate without government licenses or beyond the limits of their licenses, Reuters reports, citing a notice posted online by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The government will also crack down on unauthorized connections, including virtual private network services, that allow users to bypass state restrictions.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. confirmed that an investigation of its Galaxy Note 7 found that a defect in the design of the batteries and manufacturing issues caused the smartphones to overheat and catch fire. Defects introduced during the design and manufacturing phase caused a short-circuit in the initial release of the device, while batteries from a different supplier used in replacement units also became malfunctional amid the rush to produce the phones following a recall.

* China's Office of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs and the Ministry of Finance set up a fund of 100 billion Chinese yuan, or about US$14.5 billion, for internet technology investments, Xinhua News Agency reports. The initial 30 billion yuan has been raised from major banks and telcos including ICBC, China Mobile Ltd., China Unicom and China Telecom.

PAN-ASIAN NEWS

* RTI Connectivity, a subsea cable development company, chose Japan's NEC Corp. to supply the optical subsea cable for the 3,900-kilometer Hong Kong-Guam Cable System, Telecom Asia reports. The cable system is expected to start operations in January 2020.

* Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. appointed Leena Singarajah as managing director for Asia, effective immediately. Singarajah will be based in Singapore and will report to Derek Chang, her predecessor who was promoted in 2016 to the newly created post of head of international lifestyle channels.

JAPAN

* Creditor banks agreed to continue extending loans to embattled electronics giant Toshiba Corp., which faces staggering losses from its U.S. nuclear business, until the end of February, according to Jiji Press. The financial institutions include mega-banks Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Mizuho Bank Ltd. and Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi-UFJ.

* Users of Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR can now watch 360-degree videos from Google Inc.'s YouTube, according to an official blog post. The new feature was rolled out as part of a new update for the devices.

* Nintendo says its new Switch console will not feature any streaming video apps such as Netflix Inc. when it launches in March. Nintendo told Kotaku that support for such services is being considered at a future date.

* Sony Pictures Classics, a unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment obtained global rights to the movie "Novitiate." The Maggie Betts film debuted at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The movie studios are part of Japan's Sony Corp. group.

SOUTH KOREA

* Niantic, the U.S.-based mobile game maker that developed "Pokémon Go," plans to hold a press conference about its augmented reality business today in South Korea, Yonhap News Agency reports. The company refused to comment further about what will be revealed at the event, but game industry sources said Niantic will likely announce its launch plan for "Pokémon Go" in South Korea.

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. signed an memorandum of understanding with beauty conglomerate AmorePacific Corp. for an Internet of Things-based beauty service, Maeil Business Newspaper reports. The two companies will collect big data at AmorePacific stores via SKT's IoT network and use it for product and customer service development.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Voltage Pictures filed a lawsuit seeking a US$4 million deposit from China's Anhui Xinke New Materials, which pulled out of a US$345 million deal to acquire an 80% stake in Voltage, Variety reports. Xinke decided to purchase a 29.9% stake in Hong Kong-based Pegasus Entertainment instead.

* Hugo Barra, vice president of global operations at Xiaomi Inc., announced on his Facebook page that he is leaving the company after Chinese New Year to return to Silicon Valley, citing health concerns and family ties.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Indonesian telco Indosat Ooredoo and UAE-based mobile satellite phone provider Thuraya signed an agreement to develop combined services for Indonesian corporate customers, Telecompaper reports. The work will focus on Indosat SIM cards roaming on the Thuraya network, bundling satellite devices with Indosat's digital apps, and IoT.

* Thailand's National Broadcasting Commission is preparing to impose a fine of 5 million Thai baht on pay TV operator TrueVisions for dropping six entertainment channels without giving subscribers 30 days' notice, Sanook reports. The NBC also said that customers who wish to leave TrueVisions must not be charged any penalty fees for early termination of their subscriptions.

* TOT, one of Thailand's two state-owned telcos, postponed plans to establish an infrastructure investment fund for its piped, underground telecom cable business, the Bangkok Post reports. TOT President Monchai Noosong said the plan will be shelved for nine months while the company attempts to negotiate longer-term agreements with its 10 cable rental partners, with the hope that each will commit to a contract of at least 10 years.

* The government of Perak state in Malaysia will dismantle illegally erected telco towers and those for which annual permits fees have not been paid, Free Malaysia Today reports. Perak Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir said there are only 1,400 legal towers, while there are more than twice as many illegal towers.

* Thai music streaming app JOOX will begin offering live streams of concerts and other recorded events this year, Prachachat reports. A JOOX spokesperson also said that the company plans to offer more content that can be accessed offline.

* Facebook Inc.'s battle with fake news has extended to the Philippines, with the social networking giant telling the Senate there that it is dealing with the spread of misinformation and fake news over its platform, The Philippine Star reported Jan. 21. The company sent a statement in response to a Senate resolution seeking accountability from Facebook over the matter.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Singtel Optus Pty. Ltd's business division landed a A$75 million agreement with international travel company Flight Centre Travel Group. The five-year contract will cover global security, mobility and an expansion of data connectivity, as well as unified communications and collaboration services.

* Australian free-to-air networks such as Seven Network Ltd., Nine Network and Ten Network Holdings Ltd. are holding talks over anti-siphoning rules, The Australian reports. The ­government pushed for the discussions, telling the networks that additional cuts in license fees cannot be expected unless they reach an agreement on the legislation.

* New Zealand-based cloud software startup Banqer is expanding into Australia, Scoop reports. The software, designed to teach children financial literacy, is used by more than 20,000 students in around 450 schools throughout New Zealand. Banqer hopes to gain NZ$16 million per year from its entry into the Australian market.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Tata Communications Ltd. acquired a 35% share in Dutch mobile technology developer Teleena, Financieele Dagblad reports. Tata reportedly offered between €10 million and €20 million for the stake, which will be fully invested in Teleena's development.

* BBC Worldwide Ltd. agreed to license Amazon.com Inc. with more than 600 hours of factual and preschool content for its Prime Video service in India. The deal includes CBeebies programs as well as factual programs such as "Gandhi" and "The World's Weirdest Weapons."

* Nepal Telecom will launch 4G services for its prepaid customers on Feb. 4, Telecom Asia reports. The news comes shortly after Nepal's first commercial 4G network provider got 40,000 LTE customers in its first 15 days.

FEATURED NEWS

Q&A: Iflix CEO on conquering piracy, cultural barriers in Asia's OTT market: S&P Global Market Intelligence spoke to Mark Britt, co-founder and group CEO of Malaysia-based iflix, about the over-the-top service's strategy behind its rapid growth across Asia.

Tech exec: India holds promise for Internet of Things: India's next big growth wave may be driven by developments in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, Jürgen Hase, CEO of IoT company Unlimit, told delegates at the IoT Tech Expo in London.

Indonesia's tax dispute with Google continues; Australia to sell off spectrum: In this biweekly Asia-Pacific Regulatory Spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of significant recent regulatory events in the Asia-Pacific region.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of TV & Film: Netflix international subs catching up to domestic count: The holidays were indeed happy for Netflix as the company reported it had exceeded its forecasts for domestic and international subscriber additions in the last quarter of 2016.

Technology: Technology Quarterly Industry Presentation, Q4'16: SNL Kagan's latest quarterly presentation report examining industry trends and data for the technology sector.

Joji Sakurai, Sunny Um, Emily Lai, Patrick Tibke and Ed Eduard contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. Hong Kong time. Some external links may require a subscription.