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Tech Time: NTT, Toyota ink connected car deal; Samsung reveals virtual assistant

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

TOP STORIES

* Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. are teaming up to work on connected car technology, with an agreement to collaborate on research and development, the two companies said March 27.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. on March 20 took the wraps off Bixby, its AI-powered virtual assistant which will debut on its upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone.

CLOUD

* South Africa-based cloud service provider Routed launched a vendor-neutral cloud platform for businesses in the country, Telecompaper reported March 27. Routed will work with hardware and software suppliers to develop and manage the platform.

* U.S.-based cloud company Virtustream Inc. on March 22 launched its enterprise cloud platform for mission critical applications across the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia and Japan.

* Equinix Inc. said March 21 that it is making its Equinix Cloud Exchange platform available in Dublin, Milan and Stockholm.

* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. plans to construct a cloud computing data center in New Zealand as part of a US$400 million investment over the next five years, Stuff reported March 21.

* IBM Corp. said March 19 that it entered into an agreement with Dalian Wanda Group Co. Ltd. unit Wanda Internet Technology Group to form Wanda Cloud Co., a new company that will provide IBM cloud services in China.

5G AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS

* Telia Co. AB unit Telia Estonia said March 27 that it secured the right to use IoT technologies from network provider Sigfox, as part of a deal with Estonia's Connected Baltics OÜ.

* Mexican operator Ultravision is teaming up with Nokia Corp. to launch a 4.5G network in the 2.5 GHz band, Telecompaper reported March 27, citing El Economista (Mexico).

* UAE-based operator Etisalat will begin 5G tests in 2018 prior to a commercial launch in 2019, Gulf News reported March 21.

* Bouygues Telecom and Ericsson AB achieved download speeds of over 25.2 Gbps in 5G tests using adaptive beamforming technology, according to a March 16 news release.

* DISH Network Corp. is planning to deploy a next-generation 5G-capable network in the next three years that will comply with FCC rules, the company said in a March 7 filing with the commission.

VIRTUAL REALITY AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. plans to create an AI unit as part of a reorganization, Yonhap News Agency reported March 27. The telco expects the new division to help fast-track its development of autonomous driving cars and AI-powered secretaries.

* Tencent Holdings Ltd. hired Zhang Tong, former head of Baidu Inc.'s big-data lab, to preside over its AI lab, the South China Morning Post reported March 23, citing a company statement.

* Baidu's AI group head, Andrew Ng, is stepping down and will be replaced by Wang Haifeng, Ng said March 21 in a Medium blog post.

* Google Inc. has vowed to revamp its advertising policies after online adverts appeared alongside extremist video content on YouTube. In a March 21 blog post, Google Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler said the Alphabet Inc. unit would, among others, develop AI-based tools to moderate ad content.

* Apple Inc. opened an office in Wellington, New Zealand, to develop augmented reality technology, The New Zealand Herald reported March 21.

DRONES AND OTHER DEVICES

* Verizon Communications Inc. said March 27 that it is working with SES SA to develop Ultra HD delivery services for Fios subscribers throughout the U.S.

* Apple acquired Workflow, a tool that allows users to automate tasks in iPhones and iPads by bringing together apps and functions within apps, TechCrunch.com reported March 22, citing an official statement.

* Microsoft Corp. and Toyota inked a new patent license agreement that includes broad coverage for connected car technologies, according to a March 22 news release.