* A SoftBank Group Corp.-led investor group will acquire a 15% stake in Uber Technologies Inc. after existing investors in the ride-hailing giant agreed to sell shares equivalent to about 20% of the company at a price that values Uber at US$48 billion, a roughly 30% discount to its most recent valuation of about US$68 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports.
* Reliance Jio has agreed to acquire Reliance Communications Ltd.'s wireless spectrum, tower, fiber and media convergence node assets. The transactions are expected to close between January and March 2018, subject to lenders' and other applicable approvals. The deal comprises primarily cash payment and includes the transfer of deferred spectrum installments payable to the Department of Telecommunication. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
* China's mobile payment services will be subject to tighter security beginning April 2018 in a bid to maintain control in the growing tech sector, South China Morning Post reports. Under new rules released by the People's Bank of China, all transactions over 500 Chinese yuan will be subject to additional levels of verification. The rules also stipulate that all companies providing barcode-based payment services must obtain both an online payment license and a bank card receipt business license and that all cross-bank transactions involving barcodes must be channeled through an approved clearing system.
* The South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT plans to conduct the 5G spectrum auction, targeting 3.5GHz and 28GHz bands, in June 2018, about one year earlier than the original roadmap to support the 5G commercialization efforts of telcos, The Korea Economic Daily reports.
JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA
* Chinese smartphone maker OPPO Electronics Corp. will begin selling SIM-free phones in Japan this spring, The Nikkei reports. Oppo established a Japan unit with plans to offer mid-range smartphones for low-cost MVNO mobile carriers, and eventually hopes for deals with major carriers such as NTT DOCOMO.
* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. and the Korea Transportation Safety Authority announced that the 5G infrastructure has been set up in key test areas of K-City, a town built to test self-driving cars in road conditions, Digital Daily reports. 5G test networks of the speed of 20Gbps, a 5G telecommunications control center, and 3D HD map services have been established, and the test town will be open to South Korean companies to develop related technologies.
* Some of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s Galaxy Note 8 devices sold in the U.S. have been reportedly facing battery issues, Seoul Economic Daily reports. The Samsung Group unit said that it is working on identifying the cause and added that such incidents were not reported in South Korea.
CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN
* A Chinese court has started seizing assets owned by LeEco Inc. founder Jia Yueting, Bloomberg News reports. The court said it took action after agreeing to enforce a petition from a securities firm in Fujian which claims Jia owed them more than 200 million Chinese yuan.
* ZTE Corp. Chairman Yin Yimin reaffirmed that the company will continue to increase its investment in 5G networks, particularly in the research and development of 5G wireless networks, 5G core networks and chip design. The company will make annual investments of 3 billion Chinese yuan into 5G research and development and has already built a team of over 4,500 professionals, according to Sina.
* Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s social networking app Wechat added mini-games as a new category of mini programs for Android users, Tencent News reports. Users can invite friends to join in the games, which do not require downloading, and the company is looking to enhance the variety and the level of innovation of games through open development tools.
* The information services sector in China reached 582.1 billion Chinese yuan in the first 11 months, representing a 27.9% growth from the same time last year, China Securities Journal reports, quoting data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Online games sales rose 22.1% to 134.1 billion yuan.
* Electric vehicle startup NIO, which is backed by Tencent and Baidu Inc., is partnering with GAC Group to establish a joint venture that focuses on the R&D, sales and services of electric vehicles, Gasgoo reports. GAC NIO New Energy Automotive Co. Ltd. will begin with a total investment of 1.28 billion Chinese yuan.
INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA
* Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime members on Amazon Channels across the U.S. and the U.K. can now access Eros Now, an India-based over-the-top entertainment platform owned by Eros International Plc.
* Bharti Airtel Ltd. launched a new version of its Airtel TV app with wider content offerings and new user interface. The revamped Airtel TV app offers over 300 live TV channels and more than 6,000 movies and popular shows. The entire content catalog on Airtel TV is available for postpaid and prepaid customers on a free subscription basis until June 2018.
* A senate subcommittee will soon decide whether it will allow Pakistan's Special Communication Organization to get cellular licenses to operate in all regions of the country, sources told Propakistani.
* Indian government is seeking recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on auctioning television channels in the lines of FM radio channels, according to Press Trust of India.
* True Money, the fintech subsidiary of Thai telco True Corp., will invest 2.2 billion Thai baht on system upgrades and expanding customer privileges, Prachachat reports. True Money will also increase its number of agents throughout ASEAN in an effort to achieve 300% growth and 50 million customers by the end of 2018.
* Thailand's Ministry of Science and Technology is considering a plan to spend 1 billion Thai baht on building two satellites for research and observation purposes, Post Today reports. The ministry said the satellites, which could take up to two years to build, will help increase Thailand's agricultural output and create jobs.
* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission confirmed that the country's three largest telcos have increased their network capacity for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, Voice TV reports. Advanced Info Service will expand its AIS Super WiFi coverage by 300% and TrueMove H will increase its network capacity at 2,700 locations.
* Malaysia-based telecom infrastructure company REDtone International Bhd has been awarded a provision and implementation project worth 250.8 million Malaysian ringgit from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. The project is to install 2G and 3G public cellular services in rural areas in eight states in Malaysia.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* NBN Co. Ltd. said it is not responsible for the 70,000 households being sold unattainable NBN speed packages because it was the telcos who dealt directly with customers, The Australian reports. This comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ordered Telstra Corp. Ltd., Singtel Optus Pty. Ltd. and TPG Telecom Ltd. to refund customers for overselling NBN connections wherein super-high speeds promised could not be delivered.
The Pay Check: Apple execs' pay packages jump YOY: CEO Tim Cook's 2017 total compensation jumped to about $12.8 million from $8.7 million in the prior year.
Economics of Internet: Facebook Messenger and Snapchat lead U.S. messaging market in Q3: The mobile messaging race has slowly settled out with clear leaders in both the U.S. and global markets, with Facebook playing a major role domestically as well as abroad.
Economics of Advertising: Major ad agencies scuffle for growth in 2017: Finding consistent growth in 2017 has been a challenge for WPP Group and other large ad agency holding groups, with key markets such as North America showing signs of strain.
Joji Sakurai, Nicole Shiwon Kim, 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.