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Samsung, Arqiva start UK 5G trials; Alibaba to turn Macau into smart city

S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a biweekly roundup of the latest developments in technology in the Asia-Pacific region.

TOP STORIES

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and U.K. telco Arqiva Ltd. began the first field trial of 5G Fixed Wireless Access, or FWA, technology in Europe, Samsung Group said July 25. The 5G FWA system is powered by Samsung's 5G network solution and customer premises equipment, and uses Arqiva's spectrum.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said Aug. 3 that it entered into a four-year strategic partnership framework agreement with the government of Macau to implement smart city initiatives using cloud computing. The first two years will see them cooperate on smart transportation, tourism, healthcare, city governance and talent development; collaboration on environmental protection, economic forecasting and customs clearance will come later.

CLOUD

* Alibaba Group will work with five Japanese manufacturers to improve their range of personal care devices by sharing big data such as purchase histories and customer feedback, the Nikkei Asian Review reported Aug. 4.

* Joviam, an Australian cloud computing startup, announced Aug. 1 its expansion into the U.S.; it is launching its services out of San Francisco with an aim of doubling its size in the 2018 financial year.

* Samsung Group's IT unit Samsung SDS Co., Ltd. said July 25 that it signed a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft Corp. to explore new cloud business models.

5G AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS

* Japanese carmaker Mazda Motor Corp. signed an agreement with Toyota Motor Corp. that will see the companies jointly developing technology for electric vehicles and connected cars, as well as on advanced safety technology. Toyota will also take a 5.05% stake in Mazda for ¥50 billion, Reuters reported Aug. 4.

* KT Corp. said Aug. 3 that the company held the Strategic Cooperation Framework Agreement 5G working group meeting with major telcos in Japan and China to prepare 5G network services for the upcoming Olympics.

* PayPal Holdings Inc. has set up innovation labs at its Chennai and Bangalore tech centers in India, which will serve to support innovation across technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, data science and internet of things, VCCircle reported Aug. 2.

* The three major Chinese telecom carriers China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Corp. Ltd. and China Unicom will join hands to run a mini 5G network trial run at year-end, The Paper reported Aug. 1.

* Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd., or BSNL, is said to have partnered with ZTE Corp. and Nokia Corp. to roll out 5G in India and is seeking rights to use radio frequencies in the 700 MHz band spectrum, The Economic Times of India reported July 31.

* Telstra Corp. Ltd. and Cohda Wireless Pty Ltd. have conducted a first trial of vehicle-to-pedestrian technology in Adelaide, Australia, according to a July 26 news release.

* A memorandum of understanding between BMW Group Thailand and other major industry groups saw the launch of ChargeNow in Thailand, with 50 stations throughout the country during an initial network preparation phase.

* China Telecom is aiming to put its 5G network into a trial run in 2019 and to achieve commercialization in 2020, Caixin reported July 28. Chairman Yang Jie said the company is working toward full 4G network coverage, an acceleration of 5G network development, and the further deployment of internet of things based on narrowBand IoT and EMTC networks.

* PT Erajaya Swasembada Tbk, an Indonesia-based mobile phone distributor and retailer, plans to expand its internet of things retail shops in Indonesia and has partnered with several technology companies such as DJI, Garmin, GoPro and Mi Home, Detik reported July 24.

* LG Corp.'s LG Electronics Inc. said July 24 that it launched five internet of things sensors for households. The five sensors detect water leaks, smoke, carbon monoxide, doors and movement.

VIRTUAL REALITY AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

* Samsung Electronics is polishing an English version of its AI assistant Bixby Voice, which was rolled out Aug. 19, ZDNet Korea reported Aug. 4. The company has reportedly joined software developers and language recognition solution companies from various countries to build up its database and strengthen the service.

* A pair of "chatbots" installed on Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s messaging service QQ have been taken offline after reportedly straying off-script, voicing antigovernment responses when users asked them questions, Reuters reported Aug. 4. Tencent confirmed shutting down the robots from QQ, but chose not to elaborate on the reason.

* South Korea's Naver Corp. is expected to have invested approximately 1.33 trillion South Korean won in core technologies including AI and voice recognition, Digital Times reported Aug. 3. The company has invested 560 billion won for internal research and development and 774.2 billion won for external investment, which marks the biggest investment in the company's history. The company is expected to inject a similar amount in technology investment for the second half of this year.

* Chinese mobile search engine Sogou Inc. wants to focus on boosting its artificial intelligence capabilities as it plans to publicly float its shares in the U.S., Reuters reported Aug. 1. The Sohu.com Inc. unit would also hike its investments in big data and the internet of things.

* Naver Corp. said July 31 that it will begin using a self-developed AI-powered filtering technology, Naver X-eye, to filter explicit images from search results. The new AI filtering system showed 98.1% accuracy in a test of about 4 million images.

* Kakao Corp. said July 27 that it added AI-based voice recognition technology to its profile camera app Kakao Talk Cheese. This is the first time a local camera app has combined facial recognition with voice recognition.

* KT Corp. aims to strengthen its artificial intelligence capacity through the newly established AI research center, AI Tech Center, ZDNet Korea reported July 25.

* Kakao Corp. said July 24 that it will cooperate with Hyundai Motor Co. and its sister company Kia Motors Corp. to develop in-car speech recognition technology utilizing Kakao's AI platform Kakao I to Hyundai's upcoming Genesis G70 model.

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. said July 24 that it has joined with the country's major convenience store chain BGF Retail to provide its AI-powered personal assistant service NUGU to help store clerks. The two companies will work together to develop an AI assistance service that can provide information to store clerks, and plan to launch the service by the first half of next year.

DEVICES

* CJ Group's CJ HelloVision unveiled July 30 an AI-powered smart set-top box titled HelloTV UHD RED, Yonhap News Agency reported July 30. The box features Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc.'s latest Android TV operating system Nougat and new additional functions including personal video recording.

* HTC Corp. is working on a stand-alone Vive VR headset for Chinese markets, TechCrunch reported July 26.

* China's Guangdong province will impose a three-year ban on drones in the region from Aug. 1, Caixin reported July 25.