Qualcomm unveils program to help small businesses convert to a mobile-first work environment

Qualcomm Technologies unveiled the Qualcomm Small Business Accelerator Program, designed to help small businesses convert to a mobile-first work environment necessary to thrive in today’s business climate.

The comprehensive program will provide small businesses with products powered by Qualcomm Technologies solutions, along with collaboration tools and technical and integration support, so they can continue to maintain operations throughout the current global pandemic and beyond.

Qualcomm Technologies recognizes the challenges that small businesses across the United States face, including minority-owned, female-owned, and veteran-owned businesses.

With the launch of the Qualcomm Small Business Accelerator Program, Qualcomm Technologies and its ecosystem of partners have committed to provide technology products, services and support to US-based small businesses across various industries.

Approximately 25 small businesses will be selected and each will receive a unique selection of products and technical support valued at up to US$25,000.

Customized to the needs of the selected small business, the program will provide a variety of devices powered by various compute and connectivity solutions from Qualcomm Technologies, such as Always-Connected PCs (cellular-connected laptops), Wi-Fi systems, mobile phones, Bluetooth enabled headsets and active mobile hotspots, along with technical / device integration and support.

With more businesses depending on cloud-based solutions, these connected products offer enhanced productivity and security for small businesses.

“Small businesses are very important to the country’s economic growth and prosperity,” said Cristiano Amon, President, Qualcomm Incorporated.

“Qualcomm Technologies creates products and services that enable users to stay mobile and connected, which will help small businesses remain competitive as the way we work changes. The cellular-enabled Always-Connected PCs and hotspots, payment and software solutions, and headsets that our products power will transform the way each business works.

“With the expected support of Best Buy Business, Microsoft, and Verizon Business, the Qualcomm Small Business Accelerator program will provide selected small businesses with an assortment of technology and tools to help them succeed.”

Our ecosystem partners, including Citrix (digital workspace solutions), Lenovo (5G-enabled PCs), Linksys (Wi-Fi networking devices), Samsung (PCs and mobile devices), Sophos (security software solutions), and Targus (mobile docking stations) share Qualcomm Technologies’ commitment to supporting small businesses and will play key roles in the Qualcomm Small Business Accelerator Program. Best Buy Business is also planning to provide technical support.

“We believe in the power of small businesses and are proud to work with Qualcomm on this program to help them thrive,” said Brett Byrum, Senior Director of Best Buy Business. “As business owners and employees quickly adapt to the new normal, they need tech that will help them remain productive in many different work environments.”

“We live in a world where software and the cloud have the power to shape a wide array of industries and small businesses. From healthcare to retail, technology adoption helps businesses move forward. Always-Connected personal computers (ACPCs) allow us the freedom to work remotely from anywhere with seamless connectivity and incredible battery life.

“Microsoft believes connected PCs, in combination with software and cloud services, will empower small businesses to innovate how they transform and move their businesses forward,” said Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer, Microsoft. “We are proud to work with Qualcomm Technologies to support small businesses in this way.”

“Our investment in this program is yet another example of our strong commitment to small businesses. As organizations adjust to the new normal of working remotely, the need for mobile technologies beyond reliable connectivity is clear. We are proud to provide businesses with the access they need to these resources,” stated TJ Fox, President of Verizon Business Markets.

The program will help provide digital structure and transitional support for small businesses in the US.

Most computers easy to hack due to vulnerability in memory chips

Most computer systems are still very easy to hack, due to a vulnerability in memory chips produced by Samsung, Micron and Hynix, according to a study by researchers from VUSec of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

memory chips vulnerability

The vulnerability in question is called Rowhammer, a design flaw in the internal memory (DRAM) chips of a device that creates the vulnerability. By exploiting the error, an attacker could gain control of a device. Rowhammer was made public eight years ago.

After an abundance of controversial Rowhammer attacks, CPU and DRAM manufacturers were eagerly looking for the definitive hardware solution to the Rowhammer problem. They came up with Target Row Refresh (TRR).

TTR as the silver bullet

It was assumed that Rowhammer was no longer a danger on the newest generation of systems with a DDR4 memory module, protected by TRR. Manufacturers presented TTR as the silver bullet and advertised with Rowhammer-free products. The chips are in PCs, laptops, telephones and servers.

No real solution

However, the VUsec researchers, led by Herbert Bos, Cristiano Giuffrida and Kaveh Razavi, and in collaboration with scientists from ETH Zurich and Qualcomm, noticed that very little is actually known about how TRR works and how it is applied and how effective it actually is.

In the research of their PhD students Emanuele Vannacci and Pietro Frigo, they analyzed TTR. They come to the conclusion that TTR does not solve the Rowhammer problem, and there is no prospect of a solution for this in the near future.

DDR4 chips more vulnerable than their predecessors

Cristiano Giuffrida, researcher at VUsec, explains: “The results of our research are worrisome and show that Rowhammer is not only still unsolved, but also that the vulnerability is widespread, even in the very latest DRAM chips. Moreover, we see that the new DDR4 chips are even more vulnerable to Rowhammer than their DDR3 predecessors. ”

Security by obscurity

In their research, the computer scientists also question the “security by obscurity” approach used by manufacturers. That means that the mitigation for a vulnerability only works and therefore offers security, if nobody finds out how the mitigation actually works.

“Sooner or later someone will naturally discover how the mitigation actually works. And then safety is gone. Manufacturers say that they keep their solutions secret because of market competition.”

Tech companies nervous

That the Rowhammer bug has not been tackled with the TTR solution is bad news for the big tech companies and reason for nervousness.

According to the researchers, a cloud provider that wants to guarantee the security for its customers should try to physically separate untrusted programs from other software and data. This can of course be quite expensive.

For consumers themselves, the consequences of the Rowhammer bug are probably not very large, because there are simpler ways to hack phones or computers.

Far from a solution

VUsec has also worked on various software solutions. While these solutions provide stronger guarantees, they are unfortunately expensive. Giuffrida: “Ultimately, the problem must be resolved deep in the hardware and that is only possible by the hardware manufacturers.

“In the meantime, our software solutions can help, in combination with measures that administrators can now take to make it harder for attackers (for example, by increasing the ‘refresh rate’ of your memory).”

Trends that will shape the 2020 technology market

In 2020, there will be greater adoption of Continuous Intelligence (CI) technologies, which will elevate IoT data analytics way beyond traditional operational levels and have a greater impact on strategic planning and organizational change, states ABI Research.

2020 technology market

Looking at the 2020 technology market

Analysts have identified 35 trends that will shape the technology market and 19 others that, although attracting huge amounts of speculation and commentary, look less likely to move the needle over the next twelve months.

“After a tumultuous 2019 that was beset by many challenges, both integral to technology markets and derived from global market dynamics, 2020 looks set to be equally challenging,” says Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer at ABI Research.

Continuous Intelligence

“CI will be consolidating in the IoT analytics market, enabling more advanced analytics in near-real time,” says Kateryna Dubrova, M2M, IoT & IoE Analyst at ABI Research.

Since the emergence and expansion of streaming analytics and streaming technologies, the ability to continuously analyze and extract value from the IoT data is growing. The CI application will be possible because the cloud vendors and vendors are offering E2E platforms, expanding their capabilities through digital twinning, big data technologies, and ML algorithms.

“Hence, in 2020, ABI Research predicts greater adoption of CI technologies, which will elevate IoT data analytics beyond traditional operational level (maintenance and control), but we will also observe a greater impact on strategic planning and organizational change.”

mMTC will sustain only a handful of chipset manufacturers

mMTC begun under 4G, with LTE-M and Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) being “forward-compatible” with the forthcoming 5G New Radio (NR) standard. Chipset vendors saw a greenfield opportunity to go from zero to hero with massive IoT, with some being established from scratch for the sake of developing a single NB-IoT baseband chip.

“This resulting race saw 17 baseband vendors emerge, but only four different ones currently supply most of the hundreds of LTE-M and NB-IoT products now available. HiSilicon, MediaTek, Qualcomm, and RDA (UNISOC) dominate. And this situation will only compound as we move toward Release 16 and the full coexistence of LTE-M and NB-IoT with 5G NR, i.e., the “official” start of the mMTC market,” says Jamie Moss, M2M, IoT & IoE Research Director at ABI Research.

“Nothing succeeds like success and only those with strong early adoption, regardless of slow initial sales, will be there to enjoy the boom years to come.”

China will drive the sharing economy 2.0

Uber and Airbnb could be considered the Sharing Economy 1.0. “But China is showing the world what the next phase of the sharing economy will look like: shared powerbanks,” says Dan Shey, Vice President of Enabling Platforms at ABI Research. Shared powerbanks have been a major driver of cellular connections in China today.

“The newer applications in the more “connected” version of the sharing economy will continue to grow across the world, albeit at a more measured pace than seen in China.”

2020 technology market: The IoT platform market will not consolidate

“For many years, there have been predictions that the IoT platform supplier market will begin to consolidate, and it just won’t happen,” says Dan Shey, Vice President of Enabling Platforms at ABI Research.

“The simple reason is that there are more than 100 companies that offer device-to-cloud IoT platform services and for every one that is acquired, there are always new ones that come to market.”

Unlicensed proprietary LPWA will not merge with licensed open standards

“The two cannot be reconciled at the standards level, for the premium that cellular commands stems from the cost of its license, and the control that its owners have over their blocks of spectrum, providing a secure, managed, quality of service-based guarantee to IoT customers,” says Adarsh Krishnan, M2M, IoT & IoE Principal Analyst at ABI Research.

Edge will not overtake cloud

“The accelerated growth of the edge technology and intelligent device paradigm created one of the largest industry misconceptions: edge technology will cannibalize cloud technology,” says M2M, IoT & IoE Analyst Kateryna Dubrova.

“In fact, in the future we will see a rapid development of edge-cloud-fog continuum, where technology will complement each other, rather than cross-cannibalize.”

5G won’t change everything, or at least probably not your things

Artist's impression of millimeter-wave 5G speeds.

Enlarge / Artist’s impression of millimeter-wave 5G speeds.
Aurich Lawson / Getty

The long-touted fifth generation of wireless communications is not magic. We’re sorry if unending hype over the world-changing possibilities of 5G has led you to expect otherwise. But the next generation in mobile broadband will still have to obey the current generation of the laws of physics that govern how far a signal can travel when sent in particular wavelengths of the radio spectrum and how much data it can carry.

For some of us, the results will yield the billions of bits per second in throughput that figure in many 5G sales pitches, going back to early specifications for this standard. For everybody else, 5G will more likely deliver a pleasant and appreciated upgrade rather than a bandwidth renaissance.

That doesn’t mean 5G won’t open up interesting possibilities in areas like home broadband and machine-to-machine connectivity. But in the form of wireless mobile device connectivity we know best, 5G marketing has been writing checks that actual 5G technology will have a lot of trouble cashing.

A feuding family of frequencies

The first thing to know about 5G is that it’s a family affair—and a sometimes-dysfunctional one.

Wireless carriers can deploy 5G over any of three different ranges of wireless frequencies, and one of them doesn’t work anything like today’s 4G frequencies. That’s also the one behind the most wild-eyed 5G forecasts.

Millimeter-wave 5G occupies bands much higher than any used for 4G LTE today—24 gigahertz and up, far above the 2.5 GHz frequency of Sprint, hitherto the highest-frequency band in use by the major US carriers.

At those frequencies, 5G can send data with fiber optic speeds and latency—1.2 Gbps of bandwidth and latency from 9 to 12 milliseconds, to cite figures from an early test by AT&T. But it can’t send them very far. That same 2018 demonstration involved a direct line of sight and only 900 feet of distance from the transmitter to the test site.

Those distance and line-of-sight hangups still persist, although the US carriers that have pioneered millimeter-wave 5G say they’re making progress in pushing them outward.

“Once you get enough density of cell sites, this is a very strong value proposition,” said Ashish Sharma, executive vice president for IoT and mobile solutions at the wireless-infrastructure firm Inseego. He pointed in particular to recent advances in solving longstanding issues with multipath reception, when signals bounce off buildings.

There are a lot of "5G" stock images available. Some of them are more optimistic than others. This is one of the more optimistic ones.

Enlarge / There are a lot of “5G” stock images available. Some of them are more optimistic than others. This is one of the more optimistic ones.
Photographer is my life / Getty

Reception inside those buildings, however, remains problematic. So does intervening foliage. That’s why fixed-wireless Internet providers using millimeter-wave technology like Starry have opted for externally placed antennas at customer sites. Verizon is also selling home broadband via 5G in a handful of cities.

Below millimeter-wave, wireless carriers can also serve up 5G on mid- and low-band frequencies that aren’t as fast or responsive but reach much farther. So far, 5G deployments outside the US have largely stuck to those slower, lower-frequency bands, although the industry expects millimeter-wave adoption overseas to accelerate in the next few years.

“5G is a little more spectrally efficient than 4G, but not dramatically so,” mailed Phil Kendall, director of the service provider group at Strategy Analytics. He added that these limits will be most profound on existing LTE spectrum turned over to 5G use: “You are not going to be able to suddenly give everyone 100Mbps by re-farming that spectrum to 5G.”

And even the American carriers preaching millimeter-wave 5G today also say they’ll rely on these lower bands to cover much of the States.

For example, T-Mobile and Verizon stated early this year that millimeter-wave won’t work outside of dense urban areas. And AT&T waited until it could launch low-band 5G in late November to start selling service to consumers at all; the low-resolution maps it posted then show that connectivity reaching into suburbs.

Sprint, meanwhile, elected to launch its 5G service on the same 2.5GHz frequencies as its LTE, with coverage that is far less diffuse than millimeter-wave 5G. Kendall suggested that this mid-band spectrum will offer a better compromise between speed and coverage: “Not the 1Gbps millimeter-wave experience but certainly something sustainable well in excess of 100Mbps.”

The Federal Communications Commission is working to make more mid-band spectrum available, but that won’t be lighting up any US smartphones for some time.

(Disclosure: I’ve done a lot of writing for Yahoo Finance, a news site Verizon owns.)