Your WIRED daily briefing. Today, Chinese smartphone maker ZTE has suspended operations as a result of US sanctions, average UK broadband speeds have significantly increased, hepatitis B could be as old as human civilisation and more.
China’s second-biggest telecoms equipment firm, ZTE Corp, has suspended business operations in the wake of a United States government ban forbidding companies in the US from providing ZTE with components or technology (Reuters). The ban, imposed in April, is ostensibly due to ZTE previously shipping goods to Iran. ZTE originally settled its sanctions breach case after paying fines of almost $900 million, but the ban has been reimposed with disputed claims that ZTE violated its settlement, and against the backdrop of US threats of a trade war with China. As a result, the company has been unable to obtain the Qualcomm and Intel components required for its smartphones, routers and telecoms exchange systems.
UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom has found that average fixed-line broadband speeds have increased dramatically (BBC News). The report, based on speed testing equipment installed at 4,700 volunteers’ homes last November, found that average download speeds across the country had increased to 46.2Mbit/s, while upload speeds were at 6.2Mbit/s. However, only 23 per cent of connections in rural areas were over 30Mbit/s and 53 per cent of rural broadband connections achieved speeds of under 10Mbit/s.
New research has revealed that the hepatitis B virus has been afflicting humans for over 4,500 years, with samples dating back to the Bronze Age (Science). A University of Cambridge team carried out whole genome sequencing on the remains of 304 people from archaeological sites across Eurasia, and found the genetic signature of the disease in 12 of them. From there, they modelled variations between the ancient and modern hepatitis B viruses and concluded that the virus entered the human population between 13,600 BCE and 9600 BCE, most likely as a result of butchering infected gorillas for meat.
An NHS trust has started trialling a smartphone app that lets doctors and paramedics view livestreamed video from the scene of an emergency before they arrive on the scene (WIRED). The GoodSAM app, which is already being used by air ambulances in the UK, will now be used by the East Midlands Ambulance Service to assess emergency situations. The app works by sending a text message with a link to a person’s phone, which when opened requests access to the camera. The hope is that greater speed will translate into life-changing outcomes, enabling emergency services to respond rapidly and appropriately to the needs of those injured.
Valve has announced that it will be releasing a free Steam Link app for Android and iOS devices, allowing users to stream games and movies from their PC to a phone or tablet across their home networks (Ars Technica). Scheduled to launch on May 21, the Steam Link app will work similarly to Valve’s Steam-to-TV streaming hardware dongles of the same name, although you’ll need a 5GHz Wi-Fi network to meet the data throughput requirements of game streaming. The app will support wireless controllers including the Steam Controller, as well as Bluetooth keyboards and mice, and you’ll be able to stream to it from Windows, macOS and Linux systems.
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