Texas House Passes Social Media Bill, Adtran’s Big ADVA Buy, Nokia Suspends O-RAN Alliance Affiliation

Texas House passed partisan legislation on social media censorship, Adtran’s $931M ADVA buy, Nokia worries about U.S. sanctions via association.

Texas House Passes Social Media Bill, Adtran’s Big ADVA Buy, Nokia Suspends O-RAN Alliance Affiliation
Texas Governor Greg Abbott

August 31, 2021 – The Texas House on Monday passed partisan, Governor-backed legislation that would protect users from being censored on social media.

Texas House Bill 20 will give Texans the ability to take legal recourse if they are removed or censored for certain viewpoints, and categorizes the largest social media platforms as common carriers, meaning they cannot influence what runs on those platforms.

The bill, which now heads to the Senate State Affairs Committee, passes despite a federal judge in July halting similar legislation in Florida, which provided for Floridians to sue those companies for censorship.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association said in a statement Monday that if enacted, “the bill could disincentivize or even penalize companies for removing dangerous content, such as material from foreign extremists or misinformation…[and] sets a dangerous precedent by prohibiting “censoring” based on “viewpoint” expressed on the service “or through any other medium.

“Compelling private companies to host foreign disinformation or pro-Taliban extremist content runs counter to the First Amendment,” the statement added.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an August 5 proclamation calling for the legislature to consider the bill, among others, at a later special sitting.

Adtran’s near billion-dollar deal to buy ADVA

Fiber network provider Adtran and networking company ADVA announced in a press release Monday that they agreed to merge in a deal worth nearly $1 billion.

The combined entity is said to allow the companies to increase the scalability of their fiber networking delivery, including to homes, businesses and 5G infrastructure that will include cloud-based and software-defined solutions.

“We are in the early stages of an unprecedented investment cycle in fiber connectivity, especially in the U.S. and Europe, fueled by the demand for last-mile fiber access and middle-mile transport to provide high-speed connectivity to homes, businesses and future 5G infrastructure,” said ADTRAN Chairman and CEO Thomas Stanton in the press release.

“By joining forces, our combined firm’s portfolio will better position us to capitalize on this highly compelling global opportunity. We expect the transaction will create significant long-term value for both companies’ stakeholders by increasing our scale and improving our ability to serve as a trusted supplier for customers worldwide,” he added.

Nokia suspends work with open RAN group over sanctions fears: report

Finnish telecom equipment provider Nokia is suspending its activities with the O-Ran Alliance over fears it may be penalized by Washington over the group’s work with Chinese technology companies, according to Politico.

The alliance, which was founded in 2018, advocates for a broader and open ecosystem of network equipment that would otherwise be reliant on proprietary technology from a handful of companies. It includes among its members AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO, and Orange.

Politico reports, citing an email, that Nokia had notified the alliance that, “we have no choice but to suspend all of our technical work activities” in the group because of a “compliance-related matter…regarding the O-RAN contributors included in the U.S. entity list.”

It notes three such companies, with ties to the Chinese military, that are on the U.S. blacklist: Kindroid, Phytium and Inspur.

In recent months, the Biden administration and the Federal Communications Commission have taken measures to cut investments and freeze licenses to Chinese technology firms, including Huawei, alleging ties to the Communist government.

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