Category Archives: Technology

Inflight Connectivity Continues to Soar

The fact that much of the Western world spends too much time glaring at screens, surfing the net, and scrolling on social media apps is a topic that is often discussed. One of the few times that people used to be forced to unplug was while on board a flight. In recent years, however, connecting to an airline’s WiFi has become much more common, a service that used to be accessed primarily by busy businesspeople.

How does this advanced technology actually work?

There are two main types of inflight internet connectivity, one which uses antennas and the other that relies on satellites.

The first category is widely known as air-to-ground (ATG). Using this method, an antenna on the aircraft catches signals from cellphone towers on land. A major drawback is that the quality of the connection depends on the location of the aircraft at a given moment – for example, when flying over an ocean or a desert, service will drop as there is greater distance between the plane’s antennas and the cellphone towers. For this reason, many airlines are making the switch to satellite-based connections. Using satellites, the signal remains stronger no matter the location or movement of the aircraft.

While satellites resolve some of the major disadvantages of ATG, that system requires constant upkeep and advancements of the network. It is much simpler, faster, and cheaper to install new cellular towers than to launch a new satellite into space.

While the mere fact that such services exist is remarkable, there are a lot of improvements that need to happen in terms of expanding network service and speed. As with all technologies, it is likely just a matter of time till we see more impressive developments.

American Airlines to Buy Supersonic Jets

In a bold move, American Airlines has put down a deposit to purchase 20 supersonic jets from Boom Supersonic.

Boom is in the process of developing an aircraft called Overture, expected to be officially completed and released in 2025. Overture can travel at almost twice the speed of sound, and is designed to fit 65 to 80 passengers. While the company recently released a sophisticated version of the jet, Overture is still in the early development stages and has not yet run a test flight.

Overture, however, is not the first of its kind. The Concorde was a supersonic jet with routes across the Atlantic Ocean, primarily between London and New York City. In 2003, the ultra-speedy aircraft was forced to halt its services. With seat prices reaching a steep $10,000 per person, and deafening engines preventing the jet from flying over land, use of the Concorde was unsustainable. Although many have asserted that high-speed jets won’t make a comeback for these reasons, airlines seem confident enough in their return to be investing in them. Prior to the current American Airlines purchase, United Airlines had publicized its plans last year to buy up to 15 supersonic jets from Boom.

Despite previous economic failures of the aircrafts, the US government has shown support for bringing supersonic jets back and the FAA is devising new sets of code regarding noise levels over land. While Boom hopes its jets can begin running by 2029, the aircrafts and routes will need to be approved.

Although it is still unclear whether or not Overture will be approved for flying, the possibility is exciting. Many would love the opportunity to reach London from Miami in less than five hours, or to travel from Los Angeles to Honolulu in just three hours.

Only time will tell what the likelihood is for supersonic jets to fill the airspace…let alone the price tag!

What Mohamed Amersi is saying about the Telia deal

Mohamed Amersi
Mohamed Amersi

Mohamed Amersi is generally unknown in Sweden, but in the 2010s he was a legendary dealmaker in the emerging markets of Eurasia. For several years, Telia hired Amersi and his company to facilitate the company’s investments in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Russia, and Uzbekistan. 

As background, Amersi says “I have a long experience of doing M&A business in emerging markets. In Latin America for Telefonica, in the Middle East for Etisalat, Oredoo and Zain, in Africa for Etisalat, MTN and Zain, in Russia for Veon to name a few clients. In total, I have participated in transactions corresponding to approximately 1,000 billion Swedish Kronas.” Within these deals, Amersi provided both legal expertise and input from his corporate, finance, private equity, and venture capital experience.

“At the time of Telia’s business in Eurasia, the company had ambitions to become a global player in telecoms, primarily through acquisitions in emerging markets. To succeed in this,” Amersi explains,  “a successful acquisition strategy was required. At that time, the two merging companies – Swedish Telia and Finnish Sonera – already had a presence in Eurasia through the operators Megafon, Turkcell, and Fintur. But the competence of the merged company needed to be strengthened to be able to continue to acquire and manage operators in Eurasia.” As Amersi attests, he is arguably the only person who could both handle the M&A directly, “and had insight into the local culture and could work both sustainably and profitably.”

Amersi reiterates that Telia Sonera was also interested in finding and acquiring operators in other emerging markets. That is why his company was hired for an ongoing role in advisement to merge Swedish-Finnish company. Ultimately, the merger was meant to bring Telia new operators outside of Eurasia, with expansions in emerging countries such as Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Iran, and Ethiopia.

It was precisely Amersi’s cultural litheness and familiarity that allowed him to make valuable contributions to the Telia merger process. To Amersi, his role was “about general advice, resolving ownership disputes, understanding local regulatory issues and not least evaluating and concluding agreements with local partners.” These local partners, says Amersi, are often quite powerful and wealthy; their support is key to making any deal.

“But unlike what has been described in the press, it is not about bribes at all. It is crucial that the deal is started in the right way. It must be made clear to the responsible authorities, regulatory units and other authorities and parties that there will be no bribes.” 

Mohamed Amersi

Toward that end, Amersi adds that the collaboration with prominent local partners must be fully established and clarified from the very beginning. This allows for clearly described roles and responsibilities,” as well as clear payment flows. Amersi also says that local partners must be required to co-own the merged entity, giving them a financial stake (and risk) that come with the co-ownership. Amersi’s insistence on the local partners is in fact built on the principle that “value creation in the merged business that profits and dividends can be made. Not through bribes. It is in collaboration with a weak partner that corruption most often occurs.”

Furthermore, Amersi insists that a culture of giving back must be inherent in any merger process. “It is about creating local jobs, education and skills development locally, and not trying to minimize taxes, but paying full local tax.”

Mohamed Amersi

As for his involvement with Telia, Amersi clarifies “My role in this transaction was of a technical nature…I was asked as an advisor to make a check of the valuation made of Telia’s finance function and to be helpful in developing an optimal structure for the transaction. In addition to my assignment, Telia had hired world-leading lawyers with recognized good competence and experience in negotiating and drafting agreements, as well as conducting audits and due diligence.  I, therefore, did not participate in the negotiations themselves or directly in the implementation of the deal or in any part of the review and due diligence.”

Ultimately, it is clear from the investigations and a conversation with Amersi that not a single error was found, or any remark made.  Telia’s auditors also reviewed the relationship between the companies.  Amersi is a man of truth, integrity, and respect; these are his keywords for trust and transactions of all kinds.

Printed Solar Panels to be tested in Tesla

In an effort to increase awareness about climate change, scientists in Australia are busy experimenting with printed solar panels. The team from the University of Newcastle is getting the newly invented panels ready for a 15,100-km (9,400-mile) trip in a Tesla electric car which will begin in September.

Charge Around Australia is a project that plans to power a Tesla vehicle using 18 of these special solar panels. With each plastic panel measuring 18 meters (59 feet) long, they are meant to be rolled out on the ground to absorb sunlight in order to charge. Created from laminated PET plastic, the printed solar is lightweight and costs less than $10 per square meter.

According to Paul Dastoor, the developer of the panels and coordinator of the project, the plan is twofold: the first purpose is to check the durability of the plastic panels and the second is to test the possibility of using the panels for other purposes in the future. He explained, “This is actually an ideal test bed to give us information about how we would go about using and powering technology in other remote locations, for example, in space.”

The 84-day journey is sure to raise interest in the effects of climate change. The team’s findings will have significant impact in the use of sustainable energy and solutions for the security of our planet.

Honda and Sony Collaborate to Build EVs

In an exciting revelation, Honda and Sony have just announced plans to partner up and develop electric cars. The two Japanese companies have not yet announced the name of their upcoming entity. The vehicles will be manufactured in Honda’s facilities and Sony will provide the mobility service platform. Their goal is to team together this year and begin selling the first car in 2025.

While the joint venture is unique, the announcement is not entirely surprising, as there has been an international push for zero emission vehicles as well as systems that provide more advanced features. This gives tech companies like Sony an opportunity to enter the automobile market. Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida reiterated the vision, remarking: “In the joint venture, we would like to lead the mobility evolution by combining our technology and experience with Honda’s long experience in mobility development and vehicle body manufacturing technologies.” When asked about the possibility of others joining the partnership, Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe responded, “In the future, we would like to expand our business with an open mindset,” while adding that the focus remains on building the electric car model for now.