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5G telephones are right here however there’s no rush to improve

Judhajeet Das

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This yr’s Cellular World Congress — the CES for Android system makers — was awash with 5G handsets.

The world’s No.1 smartphone vendor by marketshare, Samsung, acquired out forward with a standalone launch occasion in San Francisco, displaying off two 5G units, simply earlier than quick-following Android rivals popped out their very own 5G telephones at launch occasions throughout Barcelona this week.

We’ve rounded up all these 5G handset launches right here. Costs vary from an eye fixed-popping $2,600 for Huawei’s foldable phabet-to-pill Mate X — and an equally eye-watering $1,980 for Samsung’s Galaxy Fold; one other 5G handset that bends — to a fairly extra affordable $680 for Xiaomi’s Mi Combine three 5G, albeit the system is in any other case mid-tier. Different costs for 5G telephones introduced this week stay tbc.

Android OEMs are clearly hoping the hype round subsequent-gen cellular networks can work a bit of advertising magic and kick-begin stalled smartphone progress. Particularly with stories suggesting Apple gained’t launch a 5G iPhone till at the very least subsequent yr. So 5G is an area Android OEMs alone get to personal for some time.

Chipmaker Qualcomm, which is embroiled in a bitter patent battle with Apple, was additionally on stage in Barcelona to help Xiaomi’s 5G telephone launch — loudly claiming the subsequent-gen tech is coming quick and can improve “every part”.

“We wish to work with corporations like Xiaomi to take dangers,” lavished Qualcomm’s president Cristiano Amon upon his hosts, utilizing 5G uptake to jibe at Apple by implication. “Once we take a look at the chance forward of us for 5G we see a chance to create winners.”

Regardless of the heavy hype, Xiaomi’s on stage demo — which it claimed was the primary reside 5G video name outdoors China — appeared oddly staged and was not precisely missing in latency.

“Actual 5G — not pretend 5G!” completed Donovan Sung, the Chinese language OEM’s director of product administration. As a 5G gross sales pitch it was all very underwhelming. Far more ‘so what’ than ‘should have’.

Whether or not 5G advertising hype alone will persuade shoppers it’s previous time to improve appears extremely unlikely.

Telephones promote on options relatively than connectivity per se, and — no matter Qualcomm claims — 5G is being gentle-launched into the market by money-constrained carriers whose growth occasions lie behind them, i.e. earlier than over-the-prime gamers had wolfed their messaging revenues and monopolized shopper eyeballs.

All of which makes 5G an incremental shopper improve proposition within the close to to medium time period.

Use-instances for the subsequent-gen community tech, which is touted as capable of help speeds as much as 100x quicker than LTE and ship latency of just some milliseconds (in addition to connecting many extra units per cell website), are additionally nonetheless being formulated, not to mention apps and providers created to leverage 5G.

However promoting a community improve to shoppers by claiming the killer apps are going to be superb however you simply can’t present them any but is as robust as making an attempt to make theatre out of a touch much less janky video name.

“5G might probably assist [spark smartphone growth] in a few years as worth factors decrease, and availability expands, however even which may not see progress charges just like the transition to 3G and 4G,” suggests Carolina Milanesi, principal analyst at Artistic Methods, writing in a weblog publish discussing Samsung’s technique with its newest gadget launches.

“This isn’t as a result of 5G is just not necessary, however as a result of it’s incremental with regards to telephones and it is going to be different units that may ship on experiences, we didn’t even assume have been potential. Shoppers may find yourself, subsequently, sharing their finances greater than they did through the rise of smartphones.”

The ‘drawback’ for 5G — if we will name it that — is that 4G/LTE networks are capably delivering all of the stuff shoppers love proper now: Video games, apps and video. Which signifies that for the overwhelming majority of shoppers there’s merely no purpose to hurry to shell out for a ‘5G-prepared’ handset. Not if 5G is all of the innovation it’s obtained going for it.

LG V50 ThinQ 5G with a twin display accent for gaming

Use instances corresponding to higher AR/VR are additionally a troublesome promote given how weak shopper demand has usually been on these fronts (with the odd branded exception).

The barebones actuality is that business 5G networks are as uncommon as hen’s tooth proper now, outdoors a number of restricted geographical places within the U.S. and Asia. And 5G will stay a really patchy patchwork for the foreseeable future.

Certainly, it might take a really very long time certainly to realize nationwide protection in lots of nations, if 5G even finally ends up stretching proper to all these edges. (Various applied sciences do additionally exist which might assist fill in gaps the place the ROI simply isn’t there for 5G.)

So once more shoppers shopping for telephones with the overvalued concept of with the ability to faucet into 5G proper right here, proper now (Qualcomm claimed 2019 goes to be “the yr of 5G!”) will discover themselves restricted to only a handful of city places all over the world.

Analysts are clear that 5G rollouts, whereas coming, are going to be measured and focused as carriers strategy what’s touted as a multi-business-reworking wi-fi know-how cautiously, with an eye fixed on their capex and whereas concurrently making an attempt to determine how greatest to restructure their companies to interact with all of the companions they’ll have to forge enterprise relations with, throughout industries, to be able to efficiently promote 5G’s transformative potential to all types of enterprises — and lock onto “the sweep spot the place 5G is sensible”.

Enterprise rollouts subsequently look more likely to be prioritized over shopper 5G — as was the case for 5G launches in South Korea on the again finish of final yr.

“4G was much more pushed by the buyer aspect and there was an understanding that you simply have been going for nationwide protection that was by no means actually a query and also you have been delivering on the info promise that 3G by no means actually delivered… so there was a niche of know-how that wanted to be crammed. With 5G it’s a lot much less clear,” says Gartner’s Sylvain Fabre, discussing the tech’s hype and the truth with TechCrunch forward of MWC.

“4G’s excellent, you have got a number of networks which are Gbps or extra and that’s persevering with to extend on the downlink with a number of service aggregation… and different densification schemes. So 5G doesn’t… have as hole as massive to fill. It’s nice however once more it’s applicability of the place it’s uniquely positioned is sort of like a really slender area of interest in the mean time.”

“It’s such a step change that the actual energy of 5G is definitely in creating new enterprise fashions utilizing community slicing — allocation of specific points of the community to a specific use-case,” Forrester analyst Dan Bieler additionally tells us. “All of this requires some rethinking of what connectivity means for an enterprise buyer or for the buyer.

“And telco gross sales individuals, the telco go-to-market strategy isn’t based mostly on promoting use-instances, principally — it’s promoting applied sciences. So this can be a vital shift for the typical telco distribution channel to undergo. And I might consider it will maintain again lots of the 5G ambitions for the medium time period.”

To be clear, carriers at the moment are actively kicking the tyres of 5G, after years of lead-in hype, and grappling with technical challenges round how greatest to improve their present networks so as to add in and construct out 5G.

Many are operating pilots and testing what works and what doesn’t, resembling the place to put antennas to get probably the most dependable sign and so forth. And some have put a toe within the water with business launches (globally there are 23 networks with “some type of reside 5G of their business networks” at this level, in line with Fabre.)

However on the similar time 5G community requirements are but to be absolutely finalized so the core know-how is just not one hundred% absolutely baked. And with it being early days “there’s nonetheless an extended method to go earlier than we’ve an actual vital influence of 5G sort of providers”, as Bieler places it. 

There’s additionally spectrum availability to think about and the price of buying the required spectrum. In addition to the time required to clear and put together it for business use. (On spectrum, authorities coverage is essential to creating issues occur shortly (or not). In order that’s yet one more issue moderating how shortly 5G networks could be constructed out.)

And regardless of some wishful considering business noises at MWC this week — calling for governments to ‘help digitization at scale’ by handing out spectrum totally free (uhhhh, yeah proper) — that’s actually simply whistling into the wind.

Rolling out 5G networks is undoubtedly going to be very costly, at a time when carriers’ companies are already confronted with rising prices (from growing knowledge consumption) and subdued income progress forecasts.

“The world now works on knowledge” and telcos are “at core of this variation”, as one service CEO — Singtel’s Chua Sock Koong — put it in an MWC keynote through which she delved into the alternatives and challenges for operators “as we go from conventional connectivity to a brand new age of clever connectivity”.

Chua argued will probably be troublesome for carriers to compete “on the idea of connectivity alone” — suggesting operators should pivot their companies to construct out standalone enterprise choices promoting all types of b2b providers to help the digital transformations of different industries as a part of the 5G promise — and that’s clearly going to suck up lots of their time and thoughts for the foreseeable future.

In Europe alone estimates for the price of rolling out 5G vary between €300BN and €500BN (~$340BN-$570BN), in line with Bieler. Figures that underline why 5G goes to develop slowly, and networks be constructed out thoughtfully; within the b2b area this implies primarily on a case-by-case foundation.

Merely put carriers should make the economics stack up. Which suggests no “large monumental gambles with 5G”. And omnipresent ROI strain pushing them to attempt to eke out a premium.

“A number of the community gear distributors have turned down the hype fairly a bit,” Bieler continues. “For those who examine this to the hype round 3G a few years in the past or 4G a few years in the past 5G undoubtedly comes throughout as a smooth launch. Kind of an evolutionary sort of know-how. I’ve not come throughout a community gear distributors today who will say there shall be an entire change in every little thing by 2020.”

On the buyer pricing entrance, carriers have additionally solely simply began to grapple with 5G enterprise fashions. One early instance is TC dad or mum Verizon’s 5G house service — which positions the subsequent-gen wi-fi tech as an alternative choice to fastened line broadband with reductions when you go for a wi-fi smartphone knowledge plan in addition to 5G broadband.

From the buyer viewpoint, the service 5G enterprise mannequin conundrum boils right down to: What’s my service going to cost me for 5G? And early adopters of any know-how are likely to get stung on that entrance.

Though, in cellular, worth premiums not often stick round for lengthy as carriers inexorably discover they need to ditch premiums to unlock scale — by way of shopper-pleasant ‘all you’ll be able to eat’ worth plans.

Nonetheless, within the brief time period, carriers look more likely to experiment with 5G pricing and bundles — principally seeing what they will make early adopters pay. However it’s nonetheless removed from clear that folks can pay a premium for higher connectivity alone. And that once more necessitates warning. 

5G bundled with unique content material could be a method carriers attempt to extract a premium from shoppers. However with out big and/or compelling branded content material stock that dangers being a too area of interest proposition too. And the extra carriers cut up their 5G presents the extra shoppers may really feel they don’t have to hassle, and find yourself sticking with 4G for longer.

It’ll additionally clearly take time for a 5G ‘killer app’ to emerge within the shopper area. And such an app would doubtless have to nonetheless be capable of fallback on 4G, once more to make sure scale. So the 5G expertise will actually must be compellingly totally different to ensure that the tech to promote itself.

On the handset aspect, 5G chipset hardware can also be nonetheless in its first wave. At MWC this week Qualcomm introduced a subsequent-gen 5G modem, stepping up from final yr’s Snapdragon 855 chipset — which it closely touted as architected for 5G (although it doesn’t natively help 5G).

For those who’re intending to purchase and maintain on to a 5G handset for a number of years there’s thus a danger of early adopter burn on the chipset degree — i.e. if you find yourself with a tool with a suckier battery life vs later iterations of 5G hardware the place extra efficiency kinks have been ironed out.

Intel has warned its 5G modems gained’t be in telephones till subsequent yr — so, once more, that means no 5G iPhones earlier than 2020. And Apple is in fact a terrific bellwether for mainstream shopper tech; the corporate solely jumps in when it believes a know-how is prepared for prime time, not often sooner. And if Cupertino feels 5G can wait, that’s going to be equally true for many shoppers.

Zooming out, the specter of community safety (and potential regulation) now looms very giant certainly the place 5G is worried, because of East-West commerce tensions injecting a wierd new world of geopolitical uncertainty into an business that’s by no means actually needed to grapple with this type of enterprise danger earlier than.

Chinese language package maker Huawei’s rotating chairman, Guo Ping, used the chance of an MWC keynote to defend the corporate and its 5G options towards U.S. claims its community tech could possibly be repurposed by the Chinese language state as a excessive tech conduit to spy on the West — actually telling delegates: “We don’t do dangerous issues” and interesting to them to plainly to: “Please select Huawei!”

Huawei rotating resident, Guo Ping, defends the safety of its community package on stage at MWC 2019

When established know-how distributors are having to make use of a excessive profile business convention to plead for belief it’s unusual and unsure occasions certainly.

In Europe it’s attainable carriers’ 5G community package decisions might quickly be regulated because of safety considerations hooked up to Chinese language suppliers. The European Fee prompt as a lot this week, saying in one other MWC keynote that it’s getting ready to step in attempt to forestall safety considerations on the EU Member State degree from fragmenting 5G rollouts throughout the bloc.

In an on stage Q&A Orange’s chairman and CEO, Stéphane Richard, couched the danger of destabilization of the 5G international provide chain as a “massive concern”, including: “It’s the primary time we’ve got such an necessary danger in our business.”

Geopolitical safety is thus one other challenge carriers are having to think about as they make selections about how shortly to make the leap to 5G. And holding off on upgrades, whereas regulators and different requirements our bodies attempt to determine a trusted means ahead, might sound the extra smart factor to do — probably stalling 5G upgrades in the intervening time.

Given all of the uncertainties there’s definitely no purpose for shoppers to hurry in.

Smartphone improve cycles have slowed globally for a purpose. Cellular hardware is mature as a result of it’s serving shoppers very nicely. Handsets are each highly effective and succesful sufficient to final for years.

And whereas there’s little question 5G will change issues radically in future, together with for shoppers — enabling many extra units to be related and feeding again knowledge, with the potential to ship on the (a lot hyped but in addition nonetheless fairly nascent) ‘sensible residence’ idea — the early 5G gross sales pitch for shoppers primarily boils right down to extra of the identical.

“Over the subsequent ten years 4G will part out. The query is how briskly that occurs within the meantime and once more I feel that may occur slower than in early occasions as a result of [with 5G] you don’t come right into a vacuum, you don’t fill an enormous hole,” suggests Gartner’s Fabre. “4G’s nice, it’s getting higher, wi’fi’s getting higher… The story of let’s construct an enormous nationwide community to do 5G at scale [for all] that’s simply not occurring.”

“I feel we’ll begin very, quite simple,” he provides of the 5G shopper proposition. “Issues like caching knowledge or just doing extra broadband quicker. So extra of the identical.

“It’ll be nice although. However you’ll nonetheless be watching Netflix and perhaps there’ll be a few apps that come up… Perhaps some extra interactive collaboration or what have you ever. However we all know this stuff are getting used immediately by enterprises and shoppers they usually’ll proceed for use.”

So — in sum — the 5G mantra for the smart shopper is actually ‘wait and see’.

Tech Passionate and Heavy Geek! Into Blogging world since 2014 and never looked back since then :) I am also a YouTube Video Producer and a Aspiring Entrepreneur. Founder, MyDroidDoes

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Google reportedly suspends select business with Huawei over U.S. ban

Judhajeet Das

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The Trump administration Huawei ban is sure to have wide-ranging and long lasting effects for all parties. In the meantime, it seems, a number of those involved in the periphery are treading lightly in hope of not burning bridges on either side. Google has taken accidental center stage, in its role providing Android and a variety of apps for the embattled handset maker.

According to a new report from Reuters, the U.S. software giant has taken some steps toward disentangling itself. Word comes from unnamed sources, who say the company has suspended all businesses with Huawei, aside from those covered by open-source licenses. The list appears to include updates to Android and popular apps like Gmail.

From the sound of it, Google is still attempting to wrap its head around how to proceed with the matter. Huawei, too, is assessing its options. Given the complexity of smartphone hardware and software, handsets routinely utilize components source from a variety of different locations. This fact has complicated things as trade tensions have begun to rise, hitting ZTE particularly hard over accusations that the company had violated U.S.-Iran sanctions.

Huawei has called the ban bad for all parties, but has continued to be defiant, noting its plans to become “self-reliant.” The company has no doubt been preparing for the seeming inevitability of heightened trade tensions, but its determination has some industry observers unconvinced that it can carry on with without any input from Google or U.S. chipmakers like Qualcomm.

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Huawei responds to Android ban with service and security guarantees, but its future is unclear

Judhajeet Das

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Huawei has finally gone on the record about a ban on its use of Android, but the company’s long-term strategy on mobile still remains unclear.

In an effort to appease its worried customer base, the embattled Chinese company said today that it will continue to provide security updates and after-sales support to its existing lineup of smartphones, but it’s what the company didn’t say that will spark concerns.

Huawei was unable to make guarantees about whether existing customers will continue to receive Android software updates, while its statement is bereft of any mention of whether future phones will ship with the current flavor of Android or something else.

The company, which is the world’s second largest smartphone vendor based on shipments, said it will continue to develop a safe software ecosystem for its customers across the globe. Huawei will also extend the support to Honor, a brand of smartphones it owns. Nearly 50 percent of all of Huawei’s sales comes from outside China, research firm Counterpoint told TechCrunch.

Here’s the statement in full:

Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry,

Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products covering those have been sold or still in stock globally. We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.

In addition, the company said it plans to launch the Honor 20 as planned. The device is set to be unveiled at an event in London tomorrow. While Honor is a sub-brand, any sanctions levied on Huawei will likely be reflected in its business, too.

Huawei’s lukewarm response isn’t unexpected. Earlier, Google issued a similarly non-committal statement that indicated that owners of Huawei phones will continue to be able to access the Google Play Store and Google Play Protect, but — like the Chinese firm — it made no mention of the future, and that really is the key question.

Indeed, sources within both Google and Huawei have told TechCrunch that the immediate plan of action for what happens next remains unclear.

It could turn out that Huawei is forced to use the open source version of Android, AOSP, which comes stripped of Google Mobile Services, a suite for Google services such as Google Play Store, Gmail, and YouTube. That’s unless it doesn’t plump for its own homespun alternative, which media reports have claimed it has built in the case of an emergency situation.

Huawei’s response comes a day after Reuters reported that Google had suspended some of its businesses with the Chinese technology giant. The Android-maker is complying with a U.S. Commerce Department’s directive that placed Huawei and 70 of its affiliates on an “entity list” that requires any U.S. company to gain government approval before doing business with the Chinese tech company.

In the meantime, the troubles are mounting for Huawei. In addition to Android, the U.S. government’s move has seen Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx, and Broadcom reportedly pause supplying chips to Huawei until a resolution has been reached.

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GDPR adtech complaints keep stacking up in Europe

Judhajeet Das

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It’s a year since Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force and leaky adtech is now facing privacy complaints in four more European Union markets. This ups the tally to seven markets where data protection authorities have been urged to investigate a core function of behavioral advertising.

The latest clutch of GDPR complaints aimed at the real-time bidding (RTB) system have been filed in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain.

All the complaints argue that RTB entails “wide-scale and systemic” breaches of Europe’s data protection regime, as personal date harvested to profile Internet users for ad-targeting purposes is broadcast widely to bidders in the adtech chain. The complaints have implications for key adtech players, Google and the Internet Advertising Bureau, which set RTB standards used by other in the online adverting pipeline.

We’ve reached out to Google and IAB Europe for comment on the latest complaints. (The latter’s original response statement to the complaint can be found here, behind its cookie wall.)

The first RTB complaints were filed in the UK and Ireland, last fall, by Dr Johnny Ryan of private browser Brave; Jim Killock, director of the Open Rights Group; and Michael Veale, a data and policy researcher at University College London.

A third complaint went in to Poland’s DPA in January, filed by anti-surveillance NGO, the Panoptykon Foundation.

The latest four complaints have been lodged in Spain by Gemma Galdon Clavell (Eticas Foundation) and Diego Fanjul (Finch); David Korteweg (Bits of Freedom) in the Netherlands; Jef Ausloos (University of Amsterdam) and Pierre Dewitte (University of Leuven) in Belgium; and Jose Belo (Exigo Luxembourg).

Earlier this year a lawyer working with the complainants said they’re expecting “a cascade of complaints” across Europe — and “fully expect an EU-wide regulatory response” give that the adtech in question is applied region-wide.

Commenting in a statement, Galdon Cavell, the CEO of Eticas, said: “We hope that this complaint sends a strong message to Google and those using Ad Tech solutions in their websites and products. Data protection is a legal requirement must be translated into practices and technical specifications.”

A ‘bug’ disclosed last week by Twitter illustrates the potential privacy risks around adtech, with the social networking platform revealing it had inadvertently shared some iOS users’ location data with an ad partner during the RTB process. (Less clear is who else might Twitter’s “trusted advertising partner” have passed people’s information to?)

The core argument underpinning the complaints is that RTB’s data processing is not secure — given the design of the system entails the broadcasting of (what can be sensitive and intimate) personal data of Internet users to all sorts of third parties in order to generate bids for ad space.

Whereas GDPR bakes in a requirement for personal data to be processed “in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data”. So, uh, spot the disconnect.

The latest RTB complaints assert personal data is broadcast via bid requests “hundreds of billions of times” per day — which it describes as “the most massive leakage of personal data recorded so far”.

While the complaints focus on security risks attached by default to leaky adtech, such a long chain of third parties being passed people’s data also raises plenty of questions over the validity of any claimed ‘consents’ for passing Internet users’ data down the adtech chain. (Related: A decision by the French CNIL last fall against a small local adtech player which it decided was unlawfully processing personal data obtained via RTB.)

This week will mark a year since GDPR came into force across the EU. And it’s fair to say that privacy complaints have been piling up, while enforcement actions — such as a $57M fine for Google from the French CNIL related to Android consent — remain far rarer.

One complexity with the RTB complaints is that the technology systems in question are both applied across EU borders and involve multiple entities (Google and the IAB). This means multiple privacy watchdogs need to work together to determine which of them is legally competent to address linked complaints that touch EU citizens in multiple countries.

Who leads can depend on where an entity has its main establishment in the EU and/or who is the data controller. If this is not clearly established it’s possible that various national actions could flow from the complaints, given the cross-border nature of the adtech — as in the CNIL decision against Android, for example. (Though Google made a policy change as of January 22, shifting its legal base for EU law enforcement to Google Ireland which looks intended to funnel all GDPR risk via the Irish DPC.)

The IAB Europe, meanwhile, has an office in Belgium but it’s not clear whether that’s the data controller in this case. Ausloos tells us that the Belgian DPA has already declared itself competent regarding the complaint filed against the IAB by the Panoptykon Foundation, while noting another possibility — that the IAB claims the data controller is IAB Tech Lab, based in New York — “in which case any and all DPAs across the EU would be competent”.

Veale also says different DPAs could argue that different parts of the IAB are in their jurisdiction. “We don’t know how the IAB structure really works, it’s very opaque,” he tells us.

The Irish DPC, which Google has sought to designate the lead watchdog for its European business, has said it will prioritize scrutiny of the adtech sector in 2019, referencing the RTB complaints in its annual report earlier this year — where it warned the industry: “the protection of personal data is a prerequisite to the processing of any personal data within this ecosystem and ultimately the sector must comply with the standards set down by the GDPR”.

There’s no update on how the UK’s ICO is tackling the RTB complaint filed in the UK as yet — but Veale notes they have a call today. (And we’ve reached out to the ICO for comment.)

So far the same RTB complaints have not been filed in France and Germany — jurisdictions with privacy watchdogs that can have a reputation for some of the most muscular action enforcing data protection in Europe.

Although the Belgian DPA’s recently elected new president is making muscular noises about GDPR enforcement, according to Ausloos — who cites a speech he made, post-election, saying the ‘time of sit back and relax’ is over. They made sure to reference these comments in the RTB complaint, he adds.

Veale suggests the biggest blocker to resolving the RTB complaints is that all the various EU watchdogs “need a vision of what the world looks like after they take a given action”.

In the meanwhile, the adtech complaints keep stacking up.

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