Convergence Plus
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Hyundai, Wipro in talks with DoT to set up telecom gear testing centres

Hyundai, Wipro in talks with DoT to set up telecom gear testing centresHyundai Motor India and WiproNSE 0.16 % Limited are in talks with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to set up testing centres as the government finalises plans for mandatory local testing of telecom equipment by the end of this financial year.

The South Korean automaker and the Indian information technology services firm have entered into initial discussions with the engineering wing of the DoT and have shown interest in setting up laboratories in India for testing telecom equipment, officials told ET. “New test labs are being set up. Hyundai’s representatives have come to us and the company wants to establish a telecom lab in India,” said Shakeel Ahmad, senior deputy director general, Telecommunication Engineering Centre.

TEC is a Delhi-based nodal agency of the DoT which establishes standards and specifications for telecom products, services and networks. Ahmad said that Hyundai’s representatives discussed the feasibility and scope of telecom-centric testing in India with the officials of the government’s telecom engineering division. The Seoul headquartered company already operates a testing centre for motor vehicles in India, he said, and wants to expand into telecommunications.

“Wipro is also interested in setting up a security lab for telecom sector,” Ahmad said. ET’s queries to Hyundai and Wipro did not elicit any response till late evening on Friday. Under new rules, the Narendra Modi-led government has mandated that multinational gear vendors such as Finnish Nokia, Swedish Ericsson, and Chinese Huawei and ZTE get their equipment locally tested and certified from March 31, 2019. At present, India has 20 designated test laboratories, most of which have recently been accredited to conduct desired checks for the safety requirement of telecom equipment. (Source: Economic Times)

Tech Mahindra to roll out 5G pilot projects next month

Tech Mahindra to roll out 5G pilot projects next monthTech Mahindra expects to launch about five pilot projects on 5G services by next month and execute big projects on the new generation network from next financial year onwards, said a top executive of the IT giant.

Tech Mahindra expects to launch about five pilot projects on 5G services by next month and execute big projects on the new generation network from next financial year onwards, said a top executive of the IT giant. C P Gurnani, CEO and managing director of Tech Mahindra also said the company hopes to garner over $100 million as revenues from Blockchain Technology during the current fiscal.

"My personal belief is that by September we would launch. Tech Mahindra will be launching its complete service offerings along with its partners. We expect within this financial year to do about five 5G trials and hopefully in the financial year, starting April 1 2019, we will be executing some big projects," he told PTI during his recent visit to the city.

A senior official of TechM had earlier said they had set up an innovation lab powered by Intel architecture to accelerate 5G roll out in India. The Centre constituted a high-level committee last year, comprising secretaries of the telecom department, IT and electronics ministry and science and technology department, to work out the vision, mission and goals for India's 5G ambitions and prepare a road map and action plan for the same.

Telecom industry body COAI has said auction of spectrum for 5G services should happen only around the second half of 2019 as it would offer telcos better visibility into market dynamics and potential revenue streams of the next-generation mobile services. "My (Tech Mahindra's) appetite is very very large and the opportunity of 5G is very large," Gurnani said.

TechM has been offering services to its clients using Blockchain Technology, the official said, adding that they started focusing on the emerging technology for the past three years and implemented solutions, mainly for Government and banking customers. "It started happening. By the year end I would think is that it will become significant (revenues) by my standards. That means I am talking of $100 million plus. By somebody else's standards it may not be significant... We are in 90 plus countries.

Tech Mahindra is going to spend a lot of its energy and time on skill development. We don't have a India based platform for Blockchain. China has Neo. Koreas has their own. Why would not we have our own?," he said when asked about the expected revenues through Blockchain Technology. He said Tech Mahindra has a Research and Development team of about 150 engineers based out of Hyderabad and Bangalore.

The IT major recently said it would invest CAD 100 million over the next five years on a Centre of Excellence based out of Toronto, which would work on major technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain. It also signed an MoU with the Telangana government for setting up India's first 'Blockchain district' in the State. (Source: ETTelecom)

Additional Solicitor General suggests FIR against Cambridge Analytica

Additional Solicitor General suggests FIR against Cambridge AnalyticaThe Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India has conveyed to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may conduct a preliminary enquiry against Cambridge Analytica for data breach. The MeitY had recently asked for a legal opinion from the ASG on filing a first information report (FIR) against Cambridge Analytica under the ‘IT Act and the Rules therein’, a senior official at MeitY told BusinessLine.

“The ASG has said that the matter requires further investigation by appropriate agencies. Sincethe present case relates to the breach of IT Act, a Central legislation with pan-India ramifications, it will be administratively expedient if a single investigative agency such as the CBI investigates the matter,” the ASG has opined, the official pointed out.

Preliminary enquiry
The ASG, in his opinion, has said that the CBI may conduct a preliminary enquiry after following prescribed procedure under the CBI Manual. “As soon as sufficient material disclosing the commission of a cognizable offence is available during the course of preliminary enquiry, a regular case should be registered against Cambridge Analytica and persons-in-charge of the company,” Vikramjit Banerjee, ASG, said in the letter seen by BusinessLine.

The ASG said that the company (Cambridge Analytic), and its directors, may also be investigated for ‘conspiracy under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy)’ read with relevant offences under the IT Act. “Specific averments constituting the commission of offence will have to be made to implicate the directors of Cambridge Analytica,” the ASG observed.

As such, a violation of privacy rights, such as in this case, where user data was transferred without consent, entails deprivation of property the person has in these rights. Further, the ‘act of retaining’ such data by Cambridge Analytica to influence Indian voters in the free exercise of their franchise amounts to a wrongful gain under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), he said.

“With respect to vicarious liability of every person who, at the time the contravention was committed, was in charge of and was responsible to the company for the conduct of business of the company, it is advised that Section 85 of the IT Act (a person/company guilty of the contravention and liable for punishment) may be invoked for registering an FIR against such persons at the appropriate stage,” the ASG added in his opinion.

Last month, Minister of Electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, had also asked the CBI to look into the issue and how the case could be brought under the ambit of the Indian IT Act. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

‘How Google ‘inadvertently’ added 112 to phone list

How Google ‘inadvertently’ added 112 to phone listOEMs might have made the suggestion before official notification. Ever since Google admitted that it had inadvertently inserted emergency number 112, the key question being asked is why the Internet giant included the phone numbers in users’ contact list by default in 2014 when the Centre’s official order on the same was issued only in 2016.

Emails seen by BusinessLine suggest that there were discussions and letters exchanged between the handset industry and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITY) as early as 2013 on the issue of having an emergency number, much before the final notification was made by the Centre in 2016.

Specifically, three letters from DeITY – sent on December 3, 2013, January 2, 2014 and January 22, 2014 – asked phone makers to do two things. First, to provide patches in the existing smartphones to enable dialling emergency number through a dedicated virtual key. Second, future feature phones (non-smart) that would be introduced in the country by various manufacturers to have one of the existing keys configured for activating the emergency number dialling even if the phone is locked. This was in the context of the Nirbhaya rape in December 2012 that shook the nation’s conscience, and citizens were demanding concrete action.

“Intense discussions have been held, led by the Finance Minister, involving Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), DOT, DeITY. Many permutations and combinations were discussed, including launching a government-sponsored device for security etc. etc.! We obviously advocated that mobiles are the best security shield and enhancing their capability. Amongst suggestions which were made during the deliberation was to use the existing and already configured standard GSM emergency number 112 as the distress number,” states a communication from Indian Cellular Association dated March 6,2014, seen by BusinessLine. Indian Cellular Association is the industry body representing mobile phone companies. “We are required to provide this feature in all future smartphones and featured phones. The process should be completed by end of April i.e. smart phones and featured phones which are to be imported or manufactured after May 1, 2014 should carry this feature,” stated the letter sent to all industry stakeholders. When contacted Pankaj Mohindroo, President, ICA, confirmed the letter sent in 2014.

Senior officials, who were then at the Ministry of Communications, confirmed that such discussions may have happened at that time. “There was a lot of pressure to do something post the Nirbhaya case. Finance Minister P Chidambaram had announced the SoS alert button for women in December 2013 so there was discussion on how best to do this,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

Based on these discussions between ICA and the Centre, Google might have been asked by the OEMs to incorporate the emergency number. Google did not comment. on this story.

Google statement
On Friday, Google issued a statement that an internal review had revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had floated its consultation paper on the matter in March 2013. In the paper, TRAI did not propose any specific number as the emergency number. It was only in April 2015 that the regulator issued its recommendations to use 112 as the national emergency number. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

Race is on for second place after Apple's $1 trillion valuation

Race is on for second place after Apple's $1 trillion valuationAmazon, Microsoft and Alphabet are locked in a tight race to become the second publicly-listed US Company to reach a $1 trillion stock market value after Apple became the first to touch the 13-digit milestone. Wall Street's optimism about last year's 10th anniversary iPhone, coupled with record share buybacks, have propelled Apple's stock 34 per cent higher over the past 12 months, pushing the company's stock market value above $1 trillion on Thursday.

The Cupertino, California Company’s shares added another 0.3 per cent on Friday, putting its market capitalization at $1.005 trillion. Apple's 12-month gain is far better than the S&P 500's 14 per cent increase over the past year, but it pales beside Amazon's astounding 85 per cent surge, propelled by the online retailer's and cloud computing heavyweight's scorchingly fast revenue and profit growth.

Amazon is now the second-largest publicly-listed US company, with a market capitalization of $889 billion, followed closely by Alphabet and Microsoft, at $856 billion and $830 billion respectively. Google-owner Alphabet's stock has risen 32 per cent over the past 12 months, and is up nearly 18 per cent in 2018.

Together with Facebook, the five largest US companies account for 15 per cent of the S&P 500. Synovus Trust portfolio manager Dan Morgan said he owns shares of Amazon mostly because of its dominance of the cloud computing industry, a business that grew 42 per cent in the June quarter and provided most of Amazon's operating profits.

"Of the three companies, I'd say Amazon will get to $1 trillion next," Morgan said. Average analyst price targets put Apple's stock market value at $1.05 trillion, Amazon at $1.02 trillion, Alphabet at $970 billion and Microsoft at $953 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

To be sure, past stock gains are not a reliable predictor of future performance, and the surge in Amazon shares in recent years has been exceptional by most standards. But Amazon's market capitalization would overtake Apple's later in 2018 if both companies’ shares were to continue their 12-month growth pace. (Source: Economic Times)

How Google wants to get back into China with its cloud plan

How Google wants to get back into China with its cloud planGoogle wants to get back into China, and is laying the groundwork for a key part of the initiative: bringing its cloud business to the world’s second-largest economy. The internet giant is in talks with Tencent Holdings Ltd., Inspur Group and other Chinese companies to offer Google cloud services in the mainland, according to people familiar with the discussions. They asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

The talks began in early 2018 and Google narrowed partnership candidates to three firms in late March, according to one of the people. Trade tensions between China and the U.S. now loom over the effort. It’s unclear if the plans will proceed, this person said.

The goal is to run Google internet-based services -- such as Drive and Docs -- via the domestic data centers and servers of Chinese providers, similar to the way other U.S. cloud companies access that market. In most of the rest of the world, Google Cloud rents computing power and storage over the internet, and sells a collection of workplace productivity apps called G Suite that are run on its own data centers. China requires digital information to be stored in the country and Google has no data centers in the mainland, so it needs partnerships with local players.

Google Cloud chief Diane Greene said last week that she wants the business to "be a global cloud," but declined to comment specifically about China. Still, the company is seeking a Shanghai-based business development manager for its cloud business. The job posting lists "experience in, and knowledge of, the Chinese market" as a preferred qualification. A Google Cloud spokesman declined to comment. Inspur and Jane Yip, a Tencent spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

A tie-up with large Chinese tech firms, like Tencent and Inspur, a major cloud and server provider, would also give Google powerful allies as it attempts a broader return to mainland China, where it pulled its search engine in 2010 over censorship concerns.

After years of slowly rebuilding a presence in China, Google has pressed the accelerator recently. It’s building a cloud data center region in Hong Kong this year and opened an artificial intelligence research center in Beijing in January. Along with other Alphabet Inc. units, it has begun investing more in Chinese companies. Plans for a censored search app in China surfaced earlier this week, sparking a furious debate about whether Google is putting profit over its mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally available.”

A cloud partnership for Google in China would help the company compete more with larger rivals Inc. and Microsoft Corp. In late 2017, Amazon agreed to sell its Chinese servers and some other cloud assets to local partner Beijing Sinnet Technology Co. The move complied with laws introduced that year mandating the storage of data within the country and bolstering government control over the movement of information. The move mirrored a similar set-up between Microsoft and its local partner 21Vianet Group Inc.

With Tencent, Google would have an even more high-profile ally -- but would also go up against local competitors including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which operates a major cloud business in China.

China is the second-largest cloud market, but local companies dominate, making it difficult for outsiders like Google, according to Synergy Research Group. "You can never say never, but that is an incredibly tough proposition," Synergy analyst John Dinsdale said. A June report from Synergy ranked Google fourth in the Asian cloud market, behind Amazon, Alibaba and Microsoft. In January, Google struck a patent-sharing deal with Tencent. The agreement came with an understanding that the two companies would team up on developing future technologies.

Tencent operates its own cloud service and is building an ecosystem of partners that includes Cisco Systems Inc., Nvidia Corp. and Deloitte, according to Tencent’s website. It already offers a cloud service called the Tencent Kubernetes Engine that’s based on a popular Google technology by the same name. Google could host services, such as Gmail, Drive and Docs, on Tencent’s data centers, and the Chinese company may suggest existing cloud customers try Google offerings.

Tencent founder Pony Ma is a representative of China’s National People’s Congress, and Inspur, formerly the state-owned Shandong Electronics Devices Plant, could provide political cover for Google as it seeks to gain approval from authorities to operate more of its largest businesses in country.

Google has touted the security and AI strengths of its cloud division. Tensor flow, a coding library for AI applications created by Google, is growing in popularity with researchers and software developers in China. While the feature is compatible with other cloud services, it’s designed to work most efficiently with Google’s cloud. (Source: Economic Times)

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