Convergence Plus
Friday, July 20, 2018
BSNL eyes 700 Mhz band spectrum to launch 5G, to forge alliance with ZTE

BSNL eyes 700 Mhz band spectrum to launch 5G, to forge alliance with ZTE'The telco is entering into an alliance with Chinese gear maker ZTE, following a similar partnership with Finnish firm Nokia, for 5G services.'
State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. expects to get the government’s approval soon for using airwaves in 700 MHz band for offering 4G services, and 5G services in the future, chairman Anupam Shrivastava said.The state-run telco has written to the Department of Telecom (DoT) to allocate airwaves in the 700 MHz band for rolling out 4G services. “Six slots of 5 MHz are already available in the 700 MHz band and we have asked for a slot to be allocated to us. We are looking at it also for offering ultra-high speed 5G services in the future,” Shrivastava said.

The telco is entering into an alliance with Chinese gear maker ZTE, following a similar partnership with Finnish firm Nokia, for 5G services, the BSNL chairman said. “For 5G services in rural and dense urban areas, 700 MHz, sub-700 MHz and unlicensed bands such as 2.5 GHz and 5.2 GHz will be used for Internet of Things (IoT) services in India,” he said. BSNL plans to soon sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ZTE under the ‘5G and beyond’ programme, as part of which the latter will provide most recent technological updates and exchange ideas with the telco.

“The alliance (with ZTE) will be non-commercial with no obligations and based on knowledge sharing on what is happening worldwide,” Shrivastava said. ZTE recently announced doubling of its annual investment in 5G research and development to 2 billion yuan ($295.5 million) from 1 billion yuan last year.

In March, Nokia entered into a similar collaboration with BSNL to leverage its global experience in 5G-related industry initiatives focusing on software defined network (SDN) and multi-access edge computing.

In India, the use case of 5G technology may be different from that in Europe or rest of the world, according to Shrivastava, who said that in Indian cities, Internet of Things (IoT) could prove critical for waste management. Bharti chairman Sunil Mittal had said last month that 5G would come under aggressive focus and the evolution of 4G to 5G would be led by cross-industry collaboration.

“Globally, by 2020, 5G standardisation will be done including in China, which would lead with some early roll-outs. We expect 5G launch by 2021-22 in the Indian market, which is developing quickly driven by connectivity,” GSMA director general Mats Granryd said.

With India gearing up to adopt 5G technology in tandem with countries such as China, Japan, Korea and the US, telecom minister Manoj Sinha has said that the new technology will speed up the digital transformation in a number of industries, enabling IoT and automation. (Source: ETtelecom)

Amazon looks N-E for sales growth

Amazon looks N-E for sales growthE-commerce major Amazon is planning to ramp up operations in the North-East (NE) this year as part of its growth strategy. According Akhil Saxena, Vice-President, India Customer Fulfilment, Amazon India, good demand has been noticed from the region and categories such as fashion (apparel and so on), consumer durables, personal care and consumables are seen as the demand drivers. “The focus is on expanding our delivery logisitics and ramping up operations. We have seen demand go up there (in the N-E),” Saxena told BusinessLine.

He, however, did not disclose how much of Amazon’s total traffic comes from the N-E, or the investment numbers. A Google Trends study for the last 12 months shows that six of the seven North-East States – Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur – along with Sikkim, feature among the top 10 States that search for the term “online shopping”. Assam features relatively lower on the list.

The other five related search terms include ‘india online shopping’, ‘amazon online’, ‘amazon shopping’, and ‘flipkart shopping online’. Currently, Amazon has 2 lakh sellers, a 160 per cent growth year-on-year.

Incidentally, the e-tailer is also exploring the possibility of setting up a fulfilment centre (loosely, a warehouse) in one of the North-East States. Presently, it has 37 such warehouses. Plans are afoot to add four more over the next four weeks. With these 41 fulfilment centres, the total available space is expected to stand at 13 million cubic feet.

“Wait and watch,” Saxena said, on being asked if any of the upcoming fulfilment centres were in the North East. Amazon operates under the marketplace model, ie it acts as an aggregator between buyers and sellers without actually owning the goods. It earns a fee-based income from the warehouse services.

Own delivery arm
The e-commerce major is also looking to increase the ambit of its own delivery arm, Amazon Logistics. The delivery provider currently services 400-odd pincodes between Meghalaya and Assam in the North East, and is exploring entry into Tripura. “We will expand the number of pincodes to be serviced through Amazon Logisitics,” Saxena added. Other than the North-East, it services Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. Nationally, Amazon services 19,000 pin codes either by itself, or through third-party partners, including India Post. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Ditching WhatsApp encryption will help terrorists: Facebook COO

Ditching WhatsApp encryption will help terrorists: Facebook COOFacebook has 4,500 people who work to stop any attempt from extremists to hijack the website.
Responding to a call that Facebook should do away with the encryption that prevents police from accessing WhatsApp data, the company's top executive has said such a move would make it difficult to track terrorists if government gets such access. The call for ditching the WhatsApp encryption emerged after five people were killed in an attack on March 22 when Khalid Masood ploughed his car into crowds on the bridge and tried to storm the Parliament. Masood is said to have used WhatsApp minutes before carrying out the attack.

"The goal for governments is to get as much information as possible, and so when there are message services like WhatsApp that are encrypted the message itself is encrypted but the metadata is not. Meaning that when you send me a message we don't know what that message says but we know that you contacted me," quoted Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer Facebook, as saying on Saturday.

"If people move off those encrypted services and go to encrypted services in countries that won't share the metadata the government actually has less information, not more. And so as technology evolves these are complicated conversations. We are in close conversations working through the issues all around the world," she added.

With the growing terror attacks in London and Europe, social media has come under severe criticism for not doing enough to curb online terrorism. Facebook hired an online army of more than 7,000 people which is assigned to crack down on terrorists using the site.

Facebook also has 4,500 people who work to stop any attempt from extremists to hijack the site and the company plans to hire 3,000 more later this year.

"Our Facebook policies are very clear. There is absolutely no place for terrorism, hate or calls for violence of any kind. Our goal is to not just pull it off Facebook but to use artificial intelligence technology to get it before it is even uploaded," Sandberg said.

"We are working in collaboration with other tech companies now so if a video is uploaded to any of our platforms we are able to fingerprint it for all the others so they can't move from platform to platform," she added.(Source: ETtelecom)

Snapdeal-Flipkart deal falling apart after six months of hard negotiations

Snapdeal-Flipkart deal falling apart after six months of hard negotiations A crucial meeting to settle the proposed merger of beleaguered online marketplace Snapdeal with market leader Flipkart, due to take place in Bengaluru over Monday and Tuesday, has been called off, said three people aware of the developments. The deal now appears to be falling apart after six months of hard negotiations. Law firm J Sagar Associates and banker Credit Suisse, which are representing Snapdeal in the negotiations, were to meet with their counterparts representing Flipkart — Khaitan & Co and Goldman Sachs — in a bid to close the transaction. But the talks have now been cancelled, according to the people cited above.

A call between the key stakeholders is expected on Sunday night, and a potential public announcement on the fate of the deal could be made as early as Monday.

The deal that could have altered the Indian startup landscape and had the blessings of Japan's SoftBank — the largest investor in the Gurgaon-based Snapdeal — is now on shaky ground in the absence of backing from Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, said the sources. (Source: Economic Times)

RCom, Aircel merger deal on sticky ground

RCom, Aircel merger deal on sticky ground The proposed merger of Reliance CommunicationsBSE -0.76 %' wireless business and Aircel is clouded with more uncertainty with the Department of Telecommunications setting the Supreme Court's go-ahead a condition for it to approve the deal. The department, though, is close to clearing the merger of Sistema's Indian business with RCom, people aware of the process said. The SC had earlier this year threatened to cancel Aircel's licences if the top executives of its Malaysian parent, Maxis Berhad, continued to evade Indian courts over a case where they were accused of bribing politicians and officials. Cancellation of the licences could block the deal. DoT doesn't want to risk it clearing the merger and then the court making an adverse order.

"The Supreme Court will have to give a final say, only then can we give a go-ahead," said a senior DoT official aware of the matter.

DoT stated its position in an affidavit filed before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which is considering the merger proposal.

Both companies have already received approvals from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), stock exchanges and shareholders.

The companies plan to combine their wireless businesses into an equally owned joint venture that will create a stronger No. 4 operator in India's intensely competitive telecom market. This is also one of the key deals that debt-laden RCom is sewing together in an effort to stop creditors from classifying its loans as nonperforming.

The merger will help it transfer Rs 14,000 crore, or close to a third, of its liabilities to the books of the JV. "It is humbly submitted that petitioners may be directed to take suitable permissions from the Hon-'ble Supreme Court before submission of the proposed scheme of arrangement," DoT said in the affidavit, dated April 28, before the Mumbai bench of the tribunal. ET has seen a copy of the affidavit.

"In the circumstances it is prayed that the Hon'ble Tribunal (NCLT) may be pleased to pass such other/further orders/ directions as this Hon'ble Tribunal may deem fit and appropriate in the facts and circumstances of the present case," the affidavit read.

Approval of NCLT could be contingent upon the apex court's next move if it were to happen before NCLT's verdict, especially with DoT suggesting that the tribunal ask the companies to get the SC's clearance. DoT's position can't change even if NCLT clears the deal, the official said. The department has informed RCom and Aircel of the conditions they need to meet to get its clearance, people aware of the details added. RCom and Aircel declined to comment for this report.

The Supreme Court in its last hearing in the corruption case on February 3 had called for an appropriate action to get Maxis owner and Malaysian businessman T Ananda Krishnan and director Augustus Ralph Marshall appear in court to face trial. Maxis owns 74% of Aircel.

The two companies, though, appeared to have received some relief when the main accused in the corruption case in which the two Maxis executives are accused of — former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother and media tycoon Kalanithi Maran — were acquitted by the trial court. The court, however, didn't discharge the Maxis executives, who had not appeared before it.

The Central Bureau of Investigation alleged that Dayanidhi Maran had coerced then Aircel promoter C Sivasankaran to sell his stake in Aircel to Maxis in 2006 as part of a quid pro quo in the form of bribes.

CBI and Enforcement Directorate have now challenged the acquittals in the Delhi High Court.

RCom is sitting on nearly `45,000 crore of debt and getting the merger cleared at the earliest is critical for its debt recast efforts. It has time till December to sell assets and repay around 10 lenders under a standstill pact — the company doesn't need to meet repayment obligations in that time. If it fails to do so, the loans could turn into NPA (non-performing asset).

The RCom-Aircel deal faces other roadblocks as well. China Development Bank and some other creditors to RCom have objected the deal in NCLT, seeking clarity on the loan-settlement terms. Bharti Infratel has also moved NCLT saying the deal shouldn't be cleared till RCom pays its dues. RCom, which is talking to CDB to address its concerns, told the tribunal last week that it was "running against time" to close the merger.

RCom is also in the process of selling its tower business to Canada's Brookfield, which is also contingent on the Aircel deal. The Aircel and tower transactions are together expected to lower its debt by around 60%. RCom had expressed hope to complete both by September.

RCom's deal with Sistema Shyam Teleservices LtdBSE 1.17 % (SSTL), the local unit of Sistema, is, however, on the verge of getting DoT's approval, with the former having recently paid a bank guarantee of Rs.390 crore to DoT for acquiring the Indo-Russian joint venture's airwaves in the 850 MHz band in eight circles that it purchased in auctions held in 2013. An additional around Rs.10 crore was paid for excess spectrum in the Rajasthan circle.

SSTL is merging its wireless business into RCom in a Rs.4,500-crore deal which will see the promoters of SSTL getting around a 10% stake in RCom. This deal has got the approval of the Securities and Exchange Board of India, CCI, tax authorities as well as shareholders and creditors of both companies. (Source: Economic Times)

India vulnerable to cyber crime, must upgrade defence: Study

India vulnerable to cyber crime, must upgrade defence: StudyDemonetisation and the subsequent push for digitisation has escalated risks relating to cyber crime and India needs to urgently upgrade its defences by setting up a cyber security commission on the lines of the Atomic Energy and Space Commissions, according to an IIT Kanpur study shared with Parliament's committee on finance. Noting that the government has initiated a number of programmes to enhance the participation of citizens in the fully digitalised economy, the study said cyber security centres set up by the Reserve Bank of India would be insufficient. "While RBI centres often come to IITs such as IIT-K for expert opinion, IITs do not engage in relevant research on cyber security," the study said.

Incidents of cyber crime in India are rising sharply, recording an increase of over 100% in 2015 from 2014. The number grew from 71,780 in 2013 to 1.49 lakh in 2014 to 3 lakh in 2015.

The study said attacks from the 'Equation group' — which WikiLeaks reports said was a clandestine CIA and NSA programme — infected India's telecom and military sectors and research institutes.

The committee was briefed by Profs Manindra Agrawal and Sandeep Shukla from IIT Kanpur.

The study pointed out that since the government was pushing Aadhaar-based financial transactions, securing the Aadhaar database against unauthorised usage must be looked at carefully.

It has come to light that certain banks were making hundreds of transactions on the Aadhaar numbers of unsuspecting citizens.

Recent revelations about leakage of Aadhaar data and corresponding transaction data are serious concerns as the government is integrating Aadhaar number to various services," the study said.

Post-demonetisation, digital wallets such as PayTM and BHIM gained prominence.

However, with increase in online transactions, last year also saw cyber attacks that compromised more than 3 million ATM and debit cards through Hitachi-engineered ATM machine hacking.

The experts said a wider net needed to be cast by the Indian banking system and the government to engage cyber security experts from top institutes as an advanced layer of protection was missing in most financial institutions.

Quoting a report, IIT-K experts said India may need $4 billion investment in the private-public model. In their recommendations, experts said companies must have a chief cyber security officer and data systems should function on a need-to-know basis.

The experts felt that existing cyber security frameworks like CERT-IN was inadequate as there were insufficient inter-disciplinary connections and the government-private sector partnership was neither deep enough nor did it provide the required expertise. (Source: Times of India)

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