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Monday, March 30, 2020
Wi-Fi on Flights Allowed, Govt Notifies New Rules

Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Tata Tele likely to pay AGR dues on Monday: DoT source Pilot-in-command may permit access; gadget to be used in flight mode. Wi-Fi on flights will now be allowed in India for internet services upon permission from the pilotin-command and the gadget is to be used in flight mode, with the government finally notifying rules for this.

The amended aircraft rules have been published by the government in the official gazette on Saturday and they skip the mention of allowing mobile communication, which was mentioned in the draft rules published by the government on August 14 last year.

“The pilot-in-command may permit the access of internet services by passengers on board an aircraft through Wi-Fi on board when laptop, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, e-reader or a point of sale device is used in flight mode or airplane mode. Provided that the director general shall certify the aircraft for usage of internet in flight through Wi-Fi on board subject to procedures as specified in this behalf,” the latest notification now says. ET has a copy of the notification.

The final rules notified on Saturday say the pilot-incommand may permit the use of cellular telephones by passengers of a flight “after the aircraft has landed and cleared active runway, except when the landing takes place in low visibility conditions as may be determined by the director general.” An additional explanation has been added in the new rules saying an aircraft shall be deemed to be in flight when all its external doors are closed following embarkation until the moment when any such door is opened for disembarkation.

The government in its latest notification has also said that it received no objections or suggestions from the public in respect of the draft rules.(Source: The Economic Times)

Offline Retailers Running out of Handsets as Distributors Hoard

HealthifyMe GLOBAL ECONOMY HURTING AMID INVENTORY SLUMP AND VOLATILE PRICES GOING VIRAL Covid-19 Impact. Industry watchers say wholesalers are holding back stocks of popular phone models in anticipation of a price rise by the month-end as production in China slows; brands as yet unaware of complaints

Offline phone sellers are facing a shortage of top-selling models as some wholesale distributors are allegedly hoarding stocks in anticipation of increased prices by March-end due to production cuts in the factories of coronavirus-hit China, retailers and analysts said. Brands though said they had not faced such complaints so far, but were watching the unfolding situation closely.

“We understand that there is hoarding of top models of fast-moving brands, especially in the below $150 segment, in anticipation of a price rise,” said Upasana Joshi, an associate research manager at International Data Corporation, India.

None of the smartphone brands have yet officially increased the prices for their devices except for Xiaomi, which raised the price of the Redmi Note 8 by Rs 500 in February. However, offline retailers in a few places are unofficially selling some devices at a 2-3% premium, Joshi said.

“We are unable to fetch some models from wholesalers such as the Oppo Reno series, Oppo A1 and the Vivo V series besides Apple’s iPhone 11,” said a Delhi-based retailer who did not wish to be named. “But, we can’t increase price beyond a certain point as customers can easily buy the device online at the official price,” he added.

Brands said while they had not yet seen any instance of hoarding, they would take action against anyone doing so.

“As of now, we have been able to meet the demand of the Indian consumer by ensuring consistent stock of most models. We try to avoid the situation where retailers need to hoard the supplies of our phones,” a Vivo spokesperson said in response to ET’s queries.

A Xiaomi spokesperson rejected any possibility of hoarding, saying: “If such a thing would be happening, we would know by our daily sales reports.” At Wuhan, the Chinese city that is the epicentre of the

Covid-19 outbreak, major component factories are running at 40% of their capacity. Although the extended Lunar New Year holiday ended on February 9, workers still haven’t returned to work, according

to reports. Market intelligence firm TechArc estimates prices could rise 6-7% for top models of select brands if the disruption in supply chain continued at current levels.

“Buyers may be hit by price shocks during April-June as inventories will dry up by then due to lower imports on account of the extended Chinese New Year holiday in February,” TechArc research director Faisal Kawoosa said.

Though major Chinese brands including Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus assemble their devices within India, they are heavily dependent on China for parts such as display, battery, memory and printed circuit boards.

Besides these, Apple’s latest models including the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 are entirely shipped from China.

The brand does not modify prices as per demand-supply equation and thus the attempt to hoard becomes irrelevant, a person aware of company’s strategy said. (Source: Economic Times)

AGR dues: Bharti Airtel pays ₹3,004 crore as final settlement

Pre-Bookings open for Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 UltraThe company has also deposited ₹5,000 crore as an ad-hoc payment. Bharti Airtel on Saturday said that it has paid ₹8,004 crore to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) towards the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. However, the company said that it owes only ₹3,004 crore towards the AGR dues, as per its assessment, and the rest ₹5,000 crore are additional ad-hoc payment.

According to the DoT, Airtel has AGR dues of around ₹35,000 crore including penalty and interests, out of which it has paid ₹10,000 crore on February 17.

"The company has paid an additional amount of ₹3,004 crore towards the full and final amounts due over and above the ad-hoc amount of ₹10,000 crore paid on February 17 on behalf of the Bharti Group of Companies (Bharti Airtel, Bahrti Hexacom and Telenor India)," Airtel said in a stock filing.

"In addition to the aforesaid amounts paid basis our self-assessment, we have also deposited an additional amount of ₹5,000 crore, as an ad-hoc payment (subject to subsequent refund/ adjustment) to cover differences, if any, arising from the reconciliation exercise with the DoT," the company added. The company said it has now complied with AGR Judgment and the directions in the order of the Supreme Court dated October 24, 2019.

Apart from Airtel, Tata Teleservices (TTL) also says that the amount it has paid to DoT (₹2,197 crore) is full and final as per its self-assessment. However, as per DoT's calculations, the company's dues are pegged at ₹14,819 crore.

Similarly, Vodafone-Idea has a total due of around ₹53,000 crore, from which it has paid only ₹3,500 crore to the DoT and has been threatening to shut shop if the government does not give some relief package at the earliest.

No Government Support

However, according to government sources, no immediate relief package is expected anytime soon and no decision was also taken in the latest meeting of the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) meeting on Friday. In fact, the DCC did not discuss about AGR in the meeting, as per sources in the know and had focussed around other projects.

Recently, industry body Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI), also wrote to the Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash that the operators require “urgent support from the government to address the current health of the telecom sector”.

It suggested some relaxation of AGR dues and requested the DoT to allow set-off of GST credits lying with the government. Further, after the GST set-off, the payment of balance amount of interest, penalty and interest on penalty may be allowed in a staggered manner, it said.

Meanwhile, the latest move by Airtel may pressurise Vodafone-Idea to immediately plan something towards its dues as the government is also unlikely to provide any remedy at the earliest.

The DoT is also on the verge of sending another notice to TTSL on its dues, questioning on its self-assessment as the amount it has paid till now (₹2,197 crore) is not tallying with the DoT's calculations. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

How Kaspersky’s blockchain solution makes online voting a secure process

Sony India Feels the Heat from Chinese Cos, Cuts Over 120 JobsOnline voting in academic institutions, businesses, and general elections is slowly becoming vogue. While it offers the advantage of voting remotely, saving the hassle of travel and instantaneous counting of votes, online voting poses a challenge when it comes to the security of data. Any leakage of data and subsequent tampering could create a lot of problems.

Cyber security solutions company Kaspersky says blockchain-based solutions can come to the rescue in such situations. Blockchain technology, which promises secure, block-by-block incorruptible transactions, is helping in building use cases for land records, banking transactions, and educational records.

Target server

Polys, a project from the Kaspersky Innovation Hub, has developed the prototype of a secure online voting platform, powered by blockchain technology. Targetted at businesses, universities, and political parties, the prototype of Polys Voting Machine lets all votes, cast at the designated polling stations or on personal digital devices, transmitted to the target server in a secure way.

“The Polys Voting Machine has been created to work on distributed ledger technology. All information related to votes is stored in a decentralised manner on several blockchain nodes,” said Roman Aleshkin, head of product at Polys.

The machine allows the voting organisers to store the data on several computers, making it difficult for hackers to break into them and tamper with the data. “To use one of the machines, voters would need to authenticate themselves with documents to prove their identity. Next, they would receive a unique QR code (or other token),” he said.

“Via this QR code, a person can also check on a special web application that his or her vote was registered in the blockchain, but their name and choice will not be stored in the blockchainto prevent tracing it to a specific individual,” he said.

To allow audits and recounts, a special Polys Printer can be connected to this distributed ledger, providing an accurate paper trail. The automatic count function significantly reduces staff and resource costs for organisers. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

Infy Sees a Spot as Insurance Cos Look to Vet Cyber Infra of Clients

Telcos Estimate AGR Dues at Half the DoT DemandIT firms eye deals as demand rises for tech to carry out due diligence, underwriting work. Software services exporter Infosys is looking to win deals from insurance companies to assess the cyber infrastructure of potential clients before they firm up contracts.

While insurance companies are creating their own cyber security services arms, IT services providers are looking at winning deals that involve usage of technology to carry out due diligence and underwriting work. Vishal Salvi, chief information security officer and head of cybersecurity practice at Infosys, said: “There are opportunities where we are at the early stages of exploration about looking at how we can collaborate with global insurance companies where they, for example, may call us to do due diligence on a particular client before they certify them for some cyber insurance.”

He said: “For organisations which want cyber security insurance, before they approach any insurance company, they may want to first upgrade their cyber security posture so that they get better terms with the insurance company. So that can generate a lot of work for us.”

Infosys’ cyber security segment has been expanding in the last few quarters with new centres across the world providing managed services to clients. Revenue of the cyber security vertical is not reported separately, it is classified under the ‘digital’ business, which constituted 40.6% of total revenue at $1.31 billion at the end of the third quarter.

Technology companies have been signing large contracts with insurance provides. Accenture and AXA XL recently signed a deal to collaborate on cybersecurity services to AXA’s underwriters, brokers and clients.

While analysts say the market for cyber security services in insurance is growing, Indian service providers are facing competition from global players in this space. “It is unclear that there is a large cyber security TAM (total addressable market) for Indian service providers. It does, however, provide them with a nose under the tent if they can utilise it to engage clients and their cyber security organisations as a result of the need for this insurance. But I feel this is a clever trick shot, not a fundamental component of a successful cyber security channel to market,” said Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO of research and consulting firm Everest Group. (Source: Economic Times)

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