Convergence Plus
Friday, July 20, 2018
Airtel in talks with handset firms for Rs 2,500 4G smartpones

DIGISOL bags "Best Make In India Wi-Fi Company" Award at My India Wi-Fi Summit & AwardsIndia’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel in talks with multiple handset makers to bring a 4G smartphone for a price as low as Rs. 2,500-2,700 to take on Reliance Jio. While Mukesh Ambani-led Jio has announced plans to offer Internet-enabled feature phone for a refundable deposit of Rs. 1,500, Airtel is placing its bet on a full-fledged smartphone as it believes people would be ready to shell out a little more to get a loaded handset.

A source familiar with the development said the new 4G smartphone — that will debut around Diwali — will come bundled with Airtel’s 4G connection and “attractive” data and voice plan to woo mass market customers. The planned dual SIM 4G smartphone will sport a four inch display, dual camera, VoLTE calling and a longer battery life. The Android handset will come with 1 GB RAM, said the source who wished not to be named.

He, however, did not say when the phones would be available for booking. Reliance Jio had, in July, announced that formal bookings for Jio Phone would open on August 24, while the phone itself is expected to be available from September.

According to industry estimates, six million bookings have been recorded for JioPhone, that offers free voice calls and SMS for life. Unlimited data offering comes for Rs. 153 per month. While the details such as the name of the handset makers that Airtel is negotiating with and the exact offers on anvil are still under the wraps, it is learnt that the Sunil Mittal company will co-promote the 4G smartphone with the manufacturers.

Besides this, Airtel also plans to offer its retail distribution muscle to take the device to the masses. “The company is talking to various handset manufacturers to bring a Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 2,700 Android-based 4G smartphone to the market around Diwali,” the source said.

Airtel declined to comment on a detailed email questionnaire sent by PTI. “As a policy, we do not comment on market speculation,” the Airtel spokesperson said. The company’s strategy to counter Jio offering is based on its belief that the Indian telecom consumer is looking for a large screen smartphone experience at an affordable price. Hence, Airtel’s new 4G smartphone bundled offering will target customers looking to upgrade from feature phones.

Reliance Jio, which started accepting pre-bookings on August 24, was forced to suspend the process after a whopping over 6 million JioPhone units were pre-ordered in a matter of just three days. The delivery of the JioPhone is expected to start during Navratri festival starting September 21, according to a channel partner of Reliance Retail. (Source: ETTelecom)

Dell EMC eyes $26 billion opportunity in India; to capitalise on JAM

Dell EMC American data storage company Dell EMC sees a $26 billion addressable market opportunity in India for hardware, software, services and consultancy products, as it looks to expand market share in the country. India is among the top 5 markets for Dell EMC, which claimed it had 43.5 per cent market share in India’s storage market by revenue, 22.5 per cent in the personal computer market and 26.5 per cent in the server market, according to data by market research company IDC for the first quarter this year.

“India is one of the fastest growing geographies in the world,” said David Webster, president for Asia Pacific and Japan, Enterprise Business at Dell EMC.

“We have invested heavily in India with sales and marketing operations but also in research and development. They are doing research and development on server, storage and software products. India is a strategic market for us.” Dell EMC’s India operations is looking to capitalise on the JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) initiatives of the government to strengthen its position in the domestic market and increase market share.

“India is a huge talent pool and the government is enabling the country to accelerate and progress. The government has a strong position on digital and technology to enable service delivery to people. It will change how India operates,” Webster said.

“We use see huge opportunity in India. When you have really talented people with technology in their hand, they can do some extraordinary things.” The company witnessed a 30 per cent growth in its business from Indian government entities on citizens-focussed projects in the first half of this year. Dell EMC, which was created by the merger of Dell and EMC a year ago, offers solutions in the areas such as data storage, cloud computing, data protection, converged infrastructure, software-defined storage, information security and analytics. (Source: Economic Times)

Government think tank red-flags ecommerce entry in trade talks

ecommerce entry in trade talks Ahead of a crucial meeting of trade ministers of key developed and developing countries in October, a government think tank has cautioned India against including ecommerce disciplines in multilateral trade fora as they will have implications on flagship programmes including Digital India, Startup India and Smart Cities. Besides, they will affect policies on open source software, open standards for e-governance, cloud services and cyber security.

India should not accede to demands for starting negotiations on ecommerce as the disciplines proposed by the US, European Union and China would curtail flexibilities available to the government to enforce its digital policies, the New Delhi-based Centre for WTO Studies (CWS) said in a working paper. It said these policies are formulated based on national considerations and the present status of the digital economy in India. The US submission on ecommerce last year talked about prohibiting digital customs duties, enabling cross-border data flows, promoting a free and open internet and preventing localisation barriers.

The EU paper discusses how common principles on consumer protection, unsolicited messages, authentication and trust services and electronic contracts would contribute to a better integration, especially of small and medium enterprises, in the world economy and enhance the trust and confidence of consumers online. Although India does not have a policy mandating localisation of servers, CWS said giving up that right may be detrimental to Make in India and Smart Cities programmes.

If government relinquishes such flexibility, it may not be able to impose localisation as a condition for foreign firms to operate in India in the domain of ecommerce, it argued. Since most large foreign ecommerce companies are interested in tapping the Indian market, server localisation could be a good option for domestic economic activities and generating jobs.

Similarly, having no or limited control over real-time traffic data in case of smart cities may be harmful to national security. Another threat is in the form of disputes in case of cloud computing. Referring to the accountability of service providers with servers outside India, CWS said disputes pertaining to a country’s data/server will be subject to the rules of the territory where the servers are located.

“These disciplines may adversely affect the future potential and outcome of government’s initiatives by limiting the market structure, technology choice and development of domestic capacities,” according to the CWS document. It stated that even without multilateral rules, global cross-border ecommerce has grown impressively and the proposals will not impart additional momentum to an already dynamic market.

“On the contrary, the proposed disciplines may adversely affect the growth of domestic industry by creating multinational oligarchs in the virtual world,” it said. The findings assume significance in the wake of increased attempts by some countries to seek a negotiating mandate for ecommerce to encourage trade through electronic and digital means at WTO’s ministerial conference in December.

Threat to telecom and IP
Ecommerce is also a part of Trans Pacific Partnership, Trade in Services Agreement and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership accord. CWS said these agreements contain disciplines similar to what the US proposed. (Source: Economic Times)

Industry 4.0 and Standards-based ICT Skilling at the forefront of BICSI India Technology Conclave

Industry 4.0 and Standards-based ICT SkillingBICSI, the premier association supporting advancements in information and communications technology (ICT), enabling industry to tap into emerging opportunity areas and deliver the most reliable and scalable ICT infrastructure, today announced, that its India District Technology Conclave will be held on September 15, 2017 at The Sheraton Brigade Gateway, Bangalore. The conclave will feature pre-eminent transformational leaders and visionaries showcasing latest in ICT capabilities while addressing infrastructure’s rapidly-evolving demands, deliver recommendations in planning, designing, deployment & optimization of ICT infrastructure and demonstrate the latest industry standards & practices that are key imperative in today’s digital economy.

The BICSI conclave would attract over 400 delegates primarily represented by end-users, system integrators, installers, consultants, distributors & OEMs from the ICT Industry, credential holders of BICSI, along with various ICT and allied industry associations. “BICSI conclave presents outstanding opportunities to engage with ICT experts and gain tremendous insights & knowledge on technology evolution in a highly-competitive, complex & ever-changing environment,” said Mr. Ninad Desai, District Chair, BICSI India. As the current challenging scenario demands, it is imperative that network installers are equipped with up-to-date know-how to ensure consistency and most importantly learn to unlearn, he added.

Converging with the conclave, on September 13, 2017, an Interactive Accelerated Learning Workshop on Fiber Optic Installation Fundamentals and Insights to Allied Skill Sets will be held at Bangalore. The interactive workshop would offer fiber optic professionals essential experience on optical fiber connectorisation, installation, test & troubleshooting. The workshop is supported by the Telecom Sector Skill Council (TSSC) and BICSI India.

BICSI provides information, education and knowledge assessment for individuals and companies in the ICT industry serving professionals, including designers, installers and technicians. Through courses, conferences, publications and professional registration programs, BICSI staff and volunteers assist ICT professionals in delivering critical products and services, and offer opportunities for continual improvement and enhanced professional stature.

Leading brands supporting the event are: CommScope, Belden, Fluke Networks, Panduit, Netrack, D-Link, Digisol, Rosenberger & Siemon.(Source: Convergence Plus)

National Telecom Policy 2018 may ensure Internet access for 1.3 billion Indians

National Telecom Policy 2018The new telecom policy will address sector issues and make them future-proof with the onset of disruptive technologies such as fifth-generation (5G) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The new telecom policy, expected by March 2018, will focus on providing affordable internet access to 1.3 billion Indians and facilitate domestic manufacturing to curb dependence on imports, telecom minister Manoj Sinha said.

Sinha told ET the call drop situation has improved and competition will ensure quality services at affordable rates. The Telecom Commission will soon decide on steps to improve the sector’s health, on the basis of recommendations of an inter-ministerial panel. “Internet to all will be the basic principle and to give a boost to telecom manufacturing would be a key factor of the new telecom policy,” Sinha said.

The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government’s ambitious Digital India umbrella programme, with an initial outlay of Rs 1.13 lakh crore, hinges on data connectivity and aims to bring 100% tele-density, high-speed internet highways and delivery of citizen-centric services electronically. The new telecom policy will address sector issues and make them future-proof with the onset of disruptive technologies such as fifth-generation (5G) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

“The new policy will be forward-looking and current challenges of new technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence will be taken care of,” Sinha added. Analysts and the industry estimate high-speed data services with cross-industry IoT applications and AI-driven services, could open up close to 20% of additional revenue opportunity.

The quality of services has improved substantially with reduced call drops, according to Sinha.

“Telecom service providers have upgraded their network and there is a substantial improvement in call drops and service quality,” Sinha said, adding that the government expects operators to continue to upgrade their infrastructure to ensure better quality.

In June, Sinha met top executives of India’s telcos who had prepared an action plan for 100 days and a full year, collectively committing to deploy 60,000 base transceiver stations and spend Rs 12,000 crore. Operators, according to the telecom department, have met the goal and have added 3.49 lakh base stations with the optimisation of 4.08 lakh mobile towers in a year.

A recent telecom department survey showed an 8% improvement in consumer satisfaction over call drops and an additional 8% improvement target has been set for telcos to be achieved by December. Sinha said the Telecom Commission would soon take a decision on improving the sector’s health taking into consideration the recommendations of the inter-ministerial group (IMG).

“IMG has submitted its report and there were earlier discussions with telecom service providers too. Recommendations of IMG will be considered by Telecom Commission and a decision will be taken,” the minister said. The commission, the highest decision-making body in the telecom department, last week sought more clarity on the IMG’s suggestion to allow telcos to pay spectrum charges over a 16-year period instead of 10 years at present.

The minister rejected a proposal to allot frequencies in the 700 MHz band, which is ideal for 4G services, to state-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd., saying, “As per policy, we can’t give spectrum to BSNL administratively.”

BSNL had sought a block of 5 MHz of the 700 MHz band. To improve the country’s digital profile, Sinha said the telecom department has allowed the communication arm of the Indian Railways to provide data connectivity across 200 rural railway stations initially via Wi-Fi using the Universal Service Obligation funds, which are derived from a 5% levy on adjusted gross revenue of telecom companies. (Source: ETTelecom)

Over 25% of SIM cards linked to Aadhaar: UIDAI

SIM cards linked to Aadhaar: UIDAI More than a quarter of the SIM cards in the country have been linked to Aadhaar, according to the latest numbers accessed by ET, as the government pushes ahead with plans to link all mobile numbers with the unique identification number by next February.  Linking a SIM to Aadhaar requires a trip to the mobile operator’s service centre, unlike the process for PAN or bank account number, which can be done online.

“Online linking of mobile number has a security risk,” a senior government official explained to ET. “If a fraudster knows your Aadhaar number, name and other details, then he can link a mobile number to your Aadhaar…and if he commits a crime, police will reach your home.”

As per data from the Unique Identification Authority of India provided to ET, there was an estimated 128 crore mobile phone connections in the country as of July and 33.8 crore SIM cards have either been issued or linked by telecom operators using Aadhaar e-KYC – meaning a customer’s fingerprint was taken to authenticate identity. This translates to 25% of mobile phone customers in India complying so far.

The rest of the country’s mobile subscribers will have to line up at the service centres of telecom operators with their Aadhaar details and provide their fingerprints there or risk deactivation of their connections after February. As of July, 7.55 crore of the 35.01 crore subscribers of Bharti AirtelBSE 0.64 %, the country’s biggest telecom operator, had got their Aadhaar linked to their SIMs, data from UIDAI showed. The numbers for Idea CellularBSE 0.50 % stand at 7.99 crore out of 26.08 crore connections and for Vodafone India, they were 4.5 crore of 25.9 crore subscribers.

Reliance Jio Infocomm, which started services a year ago and issued new connections through Aadhaar e-KYC, has 10.78 crore of 12.32 crore connections linked. For Aircel, the figure was 1.16 crore of 9.43 crore users.

The government is citing a Supreme Court order to get all mobile SIMs linked to Aadhaar. The apex court passed an order in February in a case filed by Lokniti Foundation, saying details and addresses of all mobile phone subscribers must be re-verified within a year using the mechanism devised by the Centre to issue new SIM cards through Aadhaar e-KYC. The Department of Telecommunications approved Aadhaar e-KYC for new SIM cards in August 2016 to help customers get them activated within a few minutes instead of one or two days through normal documents. The Unique Identification Authority of India said sharing one’s fingerprint with the telecom operator will not compromise an individual’s privacy.

“The telecom company cannot store your biometrics. The biometrics collected should be encrypted by the telecom company at that moment itself. Any storage of biometrics by a service provider is a criminal offence punishable under the Aadhaar Act,” a government official said. (Source: Economic Times)

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