Convergence Plus
Saturday, June 24, 2017
*astTECS Launches High-Performance PRI Gateway

*astTECS Launches High-Performance PRI Gateway*astTECS, a leading provider of enterprise telecom technology products and Asterisk based open source communication solution, today, announced the launch of *astPG 30 and *astPG 60 PRI Gateway. A carrier grade solution, *astTECS PRI gateway gives the freedom to connect any enterprise telephony equipment to any internet based next-generation network. The *astPG 30 includes a single T1/E1/PRI interface and supports up to 30 concurrent calls. The *astPG 60 doubles the capacity with two T1/E1/PRI interfaces and up to 60 concurrent calls.

The solution helps businesses control communication overheads and realize an early ROI. The key features of *astTECS PRI includes : Call Routing, Multiple SIP registrars, Multilevel alternative routing, Black / White list, QoS Routing, Call Manipulation, Header & Number Manipulation, Codec Translation & Transrating and Overlap / En-block conversion.

The gateway offers scalable solution for up to: 2 E1 Ports, an E-SBC feature set for VoIP-to-VoIP & ISDN-to-VoIP, high precise 5ppm clock for full fax & DECTT support and ensures full ISDN quality for voice, fax and data. The compact and feature–rich gateway is equipped with leading - edge features, like : Integrated SIP registrar & location Server, Integrated E-SBC feature set, ISDN supplementary services Conversion, Advice of Charge (AoC) generation, Full IP routing & firewall capabilities, Remote provisioning, VPN and SNMP.

“Adequate with progressive features and functionalities and a very compelling price-to-performance ratio *astTECS PRI Gateway is an ideal solution for enterprises and growing small & medium businesses, enabling steady migration to IP Telephony,” said Dr. Devasia Kurian, CEO, *astTECS.

With strong focus on customer needs, *astTECS Made-In-India products & solutions serves users across the globe and the company continues to leverage its strong capabilities in product innovation, helping enterprises and SMEs capitalize on latest in technology and adapt to customer’s communications requirements and evolving market opportunities.

*astTECS offers the most comprehensive, integrated and compelling Telecom Infrastructure Solution based on Asterisk platform that are feature rich, helps improve consistency & performance and creates a scalable, stable and resilient network that optimizes value. (Source: Convergence Plus)

Tech Mahindra bets on telecom strength to grow IoT, connected devices biz

Tech Mahindra bets on telecom strength to grow IoT, connected devices bizTech Mahindra's net profit stood at Rs 2,813 cr on revenues of Rs 29,141 cr in last financial year
Tech Mahindra, India’s fifth-largest IT services firm, looks to tap on its traditional strength in serving telecom customers to expand its business in connected networks and Internet of things. It plans to drive growth through small platforms to solve problems of clients in a targeted approach. For example, Tech Mahindra is offering software-defined network (SDN) solution with an additional layer of the internet of things (IoT) in the communication technology services business, wherein the company saw sharp fall in revenue in the fourth quarter of last fiscal. The company is planning to offer bundled packages on digital technology areas through focused teams and skills.

The company has developed “more than 30 small platforms and all of them function like individual start-ups” to improve the customer experience of its clients faster.

“We have built more than 30 platforms as one big platform will not solve all the problems. And the whole objective for is to be able to make changes faster. Our focus has been on a 360-degree approach and it is important that a culture is created, as we cannot do it in isolation. So we have created a young CEO programme who will run these small platforms as start-ups within the organisation,” said Jagdish Mitra, chief strategy officer, Tech Mahindra.

He added that the company has taken a “very significant bet” in building SDN and network function virtualisation for the communication services vertical and it would offer a combined experience to the clients consisting of styling, design, technology and operation.

“Our vision is to be amongst the top five system integrators or orchestrators in the world of IoT. We are trying to drive the whole story of the man to machine connectivity and machine to machine connectivity,” said Mitra.

The company’s fourth-quarter profits declined more than 30 per cent on the back of poor performance in communication business amidst restructuring of Lightbridge Communications Corporation (LCC), a US firm it acquired in 2015.

Tech Mahindra’s net profit stood at Rs 2,813 crore on revenues of Rs 29,141 crore in the last financial year.

Mitra believes the in long-term Tech Mahindra will drive growth through agile Devops platforms (a combination of software development and IT operations) and people will be skilled accordingly to ensure better customer experience through dedicated platforms.

The platforms within Tech Mahindra are largely segregated into two categories - horizontal and vertical platforms. “While horizontal are those can cut across multiple nonlinearities and vertical ones are industry specific and we are building them through a mix of buy and build.” The company has built something called a “Second Nest” in the Silicon Valley to partner with startups and work on customer problems. “We have created a small unit in the (Silicon) Valley that focuses on partnering with startups. We take customer problems and jointly work with the startups.” (Source: Business Standard)

BSNL to set up 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots at ₹942 cr

BSNL to set up 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots at ₹942 crThe Centre has asked State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to set up 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in rural exchanges, for which an amount of ₹942 crore would be paid to the company. The expense will be met by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and the government will provide full capital and operational expenditure for the project. The opex support of 100 per cent shall be provided by USOF for the first year, and thereafter 75 per cent support in the second year and 50 per cent support in the third year of operation, BSNL said.

Under the project, one Wi-Fi access point will initially be set up in each rural exchange.

“BSNL is already in process of deployment of Wi-Fi hotspots in a big way and hence we shall deliver this project in six-eight months,” said BSNL Chairman and Managing Director, Anupam Shrivastava.

Reliable internet service through these Wi-Fi hotspots will be provided through BSNL’s robust fiber backbone and Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON) connectivity, which is being extended through the BharatNet Project, he said.

The government has also tasked BSNL to roll out one lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in next two years.(Source: The Hindu Businessline)

SAP eyes big opportunity to help customers complete digital journey’ here’s how

SAP eyes big opportunity to help customers complete digital journey’ here’s howThe German enterprise software maker sees a big opportunity to help customers complete their digital journey, not just to innovate, but to become scaled digital businesses
Data is most valuable when it’s in the hands of business users. Challenged to stay ahead of the massive changes that are disrupting the marketplace, businesses are turning the vast amounts of data distributed across their enterprise into insights and outcomes to drive material return on investment (ROI). Bengaluru-based Teknoleum Solutions is one such firm that highlights the strategic utility of data to gain real-time insights and boost efficiencies in an increasingly data-driven oil and gas sector. It has developed an innovative cloud-based Internet of Things solution for connected solar farms, called PV2, which leverages the power of SAP HANA to increase solar photovoltaic plant output and decrease operations and maintenance costs.

“We are a team of SAP product development experts. Our solution is an IoT app for photo voltaic plant management that monitors solar plant performance patterns to estimate soiling losses,” said Shashidhar Peddi, delivery head, Teknoleum Solutions.

Hero Future Energies (HFE), a fast-growing independent power producer, too has adopted SAP HANA to bring about digital transformation through end-to-end business process integration and provide operational, financial efficiencies across 25 project sites in India. A part of the Hero Group and with presence in nearly 10 states across India, HFE is focused on futuristic and clean energy through successful implementation of wind, solar and rooftop solar projects in the country.

Deployable on premise or in the cloud, SAP HANA is an in-memory data platform developed and marketed by German enterprise software maker SAP. It processes high volumes of operational and transactional data in real-time. “It lets you accelerate business processes, deliver more business intelligence, and simplify your IT environment,” said Paul Marriott, chief operating officer, SAP Asia Pacific Japan. “It’s not just large and mid-sized Indian enterprises, there are hundreds of start-ups building and running applications on SAP HANA and they are trying to create disruptive business solutions.”

Rethinking data
The digital economy is significantly redefining how companies manage their business. “Research shows that data-driven decisions are at the forefront of digital leaders’ minds. It’s not an option to adopt a data-driven culture; it’s the essential ingredient to stay alive in today’s hyper-connected market,” said Mala Anand, president of analytics at SAP. Speaking at SAP’s annual Sapphire Now conference in Orlando, she said, “Companies need an open architecture that can rapidly turn valuable data assets from transactional systems into transformational knowledge in real time.” According to her, that is why it is introducing SAP Leonardo, which applies the force of digital technologies to the power of imagination to reinvent new business models, and enable business leaders to envision their future.
Company officials said SAP Leonardo provides businesses with a set of tools that allow them to create new type of applications and embed them to the business applications that are currently running, whether they are on SAP S/4HANA or even an older version of SAP. The company also informed it will open a SAP Leonardo design centre in Bengaluru in the next three months, where it will showcase digital innovation and provide learning and enablement resources for customers, partners and employees.

There’s competition in the era of digital business too. As SAP CEO Bill McDermott remarked in his address: “There are tonnes of buzzwords vying for people’s attention, but even experts have a hard time making sense of exactly what they mean. Blockchain? Artificial intelligence? Machine learning? From SAP’s perspective, it’s all about intelligently connecting things, people and businesses—with speed as the key to digital business success.” (Source: Financial Express)

Wipro invests $24.5 million from venture fund over 2 years

Wipro invests $24.5 million from venture fund over 2 yearsWiproBSE -0.72 % has deployed nearly a quarter of its $100 million corporate venture capital fund in nine startups in the last two years, a far larger percentage of its fund than cross-town rival InfosysBSE -0.08 %, the company disclosed in its annual filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. “Currently we hold 9 such investments with a cumulative spend of $ 24.5 million in startups working in big data and analytics, AI, IoT, mobility, supplier collaboration platform, fintech and security –technologies that are reshaping the future of enterprises,” Wipro said in the 20-F filing to US SEC.

Infosys, in comparison, has spent about $45 million out of its $500 million fund. It also has uncalled capital commitments of $18 million, it disclosed in its annual report. Bengaluru-headquartered Wipro has been betting on startup investments to help it win deals and lift it out of growth doldrums. In line with tepid results, the company held back profit commission from chairman Azim Premji.

Premji is the only executive eligible for such a commission structure; the other Wipro executives are given variable compensation.

Premji earned a little over $108,000 in FY17, a more than 60% fall from the previous financial year. The compensation excludes deferred compensation.

"AzimPremji is entitled to a commission at the rate of 0.5 per cent on incremental net profit of Wipro Limited for financial year 2017 over the previous year... For the year ended March 2017, commission paid to Premji is nil," the filing showed. Wipro chief executive officer Abidali Neemuchwala drew a little over $2 million, in total compensation in FY17. Neemuchwala was paid $800,000 in salary and allowance, variable pay of $150,244 and other compensation of $1.1million. His total compensation also included over $9000 in deferred benefits.

Infosys’s Vishal Sikka pulled in $6.75 million in total compensation in FY17. TCS’ N Chandrasekaran, who has took over as Tata Sons chairman in February, earned over Rs 30 crore in the same period. The filing also disclosed that Neemuchwala is the only one of Wipro’s executive directors to have a severance clause in his employment contract. “Pursuant to the terms of Mr Abidali Z Neemuchwala’s employment, if the Agreement is terminated by the Company, the Company is required to pay Mr. Neemuchwala severance pay equivalent of 12 months’ base pay,” the filing said. (Source: Economic Times)

Cognizant layoff plea closed in favour of sacked staff: Govt

Cognizant layoff plea closed in favour of sacked staff: GovtThe Cognizant layoff case has been closed in favour of employees and the company has been asked to hold talks one—on—one to resolve the issue. “We have closed the case in favour of affected employees and suggested the company management to continue everybody and hold one—on—one discussion to resolve the issue,” Telangana Joint Labour Commissioner Chandra Shekaram told PTI over phone from Hyderabad on Saturday. As many as eight employees had filed petition with the labour department, complaining against Cognizant for forced resignation as the company went ahead with a performance—based human resource review.

“Yesterday [Friday], a team from Cognizant met the joint commissioner of labour in Hyderabad,” the Cognizant spokesperson said. “We reiterated that allegations about employees being forced to resign are totally unfounded. Cognizant has not conducted any layoffs and changes resulting from the company’s performance review process are consistent with the standard practice that has been followed by the IT industry for many years.”

The labour department has also advised the company management to give one more opportunity for the petitioners to prove themselves, Shekaram said. “We have also advised the management to give all eight employees one more opportunity to prove their mettle,” he added. The labour department also has advised employees not to resign, Shekaram said.

“We have advised the employees not to tender resignation because once they did that they would lose their right to petition us or move labour courts. A sacked employee has all the right to contest his termination,” he argued. Out of the eight petitioners, three had resigned and “we have asked them to withdraw their resignations” for contention. “The company has also accepted considering revoking resignations of the three employees and engaging them in discussions,” he added.

The company has not been given any timeline to resolve the matter.

FITE, a representative body of employees working with IT companies and call centres, had alleged that the US—based firm is illegally terminating thousands of employees by forcing them to resign. It held that highly—paid experienced professionals are being replaced by those with lesser experience and lower pay. To a query, Shekaram said that if the employees are still unhappy with the outcome of the discussions, they can revert to the labour department or move the labour court.

“If they revert to us, we will try to deal the case within the parameters of the Industrial Disputes Act and take stern action. If the company has been found violating, we will punish them,” he said. “Generally, it is not easy to terminate an employee,” he warned.

Under fire for its ‘employee separation package’, Cognizant President Rajeev Mehta had said the company has not made any layoffs, but conducted performance reviews to reflect on the work of last year and ensure the goals for the subsequent year are clear.
He also contended that the software player had offered the employee separation package in India and the US for the first time, unlike its peers, who keep taking such steps regularly.

It has rolled out a ‘voluntary separation programme’ for directors, associate vice—presidents and senior V—Ps, offering them 6—9 months of salary to make way for the new generation to move up the chain. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

Brookfield Asset Management in talks to buy towers of Idea, Vodafone

Brookfield Asset Management in talks to buy towers of Idea, VodafoneCanadian alternative asset manager Brookfield Asset Management is in advanced talks with Idea CellularBSE 0.31 % and Vodafone India to buy the standalone telecom towers business of the two mobile phone companies in a combined deal, three people familiar with the matter said. The combined enterprise value of the towers is likely to be about $1 billion (Rs 6,454 crore), though the sellers have been pushing for a valuation of over $1.3 billion. The deal is likely in the form of a slump sale, said one of the people directly involved in the talks. Slump sale involves the transfer of a whole or part of a business to another existing or newly formed company with no separate values being ascribed to parts of the business being sold.

"The negotiations around valuations are still on, but that should be finalised shortly. The deal could close even in a month's time," the person said. The Kumar Mangalam Birla-owned telco has about 11,000 captive towers via a wholly owned arm Idea Cellular Infrastructure Services and Vodafone India directly owns 10,926 towers. The two are also part of a telecom tower joint venture — Indus Towers.

Vodafone may hive off its towers into a wholly owned unit, which would be part of the combined deal, said one of the persons. "We have publicly stated that we will be looking at possible opportunities to monetise our towers. In this regard, we are being approached by many parties to explore possible options," said a Vodafone spokesperson. "At this point of time we have not struck any deal."

Idea declined to comment on ET's email seeking comment. The Aditya Birla Group telco and Vodafone India are in the process of merging their businesses to create the largest telecom operator in the country.

This deal, expected to close in a year, does not include Vodafone's 42% stake in Indus, the world's largest telecom towers company running 122,000 towers. Bharti Airtel holds 42% in that joint venture with Idea holding another 11.15% and private equity fund Providence the rest.

During the merger announcement, both parties said they intended to sell their standalone tower assets and stakes in Indus before the completion of the broader deal to reduce debt in the combined entity of roughly Rs 1.07 lakh crore.

But valuations of tower companies have come down substantially due to consolidation and consequent reduction in tenancies going forward. While Idea had started talking to American Tower Corp. at a valuation of nearly Rs 4,500 crore, that figure has fallen substantially since it announced its merger with Vodafone in March, people familiar with the matter said. The same is true for Vodafone's towers as well. Falling valuations stalled mid-sized Tower Vision's attempt to sell its portfolio of 9,000 towers.

"Realistic value of the deal (Brookfield–Idea/Vodafone towers) would be around Rs 30 lakh per tower, which is almost half of what used to be the rate before this rapid consolidation in the telecom industry started," said one of the persons cited above.

Still, both Idea and Vodafone need to move quickly to monetise their towers to reduce debt, essential for a strong balance sheet to tide over the financial stress thanks to the brutal competition triggered by Reliance Jio Infocomm's entry.

For Brookfield, options to strengthen its tower portfolio in India are narrowing with Idea and Vodafone's towers being the only significant available assets. The Canadian Company is in the process of buying Reliance Communications' 51% stake in its tower unit Reliance Infratel for Rs 11,000 crore but its bid to buy into Bharti Infratel didn't materialise as private equity firm KKR and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) picked up 10.3% in Bharti Airtel's tower unit.

American Tower Corp. also wanted to expand its portfolio after buying a 51% stake in Viom Networks for nearly Rs 6,000 crore last year. But the company, which was in talks to buy Idea's standalone towers, may have lost out due to differences in valuations, the second person quoted above said.

"They are anyway having a tough time operationally after the Viom acquisition as their main tenant is Tata Teleservices, which is in a wind-down mode. But you never say never. ATC has been asking for guarantees on tenancies at a pre-consolidation level but that's something Idea can't guarantee," said one of the persons cited above. ATC didn't respond to an emailed query. (Source: Economic Times)

Vision Fund to drive SoftBank’s India investments

Vision Fund to drive SoftBank’s India investmentsJapan's SoftBank Group will continue to invest in India, alongside its $100 billion, technology-focused Vision Fund, in what is being seen as a shift in strategy for the country, where it has committed to invest about $10 billion. The Vision Fund, which is also the largest pool of private capital ever mobilised, and is being led by India-born Rajeev Misra, was expected to be the primary investment vehicle for SoftBank going forward, with all new and follow-on investments in the country to be made from the new entity. It announced its first close at $93 billion on Saturday, during US President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia.

However, SoftBank Group is likely to participate in deals with ticket sizes of about $100 million and may even write larger ticket sizes, while the Vision Fund is expected to be the lead investor in transactions of $500 million and above, sources aware of the development told ET. "SoftBank Group will very much continue to do its own investments, as and when the need arises in any geography. But it can be assumed that all large investments — $500 million-plus — will happen through the fund," a person aware of the developments told ET.

Till date, SoftBank has backed online marketplace Snapdeal, grocery delivery venture Grofers, online real estate portal Housing, budget hotel platform OYO and cab-hailing app Ola.

Last month, Ola raised about $250 million from SoftBank, albeit at a lower valuation of $3 billion. Both the Ola and Paytm investments were done by SoftBank.

But the Vision Fund will also have to deal with conflicts, which may prevent follow-on investments from it in some of Soft-Bank's existing India portfolio.

For instance, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which is the largest backer of the Vision Fund, also invested $3.5 billion in Uber last year. Uber is competing with Ola, which counts SoftBank as its largest shareholder, for market leadership in India right now.

The Japanese telecom-to-technology conglomerate is also in advanced talks to invest in Flipkart, the country's largest online retailer, that could see the former invest close to $1.5 billion in the Bengaluru-based ecommerce company, part of a deal said to involve the acquisition of Snapdeal.

That investment, if successful, is likely to be led by the Vision Fund, given its size. SoftBank is also considering a follow-on round in OYO, which may also come from the Vision Fund.

The Vision Fund counts some of the biggest investors in the world as its backers, having received commitments from the likes of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Investment Co, Apple, Qualcomm, Foxconn Technology Group, has said it expects to announce the close of the largestever technology fund within the next six months.

SoftBank is also a limited partner (LP), having put in about $28 million in the fund, which will invest in sectors such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, telecom and computing infrastructure, among others.

The fund, which, according to sources, already has a deal pipeline estimated at $40 billion, is expected to largely invest most of its corpus in the US and Europe, given the greater maturity of their markets, and will also consider buyout opportunities.

While being led by Misra from London, the Jersey, UK-headquartered Vision Fund will also have SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son on its investment committee. The LPs in the fund, however, will not have any representation on the same.

Misra, 54, an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and the MIT Sloan School of Management, is a former Deutsche Bank and UBS fixed income veteran who made his name betting against subprime mortgages ahead of the financial crisis. He was also instrumental in arranging financing for the heavily leveraged Softbank for its $32 billion acquisition of UK-based chip maker ARM Holdings in July last year, also the Japanese investment major's biggest bet till date. (Source: Economic Times)

Viavi announces updated version of Gigabit Monitor

Viavi announces updated version of Gigabit MonitorAnalysis of deployments reveal that 219 million people globally now have gigabit internet available to them
Viavi Solutions (NASDAQ: VIAV) today announced an updated version of Gigabit Monitor, the company’s visual database referencing current and planned gigabit deployments around the world. Analysis of deployments reveals that 219 million people globally now have gigabit internet available to them, equating to roughly 3 percent of the global population. There are currently 603 gigabit internet implementations, a jump of 72 percent since June 2016.

The Gigabit Monitor is a web-based tool intended to showcase the state-of-play of gigabit internet provision across the world, based on publicly available data. This living database is updated regularly, based on deployment announcements and feedback from users. The site has been overhauled since its launch in 2016 to include population coverage estimates, giving a clearer picture of gigabit progress across the world. The following information is based on Viavi’s analysis of that data.

The United States has the highest number of people with access to gigabit internet (56.4 million) with a population coverage of 17 percent. Singapore currently has the highest proportion of citizens with gigabit internet availability at 95 percent. South Korea has the second highest number of citizens with gigabit internet availability (46.7 million), representing 93 percent of its population.
Of the current gigabit installations tracked by Gigabit Monitor, unsurprisingly, 91 percent are based on fiber – with cellular connections accounting for 3.65 percent, HFC accounting for 5.26 percent, and WiFi making up less than 1 percent. However, with many launches of gigabit LTE and 5G expected in the near future, the scale of cellular gigabit connectivity is expected to change significantly. This is reflected in Viavi’s State of 5G Trials, which shows that 25 mobile operators are currently lab-testing 5G, with 12 of those reporting that they have progressed to field trials.

The new Gigabit Monitor has been upgraded to display dynamically updated infographics showing the current state of gigabit internet provision in all 41 countries where it is available. Each country's gigabit internet profile displays the estimated population coverage, global ranking, gigabit launches over time and a listing of local gigabit providers.

“2016 was a turning point for gigabit connectivity, as many cities around the world reached the point whereby gigabit internet was available to most of its residents,” said Sameh Yamany, Chief Technology Officer, Viavi Solutions. “Yet the gigabit revolution shows no signs of cooling down in 2017. As bandwidth increases, so does consumer appetite for it. Likewise new business models have been quick to take advantage of new bandwidth, as we’ve seen with streaming video and audio in the recent past – and which we believe will continue in the near future with VR, AR and the Internet of Things.” (Source: Convergence Plus)

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