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Monday, August 26, 2019
Indian Telecom Cos may Leave Huawei Out of Core 5G Network

Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Jio to play safe amid uncertainty over Chinese MNC’s future Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio Infocomm are considering giving a pass to Huawei in ‘core’ elements of their 5G networks in favour of other companies to try and hedge risks against any future ban on Chinese equipment manufacturers in India.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea use Huawei and ZTE equipment for their 2G, 3G and 4G networks in certain service areas. Jio, which works with Samsung for its pan-India 4G network, is widely expected to go with the South Korean company even for 5G.

“Given how there are global security concerns regarding Huawei’s equipment, nobody wants to get caught in the crossfire. It’s better to be safe and deploy Huawei in the non-core part of the 5G network,” a senior executive at one of the telcos told ET.

A senior executive at another telco echoed the views.

“We don’t want to be caught in a situation where we have deployed Huawei and then a ban comes. It would be such a big gamble to do so and already, given the stress in the sector, looks like nobody is going to take that risk,” the executive said.

Both executives said the situation was dynamic and nothing had been finalised as yet. They added that Airtel and Vodafone Idea would need to consider that eliminating Huawei and ZTE from a major part of the 5G contract could raise the cost of deployment because their options would then be European vendors Nokia and Ericsson.

“We are working with all our strategic network partners,” an Airtel spokesperson said in response to ET’s detailed queries. The telco didn’t elaborate on its 5G deployment plans.

Vodafone Idea and Jio didn’t respond to ET’s queries.

This template has already been adopted by some mobile phone companies in the UK, including Vodafone Group Plc. They use Huawei mainly for radio systems, the non-core part of the network, or broadly put, the hardware portion of the network — a measure that some say reduces security threats, if any. Vodafone has already gone live with its 5G network in the UK. (Source: Economic Times)

Oz Rules may Force Big Tech to Show Code

Facebook and Google could be compelled to reveal the workings of the closelyguarded algorithms under a new push for tech regulation by Australia.

Regulators set their sights on the tech giants when they published the results of an 18-month investigation into the impact of platforms on economy. The proposals by the Australian regulator would constitute one of the toughest enforcement regimes in the world. (Source: Economic Times)

Voda Idea asked to pay ₹8.5L in SIM swap fraud

Vodafone Idea has been ordered to compensate a bank fraud victim Rs 8.5 lakh for not following “reasonable security” practices in issuing a duplicate SIM card, which led to the duping. The order was issued by the Maharastra government’s adjudicating officer (information technology). The complaint filed was in June 2015 by a Nashik company, Daffodils Furnishing, against Idea Cellular, RBL Bank and ICICI Bank. The principal secretary in the state government plays the role of adjudicating officer.

The case is yet another instance where a bank’s dependence on the registered mobile number for authentication has resulted in a fraud. While the company has argued that issuance of a duplicate SIM is a telecom dispute, the adjudicating authority has held it liable, stating that “a SIM card is an absolute key to a customer’s sensitive and personal information” and that the number can be used to access bank details.

According to the victim’s lawyer, Prashant Mali, who specialises in cyber law, telecom companies should be sensitive about phone numbers being linked to bank accounts. “Telecom companies should make their KYC process strong and if possible, should move to E-KYC,” S V R Srinivas, the adjudicating officer, said in the order. According to the complaint filed by Daffodils Furnishing, Rs 3.3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh were illegally debited from their account in two transactions and the money was transferred to a beneficiary in ICICI Bank. The order, however, notes that it is not established how the fraudsters managed to access the victim’s netbanking. While the banks have said that the complainant might have shared his password or responded to a phishing email, this has not been established. The order also suggested that banks add another layer of security in their communication to customers. Vodafone Idea was held liable because it was established that the application for a duplicate SIM was a fraudulent one. (Source: Times of India)

Huawei Files to Trademark ‘Harmony’ OS

Huawei has reportedly filed a trademark application with the EU Intellectual Property Office for a new operating system called Harmony. The firm is attempting to register the name for an OS for both mobile and computer use.

The trademark application is dated July 12, 2019, and is currently under examination. However, according to Huawei, Android OS remains its first choice. (Source: Economic Times)

Cash-strapped BSNL clears employees full salary for June

State-owned BSNL on Saturday cleared June salary of all its employees, while it awaits clearance of around ₹ 14,000 crore in dues from the telecom department. “BSNL has cleared salary payments of all employees for June from internal accruals of about ₹ 2,000 crore,” an official source, who did not wish to be named, told PTI.

The company has cleared around ₹750 crore for salaries, paid interest of around ₹ 800 crore on loans and rest of the funds have been approved for operational expenses like electricity bill payments, partial dues of vendors etc.

“A finance wing official has confirmed that they have received funds for June salary and it will be credited in the accounts of employees on Monday,” All India Unions and Associations of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (AUAB) Convenor P Abhimanyu said.

According to the source, the company has sent demand of ₹ 14,000 crore to the Department of Telecom in April but is yet to receive it. The demands include payment for excess pension amount, dues for rolling out mobile network in naxal effected area, and interest it paid on BWA spectrum, which was returned to the government, among others.

The total debt on BSNL is around ₹ 15,000 crore, which is lowest in the industry. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Aussie watchdog readies clampdown on Google, Facebook

Australia’s competition watchdog is poised to call for far-reaching new regulations on Facebook, Google and other tech giants which could have global ramifications for how they make money and choose the content people consume.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s recommendations, if confirmed, would be among the strongest yet in a drive to rein in the power of digital behemoths amid a host of worldwide concerns ranging from anti-trust issues to privacy abuse, and their role in spreading disinformation and hateful content.

‘Critical point’
Following an 18-month inquiry into the power of digital platforms, the ACCC is due to issue its final report by June 30. It is expected to include proposals for sweeping controls over tech companies’ handling of personal data and their use of “opaque” algorithms to rank how they display advertisements, search results and content.

In a 328-page preliminary report issued in December, the ACCC had raised alarm over the “substantial” market power wielded by the likes of Google and Facebook, and notably the “lack of transparency” in their operations.

“We are at a critical point in considering the impact of digital platforms on society,” said the report, initiated by the conservative government at the behest of Australia’s main media organisations.

The report focused particular attention on the huge impact Google and Facebook have had on Australia’s news industry, with the number of newspaper and online journalists falling more than 20 per cent since 2014 as digital advertising revenues were overwhelmingly captured by the two tech titans.

“While the ACCC recognises their significant benefits to consumers and businesses, there are important questions to be asked about the role the global digital platforms play in the supply of news and journalism in Australia,” it said.

Possible proposals
A set of preliminary proposals set out in the report, many of which are expected to figure in the final conclusions, include greater regulation over the handling of personal data, similar to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced last year. It also called for new penalties for invasion of privacy and greater controls on merger and acquisition activity by the biggest digital firms.

One of its most radical suggestions is the creation of an Algorithm Review Board to monitor the complex formulae used to deliver advertisements, and rank news content and referral services to news media.

The ACCC said such a regulator was needed to ensure the big digital players do not “favour their own business interests, through their market power and presence across multiple markets. There are also issues with the role of digital platforms in determining what news and information is accessed by Australians, how this information is provided, and its range and reliability.”

ACCC chairman Rod Sims has said regulatory authorities in the United States, Britain, Europe and other areas are closely monitoring the outcome of the Australian inquiry as they all mull possible responses to the growing power of tech titans.

Taking on Big Tech
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has already taken controversial steps targeting Big Tech, including introducing criminal penalties for executives of social media companies which permit the distribution of violent content on their platforms and an unprecedented law forcing tech firms to help security services break encrypted communications.

Tech companies have warned that enacting many of the ACCC’s proposed recommendations would be impractical, or lead firms to simply avoid doing business in Australia.

“We obviously need really clear rules for the internet that protect privacy, safety, the economic and social benefits of technology while also protecting competition and innovation,” said Sunita Bose, head of the DIGI lobbying group formed by Google, Facebook, Twitter and other firms to deal with Australian regulators.

But, in an interview with Nine media newspapers ahead of the ACCC release, Bose cautioned that some of the watchdog’s recommendations, on top of the government’s earlier measures, could not only hurt the big players but have an even greater impact on start-ups and smaller firms with limited resources to meet new regulatory demands.

She warned in particular against attempts to monitor and regulate algorithms, which she said “constitute highly sensitive commercial information”. “The prospect of having to disclose such sensitive information will serve as a deterrent to global digital companies and start-ups initiating or expanding their operations in Australia,” she said. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

DoT supports Trai decision of imposing Rs 3,050 crore fine on Airtel, Vodafone Idea

A senior official told the paper that member, technology, said there was noncompliance of licence provisions and quality of service (QoS) norms and the regulator’s recommendation of imposing a penalty is valid and is likely to be accepted by the DoT.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) decision, the report said quoting unnamed government officials, will be taken up by the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) at a meeting this week.

The Department of Telecommunications supported the telecom regulator's recommendation to levy Rs 3,050 crore in panalties on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea for denying Reliance Jio Infocomm adequate points of interconnection (PoIs) in 2016, The Economic Times reported citing sources familiar with the developments.

A senior official told the paper that member, technology, said there was noncompliance of licence provisions and quality of service (QoS) norms and the regulator’s recommendation of imposing a penalty is valid and is likely to be accepted by the DoT.

The DoT decision, the report said quoting unnamed government officials, will be taken up by the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) at a meeting this week.

The backing of the penalties will uphold the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) October decision based on Jio's complaint, the report said. Jio had said the two firms violated rules on service quality.

The report said that three senior-most DoT officials endorsed TRAI's recommendation and the case will further be taken up by the DCC. (Source:CNBCTV18)

DoT extends suspension of official Ashish Joshi for another six months

The telecom department is learnt to have extended suspension of Uttarakhand-based officer Ashish Joshi - who had written to Delhi Police to take action against a rebel AAP MLA for posting an 'incendiary' video online.

The telecom department is learnt to have extended suspension of Uttarakhand-based officer Ashish Joshi - who had written to Delhi Police to take action against a rebel AAP MLA for posting an 'incendiary' video online. "DoT has extended suspension of Ashish Joshi, former controller of communication accounts, for a period of 180 days beyond initial 180 days of suspension. No reason has been explained in the order copy," an official source told.

The extension order was issued on May 16 - 10 days after he had written to telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan seeking appointment.

The suspended official alleged that he is being targeted after he approached Sundararajan and former telecom minister Manoj Sinha on violation of transfer policyguidelines to favour some officers in his cadre and related Cabinet orders.

The Joshi's cadre is controlled by the Member (Finance) of Digital Communication Commission, formerly the Telecom Commission - apex decision making body at the Department of Telecom, the official source said.

E-mail sent to the department elicited no reply. Joshi did not respond to calls and sms in this regard.

Joshi was suspended on February 26 after he approached the police commissioner for action against rebel Aam Aadmi Party MLA Kapil Mishra for circulating a highly incendiary video, provoking people to attack "against traitors" on YouTube and Twitter in violation of the IT Act and Indian Penal Code.

Joshi on February 19 had also issued an order to telecom operators to crack down on offensive or obscene messages and set up a helpline to receive complaints against such customers.

The DoT has charged Joshi for misusing official letter head for filing a complaint against Mishra and also issuing orders to telecom operators on offensive messages with malafide intent without having any jurisdiction or making any advance preparation to address complaints that would come in response to the order.

"DoT has charged Joshi for misusing his personal twitter handle to threaten "general public" who were abusing him and his family after he was suspended," the source said.

Joshi was repatriated by the Delhi government to his parent cadre - telecom ministry, in May 2015, following a spar with political leadership. He had filed complaint with anti-corruption bureau in 2015 against then principal secretary of Delhi, Rajendra Kumar, based on which the Central Bureau of Investigation raided the Delhi secretariat in December 2015. (Source: ETTelecom)

Issues affecting YouTube, Gmail, Google Cloud in US resolved, says Google

Alphabet Inc's Google said on Sunday it had resolved a network congestion in the eastern United States that affected services in Google Cloud, G Suite and YouTube. Google said that it would conduct an investigation of the outage and make appropriate improvements to the company's systems to prevent or minimise future recurrence.

Earlier on Sunday, Google said it was experiencing high levels of congestion, adding that the incident began at 3:25 PM EDT. Google said it had identified the root cause, but did not elaborate.

Snapchat, which also experienced outages, said it was aware of the issue. — an outage tracking website — showed that the number of Snapchat-related complaints had peaked at more than 48,000 before falling to about 1,800 as of 9 PM EDT on Sunday.

Snapchat's parent company, Snap Inc, said in its annual report it used Google Cloud, but neither company responded to questions about whether the Snapchat outage was linked to the Google Cloud issues.

During the outage, many users took to Twitter to complain about it under the hashtag #YouTubeDOWN.

“When Snapchat and YouTube are both down and you don't know where to go next #YouTubeDOWN #snapchatdown,” a user going by the name Jasmine tweeted. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

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