Convergence Plus
Friday, June 5, 2020
File-sharing platform WeTransfer partially blocked by telecom department: Report

Sony India Feels the Heat from Chinese Cos, Cuts Over 120 Jobs The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has partially blocked the file-sharing app ‘WeTransfer’ in India citing privacy concerns, according to media reports.

Multiple users this week flooded micro-blogging platform Twitter stating that they were unable to access the app, Gadgets360 reported.

The Netherlands-based company later confirmed that the app had been blocked for certain networks in India and said that VPN could be used as a “workaround” while they were investigating the matter. “We have received reports that WeTransfer is being (partially) blocked in India. Our team is investigating the issue, we hope to have more details soon. In the meantime, the best workaround is to use a VPN service to access our site. Thanks for your patience!” the company had tweeted in response to a user complaint.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had passed an order to specific webpages of WeTransfer in India earlier this month, according to media reports. As per the order issued on May 18, the telecom department had provided a notice to internet service providers or ISPs to ban two specific URLs on the file-sharing platform citing privacy concerns, Entrackr reported.

The platform has been banned on Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea. According to a Gadgets 360 report, the website displays a message that reads, “You are not authorised to access this webpage as per the DoT compliance” as a user tries to access the platform from a Jio network. The platform was accessible on an Airtel cellular connection on Saturday, according to the Entrackr report, stating that a few ISPs were yet to implement the ban.

WeTransfer is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It is an online cloud-based platform for file sharing. Users can transfer different types of files of up to 2 GB for free to others on the Internet using the service. The premium version of the service allows users to share files with file size up to 20 GB. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

Infosys says Covid-19 related risks could hit profitability; CEO compensation jumps 27%

Telcos Estimate AGR Dues at Half the DoT DemandInfosys has withdrawn its growth guidance for the first-time citing uncertainties in clients’ business. Bengaluru: InfosysNSE 0.53 % said Covid-19 led slowdown has resulted in termination of projects and may hit the company’s profitability going forward.

The Bengaluru-headquartered IT services exporter has highlighted the pandemic could be a major risk going forward as key clients across the US, Europe and other prominent markets may cut costs due to prolonged economic impact.

“Our profitability may be negatively impacted if we are unable to eliminate fixed or committed costs in line with reduced demand. Additionally, any sudden change in demand may impact utilization in (the) short term thereby impacting margins. Our profitability may be marginally impacted as some clients may dispute some of the existing work-in process that has been recognized by us as unbilled revenues. This in turn can impact our cash flows negatively,” said Infosys in its 20F filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Infosys has withdrawn its growth guidance for the first time citing uncertainties in clients’ business in the wake of the pandemic.

The company said in the filing that some of the specific “consequent risks related to the occurrence of Covid-19 that have materialized” include delay and suspension of some existing services projects.

“Many of our clients’ business operations have been negatively impacted due to the economic downturn - resulting in postponement, termination, suspension of some ongoing projects with us and/or reduced demand for our services and solutions,” said Infosys.

The Indian tech services major has also cautioned that certain employee benefits may get reduced and onboarding of new employees could be delayed.

“The uncertainty in demand as our clients deal with a prolonged economic impact of Covid-19 may cause us to implement severe cost control measures including reduction in employee bonuses. This could result in increased attrition of employees and/or a higher expenditure on recruitment and subcontracting services, thereby impacting our profitability,” said Infosys, adding that the company’s ‘ability to honor job offers on a timely basis can get impacted’.

Infosys, India’s second largest software services exporter, has also talked about possibilities of a global economic uncertainty impacting the demand for services, comparing it with the financial crisis in 2008.

“Any future global economic uncertainty, arising out of various factors including the Covid-19 pandemic impacting the financial services industry, retail, consumer goods, energy and manufacturing on which we depend for a substantial portion of our annual revenues, may result in the reduction, postponement or consolidation of IT spending, contract terminations, deferrals of projects or delays in purchases by our clients...For instance, the financial services industry was severely impacted by the economic crisis that started in 2008 in the United States,” said the company.

Infosys chief executive officer Salil Parekh’s total remuneration jumped by 27% to $6.15 million in the financial year 2019-20, while chief operating officer Pravin Rao saw a 29% rise to nearly $2.3 million.

Parekh was granted a significantly higher number of performance-based restricted stock units compared with the corresponding fiscal year and saw a more than 50% rise in value of granted RSUs. His fixed salary has been marginally reduced. (Source: The Economic Times)

Lockdown 4.0: E-commerce firms Flipkart, Amazon may finally resume full operations nationally

Telcos Estimate AGR Dues at Half the DoT DemandET had reported that Flipkart and Amazon had been able to recover only 20% of their sales a week after the May 4 order that allowed them to resume business in green and orange zones.

E-commerce companies such as Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal, as well as vertical etailers including Lenskart, Nykaa, and Firstcry, are expected to resume full operations from Monday after the central government removed all restrictions on online retail as part of its plan for Lockdown 4.0.

These platforms were so far restricted to selling non-essential goods like smartphones and electronics in government designated green and orange zones, while being allowed to sell essential items such as food and grocery nationally.

But in its latest guidelines, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that all activities, except those specifically prohibited, will be now be opened up. However, states would still take the final call on allowing businesses to function based on their local needs and situations, the guidelines added. Online sales will continue to be restricted in containment zones across the country, where only essential activities will be permitted, as per the latest MHA directives.

“We are ready and equipped to now start serving customers all across India - in red, green and orange zones - by providing them access to the entire selection of millions of products,” said a Snapdeal spokesperson. “This is also the moment that will enable lakhs of medium and small online sellers to start rebuilding their businesses as they serve the needs of users in cities and towns across India.”

Cab-hailing services Uber and Ola are also not in the current list of prohibited activities as per the new guidelines releases on Sunday evening. Both ride-hailing apps have been shut for the last two months, barring some essential travel activities which constitute less than 2-3% of their overall business as usual numbers, according to analysts.

The move to reopen e-commerce will deliver a major boost to companies that were allowed to sell only essential goods since the lockdown was announced on March 24. Even the opening up for non-essential sales had seen low demand from areas outside of red zones.

ET had reported that Flipkart and Amazon had been able to recover only 20% of their sales a week after the May 4 order that allowed them to resume business in green and orange zones.

“We don’t expect states to restrict e-commerce activity in any way and we should start accepting orders from tomorrow (Monday),” said a senior executive of a leading e-commerce marketplace on the condition of anonymity. “Moreover, offline stores are open in most locations, so it shouldn’t be a problem for us (e-commerce) as well.” (Source: Economic Times)

CCI to probe into anti-trust allegations against WhatsApp Pay: Report

Telcos Estimate AGR Dues at Half the DoT DemandThe Competition Commission of India (CCI) is looking into anti-trust allegations against Facebook’s WhatsApp. The antitrust watchdog is looking into a complaint that the social media giant is abusing its dominant position by offering WhatsApp Pay, a payment service integrated with its messaging platform, Reuters reported.

According to the complaint filed in mid-March, the company is abusing its market position and its vast user base in the country to penetrate India’s booming digital payments market.

Its payment service will be competing against services such as GooglePay, PayTM and PhonePe in India.

The complaint comes at a crucial time for WhatsApp which is already battling with compliance issues to launch its payment service that it has been beta testing in the country since 2018.

WhatsApp on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it will not go ahead with the launch of WhatsApp Pay without complying with Indian regulations according to media reports.

The company had made the statement in response to the hearing of a plea filed by Delhi-based think tank Good Governance Chambers stating that Facebook’s data privacy policies were non-compliant with the applicable laws and guidelines issued by the NPCI and Reserve Bank of India. The plea was seeking a ban on the payment service alleging compliance issues.

According to the RBI’s data localisation norms, foreign companies are required to store all transaction-related data and user data in servers located within the country while removing the data from all foreign servers within 24 hours. WhatsApp is yet to completely localise user data.

The company told the apex court that it will not launch its service till it is fully compliant with all Indians laws and regulations, the report said. (Source: The Hindu Business line)

Cognizant expects $50-70 million revenue hit in Q2 due to ransomware attack

Pre-Bookings open for Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 UltraCognizant Technology Solutions anticipates revenue and margin impact to be in the range of $50-70 million for the second quarter ending June 30, 2020, due to a ransomware attack in April.

Additionally, it will incur certain legal, consulting and other costs associated with the investigation, service restoration and remediation of the breach, the company’s CFO Karen McLoughlin told analysts while discussing the first-quarter (March quarter) financial results.

Cognizant’s CEO Brian Humphries said the ransomware attack, which occured before the company enabling work from home (WFH) due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will negatively impact the Q2 results for two reasons. First, the attack encrypted the company’s internal systems, effectively disabling them, and the company proactively took other systems offline. This disruption included both select systems supporting WFH enabling such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and the provisioning of laptops that have been expected to further increase the WFH capabilities in April.

“Second, some clients opted to suspend our access to their networks. Billing was therefore impacted for a period of time, yet the cost of staffing these projects remained on the books,” Humphries said.

“We expect the vast majority of revenue and margin impact from the ransomware attack to be in the second quarter. However, ongoing remediation costs will ensue through subsequent quarters. We will disclose the financial impact to you on a quarterly basis to ensure appropriate visibility,” he said.

“Ransomware attacks are becoming all too frequent across industries. We are using this experience as an opportunity to refresh and strengthen our approach to security. We are already applying what we’ve learned to further harden and strengthen our security environments and we are further leveraging our external security experts to help inform and guide our long-term security strategy. Cybersecurity will continue to be a top priority for us in the years ahead,” he added.(Source: The Hindu Businessline)

Glitch in DoT eClearance May Hit Tower Installation

Sony India Feels the Heat from Chinese Cos, Cuts Over 120 Jobs A technical glitch in the telecom department’s online clearance system for setting up of mobile infrastructure could push back installation of some 50,000 towers and base stations by several months if not rectified soon.

Industry executives said the glitch has led to a backlog of over 100,000 applications as the clearances are now being processed manually. Staff availability issues because of back-to-back lockdowns have compounded the problem. This comes at a time when carriers are trying to boost network capacities to meet a surge in data demand as millions are working from home amid the coronavirus crisis.

Telecom operators need approval from the standing advisory committee on radio frequency allocation (SACFA) on the height and location of towers and base stations they plan to install. The approval is a must to ensure tower sites and base stations don’t fall in restricted zones near airports and don’t cause any radio interference.

“The sudden move (in the SACFA approval process) from online to manual mode due to unforeseen events on the WPC website has led to a backlog in approvals for applications submitted, and the manual process has become more difficult due to the Covid-19 outbreak,” Rajan Mathews, director general of COAI, told ET. (Source: Economic Times)

WFH may Find Permanent Home in IT Contracts

Sony India Feels the Heat from Chinese Cos, Cuts Over 120 Jobs NEW DEAL IT cos may cut onsite talent with more work-from-home clauses in fresh contracts. Fresh contracts with IT clients will have more work-from-home clauses going forward, analysts said.

This will prompt technology services providers to cut onsite talent, they said.

Software services exporters, including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Cognizant, Wipro, HCL Tech and Tech Mahindra, have predominantly moved Indian engineers onsite to debug technology issues or to co-innovate.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic however, more work-from-home clauses are likely to disrupt the current service delivery model.

“It is highly likely that we will have work-from-home clauses in the MSA (Master Service Agreement). The work from home model during the Covid-19 crisis has been a revelation for both clients as well as service providers, with both parties looking to adopt it to some measure going forward,” said Peter Bendor-Samuel, chief executive of IT consultancy Everest Group.

The crisis and resultant surge in people working from home could also free up key talent onsite, especially in the large IT markets, the United States and Europe.

“It seems likely that Covid-19 (outbreak) will both decrease the demand for this talent as well as free up some additional talent in these markets. If this proves to be the case, we can expect more work to move back onshore and away from the IT service providers,” Bendor-Samuel said.

TCS has already indicated that nearly three-fourths of its employees will work remotely in five years Other companies, however, say it is too early to arrive at a conclusion since many new models are being discussed.

“It is too early to say it is going to be mandatory for all contracts. It is a decision taken by more than two parties – service provider and the client. We need regulatory changes in India and the partner countries,” C P Gurnani, CEO of Tech Mahindra, told ET. Many ideas are evolving, said Saurabh Govil, chief human resources officer of Wipro, when asked whether work from home provisions in contracts will weigh on the pricing of services.

“If it is remote, it can be (from) anywhere. The idea of having employees onsite was (to be) next to the customers. A number of debates are emerging; do we need some employees permanently working from (home), do we need the whole workforce to come to office and how comfortable our customers are.” Phil Fersht, chief executive of HfS Research, believes work-from-home clauses in contracts will be disruptive.

“I see 10-25% of future contracts in IT services using work at home components, especially for onshore work at home needs. So, it will be disruptive to the global model,” he said, adding that it would also provide “additional access to skills”.

Tech services vendors have also started to capitalise on the new remote working model to win fresh contracts. (Source: Economic Times)

Digital transformation is no longer an option, it is essential for survival: SAP Labs India MD

Telcos Estimate AGR Dues at Half the DoT DemandSAP Labs India is German enterprise software giant SAP’s second-largest development centre. SAP’s Indian operations have nearly 13,000 employees and over 11,000 customers, including 9,205 in the SME segment. In an interview with BusinessLine, Sindhu Gangadharan - Senior Vice President and Managing Director, SAP Labs India, spoke about how the company plans to transition through the difficult phase following the coronavirus pandemic. Excerpts:

Analysts are saying that the ‘new normal’ will be all about how tech companies engage with their clients. What are the major changes that you foresee post-Covid-19?

The Covid-19 situation abruptly pushed companies and employees to adapt to a new working model. In India, working from home was not widely accepted. However, overnight, customers and companies had to get comfortable with online communication, collaboration and delivery. In doing so, companies will realise that a digital transformation is no longer an option, but essential to their survival. They will also realise that only by transforming into an intelligent enterprise can they future-proof their operations against disruptions.

What are the initiatives that have been taken to maintain business continuity?

At SAP, our customers are always on top of our mind. With 77 per cent of the world’s transactions touching an SAP system, we’re ensuring that our customers’ business systems are always operational. SAP business, support, and cloud delivery teams have developed and documented business continuity plans to respond to disruptive incidents, such as Covid-19 while safeguarding the health of our employees and minimising the impact on the delivery of services to our customers. We have been entrusted by our customers to run their mission-critical business processes. Now, a majority of our employees are working from home, an option that we have provided to employees over the years, hence the transition was seamless. For business-critical work onsite, for example at our data centre locations, there are rotating schedules where a reduced number of designated people spend minimum time. We remain in constant contact with our large network of suppliers to maintain service levels. For our supply operational resources, we are focused on scheduling and in-office practices to reduce the impact of any potential event. We also maintain a database of updates and feedback from suppliers to ensure we can quickly locate and confirm documented information outlining the Covid-19 protocols and practices.

SAP’s digital supply chain solution, which reduces the inventory and working capital, improves profitability and customer services, could turn out to be a major engine for growth for the company. What kind of traction do you see for such a solution?

Digital supply chain management is a growing market. A report from Transparency Market Research anticipates the market for global supply chain management solutions to expand at a CAGR of 11.2 per cent during the forecast period from 2018 to 2026 and to reach a value of $32.9 billion by 2026. The benefits of our supply chain software include being able to provide customers with operational visibility and intelligence to manage their entire supply chain digitally, future-proof their business and execute flawlessly today.

Will SAP Labs in India look at salary reductions and job cuts. Will operations shrink considerably from here?

We put employees at the centre of everything we do; we hold our valued employees in our hearts and want to assure them that we have their backs as we deal with this crisis. We are fully committed to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our employees. This is our top priority in order to maintain the business continuity needed to provide the support and service for the customers who rely on SAP. To paraphrase our CEO Christian Klein, it is important now for our employees to focus on our customers.

Will SAP Labs in India allow more employees to work from home post-Covid-19? What are the employee safety initiatives and collaborative tools for remote working that have been unveiled?

SAP Labs India has always been ahead of the curve when introducing forward-looking policies for employees. We were one of the earliest companies to introduce flexible working hours and work-from-home option. Before the lockdown was announced, we took proactive measures to safeguard the health and safety of our employees by making work-from-home mandatory and moving all our events and initiatives to virtual platforms. We make remote working easier through applications for communication, group work and data backup. To keep our employees’ spirits high, we have introduced SAP Come Alive initiative which delivers online fun, wellness and motivational programmes.

In your recent blog, you have mentioned that the future of work will have to be more agile, flexible and secure. What are the steps SAP is taking to ensure that this happens across the board?

At SAP, agility and flexibility have always been a part of the work culture. SAP has consistently been identified as an employer of choice due to the forward-looking and innovative policies that we have introduced in our journey towards becoming the workplace of the future. We have created a workplace where our employees can do meaningful and rewarding work. We understand that advances in artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and big data are making a profound impact on how we work, learn, communicate and collaborate, thus we are leveraging the power of these technologies to make our workplace more agile, flexible and secure. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

TELEC Formally Adopts Anritsu 5G NR RF Test System

Telcos Estimate AGR Dues at Half the DoT DemandAnritsu Corporation is pleased to announce that the Telecom Engineering Center (TELEC) foundation has formally adopted Anritsu's 5G New Radio RF Conformance Test System ME7873NR for 5G technical regulations conformity certification of the Radio Law, and applied to certification test.

TELEC has long been an industry leader in certification and testing of radio equipment and provides various services, such as technical regulations conformity certification, social contribution business, etc., not only in Japan but also in other major countries.

Anritsu, which has contributed to TELEC's domestic “technical regulations conformity certification” business so far, has provided ME7873NR as a test system for wireless devices for 5G, domestic commercial services of which began in 2020.

The ME7873NR is an RF test platform for 5G NR terminals; while supporting RF/RRM conformance tests and carrier acceptance tests, it also has a full range of versatile functions for efficient RF R&D.

Product Outline
The New Radio RF Conformance Test System ME7873NR is an automatic test system for implementing 5G NR RF/RRM tests in compliance with the 3GPP TS38.521/TS38.533 standards. It will support both the 5G NR Standalone (SA) and Non-Standalone (NSA) modes, and combination with the 5G OTA (CATR) chamber covers both the Sub-6 GHz and mmWave frequency bands used by 5G. Operators with the previous ME7873LA supporting LTE, LTE-Advanced (LTE-A), LTE-A Pro, and earlier W-CDMA RF as well as carrier acceptance tests can easily upgrade to the new 5G platform while maintaining a flexible system configuration meeting their measurement needs. (Source: Convergence Plus)

Working from Home Because of COVID-19? These Tools Will Boost Your Productivity!

Telcos Estimate AGR Dues at Half the DoT DemandMost of us are facing a compulsory lock-down on account of the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic has caused massive loss of life and has impacted several global economies.

Keeping the safety of the population in mind, the Government of India has announced a complete lockdown of various states and advised companies to permit employees to work from home. Corporates are worried about this diktat lowering employee productivity, considering work-from-home issues like poor connectivity, cybersecurity, remote collaboration, data allocation, etc.

This presents an ever-increasing need to be prepared for unexpected situations. Across the world, companies are starting to see the value in well-thought-out business continuity plans to keep their employees safe and ensure that their business can run smoothly if another situation occurs.

With so many companies now scrambling for viable solutions that will help the shift from working on-site to working remotely, what they have to keep in mind is not just solving the issue of remote working, but rather, how to do so conveniently.

By leveraging the right blend of efficient tools and innovative software, one can make the remote working experience seamless and productive.

• Virtual Meeting Tools - One of the first steps to bridging the gap is making meetings simpler, especially since remote working typically leads to more meetings in a day. Beyond just getting the virtual meeting platform in place, though, newer concepts like ‘Bring Your Own Meeting’ (BYOM) are rising in prominence as they are important for employee experience and to make remote meetings seamless. These solutions, such as Barco ClickShare Conference, allow hosts to hold a conference call from their personal device using their preferred conferencing solution (e.g. Microsoft Teams, Webex, Zoom and many more) and connect to the equipment available in the meeting space, just by plugging in – no dial-in or PINs needed. Attendees can simply plug in the Barco ClickShare Conference button and all video and audio streams will be received on their device, helping to reduce the overall time it takes to set up an online meeting vastly. It is a natural progression from BYOD and is the next level in workplace meeting productivity.

• Wireless Connectivity and Voice Assistant Devices (VADs): While working from home, it is easier to maintain productivity and continuity if you have uninterrupted wireless connectivity and use a voice assistant device. MediaTek is a leading semiconductor technology innovator offering various solutions in the area of wireless home, connectivity and networking. Their tightly integrated range of products such as Home Networking (VADs and Smart TVs) and Broadband - Wi-Fi play a vital role in ensuring uninterrupted connectivity while working from home. Voice Assistant Devices form the point of communication between users and all the interconnected devices. For instance, the Amazon Echo Dot, powered by MediaTek, connects to Alexa – a cloud-based voice service, and can be used to streamline work chores as it allows you to stay on track, make appointments, fill your agenda, set reminders and make phone calls. Google Nest is another viable option.

• Cloud Storage – Cloud storage platforms permit users to store and share files, including pertinent documents, spreadsheets and slide presentations, in one secure and centralized location. Furthermore, employees across the globe can access and update the files stored in such drives as the system can be synced across devices, ensuring efficient collaboration and teamwork. Some of the popular drives you can access include Google Drive, OneDrive and MS Teams.

• Project Management Software – These tools enable you to visually plan, control, and schedule your projects and can help you in developing an accurate illustration of your tasks and projects. Software like Instagantt, Wrike and GoodDay help streamline your daily workflow and allow effective collaboration with your team members, making these perfect fits for remote working.

• Time Trackers Solutions – When working from home, it is difficult to keep track of your tasks and the time being spent on each. In this situation, a time-tracking application for the entire team, like Time Doctor, Hubstaff, Harvest, etc. allows employers and employees to monitor team as well as personal output, encouraging employees to be more productive and accountable during their work hours. Features like alerts for important messages help avoid distractions, thus boosting productivity during work-from-home.

With no known cure for the pandemic and the authorities taking all efforts possible to contain its spread, it remains to be seen how long the remote working situation will last. As we wait for things to go back to normal, these tools will help you tackle difficulties related to remote working and help you be more productive and efficient. (Source: Convergence Plus)

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