Convergence Plus
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Microwave spectrum allocated to Jio, MTS as per norms

Microwave spectrum allocated to Jio, MTS as per norms'The national auditor neither mentioned the name of the company to which the microwave spectrum was allocated nor the loss estimates. The department of telecom allocated microwave spectrum to RelianceJio in 2015 and then to Sistema Shyam Teleservices without auction provisionally and in compliance with rules, highly placed government sources said in response to CAG allegations of wrongdoing. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report tabled in Parliament last week said microwave access (MWA) spectrum was allocated to a telecom operator in 2015 on first-come-first-served (FCFS) basis in contravention to the recommendations of a DoT-constituted committee, while 101 applications for microwave spectrum were pending with the government.

The national auditor neither mentioned the name of the company to which the microwave spectrum was allocated nor the loss estimates.

MWA spectrum is allocated to telecom operators for short distances to provide mobile services.

"Microwave access spectrum was allocated to Reliance Jio in 2015 and then to Sistema Shyam. The spectrum was allocated provisionally and with condition that they will have to pay market determined rate retrospectively whenever a decision is taken," a senior government official told .

The official said such spectrum was allocated administratively in the past to incumbent operators as well and in 2012 they did not agree to the new conditions, hence their request for fresh allocation of MWA spectrum was not met.

The official maintained that the stand of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for allocating spectrum to Reliance Jio was submitted to the CAG.

"MWA to other applicants were not allocated as Supreme Court had cancelled licence of most of the companies and they did not qualify for spectrum allocation," the official added.

The Supreme Court had in 2012 struck down FCFS policy in 2G spectrum allocation case of 2008-09 while cancelling 122 telecom permits that were granted spectrum through the process.

The CAG in its report said the DoT constituted a committee in December 2012 to look into the allotment of spectrum in various categories and proposed that spectrum allotment in microwave band to all operators should be done through market-related process that is auction.

"However, in contravention of the committee's recommendations, allocation of MW access spectrum has been done on FCFS basis till date as was being done for 2G licence and access spectrum till 2009," the report said.

The then telecom minister and present Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said every spectrum was allocated through auction during his tenure and he will look in to the anomalies pointed out by the CAG in spectrum allocation in 2015. (Source:ETTelecom)

CSI Cyber FIF-C, 2019

CSI Cyber FIF-C, 2019 The Computer Society of India (Mumbai Chapter) and Maharashtra Cyber (GoM) is organizing it’s 2nd edition The Cyber Frauds, Investigations and Forensics Conference (Cyber FIF-C) on the 24th and 25th of January 2019. This event is first of it’s kind since it will be focusing purely on the practical aspects of Cyber Frauds, Investigations, Forensics and Cyber Security. CSI has handpicked the speakers on their vast practical experience. This is a one-of-its-kind conference where Top Government Officials, CISOs, CIOs, Investigators, Forensics Experts and Cyber Lawyers will share their practical experiences. The conference is spread over two full days of learning, engagement, with more than 50 speakers and around 25 sessions.

More than 350 professionals like CISOs, CIOs, CXOs and other participants like Cyber Security Professionals, Forensic Professionals, Cyber Lawyers, Information Security Professionals from different Industry verticals are expected to attend the event.

Please find below program outline

See you on 24-25 January, 2019 at Victor Menezes Convention Center, IIT Bombay, Powai, Mumbai – 400076

Dr. Gupta Sureshchandra J.
Hon. Head, Computer Society of India, Mumbai Chapter

Matrix Comsec Announces Participation in Convergence 2019, to be Held in the PragatiMaidan, New Delhi from 29th - 31st Jan’19

Matrix Comsec Announces Participation in Convergence 2019, to be Held in the PragatiMaidan, New Delhi from 29th - 31st Jan’19 Matrix Comsec Announces Participation in Convergence 2019, to be Held in the PragatiMaidan, New Delhi from 29th - 31st Jan’19. Matrix Comsec to Highlight its New Video Conferencing Solution – PARISAT VC. Vadodara, 11th January 2019, Matrix Comsec has confirmed its participation in the 27th Convergence 2018, to be held in the PragatiMaidan, New Delhi from 29th - 31st January 2019. Matrix will be showcasing its complete range of Enterprise IP-PBXs, Unified Communication Server for Modern Enterprises, IP-PBX for SMB & SME,VoIP & GSM Gateways and new portfolio of IP Communication endpoints.

Matrix is well-known for its indigenous and innovative range of solutions for Unified Communications, IP Video Surveillance, Access Control, and Time-Attendance. Each of our solutions is specifically designed for large, multi-location enterprises, SME and SMB organizations. Matrix Comsec continuously works towards keeping abreast with the constantly upgrading technology by designing and manufacturing solutions that are equipped with the latest technology. Matrix will be presenting some of its indigenously engineered Telecom solutions at the 27th Convergence 2019 Meet.

Event Highlight
Matrix Comsecwill be showcasing its recently launched video conferencing solution – PARISAT VC as the highlight of the event. This Enterprise Meeting solution sets a new benchmark by offering enhanced video and voice capabilities. PARISAT meets the communication needs of modern enterprises to brainstorm ideas and devise effective strategies. Matrix PARISAT VC empowers organizations to make quick decisions and enhance customer experience.

Products and Solutions
Network Management solution – Matrix will be exhibiting its all-in-one solution for centralized control of every connected Matrix communication server and Gateway within a single network.

Rangeof Gateways - Based on SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), Matrix range ofGateways allows easy integration with most of IP-PBX, TDM PBX, Softswitch and Hosted solutions. These award winning series of Matrix Gateways are perfect for enterprise and carrier-class solutions. Starting from a single port VoIP adaptor to highdensity VoIP-GSM-PRI-FXO/FXS Gateways, Matrix Telecom Solutions align with all requirements of Small to Large Business. Preloaded with superior voice quality and state-of-the-art routing features, Matrix Gateways are ideal for multi-site connectivity, remote survivability and SIP trunking.

“Convergence India is a major technology event bringing ICT professionals on a common platform. Matrix is all set to showcase its latest Telecom solutions at Convergence this year. We look forward to meetingkey decision makers and service providersand give them a first-handexperience of our Telecom solutions that areredefining business communications and providinga competitive advantage to our customersworldwide.” said Ganesh Jivani, Managing Director, Matrix Comsec.

Learn more about Matrix Telecom solutions, by visiting us at booth #A10,Convergence 2019 scheduled from January 29th to 31st, Delhi.

Telecom revenue mop-up slips 22% in FY18 as earnings take a hit

Telecom revenue mop-up slips 22% in FY18 as earnings take a hitThe government’s revenue mop-up from the telecom industry fell by nearly 22% in FY18 due to a decline in service providers earnings from sale of services, amid a brutal tariff war, telecom minister Manoj Sinha told Rajya Sabha on Friday. Sinha said the industry’s adjusted gross revenue (AGR) fell 18.62% to Rs 1,30,844.9 crore in FY18 from Rs 1,60,787.9 crore in the previous fiscal, resulting in lower licence fees and spectrum usage charges (SUC), reflecting continuing financial stress.

AGR is the revenue that telcos derive from access services. They pay 8% of AGR as licence fee and roughly 5% as SUC — the two key revenue streams for the government. Revenue from licence fee declined 18.12 % to Rs 10,670.6 crore in FY18, from Rs 13,032.9 crore in FY17. “SUC receipts have also declined due to declining AGR,” Sinha said in a written reply to a query in the House.

SUC dipped over 29% to Rs 4,983.75 crore in FY18, from Rs 7,048 crore in the FY17, the minister said.

Sinha also cited the earlier report of an inter-ministerial group (IMG) on stressed assets in the telecom sector, which had noted, “Increased competition in the sector and entry of a new operator (read: Reliance Jio) led to free promotional offers, triggering a downward trend of tariffs and consequent decline in revenues.”

Jio’s disruptive entry in September 2016 and its relentless pricing aggression had forced older incumbent carriers to match rates to hold on to customers, in turn, eroding their revenue and profits.

That led to big-ticket consolidation, culminating in the mega Vodafone-Idea merger last August, as well as exits of several fringe players who could not withstand the brutal price wars.

In this context, Sinha said “the IMG had noted financial stress for some operators had been caused by low operating cash flows over a number of years, inadequate equity infusion and debt that does not appear sustainable.”

However, the minister said the IMG report also noted the entire sector was not in financial stress, and accordingly, the primary solutions to current problems would have to come internally from the telcos as they remained liable to service debt taken by them.

Sinha’s comments in Parliament come less than two months after the embattled Vodafone Idea (VIL) under intense financial pressure, having posted a whopping Rs 4,974-crore loss in the September quarter, had raised concerns about its ability to service debt that has ballooned to over Rs 1.15 lakh crore.

Vodafone Idea chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla recently met top finance ministry officials, flagging off the company’s woes and warning of a default on spectrum related payments which fall due in March 2019.

Separately, the telecom minister said the government has initiated steps to rein call drops by slapping a penalty of Rs 58 lakh on telcos, including erstwhile Idea CellularNSE 1.10 % (which merged with Vodafone India in August 2018) and staterun Bharat Sanchar Nigam.

“A penalty of Rs 4 lakh was imposed on BSNL in the June quarter while Rs 12 lakh was slapped on Idea during the same quarter,” the minister said.

Elaborating on financial disincentives imposed by the regulator on non-complaint providers against prescribed call drop benchmarks, Sinha said during the March quarter, a Rs 3-lakh penalty was imposed on BSNL, Rs 10.5 lakh on Idea, Rs 22.5 lakh on Tata TeleservicesNSE 1.27 % and Rs 6 lakh on erstwhile Telenor India (which was acquired by Bharti AirtelNSE 1.10 % last May).

However, the minister added that the call drops situation had improved with augmentation of telecommunications infrastructure and an increase in the base stations count to 20 lakh from 8 lakh in calender 2014.

Vodafone Idea to govt: No need to hold spectrum auction until 2020

Vodafone Idea to govt: No need to hold spectrum auction until 2020Amid a raging financial crisis in the industry, India's largest telecom operator Vodafone Idea has urged the telecom department not to hold spectrum auction till 2020, on the grounds that fresh need for quality radiowaves will arise only once the 5G ecosystem is ready, according to a government source. A letter to this effect has been written by Vodafone Idea Ltd to the Department of Telecom (DoT), said the source who did not wish to be named.

When contacted, Vodafone Idea Ltd in an e-mail said, "For 5G to work, a robust 4G network is a must. Accordingly, telecom service providers in India are currently focused on optimising 4G networks and making them 5G ready, for which they have sufficient spectrum."

Once the 5G ecosystem, including enabling hardware, develops and India-specific use cases are successfully piloted, a need for more quality spectrum will arise, the company said adding "this is likely to take up to 2020".

"In the interim, a diligent implementation of NDCP 2018 (National Digital Communications Policy) that rightly treats telecom as a critical enabler for a digital economy will help the financially stressed telecom sector strengthen. Going forward, spectrum must be made affordable such that it empowers the Indian telecom sector to fulfil its designated role of making broadband accessible to all and for achieving the larger vision of Digital India," said Vodafone Idea, in an email response to PTI.

The move comes at a time when a majority of telecom players are facing a financial turmoil. Over the past few years, India's telecom market had become cut-throat where nearly a dozen players jostled for market share, pummelling the call rates to amongst the lowest in the world. Competition has only intensified since 2016, when Reliance Jio Infocomm, owned by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, stormed into the market and offered free calls and dirt cheap data. This triggered consolidation in the industry - the most prominent being that of Vodafone and Idea.

In fact, the industry has been seeking urgent relief measures entailing debt restructuring, cut in levies, and release of GST input tax credit locked up with the government. Billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla, head of Vodafone Idea Ltd, had recently sent an SOS to the government for deferring statutory payments in a sector that is not generating enough cash to even service loans. The Vodafone Idea chief had also expressed concern over Rs 30,000 crore that is locked up on account of GST payment under 'reverse charge mechanism'. (Source: Economic Times)

$100 billion investment in telecom to add $1.2 trillion to India's GDP: Report

$100 billion investment in telecom to add $1.2 trillion to India's GDP: Report The investment of $100 billion in the Indian telecom industry as envisioned in the National Digital Communications Policy 2018 (NDCP) would result in an increase of $1.21 trillion in India's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on a cumulative basis, a report said here on Thursday.

Currently, India is a $2.5 trillion economy. The joint report by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations and Broadband India Forum also said that a 10 per cent hike in investment in the country's telecom sector may lead to an increase of 3.3 per cent in the country's GDP on an average.

"The multiplier effect of investment in communications implies that the $100 billion investment envisioned in the new policy could cumulatively add $1.21 trillion (Rs 78,90,711 crore) to the GDP over the duration of the proposed investment," the report said.

"These are significant impacts and yet could be underestimated given that penetration of internet is still below international levels," it added.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Department of Telecommunications stated: "While the first wave of mobile revolution heralded a new age of growth and dynamism to the economy, the second wave is now being led by the growth of internet subscribers and investments in telecommunication infrastructure, leading to exponential benefits to the economic and GDP growth."

It is critical therefore for states across India to leverage it to ensure greater direct and spill-over benefits, she added. (Source: Economic Times)

How Facebook uses 'WhatsApp phones' to tap next emerging market

How Facebook uses 'WhatsApp phones' to tap next emerging market Facebook Inc., WhatsApp’s parent, and India’s richest man, who started Reliance Jio, are teaming up to draw hordes of customers with cheap phones, rock-bottom rates and handy messaging services.

One recent afternoon in the Indian city of Pune, a 35-year-old mason named Om Prakash Gaekwad gets a crash course in technology. He watches a street-corner skit explaining the virtues of WhatsApp’s messaging service and Reliance Jio’s wireless network. He then climbs aboard a truck to find out how to set them up. Half an hour later, he’s made up his mind: He’ll upgrade to a new phone so he can negotiate masonry rates on WhatsApp -- and let his six-year-old play mobile games.

Such pitches -- part tutorial, part kitsch -- are boosting web adoption in what is already the world’s fastest-growing major internet market. Facebook Inc., WhatsApp’s parent, and India’s richest man, who started Reliance Jio, are teaming up to draw hordes of customers with cheap phones, rock-bottom rates and handy messaging services. Facebook’s role in all this is so central that, in rural regions, handsets with Net access are dubbed “WhatsApp phones.”

The two companies are building a massive user base that will boost their own fortunes. At the same time, they’re creating the foundation on which business like online retail, digital payments and food delivery can be built. Reliance Jio and WhatsApp wouldn’t comment directly on future plans, but experts see more collaboration as inevitable.

“It’s a natural alliance because it gives WhatsApp access to tens of millions of new customers through Reliance Jio,” said Nandan Nilekani, technology investor and co-founder of tech outsourcing giant Infosys Ltd. In turn, Reliance gets a lift because millions of neophytes see WhatsApp as the first step in entering the rest of the Internet.

India already has 480 million internet users -- about 75 percent more than the U.S. and second only to China. That figure is projected to grow to 737 million by 2022, according to Forrester Research Inc. “The next 500 million users are yet to be captured,” said Satish Meena, a forecast analyst at Forrester.

Facebook, reeling from crisis after crisis in the U.S., faces challenges in Asia too, such as criticism that it hasn’t done enough to combat the spread of violence in Myanmar. In India, its Free Basics, which offers a minimalist web for emerging markets, was banned for violating net neutrality, while WhatsApp has been used to circulate fake videos and rumors that have led to dozens of lynchings. The government has threatened legal action if the company doesn’t do more to clean up the problems.

The scandals have Facebook’s stock on pace for its worst annual performance since 2012, the year it made its public debut.

Yet India is evolving into perhaps its most promising opportunity. The country is already WhatsApp’s biggest market, with more than 200 million users -- so important that Chris Daniels has visited twice since becoming CEO in May. The messaging service is free to use, but Facebook charges businesses to communicate on the platform and is expected to introduce advertising. WhatsApp will become more crucial to Facebook’s bottom line as the social network matures.

“A lot of our growth is coming from markets in Asia; our top growth countries were India, Indonesia and the Philippines,” David Wehner, chief financial officer, said on the most recent earnings call.

Facebook’s recent momentum in India stems from its alliance with Mukesh Ambani, chief of the conglomerate Reliance Industries. In a seismic shake-up of the telecom industry, Ambani invested $35 billion to launch the country’s most advanced wireless network two years ago. He offered free voice calls and bargain-basement digital connectivity through inexpensive feature phones across India, appealing to those fazed by smartphones. Millions of impoverished Indians were yanked into the digital age almost overnight. Most of Ambani’s rivals -- including his own brother -- were quickly driven into irrelevance.

In just two years, his network has grown to more than 250 million subscribers, more than AT&T Inc. or Verizon Communications Inc. Ambani has aspirations to use this sprawling base to build his digital empire: He’s piloting a digital payments bank, moving into television and movies and exhibiting Bezos-like ambitions to dominate all aspects of e-commerce.

The pitch in Pune shows how Facebook and Reliance Jio operate. In the city’s teeming Kondhwa Market, a team of traveling performers dressed in green WhatsApp T-shirts reprise their skit throughout the day. It opens with a rowdy game of cricket, then friends share the excitement of taking selfies and creating WhatsApp friends’ groups. “Dhoom macha rakhi hai,” WhatsApp has created a big stir, said one performer.

There is a dark side, another points out. Forwarded videos can incite fear and hatred, shattering social unity. The performers warn about identifying fake messages, and quitting groups created by strangers. After government criticism, WhatsApp limits forwarding to five people per message.

As the skit nears its end, Mitesh Patil stands inside the open truck, ready to field questions from visitors. The chatty 19-year-old is taking a break from college to work as a “WhatsApp ambassador.” Aside from queries on how to download WhatsApp, he is asked about the JioPhone’s price and whether an old feature phone can be exchanged for new device. He directs them to Reliance stores nearby.

“Many people who can’t read and have no idea how an internet-ready phone works, came here asking to buy one and download WhatsApp,” says Patil. “An internet-connected mobile phone has become a basic necessity in India.”

As the sun sets over Pune, the crew takes their role-playing tutorial across the city to Handewadi Road, a busy warren of streets lined with middle-class homes. Within minutes, a crowd descends on the van. Among them is Sunita Kamble, a beautician who provides doorstep service. She’s been on the Jio network for 18 months, watching YouTube videos on body polishing, haircuts and makeup on her battered Oppo phone. “I saved 50,000 rupees by learning via the internet instead of taking a make-up course,” says the 37-year-old, with tunic pants, salwar kameez and a traditional bindi dot on her forehead.

Kamble is now ready for a big step: learning English and brushing up her cooking skills on a new JioPhone she intends to buy. “I can message my clients and schedule all my appointments on WhatsApp,” she said.

Still, there’s a note of caution in the air. Many customers leap from poverty and isolation to a digital age where messages can inflame religious and cast prejudices. That afternoon, the skit ends with a message in Hindi that plays on the word Jio, which means “to live,” and urges “respect and honor.” (Source:ETTelecom)

BSNL employee unions defer strike

BSNL employee unions defer strike The employee unions met Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan Sunday and observed improvement in some of the issues. All employee unions of BSNLSunday decided to defer their indefinite strike to December 10 if they fail to resolve issues in the proposed meeting with Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha.

The employee unions met Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan Sunday and observed improvement in some of the issues that they have been raising, such as allotment of 4G spectrum, pension revision and payment of pension contribution by BSNL as per the government rule.

All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB), however, said in a statement that they were not convinced with the reply of the secretary in respect to their demand on third pay revision.

The strike was earlier proposed to start from December 3.

"Under these circumstances, with the view to ensure an opportunity for having a discussion with the Hon'ble Minister of State for Communications, the AUAB has decided to defer the indefinite strike for one week," the statement said.

BSNL unions have been demanding allocation of 4G spectrum to the public sector firm so that it is able to compete in the market and keep up the market share.

The employees are also demanding wage revision as per recommendations of 2nd and 3rd pay revision committee.

"In case a fruitful settlement does not arise in the meeting with the Hon'ble Minister of State for Communications, the indefinite strike will start from 00:00 hours on 10-12-2018," AUAB said. (Source: ETTelecom)

Jio tops chart in terms of AGR in September quarter: TRAI data

Jio tops chart in terms of AGR in September quarter: TRAI data Reliance Jio has emerged as the top telecom service provider in terms of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) — earnings from mobile phone services —at ₹8,271 crore for the July-September quarter, according to TRAI data. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) latest data showed that newly-merged Vodafone Idea is second on the list with AGR market share of ₹7,528 crore, followed by Bharti Airtel at the third position with an AGR market share of ₹6,720 crore for the said quarter.

The government’s revenue share of licence and other fees is determined on the basis of the AGR from access services.

BSNL revenue market share stood at ₹1,284.12 crore in July-September. In the previous April-June 2018 quarter, Jio led the chart on standalone basis with ₹7,125.7 crore AGR. However, the combined AGR of Vodafone and Idea, which were in the process of merger, was more than that of Reliance Jio at ₹8,226.79 crore.

Separately, Vodafone’s AGR was ₹4,483.69 crore and that of Idea was 3,743.1 crore.

Bharti Airtel’s adjusted gross revenue was ₹6,723.5 crore.

Gross Revenue
In terms of gross revenue, Vodafone Idea led the chart with ₹13,542 crore. Airtel followed with ₹11,596 crore and Jio was at third position with GR of 10,738 crore. According to TRAI, Jio led the AGR market share in 11 out of 22 telecom circles, Airtel in six and Vodafone Idea in five. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

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