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Friday, May 24, 2019
Chinese shout 'Boycott Apple' as US goes after Huawei

As the Washington-Beijing trade war intensifies along with fresh restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei in the US, there has been a significant rise in "Boycott Apple" movement in China.

As the Washington-Beijing trade war intensifies along with fresh restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei in the US, there has been a significant rise in "Boycott Apple" movement in China.

According to BuzzFeed News, there has been a flurry of anti-Apple and anti-Trump messages on Weibo, China's version of Twitter.

"I feel guilty watching the trade war. Once I have money I will change my smartphone (iPhone)," one user posted on Weibo.

"I think Huawei's branding is amazing, it chops an apple into eight pieces," read another post.

China has urged the US to stop "harassing overseas companies" and slammed US President Donald Trump's decision to sign a national emergency order that prohibits American firms from using foreign-made equipment, citing espionage fears.

The US move, which effectively takes aim at Chinese telecom giant Huawei, comes as the two economic superpowers are locked in a bitter unending trade war.

Chinese telecom giant Huawei has said that it is still open to addressing US security concerns.

"The functions in Huawei are comparable to Apple iPhones or even better. We have such a good smartphone alternative, why are we still using Apple?" said one user on Weibo.

This isn't the first time that the "Boycott Apple" movement has gained traction in China.

Chinese companies in December last year rallied behind the tech giant, offering hefty discounts to employees to buy Huawei devices and shun iPhones.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the move came after the detention of Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the request of American prosecutors.

Over 20 Chinese companies also took to social media to announce that they will increase purchases of other Huawei products.

A Chinese court in December banned the sale and import of most iPhone models after granting Qualcomm an injunction against Apple.

To avoid the ban, Apple released a small update to iOS, saying that iOS version 12.1.2 contains software changes exclusive to China. (Source:ETTelecom)

Ecommerce companies Flipkart, Amazon log out of deep discounts

Online marketplaces treading cautiously after February tweak in ecommerce policy. Deep discounts offered on India’s two largest ecommerce marketplaces, Walmart-owned Flipkart and Amazon, have vanished for over three months now, said executives from leading consumer companies.

Nothing is sold below cost price anymore, they said, though discounts may be more on private label products owned by the marketplaces, which are treading cautiously after the revised foreign investment policy for ecommerce came into effect in February.

The two marketplaces have decided to take it slow, at least until the next government takes charge, hoping to fend off the offline trade lobby, which is a massive vote bank and has been lobbying with the government and political parties against deep discounts online, said four executives of leading companies.

Some executives said it’s a sign that the online marketplaces are maturing and targeting profitability.

The executives from consumer electronics, mobile phone, fashion and lifestyle companies said the quantum of online discounts has been scaled down by 10-30% between February and mid-May as compared to the same period last year.

ECOMM COS EYEING PROFITABILITY

The categories account for about 80% of the total ecommerce business in India. The level of discounts has come down even though both Amazon and Flipkart, flush with funds, periodically run promotional sales, they said.

“Deep discounts have stopped completely,” said Puma India MD Abhishek Ganguly. He said the discounts offered in the marketplaces were down by 11-14% in the January to March period.

There’s been an increase in products sold at full price or at a reduced markdown, said J Suresh, CEO of Arvind Lifestyle Brands, which has in its portfolio brands including Arrow, Tommy Hilfiger and Aeropostale. However, he said he would be cautious about whether the trend of subdued discounts would continue in upcoming sales.

Apart from the revised foreign investment norms, ecommerce companies may be increasingly looking at profitability of their operations, the executives said.

Walmart is keen to drive profitability at Flipkart. Amazon has reduced its stake in its two main sellers, Cloudtail and Appario, from 49% to 24% to comply with the revised norms. With Indian promoters now in the driver’s seat, they may want profitable growth, the executives said.

An Amazon India spokesperson said prices for products on its online platform are set by sellers.

“We work hard and continually innovate to offer services such as Fulfilment by Amazon, Easy Ship and Seller Flex to sellers on our marketplace that enables them to significantly lower their cost of selling and reducing defects as they sell to a nationwide customer base,” the spokesperson said.

Emails sent to Flipkart, Cloudtail and Appario remained unanswered till press time Wednesday.

The average selling price has improved this year due to lower discounting of 10-20%, said Avneet Singh Marwah, CEO of Super Plastronics, the maker of Thomson and Kodak TV sets in India.

ONLINE SALES SLOW DOWN
Price erosion for products sold online has narrowed even though sales growth has been easing since January, said Gunjan Srivastava, MD of BSH Household Appliances, which sells Bosch and Siemens appliances. The market has slowed but the quantum of discounting has come down, including on exchange offers, said Manmohan Ganesh, COO of BPL, which sells TVs and refrigerators online.

“The marketplaces have realised that just dropping prices will not push sales,” he said.

Apart from lower exchange values, the offer of instant bank discounts has been tightened in online marketplaces by raising the minimum eligible cart value. Amazon offered an additional 10% instant bank discount on total purchases of Rs 3,000 in a single bill during its sale last week, while for Flipkart’s ongoing sale, it is Rs 4,999. Last year, the minimum cart value for such offers was about Rs 2,500.

Puma’s Ganguly said despite the tightening discounts, the company’s sales increased by 16% on Flipkart and 21% on Amazon between January and March.

OFFLINE LOBBY HAPPY
The lower discounts being offered online now are in stark contrast to those of the past few years, including Diwali sales in 2018, when ecommerce companies cannibalised sales in brick-and-mortar stores.

Now, the offline lobby isn’t complaining. All India Mobile Retailers Association president Arvinder Khurana said online discounting on smartphones has come down, although it remains to be seen if this will end after the next government takes over or continue until Diwali.

An executive with a leading onlinefocussed mobile phone maker said discounts offered earlier were meant to catch eyeballs. “But now they want to target existing customers who too have matured,” he said. (Source: Economic Times)

How YouTube engineers plotted to kill Internet Explorer 6

A former Google employee has revealed how a group of engineers plotted to kill Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 on its YouTube platform nearly 10 years ago.

A former Google employee has revealed how a group of engineersplotted to kill Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 on its YouTube platform nearly 10 years ago.

According to a report in The Verge on Saturday, YouTube in 2009 started displaying a banner to Internet Explorer 6 users, warning that support for Microsoft's browser would be "phasing out" soon.

Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006.

Frustrated by supporting the aging browser, "we began collectively fantasizing about how we could exact our revenge on IE6", revealed Chris Zacharias, a former Google and YouTube engineer.

"The plan was very simple. We would put a small banner above the video player that would only show up for IE6 users," he was quoted as saying.

The message appeared on all YouTube pages - "at a time when IE6 users represented around 18 per cent of all YouTube traffic".

YouTube engineers created a special set of permissions called "OldTuber", so they could bypass Google's code enforcement policies and make changes directly to the YouTube codebase with limited code reviews.

"We saw an opportunity in front of us to permanently cripple IE6 that we might never get again," Zacharias said.

Two Google lawyers wanted to know why YouTube had the banner in place.

"They immediately demanded that we remove the banner," said Zacharias.

"The lawyers were worried that Chrome was being promoted first as an alternative browser, prompting fears about EU regulators looking for anti-competitive behavior," the report noted.

YouTube engineers, however, had programmed the banner to randomly display browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer 8 and Opera.

The result was a massive dip in Internet Explorer 6 traffic to YouTube.

"Within one month, our YouTube IE6 user base was cut in half and over 10 per cent of global IE6 traffic had dropped off while all other browsers increased in corresponding amounts," informed Zacharias.

Google Chrome web browser, which is the leader today, was first released in September 2008 for Windows XP and later, with 43 supported languages, in December 2008. (Source: ETTelecom)

France Telecom goes on trial over wave of suicides

A decade after a wave of suicides at France Telecom in which 35 employees took their own lives, the telecoms giant and its former CEO go on trial Monday for "moral harassment".

A decade after a wave of suicides at France Telecom in which 35 employees took their own lives, the telecoms giant and its former CEO go on trial Monday for "moral harassment".

The case will look at what was behind the deaths that occurred between 2008 and 2009 when Didier Lombard was at the helm of the company, which is today known as Orange.

The trial opens at the Paris criminal court nearly seven years after Lombard and France Telecom were charged with harassment in what was a first in France.

Also in the dock are a handful of former senior executives accused of harassment and others facing charges of complicity in a trial which will likely be closely followed by business, unions and workforce experts.

Expected to last more than two months, it could result in a conviction for institutional psychological harassment.

Despite France's labour laws, which are some of the strongest in the world, depression, long-term illness, professional burnout and even suicide have become increasingly common.

Unions and management accept that 35 France Telecom employees took their own lives between 2008 and 2009 and Lombard stepped down as a result of the deaths.

Formerly a public company, France Telecom was privatised in 2004, a move which led to major restructuring and job losses.

Prosecutors say the company and its chief executive at the time introduced a policy of unsettling employees in order to induce them to quit.

- 'Climate of anxiety' - During the investigation, magistrates focused on the cases of 39 employees, 19 of whom killed themselves, 12 who tried to commit suicide and eight who suffered from acute depression or were signed off sick as a result of it.

In July 2008, a 51-year-old technician from Marseille killed himself, leaving a letter accusing the bosses of "management by terror". Two months later, a 32-year-old woman jumped out of the window of her Paris office as horrified colleagues looked on.

Lombard, who served as chairman and chief executive between 2005-2010, inflamed the situation with remarks that came off as extremely callous, admitting he had committed "an enormous gaffe" when he speaking of a "suicide fad".

The remark was seen as a final straw, and he resigned in March 2010.

The investigating magistrates' summary of charges, a copy of which was seen by AFP, it says Lombard put in place "a corporate policy aimed at undermining the employees. by creating a professional climate which provoked anxiety".

It outlined multiple haphazard restructures, forcing people to move around geographically and repeatedly pushing incentives for them to resign. - 'Management through social violence' - Also on trial is Louis-Pierre Wenes, Lombard's former number two and Olivier Barberot, who handled human resources, with another four facing charges of "complicity".

If convicted, they could face a year behind bars and a 15,000-euro fine.

And France Telecom could be slapped with a 75,000-euro sanction if found guilty of "moral harassment" which is defined as "frequently repeated acts whose aim or effect is the degradation of working conditions".

Sebastien Crozier, who heads the CFE-CGC Orange union said the trial was about the use of "social violence as a method of management".

For Marie Peze, a psychologist who specialises in workplace distress, the trial raises one key question.

"In 2019, with suicides among farmers, police and nurses.. what is the human cost of work?" (Source:ETTelecom)

Bengaluru may face disruption in telecom services as municipal body, industry spar over payments

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has ordered to cut telecom cables laid over the ground. Telecom service providers said the cables were laid overhead temporarily due to road construction work and they have already paid the fees for laying them under the ground

People in Bengaluru may face call drops and disruption in internet services as the local municipal body and telecom players are at loggerheads over payment issues.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has ordered to cut telecom cables laid over the ground, citing them to be non-compliant with existing norms, and has demanded fees from companies to lay them underground.

However, telecom service providers said the cables were laid overhead temporarily due to road construction work and they have already paid the fees for laying them under the ground.

A BBMP official told PTI that it was disconnecting only those optical fibre cables which were unauthorised.

"We have incurred huge financial losses because of the unauthorised cables. Several times we had warned the telecom companies to get the cables regularised and should be laid in as per regulations but they ignored our warnings. We were left with no option but to disconnect them," the officer said.

He added that telecom companies still have the chance to disclose the cables they have laid and get them regularised by paying the prescribed fees. The officer said most of the cables were laid overhead and were dangling from trees, which had caused many accidents in the past.

Meanwhile, telecom industry body COAI said they were authorised temporarily to lay cables aerially as road construction work was going on that frequently damaged cables and they have already paid fees for laying them underground.

"BBMP is demanding right of way charges again to lay telecom cables underground. We have already paid fees and the cables were laid overground temporarily after permission from BBMP.

"We asked them to put the order on hold and give us time to put them underground as cable cut will lead to disruption in services which is already on red alert after terror attack in Sri Lanka," COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has approached Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan over the issue.

"After telecom secretary's intervention, we met Karnataka State Chief Secretary along with representatives from Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

"The chief secretary has asked BBMP to resolve the matter. We will be meeting BBMP commissioner on Tuesday and hope the matter will be resolved amicably," Mathews said. (Source: Mint)


Trai aims to fix ‘regulatory imbalance’ through OTT consultation

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) intends to tackle the “regulatory imbalance” between mobile phone companies and over-the-top (OTT) applications which provide communication services similar to telecom operators such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Google, riding carriers’ networks, through an ongoing consultation process.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) intends to tackle the “regulatory imbalance” between mobile phone companies and over-the-top (OTT) applications which provide communication services similar to telecom operators such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Google, riding carriers’ networks, through an ongoing consultation process.

“In the OTT consultation, our focus is on the regulatory imbalance from the perspective of telecom operators,” Trai chairman RS Sharma told ET.

The consultation has a limited scope, Sharma said, since the issues surrounding discriminatory pricing and net neutrality have already been sorted out.

Trai is currently focusing only on the regulatory issues and economic concerns that can be associated with apps which provide same or similar services as the telecom service providers, he said.

The regulator is holding an open house discussion in Bengaluru on April 24, followed by one in Delhi next month.

The Trai chairman said telcos say that they are licensees and have restrictions and comply with law enforcement agencies as well unlike communication OTT players, which leads to a regulatory imbalance. Such apps, he said, are considered “free riders” on telecom networks. “It may not be true to call OTT apps merely free riders. Customers ultimately end up paying the data charges for the services they use,” he said.

App companies reject the claim that they are unregulated, saying they are regulated under the IT Act and that any move to regulate them like the telcos will stifle innovation.

Trai is expected to come out with a new OTT framework by the middle of this year.

Since 2015, there has been a demand from telcos to bring OTT apps providers such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and Google – which have witnessed a massive growth in usage – under the regulatory ambit.

The OTT content market in India is at an inflection point and is expected to touch $5 billion by 2023, the Boston Consulting Group said recently.

Trai has already come out with directives barring discriminatory pricing of data services and has also issued recommendations on net neutrality which have been approved by the government and incorporated in telecom licenses.

In November 2018, the regulator decided to re-initiate a separate consultation on whether or not to regulate communication apps.

The regulator’s decision to rekindle the OTT debate was prompted by the fast-evolving nature of the sector and changes in the regulatory and policy framework since it first began consultations in March 2015. It said its latest paper had factored in the views of stakeholders provided in the 2015 discussion paper on the subject. (Source: ETTelecom)

Rs 25K cr rights issue not enough for Vodafone Idea: Experts

Huawei CFO sues Canada for wrongful detention As telecom major Vodafone Idea (VIL) opened its rights issue on Wednesday for the next two weeks with an aim to raise Rs 25,000 crore, sector experts say the fund would not be enough for the company given its high debt and the highly-competitive market.

As telecom major Vodafone Idea (VIL) opened its rights issue on Wednesday for the next two weeks with an aim to raise Rs 25,000 crore, sector experts say the fund would not be enough for the company given its high debt and the highly-competitive market.

In the meantime, Bharti Airtel too has announced that on April 24 its committee for fund infusion would decide on the shareholders who would be able to participate in its rights issue for around Rs 25,000 crore.

Analysts say Airtel is in a better financial position than Vodafone Idea and unlike the newly-merged entity, the amount raised from the rights issue by Sunil Bharti Mittal-led Airtel would be sufficient for the time being.

Vodafone Idea is offering 2,000 crore shares at a price of Rs 12.50 apiece. The entitlement ratio of the issue, which will close on April 24, has been fixed at 87 rights shares for every 38 currently held.

Under rights issue, existing shareholders are offered to purchase additional stock shares, known as subscription warrants, in proportion to their existing holdings.

In a rights offering, the subscription price at which each share may be purchased is generally discounted relative to the current market price. Rights are often transferable, allowing the holder to sell them in the open market.

"Vodafone idea is very stretched because their Ebitda has fallen to about $650 million(around Rs 4,495 crore), their debt is also quite high and their leverage as measured by debt-to-Ebitda too is high," Nitin Soni, Director for corporate ratings at Fitch Ratings, told IANS. He said that Airtel is a diversified company and has operations in Africa as well while Vodafone Idea is a telecom-specific company which has severely deteriorated its financials.

"In that light, their (Airtel's) equity injection is sufficient and they are going to raise another $3 billion from African IPO and sale of assets, but for Vodafone idea it is insufficient and they might have to raise more money in future because their capex plan is about $3.5-4 billion," Soni said.

He added: "They (Vodafone Idea) need to invest heavily to avoid any network congestion and their Ebitda has fallen much more than Bharti's. So all in all they would probably need more equity, or stake or sale of other assets".

According to the company's promoter shareholders, Vodafone Group and Aditya Birla Group have confirmed their participation of up to Rs 11,000 crore and up to Rs 7,250 crore, respectively, in the rights issue.

"It is not compulsory that the rights issues of companies are fully subscribed over time, it is up to the market conditions and existing shareholders, and whether they rely on the management and the future expansion plans of the company," said Manish Yadav, Head of Research, CapitalAim.

Amit Gupta, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Trading Bells, said the fund would work for two or three quarters but the company would require additional infusion after that.

"Vodafone Idea has a overall debt of Rs 1,23,000 crore with a gross debt-to-Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) ratio of 33.30. After infusion of the equity capital through the rights issue, the debt would reduce to Rs 98,000 crore and its debt-to-Ebitda ratio would decline to 26.50 which would still be higher than that of its competitors Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio," Gupta said.

The company is also looking to sell its 11.5 per cent stake in Indus Towers in the next two to three months and raise around Rs 5,500 crore. Off late, apart from loss in revenue, Vodafone Idea has also lost a large number subscribers to both Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.

Vodafone Idea, the largest telecom operator in terms of subscribers, lost 35.87 lakh users taking its total base to 41.52 crore while both Jio and Airtel added to their subscriber base.

From the industry perspective, Prashant Singhal, Emerging Markets TMT Leader at Ernst & Young, said that although the rights issue would help in reducing the debt, the sector being a capital intensive industry, companies would continue to need capital for expanding and investing their networks.

He said that rationalisation of tariffs, which are extremely low currently, would give a much-needed boost to the sector, apart from the capital infusion. (Source: Economic Times)

RCom misses yet another payment of spectrum dues

Banks on a case in NCLAT to stop DoT from cancelling licences, spectrum. Reliance Communications missed its second straight spectrum payment, this time of about ₹281 crore, which fell due on April 5. However, the company is banking on a case in the appellate tribunal to stop the Department of Telecommunications from cancelling its licences and withdrawing the airwaves.

“RCom has missed its payments for the second time but we will await the court’s order to see if we need to challenge or find any other way of recovering the dues. Our hands are tied till then,” a senior DoTofficial said, asking not to be identified. The official was referring to a dispute between DoT and RCom over spectrum dues, which the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) is scheduled to hear on Monday.

RCom didn’t respond to ET’s emailed queries seeking comment on the matter.

The tribunal recently stayed DoT’s show-cause notice to RCom and asked the telco to explain why its licence and spectrum for Mumbai shouldn’t be withdrawn after defaulting on a ₹21crore spectrum payment that fell due in March.

RCom responded by saying it should be exempted from paying the dues because it was under a payment moratorium from an earlier appellate order related to a separate filing for insolvency and therefore, its licence cannot be revoked.

The telco also said the department was yet to return ₹2,000 crore of bank guarantees despite an appellate court’s orders. It said the DoT had encashed an excess of ₹750 crore of bank guarantees over the past few years, which must be returned as well.

RCom, under debt of ₹46,000 crore, has missed paying ₹21 crore for the spectrum in Mumbai, which fell due on March 13, and ₹281crore for eight circles, which was due on April 5. Both dates included a 10-day grace period. The operator has to pay ₹492 crore for 13 circles later this month.

Withdrawal of RCom’s spectrum for non-payment of dues would likely hit the services of Reliance Jio Infocomm, which shares the airwaves in 21 circles. RCom and Jio’s spectrum-sharing deal is also under government scrutiny since DoT officials have said that it is disallowed in circles where there’s been a default in payment.

RCom and DoT have been waging many battles over spectrum dues and one-time spectrum charges. The Anil Ambani-owned operator has even blamed the government for scrapping the sale of its spectrum to Jio. (Source: ETTelecom)


IoT in healthcare at serious cyber-attack risk

Huawei CFO sues Canada for wrongful detention While the healthcare industry is rapidly adopting new-age technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve access and outcomes especially in the rural areas, companies must ensure that the technology acts with responsibility and transparency, say experts.

While the healthcare industry is rapidly adopting new-age technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve access and outcomes especially in the rural areas, companies must ensure that the technology acts with responsibility and transparency, say experts.

In recent years, India has seen IoT adoption in education, governance and financial services. The technology has also enabled doctors see and interact with patients in remote telemedicine centres - with the case history and medical data automatically transmitted to the doctor for analysis.

"India has an acute shortage of doctors which impacts both the quality and reach of healthcare services in rural and urban centres," John Samuel, Managing Director (health and public service) at Accenture, told IANS.

"A digital platform powered by advanced digital technologies can enable continuous remote patient monitoring and reporting, allowing hospitals to extend care to more people, and reduce the burden on healthcare infrastructure," Samuel added.

According to the "IoT India Congress 2018", the Indian IoT market is expected to grow from $1.3 billion in 2016 to $9 billion by 2020 across sectors such as telecom, health, vehicles and homes, among others.

It is emerging as the next big thing to become a $300 billion global industry by 2020 and India is all set to capture at least 20 per cent market share in the next five years, says a Nasscom report.

However, lack of basic security awareness among staff as well as state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions has made the healthcare industry a favourite target for hackers.

A 2016 report from cybersecurity firm SecurityScorecard found that healthcare is the fifth highest in ransomware counts among all industries, and more than 77 per cent of the entire healthcare industry has been infected with malware since August 2015.

Among them was the notorious WannaCry ransomware attack in 2016 which affected over 300,000 machines across 150,000 countries, including the UK's National Health Service (NHS).

"Despite suffering from ransomware attacks, organisations remain unprepared for the next round of large-scale attacks," Yariv Fishman, Head of Product Management (Cloud Security and IoT) at Check Point Software Technologies, told IANS in an email interaction.

Fishman pointed out that it is not mandatory for medical device manufacturers to include cybersecurity capabilities as part of their offerings.

Once integrated into a hospital, medical devices are fully utilised to meet patient care requirements.

As a result, even if a software patch that may prevent a potential cyber-attack is available, it usually takes lot of time for implementation.

Other reasons include old or unpatched operating systems and flat networks in which, guests, patients, doctors and connected medical devices, all share the same network.

To ensure security, medical device designers (particularly those with IoT components) should have a 360 degree view of the various parts of the network, said Fishman.

"They also need to segment parts of the network in order to contain malware attacks and mitigate the potential risk of one part of the network attacking other parts and integrate threat prevention solutions," he noted. (Source: ETTelecom)

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