Convergence Plus
Sunday, March 18, 2018
India, Japan to introduce AI, robotics in defence sector

India, Japan to introduce AI, robotics in defence sectorIndia and Japan will work together to introduce artificial intelligence and robotics in the defence sector, the next level of strategic cooperation between the two Asian partners.

Kentaro Sonoura, Japan's state minister for foreign affairs and a close adviser to PM Shinzo Abe, told TOI in an exclusive chat, "You should expect to see increased bilateral cooperation between us to develop unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) and robotics."

The strategic sphere is where the bulk of India-Japan convergence lies. After the nuclear agreement was ratified by the Japanese parliament late 2017, Sonoura said India and Japan would be setting up a joint task force for commercial agreements by the end of January. With the legislation behind them, the Japanese minister said Tokyo was keen to get this going. "The two PMs agreed to launch a working group, which will work on cooperation between nuclear companies. Japan's intention is to start this quickly, possibly by the end of this month," he said.

With an aggressive and expansionist China growing as a challenge to both India and Japan, the two countries are increasingly looking at the world from a similar lens. While the latest buzzword in international geopolitics, 'Indo-Pacific', might sound American, its actually Japanese in origin, having been articulated by Abe himself as far back as 2007.

In 2018, Japan's is aiming for a "free and open Indo-Pacific", a theme Sonoura expounded on at the recent Raisina Dialogue. This, he told TOI, was a coming together of Japan's Indo-Pacific policy and India's Act East policy. "We need to share the importance of rule of law and freedom of navigation among related countries. The next step is infrastructure development based on global standards, so that connectivity among countries is increased. The third step would be maritime law enforcement and disaster management that would ensure the stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. Therefore, we would like to connect and combine our Indo-Pacific strategy and India's Act East policy as a one big picture. That's the synergy we seek," Sonoura said.

This is the kind of grand strategy that incorporates a stronger bilateral relationship as well as a multilateral one, between Japan-India-US, Japan-US-Australia and the Quadrilateral, Japan-US-India-Australia, seeking to tilt the strategic balance away from China.
Working with India in the quadrilateral, Sonoura said, the aims were slowly crystallising. "Among these four countries, we have the same standards in terms of maritime strategy and basic values. So it's important to realise these values - non-proliferation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Its important to utilise the strengths of these countries and use it. Rather than frameworks, its important what we can do - to create concrete results which should be visible to the world," he said. For India, the key aims of the quadrilateral is to come together on non-proliferation and on freedom of navigation.

To counter China's growing influence in India's neighbourhood, India has encouraged the presence of Japan and the US in South Asian countries, actions that might have elicited mild protests earlier. Consequently, New Delhi was remarkably quiet when Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono recently visited Pakistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, increasing Japanese presence in these countries. Japan has already ramped up its involvement in Bangladesh and Myanmar, both countries on China's radar.
Questioned on this, Sonoura said, "Foreign minister Kono visited Maldives for the first time and Sri Lanka for the first time in 15 years. Last year I visited Mauritius, Madagascar, Kenya and Mozambique. If you place this within the rubric of Japan's Indo-Pacific strategy, you will get the larger picture."

In Islamabad, Sonoura said, the Japanese message was clear that Pakistan had to take action on terrorism and terrorists. "With Pakistan, we have an older relationship. But in terms of counter-terrorism, our foreign minister told the Pakistanis they need to do more," he said. (Source: Times of India)

MPO Tester Tailored for Contractors Supporting Enterprises and Data Center Cabling:

MPO Tester Tailored for Contractors Supporting Enterprises and Data Center Cabling: "The industry's first dedicated optical loss test set that can perform all MPO Tier 1 (basic) test and certification requirements, including the need to test for length, optical loss, polarity and inspect fiber end-face condition. With the ability to meet all Tier 1 (basic) requirements in a single solution, the MPOLx helps technicians ensure a fast and reliable workflow, delivering comprehensive test results in less than 6 seconds for all 12 fibers.".

Vendors are requiring Tier 1 (basic) certification of MPO connectivity from end to end to ensure optical network performance and validate installation warranties.

MPOLx ensures fast & reliable test workflows:

  • Test all 12 MPO fibers in <6 seconds
  • Full test visibility & control at both the source & meter
  • 3.5”Colour Touch Screen
  • Available on Source & Meter
  • Both Source and meter show the same information

With the MPOLx, field technicians can perform all the necessary test requirements for Tier 1 (Basic) certification in a single solution:

  • Measure MPO length
  • Measure optical loss
  • Check polarity
  • Inspect fiber end faces
  • Generate certification reports

The Viavi Solutions Smart Class Fiber MPOLx is the industry’s first dedicated optical loss test set that can perform all the test requirements for Tier 1 (Basic) certification using MPO fiber connectivity. The MPOLx provides a source and power meter that integrate essential MPO test capabilities together to ensure a fast and reliable workflow when testing and certifying network links with native MPO connectivity.

Full Control and Visibility for Technicians

The MPOLx gives technicians the ability to achieve a completely new level of productivity for MPO testing and certification. Like all of our solutions for Tier 1 (Basic) fiber certification, identical local and remote units are provided to enable full visibility and control by performing tests from both the Light Source and Power Meter.

Inspect All Fibers in an MPO Endface

Contaminated connectors are the #1 cause for troubleshooting in optical networks. This problem has driven the industry and International Electro technical Commission (IEC) to release IEC 61300-3-35, these challenges are eliminated with Smart Class Fiber tools. Whether using an industry standard or customer-specific requirements, the MPOLx-85P and a P5000i probe microscope makes it easy.(Source: Convergence Plus)

Samsung partners with KDDI for the first 5G demo on a high-speed train

Samsung partners with KDDI for the first 5G demo on a high-speed trainSamsung Electronics has partnered with Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI for the first demonstration of 5G on a high-speed train. The partners conducted the world-first test on a train traveling at over 100km/h (over 60 mph) along a section of track where the distance between two stations was approximately 1.5km (nearly 1 mile).

While the distance is not as far as what consumers will be hoping for in terms of coverage along transport routes, it nevertheless shows that high-speed 5G data can be delivered to high-speed vehicles.

During the demonstration, the companies achieved a successful downlink and uplink handover as well as a peak speed of 1.7 Gbps. It was conducted in the city of Saitama in Japan, near Tokyo.

As 5G is yet to be finalised, KDDI used Samsung’s pre-commercial end-to-end solution composed of a 5G router (CPE), radio access unit (5G Radio), virtualised RAN, and virtualised core.

Yoshiaki Uchida, Senior Managing Executive Officer at KDDI, says: “In collaboration with Samsung, KDDI has opened up the possibility for new 5G vertical business models, such as a high-speed train. With 5G expected to bring railway services to a whole new dimension, the success of today’s demonstration in everyday locations such as a train and a train station is an important milestone indicating 5G commercialisation is near."

“To fulfill our aim to launch 5G by 2020, KDDI will continue exploring real-life scenario experiments for diverse 5G use and business cases together with Samsung.”

KDDI and Samsung tested potential new use cases for such high-speed mobile connectivity including uploading 4K video taken from a camera mounted on the train. An 8K video was downloaded via the on-board CPE showing the potential for operators and passengers alike.

“The potential that 5G holds is powerful enough to transform the landscape of our daily lives,” said Youngky Kim, President and Head of Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “The success of today’s demonstration is a result of our joint research with KDDI, which we will continue to pursue as we explore next generation networks and use cases. This will include research on diverse spectrums and technologies, as well as new business models and applications.” (Source:Telecomstechnews)

Smart OTU is an easy-to-deploy, scalable solution that monitors fibers used in all types of optical networks.

Smart OTU is an easy-to-deploy, scalable solution that monitors fibers used in all types of optical networks.Maintaining fiber integrity is critical, yet outages are still one of the major causes of network disruption, incurring millions of dollars of lost revenue. And, incidents of accidental dig-ups, vehicle collisions, and sabotage multiply as fiber moves deeper into data centers and storage area networks.

Smart OTU introduced by VIAVI and being marketed by Savitri Telecom Services has proved to be quite capable of taking care of above problem.

Combining a Viavi Solutions optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) with advanced optical-switch technology, Smart OTU monitors fibers longer than 150 km in all directions. Modular in design, it monitors both dark and lit fiber and it is ideal for network security protection, pinpointing events such as fiber tapping to a few tenths of a decibel. Smart OTU is a standalone remote fiber test solution that can be deployed right out of the box with no training or IT configuration required.

Smart OTU does not require any additional server or software applications — a simple web browser is enough to access all functionality including mapping. Smart OTU displays the exact GPS location of a fault on widely-available, cloud-based mapping such as Google, Bing, or legacy GIS. SmartOTU is fully compatible with the Viavi optical network monitoring system (ONMSi) and can be upgraded to be a comprehensive remote fiber test system as the network grows.

Speeding Mean-Time-to-Repair with the Smart OTU Platform
The Challenge

The company asked their dark fiber vendor to dispatch a technician with a portable instrument to troubleshoot the network. However, it often took hours and even days to get a technician out in the field. Service troubleshooting and restoration was so poor in some areas that the company decided to find their own fiber monitoring solution to quickly pinpoint issues and push dark fiber vendors for faster mean-time-to-repair (MTTR).

The Solution

After learning of their challenges, a team led by Viavi Elite partner Butler Technologies and Viavi Solutions engineers suggested a solution: the Smart OTU platform for remote fiber test and monitoring. Smart OTU continuously monitors dark fiber and gives pinpointed locations of any fiber breaks or degradation. A real-time alarm alerts the company to any physical layer issue. With this data, the company could tell their dark fiber vendor the exact location of the issue and significantly reduce MTTR. This would improve customer experience and ensure minimal lost revenue when network issues occur.

Key Features

  • Easy-to-use interface with Web browser access
  • E-mail and SMS notifications
  • SNMP interface
  • Secure communication (HTTPS) on request
  • Solid-state disk, dual power feed, low power consumption
  • Instantaneous view of current OTDR measurement
  • Deploy right out of the box — no server or local PC required
  • Fault localization on cloud-based apps or legacy GIS
  • Auto pulse adjustment for near-end fiber faults
  • Compatible with the Viavi optical network monitoring system (ONMSi)


  • Optical fiber monitoring
  • Proactive maintenance
  • Fiber security — tap detection
  • Plant optimization (Source: Convergence Plus)
Vodafone partners with CityFibre to topple the broadband giants

Vodafone partners with CityFibre to topple the broadband giantsVodafone is teaming up with CityFibre in a bid to offer a true alternative to Openreach and Virgin Media in the fibre broadband arena. In the UK today, consumers have two major options when it comes to fibre broadband. You can go with an Openreach-leased network — such as BT, Sky, or TalkTalk — or there’s Virgin Media.
CityFibre is hoping to offer an alternative to these broadband giants with its Gigabit-capable fibre network offering faster speeds than any of its current rivals. Unfortunately, the company is yet to reach anywhere near as many homes as Openreach and/or Virgin Media.

Teaming up with Vodafone offers an opportunity to speed up CityFibre’s rollout to become a viable alternative to more consumers. Vodafone even owns a small amount of backhaul after it bough Cable and Wireless all the way back in 2012.

“This agreement will unlock the UK’s full fibre future and is a major step forward in delivering our vision for a Gigabit Britain,” says Greg Mesch, Chief Executive of CityFibre. “With this commitment from Vodafone, we have a partner with whom we can transform the digital capabilities of millions of homes and businesses and establish an unassailable wholesale infrastructure position across 20% of the UK broadband market.”

According to a statement, the partnership aims to provide Gigabit fibre to around five million UK homes and business by 2025.
Construction of the first phase of deployment to one million premises is due to start in the first half of 2018 and will be largely complete in 2021. Both parties have the right to extend the commercial terms of this agreement to expand coverage to a further four million homes and businesses by 2025.

Most existing broadband connections provided by Openreach are currently FTTC (Fibre-to-the-Cabinet) and use copper for “the last mile” into the house. CityFibre and Vodafone will be rolling out FTTP (Fibre-to-the-Premises) for a faster and more reliable connection.
Telecoms will be following the rollout closely and will keep you updated with all developments. (Source: Telecomstechnews)

Flush with funds, Flipkart, Paytm and Amazon rush to enter food delivery business

Flush with funds, Flipkart, Paytm and Amazon rush to enter food delivery businessAfter grocery, food delivery is emerging as the next big frontier for India’s largest ecommerce companies. Flipkart, Paytm and Amazon India are all actively exploring investments, acquisitions or expansions into the food-delivery business, a once-hot segment that soured quickly before a wave of consolidations brought about some stability. According to more than half a dozen entrepreneurs and venture capital investors interviewed by ET, all these Internet giants have separately held talks with the food-delivery segment leaders Zomato and Swiggy besides cloud kitchen players like Freshmenu for investments.

Flush with cash following recent fund-raisings, they also have an eye on sector-specific online retail stores as well as travel and entertainment ticketing companies, these people said. This rush for diversified investments has triggered a race of sorts among the Internet giants to evolve into larger ecommerce conglomerates.

This is similar to the one triggered in China by their local internet giants, as the Indian ecommerce companies seek to increase the frequency of transactions on their platforms.

“Amazon’s approach is more deliberate in terms of making an investment while Flipkart and Paytm are aggressively scouting for deals,” said an entrepreneur involved in some of the discussions. “The hunt is being driven by a fear of missing out or to deny an opportunity to (their rivals) rather than for a very well thought out strategy or a major business use-case.”

Flipkart along with its investor Tencent held investment discussions with Zomato before the food-delivery company entered into an exclusivity agreement with Chinese ecommerce conglomerate Alibaba’s payments affiliate Ant Financial for capital infusion.

India’s largest online retailer has now initiated discussions with Swiggy, according to two people aware of the development, for an investment of up to $100 million. Swiggy and Flipkart share South African media giant Naspers, which is also the largest shareholder in Tencent, as an investor.

Seattle-based Amazon is said to have earlier given Zomato a term-sheet for an investment at a $600-million valuation before the discussions floundered over the food-delivery company’s estimated worth. Amazon’s investment talks with Swiggy last year weren’t successful either. The global ecommerce giant, which is also looking to expand its meal kit-delivery business in India, has most recently held early talks with cloud-kitchen startup Freshmenu for an investment, according to people aware of the ..

Paytm also held discussions with Swiggy for an investment earlier this year and now its largest shareholder, Ant Financial, is in talks to invest in Zomato. The Gurgaon-based food discovery and delivery company is expected to align more closely with Paytm as a payments platform if the Ant investment goes through even though it will continue to use all other payment modes, said one of the sources mentioned above.

As a part of these discussions, Ant Financial had also tried to push Zomato and Swiggy towards a merger deal with plans to invest in a combined entity, but that deal has beenstuck due to strategic and valuation differences, as ET reported last week.

All these discussions may not necessarily lead to deals, as all the companies mentioned above are involved in multiple discussions. Flipkart, Amazon India, Paytm, Zomato, Swiggy and Freshmenu did not reply to emails sent last week seeking comment on the multiple investment discussions.

The online food delivery market grew 150% year-on-year in 2016 with an estimated gross merchandise value (GMV) of $300 million in 2016, according to data from RedSeer.

Amazon India and Flipkart, set to lock horns in the grocery-delivery segment, are seeking to increase applications for their payment offerings — Amazon Pay and PhonePe, respectively — to take on market leader Paytm.

Investors and entrepreneurs said the interest of Flipkart, Amazon and Paytm in the food-delivery space should be seen as attempt to build their hyper-local online commerce ecosystems. Amazon India and Flipkart also see grocery-delivery firm Bigbasket, in which Alibaba and Paytm Mall are close to finalising an investment, as a miss, they said.

Paytm is also said to be in advanced talks to acquire online coupon platforms Nearbuy and Little, and had also held discussions with online travel company Via which was finally bought by US-based Ebix.

“All of them have users to keep on the platform... Food is the next frequent-use case, more than grocery delivery,” said Revant Bhate, chief market officer and entrepreneur in residence at online restaurant Faasos.

India’s online food-delivery industry handles 12-13 million orders a month, more than doubling business since last year, according to industry executives. Zomato and Swiggy get foursix orders a month from frequent users, much higher than the one-two orders online retailers typically get from their active users.

The rush to diversify comes also as online retail in India is expected to grow at a slower pace than projected earlier. While online retailers started investing aggressively in 2014 and 2015, investment bank Morgan Stanley had projected the domestic market to reach $119 billion by 2020. But over the last two years, companies have discovered that the market will take time to grow beyond the top 20-30 million online shoppers as per capita income will take time to catch up.

India’s urban middle class, defined as those earning more than $11,000 a year, is much smaller at just 27 million working people as compared to China’s 157 million between 2002 and 2012, according to a report by Goldman Sachs last year.

“Today we are at a steady state environment where online retail growth is happening at 20-30%,” said Sanjot Malhi, who leads consumer investments at Matrix Partners India. “The underlying reason is that while internet penetration is expected to grow to 500 million by 2020, the current ecommerce proposition does not appeal equally to that entire base. The top 10-20 million customers behave a lot like those living in New York or San Francisco, which is why initial growth happened very quickly.” (Source: Economic Times)

Technology, internet can bridge gap in education: Prez

Technology, internet can bridge gap in education: PrezMukherjee was speaking at the inauguration of three digital initiatives in the education sector - 'Swayam', 'Swayam Prabha' and National Academic Depository by ministry of human resource development.
The spread of technology, telecom penetration and Internet has offered an opportunity to bridge the divide in education in terms of access and quality which must be seized, President Pranab Mukherjee said today. Mukherjee was speaking at the inauguration of three digital initiatives in the education sector - 'Swayam', 'Swayam Prabha' and National Academic Depository by ministry of human resource development.

"Digital technology enables good teachers to directly teach large number of students who are not physically present in classes. ICT solutions offer an interactive learning experience through which students in remote parts of the country can benefit from lectures of the top teachers," he said. Swayam and Swayam Prabha are digital classrooms the contents of which can be accessed either through Internet or direct-to-home service respectively.

National Academic Depository will have education certificates of every student in digital form which will ease the process of verification and also do away with the chances of forgery. Through Swayam, courses will be offered through digital classrooms with study material available online in videos. It will be available free of cost, however students wanting certifications shall be registered, shall be offered a certificate on successful completion of the course, with a small fee, the Swayam website states.

The student will have opportunity to ask questions which will be answered in real time. Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian has also prepared a series of lectures on the Indian economy for Swayam and Swayam Prabha. The students will be assessed through proctored examination and the marks and grades secured in this exam could be transferred to the academic record of the students, according to the website.

Swayam Prabha will tap into the potential of Direct- to-Home Service wherein a person can install the dish antenna for about Rs 1,500 and have access to 32 digital educational channels run by the HRD ministry. Everyday, there will be new content for at least four hours which would be repeated five more times in a day, allowing the students to choose the time of their convenience, Additional Secretary in UGC Pankaj Mittal said. The course content will cover almost every aspect of education in various fields from class nine onwards and preparatory courses for institutes like IITs.

"The quality of teaching and learning process is the heart of higher education. We have seen huge difference in the quality of attainment levels in higher education between the urban and rural areas, between the states and between institutions within a state," he said.
Mukherjee said there are large numbers of students who study in vernacular languages whereas most of the knowledge is still in English. "I call upon you all being the leaders of the higher education system to make concerted efforts to bridge this gap," he said. (Source: ETtelecom)

New miracle material may lead to unbreakable smartphones

New miracle material may lead to unbreakable smartphonesScientists have discovered a new 'miracle material' with improved chemical stability, lightness, and flexibility, which could be used to make smartphones and other devices that are less likely to break.
Scientists have discovered a new ‘miracle material’ with improved chemical stability, lightness, and flexibility, which could be used to make smartphones and other devices that are less likely to break. Currently, most parts of a smartphone are made of silicon and other compounds, which are expensive and break easily, but with almost 1.5 billion smartphones purchased worldwide last year, manufacturers are on the lookout for something more durable and less costly, researchers said. Researchers, including those from Queen’s University Belfast in the UK, found that by combining semiconducting molecules C60 with layered materials, such as graphene and hBN, they could produce a unique material technology, which could revolutionize the concept of smart devices.

The winning combination works because hBN provides stability, electronic compatibility, and isolation charge to graphene while C60 can transform sunlight into electricity. Any smart device made from this combination would benefit from the mix of unique features, which do not exist in materials naturally. This process, which is called van der Waals solids, allows compounds to be brought together and assembled in a pre-defined way. “Our findings show that this new ‘miracle material’ has similar physical properties to Silicon but it has improved chemical stability, lightness, and flexibility, which could potentially be used in smart devices and would be much less likely to break,” said Elton Santos from Queen’s University.

“The material also could mean that devices use less energy than before because of the device architecture so could have improved battery life and less electric shocks,” said Santos. One issue that still needs to be solved is that graphene and the new material architecture is lacking a ‘band gap’, which is the key to the on-off switching operations performed by electronic devices, researchers said. However, the team is already looking at a potential solution – transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs). These are a hot topic at the moment as they are very chemically stable, have large sources for production and band gaps that rival Silicon. ( Source: Financial Express)

Confused netizens uninstall Snapdeal app instead of Snapchat

Confused netizens uninstall Snapdeal app instead of SnapchatSome of the people eager to distance themselves from Snapchatamid the "app for rich people" controversy ended up deleting the app for the e-commerce platform Snapdeal instead.

This came to light after netizens started posting pictures of the blunder on Twitter. As more people deleted their app, Snapdeal co-founder and CEO Kunal Bahl tweeted, "Ppl asking us to make a statement that @snapdeal is not @snapchat was possibly the last thing I thought I would ever need to do."

Many users also explained how the two apps were different. The social media went abuzz with criticism against Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel after a report quoted one of the company's former employees as saying that the top executive told him that the "app is only for rich people" and that he (CEO) was not interested in expanding the business to "poor countries" like India and Spain.

Snapchat, on its part, has rubbished the allegations. (Source: Times of India)

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