Convergence Plus
Friday, May 24, 2019
Telecom companies stop user poaching as stability returns to industry

Older telcos, Vodafone Idea & Airtel and latest entrant Jio are close in terms of revenue & subscriber share. 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)

Telecom on the brink of recovery

Huawei CFO sues Canada for wrongful detention Operators are estimated to soon raise prices: experts. An inevitable price recovery expected from the second-half of financial year 2020 would change the fortunes of telecom companies as their Average Revenue Per User (ARPUs) would rebound. ARPU, a metric used to gauge the financial strength of an operator, was pushed to a decadal low after Reliance Jio Infocomm launched its services.

RJio’s entry in FY17 had unleashed one of the most “brutal price” wars in India’s telecom market. Consequently, industry ARPU plunged about 38 per cent, leading to the total industry size shrinking to ₹1.4 trillion from ₹1.8 trillion, said a report by Edelweiss. According to the brokerage firm, now there is light at the end of the tunnel as mobile broadband penetration has crossed 50 per cent, and monetising existing customer base is more lucrative than chasing incremental market share. Further, price hikes are imminent as RJio approaches its 400 million subscriber goalpost and telecom operators’ massive non-core asset monetisation drive makes it imperative for investors to repose confidence in the telecom industry’s long-term health.

A price recovery would be triggered the second half of FY20, propelling industry ARPU to the pre-RJio level of ₹156 by FY22-end (₹98 in Q3FY19), it said, adding that telecom operators are estimated to raise prices in H2FY20.

Reversing a trend

The Indian telecom industry will reverse a two-year declining trend with a 7 per cent revenue growth in FY2020. The turnaround will ride on an increase in ARPU by 11 per cent, though the overall subscriber base is expected to shrink by 4 per cent, Crisil said in a note.

A protracted tariff war has pushed ARPU to a decadal low. This is despite the consolidation in the industry that has reduced the number of major players to three, in line with global standards. In the past two years, the industry has lost about 20 per cent of potential revenue, tantamount to over ₹40,000 crore.

Crisil, however, believes telecom tariffs have bottomed out, as reflected in the stable pricing and the fact that the top three telecom companies now have almost equal revenue market share.

Mobile revenues to rise

Research firm UBS estimates aggregate sector mobile revenues to grow 10.4 per cent and 11 per cent in FY20 and FY21, after declining 20.2 per cent and 6.2 per cent in FY18 and FY19. The pricing environment has been stable in recent months.

“Meanwhile, the launch of min-ARPU plans could be 3-4 per cent revenue-accretive, even assuming a loss of 20-25 per cent of low-end feature phone subs (subscribers), while the migration of subs from feature phone to smartphones continues to drive modest ARPU upgrades,” it said, adding that the current tariff levels would persist for another six months, with likely modest tariff hikes from Q1-Q2 of FY20. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

MNP service providers to push for Rs 120 crore arrears

Huawei CFO sues Canada for wrongful detention The move comes after High Court on Friday junked Trai’s move to cut porting fee by 80%. Mobile number portability (MNP) service providers Syniverse Technologies India and MNP Interconnection Telecom Solutions India will push to recover an estimated Rs 120 crore from telcos after a court quashed the regulator’s decision to slash a key porting fee by 80% over a year ago.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India cut per port transaction charge to Rs 4 from Rs 19 in January 2018, a move that hurt revenue flows of both MNP service providers, prompting them to move court. The Delhi High Court junked Trai’s regulation on Friday, calling it illegal and unsustainable.

MNP refers to the facility allowing a user to switch telco operators without changing the mobile number. The recipient operator pays a fee to the MNP service provider for processing the request.

Trai secretary Sunil Gupta said Trai “would examine the (court) order before making any comments.”

Syniverse will start the process of recovering arrears retrospectively from February 2018 through talks with Trai and telcos, Himanshu Goel, managing director (India, Middle East & Africa), told ET. A global spokeswoman of iconectiv, US parent of MNP Interconnection, declined comment, saying the company “is in the process of getting information.”

While the service providers are still calculating dues, industry estimates peg them at roughly Rs 120 crore, including fees related to unsuccessful ports from February 2018.

MNP was first offered in India in November 2010. About 412 million subscribers have availed of the facility as of December 2018, Trai said in a consultation paper on February 22, which seeks to review per port transaction and other charges related to MNP.

Last January, Trai said Rs 4 per transaction would be payable only for successful porting. This meant MNP service providers would be unpaid if a porting request wasn’t successful, even after the use of their resources, experts said.

The Delhi High Court criticised Trai’s decision to “limit” the payments to successful requests, calling it “inconsistent” with the definition of the term in the MNP rules, which say such fees are payable to the MNP service provider for processing a request.

“Even where a porting request is unsuccessful, the MNP service provider would necessarily have expended resources in processing it,” the court said. Accordingly, both MNP service providers are likely to include fees linked to failed porting requests in their calculation of arrears.

However, Syniverse’s Goel said “a possible challenge” in recovering the arrears would be “the exit of several fringe carriers” following consolidation in the telecom industry. Recovery would “hinge on how Trai responds to the court verdict and eventually supports the two MNP service providers,” another top industry executive said.

Syniverse and MNP Interconnection had approached the telecom department last year, saying the sharp reduction in porting processing fees had led to losses and would compel them to shut services in India on the expiry of their permits in March 2019. However, both companies are said to have applied to DoT for licence renewals. (Source: Economic Times)

Huawei installs three 5G stations in Tibet

Huawei installs three 5G stations in Tibet Battling a wave of opposition to its 5G trials from the US and other countries, China's telecom technology giant, Huawei has installed three 5G stations in Tibet. Battling a wave of opposition to its 5G trials from the US and other countries, China's telecom technology giant, Huawei has installed three 5G stations in Tibet.

The first three 5G base stations have been installed, with equipment provided by Huawei, the state-run Global Times reported on Saturday.

The 5G stations are being installed in different parts of the China as part of Huawei's plans to lead the 5G trials despite the opposition.

The US has been putting pressure on the countries, it has closer ties, to ban Huawei and other Chinese telecom firms from providing gear used to build 5G wireless networks.

The 5G is the next generation of cellular technology with download speeds 10 to 100 times faster than 4G LTE networks. Huawei has denied official links with the Chinese government.

China Mobile's Tibet branch announced on Friday that one of the 5G base stations, with a peak download speed of 530 megabytes per second (MBps), became operational in Lhasa on Wednesday, the report said.

Xiang Ligang, chief executive of telecom industry news site, told the Global Times that construction of the 5G network in the remote areas of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau faces challenges from cold weather and high altitude.

"Electricity supply alone is a complex process," Xiang said, adding that optical fiber tends to lack stability in cold weather.

Xiang insists the obstacles will be overcome. "It is important to realise synchronous development of 5G service between Tibet and other regions in China, which is a move we've been talking about since 4G kicked in," Xiang said.

The next step for China Mobile's Tibet office will be to accelerate the testing of the 5G application and promote the development of the big data industry and innovation of the Internet of Things based on 5G technology in Tibet, which will enable residents living in farming areas in Tibet to enjoy advanced modern communication services, the reported.

"Transport, communications, and energy are equally important in driving a region's economic development," Xiang said. (Source:ETTelecom)

Vodafone Idea integrates radio network in eight service areas

Vodafone Idea integrates radio network in eight service areas The Mumbai-based operator has also re-farmed 10 MHz of the 4G spectrum of Vodafone in Mumbai to enable its customers in the metro get better data experience. Vodafone Idea Sunday said that it has consolidated nearly 25% of its pan-India radio network integration within a span of just five months.

"In addition to the full radio network consolidation in eight service areas, 4G radio network consolidation has been completed in the city of Bangalore, and high-speed 4G services have now been made available to both Vodafone and Idea customers in Kolkata metro, India's largest telco in a statement said.

With network integration, subscribers of both Vodafone and Idea would be able to enjoy a unified network experience on 2G, 3G & 4G, in the service areas of West Bengal, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, North East, AP & Telangana (excluding Hyderabad), J&K, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The Mumbai-based operator has also re-farmed 10 MHz of the 4G spectrum of Vodafone in Mumbai to enable its customers in the metro get better data experience.

In other circles, network integration is taking place on a cluster-by-cluster basis and the subscribers of both brands are gradually moving to a much larger and better network, the statement added.

India's second largest service provider Vodafone India and Aditya Birla group's Idea Cellular completed their merger in August 2018 to create country's largest telco ending Bharti Airtel's market dominance.

“With meticulous pre-merger planning and rigorous post-merger execution, we have ensured that our customers remain confidently connected and enjoy uninterrupted services even as we integrate and optimize our network in a phased manner across circles," VishantVora, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone Idea said.

Vora added that the telco has partnered with the global vendors and equipment suppliers to deploy new age technologies, with in-built customizations and novel innovations to ensure a rich customer experience while building a robust and future-ready network.

The telco, according to the statement, has also undertaken special measures to avoid customer inconvenience with shifting, movement and deployment of equipment during the integration process.(Source:ETtelecom)

Mukesh Ambani bets big on Uttarakhand

Mukesh Ambani bets big on UttarakhandAmbani said that the telecom company will boost tourism, improve healthcare, education and is committed to a ‘Digital Uttarakhand’ where every citizen can have the best quality digital connectivity and services. MukeshAmbani, chairman of Reliance Industries, said that after investing Rs 4000 crore in Uttarakhand in the last few years, his telecom firm Reliance JioInfocomm (Jio) will work towards boosting education, healthcare and digital facilities in the state.

“The state government’s pro-business policies combined with Jio’s investment will surely open up new avenues for growth of hi-tech industries in the state. For all of us at Reliance, Uttarakhand is an attractive investment opportunity,” said Ambani, the head of the oil to telecom conglomerate at the Uttarakhand Investors Summit on Sunday.

Ambani said that the telecom company will boost tourism, improve healthcare, education and is committed to a ‘Digital Uttarakhand’ where every citizen can have the best quality digital connectivity and services.

These investments will also bring in employment in the state and connect most of the 2385 plus government schools colleges in the state within next 2 years.Reliance also has over 100 retail stores and plans to continue grow these at a healthy rate, he added.

. “…this will help create additional employment and earning opportunities for the people of Uttarakhand. We plan to connect most of the 2185 government schools and 200 plus government colleges in the state within next 2 years. Reliance has over 100 retail stores and we plan to continue grow these stores at a healthy rate,” said Ambani on Sunday. (Source:ETTelecom)

Spectrum auction for 5G likely in later half of 2019: Telecom Secretary

Spectrum auction for 5G likely in later half of 2019: Telecom SecretaryThe Department of Telecommunications wants to provide a one-year timeframe for trials to happen with experimental spectrum. Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan Sunday said auction of spectrum for 5G services is likely to happen in the later half of 2019.

"Right now, it (5G allocation) is looking to happen in later half of next year," she told PTI here.

The 5G services would offer telecom companies better visibility into market dynamics and potential revenue streams of the next-generation mobile services, Sundararajan said.

As long as monetisation avenues and opportunities are properly identified, rollout would not take long because there is no requirement for replacing hardware as it was done to upgrade from 3G to 4G services, she noted.

"5G services are all software driven... They don't have

To go and replace the hardware... So, it can happen much faster," she said.

However, before the auction, Department of Telecommunications wants to provide a one-year timeframe for trials to happen with experimental spectrum, the Secretary said.

Hence, the government intends to give experimental licenses for telcos to develop test beds to evolve a full-fledged eco-system, she added.

On the trial test bed funded by the government, Sundararajan said it was coming up at IIT Madras along with other IITs. Ericsson's test bed is already functional, she noted.

To a query, Sundararajan said the government is expected to decide on spectrum allocation for 4G services to public sector firms BSNL and MTNL within the next couple of months.

"The proposals for cabinet approval are under process. It won't take time.. We will have our cabinet note ready at the earliest.. So within the next couple of months we expect a decision by the government," she said.

It is very important to allocate 4G spectrum for BSNL and MTNL to survive, she added.

In March, the Standing Committee of Information Technology had asked the Centre to allocate 4G spectrum to BSNL and MTNL at the earliest to help them compete and survive in the market.

BSNL and MTNL operate in 20 and 2 telecom circles, respectively.

Both had requested for 5 Mhz block of radiowaves in 2100 Mhz band in the service area where they operate. (Source: Business Standard)

DoT awaits clarification on in-flight connectivity norms from shipping ministry

DoT awaits clarification on in-flight connectivity norms from shipping ministryThe telecom department is awaiting clarification from the shipping ministry over area to be covered in the sea for mobile services under In-flight connectivity service before releasing the final rules. In-flight connectivity norms will also cover maritime transport.

"The DoT is in final stage of issuing In-flight connectivity rules. The shipping ministry has to clarify whether the coverage for mobile services in water vessels is to be provided till territorial waters or EEZ (exclusive economic zone)," an official source told.

Territorial water extends up to 12 nautical miles (around 22 kilometers) from coastal line of the country, while EEZ of country covers up to 200 nautical miles.

"The framework will be issued as soon as the DoT receives clarification from the shipping ministry. It is expected to be completed very soon," the source said.

Telecom Commission - the highest policy making body of Department of Telecom (DoT) - on May 1 cleared the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for allowing telecom services on flights and maritime transport under In-flight connectivity (IFC) rules. The service is now available in most of the developed markets.

Major airlines, including Air India and Vistara, have welcomed the government’s decision, and Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has said he will ensure "earliest implementation" of the proposal.

While mobile phone use will still be restricted during takeoff and landing, Telecom Commission has approved the lifting of a ban on the use of mobile phone and internet services at cruising altitudes.

Globally, many airlines are already offering wi-fi for passengers, but they currently have to switch off the facility when they enter the Indian airspace.

AirAsia, Air France, British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic are among 30 airlines that are already allowing mobile phone use on aircraft.

A separate category of licencees - in-flight service providers - will be created for offering such services, and licence fee for such niche providers will be pegged at Re 1.(Source: Economic Times)

Hyundai, Wipro in talks with DoT to set up telecom gear testing centres

Hyundai, Wipro in talks with DoT to set up telecom gear testing centresHyundai Motor India and WiproNSE 0.16 % Limited are in talks with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to set up testing centres as the government finalises plans for mandatory local testing of telecom equipment by the end of this financial year.

The South Korean automaker and the Indian information technology services firm have entered into initial discussions with the engineering wing of the DoT and have shown interest in setting up laboratories in India for testing telecom equipment, officials told ET. “New test labs are being set up. Hyundai’s representatives have come to us and the company wants to establish a telecom lab in India,” said Shakeel Ahmad, senior deputy director general, Telecommunication Engineering Centre.

TEC is a Delhi-based nodal agency of the DoT which establishes standards and specifications for telecom products, services and networks. Ahmad said that Hyundai’s representatives discussed the feasibility and scope of telecom-centric testing in India with the officials of the government’s telecom engineering division. The Seoul headquartered company already operates a testing centre for motor vehicles in India, he said, and wants to expand into telecommunications.

“Wipro is also interested in setting up a security lab for telecom sector,” Ahmad said. ET’s queries to Hyundai and Wipro did not elicit any response till late evening on Friday. Under new rules, the Narendra Modi-led government has mandated that multinational gear vendors such as Finnish Nokia, Swedish Ericsson, and Chinese Huawei and ZTE get their equipment locally tested and certified from March 31, 2019. At present, India has 20 designated test laboratories, most of which have recently been accredited to conduct desired checks for the safety requirement of telecom equipment. (Source: Economic Times)

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