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Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Had Ulterior Motive To Stifle Competition : TRAI

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Sector regulator TRAI, in a letter to Department of Telecom, had said that incumbent operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular had ulterior motive to stifle competition and wilfully denied PoIs to Reliance Jio.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said this while standing by its earlier recommendation on imposing penalty of Rs 3050 crore on these three operators for not providing enough PoIs (points of interconnect) to Jio that led to massive call failures. The penalty break up for Airtel and Vodafone is Rs 1050 crore each and Rs 950 crore for Idea Cellular.

“..not only the steps taken by Airtel were insufficient to bring down the POI congestion to the desired level of 0.5% in most of the LSAs but also that Airtel appeared to have ulterior motive to stifle competition,” TRAI said in the letter. The regulator said the same thing for Vodafone and Idea.

The regulator said these operators, after repeated requests by Reliance Jio, and intervention by TRAI, have failed to provision sufficient PoIs to the new 4G operator which created quality of issue for consumers, which amounts to cancellation of license.

“The recommendations were framed only after observing a continued violation of QoS Regulations and license conditions by Airtel and (Vodafone and Idea),” TRAI said in a point-by-point response to DoT.

The regulator in the letter said the incumbent operators were capable to provide the required PoIs to Reliance Jio in order to enable a congestion free service but the operators denied and delayed the same deliberately.

“After intervention of the Authority, Airtel has provided POI capacity at much shorter notices (in some 7 instances within 2-3 days) implying that it was capable of providing such POIs without any delay,” TRAi said. “In this context, the denial and delay in providing POIs when the QoS parameters were not being met cannot be explained in any other manner but wilful.

TRAI, in October 2016, had asked the DoT to impose penalties of Rs 3050 crore on these three operators, but the DoT had asked the regulator for more clarification and to reconsider its recommendations.

TRAI, in response, offered clarification in a point-to-point manner to the department that was hitherto unseen in the Indian telecom industry.

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NationalNews

Rs 400 Cr Loss To Govt Due To Short Payment of License Fee By Incumbents : Jio

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Reliance Jio has said incumbent operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have paid less to the government that they are supposed to pay in terms of license fee for the fourth quarter ended 31 March 2017.

This short payment, Jio accuses, could be more than Rs 400 crore and is a violation of the UASL license agreement. The new 4G operator has sought strict action against the incumbent operators.

Jio in a letter dated 15 May 2017 wrote to DoT that the incumbent operators have made ‘short payment’ of their supposed license fee to the government for the Q4 of 2017.

According to the UASL license agreement, each telecom operator has to pay license fee basis their revenue in four installments for each financial year. While the installments for first three quarters are paid within 15 days of end of each quarter, the license fee for the last quarter is paid by 25 March of the same year.

The license condition also says that the license fee for the last quarter should be made basis the expected revenue of that quarter which should not be less than the license fee paid in the previous quarter.

However, in this case, Jio accused that incumbents like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have made less payments than the third quarter which is a violation of the license agreement.

“The said act of the incumbent TSPs has caused potential financial loss amounting to over Rs 400 crore to the government exchequer and in any event has caused a revenue shortfall of the said amount in FY 2016-17,” Jio wrote in that letter.

For the record, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have paid license fees of Rs 950 crore, Rs 550 crore and Rs 550 crore respectively for the lasst quarter whereas for the third quarter they had paid Rs 1099.5 crore, Rs 746.8 crore and Rs 609.4 crore, as license fees.

In total, in Q3 these operators have paid a license fee of Rs 2455.7 crore whereas in the last quarter they have paid Rs 2050 crore.

This means these three operators have paid over Rs 400 crore less than they were supposed to pay as license fees in the last quarter.

Jio also said that these operators have made this ‘short payment’, basis a letter written by COAI to the DoT seeking this type of relief in the wake of the financial health of the telecom industry and continuous revenue fall of the incumbents due to the predatory pricing by a new operator.

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NationalNews

Despite Jio Havoc, Airtel Continues To Be On Firm Footing : UBS

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Research and business analytics firm UBs today said country’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel is still on a strong footing and may continue to do so in coming times despite the disruptive entry of Reliance Jio in Indian mobile services market.

The report also said that net subscriber addition of Jio has also slowed down. Taking sector regulator TRAI data as the basis, UBS said it is ‘surprised to see lack of acceleration’ in March. In the said month Jo added 5.8 million new customers compared to 12.2 million in February.

UBS, some how, tried to link Jio’s Prime membership scheme to its slowing down as the scheme was announced in March and april was the first month of its paid service.

For the month of March, new subscribers for Airtel, Idea and Vodafone are reported to be at 3 million, 2.1 million and 1.8 million vs. 1.2 million, 1.2 million and 0.8 million in Feb as all incumbents countered Jio’s prices.

As per TRAI data, subscriber market share of Jio has increased to 9.3% in March compared to 8.8% in February.

In broadband space also, the research firm said Airtel is gaining ground.

By end of March country’s overall broadband penetration increased to 22.1% from 20.9% in February. In terms of new subscriber addition in broadband,Vodafone gained market share with net addition of 5.7 million. Airtel’s pace of broadband net addition also increased to 2.4 million in March vs. 1.1 million in February. Idea reported increase in broadband subs to 24.7m (+0.4m net adds) reversing the trend of decline in January and February.

The analytics firm also suggested that in the long run Airtel may emerge as the winner. “Airtel’s scale and ability to invest makes it a long term winner in our view,” it said.

UBS also said that while the data for April and May will be more significant given Jio has started charging since April, overall trends suggest Airtel continues to hold a firm footing in the Indian mobile market with key operating metrics outperforming peers.

Vodafone and Idea have also shown recovery in March after under performing Airtel in Jan and Feb, with smaller operators continuing to lose share at a rapid pace.

UBS also offered a ‘Buy’ rating for Airtel and said the stock remains its preferred pick among Indian telcos.

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NationalNews

Ringing Bells Founder Mohit Goel Goes Back Where He Came From – Grocery Business

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The name ‘Ringing Bells’ is enough to a ring an alert bell every time one hears that, and this name will keep ringing bells among Indians in coming times too. This is the same company that once woke up India on a lazy morning with its announcement to sell smartphones – Freedom 251 – for a price of Rs 251.

The founder of that company Mohit Goel, after a short scandalous stint with technology, is going back to where he came from – grocery business. The then MD of of Ringing Bells has now founded another company that will be in the business of selling and distributing dry fruits – his family business of three generations.

It can be recalled that Ringing Bells has already been shut down.

The new company is named as ‘Family Of Dry Fruits India Private Limited’ and is incorporated with a share capital of Rs 25 lakh and a paid up capital of Rs 10 lakh. Mohit Kumar (Goel) and Disha Rana are the founders and directors of this company.

Disha Rana is still a director in Ringing Bells where as Mohit Goel had quit the dubious firm in December 2016. The new company – Family of Dry Fruits – was incorporated on 20 December 2016.

The Goel family, Mohit Goel and his father Rajesh Goel, was originally in to the business of aggricultual commodity selling groceries including dry fruits, pulses, spices, sugar and rice. They have been running this business for last three generations from a small village named Garhipukhta in Shamli ditrict of Western UP. The entire family was miles away from technology before Mohit ventured to the smartphone business.

The Scandalous Past

It can be recalled that TeleAnalysis broke the story on 15 December 2016 that Ringing Bells has shut down its smartphone business and its founders have formed another company -MDM Electronics Pvt Ltd – to run some other business.

MDM Electronics Private Limited was founded by Mohit Goel -who was the MD of Ringing Bells, Shashank Goel – also linked to the old company, and Ashok Chaddha – President of the company. In fact Chaddha was the face of Ringing Bells and was the official spokesperson of the company, though he was not a director of Ringing Bells.

In February 2017, we had reported that Ringing Bells founder Mohit Goel, was arrested by UP Police for alleged fraud.

A Ghaziabad based company, Ayam Enterprises, had filed a case against Ringing Bells alleging the later has defrauded it for Rs 16 lakh. Goel had been detained by the Ghaziabad police for interrogation.

According to reports Ayam Enterprise had paied Rs 30 lakh to Ringing Bells to take dealership of its Freedom 251 smartphone, which were priced at Rs 251 per piece. The smartphone company, however, had provided it goods worth Rs 14 lakh and the Rs 16 lakh are, neither returned nor any products supplied for that value.

In February 2016, Ringing Bells had announced to launch a smartphone – Freedom 251, which was then touted as the world’s cheapest smartphone. Though the company launched the phone at the same price, buyers who booked it online by paying the entire amount up front, never received the device. Later the company got embroiled in multiple controversies and was forced to return the money to the buyers.

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NationalNews

BSNL To Provide Backhaul Connectivity To Facebook

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State run telecom operator BSNL has signed an agreement with social media major Facebook to provide the much needed backhaul connectivity. With this tie up and enhanced network strength, both the partners would promote internet connectivity in rural areas.

The operator would provide the backhaul connectivity at preferential rate to the social network firm.

BSNL said this partnership would help reduce the digital divide. This initiative, the operator said, is a part of the operator’s way of celebrating World Telecommunications Day.

“BSNL is committed to bridging the digital divide by providing telecommunications facility to the remotest corners of the country, making India truly digital,” the operator said.

The MoU was signed between N K Gupta, Director CFA of BSNL and Facebook Country Head Munish Seth.

Besides Fcebook, the PSU operator today signed agreements with multiple companies to enhance its enterprise product portfolio. It tied up with Data Infosys to offer bulk secured email services to enterprises.

The state run operator also partnered with mobile wallet company MobiKwik. With this partnership, all future BSNL powered mobile handsets will come pre-loaded with MobiKwik wallet app so that customers, mostly in rural areas, do not have to download the app again. This will these customers to experiment with digital transaction.

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NationalNews

RIL To Open 50,000 Jio Points To Serve Rural Consumers

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In a bid to reach to the masses and increase its footprint of products and services, Reliance Industries is planning to increase its retail touch points across the country, and specifically in rural areas. In this process the company is planning to open a new format of stores called ‘Jio Points’ in rural areas as well as tier 2 and tier 3 towns.

The company is planning to open 50,000 Jio Points by end of 2018 with a target of opening 25,000 stores in each year. According to the plan Jio will open 10,000 such Jio Points in 5 zones – south, east, west, north and north east – of the country.

Apart from serving the customers Jio Points would also behave like hubs for similar points in a particular area.

Each zone, then, will be connected to their respective Jio Centers. A Reliance ‘Jio Center’ or ‘JC’ will be managed by a Jio Center Manager or JCM, and each JC would house around 30 to 40 people. The JC will act as the hub for Jio’s entire business for that city. It will have display space for devices, experience zones for services and applications, customer care executives, billing and customer acquisition. The Jio Center will also have two meeting rooms, one for the internal meeting for the local staff, and another video conferencing room for them to connect to their headquarter and other JCs.

According to sources in the know the Jio Points would be a one-stop-shop for all services related to Reliance Jio. The stores will offer services as well sell devices like smartphones, dongles and any such future products. These stores will also be a one-stop-shop for offering Jio broadband, digital TV services, digital education and all future services.

Besides, these stores will also act as a customer care centers for Jio customers where they can get their issues sorted with the help of the service executives. At these Jio Points, customers can get their services activated/deactivated, avail content services and all that is being offered by the 4G operator.

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Nokia 3310 Relaunched For Rs 3310, Sadly Its Not A 4G Phone

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The iconic Nokia 3310, one of the highest selling mobile phones in the world, is back as the company launched the model in India today for a price of Rs 3310.

You knew the old Nokia 3310 as you have used that, reused that and refused to not-use that when the company was shutting down. But this new 3310 is, surely, different than the older one. Here are some features that the new 3310 packs.

The Nokia 3310 comes in 2.4 inch screen size with QVGA display with 240×320 pixel resolution. It comes in 115.6×51.0x12.8 mm dimension and weighs just 79.6 gram.

The new 3310 is not a 4G phone though. It works on 900 and 1800 MHz band and is a 2G phone and comes in dual SIM variant.

The Nokia 3310 uses its own software – Series 30+ – to run it. The phone sports a rear 2 megapixel camera that is supported by a flash. It does not have a front camera.

The phone comes with expandable memory support up to 32 GB, has Bluetooth, MP3 playback, FM Radio, micro USB and a 3.5 mm audio jack.

The Nokia 3310, the older one, was known for its battery back up and the new one intends to be nothing less than it. The new Nokia 3310 offers standby time up to 25 days, talk time up to 22 hours.

The Nokia 3310 will be available across top mobile stores in India starting May 18, 2017. The Nokia 3310 will come in four distinctive colours – Warm Red and Yellow, both with a gloss finish, and Dark Blue and Grey, both with a matte finish.

“Talk all day on a single charge, send texts, take pictures and enjoy a pocket jukebox with a built-in FM Radio and MP3 player. Our reinvention of this classic design is sure to make you smile. It’s got everything you remember, but with a modern twist. So whether you’re after a feature phone that offers amazing battery life in a head turning design or a companion phone, the Nokia 3310 won’t let you down,” said Ajey Mehta, VP-India, HMD, Global.

HMD Global is the company that has been licensed by Nokia to produce and sell the Nokia branded phones.

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WannaCry Ransomware : Watch CERT-In Broadcast Here

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The WannaCry Ransomware has wrecked havoc across the world since Friday and enterprises and government agencies on their toes since last three days to minimize the impact. Besides, they are going all the way to take steps not to repeat the attack in their organisations.

India’s respective agency – CERT-In – or Computer Emergency Response Team of India, has also sent out alerts to the internet users in the country against the WannaCry Ransomware. Besides, the CERT-Inn is also conducting a webcast on the same today to create awareness among the internet users.

The webcast on the topic “Prevention of WannaCry Ransomware Threat – session by CERT-In” will be broadcast on 15th May 2017 at 11 AM. You can watch it here.

“It has been reported that a new ransomware named as “Wannacry” is spreading widely. Wannacry encrypts the files on infected Windows systems. This ransomware spreads by exploiting vulnerable Windows Systems. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team has issued advisory regarding prevention of this threat,” CERT-In said.

“In view of high damage potential of the ransomware a webcast has been arranged to create awareness among users/organisations,” it added.

What Is WannaCry Ransomware
WannaCry is a crypto-ransomware that aims at attacking internet-enabled computers and ceases use of the affected coputers by the intended users. In return the virus wants some kind of ransom to be paid to it if the user wannts access of the computer system. The computer system could be the PCs or laptops at workplaces, ATM machines, internet enabled PoS machines and similar such machines. So far the ransomware has affected more than 50,000 computers across 75 countries including India.

The attack was so damaging that in UK it had affected the National Health Services of the country and has stalled critical health care services like surgeries and emergency attention.

The WannaCry ransomware affects the computer systems and asks the user to pay a ransom of $300 in Bitcoins to restore access to the systems or its data.

 

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NationalNews

Smartron Eyes Rs 600 Cr Revenue This Fiscal

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Smartron India, that last week launched Sachin Tendulkar branded smartphone SRT Phone, is aiming to garner revenues of around Rs 600 crore in fiscal 2017-18. The company said this confidence comes from the kind of acceptance it as got over last two years for its product as well as its R&D efforts.

“We expect revenues to the tune of Rs 600 to Rs 650 crore this year,” Smartron founder and Chairman Mahesh Lingareddy told TeleAnalysis.

The company’s revenue in 2016-17 was Rs 50 crore.

He said this revenue will come from the exhaustive products it has in the pipe line to be launched in this year.

“We just launched one phone, and we have great expectations from this device,” he said. “Besides, we are planning to launch 8 to 10 devices in as many months.”

He said the company has an exhaustive road map for products that include smartphones, workbooks, wearables and IoT devices. Mahesh, however, did not reveal anymore details about the future products.

The company has launched total of 3 devices so far. A smartphone named t.phone and a convertible laptop sold as t.book were launched last year, and this year, and a week back it launched the SRT.Phone.

Mahesh, who came from Soft Machines where he served as CEO before founding Smartron, also said that the last two years the company was heavily focused on R&D as it wanted to make a global company out of India, and now it will focus on other aspects like sales and marketing.

“90% of our investment and focus was on R&D since the inception and the rest 10% was on other things including sales and marketing,” he explained. “Which will now be tweaked towards a 60:40 ratio.”

The other thing, he said, was the lack of a leader to look after this critical unit of sales and marketing.

This position is, however, filled now with the appointment of former Motorola India head Amit Boni. He joined Smartron as VP, sales and marketing.

Smartron was founded a year back and is backed by ace cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. The company has so far raised Rs 200 crore investment and has appointed Motorola Mobility’s former global CEO Sanjay Jha as an independent director.

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Bharti Airtel Comes Out Winner In Aon Best Employer Study

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Country’s largest telecom company Bharti Airtel, not only is the best operator in terms of data speed but also in people practices, and this human resource practices have bagged the operator the best employer award in a recent survey.

The company has won the Aon Best Employer India 2017 Award for its innovative people practices. The Sunil Mittal founded telecom conglomerate has over 22,000 employees.

Airtel was recognized for achieving high levels of employee engagement and its well established people practices and leadership intent. Airtel also scored high on employer brand and innovative HR practices, in particular, the use of a chatbot for its campus hiring program.

“At Airtel, our people are the core of the organization and we are delighted to receive this recognition from Aon. This is a testament to the innovation we have undertaken on the people front, especially by leveraging technology to build a digital organization. I would like to thank the esteemed jury for recognizing our efforts and considering us worthy of this honour,” said Srikanth Balachandran, Global Chief Human Resources Officer, Bharti Airtel.

The Aon Best Employer is a globally renowned platform and the India chapter jury for 2017 comprised of eminent business leaders and academicians including Leo Puri, Managing Director at UTI Asset Management Company; Dr. Omkar Goswami, Founder and Chairman at CERG Advisory; Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO at ICICI Bank; Prof Vasanthi Srinivasan, IIM-Bangalore; and Sanjiv Mehta, CEO & MD at Hindustan Unilever Ltd.

The Aon Best Employers study was first conducted in Asia in 2001. The purpose of the program is to gain insights into companies that are creating real competitive advantage through their people, to explore what makes a workplace of choice and to identify the Best Employers in the region.

The Aon Best Employers program is the most comprehensive study of its kind in Asia Pacific. It is run in 12 markets: Australia & New Zealand China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand as well as in the Middle East.

A total of 119 organizations representing 14 key industries, cumulatively employing approximately 520,000 employees, participated in the 2017 Aon Best Employers India study.

The study research methodology involves a rigorous process, conducted over a nine-month period that culminates in a solid, credible list of Best Employers decided by an external panel of independent jury. The Aon Best Employers India 2017 edition is in partnership with Business Insider and People Matters.

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