Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
New Delhi: A successful auction of airwaves and the launch of 4G services were the high points for India’s telecom industry in 2015 even as the lingering problem of call drops and bottlenecks in infrastructure, notably on transmission towers, remained major areas of concern.
Early in the year, the country saw the biggest auction of the spectrum when the government garnered Rs.1.10 lakh crore ($17.6 billion) to licence 380.75 MHz of airwaves in the 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz and 800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands across 17 out of 22 telecom circles.
The telecom service providers that participated in the marathon auctioning were: Idea Cellular, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Reliance Communications, Reliance Jio, Tata Teleservices, Telenor and Aircel.
While the auction was welcomed, since the availability of spectrum was a major cause for concern, the high bid prices proved to be a dampener.
“The outcome of the auction, in whichever manner, eventually led to a significant outflow of funds and further burdened the industry, which remains under a debt of Rs.3.5 lakh crore ($53.8 billion),” Rajan S. Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators’ Association of India, told IANS.
Mahesh Uppal, CEO of telecom consultancy firm Com First agreed but said: “The high demand for spectrum made auctions was unavoidable. The challenge is to design better auctions where there is less incentive to bid as high as last time.”
But the auction over two straight years could not stop the menace of call drops. The problem took such a shape that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi voiced his concern. Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad even said he did not want to be remembered as “call drop minister”.
The watchdog, on its part, also intervened and in mid-October directed mobile phone operators to compensate subscribers on call drops from Jan 1 at the rate of Re.1 for each failure — a decision that left the industry upset with legal help kept as an option.
There was also a related problem. Across the country, many telecom towers became inoperational as citizens started complaining that radiation emanating from it are health hazardous. This took its toll on telephone connectivity.
“The government will have to help by releasing more spectrum and make it easier and cheaper to install towers,” Uppal said.
“Call drops will be resolved when operators invest in enhancing network coverage. This, in turn, depends on the current availability of spectrum, as well as a future roadmap in receiving spectrum,” Romal Shetty, partner and head for telecom sector with KPMG-India, told IANS.
India also tried hard to catch up with the world in telecom technology. Bharti Airtel launched its fourth generation (4G) communications services in 296 towns across the country. Britain-based Vodafone launched the same on Dec 14 while Reliance Jio was expected to do so anytime.
“The 4G ecosystem is still weaker than 3G. For example, 3G devices are cheaper and more numerous than 4G devices. The 4G technology is new and expensive. The nature and size of customer demand for 4G are unclear,” Uppal said.
“Internationally, it took three-four years to roll out 3G and 4G services. We are not far back. Issues causing delay have been obtaining towers, the right of way, RoW (right of way to deploy some crucial infrastructure) and power availability,” Mathews said.
“The availability of affordable smartphones has been another major constraint. Now that some of these issues have been addressed, we should expect to see the rapid roll-out of 3G and 4G services,” the association chief added.
Another trending activity was a lower sale by various operators. Industrialist Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications signed a non-binding pact with the US-based Tillman Global Holdings and TPG Asia to sell its nationwide tower assets and related infrastructure for an undisclosed amount. Industry sources valued it at Rs.22,000 crore (nearly $3.4 billion).
State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam also got Cabinet approval to hive off its tower assets into a separate company. BSNL’s chairman-cum-managing director Anupam Shrivastava told IANS that the valuation of it could be in the region of Rs.20,000 crore ($3 billion).
Among the big-ticket mergers and acquisitions was Reliance Communications’ accord to acquire the Indian telecom business of Russia’s Sistema, which operates under the ‘MTS’ brand, in a unique stock-cum-spectrum-fee payment deal.
The government also allowed spectrum trading in India to help telecom companies to buy and sell unused radio waves from each other, without waiting for the next round of auction. Also, spectrum sharing was allowed by the government, which is expected to improve the quality of telecom services.
Highlights of telecom industry in 2015:
* Biggest spectrum auction over 19 days mopped up $17.6 billion
* Government allowed spectrum trading and sharing
* Watchdog directs operators to compensate for call drops from Jan 1, 2016
* Tariff on national roaming sharply cut
* Service providers gear up for 4G launch
* Global leader Foxconn to invest $5 billion to make devices in India
* Debate starts over net neutrality with draft note awaiting government nod
* Mobile number portability made applicable pan-India
(Aparajita Gupta, IANS)
Apple has updated its App Store rules to allow developers to contact users directly about payments, a concession in a legal settlement with companies challenging its tightly controlled marketplace.
According to App Store rules updated Friday, developers can now contact consumers directly about alternate payment methods, bypassing Apple's commission of 15 or 30%.
They will be able to ask users for basic information, such as names and e-mail addresses, "as long as this request remains optional", said the iPhone maker.
Apple proposed the changes in August in a legal settlement with small app developers.
But the concession is unlikely to satisfy firms like "Fortnite" developer Epic Games, with which the tech giant has been grappling in a drawn-out dispute over its payments policy.
Epic launched a case aiming to break Apple's grip on the App Store, accusing the iPhone maker of operating a monopoly in its shop for digital goods or services.
In September, a judge ordered Apple to loosen control of its App Store payment options, but said Epic had failed to prove that antitrust violations had taken place.
For Epic and others, the ability to redirect users to an out-of-app payment method is not enough: it wants players to be able to pay directly without leaving the game.
Both sides have appealed.
Apple is also facing investigations from US and European authorities that accuse it of abusing its dominant position. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Apple, App store, Epic, Games
Instagram (often abbreviated as IG or Insta) is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the market. It was a huge success right from the start, with more than a million users in only two months after it was launched. With individuals from all over the world posting photographs practically every second of the day, it is also one of the most popular social media platforms available. It is a picture and video social networking website based in the United States and owned by Facebook.
Instagram was created in San Francisco by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who worked together. Systrom was employed in marketing at the time, but he would learn how to code at night. He developed a prototype app for the concept, originally called "Burbn"; people could use this app to check-in to their location. Systrom attended a party where he met individuals who worked for venture capitalist firms and persuaded them to meet with him to promote Burbn. As soon as the first meeting concluded, he stepped down from his job, and two weeks later, he had collected $500,000 in funding from companies.
Instagram (often abbreviated as IG or Insta) is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the market. | Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
At this time, Systrom decided to form a team to help him further, so Mike Krieger chose to join. They concluded that the app was too similar to other preexisting mobile applications; therefore, they emphasized exclusively on visual communication. Apart from posting pictures, commenting, and liking, they removed all other services from the app. "Instagram" was chosen as the app's name since it corresponded to the fact that users were sending a kind of "instant telegram."
Instagram was launched on the 6th of October, 2010, and its popularity grew almost immediately. It quickly rose to become the most popular photography app following the launch, gaining 100,000 users in one week and reaching 1 million users within two months. Later, in 2012, it was purchased by Facebook for 1 billion dollars. Currently, it has more than 600 million active users, and the number is still steadily growing.
Keywords: Instagram, Instagram login, telegram, facebook, history, social media
India is known for its pickles, popularly called 'Achaar', even across the world. But who thought about the idea of pickles in the first place? Apparently, the idea of making pickles first came from the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia, where archaeologists have found evidence of cucumbers being soaked in vinegar. This was done to preserve it, but the practice has spread all over the world today, that pickles mean so much more than just preserved vegetables.
In India, the idea of pickle has nothing to do with preservation, rather pickle is a side dish that adds flavour and taste to almost anything. In Punjab, parathas are served with pickle; in the south, pickle and curd rice is a household favourite, and in Andhra, it is a staple, eaten with everything. The flavour profile of pickles in each state is naturally different, suited to each cuisine's taste. Pickles are soaked in oil and salt for at least a month, mixed with spices and stored all year round. Mango season is often synonymous with pickle season as a majority of Indians love mango pickle. In the coastal cities, pickles are even made out of fish and prawns.
The Indian Achaar Image credit: Photo by Rahat Hossen on Unsplash
In other cultures, the pickling process has more to do with preservation. Cold countries, where temperatures drop to very low levels, pickle their vegetables in brine, vinegar, or salt. Sweden is famous for pickled herring, because fishing all year round is hard with all the snow and ice. The German Sauerkraut, originally composed of rice, cabbage, and wine, is now made using salt instead of wine. This gives it a sour flavour that is characteristic of the beloved German delicacy.
In Korea, kimchi is the national delicacy. It is a pickle that is made from pickled cabbages with a distinct mix of spices. Kimchi is made with various core ingredients, and is gaining popularity these days with the Korean Wave hitting the globe. It is a practice that represents the Korean winters, which are too harsh to grow anything. The Kimchi business is one of the largest in Korea, while the individual family recipes are also well-preserved as it is believed that each is unique in its own way.
The pickles made from dill and vinegar are most famous in America. It was introduced to the Americans by the Jewish immigrants. Dill pickles are best paired with sandwiches.
Keywords: Pickles, Culture, Brine, Vinegar, Preserves