February 2020



3 years after launch, Jio has become the No.1 telco by user base as well as revenue, according to TRAI data.

Jio added 5.6 million users in Nov, taking the total to 369.93 million, replacing Vodafone Idea from the top spot.

Jio now holds a 32.04% share in the more than 1.15-billion-user Indian mobile services market.

JIO had already become number one in terms of revenue market share last year when it grabbed 31.7% share in the April-June quarter.


After the inordinate delay in the implementation of BharatNet Phase-1, there are reports that Phase-2 of the project is also hugely behind schedule.

BharatNet Phase-2 is to connect 1.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs), only 7.45% of these are service ready.

Against a target of 3.11 lakh km of optical fibre cable, only about 92,283 km (30%) has been laid till end December 2019.

Compounding the problem, an estimated 19,952 km of optical fibre out of the 27,534 km laid by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) under phase one is now being pulled out and replaced by new optical fibre.

The progress of BharatNet-2 in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra & Odisha is the worst, with less than 1% GPs service ready. These 4 states have so far spent about ₹ 950 crore (17%) of the approved project cost.


The Dept of Telecom (DoT) has issued a ₹ 48,000 crore demand notice on Oil India Ltd. against its ISP license, as AGR linked dues and interest. The dues sought are double the net worth of Oil India.

"We have received a demand notice for paying payments by Jan. 23. We plan to challenge it in TDSAT," Oil India Chairman and Managing Director Sushil Chandra Mishra told the press.

DoT has also demanded ₹ 1.72 lakh crore from GAIL.

Industry observers feel the PMO needs to urgently step in to prevent the collapse of not only telcos, but several Public Sector enterprises, for whom these payments are both unfair and impossible.

The government is in a bind, because if it chooses to exempt the public sector enterprises, the telcos could claim injury under fundamental rights to equality and nondiscrimination and get reprieve.


Google's CEO - Sundar Pichai has called for regulations and curbs on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). "There is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. The question is how best to approach this," Pichai told European lawmakers.

As the European Union and the US start drawing up their own approaches to regulation, "international alignment" of any eventual rules will be critical, he added.

While it promises big benefits, he raised concerns about potential downsides of artificial intelligence, citing as one example its role in facial recognition technology, which can be used to find missing people but also for "nefarious reasons."

In 2018, Google pledged not to use AI in applications related to weapons, surveillance that violates international norms, or that works in ways that go against human rights.


The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the divestment of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd's 1,30,000 telecom towers to Canada's Brookfield Infrastructure Partners Lp & other investors. The deal is part of Reliance's plan to reduce debt.

The approval came within a month after the pact was signed. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea still await government clearances for the merger of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel.

RIL's wholly-owned subsidiary Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Ltd (RIIHL) has entered into binding agreements with Brookfield Infrastructure Partners Lp (BIPL) and its institutional partners, for an investment of ₹ 25,215 crore in the units to be issued by the Tower Infrastructure Trust, which currently holds 51% of share capital of Reliance Jio Infratel Pvt. Ltd. The current sponsor of the InvIT is RIIHL.

Jio will lease use of the towers, which will also be offered for use to other telcos.

This is the single largest foreign investment in an Indian infrastructure vehicle.


In a letter to its shareholders, Netflix has declared that it has over 100 million paid memberships outside the USA.

Netflix added 8.8 million subscribers in Q4.

Netflix said local originals were the most popular titles in many countries including India, Korea, Japan, Turkey, Thailand, Sweden and the UK.

"Out of the 7.7 billion people on the planet, only 1.5 billion speak English to some degree and about 371 million are native speakers. And yet, historically, the majority of entertainment content in the world has been produced in Hollywood in the English language. It's in that disconnect that we see a tremendous opportunity," Greg Peters, chief product officer at Netflix said.


Bharti Airtel Ltd., Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. and Vodafone Idea Ltd. have submitted their applications for 5G trials, expected to begin between January and March.

Airtel & Vodafone have independently partnered with Huawei, ZTE, Ericsson & Nokia for the 5G trials. Jio has partnered Samsung.

The Indian government has not yet explicitly allowed or debarred Huawei from supplying 5G equipment. This leaves Indian telcos in a quandary, whether they can source from this vendor. In December 2019, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said the government will not bar any equipment suppliers in the upcoming trials for 5G.

Huawei has been black listed by the USA.


China Mobile is mulling a foray in India by entering cloud services through a tie-up with either Vodafone Idea or Bharti Airtel.

Reports claim that initial meetings have been held. Reports are that the Chinese state-run telecom major could acquire a significant stake in a joint venture with the Indian telecom firms through a holding company structure.


The first phase of the Kerala Fiber Optic Network (KFON) is expected to be completed by June 2020. A consortium of companies, led by BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited), has nearly completed 30,000 Kms (Phase 1) of the ₹ 1,548 Crore project.

KFON will provide high-speed internet connectivity throughout the state. Kerala was the first state to declare internet availability as a fundamental right. The business plan is, fees received from service providers using KFON, will be used to offset the cost of providing free internet to 20 lakh BPL (below poverty line) households.

KFON's optical fibre cables will piggyback the right of way and the electric poles of KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board). The BEL-led consortium will set up the network and maintain it for 7 years.

KFON is a 50:50 JV between Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd and KSEB.


In September 2019, the Supreme Court directed the government to declare a deadline by which it would notify the Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules. The rules are to define liabilities for digital companies such as Facebook & Google.

Vide an affidavit filed in October, the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology said it will complete the notification by January 15.

The deadline has been pushed back to end January 27 i.e. just before the case comes up for hearing on January 28.

Reports are the draft could include changes in intermediary culpability and a redefinition of unlawful content to include terrorism and child sexual abuse imagery.


Online streaming services, have lost about $9.1 billion in revenues in 2019 and the figure is expected to go up to $12.5 billion in 2024.

The reason why companies like Amazon, Netflix and others lost such huge amounts was because the users shared their passwords. 31% of all subscribers shared their passwords with their friends and family, according to a report.

The report went on to add that people in the age bracket of 13-24 shared their credentials rather liberally with nearly 64% of the demographic obliging to the requests. People over 35 were rather cautious with their approach and only 16% shared the information.

One point of view is that users factor in the option to share the password and reduce cost of service, when subscribing to it.


Tata Sky has launched its Android TV OS (Android 9 Pie) STB, providing its subscribers a combination of DTH & OTT viewing. It has 2GB RAM and 8GB internal storage. Called "Binge+" the hybrid STB is priced at ₹ 5,999 for new subscribers.

The STB is more expensive than similar products from competitors. The Airtel Xstream Box was launched at ₹ 3,999, but it is now offered at ₹ 2,249 (₹ 1,999 for STB + ₹ 250 for installation). Similarly, the Dish SMRT Hub set-top-box can be bought for ₹ 2,499.

The STB includes a 1 month free trial for the TataSky Binge+ service. Thereafter, users pay ₹ 249 a month for OTT access to Hotstar, ZEE5, SunNXT, Eros Now and more.

Tata Sky Binge+ runs on Android TV OS (Android 9 Pie) & supports Google Assistant, including voice commands & supports apps like Spotify & Netflix. Chromecast allows mirroring a smartphone screen to the TV screen.


Jio plans to deploy 2 new submarine cable systems connecting Singapore and Europe. These will provide more than 100 Terabit per second (Tbps) capacity at transmission speeds of more than 100 Gigabit per second (Gbps) from the American East & West coasts to provide better internet connectivity to Indian Internet users.

The India-Asia-Xpress (IAX) will connect Mumbai & Chennai to Singapore and also interconnect with other far east countries towards the west coast of the US.

The India-Europe-Xpress (IEX) will connect Mumbai to Europe and interconnect to the East coast of the US.

The cables will have multiple branching links to provide options to extend the connectivity with other southeastern Asian destinations, covering the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, the Middle East, Northern Africa and other locations in the Mediterranean.

Both the new cable systems are expected to be operational by early 2023.

In 2017, Jio deployed the AAE-1 submarine system offering 100 Gbps (Gigabits per second) & stretching over 25,000 Kms, connecting major data centres in 3 continents with partners such as China Unicom, Etisalat, and Omantel.

Currently, there are nearly 1.25 million kilometers of submarine cables in service through 375 consortium systems worldwide.


Fastway Transmissions has partnered with Hungama Digital Media to provide Hungama's premium content as a Value Added Service (VAS) on Fastway's IPTV service.

All of Fastway's broadband & IPTV customers will receive a 1 month free trail. Hungama offers 5000 Movies, 10 Million songs, 300+ Games, 1500+ Short Films, 7500+ Hrs. of Kids content, Originals & 15000 short-form videos.

Fastway Transmissions Group CEO Prem Ojha said, "This synergic partnership will take our subscribers video viewing experience to next level. It will give both of us an opportunity to scale up our business ambitions, creating value for all our stakeholders with a focused and strategic approach. It also gives Hungama access to Netplus Broadband households."

Netplus Broadband has operations in 175 cities across 8 states and has recently launched Next Generation IPTV services.

Hungama Digital Media COO Siddhartha Roy said, "Providing our users the power of choice with convenience is at the core of our DNA."


India plans to amend proposed rules for policing digital content so the toughest measures apply only to big social media firms. The move that could give relief to smaller tech players fearful of the new regulations.

The original proposal would have forced all tech players, in addition to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, to deploy automated tools to check for unlawful content & fake news & appoint an officer for "24x7" coordination with law enforcement.


Reliance Jio has launched voice calling over Wi-Fi networks.

The service is currently compatible only on premium smartphones and in the Delhi telecom circle, according to reports.

The service uses Wi-Fi networks to create a separate channel for voice calls and improves calling experience for customers.

Bharti Airtel says it already provides a Voice Over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) service, "Airtel Wi-Fi Calling" to more than 1 million users.


A Rajya Sabha committee set up by Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu, met executives from online social media platforms Google, Twitter, ShareChat & the HERD Foundation, on the "alarming issue of pornography on social media and its effect on children and society as a whole."

The MPs asked the companies about the measures they were taking to curb child pornography on their platforms. The meeting was attended by Rahul Jain, the India manager for public policy at Google; Twitter India policy head Mahima Kaul; Berges Malu, head of public policy and policy communications at Indian language content platform ShareChat; and Amol Deshmukh and Suchika Gupta of HERD Foundation.

One of the executives suggested India should have a law similar to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act in America. A body like the Federal Trade Commission in the USA was also suggested. to regulate online media platforms.


India lost over $1.3 billion due to 4,196 hours of internet shutdowns across the country, in 2019. India was third-most economically affected country after Iraq and Sudan. Iraq - the highest looser lost $2.3 billion from 209 hours of blackouts.

The details are from a report "The Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns, in 2019" by internet research firm Top10VPN. The total cost of internet shutdowns across the world, was $8.05 billion in 2019, an increase of 235% since 2015-16.

Not-for-profit legal services organisation Software Freedom Law Foundation said India imposed 106 shutdowns in 2019 - more than any other country. The internet shutdown in Kashmir, imposed since 4 August, is the longest-ever internet blockade imposed by any country.


Video streaming platform YuppTV has bagged the digital broadcast rights for the BCCI Home Season, for all territories outside India.

The BCCI Home Season features cricket between Sri Lanka, Australia, South Africa, and India.

YuppTV users across the globe (outside India) will be able to watch the cricket live by logging on to or use the YuppTV app on smart TVs, smart Blu-ray players, streaming media players, gaming consoles, smartphones, and tablets. n