The TRAI has moved swiftly & declared milestones to implement its Tariff order, which we have detailed this month in the magazine. Star India moved the Supreme Court to stall the tariff order ............
GOOGLE FINED $ 5 BILLION
The European Union's antitrust chief has fined Google a record $5 billion for abusing the market dominance of its Android mobile phone operating system. The order says Google had illegally used Android's near-monopoly to boost usage of its own search engine and browser.
Google has been ordered to end the illegal conduct within 90 days or face additional penalties of up to 5% of parent Alphabet's average daily worldwide turnover.
Google said it will appeal against the order, contending that its Android operating system (OS) has "created more choice for everyone, not less".
Google's India-born CEO Sundar Pichai said that in 2007, Google "chose" to offer Android to phone makers and mobile network operators for free, even though Google invested billions to build the Android platform. Phone makers have the option of pre-loading a suite of popular Google apps. Some of these generate revenue for the company. They are also free to pre-install competing apps alongside its own.
BSNL+LCOS FOR JHARKHAND B'BAND
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will tie-up with LCOs to provide Fibre To The Home (FTTH) broadband service to customers in remote locations in Jharkhand.
Currently, BSNL provides FTTH broadband in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, and Dhanbad. The telco wants to utilise the last mile fibre network of LCOs to expand its broadband network.
"Through Cable TV network we will make our reach of fastest broadband service in Dumka, Deoghar, Daltanganj, Hazaribagh, Ramghar, Lather, Garwha including others very soon," BSNL Ranchi GM (commercial) R Prasad told the press.
Currently, BSNL has 2 combo plans of ₹ 777 and ₹ 1,277 per month on fixed rental, offering broadband connections at 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps speeds, besides unlimited voice calls (including STD).
Prasad said that the 2 plans will help counter Reliance Jio's proposed fibre-based broadband service.
NETFLIX TO DROP PRICE?
The world's largest OTT provider - Netflix has met with less than expected response, from Indian consumers.
"We're way behind YouTube, Hotstar. Those are really the leaders on internet" Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings admitted during its June-quarter earnings call.
Netflix CFO David Wells said a market like India has 3 or 4 different consumer segments due to different demographics. Netflix will address them one after the other. "Each one has a specific set of challenges and we're in the early days of sort of that first segment," he said. "So yes, expect more from us in terms of getting into segments 2, 3 & 4 also" he added.
India will be in the top 10 largest global OTT video markets by 2022 with revenue of over ₹ 5,500 crore, according to audit and consultancy firm PwC. Growing annually at around 23%, the domestic OTT market is currently pegged at ₹ 2,019 crore.
CCI REJECTS COMPLAINTS AGAINST GOOGLE
Anti-trust regulator CCI has rejected allegations of unfair business practices made against Google with respect to its advertising platform. 4 members of CCI ruled in a majority decision that Google's actions did not infringe provisions of the competition law.
Interestingly, CCI Chairperson D K Sikri passed a dissent note.
The complaints were filed by one Vishal Gupta and Albion InfoTel (informants). They alleged that Google indulged in anti-competitive practices with respect to its advertising platform AdWords.
According to the verdict "Google's AdWords policies protect the platform and the end-users, particularly, the vulnerable end-users," the order said.
TRAI'S NET NEUTRALITY OKED
The Telecom Commission has approved net neutrality rules which bar service providers from discriminating against Internet content and services by blocking, throttling or granting them higher speed access.
Some mission critical applications or services like remote surgery and autonomous cars will however be kept out of the purview of net neutrality framework. In the age of autonomous vehicles & remote diagnostic surgery, it is necessary to prioritize (the speed of) certain traffic. These categories of critical services will be subsequently notified by the DoT for exclusion from net neutrality norms. This is common international practice.
TC also approved the new telecom policy -- National Digital Communications Policy 2018. it will now need approval of the Union Cabinet.
The TC has also approved installation of around 12.5 lakh WiFi hotspot in all gram panchayats, by December 2018.
EUROPE SHIFTING TO OTT
A report from equity analysts at Deutsche Bank, says that European viewers are shifting away from linear TV to OTT at an alarming rate.
Deutsche Bank has even recommended investors to "Sell" their stakes in French commercial broadcaster TF1, as well as Spain's Mediaset and Atres Media (the former Grupo Antena 3/A3TV).
The report says "We now have full data for 2017 viewing levels across all European markets from national measurement agencies & Group M. This shows that the linear viewing decline accelerated over 2017. Even in Germany, which has been relatively slow to adopt on-demand, saw viewing fall in 2017 for the first time."
"Compare a 5-30 channel home in a traditional DTT (Freeview/TNT) world with the almost unlimited content available on a mobile device, tablet or a broadbandconnected 'Smart TV'. In this world, traditional broadcasters are clearly failing to replicate their share of TV advertising spend." the report added.
TELCOS: NO UNLICENSED PUBLIC WIFI
The Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), has rejected the TRAI's recommendation to allow unlicensed players to establish low cost Wi-Fi-based internet networks in public places. In a letter to the PMO, it claims this "would kill the business case of small ISPs operating in every nook and corner of India."
To protect its restrictive rights - which they have barely used for a decade - ISPAI says the proposal is illegal, hurt licensed operators, undermine national security, tilt the level-playing field & rob the central exchequer of substantial revenues.
Telcos want public Wi-Fi to be granted only against a VNO or higher license. They also argue that TRAI can only regulate licensed operators and not unlicensed entities.
GOOGLE: BETTER PUBLIC WIFI NEEDED
Public WiFi in India can add 40 million new users for the internet and contribute $20 billion to India's GDP by 2019, according to an Analysys Mason report commissioned by Google. The report comes as Google completes its goal of having WiFi hotspots under its Google Station brand in 400 stations.
"Despite rapid increases in a number of people connected to the internet, mobile broadband penetration in India stood at only 31% at the end of 2017," Google and Analysys said. The report urged TRAI and DoT to do more to enable WiFi hotspot growth & suggested the folowing measures:
1. Make more spectrum available for public WiFi.
2. Permissions to WiFi operators be granted in a straightforward and low-cost manner.
3. Permit active sharing of Wi-Fi infrastructure.
4. Issues around authentication, licensing and payments be resolved.
The report pointed out that telcos can benefit from Hotspot 2.0 technologies where phones automatically switch from a carrier's mobile data to nearby WiFi routers seamlessly. (Currently used by Jio in some locations).
Rolling out WiFi is 30% cheaper per user than traditional mobile networks, the report pointed out.
SEVERAL SERVICES OBSOLETED
TRAI has recommended that some of the services listed in the 1990 Telecommunication Tariff Order (TTO) be removed as they have become obsolete.
The services include Telegraph, Radio Paging Service, Telex & Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS).
TRAI had set up a committee consisting of representatives from TRAI, telecom service providers, and industry associations to identify infructuous/ redundant regulations that could be purged.
TIMES INTERNET RE-ENTERS OTT
Times Internet Ltd. (TIL), the digital arm of Times Group, has re-entered the OTT market with the acquisition of a majority stake MX Player for ₹ 1000 crore.
TIL will build a video streaming platform atop MX Player's 350 million install base in India.
TIL has a presence in the video OTT space through Box TV. However, that platform has been lying dormant without any new content addition.
According to TIL, MX Player offers best-in-class video playback capabilities & is currently installed on over 500 million devices globally.
In India, over 175 million consumers use it every month to watch videos, a reach comparable to leading TV channels, and exceeding all other OTT platforms in India.
In its first year, the platform will launch with more than 20 original shows, and over 50,000 hours of premium content across all languages. MX Player will continue to support its offline video playback features that are currently available.
JIO PROMISES 5G
While operators in the United States will be among the first to launch 5G commercial services between late 2018 and mid-2019, Jio hopes to launch its trial services later this year. Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) recently claimed to have built a future-ready network which will seamlessly deploy 5G. Current mobile phones are also not capable of 5G operation.
NO CLARITY FOR WIFI ROLLOUT
The plan to provide WiFi connectivity in Bengaluru's public places has got stuck due to lack of clarity on rentals access points.
"Everything from partners to locations are identified and 90% of the work is over. Only the BBMP clearance is awaited," said Priyank Kharge, who holds the social welfare portfolio.
Honeycomb and D-VoiS have offered to install hotspots at 2,555 locations each in Bengaluru, Mysuru and Kalaburagi while ACT has expressed interest to set up 1,000 WiFi hotspots in Benglauru and Mysuru. Indus Towers has proposed a total of 173 locations including 140 in Bengaluru.
According to the government's plans, the public get free WiFi for 30 minutes. Thereafter they pay rates fixed by TRAI.
20% LESS VOIP CALLS
TRAI says that internet based VoIP calls fell sharply by 20% between January to March 2018. Total outgoing minutes fell 20% to 258 million.
In contrast, mobile voice calls for all the major telecom operators increased by approximately the same amount, as mobile operators shift to compete with JIO's free mobile calls.
Ironically, last month DoT finally permitted full VoIP services, almost 2 years after most users began using WhatsApp for free local and international VoIP calling.
VoIP calls are now often used by subscribers, where mobile signals are low, resulting in call drop and poor Quality of Service (QoS).
JIO CROSSES 200 M USERS
Reliance Jio Infocomm declared it has more than 200 million subscribers (end May 2018). It has achieved this in less than 24 months since launch.
Idea Cellular has 217-million subs & Vodafone has 222 million.
Bharti Airtel is the market leader with 309 million wireless users.
Jio claims the lowest monthly churn rate of 0.25%. However, that figure is masked by the fact that JIO has not automatically deauthorised any of its unused JIO Prime SIMs since it commenced operations 2 years ago.
RATHORE: WHATSAPP NOT UNDER GOVT'S CONTROL
Even as 5 people were killed in Maharashtra following fake messages circulated on WhatsApp, I&B Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore has said that the messaging portal was beyond the government's control. "WhatsApp cannot be regulated, but we can definitely get educated," he said in a TV interview.
The minister asked those using the mass messaging portal to be careful of consequences & understand the medium before using it. n