All parties litigating the TRAI Tariff order seem to have decided to stop further litigation. Star India has lost its appetite for further litigation, after almost all their pleas - made by high profile lawyers P Chidambaram and A Singhvi - have been rejected by 2 judges of the Madras High Court............
WIFI AT STATIONS IS POPULAR
Around 7.5 million users consumed over 7,100 terabytes of data in the month of April at 370 of the 400 railway stations which have free WiFi hotspots powered by Google and RailTel. Google has now completed its goal of 400 rail stations. Google manages the WiFi login software at these 400 stations, while RailTel provides the fibre and router infrastructure.
Consumption of data in April saw a four-fold jump compared to March 2017, where 6 million people had consumed 1,600 TB of data.
Surprisingly, more users and higher data consumption was in nonmetro cities: Almost 10,000 users in Pune, Allahabad, Vijayawada, and Visakhapatnam consumed, on average, over 2 TB of data on a daily basis.
TRAI numbers show that an average mobile subscriber consumed almost 2 GB data per month. And with fixed WiFi networks, usage shot up to 8.5 GB per month, according to Nokia. A TRAI report in April estimated that WiFi will drive about 60 per cent of Internet traffic in 2021.
RailTel has now floated a tender for WiFi projects in 7,700 more stations.
YOUTUBE BLOCKS PIB CHANNEL
The Press Information Bureau's (PIB) YouTube channel has been blocked since June 16.
A spokesperson for YouTube India said, "Videos on a limited number of sites have been blocked as we updated our partner agreements. We are working with them to get their videos back online."
PIB is in a fix since the channel is used to live telecast its press conferences and other events online. The channel has as more than 1.5 lakh subscribers, and it has posted more than 3,500 videos, viewed nearly 14 million times since it was set up in May 2011.
TRAI & BEREC MOU ON NET NEUTRALITY
TRAI has signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) on net neutrality with The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) on June 7.
The MoU was signed by TRAI chairman R S Sharma and BEREC chairman Johannes Gungl.
The MoU has committed to measure and monitor "Net Neutrality" and identify breaches of the core principles; how to empower endusers and ensure they have the necessary transparency; how to assess the impact of commercial practices on the open internet; the impact and compatibility of new technological developments on the open internet.
BEREC is developing a tool to monitor net neutrality violations & TRAI will have access to that tool when developed.
GOVT'S SOCIAL HUB ON HOLD
The new MIB secretary - Amit Khare has asked for a proper and elaborate action plan on the earlier initiative by the MIB to set up a social media hub. The project involves recruiting a large number of professionals across the country.
The idea of the social media hub was floated by ex- I&B minister Smriti Irani. The proposal was to recruit one social media manager in each of 712 districts countrywide. The social media manager would monitor local editions of newspapers, local cable channels, local audio channels (FM) etc., and submit a daily analysis report.
BECIL, a PSU under the I&B Ministry, has been given the mandate for the social media hub. As per a Request For Proposals issued by it, the platform would monitor Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, Play Store, email, news, blogs, forums and complaint websites.
INDECENCY CURBS ON DIGITAL MEDIA?
Women and Child Development Ministry plans to extend the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act of 1986 to include online media. The Act essentially forbids objectification of women and their depiction in a way that is 'likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals.' The UPA government first recommended this amendment and introduced an updated Bill of the IRWA in 2012 to do it.
A Centralized Authority will process cases under this law, which proposes to include OTT services like Instagram, WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, and Chat On.
The penalty will be similar to that of the IT Act, implying stiff penalties and jail time.
ALTBALAJI EYES INDONESIA & SRILANKA
ALTBalaji, the OTT platform of Balaji Telefilms, was launched on April 16, 2017. Today it claims 2.5 million subscribers.
The OTT platform now plans to promote its OTT platform in Sri Lanka & Indonesia by offering its content dubbed in Sinhala & Bahasa. An additional dub in Bangla may also be considered later.
'NET BIGGER THAN TV
Next year, for the first time in the USA, people will spend more time on the internet than watching TV.
People will spend an average of 170.6 minutes a day, or nearly 3 hours, using the internet for shopping, browsing social media, chatting with friends, and streaming music and video in 2019, according to a recent report by media agency Zenith. In comparison, they will spend 170.3 minutes watching TV.
Nearly 25% of all media consumption across the globe will be through mobile this year, compared to just 5% in 2011.
The average person will spend a total of about eight hours per day consuming media in its many forms this year, Zenith forecasts.
TELCOS OPPOSE PUBLIC WI-FI
The Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) has opposed TRAI March 2018 recommendations for "Proliferation of Broadband through public Wi-Fi Networks." The aim is to increase broadband accessibility through public Wi- Fi hotspots, managed by entities who would simply have to register themselves.
"Contrary to the well-established licensing structure, TRAI in its recommendation has suggested that Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs) and Public Data Offices (PDOs) be allowed to provide Internet access through Wi-Fi technology without taking a license. Any such service will be in conflict with the existing licensing framework. More importantly, establishing public WiFi networks without license will be illegal, being in violation of the Indian Telegraph Act,"
COAI claimed. "COAI is of the view that Public Wi-Fi should be allowed only through UL (VNO)," Rajan S Mathews, Director-General at COAI told the press.
BROADBAND FIBRE ALONG RAIL & HIGHWAYS
The government is working on a proposal that allows having dedicated land for telecom infrastructure like optical fiber cable ducts and towers along national highways and rail tracks, in a bid to increase broadband penetration and internet speed.
"Road transport and highways has agreed to provide land along highways under construction, which will be allocated by DoT through bidding to private players. The successful entity will provide space to telecom players to lay their optical fiber and set up towers, which could also provide Wi-Fi," a senior government official said.
Talks are on with railways for a similar arrangement along rail tracks.
This will also provide strong mobile signals along Highways and during rail journeys.
FACEBOOK HAS 1,000 WIFI HOTSPOTS
Facebook's Express WiFi initiative, launched last year, now has around 1,000 hotspots in India.
Like Google, Facebook provides software support for these hotspots while partner ISPs themselves run the network; revenue is then shared between the ISPs and Facebook. Currently Facebook has partnered with Tikona, AirJaldi, Shaildhar, and Netvision. Tikona is the only ISP on which Express WiFi is already active.
Google's WiFi hotspots are largely limited to train stations where they get access to RailTel's network. Google's WiFi is now available at 400 train stations.
JIO SUES COAI
The Delhi high court has accepted a defamation suit filed by Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) against industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and its director general, Rajan Mathews, seeking damages for allegedly using disparaging remarks which were malicious and harmed the Mukesh Ambani-owned carrier's reputation.
The Delhi High Court, in its interim order dated May 30, said that there was prima facie a case and directed Mathews and COAI, which represents all major telcos operating in India, to refrain from using "disparaging and defamatory" words or phrases like "back door operator", "skullduggery", "deep pockets with monopolistic designs" against Jio.
The next hearing has been scheduled for August 24.
HUGE RESPONSE FOR VILLAGE WI-FI
The launch of Wi-Fi hotspots under BharatNet's rural broadband project, resulted in a 190% jump in data usage to 95 terabyte within 6 months of commencement of the service, according to a DoT report. "While the 6 months saw a data consumption of around 33 TB, the second half of the year saw a consumption of around 95 TB," the report said.
BharatNet has been rolled out in over 1 lakh gram panchayats and aims to cover the rest of 1.5 lakh GPs by the end of this year. Karnataka has largest number of GPs where BharatNet infrastructure is used for Wi-Fi choupal project at 12,978 locations, followed by UP with 10,866 Wi-Fi choupals and MP: 7,896 choupals.
The government Wi-Fi hotspot service, known as Wifi Choupal is available in 7,183 gram panchayats (GPs) spread over 12 states: Bihar, Chandigarh, Chattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Puducherry, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Wifi Choupals offer 12 GB data for ₹ 100 & 28 days validity. Smaller packs offer 500 MB, 2GB and 4.5 GB for ₹ 10, ₹ 25 and ₹ 50 respectively.
"High speed data at cheap price is the main reason for increase in consumption. People are leaving their 3G and 4G data services for Wi-Fi Choupal service," said an official.
NO PRICE CAP FOR IN-FLIGHT 'NET
TRAI will not regulate what air passengers are charged for making calls and browsing the Internet while flying in Indian airspace.
"Tariffs are under forbearance in entire telecom sector and it (in-flight connectivity) will not be an exception. We will not govern it," TRAI Chairman RS Sharma told the press.
"Telecom operators managing a local earth station will have to get arrangements with international service providers and not with airplane companies directly so that flights while entering into Indian aerospace will start getting signals," Sharma clarified. Within the aircraft, the connectivity will be via WiFi.
Earlier this month, a high-level inter-ministerial Telecom Commission, headed by Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan, approved the move to allow air travellers to access Internet over smartphones and make calls once the aircraft achieves a height of 3,000 metres.
The high cost of equipment within the aircraft may not make it viable for domestic airlines to introduce the service.
UHF FOR EMERGENCY COMM
TRAI has recommended the allocation of 10 megahertz of paired 4G spectrum at no cost basis for setting up a nationwide network to provide communication service at the time of disaster and other emergencies.
TRAI has also recommended 20 MHz of additional spectrum in 450-470 MHz (between CATV Channel S-38 & UHF Channel E-21) frequency range which is estimated to provide almost double coverage compared to signals transmitted in existing band as well as deep inside buildings where mobile signals often fail to reach.
TRAI has also recommended forming of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) under Home Ministry to plan, coordinate and steer the nationwide Broadband PPDR communication network implementation and its subsequent operation.
AIRTEL'S TRIPLE PLAY BILLING
Airtel plans to introduce a single monthly customer invoice for its voice calls (wireline & mobile), DTH, broadband services. Consumers will be offered a 5-10% discount on the combined bill. Airtel hopes this will lead to consumer retention.
As of end March 2018, Airtel had 304 million mobile customers of which 94% were prepaid (i.e. No monthly bill generated) while Airtel DTH had 14.2 million customers with an ARPU of ₹ 228. The number of customers who are billed for all 3 services would be miniscule.
However, consumers have expressed concern on such a move, since if there is any dispute on a particular segment of the bill (e.g. DTH) it would result is cancellation of their landline & mobile phone and broadband services!
Speculation is the press is that in the last 3 months of this calendar year, JIO will launch a bundled product offering fibre delivered broadband @ 100 Mbps, unlimited VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service & fibre delivered (IPTV) JioTV for ₹ 1,000 a month. n