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March 2019



In its final report at the end of an 18-month investigation, the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Selection Committee said "Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like 'digital gangsters' in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law. By choosing not to appear before the Committee and by choosing not to respond personally to any of our invitations, Mark Zuckerberg has shown contempt towards the UK Parliament." The report is extremely critical of Facebook's online model.

The committee began conducting its inquiry into the spread of fake news last year, after the Cambridge Analytica (CA) data breach scandal, which revealed widespread misuse of public data by the now-defunct British company.

The committee's 'Disinformation and 'fake news': Final Report' reiterates the role played by CA's parent company, SCL Group, in some foreign elections in countries like India.


Jio Infocomm added 8.56 million mobile phone users in December 2018, taking its subscriber base past 280 million.

Vodafone Idea lost 2.33 million subs & Bharti Airtel lost 1.5 million customers due to their increased amount for minimum recharge plans, aimed to weed out non-revenue generating users.

JIO's market share has risen to 23.82%, while VIL had 35.61% & Airtel 28.93% market share.


Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan has asked BSNL to look at all options, from a revival plan to disinvestment and even closure, as it looks to tackle India's largest loss-making PSU, accounting for 25% of all PSU losses.

BSNL had accumulated losses of ₹ 31,287 crore at the end of 2017-18.

BSNL has been asked to submit "comparative analysis of all options available with the government, i.e. strategic disinvestment of BSNL, closure or revival with financial support."

BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava said in his presentation that apart from competition, the company's large, ageing manpower needed to be reduced through a VRS. If employees aged 56-60 years are offered VRS, it will make 67,000 employees eligible for it. "Assuming 50% of these employees opt for VRS, it will result in salary savings of ₹ 3,000 crore. The ex-gratia will vary from ₹ 6,300 crore to ₹ 6,900 crore."

BSNL also suggested monetisation of the company's large real estate holdings, estimated to be worth ₹ 15,000 crore.


Reeling from debt of ₹ 20,000 crore, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) has submitted a plan to the government to ensure its survival. This includes converting its loans into sovereign guarantee, giving up 3G spectrum, revision of employees' pay & introducing a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS).

If all else fails, the company said, the government should take over MTNL or dissolve, with the only condition that all its employees should be absorbed by the DoT.


India's antitrust commission is looking into accusations that Alphabet's Google abuses its popular Android mobile operating system to block its rivals.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has for the past 6 months been reviewing a case similar to one Google faced in Europe that led to a fine of 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) by antitrust regulators last year. Google has challenged that order.

The European Commission found Google had abused its market dominance since 2011 with practices such as forcing manufacturers to preinstall Google Search and its Chrome browser, together with its Google Play app store on Android devices.

According to press reports, Google executives have in recent months met Indian antitrust officials at least once to discuss the complaint, which was filed by a group of individuals.

Historically, CCI's investigations have often taken years to complete.


Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has revised all its FTTH Broadband plans to offer more data.

The company is now offering up to 170 GB of data per day with speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

The ₹ 777 broadband plan now offers 18 GB data per day @ 50 Mbps and 2 Mbps upon exceeding the FUP.

₹ 1277 gets 25 GB per day @ 100 Mbps.

₹ 3999 offers 50 GB per day @ 100 Mbps speeds.

₹ 5,999 offers 80GB daily @ 100 Mbps speeds.

For each of these plans, BSNL also offers unlimited voice calls.


Shemaroo Entertainment has launched its subscription-driven OTT app 'ShemarooMe.'

Two subscription plans are offered: ₹ 49/month or ₹ 499/ year and ₹ 99/ month or ₹ 999/ year.

ShemarooMe offers around 2000 film titles and 1000 hours of non-film content in 5 genres: Bollywood, Bollywood Classics, Gujarati, Punjabi, Devotional and Kids.

Currently, the app is available only in India but will be rolled out in the US market in the first quarter of FY20.

Shemaroo Entertainment CEO Hiren Gada said that US, UK, and Gulf are the biggest markets for Indian content due to the presence of the large Indian diaspora.

Gada said the platform will focus on non-English audience which makes up the bulk of the market.


Bangalore headquartered ACT Fibernet has rebranded, with a new logo, and growth plans.

In 2019, ACT Fibernet plans to expand its products, service offerings and partnerships across various categories, namely: ACT Advantage Entertainment, ACT Advantage Gaming, ACT Advantage Speed, ACT Advantage Service, ACT Advantage Smart Cities, and ACT Advantage community.

Plans are to partner with content partners like ZEE5 and SonyLIV amongst others to strengthen its content offerings. It is working with popular gaming cafes, gaming OEMs and gaming publishers to provide the highest quality gaming experience to users.

Within the next six months, ACT Fibernet plans to launch its broadband services in multiple cities across North & West India, thereby expanding its footprint in the country.

ACT Fibernet also plans to offer 5,000+ Wi-Fi hotspots across Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Vishakhapatnam, and others. ACT Fibernet is also working with the state governments in Chennai, Hyderabad & Bengaluru to enable free wi-fi connectivity in public libraries and schools.


Fibre broadband ISP - Spectranet has re-branded as Spectra ( & introduced 100 Mbps plans for its customers in Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore.

The company has established a partnership with content service provider and is also planning to add more content for its customers.


ZEEL's OTT platform ZEE5 has launched special Tamil subscription packs for Malaysia & Singapore, priced at MYR 9.9 & SGD 6.98 per month respectively.

ZEE5 global chief business officer Archana Anand said, "The introduction of the Tamil pack in Malaysia and Singapore enables viewers in these markets to access a huge bouquet of premium Tamil content, ranging from their favourite TV shows to a constantly expanding library of Originals and movies including World Digital Premieres."


Announced more than 6 months ago, DishTV has finally launched its own OTT app called 'Watcho.'

The app is currently undergoing beta testing.

It appears that 'Watcho' will run on a freemium model, offering some streaming content free, with the rest of the content available only to DishTV subscribers.


In 2016, TRAI had made a pitch to the Department of Telecom (DoT) for providing free data to people in remote and rural areas. TRAI had suggested giving 100 MB of data free every month, funded by the Universal Service Fund (USOF) that has been created to spread the telecom services in remote areas. Also, TRAI had suggested a creation of 'data aggregators' who could offer the free data through telco-agnostic schemes in a nondiscriminatory manner.

Aruna Sundararajan, Telecom Commission (TC) chairperson & Secretary of the Telecom ministry, said that the TC felt that data & voice tariffs in India are currently the lowest in the world & thus there is "no need to incentivise them further" to push their growth.

Further, Sundararajan said "We do not want a set-up where aggregators would need to be registered or licensed out, and thereafter monitored. The TC felt that we do not need these kinds of data intermediaries operating in the market."

The Telecom Commission feels that further expansion of internet can be made through the Bharat Net programme that aims to connect over 1 lakh villages with high-speed optic fibre.


Vodafone Idea is set to boost its enterprise business by launching commercial narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) services. It has conducted pilot programmes in Kochi, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Chennai, for various uses, including smart energy metering.

Vodafone Idea is bullish on the NB-IoT market which is projected to grow to ₹ 5,000 crore in 3 years. It plans to extend the service countrywide in the next 12 months.

"By April we plan to tap specific opportunities in smart city and other specific applications. We have been setting up the NB-IoT network with various devices and partners for testing of things like smart water meters, asset tracking, cold-chain monitoring, smart parking and wearables," chief enterprise business officer Nick Gliddon told the press.

NB-IoT is a new technology standard, designed to broaden the future of IoT connectivity, providing significantly improved and deeper network coverage for communication between machines while lowering power consumption by devices.

Reliance Jio Infocomm last year launched an NB-IoT network with a commercial network available in Mumbai.

Bharti Airtel too, is conducting NB-IoT pilots & is planning to launch commercial services soon.


Private telecom service providers have deployed 3.4 lakh public Wi-Fi hotspots, countrywide. The target is 1 million such WiFi spots for public use. The architecture is slightly different from 'WANI' that TRAI had recommended in 2017. WANI is an open-architecture based Wi-Fi access network, enabling users to easily access & connect one or more devices in a single session after authentication.

The telcos have now submitted a proposal to make all of them interoperable.

"We have submitted their (telcos) architecture to the ministry of home affairs for clearance. Once a nod is received from the ministry, it will become interoperable," said telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan.


The Telecom Commission has asked TRAI for its opinion on allocation of 10 MHz in the 700 MHz spectrum, to the Indian Railways for public safety.

"The Commission has decided to refer the allocation of 10 MHz of spectrum administratively to the TRAI to take a considered view," Sundararajan said.

The spectrum will be used by the Indian Railways for an advanced signalling system which according to the department couldn't be done as it was already earmarked for mobile services.