Thursday, June 4, 2009
MUMBAI, INDIA: ACK Media, India's leading entertainment and education company for young audiences in partnership with iRemedi Corp. has announced the launch of Amar Chitra Katha, acollection of illustrated classics that retell the enchanting stories aboutIndian Heroes, on iPhone and iPods for the International market.
The popular Amar Chitra Katha Comics are now available on iRemedi's ETHER MEDIA, an innovative media content deliverysolution for the iPhone platform. iRemedi is ACK Media's technology partner forthe iPhone platform. This launch will allowthe iPhone community to enjoyfull color high-resolution art and story in an award winning and intuitive userinterface from iRemedi. The offering will beavailable to the iPhone and iPods users through the Apple iTunes store.
Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), ever since its inceptionin 1967, has sold more than 90 million copies of 400+ titles across Indianmyth, epics, history and fables. ACK brings alive the Indian storytellingtradition through a unique blend of commentary,dialogue and illustration in comic format. The Indic art style and vibrantcompositions lends a sense of drama thus elevating the experience ofstorytelling. ACK comics have been an integral part of generations of readersinspiring them with deep rooted culture and values thus making it a 'one of itskind' cultural phenomenon.
iPhone users need to log on to the Apple iTunes store and search by Amar Chitra Katha or iRemedi or by the title names. Most titles are available for purchase at$1.99 along with free previews to some titles as well.
According to Samir Patil, CEO and Founder of ACK Media said, "We are very excited to launch Amar Chitra Katha on iPhone for the International audience.ACK has enthralled millions of people from diverse culture and generations overthe past four decades worldwide. With this launch of a wide range of Amar Chitra Katha comics we have taken an important step towards bringing the worldof Indian storytelling to the iPhone community. In addition to comics we arelooking at creating new applications and games for this platform".
SridharBhat, CEO and Founder of iRemedi said"This is a historic moment for both ACK and iRemedi. At iRemedi, we are verythrilled to have ACK as our first media partner for our high quality intuitivemedia app for iPhones and iPods. We always strive to deliver the bestexperience for the iPhone user community and we are confident ACK's fans willshare our excitement in enjoying ACK comics on the go. For ACK this is a keymilestone in bringing the classical Indian mythology and rich culture to theglobal community instantly in the amazing user experience with iPhones. TheiPhone's revolutionary platform brings limitless avenues for various dreams tobecome".
BOSTON/WASHINGTON, USA: BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd has issued a security patch for the popular device, whose users include US President Barack Obama, warning that it is vulnerable to attacks by hackers.
Research in Motion issued the security warning last week in a bulletin on its web site, but officials could not be reached to comment on details of the patch.
If the patch is not applied, security experts said, there is a risk that hackers could exploit the vulnerability, though they have not done so yet.
Such problems are not unique to Research in Motion. Technology companies constantly battle to stay ahead of increasingly sophisticated hackers. Every time a vulnerability is identified, there is potential for hackers to exploit it.
"It is a serious problem. You need to read the advisory and implement a fix before the hackers try to take control," said Graham Cluley, a senior researcher with anti-virus software marker Sophos.
When companies publicize security flaws, criminals rush to to exploit them because it can take weeks or months for users learn of such problems and protect against them.
Businesses often hold off on installing patches so they can test them to make sure that the new software is compatible with other programs in their network. Sometimes a patch can cause other types of software to malfunction.
The newly disclosed vulnerability could allow hackers to take control of servers running BlackBerry systems by sending emails with tainted attachments in Adobe Systems Inc's PDF format, according to computer security researchers.
If the device's user opens one of those attachments, it would seek to install malicious software on the server at the data center that runs a company's BlackBerry network. Hackers could then covertly use that server to send spam or steal corporate data.
"All kinds of nastiness could occur," Cluley said.
Research in Motion issued patches to resolve similar problems in January.
The Canadian company pays close attention to such issues because it prides itself in security, counting intelligence agencies and top executives at the world's largest corporations among its customers.
Research in Motion suggests that businesses block their users from opening attachments until they install the patch. The advisory is posted at: blackberry.com/btsc/KB18327
Thomas K Thomas
New Delhi, June 3 It took 15 years for India to get 400 million mobile users, but under three years it will add the next 400 million.
According to the revised estimates by the Cellular Operators Association of India, the mobile subscriber base is expected to zoom to 893 million by 2012. That is 150 million more subscribers than what was projected earlier. The COAI’s earlier estimates had put the mobile user base at 743 million by 2012.
The reason for the new optimism is derived from the huge uptake of mobile services in rural areas.
Explains Mr T. V. Ramachandran, Director-General, COAI: “We have revised the projections because the rate at which infrastructure is growing is faster than what we had expected. Operators are moving into the hinterland and uncovered areas. Secondly, we are getting almost 50 per cent of our new additions from the rural areas. The third factor is that the level of competition has increased with new players in the sector which again leads to faster deployment of networks.”
According to Mr Atul Bindal, President, Mobility, Bharti Airtel, three out of five new subscribers are now coming from non-urban areas. “Indian growth story is here to stay. I will push back against any view that says to the contrary. There is still a huge untapped market in both rural and urban areas,” says Mr Bindal, who expects Airtel to get its next 100 million users in another two-three years.
India, with 400 million mobile users, is now the second largest market in the world after China which has over 650 million subscribers. According to COAI’s projection, there will be 1.24 billion mobile users in 2015 - which means one phone for every Indian.
GSM broadband users
Our Mumbai Bureau reports: India could have 100 million mobile broadband users on the GSM platform by 2014, if the 3G auctions happen during the current fiscal, according to the GSM Association. Overall broadband penetration in India is 4.7 per cent now.
3G investments would lead to economic benefit worth around $70 billion, Mr Jaikishan Rajaraman, senior director, GSMA, said at a press meet here on Wednesday.
The delay in the auction of 3G spectrum in the past two years has led to a huge loss of around $16 billion, according to a study by global consulting firm LECG Corp.
The losses include direct investments as well as those arising from missed opportunities.
“Cost of capital increases whenever you choose to defer investments,” said Mr Rajaraman.
New Delhi, June 3 To boost its plans to roll out WiMax-enabled broadband services in the rural areas, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd will shortly launch a Rs 1,500-crore project to buy 7,000 WiMax base stations to set up Common Service Centres (CSC) across the country.
The tender document for this project is being prepared and BSNL will invite Expression of Interest from equipment manufacturers to supply WiMax gear.
This comes even as BSNL scrapped another tender for appointing franchisees for rolling out WiMax-based broadband services across the country. This project had run into controversy after it came out that five of the six short-listed bidders had similar corporate details, including contact e-mail, address, lawyers and auditors. BSNL will float a new tender for appointing franchisees.Three phases
The PSU plans to roll out WiMax in three phases. Phase One will set up the broadband infrastructure in the rural areas. A part of this project has already been given to the Chinese vendor Huawei and a relatively unknown entity from Tamil Nadu, Gemini. The two vendors are to set up 1,000 base stations to connect an equal number of remote blocks. The new tender for another 7,000 base stations will be floated in a week.
In the second phase, BSNL plans to roll out broadband infrastructure in the urban areas. While Huawei has been selected for rolling out services in Punjab, Telsima has emerged the lowest bidder in Kerala. The PSU is expected to award the contracts to these vendors shortly. Tender for other circles will be floated later.
The third project was on a franchisee model which has now got scrapped.Only Two operators
BSNL and MTNL are the only two operators to have got the spectrum for rolling out WiMax broadband services.
However, neither has been able to get going on the WiMax project though each has launched third generation mobile services. Cancelling the franchisee tender will only delay further the broadband services roll out.
Hyderabad, June 3 Patni Computers is gearing up to take advantage of the potential demand for next generation telecom technologies such as fixed-mobile convergence and long-term evolution (LTE).
“From a user perspective, the next big things in telecom technology are integration of one’s mobile phone and fixed lines and LTEs,” Mr Siddhartha Kataki, Associate Vice-President told Business Line here.
In simpler terms, fixed-mobile convergence will ensure continuous access to a person through his phone. LTE is the latest standard in mobile technology aimed at enriching user experience in areas such as multi-media online gaming and streaming of content.
“Just imagine your mobile device with up to 50 MBPS speed. You can uplink any content very easily,” Mr Kataki said.
This is the speed akin to what is available in an ordinary personal computer.
When asked on the R&D progress at Patni in this regard, he said: “We know the underlying IT space and are pretty much gearing up to the market needs.”MVNO
The Hyderabad facility of Patni with over 1,200 professionals is supporting global customers. “A major part of mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) framework is developed by us. We can ensure that MVNOs can launch their operations in just 60 days,” he said.
On the impact of recession on IT space in telecom, he said Patni had not yet seen any negative impact.Sensing Opportunity
“The customer in India is both data-hungry and voice-hungry. There is a huge demand for bandwidth augmentation. 3G, Wi-Max and other rich-media content delivery devices will be in great demand,” he added.
Vernacular versions of electronic communications would lead to social calibrations and thus drive growth in market, Mr Kataki observed.
“On every rupee spent in telecom, 30 per cent goes to IT sector. With 6-7 per cent gross domestic product growth, the opportunity in India will be huge notwithstanding global recession,” he added.
The company also plans to hire over 120 this year at the Hyderabad facility, he added.
New Delhi, June 3 The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday asked Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd to maintain status quo in the tendering process for awarding to Huawei a contract for rolling out GSM network in the South zone till June 10.
The court has asked the Department of Telecom to file a response to a petition filed by Nokia Siemens challenging the tendering process. The Chinese vendor Huawei will be a party to the case.
Nokia Siemens had challenged BSNL’s decision to disqualify its bids on technical grounds. The Finnish company said that it had supplied equipment to BSNL on previous occasions and, therefore, it was unfair to find technical problems with its bid. It alleged that BSNL had designed the tender to favour some vendors. According to Nokia Siemens, the technical deficiencies in its bid have not been explained.
In a letter written earlier to the Department of Telecom, NSN said that it had clarified all questions which BSNL had raised during the valuation of the technical bidsSimilar plea
A similar petition was filed by Nokia Siemens in the Punjab and Haryana High Court which asked BSNL to submit its reasons for disqualifying the company. The Finnish company is examining BSNL’s reply given to the Punjab and Haryana High Court before taking the next step.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court’s order will delay BSNL’s plans to roll out 93-million lines across the country.
The project was divided into four zones. While Ericsson has been shortlisted for North and East zones, Huawei was chosen for South. Bids for the West zone were not opened by BSNL after the Intelligence Bureau (IB) raised questions about giving contracts to Chinese vendors in sensitive regions.
Though the IB had raised objections to giving contracts in the South to Chinese vendors, BSNL went ahead with Huawei.
London: British telecom major Vodafone's former chief executive Arun Sarin received 500,000 pounds (Rs 3.87 crore) to relocate to the US following his departure from the company.
According to the group's annual report, for the year ended March 2009, Sarin received a remuneration of 1.42 million pounds (Rs 10.99 crore), which includes basis salary, cash incentives and other benefits.
The company stated that the benefits and other category in the renumeration “includes 500,000 pounds in respect of relocation for Arun Sarin.” In the FY 2009, Sarin collected 436,000 pounds in basic salary, 434,000 pounds in incentive schemes, 553,000 pounds in other benefits and awards, including the relocation fee of 500,000 pounds in 2009, the data available in the company's annual report shows.
Overall, Sarin's pay package stood at 8.1 million pounds in the year to March 31. It included 6.1 million pounds in shares and dividend of 564,000 pounds.
The company stated that Sarin had an contractual entitlement to 500,000 pounds in connection with his relocation to the US.
In the previous financial year 2008, Sarin had received 3.59 million pounds as remuneration from Vodafone.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
NEW DELHI: A potential merger
HELSINKI, FINLAND: Norway's Opera Software overtook Apple's iPhone browser in May as the most popular mobile browser in the world, Web analytics firm StatCounter said on Tuesday.
Of all Internet pages that were downloaded to mobile devices globally in May, 24.6 percent were downloaded through Opera's browser and 22.3 percent via iPhone, StatCounter said.
The top spot has see-sawed this year.
"Opera began the year in the number one slot but iPhone overtook it in February," Aodhan Cullen, chief executive of StatCounter, said in a statement. "It will be fascinating to watch how this battle plays out over the year."
Opera sells its browser to many cellphone makers and operators, and consumers can directly download it for free, while the Apple browser's ranking reflects only iPhone users surfing the Internet.
Nokia, the world's top cellphone maker, retained third place in mobile browsers with 17.9 percent of the market, StatCounter said.
StatCounter said its research data is based on four billion pages loaded per month.
During an interview given to CIOL, Vsevolod Rozanov, president and CEO, Sistema Shyam TeleServices, said that CDMA is a better technology than GSM because it enables better utilisation of the frequencies available, and thus helps in bringing down the costs. Excerpts:
CIOL: The Indian metros and urban areas have attained saturation in terms of telecom density. So where do you see the demand coming from and for what?
Vsevolod Rozanov: If we have to grow fast, apart from expanding our footprint in new circles and getting new customers (first-time users), we have to wean away customers from the incumbents.
We believe there is a huge market for us to grow. While there are players who have the first mover's advantage, there is still a vast chunk of existing individual users who will find higher value for money in our tariff and billing plans.
CIOL: What are your investment plans for India? What will be the focus?
VR: We plan to invest $5.5 billion in India over a period of five years. We will utilize most of this projected investment over the next two years for setting up infrastructure that will enable accessibility and better connectivity for mobile phone users.
We have already invested more than $1 billion in setting up our network. We have launched the brand in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Kerala and Kolkata. We are planning to launch services in Delhi by Q3 this year, and looking to foray into one circle every month.
CIOL: Do you see a possibility of M&A going forward to meet the increased challenge? What is your take on infrastructure sharing among service providers to combat frequent network disruptions owing to issues like natural disasters?
VR: We are not aware of any significant player in the CDMA segment in India who is planning to hive off its telecom business.
CIOL: How different will be your 'go-to-market' strategy?
VR: In Rajasthan, the key message of our campaign is to create a churn in the market through the slogan, "Badlo life ka plan" (change your life's plan).
Today over 50 per cent of our subscribers in Rajasthan are not new customers, but those who have switched over from other mobile service operators. They are doing so because they are frustrated with the quality of the old incumbent networks, and are willing to try our non-congested network.
We do not see much difference between GSM (global system for mobile communications) and CDMA. Customers using CDMA technology are approximately one quarter of all. Given the size of the Indian market, this is not small at all.
We have been looking at whether we should wait until we are fully ready with CDMA data offerings or we should start building our customer base and deliver our data offers a bit later. We decided to go in for the second option. We will be coming out with the data offering soon.
CIOL: With several service providers in the frame, will the cost of service be brought down further?
VR: India is a highly price sensitive market. Our pan-Indian strategy will focus on simplicity in all our marketing strategy. We will offer simple, very clear and understandable tariff plans for our customers. Our tariffs will be the lowest, with no hidden charges.
We have dropped the price of entry-level colour phones to Rs 999, and they come with six months of free calls and lifetime validity. The subsidy that we incur on every phone is going down as the price of phones is going down faster than the fall in new offers.
We will offer SMS at 50 paise unlike most other operators who charge one rupee. The tariffs can fall further, if the regulator makes the termination charge cost-based, which would be less than 10 paise a minute from the current 30 paise, the same can be passed on to customers.
CIOL: How do you see advanced mobile technologies - such as 3G, CDMA - gaining currency in rural areas as well, especially when India has very less wireless penetration?
VR: The advanced mobile technologies such as 3G have the potential to meet the digital divide between rural and urban India by penetrating into far-fetched areas, where fixed-line connectivity is sparse due to high deployment cost of infrastructure. 3G will not only alleviate the existing level of voice-based services, but also make Internet broadband access a reality for larger population.
3G will also fit well into the urban user's plan. It will enable quality voice and address the pent-up demand for high-bandwidth data exchange on mobile phones and support high-speed Internet access on other portable devices.The government has recognized 3G as the cornerstone for growth of the telecom sector and is expected to allocate the third generation on priority.
CIOL: What is being done to take the brand into the market?
VR: MTS is the eighth-largest telecom company in the world with over 100 million customers. In India, we are the sixth or seventh operator. We are using faces of models talking on the mobile phone to relate to the consumers and give our service the human touch. We have also decided to concentrate most of our advertising and marketing spend on local media, via regional language instead of English.
We have also recently rebranded our existing operations in Rajasthan, under the 'Rainbow' brand, to MTS. Rainbow was a regional brand limited to Rajasthan and what we needed was a pan-India brand name. Accordingly we painted the Pink City Jaipur to red - the colour of our brand.
The most important factor is the time-to-market - how quickly we could launch the brand across India in the next nine months. With MTS, the brand material, logo and specifications are all readymade and already available
CIOL: How do you look at the slowdown?
VR: Global economic slowdown is a business challenge for enterprises across the globe. However, Sistema is one of the largest public diversified corporations in Russia. We have sufficient funds to expand our operations, and launch our services on a pan-India basis.
India is one of the fastest growing markets for telecom, and has been relatively un-impacted by recession. As of now, the situation is under control, because the financial meltdown has not impacted Indian banks in a major way.
However, if the situation worsens, then we could be in a spot as we are not allowed to bring in foreign funds in the form of debt. We are allowed to bring money in the form of equity, but our promoters would like to have the flexibility to decide on what form they would like to pump in money into the company.
The Indian Government should consider relaxing the foreign investment norms, which will allow international players to bring in funds in the form of loan.
CIOL: What would be the newer trends in the Indian mobility sector?
VR: The year 2009 is expected to be an exciting year for the Indian mobile telephony market. With the Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) voted back to power, the sector can look forward to speedy auction of the long-awaited 3G spectrum.
A significant portion of the rural population will witness phased growth in first-time Internet access and welfare programs covering telemedicine, e-governance and distance learning - propelled by 3G mobile broadband and WiMax.
While the 3G network would infuse better services for subscribers and enhance revenues from VAS (value-added services) for operators, the introduction of MNP will offer users the convenience of retaining their mobile phone number even after switching between networks and operators.
Mobile payment and commerce for micro-transactions is also expected to attract greater user-orientation.
Thomas K. Thomas
New Delhi, June 2 To keep its leadership position in the fastest growing mobile market, Bharti Airtel is embarking on a multi-pronged strategy, including a comprehensive customer retention programme, partnerships with companies that offer mobile entertainment and commerce services, domestic acquisitions and a thrust on driving growth in the rural areas.
In his first interview after taking over as the President of Bharti’s mobile business, Mr Atul Bindal, told Business Line, “I do not agree with those who say Indian mobile growth story is on the verge of getting over. We will reach the next hundred million subscribers by a combination of reaching out to the huge potential that exists in the rural areas, taking advantage of the untapped opportunity in large urban areas and possibly through the organic route which we will evaluate as when opportunities come by.”
Bharti crossed the 100-million mark in May and is hoping to reach the 200-million mark in another two-three years.Number portability
Asked on the impact on Bharti of new players and introduction of mobile number portability (MNP), Mr Bindal said the company has put in place a customer life-cycle management system which will enable it to take customer services to the next level.
“At present most operators are looking at a few broad consumer segments to create offering and services around them. We are going to take this to the next level wherein Bharti will target micro segments of subscribers to offer customised services. For example, a subscriber who travels a lot to a particular country would like to get a special international roaming tariff. The system will allow us to target products based on the user’s behaviour rather than launch broad mass offerings,” Mr Bindal said.
He added that MNP is an opportunity for Bharti to acquire customers from other operators.
Mr Bindal reckons that mobile commerce and mobile entertainment are going to be big applications.
“Value added service the way we know today is going to change drastically. We are giving a huge thrust to music, games, movies and sports under mobile entertainment wherein we plan to be an end-to-end service provider. We will also enable application providers to use Bharti’s network as a conduit to reach our subscribers. In m-commerce, we are looking at the unbanked segment and micro-finance in a big way,” he said.
Asked if Bharti was open to tie-ups with companies such as Nokia, which also is launching an entertainment platform, Mr Bindal said that such partnerships were possible.Acquisition plan
He also did not rule out the possibility of Bharti acquiring small companies offering value-added services or a technology that will add to its business model.
“Bharti has always been in favour of strategic partnerships and alliances as long as it offers a compelling value proposition to our customers,” Mr Bindal said.
ET had reported on February 20 that a string of ‘shell’ companies that exist only on paper had made it to BSNL shortlist for WiMax.
The telco subsequently cancelled the tender after its own investigations revealed that five of the six shortlisted companies — WiExpert Communications, SV Telecom Systems, Digitelco Communications
It was found that these companies shared the same corporate details, notaries, auditors and dates of incorporation, and even their last annual general body meeting was shown to be held on the same day.
BSNL came under pressure from its labour unions to scrap the tender following reports of wide-scale corruption in the methodologies adopted to shortlist successful bidders. Doubts were also raised on the disqualification of several companies with proven track record of offering WiMax services including Soma Networks, Cisco-backed Terracom, Unwire India and Welcomm Communications — it had a tie-up Huawei and Aricent — in the earlier shortlist.
The Forum had also alleged that these newly floated front companies have approached global majors to buy them out quoting BSNL’s spectrum and network assets as valuation criteria. “This is a result of the lax eligibility conditions in the tender which these paper companies are exploiting,” the association had said.
No criminal cases against telcos: DoT; Foreign telcos get clean chit in licence fee, service tax case
The DoT had said that these foreign operators had not paid a one-time entry fee of Rs 25 crore (prior to January 1, 2006) plus 15% of their annual revenues as levies for offering long distance services in India. All these international long distance operators have now taken licences for their Indian operations.
But, following the CBI report, the DoT committee gave an opportunity to all these companies to explain their viewpoints on the alleged violations. On studying the presentation by these telcos, DoT committee concluded that there was no loss to the exchequer.
Story on The Hindu Business Line dated 03 June 2009
Foreign telcos get clean chit in licence fee, service tax case
Thomas K Thomasin
New Delhi, June 2 In a move that removes all hurdles to global telecom firms to bid for third generation mobile (3G) spectrum, an internal panel of the Department of Telecom has decided to close a six-year-old case against international majors including AT&T, BT (formerly British Telecom), Equant and MCI Worldcom for alleged evasion of licence fee and service tax.
While it is not clear on who will actually bid for 3G spectrum, a clean chit from the DoT panel on the issue has removed possibilities of any legal complications later on for these multinational majors.
The issue dates back to 2003 when it was alleged that the foreign telecom players including AT&T Communications Services India, Equant and MCI Worldcom India were selling managed data network services to corporates in India without taking any licence from DoT.
It was alleged that these companies had got into a partnership with Indian operators, including Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (now Tata Communications), Reliance Communications and Bharti, to bypass paying local taxes and levies. The companies were hauled up by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT for allegedly violating foreign direct investment norms and also for depriving the national exchequer.
The matter was referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation which, in turn, put the ball back in DoT’s court on the ground that the telecom department should carry out its own assessment based on the licence conditions. The CBI had concluded that in case the DoT found irregularities then it could lodge an FIR for further investigation.
But now, in a relief to the multinational operators, a DoT committee has concluded that the alliance with Indian players was not illegal. For example, in the case of AT&T, the DoT panel stated, “there is no loss of revenue to the Government as the service tax have been properly accounted for and the licence fee has been paid by VSNL. Further, as per terms and conditions of the international long-distance licence, the licensee can always employ or appoint agents for provision of service.” The panel said that AT&T has produced invoices and tax details to prove that it had met with local laws in India.
“The committee feels that in the case of AT&T, being the service support organisation of VSNL and interfacing with customers in India on behalf of VSNL, there is no violation of Indian Telegraph Act 1885 and loss to exchequer. On the part of VSNL also there is no violation. Therefore, there is no merit in the complaint and the case can be closed,” it added.
In the case of BT, the DoT panel observed that the company had got into an arrangement with Bharti to service its global customers in India. BT, however, had also serviced clients directly through its subsidiary in Singapore.
The UK-based company claimed that the revenues earned by the Singapore unit relate to services provided by BT outside India and, therefore, it was not liable to pay service tax and licence fee to the DoT.Similar story on www.ciol.com at http://www.ciol.com/technology/mobility/news-reports/dot-clears-3g-spectrum-hurdles/3609120497/0/
MTS as a pure play CDMA operator has achieved a share of net addition of subscribers in the range of 11-13 per cent per month, of the total mobility market of Rajasthan, since launch on the 1 October 2008. As of today, Rajasthan contributes 87 per cent to the subscriber-base of MTS, while the remaining 12.5 per cent is spread across Tamil Nadu and Kerala where services were launched two months ago. Kolkata is the latest circle to introduce the brand MTS.
MTS provides telephony connections to over 600 towns of Rajasthan, 513 towns of Tamil Nadu and 247 towns of Kerala, in addition to Kolkata where it made a foray in May this year.
Similar story in
- The Hindu Business Line at http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2009/06/02/stories/2009060251510400.htm
- www.ciol.com at http://www.ciol.com/technology/mobility/news-reports/mts-touches-one-million-subscriber-mark/2609120382/0/
Singapore’s largest company by market capitalisation, Singtel neither confirmed nor denied the development.“Discussions between Bharti and MTN are ongoing at this stage and as stated in Bharti’s press release, SingTel will remain a significant shareholder and strategic partner in Bharti post any successful transaction,” said a Singtel spokesperson in written reply to Hindustan Times.
“Consistent with our approach as a strategic investor and equity accounting for our investments, we will continue to equity account for Bharti, in its enlarged form post the transaction if this is successful,” the spokesperson said.
On May 25, Bharti Airtel announced a “strategic partnership deal” with a broader objective to achieve a “full merger” with MTN. The announcement said that MTN and its shareholders would acquire about 36 per cent economic interest in Bharti, of which 25 per cent would be held by MTN and the rest will be held by MTN shareholders.
In turn, Bharti would acquire about 49 per cent shareholding in MTN.
By virtue of its 30 per cent holding in Bhrati Airtel, Singtel’s stake in the post-merger scenario should fall to about 19 per cent. “However, Singtel is looking at higher stake in India operations,” said the source. “The company would like to maintain the present level of equity.”
Goldman Sachs is advising Singtel on this deal, the source said, adding that Singtel is willing to extend financial support to Bharti for the deal. The size of the two-way deal is about $23 billion.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The company introduced 3G services in Delhi in December and in Mumbai last month.
Same story in Financial Express at http://www.financialexpress.com/news/mtnl-unveils-prepaid-3g-service-for-rs-300/470071/
Story from The Hindu Business Line dated 03 Jun 2009
MTNL launches pre-paid card for 3G services
New Delhi, June 2 To get more users for its third generation mobile services, state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) on Tuesday launched a pre-paid option that will enable customers in Delhi experience high-speed data connectivity at an upfront cost of Rs 300.
MTNL had launched its 3G services in January but has only 400 subscribers till now. The pre-paid option is expected to drive up the demand for the company. Mr R. S. P. Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director, MTNL, said he expected at least two lakh 3G users within the first year of operations.
Initially, the services were launched in NDMC area in New Delhi with 50 base stations.Extended coverage
Now, MTNL has extended 3G coverage to Trans Yamuna, Central Delhi, South Delhi and NCR of Gurgaon with 225 base stations. The company will soon cover Noida, Dwarka, Karolbagh, North-West and the remaining areas in and around the capital.
The 3G pre-paid services are available at Rs 300 with lifetime validity, and a customer can make local video calls at Rs 1.8 a minute and download data at Rs 3 for each MB.
In addition, a subscriber will have to buy data ranging between Rs 99 and Rs 2,500 coupons. MTNL has bundled free data download of 50 MB with a trial coupon for Rs 99. Heavy users can pay Rs 2,500 a month for unlimited data download.
The PSU will add new capacity to accommodate 8 lakh users. Since 95 per cent of existing mobile users are on pre-paid, MTNL expects more demand for the 3G service.
Mr Sinha said the service has given an advantage to the state-run company over private players.
MTNL and BSNL are the only operators to have got spectrum for offering 3G services.
Bangalore, June 1
IBM said on Monday that it will design and build two green data centres – one each in Chennai and Gurgaon for MTS India, the mobile telephony services brand of Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd, a joint venture between Sistema of Russia and Shyam Group. The green data centres will help achieve 20 per cent energy savings for SSTL that is expanding operations across the country. IBM will also build a network operations centre (NOC) to help SSTL monitor and manage applicat ions and network. The Chennai site will serve as the main data centre for SSTL, while the data centre in Gurgaon will serve as the disaster recovery site.
Similar story in The Hindu Business Line at http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2009/06/02/stories/2009060251450400.htm
For infrastructure providers 3G will be a value-add during slowdown, as they would get to put in a lot of new developments. Layout of next generation networks that are 3G compatible will help in better manageability of services over the networks. Even service providers believe that 3G would make the entire mobility space much more accessible. The government, though, has to look at 3G with a much broader perspective. The broadband connection, as they have not reached the set target, will also benefit with 3G coming to India.
Looking at the manageability front, 3G will not only help in managing new services, but also fall in line with 2G and 2.5G services. It will give a whole new experience of network management at the back end. "As a 3G network is downward compatible, SPs would prefer to upgrade their existing networks so that with increased bandwidth they can offer high-bandwidth applications and services to their 3G customers, as well as serve more 2G and 2.5G customers on the improved network," says Vish Iyer, vice president, service provider, Cisco India & SAARC.
3G Billing Process
"Billing systems must cope with the dichotomy in business processes and the complexity in operations for accurately billing pre- and post-paid subscribers. This is a challenge that operators must address as it adds additional pressure to the bottom-line," says Paresh Shah, vice president, information management, Convergys India. For post-paid customers it would help the operators to offer innovative services on demand like real time balance tracking and notifications. This will actually become the handiest tool to operators as they are working to limit credit exposure from post-paid subscribers and provide the necessary cross subscription discounts and invoice generation that subscribers demand.
"In 3G, services priced differently will be posted in one bill. Apart from that a number of new parameters for calculating charges can be used like number of packets, uploading and downloading data, QoS, location and content. This will give rise to complex methods of billing," says Tamal Bardhan, marketing head, Usha Comm.
"3G will help service providers manage their existing infrastructure better and remain competitive in a mobile number portability (MNP) regime. It will also generate a more addressable market to the GSM service providers. They can go back to their existing customer base and provide them with enhanced data services" says Animesh Sahay, head, telecom business, India and SAARC, Juniper Networks.
3G will not only make its presence felt in cities and towns but also bring in better and faster networks to rural India. "Looking at the country's broadband penetration through copper and coax; wireless technologies are becoming prominent. 3G and WiMax will ensure that remote and rural areas get networked. Thus 3G is a positive sign of the growth of the Indian telecom industry provided the government supports it equally," says Jayesh H Kotak, vice president, product management, D-Link India.
In the years to come 3G would make a lot of difference in making business models more innovative. 3G and WiMax will help solve the problem of low broadband penetration in India to a great extent. It is high time the government realizes the need and use of 3G. In a fast growing economy these technologies have the power to change the development roadmap of the country.
Apart from the bandwidth, 3G would also enable compressed data over the network. This would in turn maximize and increase WAN link by reducing the frame size, thereby allowing more data to be transmitted over the link. Though at this point we do not need much data compressibility as the transmission will be through fiber.
3G allows for transferring voice in networks much more efficiently than 2G and enables efficient VoIP in the future. This leads to decreased cost per bit and voice minute for the operator, and eventually for consumers. "Today's networks are many times more efficient than early 3G networks and will evolve to LTE which is again three times more efficient than current 3G networks," says Randep Raina, head, 3G India, Nokia Siemens Networks.
But the high costs will lead to new services making its way into the market, especially the urban areas. "Unlike 2G, in 3G one has to come up with very innovative applications and tariff plans. If operators are able to come up with new services there surely is a lot of money to be made," says Subhendu Mohanty, country head, home & networks, mobility business, Motorola.
It perhaps goes without saying that vendors are looking at 3G because it is one of the areas that would bring them enough revenues. For instance, in case of Motorola their deployments for MTNL in Delhi alone are close to Rs 300 crore.
INDIA: For mobile operators, text messaging has become one of the most successful data applications with the volumes increasing year on year. However, ongoing price erosion in messaging has caused increased pressure on margins and this has resulted in the mobile industry frantically searching for revenue growth opportunities in new services. Software consulting firm, Ovum, states that no other single service has been able to get even close to the text messaging revenues. Even in 2009, 80per cent of worldwide messaging revenues will be generated by SMS.
Besides exploring alternative options to add to their existing text messaging revenues, operators need to consider a more evolutionary approach. In this case, text messaging should be used as a starting point. Future revenue growth can be reached through differentiation and the creation of new business on existing text messaging channel. Mobile messaging has not reached its limits and the time is right to leverage the unique values of mobile messaging beyond person-to-person traffic. In fact, Acision believes that messaging revenues have the potential to double by 2011, reaching a market size of $165 bn.
Real Truth of Future Text
On the contrary, text messaging is not showing any signs of slowing down. In May 2008, Ovum predicted an increase of 60per cent in the volume of text messaging by 2011. The popularity of text messaging has turned it into a key operator tool for subscriber acquisition and retention, which has resulted in near flat-fee pricing. The truth is that it will not decrease in volume or usage, but is more related to the operator's margins. However, if the right solutions are put in place, operators can increase their text messaging prowess.
Differentiation Drives Margins
At the same time, it is crucial to avoid disruption of SMS's key asset: simplicity.
Confronting subscribers with complex features easily results in poor adoption rates. By gradually differentiating mobile messaging, operators will ensure text messaging relevance across their entire subscriber base and increase overall revenues. To realize the required margin growth, it is crucial to minimize the costs associated with service differentiation.
Based on this vision, leading messaging company, Acision defined a text messaging strategy aimed at doubling the messaging revenues. This strategy consists of five key elements that will drive subscriber and channel revenue.
Personalize the messaging experience: By offering personalized messaging services, operators are able to charge for a number of new features that are already proving to be effective. Currently, a vast majority of subscribers are using multiple messaging services. Through email and instant messaging, users are increasingly getting familiarized with features such as automated replies, forwarding, signatures, threaded messaging and presence information, and these should be applied to text. Initial launches of personalized messaging services indicated a growth potential of up to 15per cent on text messaging revenue. An example of such a personalized service launched by SingTel and Maxis in 2008 is auto-copy. This service automatically forwards copies of received text messages to another phone number or email address.
Extend mobile messaging to fixed: Besides mobile phones, many subscribers use a range of fixed devices such as PCs and TV sets daily. When offering access to text messaging on these devices, the barrier to use text messaging would be even lower. A fixed extension to text messaging offers the operator a viable entry for service revenues in the fixed domain. The additional user interface may also produce additional text messaging usage chargeable by the operator. The enhanced user interface may improve advertizing effectiveness and the user's abilities to personalize the messaging experience. Finally, delivery of text messages could be done over 3rd-party bearers such as cable or DSL Internet connection. This could substantially reduce costs as it would relieve the operator's radio network.
Widgets as extension to SMS: PC and web-based widgets enable users and web developers to have full control over where to position certain third-party applications. This drastically limits the barrier to use such applications. It is therefore not a surprise that in June 2008 alone, over 600 mn people communicated through widgets. If operators were to allow access to text messaging through widgets, it would enable them to increase the value of text messaging and help realize the opportunities mentioned above.
Instant messaging as extension of SMS: When faced with the instant messaging concept, most people will have dominant brands like Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger in mind. In recent years however, the IM landscape is getting ever more diverse. A long list of social networks, mail providers, niche communities and mobile operators have launched their own IM services. Operator IM may not be a new killer application but could well act as a logical extension of mobile messaging for mobile and fixed Internet users.
Use messaging to mobilize the web: Internet usage among teenagers has grown to a staggering 12.5 online hours per week. Yet, the average teenager is available at least 112 hours per week through his mobile phone. In other words, teens are almost ten times more likely to be available through their mobile phone. Clearly, the mobile channel is a crucial link in enabling people to interact. As a result, a value-added services market has taken shape since the 1990s. However, there is still a large number of (Internet-based) service providers that do not mobilize their service offering through mobile messaging.
Mobilize business applications: On an average, 5.5per cent of patients do not show up at a doctor's appointment. A simple text messaging reminder would substantially reduce this number of no-shows and the associated costs. Incentivated, a mobile marketing agency, proposed a simple SMS reminder service for UK-based optician and helped to generate $8 mn in savings.
Operators have addressed the mobile enterprise opportunity mainly through technological innovations such as the wireless application protocol (WAP) and push email. This has resulted in a plethora of device specific applications with low reliability and high integration costs. Consequently, enterprise mobility has brought little or no productivity improvements for the average business.
Combining the reach and reliability of text messaging with the relevance of data in enterprise applications promises a quantum leap in enterprise productivity.
Set up a mobile marketing business: Operators can play a pivotal role in mobile advertizing value chain. They own customer relationship and access channels, the advertizing inventory, location information, and customer profile. This profile includes phone number, usage behavior, demographics, and content preferences.
Furthermore, the operator controls the main vehicle for the digital dialog: mobile messaging. According to IAB, 95per cent of text messages are opened compared to 25per cent of emails. This puts mobile operators in a very strong position indeed when competing for advertizing budgets.
At the same time, operators are often anxious to protect existing service revenue streams, as it may well remain the most substantial part of their business. To date, mobile advertizing is making slow but steady progress towards the forecasts of becoming a $19 bn industry.
In summary, advertizing revenues will never be adequate to replace service revenues but are a welcome supplement for operators. Mobile operators are uniquely positioned to monetize the best advertizing inventory in the world. Combining customer location and profile enables the delivery of unprecedented levels of advertizing relevance and reach. By addressing the essential enablers mentioned above, the competitive position of operators in the advertizing market would be second to none.
The future of messaging continues to be a bright amid the negativity in the current economic markets. Mobile operators can effectively extend their revenues by leveraging their existing assets and exploit the potential still left in today's mobile services, allowing them to remain agile and profitable.
BANGALORE, INDIA and PALO ALTO, USA: mKhoj, the leading mobile advertising marketplace for the rest of the world, today announced the ability to power relevant mobile advertising tailored to local languages in seventeen different countries. With this announcement, mobile advertisers can leverage mKhoj's ad network to display ads in hundreds of languages, including Afrikaans, Arabic, Bahasa, Hindi, Tamil, Turkic, and Zulu.
This new technology continues mKhoj's commitment to provide the fastest character mapping for more than 600 mobile publishers. With UTF-8 encoding, mKhoj allows advertisers to increase the power of their mobile marketing by more effectively targeting their audience, and increases the monetization as well as the value of the publishers' mobile properties through greater localization.
How it works:
When advertisers sign up, they now have the ability to upload their mobile advertising in any local language and in any alphabet. This gives advertisers new ways to target and communicate with consumers.
"Empowering advertisers to speak to consumers in their native language enables them to make more personal connections with their target audiences." Abhay Singhal, Head of Global Sales for mKhoj. "This provides multinational advertisers a more effective way to reach local audiences around the globe."
mKhoj has implemented its UTF-8 encoding technology to enable advertisers to easily upload local language advertising as-is, so publishers and their users are ensured a high quality experience.
Madurai, June 2
Tata Teleservices Ltd has launched ‘STV 76’, a special tariff voucher that offers attractive International Long Distance (ILD) calling rates for its prepaid subscribers, a press release said. Calls made to the US/Canada would be charged at Rs 2 a minute, calls to Gulf at Rs 7.50 and the rest of the world at Rs 12. The offer applies across Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and UP East circles. The new re charge voucher is available at Rs 76 for 30 days. Prepaid subscribers can also make local calls using the special tariff voucher. All Tata-to-Tata local calls would be charged at 25 paise a minute whereas local calls to other network mobile would be at 75 paise a minute.
Talking about the impact of Number Portability on Idea Cellular, Shrivastava said, like any other company, the new regulatory provision of ‘number portability’ will be a challenge in the existing markets for all the service providers including Idea.
But, Shrivastava sounded positive about the impact of the measure on the new markets as he asserted, “In the new markets Idea will benefit from the number portability.”
Talking about the growth prospects for the company, in the already saturated telecom market, Shrivastava stated that the penetration in the rural markets is way behind the national penetration which stands in the range of 35 percent. “In the rural markets, the penetration of the mobile phones, industry wise, is still in single digits, which leaves us with enough scope for an impressive growth in future,” Shrivastava opined.
“Even in markets like Chennai where we (cellular operators) have a hundred percent penetration, the introduction of value added services spreads an impressive canvass for our company to grow,” Shrivastava clarifies.
New Delhi: Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology, A Raja has said that the prospects of the further lowering of telephone tariff in India are imminent in the future.
He said this while assuming his charge of the ministry here on Monday.
He also said that as a result of a drastic tariff cut, the telecommunication facility will be available to people living in the lowest edge of the social strata.
“In the telecom side already we brought healthy competition. More operators were permitted as per the TRAI recommendations. I do believe once the new operators start their operations the tariff will drastically come down and the telecommunication facility will be available to persons living in the lowest edge of the social strata,” he added.
He also said that India would auction third-generation wireless radio (3G) spectrum by the end of this year.
Raja declined to say how much the government expected to mobilise through the sale. India was to auction the 3G telecommunications spectrum in January, but the sale was delayed.
The telecommunication ministry had earlier expected the auction to raise 300 to 400 billion rupees but the Ministry of Finance in February estimated the sale could bring just half of that.
By John Ribeiro, IDG News Service/Haarlem Bureau Tuesday, June 02, 2009 2:00 AM PDT
India's mobile phone market continues to be unaffected by the economic slowdown, with 11.9 million new mobile subscribers in April. That's a 45 percent greater increase than in the same month last year, according to data released Monday by India's Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
The mobile market has not been affected so far by the economic slowdown, as Indian consumers see communications as a necessity, said Kapil Dev Singh, country manager at analyst IDC India.
The mobile subscriber additions in April were however lower than the 15.64 million new connections in March, something the telecom regulator regards as a seasonal drop. In India, the monthly data is closely watched for signs of an impact of the economic slowdown on India's booming mobile market.
The slowdown between March and April is seasonal, and does not reflect an overall slowdown in the mobile business in the country, a TRAI official said Tuesday.
As the Indian fiscal year ends in March, mobile service operators offer deep discounts and are more aggressive in their marketing in March, the official said.
"There have been drops from month-to-month previously, so the drop in April is more likely to be seasonal," IDC's Singh said.
The new additions in April this year helped take the total number of mobile subscribers in India to 404 million.
India's largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel added 2.8 million new mobile subscribers in April, taking its total subscribers to 96.74 million, while state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) added about 1 million new subscribers to have a subscriber base of 53.17 million at the end of the year.
Reliance Communications, India's second largest mobile operator, added 2 million new customers in April, compared to 3 million additions in March. The company saw high additions in the first quarter as it rolled out its new GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) network in addition to its existing service using CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).
The number of mobile subscribers in the country is expected to increase as mobile operators target rural towns and villages. The auction of 3G licenses, now rescheduled for the end of this year after a number of postponements, is also expected to give this market a fillip.
During the COAI Annual General Meeting held on 29 May 2009 at New Delhi, outgoing chairman Asim Ghosh thanked the members for their unwavering support during his tenure as chairman. He reminisced fondly about his long association with the industry and the several challenges that the industry had faced and overcome in the last decade.
Ghosh noted that 2008 was a landmark year for the Indian industry as it had reached global scale. He pointed out that the job was never done and there would always be challenges ahead. He thanked Suneeta Ready for her support as vice chairperson, the executive council and the secretariat team for their efforts and contributions and wished them all the very best for the future.
Suneeta Ready, the chairperson elect, thanked the members for the trust and faith reposed in her. She emphasised that COAI had always stood for inclusive growth. She pointed out that the agenda for industry for the next 12 months included ensuring availability of adequate 2G spectrum, an early auction of 3G and BWA spectrum to facilitate the leap to the next generation of services, bridging of the digital divide, improving the financial viability of the industry and making it globally competitive.
Suneeta pointed out that with the imminent introduction of mobile number portability, the SIM card would become like a vote that could be exercised anytime by the consumers, and the industry should make all efforts to ensure that mobile is viewed as a service that adds value to the consumers lives.
The main members of COAI are: Aircel Ltd, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Datacom Solutions Pvt Ltd, Idea Cellular Ltd, Loop Mobile Ltd, Reliance Telecom Ltd, S Tel Pvt Ltd, Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Tata Teleservices Ltd, Unitech Wireless Pvt Ltd and Vodafone Essar Ltd.
Story at Financial Express on 30 May, 2009
New Delhi: The COAI Annual General Meeting held at New Delhi saw a smooth transition with the new Executive Council taking over the reins of the industry association.
The event saw the General Body ratify the nominations of Ms. Suneeta Reddy, Chairperson Aircel Ltd. and Vice Chairperson, COAI as Chairperson, COAI and Mr. Sanjay Kapoor, Deputy CEO, Bharti Airtel as Vice Chairperson of COAI for 2009-2010.
The nominations for the Executive Council were also ratified by the General Body.
Outgoing Chairman, Mr. Asim Ghosh thanked the members for their unwavering support during his tenure as Chairman. He reminisced fondly about his long association with the industry and the several challenges that the industry had faced and overcome in the last decade. He also noted how 2008 was a landmark year for the Indian industry as it had reached global scale. He pointed out that the job was never done and there would always be challenges ahead.