NEW DELHI: Data guzzlers out there can soon buy low-cost Wi-Fi-powered data packs from neighbourhood kirana shop or even a humble ‘thelawallah’, or street vendor.

Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) has developed a mass market ‘public data office’ (PDO) tech solution priced under Rs 50,000 to deliver low-cost Wi-Fi solutions.

Armed with a PDO device, a kirana shop or a thelawallah can sell Wi-Fi data vouchers at denominations as low as Rs 10.

The service will be provided over a licence-free ISM (industrial, scientific and medical) band. C-DoT, a government-owned telecom research and development centre, will unveil its PDO solution on Friday.

The tech solution packs hardware and software elements that include a Wi-Fi access point along with e-KYC (know your customer), OTP (one-time password) authentication and a voucher management mechanism. The electrically powered device also includes a billing system.

“Today, Digital India is not happening in every nook and corner of India. But the concept of PDO will enable even a thelawallah to sell low cost Wi-Fi-based broadband services anywhere. Even a nearby kirana shop can resell data services for as low as Rs 10 or even less,” C-DoT’s executive director Vipin Tyagi told ET.

C-DoT will shortly transfer its PDO technology to 20-odd manufacturing partners, including Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd (HFCL), Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel) and ITI Ltd, for commercial production of the devices. Small retailers or shop owners in semi-urban or rural areas, according to C-DoT, can use free-to-use frequency available in 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands, which enable radio spectrum access without the need of any regulations or restriction with no interference challenges.

Last month, telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had asked the department of telecom (DoT) to tweak internet service provider (ISP) permit rules, free up new spectrum bands, and expedite steps to make Wi-Fi access devices cheaper to pave the way for affordable Wi-Fi services in public places, and in turn, boost broadband penetration.

It had recommended an aggregator model, suggesting that a new category of `public data office aggregators’ (PDOAs) deliver public Wi-Fi services without a licence. It had also suggested that such aggregators work with small entrepreneurs who would provide the venues or `public data offices’ for such mass Wi-Fi deployment.

The involvement of aggregators and small entrepreneurs, the regulator had said, would also boost employment opportunities and encourage entrepreneurship in rural areas. It also suggested that aggregators be allowed to partner with third-party application/service providers for managing authentication and payment processes for such Wi-Fi services.

Source: ET

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Electronics and IT today issued guidelines on setting up of IT infrastructure by government departments using cloud computing technology with a clause mandating that all data must be stored within the country.

The guidelines for government departments on contractual terms related to cloud services said since the data can be located in one or more discrete sites in foreign countries, therefore, the condition for data location has to be specifically mentioned in the agreement with the service provider.

“The terms and conditions of the Empanelment of the Cloud Service Provider has taken care of this requirement by stating that all services including data will be guaranteed to reside in India,” the guidelines said.

The cloud computing service enables its user to hire or use software, storage, servers as per requirement instead of purchasing the whole system. MEITY has empanelled 11 companies for providing cloud computing services to government departments which include Microsoft Corporation, Hewlett Packard, IBM India ,Tata Communications, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Net Magic IT Services, Sify Technologies and CtrlS Data Centers. Cloud computing can help government departments expand capacity of their IT system as per need and even for short period and quickly start any online service.

The cloud computing system can be of help to departments specially in handling sudden load of web traffic generated to access their websites like in case of train ticket booking, form filling or tax submission on a last date etc. “…the department is required to move away from the traditional fixed payment model to a variable pricing / utility pricing model where the department pays for the resources it actually uses during that period. The payment terms have to be structured accordingly to pay only for the resources used by the department,” a separate set of guideline issued for cloud services procurement said.

The guidelines on cloud computing follows MeghRaj Policy (cloud policy) to provide strategic direction for adoption of cloud services by the government. The aim of the cloud policy is to realise a comprehensive vision of a government cloud (GI Cloud) environment available for use by central and state government line departments, districts and municipalities to accelerate their ICT-enabled service improvements.

As per the guidelines, both cloud service provider (CSP) and government department will have to share responsibility for the managing services provisioned using cloud computing facility.

Source: ET

NEW DELHI: The country’s third largest software services firm Wipro is learnt to have fired hundreds of employees as part of its annual “performance appraisal“.

According to sources, Wipro has shown the door to about 600 employees, while speculation was rife that the number could go as high as 2,000.

At the end of December 2016, the Bengaluru-based company had over 1.79 lakh employees.

When contacted, Wipro said it undertakes a “rigorous performance appraisal process” on a regular basis to align its workforce with business objectives, strategic priorities of the company, and client requirements.

“The performance appraisal may also lead to the separation of some employees from the company and these numbers vary from year to year,” it added.

The company, however, did not comment on the number of employees that have been asked to leave.

Wipro said its comprehensive performance evaluation process includes mentoring, re-training and upskilling of employees. The company is scheduled to report its fourth quarter and full-year numbers on April 25.

The development comes at a time when Indian IT companies are facing an uncertain environment given the curbs being proposed on worker visa norms by various countries like the US, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

These companies use temporary work visas to send employees to work on client sites.

With visa programmes in these countries becoming more rigorous, Indian IT companies are likely to face challenges in movement of labour as well as a spike in operational costs.

Indian IT companies get over 60 per cent of their revenues from the North American market, about 20 per cent from Europe and the remaining from other economies.

Besides, higher adoption of technologies like automation and artificial intelligence is also reducing the need to have a large number of employees at client site.

Source: ET

NEW DELHI: New telecom operator Reliance Jio‘s average download speed at 16.48 mbps was almost double of its rivals Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel‘s in March, a report by telecom regulator Trai has showed.

Average download speed on Reliance Jio network was 16.48 megabit per second (mbps) in March against 8.33 mbps on Idea Cellular’s and 7.66 mbps on Bharti Airtel’s network, the monthly report by Trai showed.

Theoretically, a user can download one Bollywood movie in about 5 minutes at 16 mbps speed.

Vodafone registered average download speed of 5.66 mbps, Reliance Communications 2.64 mbps, Tata Docomo 2.52 mbps, state run BSNL 2.26 mbps and Aircel 2.01 mbps.

Trai collects and computes data download speed with the help of its MySpeed application on real-time basis.

Meanwhile, a survey on mobile network speed covering two metros of Delhi and Mumbai, and two states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu by a private firm Open Signal has claimed that Bharti Airtel had the fastest network with average 4G download speed of 11.5 mbps while Reliance Jio was fourth with 3.92 mbps.

The survey claimed to have collected information from 1.3 billion datapoints covering 93,464 users during the period between December 2016 and February 2017.

“The findings reveal that Airtel didn’t just win OpenSignal’s 4G speed award, it wound up on top of 3G and overall rankings as well. OpenSignal measured Airtel’s average LTE download speed at 11.5 mbps, which was 3 mbps faster than the results measured on its nearest rivals Vodafone and Idea,” OpenSignal said in a statement.

The new survey has come amid ongoing tussle between Airtel and Reliance Jio over claims of India’s fastest mobile network.

Reliance Jio has challenged Airtel’s advertisement campaign in which the telecom major claimed to be “officially” fastest network in the country.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) found the ad claiming Airtel to be “officially” fastest network as misleading and asked the company to modify or withdraw the commercial by April 11 to which the company complied.

Airtel has filed appeal before ASCI for review of the decision.

The Open Signal report said that Vodafone was at the second spot with average 4G download speed of 8.59 mbps followed by Idea Cellular with 8.34 mbps and Jio on 4th spot with 3.92 mbps speed.

The report ranks Jio on top for widest availability of 4G network.

“OpenSignal’s testers on Jio’s network were able to find a 4G signal 91.6 per cent of the time, an exceptional availability measurement by any global standard. In comparison, no other Indian operator scored higher than 60 per cent in its 4G availability tests,” the statement said.

Source: ET

HYDERABAD: Faced with challenges over tightening work visa rules in key overseas markets, India’s IT industry has to reconfigure the business model by increasing offshoring work and hiring locally, a sector expert said.

V Balakrishnan, former chief financial officer, Infosys, also said hiring in the information technology sector would further drop following growing automation.

Tightening visa rules, particularly in the US and the UK – the industry’s two biggest markets – would have short- term impact because it would affect the ability of Indian IT companies to send people on short-term work, he said.

“But I think in the long-term, they (Indian IT firms) have to change the business model to do more offshoring because if you take any project today, around 30 per cent work is done outside India, 70 per cent in India. That ratio can be easily brought to 90:10 where you do less work onsite, more offshore,” Balakrishnan told PTI.

He also rejected suggestions in some quarters that Indian IT story is petering out.

“I don’t think so…there is a huge spending happening in the technology sector. If you look at Gartner report, they are talking about 2-3 per cent (growth) in (global) IT spending. So, spending is not going to go away.

“And India is the only country which has got a large pool of talented people for the IT industry. It is like China in manufacturing,” he said.

“India has dominated the world in the IT space with a huge pool of software engineers. I think market opportunities are there. But I think they have to reinvent the model and reconfigure,” said Balakrishnan.

Observing that technology spending is changing, he said, “more spending is happening in new digital era. And I think the companies are also making investment (in digital technologies) and trying to do more work there. So, it’s a natural progression.”

On market-driven challenges faced by the Indian IT industry, he said it is mainly demand.

“Because two large markets, US and UK..(the) US because of the new government’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ policy, corporates will be choosy about doing large offshoring. At least they don’t want to be in the news. To an extent, it will impact spending by large corporates.

“In the UK because of Brexit…tentativeness on IT spending. So, I think two large markets are facing challenges on spending, growth is the biggest challenge. Visa, protectionism and currency are big issues,” he said.

“Rupee is appreciating faster, that will have huge impact on IT sector. So, too many headwinds, but I don’t think it’s insurmountable. They have some time, they have to focus on reconfiguring the model,” he added.

Balakrishnan said hiring would come down in the IT industry.

“Earlier, the IT industry used to hire some 500,000 people (annually), that has come down last year and this year it will come down further,” he said.

On entry-level salaries not growing in the sector in recent years, Balakrishnan said it is a demand-supply issue.

“Too much of supply and demand was less, so IT industry never increased salary at the entry level but going forward they will hire less, so I don’t see entry level salaries going up in India,” he said.

Source: ET

BENGALURU: Former Infosys CFO Rajiv Bansal has invoked the arbitration clause in his severance contract asking for the rest of his allotted payout, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

Bansal’s severance payout has been at the heart of the governance battle being waged at Infosys’ board. When Bansal left in 2015, Infosys had agreed to pay him Rs 17.38 crore as severance, about two years of pay. But the company paid out only about Rs 5 crore before suspending the payments.

Bansal has invoked his rights to an arbitral tribunal, and former Supreme Court judge RV Raveendran has been appointed sole arbitrator in the case. The first arbitration meeting is scheduled in May, said sources familiar with the development. Law firm Indus Law is representing Bansal, while Nishith Desai Associates is Infosys’s counsel in the matter.

“Certain payments to Rajiv under the agreement have been suspended pending certain clarifications with regard to such rights and obligations,” Infosys had said in a statement.

The suspension came as promoters led by NR Narayana Murthy questioned the payout. Murthy has gone so far as to the say the severance had the appearance of ‘hush money.’

Though Infosys has declined any irregularities, the company admitted that the severance payout was subjective and has since institutionalized a process for granting severance.

“The company has already clarified on the severance package for the former CFO Rajiv Bansal through a detailed statement. We do not have anything additional to add at this point,” Infosys said in a statement. News of the arbitration was first broken by The Times of India.

Bansal did not respond to a call and a message seeking comment.

(With TNN inputs)

Source: ET

BENGALURU: Apple Inc, is expected to start “trial assembly” of iPhones in India next month regardless of the outcome of its requests for certain concessions from the central government, according to state officials in Karnataka.

Taiwanese original design manufacturer Wistron — with which Apple has a contract — will begin assembling the iconic phones at its unit in a Bengaluru suburb, the officials told ET.

The state has also been pursuing Apple’s case with the Centre.

“We are working to see that (Apple) brings its entire componentmaking ecosystem to Bengaluru and begins to export from here,” one of the officials said. “We are not much concerned about Apple making iPhones for the domestic market, which will happen anyway.”

The Cupertino-based technology major has been lobbying hard with the union government to get some additional sops over and above what the country’s foreign investment policies allow. This includes the waiver of countervailing duty (CVD) on import of components that go into the making of iPhones.

“The application (of Apple) has not made much headway after passing through key ministries such as commerce, technology and finance,” according to a Karnataka government official who is of the view that the Centre may be concerned that such a waiver will not fit into the framework of the proposed goods and services tax that is expected to be rolled out from July 1.

He expects Apple will pursue its requests with the Centre independent of its Bengaluru plans “because India is a market it can ill-afford to ignore at this point”.

Apple, Wistron and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion didn’t reply to email queries from ET on the developments. Wistron will begin assembling iPhones from its existing facility in the manufacturing hub of Peenya, in west Bengaluru.

It is expected to also establish brand new facilities for component manufacturing at a second location later.

Karnataka’s industries minister RV Deshpande said he discussed Apple’s issues with Union minsters Arun Jaitley and Nirmala Seetharaman more than once in recent months. “They assured me they will do whatever is possible,” he said.

Karnataka’s information technology minister Priyank Kharge told ET that the Centre must encourage high-end tech manufacturing if it is serious about “Make in India.”

As the Indian ecosystem is still not developed enough to provide high-precision components, the Centre “must first let Apple and other global technology companies start somewhere,” Kharge said.

Such concessions could be subject to these companies manufacturing components locally and also sourcing them from the domestic market within a specified period of time, he added.

“What India is battling today is akin to the chicken and egg question,” said Kharge.

Source: ET

BENGALURU: Apple Inc, is expected to start “trial assembly” of iPhones in India next month regardless of the outcome of its requests for certain concessions from the central government, according to state officials in Karnataka.

Taiwanese original design manufacturer Wistron — with which Apple has a contract — will begin assembling the iconic phones at its unit in a Bengaluru suburb, the officials told ET.

The state has also been pursuing Apple’s case with the Centre.

“We are working to see that (Apple) brings its entire componentmaking ecosystem to Bengaluru and begins to export from here,” one of the officials said. “We are not much concerned about Apple making iPhones for the domestic market, which will happen anyway.”

The Cupertino-based technology major has been lobbying hard with the union government to get some additional sops over and above what the country’s foreign investment policies allow. This includes the waiver of countervailing duty (CVD) on import of components that go into the making of iPhones.

“The application (of Apple) has not made much headway after passing through key ministries such as commerce, technology and finance,” according to a Karnataka government official who is of the view that the Centre may be concerned that such a waiver will not fit into the framework of the proposed goods and services tax that is expected to be rolled out from July 1.

He expects Apple will pursue its requests with the Centre independent of its Bengaluru plans “because India is a market it can ill-afford to ignore at this point”.

Apple, Wistron and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion didn’t reply to email queries from ET on the developments. Wistron will begin assembling iPhones from its existing facility in the manufacturing hub of Peenya, in west Bengaluru.

It is expected to also establish brand new facilities for component manufacturing at a second location later.

Karnataka’s industries minister RV Deshpande said he discussed Apple’s issues with Union minsters Arun Jaitley and Nirmala Seetharaman more than once in recent months. “They assured me they will do whatever is possible,” he said.

Karnataka’s information technology minister Priyank Kharge told ET that the Centre must encourage high-end tech manufacturing if it is serious about “Make in India.”

As the Indian ecosystem is still not developed enough to provide high-precision components, the Centre “must first let Apple and other global technology companies start somewhere,” Kharge said.

Such concessions could be subject to these companies manufacturing components locally and also sourcing them from the domestic market within a specified period of time, he added.

“What India is battling today is akin to the chicken and egg question,” said Kharge.

Source: ET