Airtel Zero, Facebook Free Basics violate net neutrality

Airtel Zero, Facebook Free Basics violate net neutrality: Nasscom

IT industry body Nasscom today opposed Airtel Zero and Free Basics type platforms which it feels violate net neutrality principles by differentiating internet access for certain types of services.

“We at Nasscom oppose any model where TSPs (Telecom service providers) have a say or discretion in choosing a content that is made available at favourable rates or speeds etc,” Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar said today.

He further said that Nasscom has submitted its views before regulator Trai requesting not to allow operators price different kinds of services differently such as hire prices for video streaming, accessing e-commerce websites thereby segmenting the internet.

“Any such differential pricing by TSPs either directly like in the case of Airtel Zero or indirectly as in the case of Free Basics through a platform provider with limited access to the websites or internet, which are selected by the TSP or by the partner, violate criteria of net neutrality that we have outlined,” Chandrashekhar said.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has invited comments from public till January 7 on its paper on differential data pricing – a key aspect of the raging debate on net neutrality.

A debate on net neutrality stirred across the country after Airtel decided to charge separately for Internet-based calls but withdrew it later after people protested.

Internet activists and experts flayed the operator for ‘Airtel Zero’ service along with Facebook’s Internet.org service, now Free Basics.
Trai’s paper mentions some plans which amount to differential tariffs of the telecom service provider who offer zero or discounted tariffs to certain contents of some websites, applications or platforms.

Facebook has been aggressively campaigning to support Free Basics service as it fears that platform may be banned in India. Facebook has tied up with Reliance Communications to offer the free Internet platform to its customers.

Earlier, Trai asked RCom to keep services of Facebook’s free Internet platform, Free Basics, in abeyance, till the issue on differential pricing is sorted out.
Chandrashekhar said that Nasscom has highlighted additional dangers that are posed by TSP or by its partner having near monopolistic access to vast amount of data based on this differential pricing.

“It is also critical that such differential pricing should not become a tool that facilitates market dominance or enables anti-competitive behavior by either TSP or platform provider or result in direct or indirect commercial benefit including by leveraging the value of customer data that gets generated in the process,” Chandrashekhar said.

He said that this is a concern particularly in the Indian context, wherein the absence of a privacy law enables widespread abuse or misuse of such information for commercial gain.
When asked about his views on Facebook claiming that Free

Basics access is open for all and any website or application can join it by following technical parameters laid by it, Chandrashekhar said that technical standards are being set by a company which also has right to change it at any point of time in future.

Nasscom, however, has supported differential pricing for services that are of public interest and including services like billing and other customer services.

Chandrashekhar said that Nasscom realises that there is low internet penetration in India and there are challenges related development of locally relevant contents, power etc.

“It is therefore important that the regulator should have the power to allow differential pricing for certain types of services that are deemed to be in public interest and based on mandatory prior approvals,” Chandrashekhar said.

He added that any such programs should abide by the principles of net neutrality and not constrain innovation in any way.

Apple iPhone sales to crash in 2016, says analyst; but Apple could easily prove it wrong

Apple iPhone sales to crash in 2016, says analyst; but Apple could easily prove it wrong

Apple’s long profitable ride is expected to hit a speed breaker. A drop for the first time as much as six percent, said analyst Katy Huberty in a research note over at Morgan Stanley that has now turned into the talk of the tech town.

This prediction isn’t surprising given that iPad sales saw a dip for the first time, lack of new innovation (read Apple Watch) and the fact that the company’s record-breaking cash registers are ticking owing to iPhones. Huberty believes that iPhones will see 218 million sales mark in 2016 which is a 5.7 percent decline.

Getting to figures, the year 2015 ending September, Apple recorded iPhone sales of 231.11 million units that was up by 34 percent compared to 2014. Despite the upward trend so far, the analyst believes the iPhone sales may not be stronger, owing to saturation in international markets, the 2-year upgrade cycle normally seen with Apple users coupled with Apple’s revelation about 30 percent Android switchers (the largest ever) for last year. Well, the points are valid, but this may not necessarily mean Apple’s upswing days are numbered.

Along with its premium, cutting-edge products, there’s ‘one more thing’ that gives Apple an edge over competitors – a loyal fan-following. So, the brighter side is Apple doesn’t have to worry about attrition or retaining costumers, and rather focus on adding more numbers to this loyal list. As Huberty points out saturating markets is the prime concern, but the company knows it better than all of us.

Firstpost-iPhone-5s-size-comparison-6s-6s-plus

Apple has swiftly moved from launching one model to two, and likely to launch three models of the iPhone in 2016. The expanding portfolio of iPhone clearly reveals that the company is poised to take its money minting iPhone to different price segments.

Unlike others, Apple hasn’t tapped on the potential of emerging markets like India. The company failed at building the cheaper iPhone 5c and the latest iPhone 6s models didn’t really take off due to sky rocketing prices. The company rather realise that India is a large market but an emerging one that swears by ‘value for money’ devices. By value for money, we don’t mean cheap and the fact that iPhone 5s was received better than the 5c will vouch for it. The company is playing along a similar game of keeping the prices for latest device high and slashing the prices of the older products. For instance, the iPhone 5s recently got a massive price cut, but is it really worth the buy? This would remind some of us about how the iPhone 4s was considered the best selling Apple device in India even after generation of leaps.

With the new device that is reportedly set for March launch, the company could possibly change this. The company’s alleged iPhone 7c – a mix of the iPhone 5s, 5c and 6s – will be positioned as a budget device and the company is likely to ship between 20 million and 30 million units by the end of the year, according to the chatter online. It is said to feature a 2.5D screen, along with a A9 processor, paired with 2GB RAM and dipped in gold, silver and black colour variants. If priced well, the company could reach out to the mid-rangers who will be willing to make the much required switch as Apple is considered a status symbol here.

Besides, the company has been gung-ho about the China market and over the time has learnt to not treat India as a trash bin. In the past we’ve seen Apple introduce buybacks, aggressive advertisements and more. In fact, it surpassed the 1 billion mark in India, wherein it doesn’t enjoy a good market share. Apple has become more flexible and open in the last couple of years. It has learnt to adopt and re-strategise, putting behind some stringent statements it made in the past. If the iPhone is driving force for revenue, then a well-priced iPhone for emerging markets will take its numbers further sky rocketing. The numbers Apple has been achieving by mere two models compared to the scores of Androids available there is commendable.

With Samsung’s sales sliding off a slippery slope, it is quite possible that there will be a fair number of switchers this year too, unless Samsung pulls out a device that will give others a run for its money. Moreover, the number of users adopting iPhone even after year ending September figures has been growing by leaps and bounds. For instance, the survey by the Yahoo-owned analytics firm Flurry showed Apple accounted for 49.1 percent of smartphones and tablets activated over the Christmas week, compared to 19.8 percent for South Korean rival Samsung. A lot had been said and written about Apple has a ‘falling empire ‘ after Steve Jobs death, but the company under the leadership of Tim Cook rose above all odds and turned profitable than ever before.

Qualcomm to reveal drone-specific processors; Intel acquires drone maker Ascending Technologies

CES 2016: Qualcomm to reveal drone-specific processors; Intel acquires drone maker Ascending Technologies

Looks like, drones could become one of the hottest trends of 2016 in the tech world.

Now, just ahead of CES 2016, Qualcomm has released new video revealing features of the Snapdragon Flight drone platform. It is powered by Snapdragon 801 and the board has been designed to support 4K, quick charge, capability to communicate using dual-band 2×2 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GNSS location chips.

The drone can easily return back to its launch pad by avoiding obstacles, which means it can come back to its starting point without the need to control it. The Qualcomm Flight drone promises up to an hour of battery life on a single charge. The video shows a 4K capable camera, a down-facing tracking camera and stereo cameras for visual inertial odometry. Qualcomm will most likely reveal more about the drone at CES 2016.

Meanwhile, Intel has ensured that it isn’t late to the party. Another report highlights that the company has acquired German drone firm Ascending Technologies. According to Re/code, Intel has acquired startup Ascending Technology for an undisclosed amount. Intel is holding a keynote at CES and the company may reveal more details then.

At CES 2015, Ascending Technologies had helped Intel show off a game of ‘drone ping pong’ that was demonstrated using a hovering drone that automatically moved away from approaching people and obstacles. The flying robot AscTec Firefly was equipped with up to six of Intel’s RealSense depth cameras.

Twitter launches #PollutionFreeDelhi service to help citizens with real-time information on public transport

Twitter launches #PollutionFreeDelhi service to help citizens with real-time information on public transport

Delhi citizens are now turning to Twitter to access real-time information about public transport to plan their travel routes. As the odd-even car-driving scheme started on 1 January, the public’s reliance on public transportation will increase.

To support Delhi Government’s odd-even car-driving scheme, Twitter India has partnered with Delhi Transport Department (@TransportDelhi) and the Delhi Government to launch #PollutionFreeDelhi, a service that will help users with live, real-time information on bus and metro route options with a single tweet. With this implementation, users will receive real-time information on shortest routes, options of public transport available between these two points, fare details, traffic situation, and current weather conditions.

One will have to tweet their origin and destination to @TransportDelhi and they will get real-time information on shortest routes, options of public transport available between these two points, fare details, traffic situation, and current weather conditions. If they wish to keep their location and travel details private, they can send a Direct Message to @TransportDelhi and receive the information privately.

image002

Raheel Khursheed, Head of News & Government Partnerships at Twitter India, said “Twitter is where people come to for real time information. It is the obvious platform for Delhi Govt to turn to, to address the information vacuum around public transport as Delhiites work to make the dream of #PollutionFreeDelhi a success.”

The department tweeted the format to many users to ease their search for public transport routes.

Over the last few days, the Delhi Transport account has been flooded by queries as well.

Twitter is witnessing many conversations on the #OddEvenMovement and #PollutionFreeDelhi.

TRAI writes to telcos reminding them to start compensating subscribers for call drops

TRAI writes to telcos reminding them to start compensating subscribers for call drops

Telecom regulator TRAI has written to operators to ensure compliance with call drop regulations, effective 1 January, even as service providers remain defiant and say compensation to subscribers will be paid only after court orders them to do so.

“Trai has written to all telecom operators reminding them about call drop regulations with expectations that they have put all mechanisms in place to comply with them,” an official source told PTI.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued amendment in Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations on 16 October, 2015 in which it added a rule mandating mobile service providers to compensate their subscribers for call dropped or automatically disconnected due to technical glitches in their network.

The rules mandate telecom operators to provider Re 1 compensation for each call dropped, with a compensation cap of Rs. 3 per day.

Telecom operators have approached the Delhi High Court against this regulation.

“The matter is sub-judice and we will compensate consumers when court directs us to do so,” Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India Secretary General Ashok Sud said.

He said, however, the industry is aware that there is no stay on the regulation.

TRAI has submitted before the court that it will not take coercive action against telecom operators till the next date of hearing on 6 January.

“Any coercive action for us means to even comply with the regulation. As of today our telecom operators are not ready to implement it because of various complexities that we brought to the notice of the Court,” COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said.

Cellular Operators Association of India, AUSPI and 21 telecom operators including Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Reliance have said that the decision has been taken knowing fully well that laws of physics make it impossible to provide 100 per cent call drop-free network.

Telecom operators have submitted before court if the penalty is levied, the companies will end up paying around Rs. 1,000-1,500 crore.

However, TRAI has said that maximum outgo under the rule in a year would be around Rs.800 crore if networks are not improved.

Huawei P9 with 6GB RAM tipped to launch on 5 January

CES 2016: Huawei P9 with 6GB RAM tipped to launch on 5 January

Huawei is rumoured to launch the P9 smartphone which will be made official during the company’s pre-CES event that will take place on January 5. According to a tipster onWeibo, one of the main attractions of the device is its expected 6GB RAM and a parallel dual-lens camera. The phone was earlier rumoured to launch March this year. Along with this smartphone, Huawei might also unveil the Honor X3 phablet with a 6.2-inch display respectively.

Other rumoured specifications for the smartphone include a 5.2-inch display and the all-new octa-core Kirin 950 chipset. While the chipset recently made its first appearance in the Huawei Mate 8 smartphone, it now seems like the next likely contender to sport it could be the Huawei P9. The Kirin 950 SoC made by Huawei’s HiSilicon is indeed a unique one.

It packs in eight cores in all with the usual 4+4 set up. It has the 4 x Cortex A72 cores for heavy tasks, while the lighter duties are handled by the lower-powered 4 x Cortex A52 cores. But there’s more. Huawei’s HiSilicon team also managed to squeeze in an ‘i5’ co-processor which according to the company is present to support speech recognition, low-power consumption MP3, and many more low-powered tasks.

The Huawei P9 is expected to show up with an improved bionic parallel dual-lens camera that first appeared on the Huawei Honor 6 Plus. The smartphone’s camera saw somepositive reviews so it will indeed be great to see what the smartphone can do when paired with one of the most powerful processors currently available.

iBall Slide Cuddle 4G tablet launched

iBall Slide Cuddle 4G tablet launched at Rs 9999

iBall has announced its budget Slide Cuddle 4G tablet in India. The tablet packs in basic hardware with 4G connectivity as the highlight and is priced at Rs 9,999.

The design of the iBall Slide Cuddle 4G is fairly basic. You get a slab of glass with rounded corners on the front, with what appears to be a faux-metal frame, while the back is made of plastic with the red Slide branding.

In terms of hardware, the specs are fairly basic considering that this a tablet priced at Rs 9999 and not a smartphone. On the front we get a 6.95-inch IPS display sporting a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. Inside, we get 1GHz ARM Cortex A53 64-bit quad-core processor coupled with 2GB of RAM. The tablet packs in 16GB of internal storage and will support cards of up to 64GB in capacity via the microSD card slot.

iBall Slide Cuddle 4G Tablet Back

On the back we get an 8 MP AF camera with an LED flash, while the front-facing camera gets a 5MP sensor. Connectivity options being the highlight, the Cuddle packs in a dual SIM set up with dual standby support for 4G bands. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a micro-USB connector, which also supports USB OTG.

Hardware aside, the Cuddle 4G runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and also supports 21 regional languages. These include Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Manipuri, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, and Telugu.

Lenovo launches ThinkPad X1 Yoga and ThinkPad X1 Carbon ultrabooks

CES 2016: Lenovo launches ThinkPad X1 Yoga and ThinkPad X1 Carbon ultrabooks

Lenovo has given a shot in the arm to its ThinkPad portfolio this CES. Along with the modularThinkPad X1 Tablet, Lenovo has also announced the ThinkPad X1 Yoga which also comes with OLED display and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon ultrabooks for the business professionals.

ThinkPad X1 Yoga will be available starting January from $1,449 (approx Rs 96,300). OLED models will be available from April onwards and pricing for the same will be revealed then. ThinkPad X1 Carbon will be available starting February from $1,299 (approx Rs 86,300).

yoga 1

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga, as the name implies, brings the flexibility we have seen in Yoga notebooks on the ThinkPad business line of laptops. This will also be coming with an optional Samsung OLED display variant. In terms of specifications, the X1 Yoga features a 14-inch 2560×1440 pixel display, 6th generation Intel Core i7 Pro series processor along with Intel HD 520 graphics, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD storage. The X1 Yoga will also come with LTE WWAN support. There are three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, a mini DisplayPort, finger print reader, microSD card slot and an audio jack. It also features a stylus pen which is housed within the notebook.

Carbon

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon carries on the design from the past models along with the rugged military grade testing standards. It sports a 14-inch display and measures just 16.51mm thick with a weight of 1.17kg. You can add upto 6th gen Intel Core i7 Pro processor, up to 1TB of SSD storage and has an optional LTE-A WWAN port and WiGig docking. It also comes with a finger print reader and Lenovo’s Trusted Platform Module security chip. Both the laptops come with Windows 10 Pro operating system.

Among the optional accessories you get the ThinkPad X1 Wireless Touch Mouse which can also function as a touchpad presenter will start selling from end of January at $69.99 (approx Rs 4,700). ThinkPad X1 In-Ear Headphones will be available starting January for $69.99 (approx Rs 4,700). The ThinkPad X1 Sleeve will be available starting February for $50 (approx Rs 3,400).

Apple shares off but weather US market selloff

Apple shares off but weather US market selloff

Shares of Apple Inc fell to their lowest since August following recent worries about potentially soft iPhone sales but fared better than a 2 percent drop in major indexes. At one point Apple was down 3 percent and weighed more than any other stock on U.S. indices in the first trading day of 2016 after weak Chinese economic data reignited fears of a global slowdown.

But the stock recovered much of that loss to trade down just 0.4 percent at $104.78 at midday, significantly outperforming slumps of more than 2 percent for both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, even after Korean rival Samsung Electronics said it expects a difficult business environment in 2016 due to weak global economic conditions and heightened competition in key businesses including smartphones.

Shares of Apple are down about 23 percent from record highs in April, reflecting recent worries that iPhone shipments next year could fall for the first time as fewer people replace their smartphones and following softer-than-expected demand for the most recent 6S and 6S Plus models.

“The bearish sentiment at this point has overshot,” FBR analyst Daniel Ives said. “The New York City cab driver at this point recognizes iPhone 6S Street estimates were too high, and now it’s all baked into the stock.”

Since early December, about one-third of analysts tracked by Thomson Reuters have trimmed their estimates for Apple. For fiscal 2016, Apple is now expected, on average, to grow revenue by under 4 percent, a far cry from the 28 percent revenue expansion it achieved in the fiscal year that ended last September.

Apple’s stock trades at 10 times expected earnings, its lowest since August, making the Cupertino, California company cheaper than Microsoft at 19 times earnings and only slightly more expensive that IBM at 7 times earnings.

Lenovo K4 Note to launch in India today; to feature ‘killer display’, 3GB RAM and more

Lenovo K4 Note to launch in India today; to feature ‘killer display’, 3GB RAM and more

Lenovo will unveil the new K4 Note smartphone today in New Delhi. After hinting at a ‘killer display’ along with a 3GB RAM, the company also stated that the device will include front-facing speakers as well.

The company had shared a video on Twitter along with the tag line, ‘Killer sound, Killer phone’ and also states, “When is audio more than just a sum of its decibel levels? Take centre-stage with the K4 Note.”

In a recent teaser, Lenovo also revealed that the smartphone will pack in 3 GB of RAM. This is said to be accompanied by a MediaTek Helio X10 processor and pack in 32 GB of internal storage. A teaser image released earlier also provided speculation regarding the construction of the handset, which is expected to sport a metal frame. The current K3 Note sports an all-plastic body. In terms of features one can also expect the Lenovo K4 Note to pack in a fingerprint scanner and an NFC chip as well.

Recently, Flipkart also announced that 2015 has been big in the affordable 4G smartphone segment and Lenovo, has emerged as the favourite smartphone brand of the year. The popularity of 4G smartphones this year clearly shows how digital customers are making a shift to the 4G segment, along with the desire to opt for affordable smartphones.