Author: Virudh Sen

Huawei talks intellectual property in internal Motorola memo

Huawei has a tale to tell to the world about its views on that rivalry between two of the world’s biggest telecommunications players – Huawei and Motorola. It didn’t come out in the open but TechEye has obtained internal communications about what it thinks.

It all began ten years ago, when Huawei as a newcomer to the telecom market. It collaborated with Motorola as an OEM in order to fuel its expansion and to grow its customer base. At that time, the partnership was win-win, says the memo, back “when the two companies shared their complementary advantages, and their collaboration flourished during those years. Motorola spent over $878 million to purchase Huawei’s equipment.”

Now with Nokia Siemens Networks‘ (NSN) attempt to buy wireless network assets from Motorola, Huawei is a little concerned that the case poses questions about the security of Huawei’s confidential information from any assets being sold to NSN.

However, in the capitalist communist political economic framework of China, NSN’s attempt didn’t go well with the Anti-monopoly bureau of China’s Ministry of Commerce as NSN failed to obtain approval from the latter, as told to us by a Huawei insider.

The review of the case has been postponed for 60 days, setting back plans to complete the transaction within the first quarter of 2011.

Huawei said: “While this particular case has its own set of tribulations, it has been preceded by a litany of previous skirmishes.

“Just one day after Motorola announced the proposed U$ 1.2 billion deal with NSN, Motorola added Huawei to the list of defendants in a lawsuit that the company filed two years ago against a company named Lemko and its employees.

“Previously, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois had issued a preliminary injunction which restrained Motorola from transferring any of Huawei’s trade secrets to NSN in a proposed $1.2 billion transaction. It also called for Motorola to hire a qualified third party to conduct an investigation to ensure Huawei’s confidential information had been securely removed from any assets being sold to NSN.”

However, Huawei established a stronger foothold and grew to become the one of world’s largest telecom equipment vendors. Its wireless market share grew from 10.9 percent in 2008 to 20.8 percent in 2010 as per Dell‘oro, February 2011.

Huawei makes a point to advocate its “ethical” practice, defending itself in the warfare of corporate lawsuits.

The source says, “As early as 2003, Cisco filed a lawsuit against Huawei for intellectual property infringement. That case ended in a court settlement with Cisco withdrawing its suit against Huawei with no further requests for Huawei to make any changes to its products.

“There was no concrete evidence that proved Huawei had infringed on Cisco’s intellectual property, but even long after that case was dismissed, Huawei continues to be dogged with a reputation for IPR infringement despite the company’s track record for innovation.

“Moreover, Huawei was the world’s second largest patent seeker across all industries in 2009, ranking ahead of every other telecom vendor.”

Huawei is now is ready to take on the world, and it’s desperate to protect what it calls “its important assets”.

TechEye tried to corroborate the facts with Huawei India but it remained silent – and so did Motorola.

Indian services industry pulls out of Japan

Given the Japanese radiation crisis deepening at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Indian IT organisations Infosys, Wipro, HCL Technologies, MindTree, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and L&T Infotech are taking no chances as they call back employees from Japan.

Infosys had started the process of bringing back its employees three days ago. It has about 350 employees in couple of offices in Japan, one of them in Tokyo.

Sources close to Infosys said: “Initially, it wasn’t clear if the employees are coming back or not but given the crisis, management has decided to bring back all the employees and started the process of booking tickets.”

Wipro Technologies has offices in Yokohoma and Okinawa. The Indian IT services group has decided to bring back its employees to India and made an arrangement for a chartered flight with Air India.

Saurabh Govil, senior vice president, Wipro HR said: “Wipro is making arrangements for its onsite employees’ travel, including seats on a chartered Air India flight. We will facilitate their working from home or temporarily relocate to safer parts of Japan. Extensive business continuity measures have been put in place so that our customer operations are not impacted.”

HCL Technologies has given an open option to all its employees in Japan – Indian or Non-Indian – to relocate to another location or go on leave. HCL has 400 employees in Japan, Indians making up 50 percent of the total number.

An insider said: “Either the employees may take leave or may also work from China, Singapore or India, but on Japan’s timings.”

MindTree has asked its employees to move their families immediately and will keep a close look on the situation before deciding on bringing back the employees.

L&T Infotech has hired Kingfisher Airlines to operate a special flight on March 17 to bring back its 185 employees and their families back to India.

India's DoT ready to give up on Blackberry

At last, India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has given up on Blackberry – saying it cannot track about 15 communication services including Gmail and other email services.

Nothing new was decided at a high-level meeting where India’s top security officials were present. The DoT understands the only option would be to build technologies for intelligence agencies for monitoring and interception purposes.

It was pointed out by the DoT that in most countries, intelligence agencies build their own monitoring and interception capabilities, where feedback is provided by telcos. But, the Home Ministry has asked the service providers to ensure their services can be tracked on a real-time basis.

DoT sources said: “The DoT has come to a conclusion that to track blackberry services and intercepting encrypted communication, security agencies must build capabilities of decrypting the intercepted communication. The ball is now in the Home Ministry’s court as it has to decide whether to ban such communications now.”

The services listed by the DoT were video chats, internet telephony calls and push emails on high-end handsets.

A recent statement from the Press Information Bureau (PIB), India, reads: “The government is engaged with Research in Motion (RIM), the provider of Blackberry services, to find out a solution for the interception and monitoring of messenger chat and enterprise email using Blackberry phones.”

Blackberry maker RIM prefers to remain silent, declining to comment. But we do know it’s tearing its hair out.

AOL sacks 700 employees in India

The recession is over! A hiring spree is going on at all IT companies here in India. But in an unusual case, about 700 AOL employees in India have been served pink slips. April 1st will be the last day for the axed employees, and it’s no joke.

Out of the total, about 300 employees are likely to move to outsourcing partners but not on AOL’s bankroll.

The technology product teams will move to HP, while finance and advertising services employees will move to MindTree.

AOL has committed to these two companies for a certain number of years, saving jobs for some employees.

One, who wished to remain anonymous, told TechEye: “I don’t believe this. A few months back, we were considered to be valuable assets of the company and suddenly, everything changed. We believe that these jobs will be shifted to US.”

It all started when AOL CEO Tim Armstrong informed employees in a memo.

AOL issued the following statement to its Indian arm: “Moving forward, our focus in India will be on our core capabilities around building the most compelling consumer facing products primarily for the Indian and other Asian markets. We’ll be partnering with Mindtree and HP to round out our business operations.”

The fired employees will get three to four months of salary as their  severance package.

The employee said, “It’s difficult to say how good or bad the severance package is, as it all depends on how fast we manage to get our next job.”

The move follows AOL buying out the Huffington Post for $315 million.

Hotmail founder goes after Indian Communists in West Bengal

Hotmail founder Sabeer Bhatia is all geared up to bring defeat to the 23-year long Communist government in the Indian state of West Bengal.

Bhatia has been appointed by the opposition party, Trinamool Congress, to drive an online campaign to overturn the Communist government in the state. Union railway minister, popularly known as ‘Didi’ Mamta Banerjee, formed the party way back in the 90s after breaking up with the Indian National Congress.

This would be the first time in the history of state politics of West Bengal where the people will witness a poll campaign using current technology.

The party has roped in Bhatia hoping his inclusion will appeal to the generation Y voters, who constitute a major chunk of the electorate.

After meeting Banerjee, Bhatia said: “People of West Bengal are working for a change and I am here to share some of my ideas for better communication. The more an organisation becomes cyber savvy, the better it can reach out to people.”

Bhatia will help the Trinamool cyber team which includes two IIM students in building an interactive interface for the party. The online activity will be backed by SMS and other mobile media campaigns.

The big question is to what extent this cyber campaign will reach out to the rural, semi-urban, cyber-unsavvy voters that covers more than 85 percent of the electorate. The remaining 15 percent is mostly cynical about the future of state politics.

It’s not the first time that Indian politics will witness online poll campaigning of this degree. Earlier, in national politics, then ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP’s) ambitious ‘India Shining Campaign’ suffered a severe backlash, leading them to face a defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.

Only time will say if it’s too early for Indian political parties to go online, as internet penetration in India has realistically still not reached 15 percent – if we ignore the telecom industry sponsored research papers.

Even among the internet-savvy population, the majority is just not that bothered to make any difference to our ‘Great Indian Tamasha’, let alone in Red-ish West Bengal.

India has started scrapping 2G licences

The 2G spectrum investigation in India seems to be falling hard on few telcos as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has started the process of cancelling telecom licences.

The DoT is believed to have issued notices to Etisalat DB on the licence cancellation in Delhi and Mumbai circles. The telco has failed to roll out services in these circles.

Etisalat DB has confirmed the news. Etisalat DB was granted spectrum in 2008. This is the second show cause notice issued to the telco, following the March 7 notice. Highly placed DoT sources said that some other companies are also in line for losing the licence.

The grounds on which notices have been issued are little different from the 2G spectrum scam. Earlier, the notices were issued to telcos on failing to meet eligibility norms for getting a licence. In both occasions, 60 days notice period has been given.

It’s likely the DoT is likely to issue similar notices to other companies on same grounds. The telecom regulator, TRAI had earlier recommended cancelling licences of Uninor in 8 circles, Loop Telecom in 14 circles and 4 circles of Aircel.

Among these telcos, Aircel has been in the business for five years in a few circles, Uninor entered in 2010 and Loop Telecom has rolled out its services in Mumbai last year.

Apart from Aircel, other telcos haven’t managed to build a considerable subscriber base. Sources suggest that S-TeL and Videocon could also face the axe as they are believed to have not met eligibility norms.

TRAI had earlier recommended scrapping 69 telecom licenses across different circles on the grounds of failure to rollout services and ineligibility.

Back in November 2010, TechEye reported that the new Indian union telecom minister, Kapil Sibal had decided to crack down on 80 licences which were identified as ineligible to have won and about 38 companies were then allegedly falling under the category of not meeting roll-out obligations.

3.8 million Mobile Number Portability requests surface in India

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has announced that Mobile Number Portability (MNP) requests nation-wide reached 3.8 million by the end of February. The big question is – who wins and who loses?

Industry sources say the bigger players would highly benefit from the trend of changing operators.

Smaller players are not present widely on a pan-India basis which leads to problems like poor networks outside main cities, poor customer services and weaker value-added services (VAS) compared to the big guys.

The roll-out of 3G may also play a considerable role in the minds of customers, but this factor is only limited to consumers from TIER-I cities. Only a handful of telcos, primarily the major incumbents, would be able to roll out 3G on a pan-India basis as they have won the spectrum to spread the third generation services across all telecom circles. But the new entrants and region-strong telcos would lose a good chunk of their subscriber base.

Among the big players, Airtel and Vodafone may snatch a good number of subscribers from new entrants. The state-run telco, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) would gain a great deal too.

Sources close to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) says: “Smaller players might just make the tariff war a bit more interesting as it seems to be their only unique selling point compared to major ones.”

As per the data reported by the service providers, about 3.8 million subscribers have submitted their requests to different service providers for porting their mobile number over. Out of these requests around 320,000 requests alone are from the state of Haryana wherein MNP was implemented from 25th Nov. 2010.

In the rest of the country, in MNP Zone-I (Northern & Western India) the most number of requests have been received in Gujarat (365,000) followed by Rajasthan (314,000) whereas in MNP Zone-II (Southern & Eastern India) the most number of requests have been received in Karnataka (318,000) followed by Tamil Nadu Service area (276,000).
But there are problems with MNP as TRAI monitors its implementation in the country. The primary reasons for rejection of MNP request are incorrect unique porting code and existing contractual obligations and outstanding dues.

In view of the large number of rejections and complaints, TRAI is in the process of verifying the correctness of the port rejections from the service providers on a sample basis.

Notion Ink's Adam tablet plagued pre-launch

Bangalore-based Notion Ink’s Adam tablet PC drummed up quite some hype. But what had set out to be an Apple iPad killer is now at risk of not even meeting global safety standards.

The product received great hype after its demonstration at CES 2011 where some analysts positioned it as a great tablet PC, considering its low price and features.

Amidst the hype, the news flashed last month on the accidental damage of product shipments which halted the FCC certification, leading to the delay of pre-orders.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) was also involved in carrying out some tests of the product.

It now appears that the Chinese ODM (original design manufacturer) did not test for the right standards. UL had brought the issue to Notion Ink’s notice. But the manufacturer blamed it on UL saying the delays happened because of UL India.

Earlier, Notion Ink also said from its bog: “We saw FCC publishing their break down of Adam, and to be frank even we were little surprised by how they tore apart the pieces and then made it look like that’s how it is assembled.

“It is extremely unfortunate that we are in such a situation. We could not have expected the accidental damage of the touch screen shipment, and those too just days before Chinese New Year eve. Even though the damage was to a part of the shipment, we cancelled all because in such a case you cannot predict the defective and working screens manually.”

UL India had reportedly said some part of the tests were done out of their London labs.

Adam is loaded with stuff like Bluetooth, GSM, Swivel camera, Back touch pad, Wi-Fi and 3G. Its impressive feature set is backed up by a dual core tegra 2 processor, HDMI capability and Flash support. It runs on Android with its own UI – Eden.

But can Adam really take a bite out of Apple with all the muck-ups pre-launch?

Impossible Indian rail sacks nightmare booking agents

Try booking a ticket on the  Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website and you’ll find yourself taking an unwanted lesson in frustration.

The online ticketing is supposed to open at 5.30 AM onwards, Indian Standard Time, but the server always goes down and starts running from 8 AM instead. What seems to be even more dubious here is between 8AM to 8:30 AM, hardly anyone can book a confirmed ticket as the server is unimaginably slow. After 8:30 AM, the server runs smoothly but by then, the tickets all get booked up.

Finally, some action has been taken against alleged malpractices of Indian Railway’s bookings, though it seems it may not be enough to ensure a proper service to the common Indian.

Considering several complaints over the years, Indian Railways has deactivated IDs of 1.4 million users, fearing booking malpractice. Rail tickets are always high demand but they’re hardly available because of corporate bookings and a nexus between agents and fringe employees.

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has now barred authorised agents from booking e-tickets.

IRCTC has licensed about 100 principal agents in India. In turn, it appointed sub agents working as authorised ticket agents in different parts of the country taking a non-refundable deposit.

The IRCTC website is the sole online ticketing platform of Indian railways, apart from a couple of private players – Makemytrip.com and Yaatra.com. But, there’s hardly any difference between IRCTC booking and these guys as the results always appear to be the same – Confirmed tickets not available.

IRCTC was unavailable for comment.

Not going so good for IRCTC
While announcing the railway budget, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee also launched a portal for e-ticketing from the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS). The new website may take away half of IRCTC’s business but it will remain to be seen whether or not CRIS can come up with an answer and not something worse than IRCTC.

Last year, a catering contract was taken away from the IRCTC, but the biggest blow is the ticketing website.

Rakesh Tandon, managing director at the IRCTC, has said: “This year will be a tough year.

“Catering and e-ticketing have been our main source of income. With a catering business worth Rs 300 crore gone, we are already feeling the pinch. Now, the new portal will cut our share in ticketing too.”

Vodafone cheesed off at India's TRAI spectrum suggestions

It’s getting even trickier for telcos in the never-ending Indian spectrum debate.

UK-based telecoms giant Vodafone has lashed out at the Telecom Regulation Authority of India’s (TRAI) latest report on spectrum pricing. The British telecom player has asked the Indian government to reject TRAI’s recommendations of increasing the controversial 2G spectrum prices by six times, and a one-time charge for operators holding excess spectrum over 6.2 Mhz.

If the Indian government accepts the regulator’s recommendations, a pan-india licence would come at Rs 10,972.45 crore ($2.4 billion), a six-fold jump from Rs 1,658 crore ($363 million).

In its recommendations to the Department of Telecoms, TRAI has also said that every Mhz of additional spectrum (on an all-India basis) beyond the contracted limit of 6.2 Mhz would cost a massive Rs 4,571.87 crore ($1 billion).

The revised price stands at Rs.1769.75 crore ($380 million) for up to 6.2 MHz and Rs. 4571.87 crore (beyond 6.2 MHz). TRAI recommends the implementation of the revised prices retrospectively from the 1st of April 2010.

These recommendations, if taken by the Indian government, will affect top dogs like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular and the state-owned BSNL, which will have to pay for the amount of spectrum they are holding beyond 6.2 MHz.

Vodafone has claimed that the TRAI recommendations are flawed – as per a study conducted by Plum and commissioned by Vodafone.

The new operators, who are still to get spectrum, are likely to pay for whatever radio waves they would be allotted by the Department of Telecommunications.

Vodafone is a majority joint venture partner of India’s third largest mobile operator Vodafone-Essar and offers services throughout the country.