India

India’s largest telco plans to roll out 5G in 2021

A very optimistic timeline

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India’s largest telecom carrier Jio said it plans to roll out 5G in India by the second half of 2021. The announcement is significant because India is yet to deploy 5G on a commercial scale. All intended plans for a timely introduction stood delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Jio is backed by Reliance Industries, one of the largest conglomerates in India. Chairman Mukesh Ambani was a keynote speaker at India Mobile Congress (IMC) and confirmed that Jio intends to launch 5G services with indigenously developed technology.

The telco has also closely worked with Samsung and Qualcomm to deploy the next generation of mobile communication. Jio has also acknowledged that it’ll start 5G trials as soon as spectrum allotment is complete by the government. However, it’s worth noting that Jio’s plans are overly ambitious, and there could be delays because the government is yet to set up a spectrum auction.

Competitor Airtel is confident that it’ll take anywhere between two to three years for the market to mature for 5G services. The government is expected to organize spectrum sales in January-March of 2021, following which the allocation, testing, and rollout phases shall begin.

Ambitious but not surprising

Considering Jio’s history, it isn’t surprising that the company intends to be the first to launch 5G in India. The telco made a debut in 2016 with pan India 4G coverage and completely ditched legacy standards like 2G and 3G to reduce operational costs. This, in turn, gave it a massive edge in terms of pricing, and it went from nada to number one in no time.

Upgrading the infrastructure to 5G is an expensive endeavor, and Jio’s also well equipped with more than sufficient funds. During the March to May period, it raised a mind-boggling US$ 20 billion from marquee investors like Google, Facebook, Qualcomm, Mubadala (sovereign fund of Abu Dhabi), Vista Equity, and more.

Read Also: This Indian telco has raised more than $20 billion during the pandemic

India

Airtel starts 5G trials in India, shows off 1Gbps speed

Commercial availability still a year away, though

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India is yet to roll out 5G services, but there’s finally some good news. Airtel has kicked off its 5G trial network in Gurugram, Delhi’s neighboring city,  just a little over a month after the government gave its go-ahead to carry out trial runs.

Airtel is testing its 5G network at a speed of over 1Gbps, and the site where the trial is running is operating in the 3500MHz band. According to a report by ET Telecom, Airtel has been allotted the 5G trial spectrum in 3500 MHz, 28 GHz, and 700 MHz.

Rival telcos Jio and VIL (Vodafone-Idea) have been allotted spectrums in the 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz, and 26 GHz bands. State-backed telco MTNL has also received permission to start trials. The runs are being carried out in compliance with the guidelines of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Airtel is currently working with Ericson on the equipment, while other providers include Nokia, Samsung, etc. Jio has announced will be conducting trials using its own indigenous technology. The trails shall go on for six months. Chinese companies like Huawei have long been sidelined.

5G in India

The Indian government is yet to auction the 5G spectrum; hence a commercial roll-out is at least a year away. Earlier in January this year, Airtel claimed that they had become the first telco in India to demonstrate 5G services over a commercial network in Hyderabad. However, these are internal runs.

It noted that in Hyderabad, users were able to download a full-length movie in a matter of seconds on a 5G phone, a demonstration that has underlined the company’s technology capabilities.

The plans to unveil 5G in the country took a backseat due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The industry couldn’t adopt the latest technology quickly as the market was devastated by low tariff wars, pending tax issues, and reducing capex. VIL was barely able to survive bankruptcy, but the debt continues to haunt it.

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Nord CE 5G goes official with Snapdragon 750G, 64MP camera

Enough to take on Xiaomi and realme?

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OnePlus has now transformed into a giant itself and aggressively expanding its Nord-branded offering. Designed for the affordable segment, the Nord CE aims to offer a premium experience while maintaining a pocket-friendly price tag.

The Nord CE follows its predecessor’s design language and the Blue Void color option screams OnePlus. It looks quite similar to the Xiaomi Mi A3 but has an elongated vertical camera array on the rear. The phone will be going up against the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, Mi 10i 5G, and realme X7.

It sports a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate, Full HD+ resolution, and a punch-hole cut-out. The body is made of polycarbonate, and there’s an in-display fingerprint scanner for authentication. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 750G processor with up to 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. Unfortunately, there’s no SD card slot for memory expansion.

On the rear is a triple camera setup consisting of a 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. For selfies, there is a 16-megapixel shooter located within the cut-out. Further, it comes preloaded with Nightscape, UltraShot HDR, Portrait, Panorama, Pro mode, and Smart Scene recognition. Backing these internals is a 4500mAh battery with 30W fast charging.

The Nord CE 5G costs INR 22,999 (US$ 315) for the 6GB + 128GB option, INR 24,999 (US$ 340) for 8GB + 128GB, and INR 27,999 (US$ 382) for 8GB + 256GB. The phone goes on sale on June 16, and color options include Blue Void, Charcoal Ink, and Silver Ray. OnePlus has also listed an offer on its website where buyers will get INR 500 off on OnePlus Buds Z and INR 500 off on the OnePlus Band. The coupons will be added to the buyer’s account after product delivery.

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WhatsApp is suing India’s government over rules that endanger privacy

It’s serious when WhatsApp starts talking about privacy…

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It’s hard to imagine a Facebook-backed service talk about defending privacy. The company has a nasty reputation for handling users’ data, and it’s often considered a dystopian internet giant. But Facebook-owned WhatsApp is now suing the Indian government over new rules that endanger user privacy.

In February, the Indian government introduced new guidelines to regulate content on social media and streaming platforms. The new rules give greater power to monitor online activity, including encrypted apps like Signal and Telegram.

To be more precise, the government wants apps like WhatsApp to identify the originator of a message. The content of the message can remain encrypted, but the user should be traceable. The new rules supersede the existing law — the IT Act. Hence, it becomes impossible for the government to enforce traceability without a law.

And, even if the rule is modeled within the existing law, it’ll pose a massive challenge for encrypted apps. Giving up traceability potentially compromises all its users. WhatsApp says traceability of texts would force companies to collect and store billions of messages sent each day for the sole purpose of turning them over to law enforcement.

WhatsApp’s petition asks the High Court to declare that one of the new rules is a violation of privacy under the constitution of India since it requires social media sites to identify the “first originator of information” when asked for it.

The instant messaging app has over 400 million users in India. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Whatsapp were given three months to comply with these rules. Although it’s suing the government, WhatsApp itself has received a lot of criticism due to its recently updated privacy policy.

“Some governments are seeking to force technology companies to find out who sent a particular message on private messaging services. This concept is called ‘traceability’,” said WhatsApp in an online statement. “WhatsApp is committed to doing all we can to protect the privacy of people’s personal messages, which is why we join others in opposing traceability.”

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