Yahoo’s Silence About Hack in SEC Filing for Verizon Sale May Cause It Trouble

Yahoo's Silence About Hack in SEC Filing for Verizon Sale May Cause It TroubleHIGHLIGHTS

  • Yahoo said it learned of its recent huge breach in August
  • Yahoo said it launched two different hack investigations this summer
  • SEC to investigate Yahoo’s September 9 proxy filing

Yahoo said it learned of its recent huge breach, which affected more than 500 million user accounts, in August.

Yet on September 9 – after it started its investigation – the company said in a regulatory filing that it was not aware of “any incidents of, or third party claims alleging” security breaches, “unauthorized access or use” of its information technology systems or misuse of personal information that could significantly impact its business.

This apparent conflict between when it learned about the breach and what it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission about its proposed sale to Verizon has raised questions about what the tech company knew and when.

Companies are required to tell the SEC about events that any “reasonable investor would consider important in an investment decision,” according to the agency. Independent security experts who looked at the proxy filing say that the company could be on shaky ground if it comes to light that it in any way understood the seriousness of the breach when it made that statement.

Yahoo was very careful in the wording of its September 9 filing, said Kim Phan, a District of Columbia-based lawyer specializing in data and privacy security at Ballard Spahr. “Looking at their exact statement in their filing, they are very specific – they say ‘to our knowledge’ we don’t know this was a breach,” Phan said. “From a legal perspective, it’s not deceptive. However, it doesn’t mean that they were fulfilling the spirit of the law.”(Also see: Yahoo Hack Was Not State-Sponsored, Claims Security Firm)

Yahoo said it launched two different hack investigations this summer. The first one was in July but had no “direct connection” to the breach of 500 million user accounts. It found no evidence of that alleged hack and closed its probe, the company said.

“In late August, Yahoo chose to begin a separate, comprehensive security investigation,” Yahoo said in a statement to The Post. “That investigation, which is ongoing, eventually resulted in the information that was shared publicly on September 22.”

However, that still places the proxy filing – and Yahoo’s claim that it had no knowledge of a serious breach – after the start of the company’s investigation in August.

Yahoo declined to elaborate on the September 9 filing. The SEC declined to comment.

(Also see: Yahoo Hack: Ripple Effects Could Extend Well Beyond)

The tech giant is already facing calls for closer scrutiny into the way it reported the breach. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, on Monday called on the SEC to investigate whether Yahoo failed to fulfill its legal obligations to shareholders and consumers in light of the massive breach that exposed the information of 500 million user accounts.

“I’ve been on public corporate boards and don’t see how anyone wouldn’t view this as a material fact,” Warner, a former technology executive, said in an interview with The Post on Tuesday.

The question of whether an investigation with serious concerns of a breach can be enough cause for disclosure is difficult to answer, experts said.

The standard for reporting a breach, Phan said, is whether there could be material harm to a company. For example, if proprietary information central to a company’s business model were stolen, then that could be considered material harm. Another example is anything that can significantly damage the reputation of the company. But harm can be difficult to evaluate, particularly if a breach is caught and contained quickly.

“There’s a risk to reporting,” she said, citing bad press around a breach, even if the intrusion itself doesn’t cause the company much harm. “While companies are being too conservative about reporting, they don’t always need to report everything.”

Companies can also sometimes be asked by law enforcement not to disclose breaches, experts said, to avoid disrupting ongoing investigations.

“Yahoo has been stingy with the facts, but this may be at the request of US law enforcement or the intelligence community,” said Leo Taddeo, a former special agent in charge of the FBI’s New York cybercrime office and now chief security officer at security firm Cryptzone. “Otherwise, the hackers may get tipped off to the US government’s sources and capabilities.”

(Also see: US Senators Accuse Yahoo of ‘Unacceptable’ Delay in Breach Discovery)

Yahoo’s case especially stands out because of its circumstances. Yahoo is in the midst of a sale, after all, and its statement that it had no knowledge of the breach was made in a proxy filing – something experts say is unusual. If Yahoo wanted to disclose a breach, it would have done so in a separate filing, as it did on September 22.

Whether its language in the proxy filing will lead to an SEC investigation remains unclear.

Since offering its guidance on disclosing breaches in 2011, the SEC has not penalized any company for failing to do so. And several companies do not report breaches, Phan said. Sony, for example, which suffered an extensive breach of its records in 2014, never filed a notice with the SEC over that incident.

That, according to Warner, is also a problem.

Yahoo, he said, is just the latest example to illustrate that the current regulatory framework needs work. “This shows that this is an area that’s changing faster than rules and technology can keep up with,” he said. “If this kind of massive breach doesn’t spur us on, I don’t know what will.”

© 2016 The Washington Post

Tags: Yahoo, Yahoo 2014 Hack, Hacking, Internet, Yahoo Mail, Cyber Attack

The Ultimate Guide to Running Gear That Doesn’t Cost a Fortune

The Ultimate Guide to Running Gear That Doesn't Cost a Fortune


  • Running is an inexpensive hobby
  • Shoes are the only big investment
  • You don’t even need a running watch

As we slowly leave the summer behind and head into the running season in India, there’s a good chance that someone you know is training for a distance running event. It could be a friend who wants to get fitter and has been running 5km once a month, or a family member training for a marathon. This is how this writer got into running and we know many runners who’ve picked it up the same way.

If you’re one of these people, or if you’re thinking of taking up running to stay fit, then you need to know about the gear you should get to start running. Training for a race such as a 10km and half-marathon is a great way to motivate yourself to take up running seriously. If you’ve reached this stage, you need to invest in some basic gear. We spoke to some experienced runners and used our own experience to compile this guide. This is meant for people who’ve just begun running and the goal was to focus only on things you need, rather than what marketing departments of huge corporations want you to buy. Deals and discounts are upon us, so use this guide to fill your wishlist.

Do I need a tracker?
Many people start looking for activity trackers or running watches when they get into running. Alfredo Miranda, a Delhi-based runner who works with a construction company, says beginners definitely don’t need to buy a wearable for running. “You can just use a stopwatch. Measure the track via Google Maps [if it doesn’t have mile markers],” he says. “I run in Rose Gardens, Hauz Khas [in South Delhi]. I know one lap is 1.5km.”Miranda’s low-cost hack could save you a lot of money. Once you take up running seriously, you can always invest in a proper running watch. If you absolutely need GPS on your runs, you can always use your smartphone. There are several running apps such as Strava, Runkeeper, Runtastic, and Nike+ that you can use instead of buying something like TomTom Spark Cardio + Music.

(Also see: Convinced You Need a Fitness Tracker? Think Again)

How do I carry my smartphone?
Let’s start with smartphones. Dr. Adil Rizvi, a cardiovascular surgeon and a runner, recommends an arm band or a waist pouch. “You should check if these are waterproof to guard against rain and sweat. Your phone should fit [inside the pouch or band] and you should check if it’s comfortable,” he says. You can buy an arm band at around Rs. 500 but be sure to check reviews to see if your smartphone fits in the case. The belt pouch is also easily available online at around Rs. 500. Both these products will fit most people unless you’re on extreme ends of the weight spectrum. We’ve spoken to people who’re underweight due to illness and none of these products fit them. You’d probably be better off buying these products offline to ensure proper fit – both for you and the things you want to carry.

It’s also always a good idea to keep some money and a piece of paper with your name and the details of an emergency contact in the pouch or arm band. In case you face some kind of a medical emergency, this will help people get you help. Dr. Rizvi suggests buying an ID band that has these details that you can wear it on your wrist, but that’s optional.

Alfredo Miranda suggests an alternative. “I bought a cover for my phone, the [shock-proof] one that protects from falls. I bought it for Rs. 300. I carry my phone in my hand for runs up to 15km,” he says. You can see whichever is more comfortable for you and choose accordingly.

How should I carry water during runs?
You will definitely need to carry water. Miranda runs with a half-litre water bottle, and both he and Dr. Rizvi suggest that you plan your run so that you can refill the bottle along the way. Dr. Rizvi says buying a waist pouch with a bottle holder is a good investment for those who don’t like to hold a bottle during runs. These start at under Rs. 300 and once again we suggest you buy them offline to ensure that you don’t have problems with fit.

Miranda says, “Keep water stations at the race in mind while training. For example the Bhatti ultra [in Faridabad] I was running 80km. I know there is one water station every 5km so I can forget about carrying water.” You should find out how often water and aid stations are available at your race and simulate those conditions in training. Items such as water bladders with small backpacks should be avoided unless you’re on an unsupported long run, Dr. Rizvi says.

What should I wear while running?
Dr. Rizvi says, “Wear synthetic [moisture wicking] T-shirts [and shorts] during runs. Different brands have different names such as Drifit for these.” He suggests avoiding cotton. “Cotton is not a good fabric for running. It becomes wet and heavy [once you start sweating].” He adds that you should pick running clothes should have reflective strips so vehicles can spot you if you’re running when it’s dark.

Instead of buying expensive T-shirts from big brands, you can just use the T-shirts you get for free when you participate in races. Most timed racing events in India offer a complimentary T-shirt to all participants, and plenty of these are of good quality. Good quality dry-fit T-shirts are available at around Rs. 500.

As you run longer distances, you’re likely to encounter some chafing. This happens when your clothes rub against your skin, leading to irritation. This can be very painful and Miranda has a cost-effective solution to avoid it. “Just use Vaseline,” he says.

That brings us to shoes. We’ve met some barefoot runners who’ve been managing quite well, but most people will need a pair of running shoes. If anyone recommends a particular shoe and tells you to buy it, they’re totally wrong. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s best if you go to a store for running shoes and get a gait analysis done before buying. While you’re at it you might want to get a pair of socks as well. If your current pair aren’t giving you any trouble while running, keep using them. Otherwise you might want to get a new pair.

There are plenty of other things such as foam rollers, ice packs, energy gels that you’ll find online. If you’re just taking up running and aiming for a half marathon, you wouldn’t need these if you take a few precautions. Both Dr. Rizvi and Miranda say stretching properly before and after runs is what you need. Energy gels are not needed unless you’re attempting to run more than a half-marathon.

Running isn’t a very expensive hobby. It’s possible to train on a low budget with the suggestions mentioned above.

Do you have any favourite cost-effective running tips? Share them via the comments.

Tags: Running, Half marathon, Marathon

Netflix, Amazon Spending More on Original Content Than TV Networks, Says Study

Netflix, Amazon Spending More on Original Content Than TV Networks, Says Study


  • The two streaming giants spent $7.5 billion last year on own content
  • Amazon spent $2.67 billion in 2015, and Netflix spent $4.91 billion
  • Netflix, Amazon investment topped only by Disney and NBC

Online entertainment platforms Netflix and Amazon are now spending more on programmes than traditional television networks, said a new study published Monday.

Analysts said the two streaming giants spent $7.5 billion (roughly Rs. 50,047 crores) last year on their own series and shows, far more than big players such as the BBC and even ahead of US networks like CBS, HBO and Turner.

Netflix and Amazon more than doubled their expenditure on programming from 2013 to 2015, IHS Markit said in the first findings of its new production report released to coincide with the MIPCOM world entertainment trade show in the French resort of Cannes.

(Also see: Netflix Subscriptions Boom Around the World but China Plans on Hold)

Amazon spent $2.67 billion in 2015, and Netflix nearly twice as much at $4.91 billion.”The levels of investment we are seeing from Netflix and Amazon are only topped by Disney ($11.84 billion) and NBC ($10.27 billion),” said Tim Westcott, senior IHS senior analyst.

He said the huge sums flowing in from the big two as well as Hulu in the US and China’s Youku Tudou, iQifyi and Tencent are “shaking the foundations of the traditional TV industry”, he added.

However, he said it was very premature to declare that the era of traditional TV was over.

“Netflix and Amazon have come hard on the heels of a boom in production of original drama and comedy by the likes of (cable networks) AMC and FX in the US.”

There were 148 new drama shows aired by basic cable networks in the US last year, up from 96 in 2013, the report added.

So far this year, there have been 113 scripted basic cable shows, 78 on the networks, 31 on premium cable and 57 online.

As recently as 2012, only three online shows were made.

Tags: Netflix, Amazon, Streaming, Home Entertainment, Internet

Reliance Jio Is Doomed to Repeat 2002 if It Can’t Deliver Customer Service

Reliance Jio Is Doomed to Repeat 2002 if It Can't Deliver Customer Service

Reliance Jio Is Doomed to Repeat 2002 if It Can’t Deliver Customer Service


  • Jio’s main disruption is on price, not product
  • It could trigger a price war that benefits us all
  • The real test for Reliance Jio actually begins now

There’s a scene in The Matrix, where a glitch causes Neo to experience Deja Vu. With the launch of Reliance Jio, we’re left feeling a little like that, as the rollout brings up a lot of memories from 2002, when Reliance Infocomm first rolled out.

Ever since the Reliance Jio launch on Thursday, you’d be forgiven for thinking that nothing else of consequence has taken place in the tech world. Announcing the launch of the Jio network, Chairman Mukesh Ambani said some things that most Indian users have been waiting to hear for a long time. Describing data as oxygen, Ambani talked about how connectivity on other networks is sometimes-2G, sometimes-3G, and mentioned the high prices for data today, combined with too many complicated plans, and a lack of transparency.

(Also see: Reliance Jio Launch Today: Here’s Everything You Need to Know)

Now step back to 2002, and the Reliance CDMA rollout. The company was set to disrupt the market, empower the nation, and it offered then unheard of plans: free incoming calls, outgoing calls at 10p per 15 seconds, and a Rs. 10,000 handset bundled free with the connection – and remember, this was an era where you got a “premium” device for around Rs. 15,000.The Reliance Jio launch evokes many of the same reactions. Everyone is agog now about the disruptive pricing, and talking about how Jio has an opportunity to take over telecom in a way that’s never been seen before. But if that’s the case, then why is Airtel the biggest telecom operator in terms of subscribers in India?

(Also see: How and Where to Get Reliance Jio SIM Card)

The problem is that Jio’s real disruption is on price, and not on technology or service – it’s a moat but not necessarily a defensible one, as the other telecom providers could do just what they did 14 years ago – cut prices to match Jio’s offerings, and hold on to their consumers. That’s not just speculation on our part either – that’s already happening.

For example, Jio’s plans really start at Rs. 499 per month. though there’s one at Rs. 149 per month that gives you 300MB of data. The 499 plan gives you 4GB of 4G data, plus unlimited access at “night”, and 8GB of data usage on Reliance Jio’s upcoming Wi-Fi hotspots. The catch is that the hotspots are coming up at colleges, schools, and other public spaces, which means that many of us will not benefit from them. And unlimited night usage is restricted to 2AM to 5AM, making it a very limited offering indeed. For practical purposes, we need to look at this as Rs. 499 for 4GB of 4G data.

(Also see: List of VoLTE Phones That Will Work on the Reliance Jio Network)

It’s still a pretty good plan, but Airtel has a better plan if you’re able to commit to 4GB of monthly usage for a full year – pay Rs. 1,498 in advance to get the rate cutter plan enabled, and then you can buy 1GB of data for just Rs. 51 from Airtel. At 4GB per month, Jio works out to Rs. 5,988, and Airtel works out to Rs. 3,895 – roughly Rs. 325 per month or Rs. 80 per GB. Like Jio, the per GB cost goes down as your consumption goes up.

Jio has other advantages such as access to Jio’s movies and music apps without a subscription, and although the apps need a lot of work in terms of UI improvements, the content library on both is nothing to scoff at. But cheaper data is cheaper data – and Airtel is already offering that. It’s safe to say that we can start thanking Jio for the bloodbath that’s going to happen in data pricing soon. Rates across networks have been stable to the point where cynics could call it cartelisation – and much like the 2002 CDMA rollout, the new Jio 4G rollout could also accomplish the same thing.

(Also see: How to Switch to Reliance Jio and Keep Your Current Number)

But what does that mean for Reliance Jio? Well, the first problem with the old Reliance Communications rollout was that the network was just not reliable. Yes, it was wide-spread – you got a Reliance signal in the smallest villages where Airtel and Vodafone were nowhere to be seen – but particularly in congested cities where demand was high, you had poor quality of service. Looking back at 2002 and the years that followed, the Reliance phones often lost signal, had poor quality connections and so on.

(Also see: Reliance Jio SIM Available to Everyone From September 5, Free to Use Till December 31)

And that wasn’t the end of things. The worst part was if there was a problem. Let’s say you needed to dispute your bill – which happened several times over a one year subscription – then you’d better show up with a lawyer, a doctor, and a pandit to start a havan in the Reliance showroom in order to get anything done. Customer care was overloaded with too many customers – we were all drawn in by the promise of cheapest ever connections – and with such a heavy load, they couldn’t have solved any problems even if they wanted to. So it’s probably a good thing that at least 90 percent of the customer service executives in the stores looked like they would rather be anywhere else in the world.

Unfortunately for Reliance Jio, it doesn’t look like much has changed in the 14 years in between that launch and this one.

Let’s talk about the product first. Jio’s preview offer has been going on for some time now, to let the company test out connections and other functionality. Other telcos have called it a commercial launch in all but name, but even so, its user count is objectively very low for now. With relatively low user numbers, speeds vary dramatically, each time you test it. We’ve seen it stuck on 2Mbps, and sometimes we’ve seen it deliver a fast 30Mbps connection. As of now, you see more of the latter, but as more and more users get on the network, you can be certain that the balance will shift towards the former. And the numbers of users are going to rise, looking at the queues forming outside Reliance’s stores, as people line up for their free connections.

(Also see: Reliance Jio Plans List, Including Ones Mukesh Ambani Didn’t Show on Stage)

Which brings us to the next problem – customer service. During the preview offer rollout, stores were unclear on what was on offer and how to take advantage of it. The Reliane Digital Xpress Mini stores did a better job, but if you went to a Reliance Digital store, you were likely to get incorrect information and no help at all from the staff. The company is talking about eKYC now, which could improve things but as of now, getting a SIM is in itself a painful process. The comments we see on stories about Jio confirm this fact. There’s also the fact that help on social media is limited at beset – so far, all questions have been deflected with a blanket statement that the preview offer is a trial period and there will be occasional shortcomings in the offering. Now that Reliance Jio is rolling out to all users, will this attitude change or you can’t expect any customer support because the service is free? There’s still a lot of confusion when it comes to what’s on offer – Reliance’s apps are still changing names and Reliance’s website is still getting updated with new details. That this has not happened in an orderly fashion does not bode well for the future.

Jio’s pricing is truly disruptive. On all other fronts, there’s plenty of room for doubt. When people are saying that Jio is going to disrupt the industry, we’re inclined to agree. The changes to Airtel’s pricing show how Jio has already triggered change. On the other hand, we’re not so sure that Jio will fare better than Reliance Infocomm.

(Also see: Reliance JioFi – How to Get Started With Jio’s 4G LTE Hotspot)

People are suggesting that dual SIM and 4G phone sales will go up. That’s pretty obvious and while Jio will help, it would have happened anyway. They’re also saying that other operators will drop rates – this has already started. On the other hand, people are also suggesting that Jio will disrupt the broadband business, and force companies to ditch their FUP norms. This is where people are starting to stretch expectations a little. On a per GB basis, broadband plans are still significantly cheaper – a 60GB plan is Rs. 1,149 plus taxes. On Jio that’s Rs. 3,999 – it’s not reasonable to compare the two.

With the Jio rollout, Reliance does not have a simple task ahead of it. The company is going to bleed money offering just about everything for free to users. It’s not passing on interconnect charges, and it’s offering VoD, music streaming, and live TV all given freely. That’s going to lead to huge numbers of users – and then problems with connectivity, and bigger problems with customer service. How the company can improve on those two fronts is what’s going to decide it’s future – the price disruption was only the start. That didn’t work out too well in 2002 – can 2017 go better?

Tags: RELIANCE, Reliance Jio 4G, Reliance Jio 4G launch, Reliance Jio Tariff Plans, Reliance Jio Bharti Airtel

Reliance Jio’s Business Model: How Will Jio Make Money With Its ‘Crazy’ Plans?

Reliance Jio's Business Model: How Will Jio Make Money With Its 'Crazy' Plans?


  • Most users may end up spending about the same per month
  • What you get for your money will improve though
  • Jio could make more per customer than other telcos

Reliance Jio’s business model is really simple – most of you are going to pay the same or probably more money to Jio compared to your current network provider. After reading this answer, you will realize what a clever businessman Mukesh Ambani is.

I have been following the news about Reliance Jio since many years, and have written multiple articles about Jio in the past many months.

(Also see: Reliance Jio Launch Today: Here’s Everything You Need to Know)

Why Mukesh Ambani wants to enter networking field so badly?
This story requires us to know why Mukesh Ambani is investing so much in yet another telecom company especially when there is already another company named Reliance Communications. In 2002, when Dhirubhai Ambani died, there were some major ownership issues between his two sons – Anil Ambani and Mukesh Ambani. After some public feud between both the brothers for the control of Reliance empire, their mother intervened and split Reliance into two parts in 2005. Anil Ambani got telecom, power, entertainment and financial services business while Mukesh Ambani received Reliance Industries and IPCL.

Although Anil Ambani got the Reliance Communications, it was Mukesh Ambani who started it and revolutionized the Indian mobile industry by reducing the call rates in the early 2000s, which made mobile phones affordable to Indians. It was his baby all the way, while Anil Ambani was not even having a seat in its board of directors.(Also see: List of VoLTE Phones That Will Work on the Reliance Jio Network)

That is not all. To prevent Mukesh Ambani from making another telecom company and competing with Reliance Communications, they had inserted a non-compete clause in the agreement.

In 2010, as soon as the non-compete agreement was scrapped, Mukesh Ambani bought 96 percent stake in Infotel Broadband which had won 4G spectrum in all sectors in India. Later they renamed it to Jio, and started building fiber optic network around the country.

Now, if you do not know much about Jio, then I recommend to read one of my previous answers. It will brief you about how awesome their network is. How likely is that Reliance Jio 4G will revolutionize the internet market in India?

(Also see: How and Where to Get Reliance Jio SIM Card)

This is not just about personal rivalry. With his experience in starting up Reliance communications, Mukesh Ambani knows that existing network providers are not good enough and that he can easily compete with them and win. Telecom is also a very lucrative business. It is like he gets to control Internet/ communications in India.

Jio’s business model
Everything Jio have done till now is intended at making money. Their tariff plans may look unbelievably awesome, but they will make more money by giving free voice calls than what the other companies make by charging you for it!

In India, the monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) the current network providers get is around Rs. 150 per month. That is the money they get on average from each user. If you spend over Rs250 per month, you are considered a high value customer.

Look at this tariff plan.

(Editor’s note: Since this post was published, Jio was updated its plans to offer JioNet access and unlimited night data with Rs. 149 plan as well, though that doesn’t change facts of this analysis.)

Which plan would you choose? If you are a voice-only kind of person, then you would be okay with the Rs. 149 per 28 days plan, as you will get free unlimited voice calls. But, even though you are not explicitly paying for voice, you are already paying over Rs. 150 per month, thus their ARPU will by default be as good as the current players.

If you are someone who uses over Rs. 150 worth of voice calls every month then it is a totally awesome plan for you. But, my point is that other telecom companies make about Rs. 150 per month on average from each user by charging for voice, SMS, data and roaming. Jio will be making the same/more amount of money on average from each user even after providing SMS, roaming and voice calls for free, by just pricing things differently.

(Also see: How to Switch to Reliance Jio and Keep Your Current Number)

Now, if you are a moderately data using person, which plan would you choose? Did you see that there is no plan in-between the Rs. 149 and Rs. 499 plans? This is basically a psychological trick to get you into the Rs. 499 plan. Many people will compare it with the smaller plan and see that you are getting Unlimited 4G night data and choose at least the 499 plan.

They do have some smaller plans at Rs 19, 199 and 299, but these plans do not really offer any more value than their main plans as they have even less validity. Also, it offers less data per rupee. For example the 299 plan only offers 21 day validity and 2GB data. This may be adequate for many people, but if you ever exceed the 2GB limit, then you will have to purchase ‘add-on packs’ and these add-on pack will have the validity of the main pack. So, if you recharge on day 20 of this plan, then you will get only one day validity for the add-on. For practical purposes, you will be spending more for lesser value through these packs. The Rs. 19 pack maybe useful for those who want to use some Internet and voice calling once in a while.

Now, again see that if you want to really use more than 4GB of 4G, then you have to spend double and move to the 999 plan. Did you notice that there is nothing in-between?

Also, notice that all these plans are for 28 days which can easily be perceived as ‘a month’ by most people. If we divide the number of days in a year with 28, we will realize that we are paying for 13 ‘billable months’ in an year. (365/28=13.03)

(Also see: All of Reliance Jio’s Prepaid Plans)

What does 1GB cost?
If we exclude the unlimited night data and the Wi-Fi data which many of us may not have access to, then the price per GB of these plans will be

0.3GB for Rs149 = ~Rs 497/GB (Will anyone choose this for data?)
4GB for Rs 499 = ~Rs 125/GB
10GB for Rs 999= ~Rs 100/GB
20GB for Rs 1499= ~Rs75/GB
35GB for Rs 2499= ~Rs71/GB
60GB for Rs3999= ~Rs66/GB
75GB for Rs 4999= ~Rs66/GB

Did you see that even their highest plans doesn’t go as low as their advertised Rs 50/GB rate. Jio came up with this Rs. 50/ GB rate by adding the Wi-Fi access you are getting, but I excluded it because it is not feasible for most people to utilize this as Wi-Fi hotspots are not available everywhere. It would be useful for you if there is a Wi-Fi hotspot near your house, at your work-place or your college.

(Also see: What You Need to Know to About Reliance Jio’s Wi-Fi Network)

How can they provide unlimited night data?
Once you have built an entire network infrastructure, it really doesn’t cost anything for the network provider to give you Internet data. I have explained this in the form of a story in one of my other answers – What is the cost of the Internet? How much extra are we paying?

The reason why most Internet providers limit your data is basically because they do not have enough bandwidth to handle so much data. In the case of Jio, they have already laid an awesome fibre optic network which is designed to even handle the 5G and 6G. So, they do not have much of the data bandwidth problem.

Other telecom companies were primarily made to handle voice calls and they have limited data bandwidth. Also, other companies do not own nationwide fibre network, so they have to pay to use the fibre network of other companies. This is the reason other companies don’t usually provide unlimited plans.

Jio currently have the ability to provide truly unlimited data plans, but they will not do so, because that will decrease their profits. They have already decreased prices on average by 50 percent. This means people will anyway be happy to use their services. If they provide more GBs in the lower end plans, then lesser people will buy their higher plans. So, currently their pricing is optimally placed to increase their profit. When other companies reduce their prices, it is likely that Jio will also further reduce their prices.

And, the unlimited night usage is only valid for hours in-between 2AM and 5AM.

(Also see: Reliance Jio Has 4GB Data Limit – and Other Fine Print You Should Know)

How can they provide unlimited free voice calls?
Again, Jio has an all IP network, so all voice calls will go through the Internet just like Skype or WhatsApp. There is not really any point in charging for voice anymore. It is an outdated system and there shouldn’t really be any surprise in why Jio totally abandoned it.

If hypothetically, Jio had tariff for voice calls, then some company similar to WhatsApp would have launched an app through which you can do free voice call over the Internet (in fact WhatsApp itself has a voice-call option). Once everyone has a good Internet connection, people would anyway use such services to make their calls.

How Jio makes money with LYF phones?
Many of you may be knowing about the LYF phones. Few months ago, purchasing these phones were the only way you could get access to a Jio SIM Card to get their their free unlimited preview offer. Did you ever wonder why they have so many versions of these phones?

Nearly all of their phones have very low specs compared to the competition at the price point they sell. The only reason why people bought their phones were because of the unlimited Internet+voice calls preview offer.

(Also see: Reliance JioFi – How to Get Started With Jio’s 4G LTE Hotspot)

This was a very clever move by Jio. The reason why there are so many versions of these phones is because of this business model:

  1. Jio would go to China and then buy previous generation unsold 4G phones for dirt cheap prices in bulk. No one wants to buy these phones, so obviously the manufactures will happily sell it for a very low price. (This is oversimplification, they really do not have to buy old phones, instead they need to just choose a manufacturer who is ready to build them phones with whatever previous generation components are cheaply available in the market.)
  2. Then it is re-labeled and sold in India. This is how they have several phones with totally different specs.
  3. A totally outdated phone which no one would otherwise buy is coupled with Jio preview offer and now everyone wants to buy it just for the Jio offer.
  4. Jio can now sell these phones and make profit. Plus, they get to test their network and solve the bugs. Plus, they can venture out into the mobile device market.

Brilliant idea, isn’t it?

(Also see: Reliance Jio Is Doomed to Repeat 2002 if It Can’t Improve This One Thing)

The real money is in Jio apps
Many people may consider their apps to be bloatware and don’t even install it. I also thought of it as a bloatware when I first heard of it. But, when I tested them out, I saw real potential in them.

  1. JioPlay: This has the potential to become a TV channel company. My prediction is that Jio will soon release something like Google Chromecast to provide this service directly to TVs. The ability to watch Live TV channels on smartphones is also a cool idea, especially in India. This may become the most used app in rural areas too.
  2. JioOnDemand: This has the potential to become the Netflix of India. Imagine if those who currently pirate movies had an option to get those movies in HD quality legally for nearly free. It can benefit both the users and the producers.
  3. JioBeats: Legal music. It has the potential to become Spotify of India.
  4. JioMags: Most popular magazines in eBook format. My cousin who reads tech magazines on a regular basis loved it.

You get the point? They can make any type of app in the future and dominate that category with minimal efforts.

They are currently giving these apps for free till 2018. But, that is done so that they can get maximum users to get addicted to these apps. Then they can start subscription charges for these apps. Instead of paying for your TV service or Movie-DVD or Magazines, Jio wants you to pay them.

Apart from that, these apps are locked to Jio network. So, a person using any other internet service won’t be able to use it. Thus, this will force other people into joining Jio. Currently, only Airtel is capable of properly competing with Jio in the 4G market, but they too may not be able to release such apps on time.

(Also see: All of Reliance Jio’s Postpaid Plans)

Will Jio reduce my bills?
Mostly, yes.

If you are someone who uses more than Rs. 150 worth of voice calls every month, then you should see huge reduction in bills.

If you are someone who uses lot of 3G/4G data, then you should see over 50 percent reduction in your bills, provided that you do not increase your data usage. Also, you will get superior 4G network coverage with better speeds. Also, 3 hours night unlimited, Wi-Fi hotspot access, free voice-calls, free SMS, no-roaming charges, free access to live-tv and other apps are an awesome bonus. It is really a good deal.

But you will likely spend the same or more
If you are someone who uses 5GB of data every month, and you were currently spending Rs. 1,000 per month with the current providers, you will be happy that you can get same amount of data for Rs. 500.

But, you are likely to spend the same amount of money over the time and consume 10GB of data for Rs. 1,000, instead. This is because 4G speeds are awesome and now there are many more ways to spend the data. And, since you have the budget for it, you are likely to spend more.

So, even though you are getting much more value than the current operator, Jio can still make the same/ better revenue. This may not be applicable to everyone, but may happen to most people.

Is this good?
Yes, we need companies like Reliance to make such bold moves and invest in India. This is good for everyone. It is a win-win situation. It will increase the progress rate in India and will improve our quality of life. It will also give much needed jobs to millions of people.

Their LYF branded phones are also some of the cheapest 4G phones in the world. Although it have low specs, it would bring 4G to the homes of many people.

Also, we absolutely need competition in this stagnated telecom industry which is currently dominated by players who may have secretly made agreements with each other to not compete on the basis of price. Why do you think Idea, Airtel and Vodafone have similar looking pricing which charges Rs. 250 for one GB data?

If you need to know how awesome their network infrastructure is, then I really suggest you read this answer of mine. It is totally relevant and useful here. How likely is that Reliance Jio 4G will revolutionize the internet market in India?

By just making their tariff plan in such a way that most people interested in 4G have to pay over Rs. 500 per month, Jio will be making way more money than the current players. Most of the high value customers of other players will instantly port to Jio, and they may be able to achieve a huge market share in next couple of years.

You, as a customer will get 2x to 3x more value for your money, yet Jio will make make as much profit as existing telecoms by pricing things differently.

When their apps, devices, and fiber services are added up, they are here here to win multiple business verticals. And, at current stage, they are almost unstoppable.

This post was first published on Quora by Kshitij Salgunan and has been republished with his permission. He is an Indian Internet activist and the co-founder of PhotoTheme.

Tags: Reliance Jio, Reliance Jio 4G Offer, Reliance jio data tariffs, Reliance Jio Tariff Plans

Airtel’s New 4G Data Offer, Over 80 Percent Android Devices at Risk, and More: Your 360 Daily

Airtel's New 4G Data Offer, Over 80 Percent Android Devices at Risk, and More: Your 360 Daily


  • Airtel has extended its 4G data offer to all new 4G smartphones
  • Microsoft says its speech recognition is now as good as humans
  • Samsung India will refund customers for Note 7 units purchased abroad

Here’s your daily dose of the top news in the technology landscape, from Airtel’s new 4G offer to 80 percent Android devices still being vulnerable to a dated malware, and Samsung India’s refunds for Galaxy Note 7 customers, without ever launching the device in the country.

Airtel offers 10GB 4G data at Rs. 259 to all users
Airtel has expanded its offer to provide 10GB of 4G/ 3G data against a recharge of Rs. 259 to all customers buying a new 4G handset; earlier this offer was only available to Samsung Galaxy J series smartphones. 1GB data will be credited immediately to the user’s account, and the other 9GB data needs to be taken through the MyAirtel app.

Samsung India confirms Galaxy Note 7 units bought overseas eligible for refund
Samsung India has confirmed that it will refund consumers who bought the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones outside the country. However, they will need to initiate the refund process before November 1. The flagship phablet is not in production anymore and is being replaced across the world; the company is also facing class action lawsuit in the US and South Korea over the handset’s failure.Now you can book Ola and Uber cabs directly from Google Search
Internet users in India can now book Ola and Uber cabs directly from Google Search on their smartphones. On request for specific information such as “Uber to Bangalore airport” or “Ola to Bangalore airport”, Google will direct the users to select the service, and will automatically open the respective app to book the ride, all in one tap.

Microsoft says its speech recognition system has achieved ‘human parity’
Microsoft has claimed that its speech recognition system has reached ‘human parity’, meaning that the system can recognise words from a conversation as well as humans would do. This term essentially implies that the rate of errors made by the recognition system is now at par with the error rate of humans while performing a similar task.

Over 80 percent of Android users still at risk
Ghost Push, the malware that had infected over 900,000 Android devices till last year, continues to wreak havoc on smartphones and tablets running Google’s mobile operating system, according a new report by Chinese antivirus firm Cheetah Mobile. The study says that the malware is infecting 10,000 new devices a day even now, and over 50 percent of the affected devices are from India. All devices running Android versions before Marshmallow are vulnerable, leaving over 80 percent of Android users at risk.

Telecom operators fined Rs. 10.8 crores for violating mobile radiation norms
The government has imposed a total penalty of Rs. 10.8 crores on telecom companies for violating mobile towers radiation rules, assuring that it will look into various safety concerns that have been raised. The fine came after the Department of Telecom tested 3.19 lakh base station and found 205 of them were non-compliant to radiation rules.

Tags: Airtel, Airtel 4G, Samsung, Samsung India, Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Google,Google Search, Ola, Uber, Android, Android Malware, Ghost Push, MakeMyTrip, Ibibo, Microsoft, Microsoft speech recognition, DoT

Reliance Jio Speed Slowest, Vodafone Roaming Incoming Free, Lyf F1, and More: Your 360 Daily

Reliance Jio Speed Slowest, Vodafone Roaming Incoming Free, Lyf F1, and More: Your 360 Daily

Reliance Jio Speed Slowest, Vodafone Roaming Incoming Free, Lyf F1, and More: Your 360 Daily


  • Reliance Jio 4G network slowest in India, says Trai data
  • Moto G4, G4 Plus start receiving Android Nougat update in India
  • Vodafone makes incoming calls free on roaming starting Diwali

It was Reliance Jio’s day in the news – it started with a victory against the incumbents as Trai declared that free voice calls for life don’t constitute predatory pricing. But the regulator also forced Jio to cut down on the duration of the welcome offer, with seriously troubling reports about the speed of its network emerging later in the day.

Other news included Moto G4 and G4 Plus getting Android 7.0 Nougat; Vodafone making incoming calls free on roaming; and Google’s first real-world shop; as well as a couple of mobile launches. Let’s dive right in.

Reliance Jio 4G slowest in India
Reliance Jio’s 4G Internet services are apparently the slowest in India, if data on telecom regulator Trai’s website is to be believed. Jio stands at fifth positions in terms of pan-India 4G download speeds, a fact that the telco blames on the 4GB daily limit of its welcome offer.

Moto G4, G4 Plus start receiving Android Nougat update
Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus smartphones in India have started receiving the Android 7.0 Nougatupdate. Among the new features that users can expect from the updated smartphones are better multitasking, more efficient notification controls, improved data saver, and longer battery life.Reliance Jio Welcome Offer will end on December 3, free calls are ok
Reliance Jio will end its welcome offer of providing free voice calls and data on its network on December 3. This is in compliance with a Trai order that says promotional offers, such as Jio’s free services, must be limited to 90 days. Customers who get a Jio SIM before December 3, however, will continue to enjoy free services until December 31.

The company also got a big boost today when the telecom regulator deemed its plans to be “not predatory,” as alleged by rivals like Airtel and Vodafone; Trai said the company can continue to offer free voice calls for life to customers.

Vodafone announces free incoming calls on roaming
To counter the threat from Reliance Jio’s lifetime free voice calling offer, Vodafone India on Friday made incoming calls on roaming nationally free for all its customers starting Diwali. Most telecom operators, with the exception of BSNL, charge a tariff for providing free incoming calls on roaming.

Google opens its first real-world shop
Google, which has so far remained online for its commercial efforts, made its offline foray with a pop-up shop in New York to promote its Pixel smartphones. The shop will also showcase to consumers Google’s freshly unveiled Daydream View virtual reality headset, a modular Wi-Fi system, and the Home virtual assistant.

Nintendo Switch first teaser released
Nintendo has released the first teaser of the Switch, its upcoming hybrid gaming console. In the trailer, the device was shown as a black and grey console with detachable controllers, respectively named the Switch Console and Switch Dock. The Nintendo Switch console is said to support cartridges (dubbed GameCards), and the detachable controllers are called Joy-Cons.

(Also see:Everything You Need to Know About Nintendo Switch)

Apple may be heading to its first trade show in 6 years
Apple has not attended a trade show since 2009, but that may be about to change as the company’s name showed up as one of the exhibitors for Mobile World Congress 2017. However, the listing was soon taken down, indicating that it might not be a part of the event after all, or, more likely, the information was removed at Apple’s request.

Samsung Galaxy On Nxt and Lyf F1 smartphones launched
Samsung has launched the Galaxy On Nxt, a Flipkart-exclusive smartphone, priced at Rs. 18,490. The Samsung Galaxy On Nxt looks identical on paper to the Galaxy On7 (2016), down to the physical dimensions, which makes us believe it’s nothing but a rebranding of the smartphone that launched in China last month.

Meanwhile, Reliance Retail on Friday launched the Lyf F1 smartphone, the latest in its series of VoLTE smartphones designed to work on the Reliance Jio network. The phone might actually find some takers, as it offers decent specifications for the price.

(Also see: Lyf F1 First Impressions)

Tags: Reliance Jio, Reliance Jio 4G, Moto G4, Moto G4 Plus, Motorola, Lenovo, Android Nougat, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch,Reliance Jio Welcome Offer, Vodafone India, National Roaming, Google, Google Pixel, Apple, Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress 2017

Debit Cards Breach, All Things Reliance Jio, Samsung Galaxy On Nxt, and More Tech News This Week

Debit Cards Breach, All Things Reliance Jio, Samsung Galaxy On Nxt, and More Tech News This Week


  • A huge security breach compromised millions on Indian debit cards
  • Jio is the slowest 4G network in India, according to TRAI
  • Xiaomi says it sold 1 million smartphones in India in 18 days

Missed news from the world of tech this week? Don’t worry because we have all the highlights here for you. You can also check out our 360 daily news recaps from this week (and before), where you can also find short 2-minute video recaps if you’re running short on time.

One of the biggest developments of the week was that a huge security breach took place that potentially compromised the data of 3.2 million debit cards in India. SBI, HDFC, and ICICI are apparently the worst hit; Axis Bank however says there has been no loss to customers from the breach. SBI has also blocked 600,000 cards after the breach. It goes without saying that you should change your ATM PIN as a security measure.

(Also see: How to Change Your Debit Card PIN Online)

As usual, there were plenty of phones launched during the week. The Lyf F1, which has a 16-megapixel camera, was launched for Rs. 13,399. The company is offering a free Bluetooth speaker worth Rs. 3,000 alongside, and announced a 10 percent cashback offer for Citibank cardholders. Buyers will also get a Reliance Retail gift voucher worth Rs. 15,000.

Intex launched its budget smartphone the Intex Cloud Scan FP, which comes with a fingerprint scanner, priced at Rs. 3,999. We also saw the launch of the Infocus Epic 1, which will go on sale from October 25. The Samsung Galaxy On Nxt launched at Rs. 18,490, exclusive to Flipkart.

Huawei launched the Honor 6X, which comes with a fingerprint sensor, VoLTE support, dual camera setup, and an octa-core processor. The company also launched a tablet and smartwatch, the Honor Pad 2 with 3GB of RAM, and the Honor Watch S1. ZTE also launched two phones this week; the ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini priced at Rs. 12,999, and the ZTE Nubia Z11 mini S, which was launched in China and is priced at CNY 1,499, or approximately Rs. 14,687. Despite the similar name, the two phones are quite different – the mini S is bigger and more powerful, and packs a 23-megapixel camera.

Other launches include the Gionee P7 Max 5.5-inch phone with 3GB RAM, the Panasonic Eluga Tapp, which has 4G VoLTE, and the Xolo Era 2, also with Reliance Jio support.

Beyond the launches, some pretty interesting developments have been taking place. The Android 7.1 Nougat developer preview is now available for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Pixel C.

Speaking of India, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or TRAI and Reliance Jio have both been in the news as well. Jio and other telcos have still been having issues over interconnection, and we’re starting to see some fallout from all this. TRAI has recommended a Rs. 3,050 fine on Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea for not providing enough interconnect points. The other big win for Jio is that TRAI has also cleared Jio’s free voice calls for life.

It’s not all good for Jio though – TRAI’s speed test data showed this week that Jio is the slowest 4G network in India. The telco claims that this is because of the structure of its Welcome Offer, which is running till the end of the year. Under the Welcome Offer, every Jio subscriber has unlimited free Internet access, but there’s a 4GB daily limit on full speed access. After consuming 4GB, your speed is throttled – Jio is claiming that this has been affected the average speed as recorded by Trai.

Also – and you can probably thank Jio for this – Airtel has now rolled out a plan offering 10GB of data for Rs. 259; the plan was originally an exclusive to Samsung’s Galaxy J-series smartphones, but has been expanded to all new 4G smartphones.

Meanwhile, Xiaomi also had a big week. For one thing, it’s claiming to have sold 1 million smartphonesin India in just 18 days. CEO Lei Jun wrote an open letter to Xiaomi India employees, and there he also revealed that the company has sold 2.3 million Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 phones in six months. The company is also working to expand its presence.

Last month it announced its first offline-retail phone, the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Plus; now it has partnered with rural retail provider StoreKing to build its offline presence in rural areas. Xiaomi also allegedly made its entry into the European market, though not in a way it would have wanted to – a Spanish phonemaker, Zetta, was reportedly selling rebranded Xiaomi phones under its own name. Xiaomi told Gadgets 360 it has no relationship with Zetta, or anyone else in Western Europe.

There were also reports that Xioami has succeeded in making a bendable smartphone. Flexible displays have been around since quite some time, however none have made it to the commercial market yet.

Great news for gamers this week – the long rumoured Nintendo NX was officially unveiled this week. The NX is now officially the Nintendo Switch, and it will be on sale from March 2017. The price of the console has not been announced yet, but it is both a portable and home console as rumoured. The base station is a power supply that also connects the console to your TV, and when you want to take it with you on the go, the main “console” has a built in display.

We still don’t know too much about how powerful the console is except that it’s powered by Nvidia’s Tegra chipset, and Nintendo hasn’t revealed a full lineup of games. Skyrim was shown briefly on the clip Nintendo showed, and the new Beyond Good and Evil is reportedly going to be an exclusive to the new console, with a 2018 release date.

Another very exciting piece of news this week came from Tesla. The company announced that it will integrate self-driving technology in all its cars, not just the high-end models. It also stated that it will roll out an Uber-style ride services program.

The race towards self-driving cars is heating up – Chinese giant LeEco launched in the US with the smartphones Le Pro 3 and Le S3; the company also unveiled its self-driving car, the LeSee. We’re officially living in the future as companies get into a race to bring self-driving cars to the roads.

These were the highlights of the week to us; let us know if there’s anything else you think should be mentioned, via the comments.

Tags: Reliance Jio, Trai, Xiaomi, Bendable phone, Data breach, Tesla Self Driving Cars, LeSee, LeEco self driving car, Nintendo NX,Nintendo Switch

What is a MVNO aka Mobile Virtual Network Operator?

What is a MVNO aka Mobile Virtual Network Operator?

What is a MVNO aka Mobile Virtual Network Operator?


  • A MVNO is a virtual operator who doesnt own any telecom infrastructure
  • It leases this from existing telecom providers instead
  • This could be useful in tapping under-utilised telecom resources

or some time now, the government has been mulling whether Mobile Virtual Network Operators or MVNOs should be allowed to operate in the country, and at the start of this year it issued guidelines for their operations.

Earlier this month, DoT released the full list of companies that have shown an interest in becoming a MVNO, so it appears as if these are finally going to make an appearance on the telecom landscape of India. But what exactly is a MVNO, and how will their entry impact you? We spoke to a few experts to find out.

What is an MVNO?
As the name states, a Mobile VNO is a virtual network operator – that’s to say it’s a phone network, but it doesn’t have its own dedicated hardware. Think of it like this – your office VPN lets you work on your closed internal network despite actually being connected across another network, right? Well, it’s the same thing with a MVNO – it’s offering a phone connection, and it will manage and operate the network, but it doesn’t actually own any towers, or the rights to spectrum.

Sobhit Srivastava, Research Associate at Counterpoint Research, explained it in simpler terms. “MVNOs offer mobile voice and data services without actually owning any spectrum or network infrastructure,” said Srivastava. “They basically lease network capacity from a mobile network operator and provide services to consumers under its own brand name.”

The government guidelines say that the MVNOs would be treated as extensions of the telecom service providers, and they would not be allowed to install equipment interconnecting with the network of other operators. This means that the MVNO would basically be a reseller for the existing telcos in terms of the connectivity being provided. But they can add value in other ways – the MVNOs would be able to create service delivery platforms for customer service, billing, and value added services.

An industry insider who works for one of India’s biggest telecom operators explained further that MVNOs can be useful for targeting specific groups; telcos have to appeal to a much broader base because of the significantly higher investment that is required. This, he explained, also means that they can’t be as nimble in their strategies to acquire new customers, which is an opportunity for MVNOs. He added that on the international stage, MVNOs have grown by targeting price and good customer service, but added that in India, he expects cheap and fast Internet access to be the big differentiator instead.

Why would anyone want to launch a MVNO?
At first glance it’s hard to see why anyone would want to get into the MVNO business. You’d be paying the telco to use its hardware, and given how competitive the rates are in India – the average revenue per user (ARPU) is amongst the lowest in the world – and there’s even a one-time non-refundable entry fee of up to Rs. 7.5 crore.

That said, there is under-utilised infrastructure in the market, Srivastava says, where this could make sense. “The MNVO concept will be beneficial for operators like MTNL, BSNL etc. that are sitting with decent infrastructure,” he said. “[This is] especially in Tier-II and III cities where main growth is expected after saturation like scenarios in metro and Tier-I cities.”

BSNL is already gearing up for MVNOs, and has created something it calls the Virtual Network Enabler platform, which will allow MVNOs to create plug-and-play offerings that don’t require much work to set up. According to BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava, MVNOs could be operational on the network by January itself.

“We have received interest from several companies to work with us as VNO. I expect that by January, VNOs should be able to roll out their service,” said Shrivastava.

There’s also a lot of opportunity for companies to look for opportunities to use MVNOs as a platform to further their own offerings. For example, digital wallet Oxigen is one of the companies in talks with BSNL. Its logic is simple – the company already has a large on the ground network for its financial services, and it can use that to reach underserved customers in small towns and semi-urban areas.

“We have 2 lakh access point in India besides online reach. We will provide value added service, bundle financial products, e-commerce as part of our service. Oxigen will be able to leverage it digital wallet as VNO,” said Pramod Saxena, Oxigen Chairman and Managing Director.

Why should any telco do this?
For a telecom operator, why does this make sense? After all, the MVNO is only acting as a middleman – and if it’s turning a profit, then it’s charging its customers more than its paying the telco whose infrastructure it’s using.

The reality is a little more complicated than that of course. For one thing, there is any number of reasons why a company might launch a MVNO – and not all of them are about making money directly off the network.

“MVNOs play an important role for operators whose communication infrastructure is good but due to lack of marketing capabilities are unable to monetise its infrastructure assets,” explains Srivastava. According to him, companies that have infrastructure in place could avoid spending money on marketing – customer acquisition is now one of the main costs for mobile operators, he says – and instead lease infrastructure to MVNO players to generate steady revenue without much ongoing cost.

Getting a reliable income without taking as much risk is an appealing proposition, but the industry insider we spoke to says that there is one problem that will not be helped with the introduction of MVNOs. “Connectivity will not improve,” he said. “Because they’re just competing with the same infrastructure we already have. These guys will advertise high speeds and no call drops, but actually delivering will be a challenge.”

Tags: Mobile Virtual Network Operator, MVNO, Telecom, Oxigen, BSNL

How Will MVNOs Impact the Telecom Landscape in India?

How Will MVNOs Impact the Telecom Landscape in India?


  • MVNOs could launch early next year
  • BSNL could be the big beneficiary from this move
  • MVNOs might bring down rates, but not necessarily in big cities

For customers in India – and most countries worldwide – there aren’t too many choices when it’s time to get a new mobile connection. The reason is pretty simple – building network infrastructure is expensive, and so is spectrum – which means that we’re restricted to just a few companies that had the muscle necessary to enter the market.

Despite this, the call rates in India are some of the lowest in the world, and now with the launch of Reliance Jio we’re seeing data rates also headsouth. But there’s another change coming that should take effect in the next few months, which, some believe could also have an impact on the costs and quality of service you get from networks.

For some time now, the government has been mulling guidelines for Mobile Virtual Network Operators, or MVNOs, and at the start of this year it issued guidelines for their operations. As we explained earlier, MVNOs use the infrastructure of existing telcos to offer their services, and some believe their entry could really shake things up in the market.As one industry insider, who works for one of the biggest telcos in India explained to us, MVNOs can be much more flexible than telcos when it comes to pricing and packages. “There’s not so much give on voice rates in India right now, but an MVNO can still come into the market and offer good data plans, to get people on board,” he said. “There’s less room there also today, but you still have the opportunity.”

On the global scale, MVNOs often work by targeting specific niches. They get wholesale prices which can be used to intelligently target well established niches. GV Kumar, a telecom industry insider and founder-CEO of Xius gives the example of TracFone, an MVNO that targeted the Latin-American community in the United States, and offered low-cost calls to Mexico and other countries. This strategy proved to be highly successful, and saw the company reach 25 million subscribers.

In his article, Kumar points out that growth is now mostly expected from rural areas, but also posits the very interesting possibility of IoT consumers as a potential avenue for growth. Others also see the smaller towns and rural areas as where MVNOs will have the most potential in India.

With small towns and rural markets being the focus, will rates also get lowered? Possibly, suggested Rishi Tejpal, Principal Research Analyst at Gartner. “MVNOs segment their users and target them like that. Ones that are focused on rural areas would be able to offer low rates without affecting the offerings in other parts,” he added. This means that even if rates do fall, it might not directly affect people in the big metros. And since these companies would be using existing infrastructure, don’t expect them to directly affect call drop rates either, he cautioned.

The insider we spoke to also suggested that he’s expecting some ‘OTT’ companies to look at entering the telecom space, and he believes that these companies will take a data-centric approach. “The real problem for all these guys is going to be quality control, and they’re going to realise that it’s not easy,” he said.

“MVNOs play an important role for operators whose communication infrastructure is good but due to lack of marketing capabilities are unable to monetise its infrastructure assets,” explained Shobit Srivastava, Research Associate at Counterpoint Research. According to him, companies that have infrastructure in place could avoid spending money on marketing – customer acquisition is now one of the main costs for mobile operators, he says – and instead lease infrastructure to MVNO players to generate steady revenue without much ongoing cost.

“The MNVO concept will be beneficial for operators like MTNL, BSNL etc. that are sitting with decent infrastructure,” he added. “[This is] especially in Tier-II and III cities where main growth is expected after saturation like scenarios in metro and Tier-I cities.”

And BSNL is already seeing a lot of interest from the companies that have applied for MVNO licenses, according to BSNL Chairman and MD Anupam Shrivastava. “We have received interest from several companies to work with us as VNO. I expect that by January, VNOs should be able to roll out their service,” said Shrivastava.

Tejpal from Gartner also says that MVNOs will have the most impact in small towns and villages – and that BSNL is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of this new category. “I would see public sector operators like BSNL or MTNL looking to use this opportunity to increase their penetration,” he said. “They have a large infrastructure in place but they lack marketing capabilities. So this could be their chance to penetrate more into the market and generate more revenues.”

Tags: MVNO, Mobile Virtual Network Operator, Telecom, BSNL