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Microsoft Boss Satya Nadella Trumpets Cloud Tie-Up With Reliance

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Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella touted the new India cloud partnership with Reliance Industries as he shared centre-stage with its chairman Mukesh Ambani at an event in Mumbai on Monday. Microsoft struck a 10-year deal with Reliance in 2019, committing to power the oil-to-telecoms conglomerate's data centres with its Azure cloud.

"We've been working with Reliance across the entire stack - everything from what they are going to be doing with Azure in their own data centres and how they will extend it," said India-born Nadella at the event in Mumbai, where he began the first leg of his India tour.

"It's sort of a great example of a business leader and a company which is in very diverse sectors to take a platform approach, to use technology to create more technology."

The executives did not provide specific details about their growth plans.

"We're very excited about the partnership that Jio (Reliance's telecoms unit) and Microsoft will have and I think that will be, as we look at this decade, a defining partnership," Ambani said.

During a keynote speech earlier, Nadella emphasised the need for businesses to build their own technology at a time digital services are transforming all industries, and even homes.

Nadella visits his home country just weeks after telling Buzzfeed News that India's new citizenship law saddened him and was "just bad".

Citizenship Amendment Act, which paves a way for minorities from neighbouring Muslim-majority nations of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh to gain citizenship, has sparked weeks of protests.

Critics say that the law, combined with a proposed national register of citizens, will discriminate against India's Muslims minority.

Nadella, who did not broach political issues at Monday's event, will also travel to Bengaluru and New Delhi.

PhonePe, Google Pay May Be Hit by NPCI's New Zero UPI Interchange, Payment Service Provider Fees Rule

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Through a circular on Friday, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said that it has agreed to revise the UPI interchange and payment service provider fees to "zero" for all domestic UPI merchant (P2M) transactions with retrospective effect from January 1, 2020.

The abolition of the fees has been made for an interim period until April 30, 2020, according to the circular.

The same is not applicable to services like mandates, EMI, overdraft account, and business-to-business (B2B) collections and payments.

The move to do away with these transactions fees comes after the abolishment of the Merchant Discount Rate (MDR).

With banks not able to charge merchants any MDR for RuPay debit card and UPI transactions, it was expected that they would be given the breather of not paying a fee to other stakeholders.

However, the move may hit revenues of digital payments players like PhonePe, Google Pay and Amazon Pay which have spent heavily to grab a greater market share in the UPI ecosystem.

As the abolishment of the UPI interchange and PSP fees for all domestic UPI merchant transactions comes with retrospective effect from January 1, it is not yet known how the fee already collected so far will be recovered.

The waiver of the PSP fee would hardly leave any room for Third Party Apps (TPAs) such as Google Pay, PhonePe, Amazon Pay and others to earn anything on UPI transactions.

On every UPI P2M transactions, these TPAs on average make about Rs. 0.30 - 0.35 through PSP fee.

It remains to be seen what future revenue generation streams can help these digital payments players stay afloat.

Coronavirus-Themed Malware Is Spreading Fast, Says Check Point Research

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At a time when the deadly coronavirus is taking a toll on the tech industry with the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 getting cancelled, coronavirus-themed spam is spreading Emotet malware, security researchers said on Tuesday.

According to researchers at Israeli cyber-security firm Check Point Research, the coronavirus-themed campaign targeted Japan, in malicious email attachments feigning to be sent by a Japanese disability welfare service provider.

The emails appear to be reporting where the infection is spreading in several Japanese cities, encouraging the victim to open the document which, if opened, attempts to download Emotet on their computer.

"Alongside the malicious coronavirus spam campaigns, which we expect to become even more widely spread over the coming days, our research shows there has also been a surge in scam websites using coronavirus in their domain names, allegedly selling vaccinations against the virus," Venugopal N, Director-Security Engineering, Check Point Software Technologies, said in a statement.

The report also identified a malicious Lokibot sample -- which is the eighth most popular malware this month -- targeting Indonesia, with emails sent about how people in Indonesia can best protect themselves against the virus.

Emotet is an advanced, self-propagating and modular Trojan.

It was originally a banking Trojan, but recently has been used as a distributor of other malware or malicious campaigns.

It uses multiple methods to maintain persistence and evasion techniques to avoid detection. It can also spread through phishing spam emails containing malicious attachments or links.

Skoda’s First Electric SUV To Be Called Enyaq

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Skoda Auto today revealed that its first electric SUV will be presented soon. It in fact let out what it will be called. Skoda will call it the Enyaq and yes even we want to know where that name comes from. According to the company, the name Enyaq is based in the Irish language and expresses the vehicle's dynamism and efficiency. The Enyaq then opens a new chapter in the 125-year history of the Skoda brand. It will be Skoda's first electric car which will be built on the MEB platform, and will also launch a new family of model names. Of course, Skoda already has an electric car to its name, the Citigo iV and so it's not new to the EV space, however, the all-electric SUV will definitely ind it a wider appeal.

Skoda SUVs have traditionally had names ending in the letter Q, and the new Enyaq follows this tradition just like the Kamiq, Kodiaq and the Karoq. But the new model's first letter shows that this tradition is merging with the eMobility era, referenced by the letter E at the beginning of the name. The name, Enyaq, is derived from the Irish name Enya, which means 'source of life',

We'll know more about the electric SUV very soon, but it's clear why the company wants to start its journey in the electric mobility space with an SUV. Well, the clear trend setters now are the SUVs globally and so this decision does not come as a surprise. As to which markets the Enyaq will be introduced? Well, there's no clarity on that yet and we'll know more very soon.

5G is seen as a game-changer for India

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5G is around the corner...and there is an ever-increasing euphoria amongst the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), the TMT ecosystem and the consumer community at large at the vast opportunities 5G will bring. Simply put, 5G is expected to be significantly smarter, faster and efficient compared to its legacy 3G and 4G predecessors. For instance, it holds a promise of 100 times more speed relative to 4G networks. The possibilities, with a network like this, are unfathomable.

The launch of 5G-enabled technologies is expected to be transformative in the telco and other industries by unlocking various disruptive new technologies. Global investment in the 5G industrial chain over 2020-2035 is likely to reach US$ 3.5 trillion. More than US$12 trillion sales are expected to be generated by global industry applications driven by 5G technology.

5G has the potential to become the world's predominant LAN and WAN technology over the couple of decades, especially in green-field rollouts. Organisations building new factories, ports, or campuses can significantly reduce their usage of wired connections. The next five years will likely see a boom in private 5G implementations at locations that would greatly benefit from better wireless technology-in terms of speed, capacity, latency, and more. Application and installation of the Private Networks could vary from a manufacturing facility, buildings, large campuses, notified or designated locations within geographies, healthcare and in mining sectors for autonomous mobility in areas where it is dangerous for humans to enter.

Closer to home, we expect significant application in 5G enabled internet of things - across smart cities and industry 4.0 use cases. Globally, these two areas account for nearly 44 per cent of 5G applications. Other applications likely to gain scale in India at a later date with enhancement in the coverage and technology are sensor based crop monitoring, remote machinery control, surveillance, energy management and smart transport.

In a recent digital competitiveness ranking survey conducted by Institute for Management Development (IMD) in 2019, India ranked at 48th out of a total of 63 economies. However, recent events such as demonetisation and low mobility price points are leap-frogging India in a pervasive digital adoption. India's digital communication policy is trying to create a conducive environment to promote investments, and policy support to increase the digital footprint. The current policies set directions to lay foundations for the 5G ecosystem with the aim to:

  • Enhance contribution of the digital communication sector to 8 per cent of the India's GDP
  • Propel India to the top 50 nations in the ICT development index of ITU
  • Policy landscape to steer the growth of digital revolution - National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP) 2018 aiming at US$ 100 billionn investment in the sector and ensuring broadband coverage at 50 mbps for every citizen, Draft Cloud Computing policy, Electronic Development Fund (EDF) policy, National Manufacturing policy and Preferential Market Access (PMA)

Through building partnerships, R&D investments and network trials, industry-specific service requirements are being currently assessed that will require high data-rate communication, low latency, and massive connectivity. 5G is being seen as a likely game changer for India, with the potential to create an economic impact of more than US$1 trillion by 2035.

India is keen to board the 5G bus sooner than later. The task before India's policy makers will be ensure that the advantages of the telecom infrastructure and related technologies supports its divergent demography, economic conditions and urbanisation. Key areas to focus will include:

  • Reasonable spectrum pricing and swift allocation of spectrum
  • Policy framework enabling extensive fiberisation and incentivisation to share fiber networks
  • Push for "Make in India" manufacturing for 5G equipment and handsets
  • Tailor made 5G use cases and applications enabled through active trials
  • Indigenous technology advancements through R&D, and IPR development for standards, technology, spectrum, and security
  • Public-private partnerships for broadband growth and penetration, 5G trials and testing, network densification among others

Higher frequency 5G networks will demand a deeper densification of networks. The key enabler for seamless experience will be a robust fiber backhaul. Eighty per cent of India's current mobile network rides over radio as opposed to that of US and China at 20 per cent. Hence, it would be imperative for the government investment and policies to support fiber densification to reap maximum benefits of the technology.

The Government is very keen to jumpstart the 5G Commercial launch in India and enhance the national broadband footprint. Supported by the existing talent across the TMT industry, India has the opportunity to mature its ICT portfolio and unlock mega monetization opportunities. To achieve these macro objectives in a better way, the telecom sector does need a helping hand...right now. As such, the Government can take some definitive steps to create an environment that provides the necessary impetus for next evolution of growth in the sector and resolve some long outstanding issues.

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