Thursday, 28 August 2014

Wallet Services gaining importance as Telecom Companies Agree On Basic Banking Services through SMSes:

Mobile companies have been persuaded by the Modi government to share a slice of their infrastructure to pave the way for basic banking services through cell phones.

Fund transfer, balance inquiry in savings account, change of PIN, mini statement, cheque book request, etc, will be possible with simple text messages from ordinary handsets and without accessing the Internet.

In the past two months, ten telecom companies have signed pacts with National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the payments gateway backed by the government, to facilitate the service. It will operate on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) channel of the telcos — a simple interactive text messaging system that even allows credit and debit card transactions. However, the current plan is to restrict USSD to basic banking services, including low-value bill payments.

Telecom companies agree on basic banking services through SMSes"The primary reason for the delay in setting up this infrastructure was the apprehension of telcos that their business will be affected if they provide the USSD channel to the banking system. But Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) was justified in indicating that the communication channel should not be restricted...The service is available to anyone having a mobile phone or bank account," AP Hota, MD & CEO of NPCI told ET. Each transaction will cost the user Rs1.50.

The USSD system can widen the scope of mobile banking transactions from "wallet services" provided by telecom firms through a separate entity. While under wallet services, subscribers can carry out transactions like prepaid mobile charges, utility bill payments and money transfers among other things, the USSD enables inter-bank transactions. For instance, a subscriber of telco A with an account in Bank B can transfer money to a subscriber of telco C having an account with bank D. 
Here, telcos access NPCI's centralised system which is linked to banks.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Mobility Devices to Unlock Potential of E-Governance Programs:

Mobile handsets would be a "preferred mode" for delivering e-governance programs since cellular devices addresses the last-mile connectivity, says Rajendra Kumar, joint secretary, e-Governance, at the Department of IT & Electronics (DeitY).

The national e-Governance plan (NeGP) that received budgetary allocation of Rs 1275-crore in 2014-15 fiscal, and aims to provide infrastructure for integrated citizen-centric services at local levels, is hit by a slew of hurdles including low e-literacy, lack of interoperability and last mile access.

The DeitY is now turning towards mobility devices to unlock the potential of e-Governance programs, and Kumar believes that the 900-million strong subscriber-base could be leveraged to disseminate information and public services that also include financial inclusion.

M-Seva or the national mobile governance program offers push and pull SMS, IVRS and USSD integration services in addition to select apps to reach out to rural and remote inhabitants with government-to-citizen (G2C) services.

Currently, 23 State Data Centres (SDC) are operational and DeitY plans to take this count to 33 by 2015-16. These data centers are regarded as the core infrastructure for supporting e-Governance initiatives of NeGP

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


"Information sets you free." Maybe just benchmark fixed vs. variable, or run vs. grow or transform. "You can't manage what you can't measure."

IT has gleefully helped companies use metrics to give other employees and business units the equivalent of a 24/7/365 proctology exam.

"Every publicly traded company today is evaluated from a performance perspective on generally accepted accounting principles" that standardize metrics like income statements, balance sheets, cash flows, and changes in equity. "Those statements provide an apples-to-apples comparison. IT's never had that." It's not that there's no accounting now. But it's too general and not up to the task of metrics-driven decision-making. "Every organization, right now, manages their IT department with a general ledger," he says. "Those general ledgers are insufficient in developing a way to make decisions."

"The discussion of running IT as a business is driven by the business demanding that visibility."

"Start small, but start,". "Information sets you free." Maybe just benchmark fixed vs. variable, or run vs. grow or transform. "You can't manage what you can't measure."

Friday, 22 August 2014

Communications Service Providers (CSP's) are increasingly looking to MANAGED SERVICES to improve their performance and keep them competitive.

Driven by the demands of rising markets, rapid changes in new technology, greater competition and the relentless drive to improve bottom line results, communications service providers are increasingly looking to managed services to improve their performance and keep them competitive.

Initially, managed services were mainly about the outsourcing of low-level, back-end processes such as monitoring IT systems or the network, with the sole primary goal of lowering costs. A handful of newer market entrants later broke the mold – for example, Bharti Airtel when it announced its revenue sharing model with IBM in 2003. This arrangement was initially met with skepticism, but the company is now heralded by many as an exceptional case study.

Over time, more companies have begun to embrace these kinds of business models in the fight to get ahead, but how far has the
industry really come? Is the pace of change what everyone expected? Which core competencies do operators need to keep in-house and what can be done better by a managed service provider?

The spectrum of all managed services is broad, but the terms ‘outsourcing’ and ‘managed services’ are being used interchangeably, though in general, managed services are often considered to have a broader scope. We are not distinguishing between these terms but looking across the spectrum of how service providers are partnering with companies offering outsourcing services in functional areas or stacks of the BSS/OSS area. Some other terms, such as out-tasking are used too, which is similar in execution to outsourcing but denotes a relatively narrow function or task being outsourced.

Outsourcing in the communications sectors began with organizations like IBM, CSC and some independent software vendors, primarily dealing with managed data center and billing applications or operations (such as bill rendering and mailing). These might be delivered in full outsourcing or facilities management engagements.
Later, some network equipment manufacturers saw the opportunity to turn their network equipment and, in some cases, OSS or third party OSS offerings into a managed services offering. Operators outsourcing their network operations to these network equipment makers was logical at first pass.

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Regulatory framework around Over-the-top (OTT) players like WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, WeChat

Regulatory framework around Over-the-top (OTT) players like WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, WeChat etc.

The OTT players facilitate free calls and messaging services, making it affordable for consumers to use them. Telecom subscribers are required to pay only internet charges to their operators for using OTT services.

"Hopefully we will come out with paper on broadband may be by end of next month," TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar said at a telecom summit organised by industry chamber ASSOCHAM.

Telecom operators have been pushing for a regulatory framework around OTT players as they see applications like Skype, WhatsApp, Viber etc as competitors who are cutting telcos revenues in voice call and messaging segment.

At global level, internet based companies have been opposing any move that can make access to online services expensive or put any restrain on flow of information over the internet.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

How to measure "SMARTNESS" of Smart Cities? Prime Minister’s vision of developing ‘one hundred smart cities’ in India:

The Prime Minister’s vision of developing ‘one hundred smart cities’, allocating about Rs
7,060 crore in the current fiscal as outlined in the budget is a laudable initiative, given the rural-urban migration and the hyper growth of cities in our country. Of late, many countries, especially in developed countries including Dubai, Amsterdam and Barcelona have embarked on smart city initiatives. Shanghai has taken the lead in China.

However, in India, at this point, except for broad themes such as ubiquitous connectivity and community Wi-Fi, details on what smart cities should have is missing.

In general, a smart city should have: (i) efficient delivery of public utilities such as water, electricity, solid waste, sanitation, and sewerage as well as associated government services (ii) mechanism for supply-demand matching of surface transport services to provide congestion free roads, and minimal waiting time for public transport commuters (iii) active surveillance, monitoring and alerts at vantage points in the city to provide the much required public safety for citizens and (iv) on-demand availability of reliable emergency services such as ambulance, fire safety.

In all these dimensions, information and communication technologies (ICT) plays a vital role. No wonder, companies such as IBM and Cisco are investing millions of dollars in incubating technologies that support smart city initiatives.

Important element is the design architecture of different ICT components of smart city projects.It is required to build platforms with open gateways, application program interfaces & open data sets so that expertise of numerous Indian IT firms (both small & large) & the huge developer communities can be tapped for building innovative applications & services.