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Kumar Mangalam Birla tells government he is willing to give up promoter stake in Vodafone Idea

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NEW DELHI: Kumar Mangalam Birla has told the government of India he his willing to offer his stake in Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) to any state-owned or “domestic financial entity” to keep the stressed telecom company afloat.

Birla, VIL’s promoter and chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, made the suggestion in a letter to union cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba on June 7. VIL has a debt of around Rs 1.8 trillion, which includes deferred spectrum obligations and adjusted gross revenue liabilities. Its board had last September announced a plan to raise Rs 25,000 crore but investors have not been forthcoming in the absence of government support.

Birla’s letter highlighted the need for urgent measures from the government while offering to give up control of the company. “It is with a sense of duty towards 27 crore Indians connected by VIL, I am more than willing to hand over my stake in the company to any entity-public sector/government/domestic financial entity or any other that the government may consider worthy of keeping the company as a going concern,” Birla said in his letter.

Birla owns over 27 per cent stake in VIL, while Vodafone Plc holds over 44 per cent. The current market capitalisation of VIL is over Rs 24,000 crore. The two promoters have decided against infusing fresh funds in the company. Vodafone Plc has already written off all its investment in VIL following continuous

losses.

“To actively participate in the fund raising, the potential foreign investors want to see clear government intent to have a three player telecom market (consistent with its public stance) through positive actions on long-standing requests such as clarity on AGR liability, adequate moratorium on spectrum payments and most importantly, a floor pricing regime above the cost of service. In the absence of definitive steps in this regard, the potential investors have understandable hesitation to invest,” Birla wrote.

Birla further said that VIL’s financial situation will drive its operations to an irretrievable point of collapse without immediate active support from the government on these three issues.

Last month the Supreme Court dismissed petitions of VIL and Bharti Airtel seeking correction in alleged errors in calculating the AGR. VIL had calculated its remaining AGR dues at around Rs 21,500 crore after making a payment of Rs 7800 crore. However, the department of telecommunications concluded the company’s total AGR liability of around Rs 58,000 crore.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Narendra Modi inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed; says aims to roll out 6G end of decade

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NEW DELHI: India is targeting the rollout of 6G telecom network, which will provide ultra high speed internet connectivity, by the end of the decade, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.

India currently has 3G and 4G telecom networks and companies are gearing up to launch 5G over the next few months.

Speaking at the silver jubilee event of telecom sector regulator TRAI here, he said it is estimated that the 5G network rollout will add USD 450 billion to the Indian economy.

“This is not just increasing internet speed but also the pace of development and creating jobs,” he said, adding the 5G technology will bring positive change in governance of the country, ease of living and ease of doing business.

It will boost growth in agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and logistics, he said.

Connectivity, Modi said, will decide the progress of the country in the 21st century and so modern day infrastructure needs to be rolled out.

According to the prime minister, a task force has started work on rolling out 6G network by the end of the decade.

Taking potshots at the previous Congress-led UPA government, Modi said the 2G era was symbolic of policy paralysis and corruption.

The country, under his government, has moved transparently to 4G and is now going to 5G.

Teledensity and internet users are fast expanding, he said, adding that mobile manufacturing units in India have expanded from 2 to over 200 and the country is now the world’s biggest mobile manufacturing hub.

The prime minister also said that his government has encouraged healthy competition that has led to India having one of the cheapest telecom data charges in the world.

Indigenous 5G test bed in telecom sector is an important step in India’s self-reliance, he added.

PM Modi virtually inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed costing Rs 220 crore

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the country’s first 5G testbed to enable startups and industry players to test and validate their products locally and reduce dependence on foreign facilities.

The testbed has been set up at a cost of around Rs 220 crore. Speaking at the silver jubilee celebrations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the Prime Minister said the 5G testbed is an important step for self-reliance in the direction of critical and modern technologies.

“I invite youth friends, researchers and companies to utilise the testing facility for making 5G technology,” Modi said.

The 5G testbed has been developed as a multi-institute collaborative project by eight institutes led by IIT Madras.

In the absence of a 5G testbed, startups and other industry players were required to go abroad to test and validate their products for installation in a 5G network.

The other institutes that participated in the project are IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IISc Bangalore, Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering & Research (SAMEER) and Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT).

The testbed facility will be available at 5 different locations.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Airtel joins hands Tech Mahindra

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel (Airtel), India’s premier communications solutions provider, and Tech Mahindra, a leading provider of digital transformation, consulting and business re-engineering services and solutions, today announced a strategic partnership to build and market innovative solutions for India’s digital economy by bringing together their core strengths.

Airtel and Tech Mahindra will co-develop and market 5G use cases in India. Airtel has been spearheading 5G demos and testing in India while Tech Mahindra has developed world-class 5G applications and platforms. Airtel and Tech Mahindra will set up a joint 5G innovation lab for developing Make in India use cases for the Indian and global markets.

The two companies will also bring to market customized Enterprise Grade Private Networks, which will be at the core of the digital economy. These solutions will focus on combining Airtel’s industry leading integrated connectivity portfolio of 5G ready mobile network, Fiber, SDWAN, and IoT along with Tech Mahindra’s proven system integration capabilities. The companies will initially focus on segments such as Automobiles, Aviation, Ports, Utilities, Chemicals, Oil & Gas and expand to other industries going forward.

Airtel and Tech Mahindra will also offer secure Cloud and Content Delivery Network (CDN) solutions to businesses. With enterprises rapidly moving to cloud based platforms as part of their digital transformation journeys, Airtel has built a formidable Hybrid Cloud portfolio with Airtel Cloud, Airtel IQ (CPaaS) alongside CDN offerings. Further, the two companies will explore leveraging Tech Mahindra’s technological expertise to support Airtel in Cloud Engineering, implementation of tools for Cloud Orchestration.

Ganesh Lakshminarayanan, CEO-Enterprise Business, Bharti Airtel said: “Airtel and Tech Mahindra have a shared vision of supporting the growth of India’s digital ecosystem. We are delighted to join forces with Tech Mahindra to bring to market a range of cutting-edge digital solutions for the emerging requirements of enterprises. With proven technology capabilities and deep customer trust enjoyed by the two brands, we believe this is a win-win partnership.”

Manish Vyas, President, Communications, Media and Entertainment Business, and CEO, Network Services, Tech Mahindra, said: “5G ecosystem will unlock immense opportunities for industries across sectors to improve productivity and enhance customer experience through digitally powered new-age platforms and solutions. We are excited to partner with Airtel to provide innovative and cutting-edge solutions for enterprise customers. In line with Tech Mahindra’s NXT.NOWTM framework, this collaboration is focused on offering next-generation services to the Indian market by enabling transformation via network, cloud engineering and customer experience.”

As part of NXT.NOWTM framework, which aims to provide ‘Seamless Customer Experience’, Tech Mahindra focuses on investing in emerging technologies and solutions that enable digital transformation and meet the evolving needs of changing customers.

 

 

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3 Scandinavia expands 5G footprint with Enea’s policy control technology

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NEW DELHI: 3 Scandinavia, a leading provider of voice and broadband services, has deployed Enea’s 5G policy control solution as it continues to expand its 5G footprint. The solution will allow 3 Scandinavia to effectively launch, manage, and monetize new services in Sweden and Denmark.

Enea’s powerful policy platform will allow the Nordic network provider to differentiate services and ensure that all subscribers benefit from a consistent quality of service to match their chosen pricing plans.

Enea’s policy management platform, a fully virtualized, multi-vendor solution, has provided 4G policy control functionality for 3 Scandinavia since 2008. As the operator looked to scale its capabilities with virtualized architecture, it turned to Enea for 5G policy control. Enea’s platform delivers robust connectivity and cost-effective service management while bringing operational agility through its tight integration with provisioning systems. It is also vendor agnostic, which means that the operator has the freedom to work with any network access provider and can configure new types of 4G and 5G services in a matter of minutes.

“We are always striving to offer innovative services that appeal to our growing base of subscribers,” says Per Stigenberg, CTO at 3 Scandinavia. “In today’s world of stream-based entertainment and hybrid working, this means taking full advantage of everything 5G has to offer. Enea has demonstrated a thorough understanding of our needs and with their flexible product approach we are now able to deliver a next-generation connectivity experience for all our subscribers in Sweden and Denmark”

The solution from Enea also enables the operator to effectively manage several of its virtual Policy Control Functions (PCFs) across two physical locations in Scandinavia. With Enea’s platform deployed, 3 Scandinavia can efficiently support fully redundant 5G voice and data services throughout both Sweden and Denmark, allowing the operator to seamlessly control policies as subscribers move between 4G and 5G, and across their networks.

“Policy control is very much the brains of the operation when it comes to providing cellular services to millions of subscribers,” says Jonas Jacobsson, Senior Vice President of Service Provider Sales at Enea. “Without it, there is simply no way to differentiate service in terms of data allowance or speed, particularly with 5G where these configurations become even more granular.”

A report from Deloitte found that the number of 5G subscribers in Scandinavia has more than doubled in the past two years. As networks grow, policy plays a critical role to help operators scale and monetize 5G.

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