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WhatsApp delays policy rollout to May 15

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NEW DELHI: WhatsApp has decided to delay the rollout of its new policy update to May 15 after massive criticism from users globally, including India, over concerns that data was being shared with its parent company Facebook.

The move assumes significance for users in India given that the country is among the biggest markets for WhatsApp with over 400 million users.

In a blog post, WhatsApp said it is moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms.

“No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15,” it said in the blog post.

A raging debate ensued after WhatsApp said it will update its terms of service and privacy policy around how it processes user data and partners with Facebook to offer integrations across the social media giant’s products.

Concerned about the privacy of their data, many users have thronged to rival messaging platforms such as Signal and Telegram that have seen millions of downloads in the past few days.

“We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update. There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts,” WhatsApp said.

It maintained that messages on the platform are end-to-end encrypted and that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see the private messages on WhatsApp’s platform.

It added that it doesn’t keep logs of who users are messaging or calling, can’t see users’ shared location and that it doesn’t share contacts with Facebook.

“Instead, the update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. While not everyone shops with a business on WhatsApp today, we think that more people will choose to do so in the future and it’s important people are aware of these services. This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook,” the blog post said.

In the FAQ section, WhatsApp emphasised that “the recent terms and privacy policy update do not affect personal messages”.

“The changes are related to optional business features on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data…The updates related to optional business features are a part of our broader efforts to make communicating with a business secure, better, and easier for everyone,” it added.

WhatsApp had informed users about the changes in its terms of service and public policy, through an in-app notification last week. Users had till February 8 to agree to the new terms in order to continue using the platform.

This led to a user backlash and triggered memes on the internet over WhatsApp’s alleged sharing of user information with Facebook.

According to sources earlier, the Indian government is also examining and evaluating the recent privacy policy update announced by WhatsApp and discussions are on within the IT Ministry over the implications of the recent move by the messaging platform.

WhatsApp, on its part, has said it is open to answering any questions from the government on the issue and that it remains committed to the privacy and security of users across India and will continue to explain to users that their messages are end-to-end encrypted.

It also sought to assuage user concerns through its blog post, tweets by its Global Head Will Cathcart and even full-page ads in leading dailies in India.

India remains a critical market for Internet companies like Facebook with its large population base and burgeoning Internet adoption. The country is the world’s second-largest telecom market and the biggest consumer of data. As on October 30, 2020, the total telephone connections stood at 117 crore, of which 115 crore were mobile connections.

A report by Ericsson had stated that Indians used about 12 GB data per month on an average in 2019, the highest consumption globally, and this is expected to rise even further to about 25 GB (gigabytes) per month by 2025.

WhatsApp rival Telegram has added 25 million new users in the last few days and while it did not specify India-specific user numbers, it said 38 per cent of the new users are from Asia, followed by Europe (27 per cent), Latin America (21 per cent) and MENA (the Middle East and North Africa at 8 per cent).

Signal too is hoping to capitalise on the opportunities in India with its “simple and straightforward” terms of service and privacy policy.

Source: Press Trust of India

5g

5G now in 1947 cities across 72 countries

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NEW DELHI: Viavi Solutions said that it has released new industry data revealing that the number of cities with 5G networks now stands at 1,947 globally. Despite the pandemic, 5G cities came online at a rate of nearly two per day, with the addition of 635 new 5G cities in 2021, according to the new VIAVI report “The State of 5G,” now in its sixth year.

By the end of January 2022, 72 countries had 5G networks in place, with the newest crop of 5G countries comprising Argentina, Bhutan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Malta and Mauritius, which all came online in the second half of 2021. Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) has overtaken Asia Pacific including Greater China (APAC) to become the region with the most 5G cities at 839. APAC has 689 5G cities and the Americas has 419.

Not surprisingly, the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China are the countries with the most 5G cities. China now has 356 5G cities and the United States has 296. The Philippines remained in the third spot globally with a total of 98 5G cities.

Currently, most 5G networks deployed are Non-Standalone (NSA) networks, meaning that 5G equipment is added to existing 4G network infrastructure. There are currently 24 Standalone (SA) 5G networks globally, meaning that they have been built using a new 5G core network. It is widely considered that many of the next-generation use cases and monetization models associated with 5G, beyond enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) will only be possible when Standalone 5G networks built on new 5G core networks are in place.

The State of 5G also highlights the growing Open RAN ecosystem, combining mobile operators as well as software and infrastructure vendors, seeking to develop an open, virtualized Radio Access Network (RAN) with embedded Artificial Intelligence (AI) control. As of March 2022, 64 operators have publicly announced their participation in the development of Open RAN networks. This breaks down to 23 live deployments of Open RAN networks, 34 in the trial phase with a further seven operators that have publicly announced they are in the pre-trial phase.

“5G continued to expand, despite the headwinds of a global pandemic,” said Sameh Yamany, CTO, VIAVI Solutions. “What comes next in 5G is the reinforcement of networks. This will take a couple of forms. Firstly, we expect to see more Standalone 5G networks, which will deliver on much of the promise of 5G, both for the operator and for the wider ecosystem of users. And secondly, we expect to see Open RAN continue its rapid development and start to become a de facto standard. VIAVI will continue to play a central role in testing those new networks as they are built and expanded.”

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Appointments

Indian-origin man appointed CIA’s first chief technology officer

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NEW DELHI: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director William J. Burns announced the appointment of Nand Mulchandani to serve as CIA’s first-ever Chief Technology Officer (CTO).Mulchandani, an Indian-origin man who studied at Delhi’s Bluebells School International between 1979-1987.

With more than 25 years’ experience working in Silicon Valley as well as the Department of Defense (DoD), Mulchandani brings substantial private sector, startup, and government expertise to CIA.

As the CTO, Mulchandani will ensure the Agency is leveraging cutting-edge innovations and scanning the horizon for tomorrow’s innovations to further CIA’s mission. “Since my confirmation, I have prioritized focusing on technology and the new CTO position is a very important part of that effort. I am delighted Nand has joined our team and will bring his extensive experience to this crucial new role,” said Director Burns.

Prior to joining CIA, Mulchandani most recently served as the CTO and Acting Director of DoD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. He also co-founded and was CEO of several successful startups– Oblix (acquired by Oracle), Determina (acquired by VMWare), OpenDNS (acquired by Cisco), and ScaleXtreme (acquired by Citrix). He has a degree in Computer Science and Math from Cornell, a Master of Science degree in Management from Stanford, and a Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard.

“I am honored to join CIA in this role and look forward to working with the Agency’s incredible team of technologists and domain experts who already deliver world-class intelligence and capabilities to help build a comprehensive technology strategy that delivers exciting capabilities working closely with industry and partners,” said Mulchandani.

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5g

Apollo Hospitals joins hands with Cisco and Airtel

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India’s premier communications solutions provider, partnered with Apollo Hospitals and Cisco to create a 5G Connected Ambulance that transforms access to healthcare and save lives in emergency situations. The demonstration was conducted in Bengaluru over the 5G trial spectrum allotted to Airtel by the Department of Telecom.

The custom-designed state-of-the-art 5G Connected Ambulance is equipped with the latest medical equipment, patient monitoring applications, and telemetry devices that transmit the patient health data to the hospital in real-time. In addition, it is also equipped with onboard cameras, camera-based Headgear, and Bodycams for paramedic staff – all connected to the ultra-fast & low latency Airtel 5G network. It will be further enabled with technologies like AR/VR.

When a critical patient is enroute to the hospital and every second makes a difference, the 5G Connected Ambulance acts as an extension of emergency room and enables the following:

Always connected to the Hospital: The high-speed, low latency 5G network relays the Geo-location of every Ambulance to the hospital’s command center to ensure the nearest Ambulance reaches the critical patient to save the patient’s Golden hour time. Also, Ambulance transmits the patient’s complete telemetry data, including vitals, in real-time to doctors and experts at the hospital. This allows the doctors at ER to make faster decisions and advise the paramedics in ambulance to administer required aid while on the move. It also prepares the hospital staff to better manage the patient on arrival and save precious time.

Transports doctors virtually to the Ambulance: With real-time camera feed available, the paramedics in ambulance can use the cameras to collaborate with the ER doctors at the hospital who are equipped with technologies like AV/VR to undertake basic procedures, if necessary. The doctors can virtually guide the paramedic to carry out the procedure and save precious lives.

Ajay Chitkara, Director & CEO, Airtel Business, Bharti Airtel said: “5G is a transformational technology, and this is yet another demonstration by Airtel as to how collaborations can unlock the potential of digital platforms for the good of humanity. Healthcare is one of the most promising use cases for 5G, and we are delighted to deepen our partnerships with Apollo Hospitals and Cisco to bring some innovative use cases for the Indian market.”

Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group, said, “Apollo Hospitals have been evangelists of connected ambulances and using these to reduce mortality and utilize the Golden Hour to the benefit of patients. The criticality of the ‘Golden hour’ is well known. It can mean the difference between life and death for seriously ill or trauma patients in an emergency. The Golden hour is impacted by the facilities in an ambulance and the distance from the Hospital. Studies show that an increased journey distance to the Hospital is associated with an increased risk of mortality, with a 10‐km increase in straight‐line distance associated with around a 1% absolute increase in mortality. Studies also indicate that pre-hospital time management should become a management objective. These insights propelled us to collaborate with Airtel on the 5G connected ambulance project and use 5G in order to utilize the disruption-free, lag-free connectivity it provides.”

She also said, “This will help save many lives as timely treatment can be started even in the Ambulance itself. The 5G connected ambulance is testament to Apollo Hospitals’ commitment to utilize the power to technology in healthcare for the benefit of patients.”

Anand Bhaskar, Managing Director, Service Provider Business, Cisco India & SAARC, said, “Cisco’s partnership with Airtel, through our Country Digitization Acceleration program, is a step towards bringing the immense possibilities of 5G to life by improving the performance of critical-care applications. 5G will be a game-changer in enabling new use cases and improving efficiency across every industry and specifically in the healthcare sector, as 5G will arm doctors with actionable insights to augment patient monitoring and treatment.”

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