Tag Archives: Indian Telecom and Broadband

BSNL Automatically Downgrades Postpaid Customers on Rs. 4200 Unlimited Plan, Issues Massive Interim Bills

Even as the rest of the world is getting ready to move on to 4G, people in India are just beginning to get a taste of 3G. However, the mobile service providers seem hell bent on playing spoil-sport by imposing ridiculously low data limits on pretty much all 3G plans. The state-owned BSNL used to be among the better 3G carriers, courtesy of its 6 months unlimited plan (without any fair usage policy) for Rs. 4,200. However, that promotional plan expired on January 29, and soon after, BSNL withdrew all unlimited plans, and replaced them with new capped ones. One can’t really blame BSNL for that move as, at this moment, the competition is simply not there. Even the more expensive limited bandwidth plans offered by BSNL are much better than what most private mobile operators are providing.

BSNL-3G

The change was announced in the second week of February, and the new plans came into effect on the 18th. However, BSNL being the master of mess-ups, messed it up big time while making the change. In their infinite wisdom, BSNL switched all postpaid customers from existing plans to the new ones. Users who had paid Rs. 4,200 in advance for six months of unlimited data connection were transferred to the revised plan with a 15 GB usage limit, without any prior notification.

This situation came to light, when earlier this month, BSNL started issuing interim bills amounting to thousands (and even lakhs) of rupees to these users, followed by disconnection of their mobile services. As you might expect, users flummoxed and worried by the massive bills have been taking to online forums and discussion groups to voice their anger and concern.

When I reached out to BSNL customer care, I was told that BSNL is aware of this issue. Services of all disconnected users have been restored. However, a final decision on this matter is still pending. The customer care representative was optimistic that the interim bills will be revoked; however, she declined to confirm that.

The lack of professionalism and poor service has been one of the reasons BSNL Cellone has been struggling to compete with the likes of Idea, Airtel and Vodafone. This incident is just another example. Let’s hope that BSNL will at least be swift in resolving the situation.

RIM’s BlackBerry Woes Continue: India Rejects Proposed Decryption Solution

BlackBerryYou are probably aware that the Indian government has been gunning at Research in Motion – the manufacturer of the popular Blackberry series of handsets, due to concerns over the misuse of Blackberry’s encrypted messaging system by terrorists. Towards the end of August, RIM finally appeared to have succeeded in placating the government’s concerns by agreeing to set up a server in India. However, according to The Economic Times, RIM’s woes are far from being over.

The department of telecommunications (DoT) has rejected the solution proposed by Research in Motion on the grounds that it doesn’t allow security agencies to obtain email and chat communications in plain text (unencrypted/decrypted) form.

RIM has been under fire from several nations including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Even the United Nation’s telecommunications agency urged it to share data with law enforcement agencies. RIM has been insisting that it doesn’t have a magical key to decrypt the data which is protected using end to end encryption. It will be interesting to see how RIM responds to this new development. If it doesn’t manage to come up with a satisfactory solution by the end of this month, then the one million BlackBerry subscribers in India might have to do without BlackBerry services like e-mail and chat.

LePhone A10 is a Triple SIM Handset for Indian Consumers

Dual SIM handsets have become commonplace in the Indian market thanks to manufacturers like Lemon, Lava, MicroMax, Zen, Spice, Olive and Intex. Sensing an opportunity to one-up its competitors, LePhone has now released a triple SIM handset (GSM+GSM+CDMA).

LePhone-A10

The Symbian powered LePhone A10 sports a 2.2 inch screen and a 3 megapixel camera with flash. Connectivity options supported include Bluetooth, GPRS and WAP. It is a competent multimedia phone with inbuilt FM and MP3 player, video player, Xpress Music, shake to change track support and 3D sound stereo speaker.

The LePhone A10 claims to offer a talk time of 300 minutes and a stand by time of 150 hours. It is available for just Rs. 4,990.

Meet “STAMP”: The $50 Tablet from India

Last month, the Indian government made headlines by announcing the $35 tablet. While the hands-on demo by the Indian HRD minister Kapil Sibbal might have allayed fears that the tablet will turn out to be another vaporware from the Indian government, it is still a year away from mass production. In the meantime, Bangalore based Allgo Embedded Systems has created their own prototype tablet, which should cost around $50.

The tablet, which is being called “STAMP“, will sport a 7 inch touchscreen, and run Android or Linux. K. Srinivasan, the founder of Allgo said, “We have developed the prototype for which the material costs are $35 and are currently in talks with manufacturers”.

Stamp is still just a prototype. According to the estimates provided by Srinivasan, Stamp’s cost can be brought down to $45 if 100,000 units are manufactured and $40 if 1,000,000 units are manufactured.

Spice Launches Affordable Android Mobile Phone, Announces Two Tablets

Last month, we reported that Google is working with manufactures like Huawei to introduce cheap Android handsets in parts of Asia. Following in Huawei’s footsteps, Spice has launched its own affordable Android powered mobile phone in India.

Spice-Mi-300-Android

The Spice Mi-300 sports a 3.2 inch HVGA capacitive display with a resolution of 320×240. It runs on Android 2.1 and is powered by the Qualcomm MSM7227 chipset. Supported connectivity options include 3G (HSPA enabled), Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. The handset features a 5 megapixel camera capable of recording 720p HD videos. Although the ROM offers just 156 MBs of space, microSD cards up to 32 are supported. The Mi-300 is now available in stores across India for Rs. 9,990.

Spice Mobile has also announced two Android powered tablets for computing on the go. The first of them is the Mi-410, which is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255. The Mi-410 is a micro-tablet with a 4.1 inch HVGA capacitive screen. The second tablet, which was announced by Spice, is Mi-700. This tablet will run on a Qualcomm MSM7227 chip and feature a 7 inch capacitive touchscreen. The tablets are expected to be launched in October-November.

HTC Desire Finally Launching in India

While most of the world is preparing for the impending launch of HTC Desire HD, India is set to finally get the original Desire. AndroidOS.in is reporting that that the Desire will soon be available across India for Rs 27,500. Although we are yet to receive any official world regarding the release date, some online retailers like Flipkart have already begun offering the Desire.

HTC-Desire

HTC Desire boasts of a 3.7 inch AMOLED display, capacitive touchscreen, 5 megapixel camera and a 1400 mAh Li-ion battery. It will be launching with Android 2.1 (Éclair) running on a Snapdragon QSD8250 (1 GHz) processor. Hopefully, it will be upgraded to Froyo soon after launch.

Desire was one of the best Android phones when it came out. In fact, it still is an impressive device. However, it will face stiff competition from the Samsung Galaxy S i9000, which has a better CPU (Hummingbird) and a 4” SAMOLED screen.

Indian Government Settles on August 31 Deadline for Blackberry

BlackberryIn an attempt to mount pressure on Research in Motion – the Canadian manufacturer of Blackberry devices, the Indian government has issued a deadline of August 31 for coming up with a satisfactory response. Earlier today, the Indian government met with telecom operators to discuss the issues surrounding Blackberry’s security policy. While Airtel and Vodafone – the largest Blackberry service providers in India, skipped the meeting, RIM Vice President Robert E Crow separately met with the Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

The Indian government has been demanding access to encrypted messages sent using Blackberry devices for quite some time. It had made similar demands back in 2008. However, India has now been joined by several countries including Indonesia, UAE and Germany, in its demands.

RIM has already agreed to provide the Saudi government access to servers hosted in Saudi Arabia. If it now agrees to India’s demands, it will probably receive similar demands from numerous other countries. However, if it doesn’t comply, the government might disable messaging support in Blackberry devices across the country. RIM is undoubtedly in a tough position. However, it’s hard to imagine that it will be willing to risk loosing more than 1 million Blackberry users in a rapidly growing market.

Indian Government Gets Ready To Ban Blackberry

RIM Last month, we reported that the Indian government was threatening to ban Blackberry along with a host of other services like Gmail and Skype. Reuters is now reporting that, the government of India of India will meet with telecom operators tomorrow to seek concrete measures.

Like Saudi Arabia, India also wants instant access to encrypted messages sent using Blackberry devices, which were reportedly used by terrorists in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Similar demands have also been made by United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, and Germany. In fact, the Indian government had also made similar demands in 2008.

RIM’s recent decision to grant the Saudi government access to local servers, will undoubtedly encourage the Indian government to take a stronger stance. At tomorrow’s meeting, the Indian government might issue a deadline for RIM to comply with the demands. In case the Indian government goes through the ban, RIM stands to lose 1 million subscribers in a country where the iPhone is still struggling to make an impact.

Fly DS 110i: Affordable Dual SIM Handset with Extended Battery Backup

Amidst all the media frenzy surrounding the Androids, the Blackberries and the iPhones, it might be quite easy to forget that most Indians still do not own a smartphone. While processor speed and the operating system are the main selling points of high-end phones, the budget phones simply try to stick to the basics and to do them well. Fly DS 110i is a light-weight candy bar phone, which falls in the latter category.

Fly-DS-110i
The Fly DS 110i – Available in Grey and Red Colours

The 110i is a dual SIM GSM handset featuring a 4.6 cm, 65 K TFT display having a resolution of 128 X 160 pixels. It has none of the fancy features like camera, Bluetooth, IrDA or USB data transfer. However, it does support expandable memory up to 2 GB and includes a FM radio as well as a FM recorder. Other notable features are torch with dedicated key, privacy protection, Indian calendar, SMS and MMS, contact and SMS backup, call reject and call recorder. The powerful 1200 mAh battery provides up to 10 hours of talk time and 160 hours of standby time.

The Fly DS 110i is available across India for Rs. 2,500.

Zen Z82: Dual SIM QWERTY Handset with Analog TV

Now that almost every budget phone on the market is dual SIM compatible, cell phone manufacturers are looking for other features to make their handset stand out. Lava Mobiles is trying its luck with alpha keypads, while Samsung is betting on extended battery life. Zen Mobile believes that support for television on the go can help it win customers.

Zen-Z82

Zen Z82 claims to be India’s first QWERTY handset with Analog TV. Earlier, Samsung had also introduced handsets featuring mobile TV. However, both Corby TV and Metro TV relied on super-fast internet connectivity (EVDO) for this service. Also, neither of those handsets featured a QWERTY keypad.

The Z82 is a dual SIM (GSM + GSM) handset with a 2.4 inch QVGA widescreen, 2 megapixel camera, expandable memory up to 4GB, multi-coloured trackball and 3.5mm jack. It is capable of playing MP3 audio and MP4 video files and supports both FM Radio playback and recording. Zen Z82’s battery is powerful enough to provide up to 5 hours of talk time and 200 hours of standby time. It is available across in stores across India for Rs. 4,799.