Saturday, August 12, 2017

What Is Universal Service Obligation Fund?

Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), created under Department of Telecommunications, is a roadmap to Digital India. Universal Service is basically to provide affordable and reasonable services to every resident of a nation. The present administrator of USOF is Shri Sanjay Singh.
As per the Indian Telegraph act 1885 (as amended in 2003 & 2006) the main aim of the USOF is to provide connectivity in Indian rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable price. In order to achieve this objective the USOF generates revenue from the Universal Service Levy, which is 5% of the Adjusted Gross Revenue, from the telecom service providers. The percentage share is decided by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The Universal Service levy came into effect from 01.04.2002. Similar to USOF in India Chile has the Telecommunications Development Fund (FDT), Pakistan has the Universal Service Fund Company (USF Co.), Taiwan has the Universal Service Fund (USF), Australia has the Telecommunications Industry Levy (TIL), etc.
The fund generated is used in the following schemes in rural and remote areas of which some are in action and some are completed,
·      provision of public access services, maintenance of village public telephones
·      provision of household telephone services
·      infrastructure and mobile services
·      broadband connectivity
·      induction of new technological developments in telecom sector
·      Rural Household Direct Exchange Lines (RDEL) in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Nagaland, etc.
·      Village Public Telephone (VPT) in Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan.
·      USOF tower in West Bengal.

Some new schemes initiated by the DoT in order to increase the mobile connectivity in rural areas are

  • Installation of mobile infrastructure focusing on network penetration and connectivity.
  • Schemes for providing broadband connectivity in rural area, schemes for augmentation of rural optical fibre cable(OFC) network, schemes for Intra-district connectivity in Assam
  • Schemes to encourage use of renewable energy resources in rural telecommunications. Installation of solar charges and solar wind hybrid installations, solar mobile charging.
 Some of the ongoing agreements of the USOF:
·    BharatNet NOFN (Non Optical Fibre Network): Its plan is to provide broadband connectivity to 2, 50,000 Gram Panchayats. The project is being led by the PGCIL, RailTel and BSNL. The project is targeted to be completed by 2023.
·    Sanchar Shakti: The project aims to empower women with the help of ICT industry and mobile VAS subscriptions for Self Help Groups.
·   Left Wing Extremists Area: The aim of the project is to provide mobile services areas affected by Left Wing Extremism. The project is headed by BSNL. A total of 1836 sites are identified as LWE effected areas by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of which at present 363 sites are made operational.
Some other recent developments, is to provide mobile telephony access to 55,000 villages along the Border States and Himalayan region.
According to Government of India (GOI) private providers were not willing to invest Infrastructure in core affected areas and they might misuse government subsidy so BSNL was selected as service provider initially. On 20.01.2009 BSNL had signed an agreement with the USOF for a period of 9 years to provide wire-line broadband connectivity to rural and remote areas. BSNL promises to complete the same by end of the year 2018, of whicha total of 6, 56,345 broadband connections have been provided and 15,671 kiosks have been set up in rural and remote areas (report status 31.01.2015). BSNL has also come with the major project of installation of 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas and the work will commence soon.
Following is the Fund status and the stream-wise distribution of the funds,

[1]Fund StatusBalance of USL amount available as potential fund as on 30.05.2017 is for the financial year 2017-2018 as follows:

Financial Year
UAL collections(Booked figures as per DOT A/cs)
Funds allocated
Funds disbursed

[2] Stream-wise share in the total subsidy disbursed by USOF

Stream I: Provision of Village Public Telephones & Rural community phones.
Stream II: Provision of Rural Household Wireline Telephones.
Stream III: Provision of Mobile Telecom Services in rural/ remote areas.
Stream IV: Provision of Broadband Connectivity in rural or remote areas
Stream V: Creation of general Telecom Infrastructure in rural or remote areas
Stream VI: USOF pilots for assessing the viability and feasibility of new telecom technologies for rural or remote areas.
At present due to intense pressure and competition in the telecom sector, resulted in falling revenue of telecom companies. Government may reduce the USL as it would bring the license fee component for telecom companies without impacting the governments revenue. IMG would come with its recommendations within few days.

Padmanisha Subramanian
Batch 2017-19
Symbiosis Institute of Telecom Management

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is defined as a distributed database that allows secure transactions without a central authority. It consists of a series of blocks, each of which are linked to the previous block by means of a cryptographic hash (which guarantees that no previous block or its contents have been changed) and contains a set of transactions from network participants which are being added to the permanent record of what has happened as given below

The first blockchain implementation is the crypto currency- Bitcoin. In this context, the replicated database acts as global ledger tracking all crypto currency transactions between participants. A blockchain transaction refers to any change in state of a digital asset defined on top of it. It is not limited to crypto currency. While first generation blockchains were created for crypto currency application, new generation block chains allows custom digital assets’ definition. There is no central authority for transaction validation here. It is performed by a peer-to-peer network throughout a consensus process.
Two types of entities compose a Blockchain system: Participants, who perform transactions secured by means of cryptographic transactions, are grouped into blocks, which are submitted to a network of nodes, which are to be validated every time. Every time a block is validated, it is broadcasted to the network and added on top of the blockchain. Since every block in the block chain contains a timestamp and a reference to the previous block, the blockchain is fundamentally a time stamping system represented by the chain of all blocks, starting from the first block.
There are two main categories of blockchain which are categorized on the basis of network access permission:
 Permission less: Network access is free and anyone can set up a node to validate transactions. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the major examples.
Permissioned: Network access is restricted to a set of known participants. Ripple is an example of permissioned systems.
The blockchain uses cryptography to secure transactions. Participants create a cryptographic key pair with wallet software to interact with the blockchain:
 • A private key is one in which the user must not reveal, since it is used to sign transactions and to unlock crypto currency funds.
• A public key is one where it corresponds to the address of the associated account. It is used from participant to identify the receiver of a transaction.
Digital signatures protocols are employed in block chains, in order to provide authentication and non-repudiation so that only the key-controlling entity can perform transactions from its associated account.
Distributed cloud storage: Block chain data storage will become a massive disruptor shortly since current cloud storage services are centralized thus the users must place trust in a single storage provider who control all of your online assets.
Digital identity: Imagine never having to worry about your digital security every again. It’s a massive problem in the world. Which is now estimated to cost the industry about $18.5 billion annually, according to a report released Thursday by Distil Networks. So for every $3 spent, $1 is going to ad fraud.  Blockchain technology tends to offer solutions to many digital identity issues especially in those areas where identity can be uniquely authenticated in an irrefutable, immutable, and secure manner. Methods at present use problematic password-based systems of shared secrets exchanged and stored on insecure systems.
Digital voting: Using this technology, a voter could check that her or his vote was successfully transmitted while remaining anonymous to the rest of the world, thereby giving enormous security.
Decentralized notary: Another interesting feature is its timestamp feature where the whole network essentially validates the state of wrapped piece of data (called a hash) at a certain particular time. It confirms the existence of at a stated time that is further provable in a court of law, as a trustless decentralized network.

Blockchain is a highly disruptive technology that promises to change the world as we know it. The technology is not only shifting the way we use the Internet, but it is also revolutionizing the global economy. Blockchain has applications that go way beyond obvious things like digital currencies and money transfers. From electronic voting, smart contracts & digitally recorded property assets to patient health records management and proof of ownership for digital content.

Nishita Poddar
Batch 2017-19
Symbiosis Institute of Telecom Management

Developments in 5G around the world

The transition of world to 5G network is the most trending topic in the telecom industry today. Every telecom leader globally has a perspective on the successful deployment of 5G in the coming years.

by 2020
2 Mbps
200 Mbps
> 1 Gbps
Table 1: Implementation and bandwidth timelines

The 5G ecosystem will provide a fully converged network environment where the same infrastructure would be used for wired and wireless communication resulting into ultra-high bandwidths and connectivity. 5G networks will bring about a paradigm shift in the mobile infrastructure as it will see new levels of investments in the world and increase the data capacities of the spectrums significantly. Data and Cyber Security will play a vital role as companies have started to look out for new and innovative ways to protect their customers. The increased data speeds will further add to this effort.
The traditional demands from 4G networks is focused more on downloads but as 5G steps in multiple streaming services will take the center stage as more and more consumers will focus on immersive experiences such as streamlined videos and remote entertainment avenues. Although there may be disruptions in the technology as the experts forecast atmospheric absorption and restrictions in transmission range.

Fig 1: 5G research/testing world map 2016

China, being the most populous nation is said to be working on the largest 5G telecom network in the world. It is reported to spend about $180 billion on the network infrastructure by 2024. This is about 4 times the budget of Japan for the same. According to some industry experts, China will have about 600 million users of 5G by 2022. This is about 40 percent of the total mobile users in the country. Chinese ZTE Gigabit Phone, promoted as the world’s first phone that will be using 5G connectivity was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February, 2017. The pre-deployment is scheduled in late 2018 and the rollout will be done in early 2019. In US, AT&T is done with the second testing of 5G network in Texas and is planning to implement it in about 20 major cities by the end of 2017. Europe is spending about $9 million on the concept of network slicing in 5G, which would help them to make best use of software-defined networking, network functions virtualization, orchestration, and analytics, to support a variety of vertical industries such as automotive, healthcare, and media. Arun Bansal, the Senior Vice President and head of Europe & Latin America in Ericsson said, “Ericsson is doing 33 trials with operators, almost equally distributed between continents, and we are working with many industries in Europe too. Europe needs to wait until the real 5G specifications are ready and the commercial 5G infrastructure is ready with latency requirements of sub 5 milliseconds.” In South Korea, Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson and Intel have completed the field trial in 5G whereas NEC is testing at Phoenix Park Ski World in Pyeong Chang. The 5G network will partially be available during the 2018 Winter Olympics. MegaFon and Huawei are testing the 5G cellular networks in Russia via the TV channel “Russia 24” and will be deploying it during the Soccer World Cup in 2018. In India, Nokia has signed a memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with Airtel and BSNL to further their technology partnership to work on 5G. Sanjay Malik, the head of Indian market at Nokia said that this is an introductory phase as the commercial roll out of the 5G connectivity is expected to take place during 2019-2020.

Rushal Arora
Batch 2017-19
Symbiosis Institute of Telecom Management