Google Fiber Phone Service Launched With Unlimited Domestic Calling

Google Fiber Phone Service Launched With Unlimited Domestic Calling

Many people can already buy TV and Internet service from Google Fiber. Now, the company that brought gigabit speeds to Austin and Kansas City is moving deeper into the telecom industry by offering its own bundled telephone service.

For $10 (roughly Rs. 660) a month, Google Fiber customers soon will be able to buy an add-on known as Fiber Phone – a service that, according to a company blog post, appears to mimic much of the functionality of Google Voice. Voicemail on Fiber Phone can be automatically transcribed and sent to your email. You’ll get unlimited domestic calling, as well as international calls at Google Voice’s rates. And you’ll have access to one phone number that can be set up to ring all of your phones – whether landline or mobile.

A series of leaked emails in January first uncovered Google Fiber’s plans to move into phone service. But now the decision is official: Fiber Phone will roll out gradually across all of the company’s existing markets. The company declined to name the initial launch markets, saying those details will come later.

The service comes with a little black box that sits beside your home phone. It has both ethernet and phone jacks, and will work with most handsets except for old rotary phones, according to Kelly Mason, a company spokesperson.

Google Fiber’s effort to draw in phone customers highlights how the company is becoming more like traditional service providers even as many telecom companies are looking to become more like Internet content firms. Even providers of cellphone service have been shifting their focus away from voice and toward the more lucrative provision of mobile data. Reports this week suggest T-Mobile may soon unveil new phone plan options that eliminate voice service entirely to give you a bigger bucket of data.

Fiber Phone fits within these trends in that it would help customers add some cloud-based functionality to their home phones. But it’s not immediately clear why consumers would pick Fiber Phone over Google Voice. The two services share many of the same features, but Fiber Phone carries a subscription cost and requires an at-home installation that you don’t need with Google Voice. In this respect, Google Voice might be considered a “better” service.

Fiber Phone could be appealing to those who currently buy their Internet and television from Google Fiber, but still have their landline phone tied to another provider, such as Verizon. Signing up for Fiber Phone would allow those Americans to eliminate one more bill from their lives and consolidate their services into a double- or triple-play deal with Google Fiber.

But federal statistics show Americans are largely moving away from landline service anyway, embracing a cellphone-only approach. Forty percent of US adults now use their cellphones exclusively.

Fiber Phone is more than a simple landline substitute, of course. But to really make the most of it, it seems like you would A) need to be already subscribed to a landline service with another provider and B) want to continue having landline service.

Trai to Look Into Interconnection Charges for IP Networks

Trai to Look Into Interconnection Charges for IP Networks

Telecom regulator Trai on Tuesday said it will look into interconnection charges for Internet-based networks like 4G, furthering its regulatory framework for developing new age communication systems.

“We will start consultation on it (IP Interconnection) after DoT amends telecom licences,” Trai Chairman R S Sharma told reporters on sidelines of mobile devices maker Lava’s event on Tuesday.

His comments came a day after the inter-ministerial body Telecom Commission approved interconnection among IP networks on the basis of Trai recommendations.

The amendment was required to enable interconnection among upcoming networks which will be based on IP starting with 4G technology.

Interconnection charges are paid by one telecom operator to another to connect its subscriber’s call or message to the latter’s network.

Earlier networks were built using copper cables, called circuit switch, but modern networks are being built mostly using optical fibre.

Telecom licence has provision of connecting circuit switch based networks with another circuit switch, circuit switch with IP but not IP to IP.

DoT is expected to make amendments within a month to incorporate new provision.

The provision is expected to have impact on IP based calls and messages. On spectrum auction recommendations, Trai Chairman said that the regulator will work as per set procedure.

iPhone SE Reportedly Gets More Than 3.4 Million Reservations in China

iPhone SE Reportedly Gets More Than 3.4 Million Reservations in China

Apple launched its much-talked-about iPhone SE (where the SE stands for ‘special edition’) smartphone earlier this month, offering a cheaper, smaller display iPhone to users who have been asking for it ever since the iPhone 6. Although the Cupertino-based firm has revealed nothing more than the handset’s launch timeline and prices, a report now suggests that the device has already crossed over 3.4 million reservations.

The report by CNBC adds that these reservation numbers for the iPhone SE (Hands On) are not worldwide but only for China. It should be pointed out that in China the ‘reservation’ process does not include exchange of money until the actual purchase, unlike with ‘pre-orders’ where the customers have to pay before getting their hands on the device. This also means that users can reserve an iPhone SE for now but might change their minds later. Although the 3.4 million reservation number is impressive, we are yet to witness how many will actually be converted into a successful purchase.

The same report further says that out of all the reservations, the iPhone SE (Pictures) handset’s Gold colour variant has been the most popular, followed by the Rose Gold variant. The smartphone in China comes at a base price of CNY 3,288 (roughly Rs. 33,650). It will start shipping to buyers this Thursday and will be in 100 countries by May, Apple had revealed at the time of the global launch last week. The iPhone SE will be available in India starting April 8 with a price that starts at Rs. 39,000.

For specifications, the iPhone SE features the iPhone 6s’ Apple A9 SoC and M9 motion coprocessor, 12-megapixel iSight (rear) camera with 4K video support, a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime (front) camera, Bluetooth 4.2, improved Wi-Fi and LTE, new microphones, and Apple Pay support with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

Telecom Commission Clears Entry of Virtual Network Operators

Telecom Commission Clears Entry of Virtual Network Operators

Clearing the way for the entry of telecom service retailers, inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission on Monday approved long-pending proposal on virtual network operators, which will offer voice and data services under their own brands without owning network or spectrum.

“The Commission has approved Trai’s recommendation on Virtual Network Operators after including clarification it provided. It will need Telecom Minister’s approval. A new licence will be issued UL VNO for this. It should be implemented within few weeks,” an official source said.

“VNO will be able to offer all telecom services provided by a telecom operator with which it has partnered. It can sell services of more than one operator,” the source said.

A VNO leases bandwidth from various telecom operators to provide voice and data services to customers. VNOs would offer all telecom services permitted under Unified Licences – permits that were issued in 2013. These players are expected to reduce marketing and sales costs of telecom companies struggling in the sector, besides sharing some operational expenses, too.

“VNO will be able to invest in setting up mobile towers and other elements in network required for providing services. However, it will not be able to sign deal directly to interconnect infrastructure laid by it with other telecom operator,” the source said.

These players may also offer some relief to telecom PSUs, BSNL, and MTNL, which have already adopted a revenue-sharing model focusing on reducing capital expenditure. However, these companies will need to change their old licence to Unified Licence.

“VNO will be able to integrate service[s] and offer [them] to the customer as it wants. There will be no limit on integration and offering of services from licence or government that will be available shortly. VNO on its own will be free to use technology required for offering various services,” the source said.

In case a VNO has partnered with multiple service providers, then it can offer voice call service of one and data service of other player.

112 to Soon Become Single Number for All Emergency Services

112 to Soon Become Single Number for All Emergency Services

People will soon have to dial just a single number ‘112’ for help during emergency situations such as availing services of police, ambulance and the fire department.

The proposal to have a single number for various emergency services, approved by the inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission, would be similar to the ‘911’ all-in-one emergency service in the US.

All existing emergency numbers will be phased out within a year of rolling out 112, depending upon the awareness about this new facility.

“Telecom Commission has accepted Trai’s recommendation on single emergency number 112. It will now be drafted by the Department of Telecom and will require Telecom Minister’s (Ravi Shankar Prasad) approval. It will be rolled out within months rather than a year,” an official source told PTI.

The source said the panel has accepted recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) after including clarifications given by it.

In India, different emergency communication and response systems are in place police (100), fire brigade (101), ambulance (102) and Emergency Disaster Management (108).

Also, a number of states have notified various helpline numbers for assistance to special categories of citizens, like Woman in distress – 181 (Delhi), Missing Children and Women – 1094 (Delhi), Crime Against Women – 1096 (Delhi), Police Headquarter helpline – 1090 (Uttar Pradesh) etc.

A person in distress will now need to call 112, which will direct the call to concerned departments immediately for help.

The service will also be accessible even through those SIMs and landlines whose outgoing call facility has been stopped or temporarily suspended.

A user will be able to make communication even through SMS and the system will learn about the location of the caller that will be shared with the nearest help centre.

The service will be operated by a call centre like facility, which will have representatives speaking in Hindi, English and the local language.