Satya Nadella seeks nod to launch White-Fi tech

NEW DELHI: Satya Nadella, global CEO of Microsoft, urged telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to allow the US software major to pilot its ‘White-Fi’ technology to provide internet connectivity in remote villages in the country at a meeting in the capital on Friday.Microsoft’s White-Fi, or television White-Space technology, works like Wi-Fi on a bigger scale to provide wireless connectivity across a 10 km radius at a speed of up to 16 mbps, by using chunks of airwaves lying between spectrum kept untouched by broadcasters to avoid interference or disturbance between transmissions.

Nadella, who is in the country on Christmas holidays, also discussed with Prasad other ways in which Microsoft could partner in the government’s Digital India initiative. He was accompanied by the firm’s India head Bhaskar Pramanik.

“We have asked Microsoft to put forth concrete ways in helping achieve various social objectives under Digital India such as raising digital literacy,” Prasad said. A person privy to the discussion told ET, “The minister assured Nadella that the government would welcome all possible technological solutions to bring broadband connectivity to remote areas.”

During his visit, Nadella also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The Hyderabad-born Nadella said Microsoft was committed to setting up data centres in India to promote the cloud first and mobile first strategy as a means to empower every citizen and business in the country. ET was the first to report that Microsoft had filed an application with the wireless planning and coordination wing in October to deploy White-Space technology for a pilot project in Bangalore.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was the first global CEO to speak to the telecom minister for deploying alternate technology in its case, solar drones for last mile connectivity, followed by Google, which offered to provide inexpensive internet access across India through a network of helium-filled balloons, and now Microsoft.

While Facebook and Google are yet to put in written requests to the government, Nadella on Friday told Prasad his company is eagerly awaiting the government’s approval to begin the pilot.

The White-Fi technology has already been successfully implemented in the US and Singapore and is being tested in Kenya, the Philippines, South Africa and Tanzania, among others. It works on chunks of unused spectrum available in broadcasting bands in the lower frequencies from 200 MHz to 700 MHz.

The government’s Rs 1.13 lakhcrore Digital India initiative envisages delivering e-services such as health and education to every nook and corner of the country over broadband by 2019.

Despite the government laying a nationwide optic fibre network, reaching homes, schools, hospitals and other institutions may require wireless technology, especially in hard-to-reach areas. This is where the technology giants such as Facebook and Microsoft hope to deploy their respective technologies.

According to Microsoft, it costs less than Rs 10 lakh to install a White-Space technology router.



HCL Infosystems partners with MongoDB to advance Big Data Offerings

MongoDB and HCL Infosystems have announced a global partnership which will allow HCL Infosystems to further broaden its solution offerings in the emerging big data segment by developing services around MongoDB.Commenting on the partnership, Kamal Brar, Vice President APAC, MongoDB, said: “Big Data is more than just addressing increasing volume; organizations need solutions that can manage increasing data variety and velocity. Today, businesses need to quickly ingest, store, and access useful information from massive pools of multi-structured data.This is where MongoDB excels. HCL Infosystems will offer innovative solutions and services for organizations to gain value from their data and make smarter and faster business decisions. Partnering with HCL will further strengthen our footprint globally.”

Since its inception MongoDB has collaborated with organizations worldwide and now has a thriving global community. Common MongoDB use cases include single view, Internet of Things, mobile, personalization, content management, real-time analytics and catalog.

“We are very excited to form an alliance with MongoDB. It’s a great opportunity to bolster our offerings and build on our legacy experience in the Indian market. MongoDB provides immense value through its proven functionality for processing and analyzing large data sets and offers a scalable solution to customers. Our collaboration will enable us to broaden our market reach in the fast growing Big Data segment,” said APS Bedi, President – Enterprise Business, HCL Infotech Ltd. (a wholly owned subsidiary of HCL Infosystems Ltd.).

According to a joint study by NASSCOM and CRISIL Global Research & Analytics, by 2015 the global Big Data market is expected to become a $25 billion industry. The report further estimates that the Indian Big Data industry will grow from $200 million in 2012 to $1 billion in 2015 at a CAGR in excess of 83 per cent.


This startup is putting solar cells on a diet, because thinner is better


In the lab of seven-year-old startup Solexel, just south of San Francisco, researchers have been busy re-inventing solar panels made with silicon, the material that already dominates the solar market. The startup is a rare breed these days, and among a dwindling group of venture capital-backed solar materials startups.

Many of these types of startups fell on hard times years back as a glut of cheap solar panels hit the market. Solexel has raised about $200 million in total from investors including Kleiner Perkins, Technology Partners, Intel and DAG Ventures.

But Solexel’s design is novel and it’s developing panels made of ultra-thin silicon solar cells, paired with diodes that can shut down poor-performing ones to prevent them from affecting the output of the neighboring cells. The back of the cells are layered with materials that improve their durability and the efficiency that sunlight is converted into electricity.


We’ll have to…

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The many ways Apple could seize control from the carriers with its new SIM card


When Apple launched the iPad Air 2 with its new programmable SIM card on Thursday, I suggested Apple had all the tools necessary to become a global virtual operator, selling data (and eventually voice) services directly to its customers. It’s a move industry observers like Gigaom contributor Rudolf van der Berg have been anticipating for some time, but I still feel the likelihood of Apple becoming a flow-blown carrier is slim.

When signals go down, networks get congested and unexpected charges appear on your bill, people vent their displeasure at their carriers. That’s grief I’m sure [company]Apple[/company] doesn’t want to deal with. But Apple has plenty of other options beyond becoming a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) if it wanted to exert more control over the mobile industry.

Apple, just like any other phone maker, has always acted as a gatekeeper to mobile networks through its hardware choices…

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Incredibly Fast Laser Could Speed Up Your Internet

Laser-internetResearchers in Germany and London have made what may now be the world’s fastest laser, and it could be used to make the Internet quicker.The laser turns on and off at a record-breaking speed. It’s uncertain what the real-world impact may be, but the researchers behind the laser say that it could be a big leap for communication technology and data connection speeds.

When Mashable reached out to the researchers for more details about how the laser would work, one scientist confirmed it could impact the web.

“If one can now switch the laser on and off very fast, then more information is transported for a given time frame,” Carsten Ronning, a scientist from Germany’s Friedrich Schiller University Jena, told Mashable.

The university also partnered with researchers at Imperial College London on the project.

What sets this laser apart from previous iterations is that the zinc oxide nanowire material used to develop the lasers is placed on silver instead of glass, which is traditionally used, according to an Imperial College London news release.

The scientists then use a special technique to squeeze light into a much smaller place than usual. By switching out a glass surface and shoving a bunch of light into a teeny tiny space, the researchers were able to shrink the diameter of the laser down to about a thousandth the size of a human hair, according to the news release. This causes a greater interaction between the light and nanowire, too.

The ultra-thin laser produces as many as 1 trillion pulses per second, making it much faster than your run-of-the-mill laser.

The laser operates stably at room temperature. Ronning said that this is probably the maximum possible speed at which such a laser can be operated.


This Android app converts other Android apps to run on Chrome

android flipboard on chromebookSUMMARY: Converting Android apps to run on Chrome isn’t difficult but it can be cumbersome and does require a computer. Now, a new Android app takes care of the process for you so you can run other Android apps on Chromebooks or computers with Chrome.

I’ve been running Android apps on my Chromebook for the past week, thanks to Google’s App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) beta software. Officially, ARC only supports four Android apps, but unofficially, you can convert any Android app to run on Chrome OS or a computer with the Chrome browser. The conversion is a manual process, however, and you need to find and download the Android .apk, or installable app file to make it work.

Now a new Android app called the Chrome APK Packager removes both of those issues.

chrome apk generator

On the XDA Developers site, a forum member named bpear96 created the Android app that converts other Android apps to run on Chrome. Not only does it remove the manual process involved in the conversion — which requires additional software on your computer and uses command lines — but it also brings a level of safety to the process.

Here’s why: Instead of having to search for Android app .apk files and hope that they’re safe from malware, the Chrome APK Packager simply uses the Android apps you already have on your Android device. In most cases, those would have come from the Google Play Store, which is a more secure source than the wild, wild web.

Skype for Android on Chrome

To use the Chrome APK Packager, you simply choose which of your already installed Android apps you want to convert. It then churns out a zip file containing all of the necessary files to install the Android app as a Chrome extension in the browser or on a Chrome OS device.

The packager app doesn’t guarantee compatibility — some apps, such as Skype, will work, while others I’ve tried haven’t — but it does make the process quick, easy and a bit safer.


Iridium’s next-gen satellite network will search for missing planes at no charge


When Iridium’s new satellites will start blasting into orbit next year on top of SpaceX and Dnepr rockets, they’ll be carrying a special payload: an aircraft tracking system that will be able to locate a plane anywhere in the world once Iridium’s 66-satellite constellation is fully operational in 2017.

The service is run by Aireon, a joint venture between [company]Iridium[/company] and government aviation agencies in Canada and Europe, and it plans on charging airlines for its core flight monitoring services. But Aireon said it would open the network up gratis to international rescue agencies during emergencies, allowing them to home in on missing aircraft.

In the case of Malaysia Airlines 370, which disappeared in March, the emergency service could have helped in locating and the possible rescue of the still-missing flight by plotting its exact GPS coordinates every few seconds. The technology behind it is called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast

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