Ban Over Internet Calls Lifted in Saudi Arabia


The ban that Saudi Arabia had imposed on call applications has been removed. The lift over the ban will be effected from Wednesday onwards. The nation has banned Whatsaap and Skype and other similar apps as they did not comply with their “regulations.” These apps fall under the Voice over Internet Protocol ( VoIP), which the ministry of communications has finally made available to the conservative country.

Since 2011, the restrictions over the internet have increased. In 2013 the Saudi government even explained the reason for the ban stating that they wished to protect their society from negative aspects that harm public interest. They also justified the ban saying it would boost the economical conditions of the state. Reportedly, resident of Saudi Arabia found a way around the ban by using a virtual private network (VPN). But the calls faced connectivity issues often.
Saudi’s three major telecom companies will expectantly take a hit, because of the volume of international calls that are made by a population of 12 million foreigners living there. Saudi Arabia is famous for having blocked several websites and its online censorship- not just pornographic sites but also several other sites that are not supportive of Israel or their country. This is in accordance with the strategy of the crown prince, Mohmmed Bin Salman to breathe some fresh air into all sectors of the economy.
Source: BBC, Telegraph

India starts paying for Apps

Indian consumers spent three times more on smartphone apps in the past year. This has led to India becoming the largest downloader at Google’s Play Store. According to Google this is an inflection point in the country’s digital ecosystem which will allow developers to monetize their creations.

“If there’s one thing that the Indian internet ecosystem has been challenged with, it is monetization. But we have monitored a change, I believe the time has come.” Said Rajan Anandan, managing director, Google India- at Bengaluru in the very first App Excellence Summit. In a country like India where monetization has been difficult, there is a need for experiments on ways to monetize the existing services available. Google plans on building robust payment gateways, involving popular digital wallets. Anandan added “The challenge is that when one would try, it’s going to take a lot of time to make consumers used-to the change. So, the sooner the experiments begin, the better.”

One of the biggest contributing factors is the enormous shift witnessed in the internet ecosystem over the past year. The data rates have fell to as low as Rs.15 a GB, because of Jio causing Airtel and others to provide free data- perfect market. This not only lured users online, but caused a spike in internet usage per person. “In a span of 10 months we have gone from having a large number of users spending hardly any time on the internet to having a large number of users and magnificent rise in time spent online.” Anandan said.

SOURCES: Times of India, Business Standard



Amazon S3 outage affects popular sites

On Tuesday, due to “high error rates” Amazon’s S3 cloud service suffered a major outage. Several mobile apps and websites like Medium, Business Insider, Pinterest, Airbnb, Netflix, Slack, Quora and Giphy suffered due to this outage. Soundcloud and Imgur also went offline due to the glitch.

The Amazon Simple Storage Solution is one of the largest computing services in the world. It used by web services to host and back up data. The dependent web services were majorly affected by this glitch. The technical issue also caused major problems with devices which are connected to the internet like smartphone-controlled light switches.

By Tuesday afternoon, Amazon issued a statement on service health dashboard stating, “As of 1:49 PM PST, we are fully recovered for operations for adding new objects in S3, which was our last operation showing a high error rate. The Amazon S3 service is operating normally.”

The glitch brings to attention how dependent and vulnerable web services are on big players like Amazon and Google to provide with internet infrastructure.

This wasn’t the first time though Amazon suffered a glitch. In past, brief technical issues affected the working of Instagram, IMDb, and Vine.


  2.  THE SUN

Cyclone Vardah hits Airtel, Vodafone services; internet slowed down

Mobile network operators such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, among other internet service providers have been hit by Cyclone Vardah bringing voice and data services to a halt. The undersea optic fibre cable network of Airtel was disrupted resulting in slow internet speed. The most powerful storm in two decades wrecked havoc in Chennai with winds blowing at 100kmph uprooting trees; lashed the districts of Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram with heavy rain and resulted in the death of four people.

According to the Economic Times, the world’s largest tower company, Indus Towers has deployed a team of 500 people and provided 60,000 litres of diesel to work in war footing to restore communications in the cyclone affected areas as complete power failure and damaged telecommunication infrastructure are lagging the efforts. The preparedness on part of telecom operators comes from lessons of last year flood-hit Chennai, when communications had come to a standstill.

In a tweet sent yesterday, the State Disaster Management Agency said “All telecom companies are told to restore their full network as quickly as possible and it is being monitored.”

As per the estimates of Industry body Assocham, Cyclone Vardah has caused destruction to industries in affected areas to the tune of $1 billion.

SOURCES:  News18, Economic Times


CloudFlare launches its own Registrar services

Adding another layer of security to website domains, CloudFlare- the Internet security and Performance Company has launched CloudFlare Registrar, to aid high profile companies in securing their domains from unlawful changes.
The registrar service claims to prevent domain hijacking, in other words, redirection to another website without owner consent or from being compromised. Apart from this, the company stated that the service will also help avoid domain expiration and loss of control over one’s account.
While several websites have implemented Cloudflare’s internet security measures such as DDOS protection, Mathew Prince, CEO CloudFlare stated that they are still at risk from being compromised from the registrar’s end. By introducing the service to Enterprise customers, the complexities of having to mediate with third party registrars would be bridged, he said. “Rather than waiting for one to come onto the market, we built our own, fundamentally changing the way Registrar security is offered today,” he added.
Emphasizing on customazible domain security, the company said that high profile domain owners can now breathe easy with regards to their brand reputation in events of ‘hackers’ trying to deface their websites. Instead of using passwords or email addresses’ to make changes to the domain, the service will now require approval from several independent shareholders within the company. With respect to domain expiration, the auto renewal feature will kick into play once it recognises that there is less than a year on their registration terms.


CloudFlare’s New Domain Registry Protects Site Owners From Domain Hijacking

Google to shut one of its venture by next month

Recognising its sliding foray online, google has decided to shut down its shopping site which is Google Compare comparison on Tuesday. The main reason for taking such a step was that they could not target enough customers in a very long time.

The process of cutting down was done in the search giant’s products such as credit cards, insurance, claimed one of the spokesperson of the company. Alphabet, the parent company of Google has been running Google Compare in Britain for three years and had initiated their much anticipated United States site in March last year. Although Google had its brand but it failed to catch up with the demands of the consumers, stated an email which was received by the New York Times.

The e-mail further stated that despite people turning to Google for information on economic services, the Google Compare did not get the expected targets that they desired. The company which had enough industry tie-ups, wanted to get access to the broker networks has now informed its partners that they are closing their venture in both UK and US in the coming month.

Google sent clarification to their partners stating that they would henceforth focus on AdWords, the company’s foundation of advertising products, where insurance is among the most worthwhile search terms.

One of the statements from Google’s insurance partners was that “it is a explicit opportunity for us in the future to create new insurance product”.


DoT regulations to make Mobiles support local languages

In a regulation that will make it compulsory for mobile phones to support local languages, the Department of Telecom (DoT)  is likely to introduce this new rule in the coming months.

When the regulation comes into effect, mobiles will have to support Hindi along with one another  regional language. Apart from encouraging users to communicate in Indian languages, the move aims to get better accessibility for government services such as e-payment.

A senior DoT official  stated, “Three months down the line, there will be a regulation that will make every mobile phone sold in India mandatory to have English, Hindi and one regional language.” He added that broadboad cannot be restricted to English speaking upper and middle class Indians, but should be accessible to rural India as well.

Another initiative by the government ‘Saksharta Abhiyan’, aims to impart IT training for  digital literacy. This would include basic knowledge on how to operate mobile phones, tablets, computers, communicating through email and using search engines. Apart from these, users will be trained to access several e-services run by government and other organisations.

Sources: The Indian Express, TOI