Telecommunication Current Affairs - 2019

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Union Government okayed two plants to manufacture Semiconductor chips

In a bid to give boost to local production of electronics, the Union Government approved the setting up of two plants to manufacture semiconductor chips in India.

The two electronic chip manufacturing units will be set up by:

  • India’s Jaiprakash Associates, IBM and Tower Jazz at a cost of Rs 34,399 crore near the Yamuna Expressway in Uttar Pradesh.
  • France-based ST Microelectronics, HSMC Technologies (Hindustan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation) and Malaysia’s Silterra at Prantij, Gujarat at a cost of Rs 29,013 crore.
Benefits given by Government of India to electronic chip manufacturing units
  • Offered 25% subsidy on capital expenditure, tax breaks and Rs. 5124 crore to each plant as interest-free loans in a bid to attract chip makers.
  • The companies in the consortia will get all benefits listed under the National Policy on Electronics viz. Modified Special Incentive Package, which allows up to Rs 10,000 crore in benefits under the 12th Five Year Plan ending 2017.
  • They will benefit under section 35 AD of I-T Act and will also be allowed to deduct 100% expenditure made on research and development for development of electronic chips. 

Note: Semiconductors are neither a good conductor of electricity (like copper) nor a good insulator (like rubber). These are usually very small and complex devices, and can be found in thousands of electronic devices viz. transistors, mobile phones, computers, hi-tech defense equipment, etc. The most common semiconductor materials are Silicon (Si) and Germanium(Ge).

Still some time for ‘Voice Over LTE’ technology to arrive in India

‘Voice Over LTE’ technology, which will soon be deployed in USA shortly by some of the mobile companies, has still some time to yet arrive in India. Indian operators in due course will adopt the 4G LTE standard which will improve the carrying capacity of airwaves, furnish data at nearly 10 times the speed offered on 3G and better quality voice, etc.

What is ‘Voice Over LTE’ technology?

‘Voice Over LTE’ technology is a technology for providing a unified format of voice traffic on LTE, and other systems including CSFB (Circuit Switched FallBack ), and SV-LTE (Simultaneous voice and LTE). It empowers 4G LTE operators to offer rich voice, video and messaging services as a core offering.

LTE stands for ‘Long Term Evolution’. 

LTE technology marketed as 4G LTE  is a GSMA VoLTE IR.92 specification, based on global 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) standards, for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals.  LTE is optimized for data transfer and designed as a packet switched all-IP system only; it does not include any circuit switched domain currently used for regular voice and SMS services.

Dissimilar to former cellular telecommunications standards including GSM, LTE doesn’t have devoted channels for circuit switched telephony. Rather LTE is an all-IP system allowing for an end-to-end IP connection from the mobile equipment to the core network and out again.

Why a need for Voice Over LTE (VOLTE)?

The Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is a result of operators seeking a standardized system for transferring voice traffic over LTE. Initially LTE was seen as a totally IP cellular system just for carrying data, and operators would be able to carry voice either by reverting to 2G / 3G systems or by using VoIP. Operators, nevertheless saw the fact that a voice format was not defined as a key omission for the system. It was seen that the lack of standardization may provide problems with scenarios including roaming. SMS is a key necessity. As mobile operators receive much of their revenues from voice and SMS traffic, it is essential to have a feasible and standardized scheme to render these services and guard this revenue.

What is the probable problem with India in implementing Voice Over LTE (VOLTE) technology?

Once VoLTE is implemented in USA, the technology will move faster to other countries viz. India but there are some basic issues with implementing the technology in India:

  • Albeit software can be adapted in India but the underlying hardware for the 2300 MHz band is the key issue. The spectrum in the 2300 MHz band which Reliance Jio infocomm and Bharati Airtel won in order to offer 4G services emits weaks signals, which implies poor service quality. This issue is increased when it comes to transmitting voice.
  • In Europe, however the LTE operated in the 700 MHz band.
  • India and China both have opted for TD-LTE (Time-Division Long-Term Evolution) standard which owing to lack of global scale, makes necessary hardware costly.