Posts tagged Country’s
The Chinese Ministry of Technology says the country is too dependent on Android, and accused Google of unfairly discriminating against local firms by hindering the country’s ability to develop its own mobile operating system.
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Two days of widespread blackouts in India have many outside observers wondering if India and it’s tech-support call centers can meet the pace of its own growth within the Information Age. But it turns out India has a very 20th Century solution to keep service going for consumers around the world.
On Monday, the power grid in the northern India states went down, affecting an estimated 400-500 million Indians. Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse for the country, the eastern power grid crashed as well, plunging another 100-150 million people into darkness.
Its not entirely clear how many people are actually affected by the lack of power. Wilson Center analyst Michael Kugelman said on Marketplace this morning, “It’s true the country has more than a billion people but you got 400 million people in the country that are not on the grid that use traditional energy sources: firewood.”
If the numbers affected aren’t clear, neither is the effect the blackouts are having on India’s emerging technology centers. One would expect the situation is not good, since no power means no calls coming in or out to the nations’ many outsourced call centers and IT shops.
It’s a Diesel Thing
But India has plenty of experience getting things done, even in adverse conditions. Blackouts were already common in the Asian sub-continent, common enough that most businesses whose livelihoods depend on electricity typically have a backup plan in place.
In most cases, that means privately owned diesel generators. A 2010 report, for example, estimated that the country consumes 2.2 billion liters of diesel just to keep its cell towers running. So far at least, that backup diesel power seems to be keeping business in the technology and call center companies up and running.
“Delhi Metro operations were… affected largely. The major shifts affected were the early morning shifts,” Keshav R. Murugesh, WNS Group CEO, told FoxNews.com. WNS runs call centers for T-Mobile, Virgin Atlantic and the STAR Alliance of airlines. The company was able to keep its call centers online with backup power and by shifting calls to centers that still had power.
Much of the power is slowly coming back online. And in the short term, the diesel generators are keeping critical functions operating. But that’s hardly a long-term solution, and many in the country remain frustrated wondering how long India can maintain rapid growth with an infrastructure that’s so notoriously fallible.
“What they’re really angry about is that just a couple of months ago the price of power was increased by 24%, so they’re saying that they’re paying much more for power and these outages are occurring and paralyzing the city; and making it difficult for us to go to work and for our children to go to school,” Dr. Mitra Chenoy, professor of politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told Marketplace.
The problem of insufficient infrastructure isn’t necessarily an Indian one alone. It affects many nations striving to be a center of technology and commerce in the 21st Century. But its bringing home the realization that India still have a ways to go before it can meet the demands of its new growth.
In the meantime, though, all those diesel generators mean you can still get tech support 24-hours-a-day. At least for now.
Mumbai, India photo by Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank.
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There are more than 1,000 business incubators in the U.S. But there’s only one pro bono incubator. No, not a professional startup camp run by the U2 frontman. Which is probably a good thing, since Bono was named the 2010 worst investor in America. (OK, that was before he hit home runs with Facebook and Dropbox.)
Pro bono as in free. EvoNexus (which does sound kind of like a U2 album), is a project of San Diego tech industry association CommNexus, which launched the incubator in 2009 to stimulate the growth of new high-tech companies in the area.
Like most other high-tech incubators, EvoNexus provides entrepreneurs with office space, mentoring and VC networking. But unlike other incubators, those entrepreneurs pay no fees and give up no equity.
“We believe we’re the nation’s only pro-bono high-tech incubator, no strings attached,” says EvoNexus operations director Bailey Cunning. “Our sole goal is to grow the tech sector in San Diego. And we want to do it without making companies give something up.”
It’s an attractive proposition. And it’s drawing a lot of interest from entrepreneurs. EvoNexus has had more than 300 applicants since it started – a third of them in the past eight months. About one in 18 is accepted, and there are currently 23 entrepreneurs in residence at the program’s two office spaces in downtown and suburban San Diego. Startups stay for an average of a year and a half, a lot longer than the three-month tenure at a typical for-profit incubator.
EvoNexus participants get facilities, utilities, broadband and all the business services they need. They get help with their pitches and free lunches with VCs. They get to choose their own mentors based on industry fit. And they get San Diego beaches, sunshine and the Gaslamp Quarter to unwind after a hard week of development.
“Applicants are usually pretty shocked that we offer all this pro bono,” Cunning says. “Usually they want to apply immediately.”
Twenty-nine startups have been incubated to date, and six have “graduated,” which means they’ve gotten a VC or strategic investment and left the nest. Graduates include EcoATM (recycling kiosks for consumer electronics), IO Semiconductor (fabless semiconductors), TretraVue (3D measurement and imaging), Pixon Imaging (advanced real-time video image processing), MicroPower Technologies (wireless surveillance) and Perminova (Web-based cardiology software).
EvoNexus is supported by local corporations including Qualcomm, LG, Nokia and Verizon. In return for their assistance, they get a more vibrant tech sector in their neighborhood – and they get a pipeline to new technology and talent.
A sponsorship costs $25,000 a year, which is a lot less than some companies pay to onboard a new app and a handful of programmers. (Hello, Facebook.)
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Although attacks by governments against their own people using the Internet get more press, warfare between countries has been spreading online for some time. Most of the instances that have come to light have been viruses designed to stop, or slow down, activities in another country that the attacking country feels threatened by, or spying operations.
The United States, like most governments, has developed teams and tools to wage Web warfare. But not all the tools are what we would normally think of as offensive weapons. The U.S. military, it turns out, can force a country that has disconnected itself from the Internet back online.
Prior to the Stuxnet virus, launched against Iran’s nuclear industry (possibly by the U.S. and Israel), there were already other cyber-attacks. The United States’ own power grid was attacked via its SCADA systems. The Chinese had an extensive online spying operation against the U.S. called GhostNet and have attacked on Google .
But what happens when a country shuts off the Internet. Recently, Egypt did so. Their motivations were internal. By shutting off the Internet in Egypt, its bosses hoped to interfere with the organization of domestic protests, keep debilitating information from getting out to a global audience and make it more difficult for panicking Egyptians to transfer their money out of the country.
But a country might do the same thing in order to keep an enemy from sending viruses, spying or committing other acts of web warfare. If that happened, most would think, game over for the Internet warriors. But not so, it seems.
According to an article on Wired, there are a host of methods by which the U.S. could restore the Internet to a country that has shut it off.
- Commando Solo: A USAF “airborne broadcasting center,” the plane carries the equipment that makes it possible to broadcast on AM and FM radio and on UHF and VHF television signals. It also carries equipment that will restore Wi-Fi for the area below it. How is classified.
- FastCom: drone-based “cell towers”
- Satellites: some U.S. military satellites can provide internet access to the ground
- Dish & sat phones: sneaking in, or dropping in, small satellite dishes and satellite phones would be expensive, but possible
Psychological warfare would be a lot easier to accomplish using these tools than outright attacks.
Although we did ask contacts in the U.S. military for input on this story, they were not able to comment.
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