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Don't Want Windows 10 May 2020 Update For Your PC Just Yet? Here is How to Pause Windows Updates

(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

That trepidation may be for good reason. The recent history of Windows 10 updates doesn’t exactly infuse a lot of confidence, considering its broken critical functionality, including internet connectivity for a lot of users.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 28, 2020, 9:58 AM IST

The Windows 10 May 2020 Update is now finally rolling out for PCs. This is the major update in the Windows 10 update cycle, with significant changes under-the-hood as well as in terms of adding new functionality and performance fixes for apps and in general across the board. The Windows 10 May 2020 update will bump up the Windows 10 version on your PC to 2004. The new Edge browser, which is well placed to compete with Google Chrome, is now being rolled out for all users as part of this update. There are performance improvements across the board, updates to Your Phone and Cortana apps as well as more powerful virtual desktops. The Task Manager gets new features as well, with the GPU Temperature data now available for compatible hardware. The Swift Pair for bluetooth accessories has been further simplified. The Settings app gets some design changes, while Windows Hello biometric authentication for compatible PCs adds a new layer of security for your data.

If however, you are working from home because of the Coronavirus pandemic and don’t want to take any risks with any possible broken functionality on your PC because of a Windows update, there is a way to pause the download and install of the Windows 10 May 2020 Update for a while. And that trepidation may be with good reason. The recent history of Windows 10 updates doesn’t exactly infuse a lot of confidence, considering its broken critical functionality, including internet connectivity for a lot of users. With the new update on the horizon, you might want to hang on for a while and not update—just to see what feedback the new update gets from other users who do. You can pause updates from downloading and installing on your Windows 10 PC for up to 7 days at a time or select a time frame up to 35 days to stay update-free. Here is how to do it.

Click on the Windows 10 icon on the bottom left of the screen to open the start menu. Here, select the Settings menu, which opens a new app window. Here, either scroll down to find Windows Update or search for it. This opens the update page, which shows the list of pending updates if any, and the download as well as install status for each of these. Look a bit further down on this page, and you will see the “Pause Updates for 7 days” option. This is the ticket. You can select this option to pause the automatic download and install of the Windows 10 updates for up to a week at a time, and you need to keep repeating it for the paused situation to continue.

Have you also read?

Windows 10 Updates Are a Mess, Again: You Might Want to Pause These Updates Right Now

Work From Home Buying Guide: Best Laptops Under Rs 40,000 With Windows 10 & Chrome OS

If you want a bit more freedom in terms of selecting the window in which you don’t want Windows 10 to update, you must scroll a bit further down on the Windows Update page and select the Advanced option. This takes you to a further set of options, and here you can select a date up to 35 days from that time, to keep Windows Update from doing any automatic installations.

Recently, Windows 10 users have had bad luck with the updates rolled out for their PCs. Over the past couple of months, we have had the KB4554364 update and the KB4549951 update for instance, which saw users reporting on Microsoft’s own community forums about errors with the installation, some report serious performance hit, some say critical apps are no longer working while some report the updates broke Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality. This can be a big problem for people working from home right now and have a PC or laptop they rely on extensively right now to get work done.




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Windows 10 May Get a Big Update Soon: Here is How to Pause if You Don’t Want Anything to Break

(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

The recent history of Windows 10 updates doesn’t exactly infuse a lot of confidence, considering its broken critical functionality, including internet connectivity for a lot of users.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 25, 2020, 10:39 AM IST

This week could be an important one for Windows 10 users. Microsoft is set to release the biggest update for Windows 10 PCs for far this year, and it is expected to be rolled out this week. It is expected that the Windows 10 May 2020 update, as it is known, will bring the new Chromium-based Edge web browser, end of support for 32-bit versions, new icons for system apps such as Explorer, improvements for graphics performance and the ability to reinstall Windows 10 from the cloud, among other things. That’s all fantastic news but hang on for a moment.

The recent history of Windows 10 updates doesn’t exactly infuse a lot of confidence, considering its broken critical functionality, including internet connectivity for a lot of users. With the new update on the horizon, you might want to hang on for a while and not update—just to see what feedback the new update gets from other users who do. You can pause updates from downloading and installing on your Windows 10 PC for up to 7 days at a time or select a time frame up to 35 days to stay update-free. Here is how to do it.

Click on the Windows 10 icon on the bottom left of the screen to open the start menu. Here, select the Settings menu, which opens a new app window. Here, either scroll down to find Windows Update or search for it. This opens the update page, which shows the list of pending updates if any, and the download as well as install status for each of these. Look a bit further down on this page, and you will see the “Pause Updates for 7 days” option. This is the ticket. You can select this option to pause the automatic download and install of the Windows 10 updates for up to a week at a time, and you need to keep repeating it for the paused situation to continue.

Have you also read?

Windows 10 Updates Are a Mess, Again: You Might Want to Pause These Updates Right Now

Work From Home Buying Guide: Best Laptops Under Rs 40,000 With Windows 10 & Chrome OS

If you want a bit more freedom in terms of selecting the window in which you don’t want Windows 10 to update, you must scroll a bit further down on the Windows Update page and select the Advanced option. This takes you to a further set of options, and here you can select a date up to 35 days from that time, to keep Windows Update from doing any automatic installations.

Just recently, Windows 10 users have had bad luck with the updates rolled out for their PCs. Over the past couple of months, we have had the KB4554364 update and the KB4549951 update for instance, which saw users reporting on Microsoft’s own community forums about errors with the installation, some report serious performance hit, some say critical apps are no longer working while some report the updates broke Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality. This can be a big problem for people working from home right now and have a PC or laptop they rely on extensively right now to get work done.




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Fastest Internet Speeds Ever? New Chip Delivers 44.2 Tbps on an Existing Fiber Line!

We are all sticklers for fast internet connections. We unanimously hate buffering, or drop in quality when streaming a movie or broadcasting live on a social media platform. Such things may very well be non-existing, for researchers have achieved an incredible feat of achieving the fastest internet speeds ever — at a staggering 44.2 TERA-bits per seconds. What’s more impressive are three things — first of all, the new piece of technology, which is actually an optical chip that is as tiny as a fingernail, has already been tested in an existing fiber broadband line in Australia; secondly, the internet speeds were achieved and sustained in a non-laboratory, consumer network; and finally, even in the coded, in-field tests, the drop in peak speeds was not drastic.

Is this for real?

Yes, it is. The achievement has been made by a group of researchers from the universities of Monash, Swinburne and RMIT in Australia, and was published in the Nature Communications journal. The speeds achieved reached 44.2 Tbps at peak, and in a coded line, the peak speed fell to 39 Tbps — a near-12 percent drop, but hey, we aren’t complaining at all.

To achieve the fastest internet speeds ever, the researchers used what is referred to as ‘soliton crystal micro-combs’. In simpler terms, this optical chip is a super high-density chip that can replace 80 laser nodes inside an optic fiber broadband cable. In essence, what this micro-comb does is act like a splitter, thereby dividing an existing optic fiber cable into 80 unique channels. However, what is particularly impressive note is that each channel preserves its peak bandwidth capacity, or the maximum amount of data that it can carry. Hence, by deploying this chip inside existing telecommunications cables and infrastructure, the maximum internet speeds delivered can increase exponentially.

So, how fast does it work in real life?

For reference, imagine downloading 720p resolution movie files, each about 90 minutes in length. For such files with industry standard compression, the average file size is about 1GB. If you had a 44.2 Tbps internet connection in the real world, you can download as many as 5,000 movies in one second. Even if you watch two full movies every day, that’s nearly eight years worth of movies for you to see. Good luck working from home!

Whoa! How soon can I get this?

Here’s the tricky bit. With every new achievement such as this, there is typically a wait time. The achievement has been made as part of a research project. Hence, it will take at least some time before the optical chip technology can be made commercially viable in terms of cost and deployment. Then, remains the task of upgrading all the existing fiber broadband lines around the world to bring you the fastest internet speeds in the world, which itself is a behemoth task in terms of logistics, time, deployment and cost.

Even once it is done, priority will be given to industrial applications such as medical research, space communications, smart cities and connected cars, and so on. This would address the desperate need for additional bandwidth that these fields require in order to truly flourish, which is more than our need to stream re-runs of Dark on Netflix.

However, what’s encouraging to note is that the tests for the fastest internet speeds in the world were achievable on existing fiber broadband lines. This gives us the promise that once it does become commercially deployable, we may see a smooth rollout across the world. While we cannot exactly predict a timeline, we will keep our fingers crossed for a hopeful and fast near future.



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World's Fastest 5G Mobile Internet: Nokia Claims Record with 4.7Gbps Speed

Image for Representation
(News18)

Image for Representation
(News18)

Nokia’s achievement of 4.7Gbps internet speed over its own 5G hardware and software is being touted as the fastest OTA internet speed in the world.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 20, 2020, 12:22 PM IST

Finnish telecom gear maker Nokia on Tuesday announced it has achieved the world’s fastest 5G speeds in its Over-the-Air (OTA) network in Dallas, Texas. Nokia said the 5G speeds in tests conducted with the use of the company’s commercial 5G software and hardware reached 4.7 Gbps. The company utilised 800 MHz of commercial millimeter wave 5G spectrum and Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) functionality for the tests.

EN-DC allows devices to connect simultaneously to 5G and LTE networks, transmitting and receiving data across both air-interface technologies. This means devices can achieve a higher throughput than when connecting to 5G or LTE alone. The speeds were achieved on both 5G cloud-based (vRAN) and classic baseband configurations. The tests were performed on base station equipment being deployed in major U.S. carriers’ commercial networks.

“This is an important and significant milestone in the development of 5G services in the US, particularly at a time when connectivity and capacity is so crucial,” Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said in a statement. “It demonstrates the confidence operators have in our global end-to-end portfolio and the progress we have made to deliver the best possible 5G experiences to customers,” Uitto said.

This solution will not only provide subscribers with unrivalled mobile broadband speeds, but also enable carriers to sell various latency-sensitive enterprise services, such as network slicing for mission-critical applications, Nokia said.




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Powerful Wi-Fi Routers That Don’t Break The Internet & Your Bank Account While Working From Home

You are working from home. The internet is your lifeline. You even upgrade to a faster 100Mbps, 200Mbps, 300Mbps or a superfast 1Gbps internet plan, in the hope that all the file transfers, web browsing, sending heavy mail attachments and the other plethora of work would be smooth. But what happens if the internet you rely on so heavily decides to act up. The thing is, more often than not, we blame our internet service provider (ISP). In a cacophony of curses, gritted teeth and hair pulling, we blame poor services for the unreliable connectivity and poor speeds. However, that isn’t always the case. Your internet line isn’t to be blamed for many cases of poor internet speeds.

So, where does the blame lie? For starters, your modem or router could be, and most likely is, the bottleneck. Here is what you need to do. First, restart the router and see if the speeds return to normal, only to revert to inconsistent, low or no connectivity eventually.

First Layer of Troubleshooting

You must do a speed test (www.speedtest.com; free apps for Android and iOS) ideally on a PC connected hardwired to the internet line via LAN to a laptop, to understand what kind of speed dip you’re suffering from. These speed tests also offer additional data such as ping rates and connectivity stability graphs. These give you a fairly good picture of what is up, including whether the wireless connectivity is to be blamed.

Check your hardware

For most old routers are limited to 2.4GHz wireless networks and cannot support the faster 5GHz networks which is what you ideally need for internet lines faster than 50Mbps. Obviously, then, data transmissions speeds and quality will suffer, since nearby devices such as your microwave oven and cordless phones which also work on the 2.4GHz band, and therefore cause interference. You may need a router that supports the faster “wireless ac” standard too.

At times, the router that ISPs provide is quite basic, which means that while it ticks off the basics required for it to work with a fast internet line, it doesn’t really have the power to either support multiple high bandwidth devices or just doesn’t have the Wi-Fi range.

Next course of action: Buy a new router

It may just be time to buy a new Wi-Fi router for home, if work from home is a reality for you. And here are some of the best options, across different price points.

TP-Link Touch P5 AC1900

Around Rs 6,000 on Amazon

If you feel your home gets fully covered by Wi-Fi signals from a conventional single base router, then the Touch P5 AC1900 from TP-Link is a rather swanky option to consider. It can go as fast as 1,300Mbps on the 5GHz networks and 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz networks, which means a fast internet line really brings out of the best of this router. The party piece has to be the touchscreen control system for setup and network management. Beam forming tech focuses the Wi-Fi coverage towards where the devices are at that time, which should also help in getting better coverage and speeds in the farthest corners of the home.

Netgear Orbi RBK12

Around Rs 9,999

Why would you not go for a Wi-Fi mesh system at this price and make do with a conventional router? What you get is one router and one satellite. The router is to be hooked up directly to your internet line, while the satellite can be placed in a further corner of your home to ensure seamless connectivity all through. This router and mesh combo can cover up to 3,000 square feet of indoor space, which will mean a rather nice headroom for even large apartments and homes. This dual-band setup offers the 2.4GHz band that goes up to a maximum of 400Mbps speed and a 5GHz band that does up to 866Mbps speed. The Netgear app for your phone (free for Android and iPhone) lets you set up and monitor the mesh system from there. Good for internet lines around 500Mbps.

Linksys Velop AC2600

Around Rs 9,999

This started out in life with a much higher price tag, but corrections over time have seen this two-unit combo now fall under the Rs 10,000 price point. What you get is coverage of up to 3,000 square feet of indoor space—which means one node gets connected with the internet line and the other can be placed somewhere else in your home for effectively zero Wi-Fi dead zones in your home. The Linksys app (free for Android and iOS) is quite slick to use as well. This dual-band setup offers the 2.4GHz band that goes up to a maximum of 400Mbps speed and a 5GHz band that does up to 867Mbps speed. Good for internet lines around 500Mbps speeds.

Netgear Nighthawk AX4 4-Stream AX3000

Around Rs 14,000

This is the futureproof router that you need if Wi-Fi 6 is what you were waiting for and have a plan in place to buy compatible devices as well. This dual band 2.4GHz and dual band 5GHz, with up to 600Mbps on 2.4GHz and up to 2,400Mbps on the faster 5GHz bands. Beneath the rather futuristic exterior sits a dual core processor that drives a lot of functionality, including the Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) which splits transmission signals into smaller data packets allowing better data access for multiple devices that may be connected to the internet at the same time. Each device has to wait less for data transmission, there is improved latency and the mobile devices consume less battery on Wi-Fi networks.



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Mark Zuckerberg is Worried About China’s Influence on The Internet; Many Would Agree With Him

Mark Zuckerberg is Worried About China’s Influence on The Internet; Many Would Agree With Him

Zuckerberg said that the 2018 overhaul of the privacy policy in the EU also meant Facebook had to reform its approach to data privacy around the world.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 9:24 AM IST

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is worried about the influence China is having in terms of regulating the internet and fears other countries might follow a similar example. In fact, he has urged western countries to counter China’s model with a democratic approach. He says the Chinese approach is “really dangerous”. China’s censorship of content on the internet and the fact that many global tech platforms are banned in the country, including Facebook, is often referred to as ‘The Great Firewall’.

“What I worry about is, right now I think there are emerging two very different frameworks underpinned by very different sets of values,” Zuckerberg said in a livestreamed discussion with EU official Thierry Breton. This is not the first time Zuckerberg has warned about the Chinese influence and the Chinese way of regulating the internet. He said it is the responsibility of the western countries to have a clear data privacy framework in place.

Zuckerberg in fact praised the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which implemented changes for how tech companies and social media platforms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter collect and handle user data in the EU region. He also said that the 2018 overhaul of the privacy policy in the EU also meant Facebook had to reform its approach to data privacy around the world.

In October last year, Zuckerberg had not held back in criticizing TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance. While speaking at the Georgetown University on free speech, he had criticized TikTok for what he called “mentions of these protests are censored, even in the U.S.” referring to the censorship around the anti-China or pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. “Just to be blunt about it, I think there is a model coming out of countries like China that tend to have very different values than Western countries that are more democratic,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook only recently got a 20-member oversight board which has the power to correct or overrule the social media platform’s content moderation policies, including instances of hate speech and misinformation, if it feels the need to do so. The board will start hearing cases later this summer.




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Akita Home Security Review: You Are Probably Not Monitoring Your Smart Home, But You Should

No, we are not reviewing the cute, bold and loyal dog that is usually very wary of strangers. But the concept seems similar. Here, Akita is a security device that is wary of strangers and anyone with a malicious intent who may be eyeing the smart devices in your Internet of Things (IoT) home. All the devices that connect with the internet at some point, can be used by hackers to spy on you or take control of smart home functionality, for instance, or can be the target of botnets, AI powered malware and crypto hijacking.

But why do you need one? Chances are, your home as more smart devices, and by that we mean connected devices, than you probably noticed. A smart TV, media players connected to the TV, smart lights, smart appliances, smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, smart displays such as Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub, smart cameras, a water purifier or air purifier that connects with the internet and so on. The thing is, none of these smart devices have any security built in. That is where Akita steps in and adds a layer that analyses the data packets being to and from these smart devices on your network—and immediately raises an alarm if something is amiss. It is priced at Rs 9,000 and one Akita is what you need for an entire home Wi-Fi network.

Akita1

It looks very complicated. Is it?

It doesn’t take long to set up if things go well, but you need to be careful to be doing things right during this process. You need to keep some basics in mind when you do set up Akita. The hexagonal design does come across as rather attractive and cool. First, it needs to be connected directly to the modem that is hooked up to the internet line coming into your home. Use one of the LAN ports on the router (depending on your router, there will be between one to four ports) to connect to the Akita—and plug the ethernet cable into the yellow LAN port on the Akita. This is when you power on the Akita and wait for up to 10 minutes for the server connection to be established with the device. You can, in the meantime, download the Akita app on your iPhone or Android phone (free downloads on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store) and begin the processing of connecting this with your Wi-Fi network.

You have to scan the QR code on the bottom of your Akita device to set it up. The app will guide you through the process. The one limitation with Akita is that is it only connects with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks. That should not be a problem with most recent Wi-Fi routers that allow you to set up an SSID (basically your network name) and it has both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands enabled. If your router is slightly older or one of the more affordable ones—there should be the option to enable 2.4GHz band. The app will tell you what all networks you can connect to.

Once everything is set up and the server connection is established—you’ll get the blue light on the notification LED on the Akita—the app will list out all the smart devices on your network. Mind you, while Akita itself connects to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network, it can and will detect smart devices connected on 5GHz networks as well, as long as the network name or the SSID is the same. Be it Amazon Echo speakers, smart TVs, smart lights, the lot. It is not a very well designed or slick app, but you find your way around soon enough. However, leave the Akita hard-wired to your router anyway for the server connection to remain established and stable.

Akita3

What does it do?

Akita monitors traffic on each of these devices. If it notices something that is out of the ordinary, which is usually when someone is attempting to do mischief with your smart devices such as smart cameras or smart thermostat, Akita will detect the incoming packets of traffic on the network for intrusion attempts and block access before notifying you. During this time Akita also sends the info from these packets back to its server for analyzing, to verify if it’s a genuine threat or not.

But I have a Mesh router? Will it work?

Yes, Akita works with traditional single unit routers as well as the newer mesh Wi-Fi systems for larger homes. It worked very well for me with the single unit router, the trusty old Netgear Nighthawk X6 and also the uber-cool Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD mesh system. Both these routers have different styles of controls for enabling and disabling 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, and it worked seamlessly with both as long as the 2.4GHz network was available for it to scan and connect to.

So, is Akita a firewall?

Well, yes and no. It is a firewall in the sense that it will detect if something is amiss with your IoT gadgets. But that is where it does more—it proactively takes action to analyze and respond to threats. It is also not a firewall in the sense that it isn’t a piece of software or an app that you can manually control or install someplace.

Will this change the way I connect to the internet?

Akita runs a Qualcomm QCA9531 processor clocking at 650MHz, with 64MB RAM and a bunch of security software that runs on the device and from the cloud—Akita network scanner and monitor, Akita cloud system and more. At no point does Akita have any bearing or impact on your internet speed, or the connectivity of your laptop, PC, phones etc. to your home Wi-Fi network.

Is the protection free forever?

Yes. You have the option to sign up for one of the premium subscription options, but even if you don’t, the Akita service and the basic security prowess is available to you. The free plan will give you complete monitoring of all malware, botnets, crypto hijacking and hacking attempts.

There is the Advanced Protection Plan for $3.99 per month that enables access to human assistance in case you need to fix something in your IoT home that has been targeted. And then there is the one-time service that costs $24.95 as a one-time subscription fee that will give you the option of letting the Akita experts fix anything that is flagged or broken in your smart home security protocols.

Akita2

The Last Word: Your smart home definitely needs this

It was incredible to note that after setting up the Akita for the review process and testing it thoroughly, I had powered it down because not many smart devices were active at the time. The Akita support team sent me multiple emails to remind me that my Akita seems to be offline and in case I’m not able to fix it, I should connect with them for help. That is the level of attention to detail which simply adds to the trust factor about a security device designed to keep your smart gadgets safe from those with malicious intent. As a device and as a concept, Akita is quite interesting. It may sound like a complex addition to your smart home ecosystem, but it isn’t. in fact, once this is up and running, it needs absolutely no attention—till it may notify you about something. It is the sort of insurance that I would recommend you get for your smart gadgets. The peace of mind knowing someone is monitoring your smart cameras, smart lights and smart speakers, is priceless.



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Broadband Buying Guide: Spectra Plans Start at Rs 899, Speeds up to 1Gbps & Unlimited Voice Calls

Spectra is one of the oldest and most popular broadband service providers in India. In fact, Spectra was the first among broadband companies to offer unlimited data for home broadband users as everyone went on the work from home routine back in March—anticipating users will need more data as they acclimatize to working remotely in the midst of the COVID pandemic (You can read more here). Recently, in an email communication with consumers, Spectra confirmed that they have upgraded all connections from single path to dual path, which makes connections more reliable. That is good to know, particularly at this time when home broadband lines are as important as the air we breathe. And well, it is among the fastest broadband service providers in the country, offering speeds of up to 1Gbps with the subscription plans.

At this time, Spectra is competing with the likes of Reliance JioFiber, Airtel Xstream broadband and ACT Fibernet, to name a few. And the company has some rather unique plans, in terms of what is bundled, depending on the duration you choose to pay for in one go. Also, plans tend to change from region to region, and the Spectra website simply allows you to enter your present location to check the home broadband subscription plans in your area. At this time, Spectra is available in multiple cities across India, including Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai, Ghaziabad, Noida and Chennai.

100Mbps is your entry point

In many regions, Spectra offers 100Mbps as the entry point to its broadband subscription plans. That speed, to be honest, is great for most home users—they work very well for video streaming, document sharing, video calls and even 4K video, as long as your Wi-Fi network isn’t being drained by other devices at the same time. For instance, in Mumbai, Chennai and Ghaziabad, you get the Spectra Starter plan which is priced at Rs 899 per month. What you get is 500GB data per month if you decide to go for the monthly billing option or 1000GB per month if you decide to pay for 6 months or 12 months in advance.

And a push to 150Mbps too

If you want to upgrade the speed a bit more, there is also the Spectra Fast 150Mbps option in cities where 100Mbps is the entry point. This plan costs Rs 999 per month and the data bundling options remain the same as the 100Mbps Spectra Starter pack.

250Mbps plans for 4K and more

If you have a heavy user, which includes generous doses of 4K streaming, sometimes even on multiple devices simultaneously, the 250Mbps plan would be fantastic for you. You get great headroom for video streaming, document sharing, video calls and 4K binging with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video on multiple devices at the same time, without your broadband line even showing the slightest of strain.

In the cities where 100Mbps Spectra Starter and 150Mbps Spectra Fast plans are available, this 250Mbps plan is called Spectra Faster and is priced at Rs 1249 per month. What you get is 500GB data for the monthly billing option, 1000GB per month if you pay for 6-months in advance and unlimited data if you pay for an entire year in one go.

In cities such as Delhi where this is the entry spec plan, the 250Mbps Spectra Fast is priced at Rs 999 per month. Now that is a great deal. You get is 500GB data per month if you decide to go for the monthly billing option or 1000GB per month if you decide to pay for 6 months or 12 months in advance.

Spectra Voice for calling

Spectra has also added the Spectra Voice feature, which enables high definition audio calling over the Wi-Fi network. You need to use the Spectra Voice app for your Android phone or iPhone. This is either free or costs Rs 99 per month, depending on the plan that you have selected. It is a great value addition for someone who may not have a landline phone and struggles with spotty mobile network coverage at home.

Have you also read?

I Want a 1Gbps Broadband Connection For my Home, How Much Does it Cost? Answer: Not a Lot

#StayHome: Spectra is Making All Broadband Plans Unlimited For The Month For Free

500Mbps is all about speed

In some cities, the 500Mbps plan is priced at Rs 1,599 per month and offers 750GB data per month with the monthly billing cycle, 1500GB data per month if you pay for 6 months and unlimited data if you pay for a year in advance.

In other cities, the same plan is priced at Rs 1,999 per month and offers the same data bundles. Do note, that not all cities have the 1Gbps option just yet, and in those regions, the 500Mbps plan is the flagship plan.

1Gbps is the pinnacle of the broadband experience

Incidentally, the 1Gbps journey started long ago for Spectra. They have been offering 1Gbps plans in various regions for a while now—though there have been price revisions since. At present, Spectra has the Spectra Fastest plan which offers 1Gbps speed is priced at Rs 2,499 per month. This is actually an increase from the Rs 1,549 price tag that was slapped on this plan till a few months ago. Nevertheless, you now also get the Spectra Voice VoIP service for free with this plan, which means unlimited voice calls as well over Wi-Fi. If you choose the monthly billing plan, that will get you 1000GB data per month. If you choose to pay for 6 months in advance, you get 2000GB data per month. If you decide to pay for an entire year in one go, then you get unlimited data usage per month.



Categories
Tech

Internet Traffic in India Sees 40% Spike in March Due to COVID-19 Lockdown: ACT Fibernet

The Internet peak traffic saw 40 percent rise in March in India and there was a significant spike in downloads and uploads per user, owing to the high volume of work and streaming content across all major cities including tier II markets, says a new report. While the average downloads increased by 66 percent per user per month, the average uploads surged at 37 percent per user per month, according to ‘State of Internet Traffic Trend’ report by ACT Fibernet, one of India’s largest wired Internet Service Provider.

The data is based on overall traffic data measured from February-April 2020 from 19 cities. One of the most interesting revelations was that on a particular day in March, 98.7 percent of the entire ACT Fibernet subscriber base was concurrently online. “In the last two months, we have seen a significant shift in data consumption across cities as people moved to work from home, spending more time streaming content, indulging in online gaming, taking online classes/course, video conferencing etc,” said Bala Malladi, CEO, Atria Convergence Technologies Ltd.

While there has been an overall surge of 55 percent in streaming traffic, there was no significant difference between weekday and weekend streaming and/or traffic now. There was an overall traffic increase by 73 percent on weekdays and 65 percent increase on weekends, said the report.

India now has 504 million active Internet users, out of which about 14 percent are in the age bracket of 5-11 years, according to a new report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). Based on data from the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2019, the research also found that nearly 70 percent of the active Internet population in India is daily users. The time spent on the Internet continues to be higher in urban India compared to rural India.

Categories
Tech

'Locker Rooms' are Common in Juvenile Internet Users, But What Should be Done About it?

Over the past one week, two separate instances of ‘chat rooms’ on Instagram have sparked off numerous debates about the issue of internet usage among children, adolescents and teenagers. This has further raised the question of who is to be held accountable — should the kids be directly held responsible for their actions, or should the parents be blamed? Should the social media platforms be actively doing more, or should the government establish more stringent laws and make legal procedures more accessible for all? On this note, what also comes to light is India’s existing legal infrastructure, and the aspect of mental health that is being impacted by kids being predominantly online.

Why the bullying?

“Cyber bullying is only one of the many problems that lead to mental health issues of this population. Bullying, in fact, has been a very common problem for kids for a very long time, well before the times of the internet. With the new platforms, bullying is much easier, and people can actually be nastier. For instance, it’s easier to say things to someone on Facebook, than in person. The effect is also amplified since a lot of people can see the act, and react to it,” says Dr Chhitij Srivastava, secretary general of the Indian Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (IACAM).

This can be compared with gambling — where you do something, and then you expect rewards which do not come consistently, and are largely unpredictable.

It is this effect that may be one of the key causing factors behind acts such as these ‘locker room’ chats, and a skewed sense of reality among juveniles. “Social media is a communication medium, where all exchanges are instantaneous,” adds Srivastava. “In humans, when they see a new message, it sparks certain expectations, and reactions in the human brain give us a kick. At a stretch, this can be compared with gambling — where you do something, and then you expect rewards which do not come consistently, and are largely unpredictable. This makes it easier for individuals to get hooked on to.”

“When a child largely grows up in such an environment, it has the potential of changing the brain’s neurology. Functionally, the human brain would adapt in a way that it looks for instant rewards, which would make the children impatient and often impulsive. Essentially, what they get is akin to a “rush”, which is caused by the activity of the dopamine chemical in the brain. The more kids use social media, the more likely is it to happen,” he further adds.

Social media provisions

In response to our queries, a Facebook spokesperson told News18, “We want Facebook to be a place where people feel safe and empowered to communicate, and we take seriously our role in keeping abuse off our service. Our Community Standards prohibit bullying and harassment and we will remove such content as soon as we become aware of it. We encourage anyone who comes across bullying and harassment on Facebook to report it to us. People can report Pages, Groups, Profiles, individual content, and comments.”

Facebook Bullying Prevention Hub

For acts of bullying via direct messages, Facebook enables individuals to report profiles and support claims through screenshots. It also has a fully featured ‘Bullying Prevention Hub’ in partnership with the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence, which offers directed support for teenagers, parents and educators. While the feature set is comprehensive, Facebook can likely do more by putting these resources at a more accessible place for mainstream users. This might help more users report acts of bullying more frequently as well.

A spokesperson for Twitter pointed us to the company’s joint work with UNESCO in terms of cyber bullying. However, based on the resource shared with News18, Twitter so far does not appear to offer a direct, in-platform recourse for users who are undergoing bullying. That said, the platform does allow users to block users, mute users to see less of them online, block certain keywords to avoid abusive tweets, reduce who can see tweets on the platform, and also hide tweets that may seem objectionable to them. The redressal procedure for Twitter direct messages remains similar to Facebook’s redressal procedure for private messages.

Exposure and accountability

Srivastava believes that acts such as these ‘locker room’ chats are, in effect, an extension of the content they consume on the internet. “When the content a kid consumes is fundamentally ‘bad’, this can have proportionately worse consequences. When we talk about these chat rooms, the first aspect is the exposure to a far wider world on the internet, which is much bigger than the immediate physical world. This can lead to exposure to many uncontrolled things,” says Srivastava.

It is this that highlights the aspect of parental accountability, but the answer to the problems is not straightforward. As Srivastava explains, “Both the children and the parents of today’s generation have learned social media at the same time. So, parents have not been able to guide kids properly, since they are themselves learning at the same time, and often, after the kids did. As a result, the children did not have guidance on the internet about what is acceptable and what isn’t. Even normal, benign websites often have content that you wouldn’t want your kids to see.”

Legal awareness

N.S. Nappinai, lawyer at the Supreme Court of India and founder of Cyber Saathi, believes that this is exactly why it is important to increase awareness that every action online can also have far-reaching legal ramifications. She says, “For cyber bullying, most people prohibit individuals from making a “big issue” about it, making suggestions such as “why make a big thing about it?”, “it will die out automatically”, etc. Today, cyber bullying has become an issue for the common man, and anyone can be victims of it — even from a very basic tweet. Even that has a legal remedy, against the common perception of whether cyber bullying is even legally punishable or not.”

“Laws impose a major deterrent factor in individuals. With proper awareness, 90 percent of the internet trolls would not do what they are doing. It is shocking to note the kind of offences happening online because people have no fear of retribution,” says Nappinai. She adds that in order to enable this, the government must increase the ease of seeking legal recourse for the common man, which would go a long way to more cases being reported, and in turn, comparatively fewer acts of online bullying.

We must also look at children as the perpetrators, over and above conversations about children being bullied. We must not establish that children are not legally liable.

While India did have a fully codified law with regards to cyber bullying, under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the same has been struck down by virtue of misuse in many cases. However, Nappinai explains that this does not mean that there is no legal recourse to cyber bullying, and provisions such as Section 67 of the IT Act, 2000 is one of the key ways to address such grievances. The section represents “punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form”.

Other provisions, such as Sections 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) and 507 (criminal intimidation by anonymous communication) are other such laws in the Indian Penal Code which can also apply to acts and cases of cyber bullying. In cases of underage offence, such as in these ‘locker room’ chats, Nappinai further states that even the Juvenile Justice Act comes into play, and the extent of their legal impact can vary between cases. On a personal front, Nappinai also runs an initiative called Cyber Saathi, which aims to make such legal provisions more approachable for common people, and also ensure that victims do not resort to “self flagellation” as a by-effect of online bullying.

Given that children are certain to use the internet and social media platforms more extensively, Nappinai states that the first thing to do is instill a sense of legal responsibility among them. She says, “With the locker room cases, we must also look at children as the perpetrators, over and above conversations about children being bullied. We must not establish that children are not legally liable, and such accountability would go a long way to improve these situations. At the same time, parents must also be compelled to be more educated about these things, and should not be allowed to get away with not knowing about what happened.”

“The online world is primarily about treating everyone as equals, but that also brings equality for both the good and the bad, which is where accountability comes in,” concludes Nappinai.

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