Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 10 August 2023

India's first 5G wireless Wi-Fi

GS Paper - 3 (ITC)

Bharti Airtel announced the launch of Airtel Xstream AirFiber, India's first 5G wireless Wi-Fi services designed to provide internet to areas without fibre-based internet connections. This new offering will provide fixed wireless access (FWA) to homes lacking fixed line internet.

More about the Services

  1. Only 34 million homes in India have optical fibre connections, highlighting a large number of customers struggling for fibre access.
  2. Xstream AirFiber, a plug-and-play device with in-built Wi-Fi 6 technology, aims to address this gap by offering wide indoor coverage and the capacity to simultaneously connect up to 64 devices.
  3. Initially, the service will be available for 5G consumers in Delhi and Mumbai. In light of the growing need for home Wi-Fi over the past 3-4 years, Airtel Xstream AirFiber is expected to address last mile connectivity issues across rural and urban India, especially in 'Fibre dark' pockets.
  4. The service is available at a reasonable price, which offers up to 100 Mbps speed.
  5. Airtel intends to launch the service in multiple cities and scale up nationally in a phased manner.
  6. The company further announced that all Xstream AirFiber devices will be manufactured in India.


  1. Airtel is the first company to officially launch a 5G-based fixed wireless access service, Jio also announced a similar service called Jio AirFiber, which also claims to offer Gigabit speed internet access using a 5G network.
  2. Besides, both Airtel and Jio currently offer unlimited 5G network access to their subscribers, who are on a specific recharge plan.


ECOWAS intervene in Niger’s coup

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

In a coup, soldiers in the West African nation of Niger installed Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani as head of state after ousting President Mohamed Bazoum, who said he was held “hostage”. Apart from the expected international players, such as Russia and the United States, the regional bloc ECOWAS or the Economic Community of West African States has been playing an active role.

What is ECOWAS?

  1. Also known as CEDEAO in French, the regional group was established in 1975 through the Lagos Treaty – with a mandate of promoting economic integration among its members.
  2. Today, ECOWAS has 15 members: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo. Around 400 million people live in this region.
  3. Although, following coups in recent years in some of the biggest countries in the bloc – namely Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso – it suspended the three members and refused to recognise their new governments.
  4. ECOWAS’ larger aims are to have a single common currency and create a single, large trading bloc in areas of industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, financial issues, and social and cultural matters.
  5. The vision of ECOWAS is the creation of a “borderless region” that is well-integrated.
  6. ECOWAS is meant to be a region governed in accordance with the principles of democracy, rule of law and good governance.

What kind of a role has ECOWAS played in the region so far?

  1. Beyond the goals of economic cooperation, ECOWAS has attempted to quell military conflicts in the region.
  2. ECOWAS also operated a regional peacekeeping operation known as ECOMOG, led by Nigeria in the 1990s and early 2000s, like in Liberia when forces were first deployed in 1990 during the deadly civil war and in Sierra Leone in 1997 when a democratically elected government was overthrown.
  3. In 2017, it intervened in The Gambia after longtime President Yahya Jammeh refused to step down after losing the elections which eventually led to the winner Adama Burrow coming to power. It has sent its troops to other countries but never to Niger.
  4. Incidentally, the ongoing Niger coup’s leader, Gen. Tchiani, has previously served as battalion commander for ECOWAS peacekeepers in Ivory Coast after a ceasefire between government and rebel forces in 2003.


AI a big carbon footprint

GS Paper - 3 (Science and Technology)

Investment in artificial intelligence is growing rapidly. The global AI market is currently valued at $142.3 billion (€129.6 billion), and is expected to grow to nearly $2 trillion by 2030. Training a common large AI model can emit up to 284,000 kilograms (626,000 pounds) of carbon dioxide equivalent — nearly five times the emissions of a car over its lifetime, including the manufacture.

AI has a big carbon footprint

  1. In order to carry out the tasks they’re supposed to, AI models need to process — or be “trained” on — mountains of data.
  2. In the case of ChatGPT, it’s fed colossal text databases from the internet to learn to handle human language.
  3. This data crunching happens in data centers. It requires a lot of computing power and is energy-intensive.
  4. The entire data center infrastructure and data submission networks account for 2-4% of global CO2 emissions.
  5. Beyond the “training” phase, more emissions are created when the model is applied in the real world, something that can happen billions of times a day, such as every time an online translator translates a word, or a chatbot answers a question.
  6. This application phase can potentially account for up to 90% of the emissions in the life cycle of an AI.

What can be done to tackle AI’s footprint?

  1. Environmental concerns need to be taken into account right from the start — in the algorithm design and training phases.
  2. Need to consider the entire production chain and all the environmental problems that are connected to this chain… most notably energy consumption and emissions, but also material toxicity and electronic waste.
  3. Rather than building bigger and bigger AI models, as is the current trend, Companies could scale them down, use smaller data sets and ensure the AI is trained on the most efficient hardware available.
  4. Using data centers in regions that rely on renewable energy and don’t require huge amounts of water for cooling could also make a difference.
  5. Huge facilities in parts of the US or Australia, where fossil fuels make up a significant chunk of the energy mix, will produce more emissions than in Iceland, where geothermal power is a main source of energy and lower temperatures make cooling servers easier.

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