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IIT Bombay Develops 'Mobile Social Networking Platform'

Engineering institute IIT Bombay in association with telecom firm Tata Teleservices has developed a new mobile social networking platform(MSNP) that will help service providers to develop personalised applications and send messages to users in the network based on their preferences such as demographic profile or interests. In effect, the MSNP will direct personalised information to mobile users as against all sorts of SPAM messages that a subscriber receives at present. According to the developers the network works something like this. An algorithm mines the call detail records available with the service provider to search for patterns in interaction between users. These patterns along with the information about set of applications that a user is currently using, and what his/her friends like/dislike are then analysed to finally narrow down on a specific set of users with similar interests. The network banks on the logic that anything that is popular in a user's 'cluster' has a high probability of being liked by the users of that cluster and can be recommended to them. Net-net the network works on the premise that birds of a feather flock together. So if you are an outlier within your group or so called cluster, you may still end up with unwanted messages. On the other hand, since the network is trawling your call records, one also needs to be careful about privacy issues. Some interesting aspects of the platform is that it can host SMS based applications and there is no need to download any additional software on mobile. It also does not require users to have a 3G phone which is important for wider penetration into the Indian market as 3G is still in its infancy. More importantly, even though the platform has been sponsored by Tata Teleservices, it is telecom operator agnostic and so the applications on MSNP can be used by all subscribers of any service providers. Sushil Prakash, Head – Emerging Technology and Business Innovation Group, Tata Teleservices Limited said, "With MSNP, we are focusing on bringing the social media experience to customers based on their location, activities and likings. With this launch, we're making social media more social, in a network that moves with you and is always connected on the basis of where you are and what you're doing—or even what you would like to do." The platform has been developed by three year old TTSL-IIT Bombay Center for Excellence in Telecom(TICET), which focuses on research in telecom relevant to Indian service providers in general and Tata Teleservices in particular with special emphasis on rural wireless applications and connectivity.

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