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Cellular Operators' Association of India says Pan-India Mobile Number Portability will Increase Customer Satisfaction

Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) has issued statement that implementing pan-India mobile number portability (MNP) was one of the most important aspects of National Telecom Policy 2012 and the industry has been successful in accomplishing the same. COAI represents most telecom equipment manufacturers, communication service providers, and 7 biggest mobile service operators. The statement also said that MNP implementation has ensured enhanced competition among the telecom operators within India and at the same time will lead to greater customer satisfaction. Pan-mobile MNP throughout India was implemented on July 3, 2015. COAI director general Rajan S. Mathews called it a “proud moment for Indian telecom industry”. At a FICCI CEOs Roundtable, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that importance must be given to the issue of call drops so that consumers don’t confront it. He also asked the operators to walk the extra mile to make it happen.

State-run BSNL Launches Pre-Paid Card Linked Mobile Wallet Service

BSNL has come of age with the changing times. The company launched pre-paid card linked mobile wallet service named Speed Pay that will help customers make payment for services, transfer money, and withdraw cash up to Rs. 1 lakh. Reports say a person can use this wallet for loading money even if he/she does not possess a bank account. The loaded money can be withdrawn from either a BSNL outlet or bank branch and can be transferred to a bank account. While inaugurating the service, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that PM Modi once asked him whether people of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar working in Tamil Nadu and Kerala can transfer money to their families back home. Prasad added that this wallet service is a significant step towards that direction. Speed Pay has been launched by BSNL by partnering with IT company Pyro.    

India Calls for Transparency and Accountability in Internet Security Surveillance in UN General Assembly

Director General of external affairs ministry, Santosh Jha, has told UN General Assembly that internet surveillance practices, done for security reasons, needs accountable and truly transparent framework so that a balance can be struck between national security and internationally recognised human rights standards. He stressed on the point for “better protection of all citizens in the online environment”. Jha said this during review of implementation of the recommendations done during World Summit on Information Society. MEA’s proposal to the UN comes at a time when the world is criticising US for carrying on mass surveillance not only on suspected criminals and terrorists but also on French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  Interestingly, even as Jha was speaking at UN General Assembly, Wikileaks disclosure said that National Security Agency (NSA) of US carried out telephone surveillance on German officials.    

Ratan Tata Invests in Ola Taxi Services

Ratan Tata, industry icon and Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, has yet again made undisclosed investment in Ola Cabs, which is one of the fastest growing taxi hiring companies in India. Just like the other investments made earlier in start-up companies, investment here is also made by Ratan Tata in his personal capacity. Co-founder of Ola Cabs, Bhavish Aggarwal, said that it is their honour to have Ratan Tata among board of investors and added that they want to learn from the renowned octogenarian and industry behemoth for becoming “a world class organisation from India”. Reports say that Ratan Tata’s investment comes months after DST Global invested $400 million in Ola. In his personal capacity, Ratan Tata has till now invested in 10 companies. It all started with investment in Snapdeal (August 2014) and latest three investments being made in Xiaomi, Kaaryah, and Ola Cabs.

PM Modi Launches Digital India Today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched the ambitious Digital India project, which aims at connecting more than 2.5 lakh Indian villages with broadband Internet services.  Besides the political heavyweights, industrial bigwigs such as RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Cyrus Mistry of Tata Group, Gautam Adani of Adani Group, Bharti Group’s Sunil Bharti Mittal, Kumaramangalam Birla of Aditya Birla Group, and others also attended the event. Reports say that ‘the Information for all scheme’ aims to provide internet services just like PCOs. This grand Digital India programme is expected to see around Rs. 1,13,000 crore investment. The programme was attended by around ten thousand dignitaries and the projects announced by the CM include e-health, e-education, and Digital Locker. While Mukesh Ambani announced investment to the tune of around Rs 2.5 lakh crore, Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry committed his group’s wholehearted participation.

Amazon to Establish Multiple Data Centres in India by 2016

Head of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Andy Jassy, has said that Amazon is all set to establish multiple data centres in the coming year in India. The total investment will be worth many millions of dollars. He also said that the investment will increase to billion dollars with growth in region. Jassy went on to refer the upcoming investment in data centres as highly significant as Amazon has “grown very, very quickly in India”. Stressing on increasing ambit of investment in India, AWS’s head said in an interview that Amazon has “tens of thousands of active customers in India” and it includes startups, medium size businesses, and small businesses. Some of the major customers of AWS include Macmillan India, Future Group, Tata Motors, Manipal Global Education, and many more. Andy Jassy’s announcement comes within months of Microsoft’s announcement of commercializing three data centres in India by 2015-end.  

Xiaomi India Slashes Redmi Note 4G Price by Rs. 2,000

Xiaomi India today announced a Rs. 2,000 price cut of Redmi Note 4G smartphone. The device’s price has been slashed from launch price of Rs. 9,999 to Rs. 7,999. Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G will be available in multiple online retail shops such as the official site of Xiaomi, Snapdeal, Amazon, and Flipkart at slashed price. It will also be available at Airtel retail stores and The Mobile Store. Analysts believe that today’s attempt at price cut is to make the smartphone more competitive among affordable smartphones. Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G will now be pitted against Yu Yuphoria of Micromax (Rs. 6,999), Moto E (Gen 2) 4G of Motorola (Rs. 7,999), A6000 Plus of Lenovo (Rs. 7,499). Xiaomi has also brought down Redmi Note 4G’s price by Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 14,999 to make it more attractive for mid-range customers.

Delhi Government announces Free Wi-Fi in Delhi Colleges and 300 Villages by End of Year

Reports say that AAP-led Delhi Government has allocated Rs. 50 crore for providing free Wi-Fi facility to around three hundred villages as well as all colleges under Delhi University in the first phase, which ends by 2015-16. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia told media that he expects the first phase to be completed well before schedule. He added that the government portals can be accessed by public free of cost and all the time. Limited access will be given in case of certain web content. However, Sisodia was also quick to add that for browsing entertainment and personal content, they are contemplating the idea of limiting the access. Delhi government’s IT department is in the process of setting up several hotspots. Officials of the department say that the Delhi government wants to set up around 50,000 to 80,000 hotspots across Delhi by end of the project.  

Union Government expects "Billions of Dollars" of Investment Commitments during "Digital India Week"

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union IT and Telecom Minister, said that government is expecting billions of dollars of investment during Digital India Week, to start on July 1. While announcing the enormous scale of events to be held throughout India during launch of the coveted event by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ravi Shankar Prasad said that events will be held in 600 districts all across India, spread over 36 states and Union Territories (UTs). “Digital India” initiative hopes to deliver digital services to every Indian citizen and at the same time raise awareness about digital services, gadgets, and media. Reports say that the July 1 event will be attended by ten thousand guests. Prasad also said that by 2019, Digital India will ensure broadband connectivity to all Panchayats, Wi-Fi Hotspots in major public spaces including travel destinations, and Wi-Fi in schools as well as universities.

ISRO Chief says Launch Time of SAARC Satellite Finalised

Kiran Kumar, Chief of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told the media that the dedicated satellite for SAARC nations will be launched in December 2016. This satellite will weigh 2 tonnes and will come with 12 Ku band transponders. Each transponder is meant for the different constituent countries of SAARC region and will help in providing wide array of services including disaster monitoring, tele-medicine, education, communication, and other need based services. Reports say that ISRO will need 18 months time to build the coveted satellite, from the time Modi government approves the same. The spacecraft carrying SAARC satellite will be launched from Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota spaceport. ISRO chief also said that they have plan of creating SAARC space consortium on the lines of European space consortium for setting up space programmes to meet specific needs of the SAARC countries such as tele-connectivity and direct-to-home (DTH) link.

India-US inks MoUs on Cancer Research, New Diagnostic Technology Application, and Infrastructure Development

India has signed a series of agreements with the USA on cancer research, infrastructure development, application of new diagnostic technologies, capacity building, and training. As per Health and Family Welfare Ministry, a MoU on Cancer Research as well as letter of intent on Anti-microbial Resistance Research has been signed by Richard Verma (US Ambassador to India), BP Sharma (Ministry of Science and Technology’ Secretary at Department of Biotechnology), and K Vijay Raghavan. An official privy to the signing said that the cancer research agreement was done among Department of Health and Human Services of USA, NCI (NIH), Department of Biotechnology, (MoST), ICMR (DHS), and NCRI (AIIMS). Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between ICMR (DHR) and CDC, DHHS (USA) on collaboration in environmental and occupational health and injury prevention and control. As per available information, focus will be given to the public health effects from indoor air pollution.

Foxconn likely to tie-up with Adani Group in Setting up Four Manufacturing Facilities in India

Foxconn, the manufacturer of iPhone and many other high-end electronic brands that has announced opening of 10 to 12 facilities in India, is mulling the idea of forging partnership with Adani Group for setting up at least four manufacturing facilities in India. Reports say that representatives of Foxconn have already visited multiple sites in states such as Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka for selecting the right place for setting up their first few facilities that include both manufacturing units and data centres. A Karnataka government official said that Foxconn International Holdings is expected to make a $5-billion investment in Karnataka, where the state’s fiscal incentives along with talent pool will give them the additional mileage in the highly competitive electronics market. Reports say that FIH’s CEO Calvin Chih and Director of Investment and Chairman Vincent Tong Wen-Hsin visited Karnataka and had detailed talks with the government.

Microsoft announces Commissioning Three Hyper Scale Data Centres in India

Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman of Microsoft India, said that his company is all set to commission three hyper scale data centres in India by on-going year, which are expected to serve hyper sensitive sectors including financial services as well as government sectors. To emphasise on the usability aspect, Pramanik went on to add that it will not only be cost effective but also flexible and advanced technology driven if government wants to address 1.2 billion citizens all at the same time. They will be commissioned and ready for testing in three months time and will be ready for launch by 2015-end. He also said that in the coming year they will concentrate on two products - cloud business as well as Windows10.

HTC Launches One ME dual-SIM Smartphone at Rs 40,500 in India

HTC has launched its new higher mid-range smartphone model One ME dual-SIM at a price of Rs. 40,500 in India. Reports say, it will be available in India from June-end. It took just few weeks for HTC to launch the phone in India after early June release in China, indicating rising importance of Indian smartphone market to global players. HTC One ME comes in two colour variants, Rose Gold and Meteor Grey. This dual SIM mobile handset runs on latest Android Lollipop 5.0 version and is powered by a 64-bit Helio X10 chip processor clocked at 2.2GHz speed. Other important features of this new HTC smartphone are 5.2-inch Quad HD display, 20MP front faced camera with LED flash, 4-ultra pixel rear camera, etc.

ISRO Confirms Roping in Pakistani Collaboration for Launching SAARC Satellite by 2016

SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) countries have decided to build their own regional satellite, an idea mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is likely to be launched by 2016. Officials of ISRO told media that they have been successful in getting nod of all 8 SAARC countries including that of Pakistan. A nine-member Pakistani delegation asked many questions on the project but ultimately gave its nod for collaborating in the first-of-its-kind project. Reports say that this SAARC regional satellite will help all the constituent countries in terms of communication, health, and education. Pakistan High Commission’s spokesperson Manzoor Memon said that their delegation gave multiple constructive proposals for the coveted project as they have extensive expertise and vast experience “in peaceful uses of space with elaborate infrastructure”.

Japan to lend helping hand to India in Improving Maths and Science Education

Japan has agreed to help Indian experts in improving quality of mathematics and science education in India, reports say. In these two subjects, the primary school teachers, experts from schools boards, and HRD ministry bureaucrats will be trained by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The trainings will take place in Japan and is expected to help the participants in formulating training plans that stimulate learning of students contributing to improvement of science and mathematics education quality. The training will be imparted as per Official Development Assistance of the Government of Japan, in accordance with the bilateral agreement signed between the two countries. While 20 July is last day of application submission, duration of the training will be from 30 September 2015 to 4 November 2015. The training will be imparted under JICA Knowledge Co-Creation Programme.      

India starts Talks with other SAARC Members to make Exclusive SAARC Satellite a Reality

Indian officials today met other SAARC countries’ representatives and discussed about the final modalities related to setting up of a regional satellite, which will serve the purpose of SAARC nations only. The final stage of discussion comes around one year after the announcement made by PM Modi on SAARC satellite. The meeting was attended not only by top officials of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) but also Ministry of External Affairs. Joint-Secretary (SAARC) in External Affairs Ministry, Ajay Gondane, vouched for 100 per cent participation and went on to add that all SAARC members attended the deliberation including an eight-member Pakistani delegation. A participating ISRO official called the deliberation fruitful and said that all the participants shared what each of them can offer. Participants have also taken decision of applying for ITU registration, which is an essential step before launch of a satellite.

Science and Technology Cooperation Pact Renewed by India and South Africa

India and South Africa, two important nations of BRICS, have renewed a bilateral agreement for the coming three years for extending science and technology cooperation in the fields of indigenous knowledge systems, biotechnology, agriculture, astronomy, and social innovation. Senior officials from both South Africa and India during Joint Committee meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation signed 4th Programme of Cooperation. While stressing on strengthening ties between the two nations Daan du Toit, Deputy Director General of International Cooperation and Resources (South Africa), regarded India as a prominent entity of Asia-Pacific region and went on to highlight India’s important role played in South-South cooperation, evident through 2008 India-Africa Partnership. Dr. Arabinda Mitra, Department of Science and Technology’s Head of International Bilateral Cooperation, said both countries will benefit from science and technology cooperation as it will contribute to economic growth of countries and also address societal changes.

OnePlus ends Exclusive Partnership with Amazon

OnePlus has ended the exclusive partnership of selling their flagship killer OnePlus One smartphone through Amazon. Now, the company has decided to sell their coveted handset through Flipkart too. General Manager – India of OnePlus, Vikas Agarwal, said that 64 GB (Sandstone Black) model of the flagship killer will be available at a price of Rs. 21,999 through Flipkart from 22 June. He also told media that Silk White variant of 16 GB OnePlus One is expected to be priced at Rs. 18,999 in few weeks from now. Aggarwal went on to add that it is their constant endeavour to reach out to more customers and they are happy to partner with Flipkart, which he expects will help them expand their reach throughout India. He also called this new move another step towards their go-to market strategy. Flipkart’s VP-Retail, Amitesh Jha, said they are excited to become channel partner of OnePlus.

WHO urges India to Undertake Preventive Measures against 'Camel Virus'

World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged India to take preventive measures and remain vigilante on possible attack of new lethal 'camel virus', which has shaken confidence of South Koreans from the core. Regional Director of WHO (South-East Asia Region), Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh has urged India has urged India to focus on three main aspects to prevent any casualty from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS), commonly called ‘camel virus'. The first step she has prescribed is enhancement of surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections. Per Dr. Poonam, focus should be given to early diagnosis of the disease, followed by stepping up of control and infection prevention procedures in Indian health care facilities. Reports say that the concerned virus is similar to the pathogen causing common cold but is so deadly that almost 1/3rd of infected patients have died. No vaccine or specific treatment is available yet.