CSE takes government to task over draft emission and efficiency norms for cars

The Centre for Science and Environment or CSE, the most vocal of India’s homegrown environmental organizations, has punched holes in a government move to set fuel efficiency and emission norms for cars. It accused the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), the Government body that came up with a draft proposal, of playing into the hands of the car industry and proposing targets that will anyway be met in the natural course of events. “.. compared to the 2009-10 level, the official proposal is asking for only 0.45 per cent per…

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Despite big operators’ efforts, Indian telecom tariffs slide to 30 paise/min mark

If the traditional, big Indian mobile operators were dreaming of increasing tariffs in what is often called the world’s most competitive market, they have got another thing coming. It was in July last year that big operators, such as Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance, proclaimed the end of the cheap-tariff era and hiked call rates by about 20%. Till then, they were charging about 1 paise per second, hit by aggressive price competition from new entrants like Uninor, Videocon, MTS and Tata DoCoMo. Stock analysts were quick to pop open the…

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TRAI recommends district-level telecom operators in new unified license

Overruling objections by big telecom operators, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended allowing district-level operators. Anyone, including local cable operators, will now be able to offer landline and mobile, Internet and other services after paying the Rs 10 lakh entry fee per district, if the recommendations are accepted by the Government. In addition, there will also be a national-level license, saving operators the trouble of applying for a license in every state. Taking a different approach to the wireless-is-everything thinking, the Indian telecom regulator TRAI also pushed…

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Airtel launches online mobile store

Airtel has entered the online phone retailing business, entering a market already boiling over with competition. The shop primarily sells handsets. Going by the rates, however, only some handsets are priced below the rates offered by competitors like Flipkart and Letsbuy. For example, the Nokia Lumia 800 is available for 23,338 on Airtel’s shop, compared with 23,585 on Flipkart and 24,056 on Letsbuy. In addition, Airtel also offers free 3G data of 2GB for four months (worth about Rs 2,000), but to use the offer, you have be already on…

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Prices of manufactured items, TVs, mobiles rise due to fall in rupee value

The depreciation of the rupee is hitting Indian customers hard. A day after Samsung priced its new Galaxy S3 model phone at 30% more than the price of its predecessor, due primarily to a 20% depreciation in the value of the rupee, Ricoh announced a 5% increase in its printers and other office products. These are only two of the most visible price increases. More price increases of manufactured commodities such as electronics, TVs, appliances, computers and others are on the way, according to industry sources. Many vendors have not…

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Indian e-retailers burning cash to get first-mover advantage: Zinnov

Internet purchases are worth $10 billion (Rs 50,000 crore) at present, but are growing fast, prompting online retailers like Flipkart and Myntra to burn cash to attract customers, a new study by consultancy firm Zinnov has found. On a positive note, it noted that online retail accounts for only 0.5% of the total retail industry in India. This will rise rapidly in the coming years as e-commerce increases from $10 billion to $125-260 billion in the next 12 years. However, in a desperate attempt to get the early mover advantage,…

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Watch live TV on some Indian trains

If you thought DTH antennas are only for homes, think again. Dish TV has tied up with antenna-maker Gilat to install its antennas on the Maharaja Express, a luxury train in India. The special antennas continuously turn and tilt to make sure that they are pointed towards Dish TV’s satellite, ensuring that the signal is always available. “The train moving in any direction, at any speed, will receive seamless digital signal .. Dish TV will be installed in all cabins of Maharaja Express,” Dish TV, part of Subhash Chandra’s Zee…

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BSNL places orders for GSM equpment after four-year delay

Mobile customers of state-owned telecom operator BSNL can now look forward to better quality of service in North and South India as the company has finally placed purchase orders for equipment after four years. BSNL has been facing controversies and delays in purchasing new GSM equipment for the last 4 to 5 years due to allegations that the tender process was not fully up to the mark. Various vendors had complained about BSNL’s purchasing process, even going to the courts to challenge disqualification of their bids etc.. BSNL used to…

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At TRAI, Airtel leads in consumer complaints

Market leader Airtel also leads in generating the largest number of consumer complaints to the telecom regulator, junior telecom minister Sachin Pilot said on Wednesday. Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Pilot said Airtel accounted for roughly one third (32.5%) of all the complaints received by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India against private mobile operators so far this year. In comparison, Airtel only accounts for less than 23% of the subscriber base of private telecom operators in the country. Airtel was followed by Reliance, which accounted for…

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Not even a single operator fined for MNP violation yet

Consumers may be flooding the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and other organizations with complaints about Mobile Number Portability (MNP), but the TRAI is yet to impose even a single fine on a telecom operator in this regard. According to a statement by the Department of Telecom, the TRAI has never imposed a fine on any company for failure to carry out its duties under India’s MNP rules. India introduced Mobile Number Portability in early 2011. “Under these regulations, till date no penalty / fine have been imposed on…

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Apple wins big in India with deal to offer iPhone for free

It was a big victory for Apple in one of the biggest telecom markets in India as it made its first real deal with an operator here to sell the latest iPhone 5S and 5C under contract. Apple had been trying for years to get any prominent mobile operator in this country of 1.2 billion people to offer its iPhones under contract. However, none of the operators were willing to take the risk due to chances that subscribers may not be able to honor their commitments. However, Anil Ambani promoted…

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Greenpeace targets India’s telecom majors

A new GreenPeace study has targeted India’s diesel-addicted telecom industry, estimating that it contributes around 2% of India’s green house gas emissions. The telecom towers and networks consume around 2 billion litres of diesel a year, release 5,600,000,000 kg of Carbon Dioxide or equivalent heat-trapping gas per year. “We expect the ICT sector to play a critical role in accelerating a shift to a low-carbon economy through the development of solutions and driving their operations with large-scale use of clean renewable energy, avoiding high carbon lock-ins.” said Greenpeace Campaigner Abhishek…

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Google’s Android overtakes Nokia’s Symbian as world’s top smartphone platform

Google’s Android operating system became the World’s top smart-phone operating system during the first quarter of the year, overtaking Nokia’s Symbian, according to the latest numbers from Gartner. The confirmation from Gartner has come after a tight fight between the two OSes during the last quarter of 2010, when another agency, Canalys, said Android had overtaken Symbian. Both Gartner and IDC had been holding back on crowning Android the smartphone king, till today. Android jumped from just 9.6% share among smart-phones during the first quarter of 2010 to a whopping…

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Nokia India starts taking orders for E6, first phone with Symbian Anna

In a novel move, country’s biggest phone brand, Nokia has started taking pre-orders or bookings for the upcoming Qwerty candybar phone, the E6. The phone is notable because it is the first model to sport a revamped Symbian operating system that looks much ‘funkier’ than the usual interfaces found on Nokia phones. The Anna may be the final major update of the Symbian before it is replaced by Microsoft Windows Mobile by early next year. Consumers can book E6 by going to the Nokia website for India (www.nokia.co.in/E6), filling out…

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TRAI bans “auto starting” of value added services: brings relief to customers

In a huge relief to ordinary mobile customers suffering from unwanted “value added services,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has made a written request from the consumer mandatory for the starting of value added services. Value added services (VAS) are those which are in addition to the normal SMS and voice calling facility. Many consumers have been complaining to the TRAI as well as to the Government that operators simply start off such services without asking them. In some cases, such services are also started off by operators…

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IDG Ventures invests $3 million into Vserv; first mob-ad investment since recession

In the first VC investment in mobile advertising in India since the global downturn, IDG Ventures has invested $3 million (Rs 13.5 crore) into Vserv, an Indian tech start-up that specializes in serving ads within mobile phone applications. Vserv is one of the few Indian start ups in the mobile eco-system to make an impact on a global scale and is a fairly large player in the In-app ad market. It also has a presence in the WAP (mobile web page) ad business and is extending its advertising solutions into…

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Google cuts calls rates further, Indians can call US at 45 paise per minute

Google has reduced its call rates to Indian phones from 6 cents (Rs 2.70) per minute to 2 cents (90 paise) per minute and extended the service to customers outside the US, including those in India. Google phone-calls help customers call phones almost anywhere in the World at rates that are usually cheaper, sometimes much cheaper, than those offered by traditional phone service companies. However, this service was only available to US customers till today. It is not clear whether Indian customers of Google (Gmail) would be allowed to call…

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AMD attacks the embedded market with fusion G series

Fresh from its introduction of the ‘fusion’ series of CPU-GPU combination chips, AMD has put the technology on embedded systems creating what it called the most power embedded system ever. “This new class of accelerated processor combines more compute capabilities on a single die than any processor in the history of computing and represents opportunity for major advancements in embedded systems,” the firm said on Wednesday. Embedded systems are used in space-constrained devices such as home appliances and hand-held devices. It said it is targeting graphics-intensive solutions like digital sign…

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IAN invites applications for funding from mobile and Internet start-ups

India’s largest and oldest angel investor group, Indian Angel Network (IAN), has announced a program to fund 24 start ups in the mobile and Internet space with up to Rs 75 lakhs each. An ‘angel’ network is one that typically comes in even before the firm is in a position to seek venture capital. ‘Angels’ are more involved in guiding the entrepreneur than VCs and are more flexible in their engagement. IAN is India’s largest organization of angel investors – mostly ex-entrepreneurs or high-flying corporate executives who want to engage…

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Uninor subscribers growing six times as fast as industry

Uninor, the joint venture between the Unitech group and Norway’s Telenor has emerged as the fastest growing Indian telecom operator over the last several months. In the six months ended February, the company’s average subscriber addition per month is 2.23 million, higher than any other company in India. Uninor’s closest competitor is Idea Cellular, which has an average run rate of 2.03 million a month over the last six months, according to a report by Mumbai-based Angel Broking. In comparison, the biggest telecom company in India, Bharti Airtel, added just…

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