Jio blues: In India’s ugly telecom soap opera, the taxpayer gains only to lose again

Bharti Airtel

India’s taxpayer has won in a war on corruption, but may well be losing an equivalent money again as a consumer, or likely, as a taxpayer



LATEST NEWS : We wish India’s telecom saga would be a Bollywood movie, with a happy ending. But what we have witnessed since the May of 1994, when India began slowly easing the state grip on telecoms to usher in everything from private players to mobile phones to the Internet, is a long-winding soap opera.  In line with the spirit of the saas-bahu nation, we can announce that Reliance Jio is the much loved and hated new bahu (daughter-in-law)  in this opera, impressing everyone and upsetting the older order.


If you are looking not for entertaining conflicts but deep wisdom, it is this: India’s taxpayer has won in a war on corruption, but may well be losing an equivalent money again as a consumer, or likely, as a taxpayer.


Does it matter if someone picks your right pocket instead of left to take out the same amount of money?



Last fortnight was eventfully momentous. Airtel swallowed up Tata Teleservices in the latest episode of industry consolidation, even as Idea Cellular’s shareholders formally approved its acquisition of Vodafone.


Reliance Jio, the Mukesh Ambani-led entity strangely representing a mix of new entry with old behemoth power, signalled it was walking to profit earlier than expected after its big-bang entry with cut-rate mobiles and data packs. It is already showing operating profit while established giants struggle to keep customers. It has nearly 140 million customers and more than Rs 7,000 crore in quarterly revenues, and is not yet one year old.


But you should be looking beyond these big headlines at what the saas (established mother-in-law) is doing in this soap opera. Vodafone, even as it merged with Idea Cellular, quietly went to court against the recent order of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that slashed interconnect usage charges that clearly aided Reliance Jio. The IUC cut is being described as both unconstitutional and against the TRAI Act, this is a serious challenge.


And why not?  Established incumbents spent years building towers and other network equipment, and then spent huge amounts buying up spectrum. Reliance Jio has spent relatively less on spectrum as a direct 4G entrant with a shrewd strategy that was focused on the long-term future and the complex dynamics of the mobile Internet market. Like a kangaroo jumping over others in a race of goats.

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Flipkart looking to ‘Chinese’ model of e-commerce growth via acquisitions


From Myntra and Jabong to PhonePe, and now talks with BookMyShow, Swiggy, UrbanClap – Flipkart could be eyeing stakes in or buyouts of smaller peers to grow its own top line


LATEST NEWS    :India’s largest home-grown internet company Flipkart is looking at acquiring stakes or buying out smaller peers to grow its own top line, a model perfected by Chinese counterparts Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu.


Flipkart is said to be in talks with multiple firms like online food-ordering and delivery service Swiggy, home services firm Urban Clap, online furniture retailer Urban Ladder, ticket-booking platform BookMyShow and even some financial technology firms, according to a Livemint report on Monday.


These deals seem to be at an exploratory stage, but Flipkart’s intent is increasingly becoming clearer. While investments in some of these firms might have obvious benefits – for example, Urban Ladder could list its furniture exclusively on Flipkart, or Swiggy’s delivery fleet could help fulfil grocery orders – what other investments will do for the company remains to be seen.



Flipkart did not respond to queries sent by Business Standard for this report.


Armed with a war chest of $4 billion to combat global rival Amazon’s growth in India, Flipkart is looking outwards for innovations and growth into newer categories. The company already has several large acquisitions under its belt, such as Myntra, Jabong and PhonePe. And, that makes Flipkart stand out among peers in the number of acquisitions and investments made so far.


Myntra and Jabong, in addition to the apparel that Flipkart sells on its own platform, currently make it the market leader in the segment. While Amazon counters this view, independent analysts agree that Flipkart sells more fashion than rivals. The number for market share, however, varies on the basis of who you ask. Similarly, while it still has a long way to go before catching up with market leader Paytm, PhonePe has already become the largest UPI payments app in the country.


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Rajdhani tickets unconfirmed? Soon you could upgrade to an Air India flight

Airlines, Aeroplane, Airport

You can upgrade to an Air India flight if the latter has the same service route allotted on the same day.


LATEST NEWS  : Passengers with unconfirmed AC-I or AC-II tickets for Rajdhani Express may soon be able to fly to their destination  by paying the difference, if any, in the price of the train and air tickets, reports Times of India.


The same was talked about last year when Ashwani Lohani was the Air India chairman. However, he did not get a positive response from the Railways. He said that if AI approaches Railways with this proposal, the latter will accept it.


It must be noted that many passengers end up with unconfirmed AC-I AC-II tickets. As reported earlier, Railways came up with dynamic pricing model in which, only the first 10 per cent of the tickets sold in premium trains will be available at the original listed price.


After that, for every 10 per cent tickets sold, the fare goes up by 10 per cent. However, after the sale of 50 per cent of tickets, when fares are 50 per cent more than the original prices, there is no further hike.


This made air travel and Rajdhani AC tickets fare almost similar, prompting passengers to opt for air travel. Lohani himself was not very happy with the dynamic pricing system which earned the Railways an additional Rs 240 crore.



“I personally was not happy with the way dynamic pricing has been structured. We have to really look at the way airlines are doing it,” Lohani said in an interview.


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Bad air, water kills: At 2.5 mn, India tops list for pollution-linked deaths

Beware! Ozone pollution may cause heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke

India recorded the most number of premature deaths because of pollution in 2015 at 2.51 million lives lost, followed by China at 1.8 million deaths, a recent study has revealed


LATEST NEWS : India recorded the most number of premature deaths because of pollution in 2015 at 2.51 million lives lost, followed by China at 1.8 million deaths, a recent study has revealed. The findings coincide with the festival of Diwali, which has been synonymous with smoke-choked air due to the rampant bursting of firecrackers across the country.


Citing The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, a two-year initiative seeking to highlight the issue, Reuters reported that India saw the greatest number of pollution-related early deaths in 2015. “People in poorer countries – like construction workers in New Delhi – are more exposed to air pollution and less able to protect themselves from exposure, as they walk, bike or ride the bus to workplaces that may also be polluted,” Karti Sandilya, one of the authors of the commission’s report, told the news agency.



(Read the full study by The Lancet here)


According to The Lancet’s study, diseases caused by pollution were responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths, 16 per cent of all deaths worldwide, in 2015. This number was three times more than deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined and 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence.

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Paywall alert: Facebook testing paid news model in Instant Articles

Paywall alert: Facebook testing paid news model in Instant Articles

Facebook is collaborating with a small group of publishers across the US and Europe


Facebook is finally testing a paywall in its Instant Articles feature — beginning with Android and not iOS devices — in partnership with a small group of publishers across the US and Europe.


Facebook will support the subscription-based news product in Instant Articles for both metered models (starting with a uniform meter at 10 articles) and “freemium” models (the publisher controls which articles are locked).


“This is a direct result of the work we’re doing through the Facebook Journalism Project. We’re listening to news publishers all over the world to better understand their needs and goals,” the social media giant said in a blog post late on Thursday.



In July, Campbell Brown, the head of the company’s news partnerships, said Facebook will launch a subscription-based news product with initial tests beginning in October.


To begin with, publishers like Bild, The Boston Globe, The Economist, Hearst (The Houston Chronicle and The San Francisco Chronicle), La Repubblica, Le Parisien, Spiegel, The Telegraph, tronc (The Baltimore Sun, The Los Angeles Times, and The San Diego Union-Tribune), and The Washington Post will participate.


According to Facebook, when someone who isn’t yet a subscriber to a publication encounters a paywall within Instant Articles, they will be prompted to subscribe for full access to that publisher’s content.


“If that person subscribes, the transaction will take place on the publisher’s website. The publisher will process the payment directly and keep 100 per cent of the revenue,” the company added.

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Diwali: Cracker ban goes up in smoke as Delhi air quality turns ‘very poor’

A child buying firecrackers on the eve Diwali festival, in Amritsar. (Photo: PTI)

A ‘very poor’ air quality index essentially means that people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on a prolonged exposure to such air



The festive fervour gripped the nation on Thursday as people celebrated Diwali, often referred to as ‘the festival of lights by lighting diyas (earthen lamps), paying obeisance to Goddess Lakshmi, distributing sweets. However, a quiet and promising evening gave way to thick haze and noise as Delhi celebrated Diwali, dashing the hopes of cracker-free festivities, following a Supreme Court ban on the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR).


The cracker-bursting was relatively subdued as compared to previous years. However, the revelers in the adjoining townships of Delhi such as Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad paid little heed to the apex court’s writ and environmentalists’ concerns.


Real-time pollution data alarming


The online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations in the city glowed red, indicating a ‘very poor’ air quality as the volume of ultrafine particulates PM 2.5 and PM 10, which enter the respiratory system and manage to reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 7 pm.



At 10 pm, in Mandir Marg in Delhi, the PM 2.5 concentration was 390 units against the prescribed 60 units, while PM 10 was 480 against the prescribed 100.


Real-time pollution data appeared alarming. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s (DPCC) R K Puram monitoring station recorded PM 2.5 and PM 10 at 878 and 1,179 micrograms per cubic metre at around 11 pm.


However, the nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide concentrations at 50.84 and 31.20 respectively were well under the prescribed limits.


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Tata Tele to merge with Bharti Airtel on debt-free cash-free basis

A Bharti Airtel office building is pictured in Gurugram on the outskirts of New Delhi. Photo: Reuters

Bharti Airtel will absorb the operations of Tata’s mobile business in 19 circles across the country



LATEST NEWS : Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) and Tata Teleservices Maharashtra Limited (TTML) will combine their Consumer Mobile Businesses (Tata CMB) with Bharti Airtel Limited, Tata Tele announced on Thursday.


With this merger, 40 million Tata Tele customers would be added to Bharti Airtel’s user base.


As part of the agreement, Bharti Airtel would absorb Tata Tele’s operations across the country in 19 circles (17 under TTSL and two under TTML), Bharti Airtel said in a release.



Since the proposed merger would include the transfer of all customers and assets to Bharti Airtel, it would not only augment Bharti Airtel’s overall customer base but also strengthen its network. It will also enable Bharti Airtel to further bolster its spectrum footprint, with the addition of 178.5 MHz spectrum (of which 71.3 MHz is liberalised) in the 850, 1800 & 2100-MHz bands. Bharti Airtel said it would ensure quality services to Tata customers while offering them the added benefits of its innovative product portfolio, access to superior voice & data services, mobile banking, VAS and domestic/ international roaming facilities. Tata’s operations and services would continue as normal until the completion of the transaction.


The transaction will also provide Bharti Airtel an indefeasible right to use (IRU) for part of the existing fibre network of Tata. The merger is being done on a debt-free cash-free basis, except that Bharti Airtel would assuming a small portion of the unpaid spectrum liability of Tata towards DoT, which is to be paid on a deferred basis.


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Firecracker ban in Delhi-NCR: Why it is hard to thank Supreme Court

Firecracker ban, Delhi, ban

Such decisions have the unintended effect of building citizen expectations from Courts, undermining civic authorities and the executive


LATEST NEWS : Coming near at the heels of Richard Thaler being offered the Nobel Prize for Economics, the citizens of Delhi-NCR have additionally been given a nudge. news tickers announced a smoke-free Diwali thanks, to the best court banning the sale of fireworks in all of NCR till the stop of the month. This ban got here in the midst of a hearing of a two-yr-antique public interest petition that has sought diverse guidelines to address the hassle of air pollutants inside the countrywide Capital area. while most welcomed this ban, a few disquiet has arisen at the right position of the splendid court in what’s viewed as an activity high-quality left to the multitude of environmental organizations. Such concern centres on the phrase, “judicial legislation”; regularly used to explain an activist court docket that blurs the bounds between adjudication, enforcement and policy formation. Is one of these technical critique sustainable as one in all India’s maximum populous and affluent cities suffers a health crisis?


To answer this query, we first want to examine the character and scope of the litigation. Of the numerous maladies that have observed a excessive fee of improvement none has impacted its populace of Delhi more acutely than air pollution. the scale of the problem is illustrated by diverse global agencies asserting it the most polluted town inside the international. greater than a statistic, this public health disaster that peaks inside the winters, final year saw faculties near down and many human beings, specially elders being made prisoners — confined indoors to store them from the particulate-laden air. To redress this, a public interest litigation came to be filed in search of huge-ranging reliefs on vehicular pollution, crop burning, dumping of production waste and the sale and use of fireworks. Of precise situation in the course of the competition of Diwali are fireworks in which the particulate rely in the air has been said to be greater than twenty-six times the permissible limits for human protection.

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Airtel takes on JioPhone, to offer 4G smartphone for Rs 2,899

Bharti Airtel, Airtel

Cash refund of Rs 1,500 in two tranches makes the effective cost Rs 1,399


LATEST NEWS : Looking to take on Reliance Jio in the handset space, the united states of america’s top telecom operator, Bharti Airtel, has partnered Karbonn Mobiles to offer a 4G smartphone at an “effective fee” of Rs 1,399.


In a dig at Jio’s Rs 1,500 4G-enabled feature cellphone, the Sunil Bharti Mittal-led agency said its smartphone could be made available for the charge of a feature smartphone. Airtel said this changed into the primary of several partnerships it plans with handset manufacturers to deliver less expensive bundled 4G phone options to its clients.


In July, Jio had announced a 4G feature cellphone for a protection deposit of Rs 1,500, returnable on the end of three years for a complete refund, making the tool virtually loose for purchasers.


“A consumer needs to make a down-charge of Rs 2,899 for the 4G phone and make 36 non-stop monthly recharges of Rs 169 each. The patron gets a coins refund of Rs 500 after 18 months and every other Rs 1,000 after 36 months, taking the overall cash benefit to Rs 1,500,” the Airtel statement stated, explaining its declare of Rs 1,399 “effective pricing”. In case a consumer does now not want for the Rs 169 bundled plan, recharges of any denomination and validity may be executed, however for a reimbursement, recharges really worth Rs 3,000 need to be carried out in the first 18 months (for first refund of Rs 500) and every other Rs 3,000 over the next 18 months (for the second one refund of Rs 1,000). A purchaser will not want to return the handset to Airtel or Karbonn at any point to claim refund. The Android-based 4G telephone, Karbonn A40 Indian, has dual SIM slots and famous apps.



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Portronics Sound Bun speakers: Miles behind JBL, Phillips

Portronics Sound Bun Wireless speaker

With an S/N ratio of 80 decibels, the speaker is loud enough. But, at peak level, sound quality deteriorates with noticeable cracks


LATEST NEWS:    Home-grown speaker maker Portronics recently launched a Bluetooth-enabled Sound Bun speaker at Rs 1,999. The portable Bluetooth speaker weighs only 128 g and comes in two colours — black and beige.


For starters, the speaker houses a non-removable 600-mAh battery, which keeps the show running for up to four hours. In terms of connectivity, the speaker sports an auxiliary port for AUX, a microSD slot and USB port.



With signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio of 80 decibels, the speaker is loud enough to make you dance to the beats. But, at the peak level, the sound quality deteriorates with noticeable cracks that dampen the experience.


The speakers houses a play/pause button, volume rockers and TF button, which comes handy in quickly switching the music playback from any other source to microSD.


Though the speaker was launched at Rs 1,999, it is currently available at a discounted price of Rs 1,281 and Rs 1,274 at Amazon for black and beige variants, respectively.


Overall, the speaker falls short of expectations and is miles behind the competitors that includes Philips and JBL. The Philips BT50B Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (black) is selling online at at Rs 1,338.


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