Idea Cellular Biggest Gainer From Number Portability: Kotak

Idea Cellular Biggest Gainer From Number Portability: Kotak

Idea Cellular has emerged as the biggest gainer of the mobile number portability (MNP) scheme in the last five years, Kotak Institutional Equities said here on Wednesday in a five-year scorecard.

“The incumbents Bharti, Vodafone and Idea stand out as the only gainers; Idea Cellular remains the biggest gainer with 17 million net port-ins until end-January 2016. Not surprisingly, RelianceCommunications, Aircel and Tata Teleservices are the biggest losers. BSNL’s performance is surprisingly respectable,” the report said.

Idea Cellular was followed by Vodafone India with 11.1 million net gains and Bharti the third with 7.3 million net gains during the five-year period.

Other operators put together have lost 35.4 million net subscribers with Reliance Communications (net loss of 10.8 million), Aircel (6.6 million) and Tata Teleservices (6.4 million) being the biggest losers.

“Interestingly, Telenor has seen a net loss of 4.4 million, high given its market share; this is perhaps reflective of Telenor shrinking its operations to six circles post licence cancellations in 2012. BSNL’s net loss of 2.5 million,” the report said.

Even as the top three incumbents are the only ‘net’ gainers from mobile number portability (combined net gains at 21 percent of the total gross ports of 168.6 million), the report said this net gain figure is a combination of 73.5 percent share of port-ins and 52.5 percent share of port-outs.

The three CDMA players have seen a net subscriber loss of 8.3 million with low gross port-ins of only 2.1 million (versus 10.4 million port-outs).

“We suspect these were all high-usage voice subs that were stuck with CDMA in the absence of MNP as they did not want to change their number. Sustained sharp decline in CDMA share of voice minutes in the market corroborates this aspect.”

About 40,000 Verizon Workers Launch Strike

About 40,000 Verizon Workers Launch Strike

Verizon Communications Inc’s wireline employees kicked off a strike on Wednesday after failing to reach an agreement with management on a new labor contract.

The strike, one of the largest at Verizon in recent years, was called by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The unions jointly represent nearly 40,000 employees in Verizon’s wireline operations, which include Fios Internet, telephone and TV services.

Verizon said on Wednesday it had trained “thousands” of non-union employees to ensure that services were not disrupted.

The last round of contract negotiations in 2011 also led to a strike. A new contract was reached two weeks later.

Verizon and the unions have been in talks since last June over the company’s plans to cut healthcare and pension-related benefits over a three-year period.

Wireline workers have been working out of contract since the last agreement expired in August. Issues still on the table include healthcare, offshoring call center jobs, work rules and pensions.

EU Privacy Watchdogs Could Seek US Data Pack Review in 2 Years

EU Privacy Watchdogs Could Seek US Data Pack Review in 2 Years: Reports

European privacy watchdogs could ask for a review in two years of a new transatlantic data pact designed to help companies such as Microsoft and IBM to shuffle around user data, according to three people familiar with the matter.

European data protection authorities are assessing whether to endorse the EU-US Privacy Shield, a framework agreed in February that will allow companies to move Europeans’ data to the United States without falling foul of strict EU data transferral rules.

But the regulators have concerns about how much data US government agents can collect and access as well as the independence of a new US “ombudsperson” to handle EU complaints about US surveillance practices, the people said.

“Who is independent enough? Independence is a key criteria to addressing the real position of this person,” Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, chair of the group of 28 EU data protection authorities, said last week in Washington when asked about the ombudsperson.

The regulators also have doubts about US assurances that Europeans’ data transferred to the United States will not be subject to indiscriminate mass surveillance, two of the people said.

The EU regulators might ask for the framework to be reviewed when a stricter EU data protection law comes into force in 2018 to see if it still meets EU privacy standards, the people said.

That would be separate from the annual review already foreseen in the agreement with Washington.

Falque-Pierrotin had hinted at the idea at a hearing in the European Parliament in March.

The regulators’ opinion will be published on Wednesday at the end of a two-day meeting. While non-binding, it is important because the regulators enforce EU data protection law and can suspend specific data transfers.

In addition, the opinion will be watched closely by EU member state representatives who have to give their approval for the Privacy Shield to be formally adopted.

Commercial data transfers to the United States have been conducted in a legal limbo since October last year when the top EU court struck down Safe Harbour, a framework that for 15 years allowed over 4,000 companies to avoid cumbersome EU data transfer rules by stating that they complied with EU data protection law.

Revelations almost three years ago by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden of mass US Internet surveillance programmes sparked outrage in Europe.

While privacy and consumer groups have urged the regulators not to lend their support to the Privacy Shield, arguing that it does not solve fundamental flaws with US enforcement of privacy, businesses have appealed for it to be swiftly approved.

Nintendo NX More Powerful Than PS4, Will Get Wii U Ports of Smash Bros and Zelda

Nintendo NX More Powerful Than PS4, Will Get Wii U Ports of Smash Bros and Zelda: Report

Another day, another Nintendo NX rumour. From AMD stating that you can expect it this year to expertly created fake controllers, there’s never been a dull moment in the run-up to Nintendo announcing it officially.

The latest is that the NX will be a lot more powerful than other consoles like the PS4.

“The NX will be more powerful than the PS4. ‘By a noticeable amount’. From the CPU, to GPU, to RAM. Sources don’t know the clock speeds, or memory type or amount of memory,” an insider posted on gaming forum NeoGAF after being verified as potentially accurate information. It’s in contrast to earlier information about the console coming with 900p and 60fps support.

In addition to this, other leaks on the forum claim it will be home to ports of hit Wii U titles. This information comes from Emily Rogers, an insider with a reasonable track record. Earlier in the year she noted that Nintendo would be releasing a new Paper Mario game for the Wii U before Nintendo announced it as Paper Mario: Color Splash.

“The following Wii U ports in development for NX: Zelda, Smash Bros, Mario Maker, Splatoon. But…and yes there’s a “But”…(read next tweet),” Rogers tweeted. This was followed by “Just because something is in development doesn’t mean it’ll be released. So either all four of these ports will come…or only two of them,” and “I spoke with at least 10 people regarding these four ports. Splatoon is up in the air. Zelda/Smash Bros sound like guarantees.”

Her Twitter account is private but screenshots of her tweets are available on gaming forum NeoGAF. With E3 2016 in three months we won’t be surprised if Nintendo unveils the NX in time for an end of year release.

Napster Co-Founder Bankrolls Project to Speed Cancer Work

Napster Co-Founder Bankrolls Project to Speed Cancer Work

A project to speed development of cancer-fighting drugs that harness the immune system has academic and drug industry researchers collaborating and sharing their findings like never before.

The newly created Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy is being funded by a $250 million (roughly Rs. 1,659 crores) grant from Sean Parker, the co-founder of the file-sharing site Napster and Facebook’s first president. It brings together partners at six top academic cancer centers, dozens of drugmakers and other groups.

“Everybody knows that we need to move forward and change the model” for cancer research, Jeffrey Bluestone, an immunology researcher and the institute’s CEO, told The Associated Press Tuesday. “The goal here is to rapidly move our discoveries to patients.”

For decades, fiercely competitive and secretive drugmakers protected their money-making discoveries with patents and lawsuits. Academic researchers likewise often guarded their work closely until it was published because their promotions, awards and sometimes revenue from licensing patents depended on individual achievement. That often slowed progress.

With the increasing cost and complexity of research, drugmakers began licensing or buying patents and research programs from university researchers. Then big drugmakers began collaborating with each other and buying smaller companies, to share research costs, speed up the drug development process and get an edge on rivals.

The Parker Institute, founded nine months ago, pushes those trends to a new level, by creating a virtual “sandbox” in which scientists at different institutions can work collaboratively, Bluestone said.

About 300 scientists at leading cancer institutions – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Stanford Medicine; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, San Francisco; University of Pennsylvania; and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center – will share their findings.

They’ll focus on early research. After initial patient testing, the institute’s technology-transfer committee will strike licensing deals with drugmakers best able to develop those drugs, providing funding for other early research. Those drugmakers, from industry giants Amgen Inc. and Pfizer Inc., to small drug and diagnostic test developers, will fund the much-larger tests needed for drug approval, which can include hundreds or thousands of patients and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Parker worked with hundreds of scientists to create a roadmap for the institute’s work. It will quickly fund projects fitting its scientific targets and then rapidly enroll many of the 300,000 or more patients treated at the six centers each year in tests of resulting experimental drugs.

“We’ll make progress against three or four cancer types in the next several years,” Parker predicts.

He added that to be most effective, immunotherapy must become an initial treatment. Now it’s usually reserved until patients relapse after chemotherapy and other standard treatments that weaken the immune system.

Scientists have tried less-sophisticated strategies to use the immune system against cancer for about a century, with limited success, noted Dr. Eric Rubin, head of early stage cancer drug development at Merck & Co. It took recent advances in cell biology, genetics and related science to make progress. Now there are a handful of approved immunotherapy drugs that greatly extend lives of some patients with lung cancer and melanoma.

Those include Merck’s Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s Yervoy and Opdivo. They are so-called “checkpoint inhibitors,” which block molecules that slow down or turn off the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells.

Other immunotherapy approaches that will be part of the institute’s initial work include CAR-T therapy, in which a patient’s T-cells are removed from the blood, engineered to be “cancer assassins,” then injected into the patient, Parker said. Researchers also will develop therapeutic viruses and vaccines to drive the immune system to recognize and attack tumors.

“The Parker Institute does have the potential to accelerate development (of drugs) that will enable a greater number of cures,” Rubin said. “We’re very happy to be part of this.”

4G Phones Becoming Increasingly Affordable

4G Phones Becoming Increasingly Affordable: Kotak

The market for 4G devices in India is becoming increasingly affordable and there are around 15 phone models which are available at a price point of Rs. 5,000 or lower, a report by Kotak Institutional Equities said.

The report said it is now possible to buy a 4G device for as low as Rs. 4,000 (or $60) with a 5-inch screen size, 1.1GHz quad-core processor, 8GB internal memory, 5MP camera and 2,300 mAh battery, which are good enough entry-level specifications.

“Six-months back the cheapest 4G-enabled smartphone used to cost Rs. 7,000 ($105) approximately,” it added.

The report said smartphone penetration in the country is increasing at a fast pace, driven by increasing availability of devices at an affordable price points offered by a number of local and Chinese phone manufacturers.

In 2015, about 42 percent of all phones imported in the country were smartphones.

“The large-scale offered by some of these markets has enabled 4G chip manufacturers to produce components at a much lower rate, thereby driving costs of 4G smartphones sharply lower,” it added.

The report further said sharp reduction in 4G device prices across the Asia-Pacific region, coupled with the impending entry of Reliance Jio Infocomm has made the Indian telecom companies take notice of the rapidly evolving 4G device ecosystem.

“These operators, as a result (during the second half of 2015), started making aggressive investments in rolling out network infrastructure for high-speed broadband data services, especially 4G. Device manufacturers have responded with increased 4G device launches while also pushing the envelope on lower price points,” it added.

As per its analysis, almost 10 percent of all the devices available in the market are 4G-enabled, the report added.

Samsung Accidentally Reveals Android N’s Version Number in Its SDK

Samsung Accidentally Reveals Android N's Version Number in Its SDK

Google last month to everyone’s surprise rolled out an early beta of Android N to testers. Although the search giant is still keeping the OS version number and the name a secret, Samsung might have spilled the beans about the former – tipping Android 7.0.

Samsung recently released its new SDK or Software Development Kit for its multi-window feature that also comes with “Android N (7.0) compatibility.” Though Google is yet to reveal the version number of its upcoming Android N, Samsung is one of the biggest Android OEMs, and we cannot ignore what the South Korean tech giant might know about the next Android version.

It is worth mentioning that Samsung is already rumoured to launch its Galaxy Note 6 handset with Android N in July.

Last month Google rolled out its first Android N update for Nexus devices enrolled in the Android Beta Program. The new Developer Preview 1 Build is currently available for Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 9.

Google recently started asking people what Android N should be named via its Google Opinion Rewards app. The move was in line with what Google CEO Sundar Pichai confirmed in December during his India visit, saying the company may use an online poll to name the next version of Android.

Google’s Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP Android, Chromecast, and Chrome OS, had last week confirmed that the company had plans to “hand off” the final Android N release to device makers this summer, which is anticipated to be after Google I/O 2016 – which kicks off May 18. The developer preview is also expected to soon reach non-Nexus devices as well.

1917 Image Reveals First-Ever Evidence of Exo-Planetary System

1917 Image Reveals First-Ever Evidence of Exo-Planetary System

An image taken in 1917 and kept on an astronomical glass plate with the Carnegie Institution for Science (CIS) has revealed the first-ever evidence of a planetary system beyond our own Sun.

The unexpected find was recognised in the process of researching an article about planetary systems surrounding white dwarf stars in the journal New Astronomy Reviews.

The Review’s author Jay Farihi from University College London and Carnegie Observatories’ director John Mulchaey were looking for a plate in the Carnegie archive that contained a spectrum of van Maanen’s star.

It is a white dwarf discovered by Dutch-American astronomer Adriaan van Maanen in the very year the plate was made.

Stellar spectra images allowed 19th century astronomers to develop a system for classifying stars that is still used today.

Modern astronomers use digital tools to image stars but for decades, they would use glass photographic plates both to take images of the sky, and to record stellar spectra.

When Farihi examined the spectrum, he found something quite extraordinary.

Carnegie’s 1917 spectrum of van Maanen’s star revealed the presence of heavier elements such as calcium, magnesium, and iron, which should have long since disappeared into the star’s interior due to their weight.

Astronomers now know that that van Maanen’s star and other white dwarfs with heavy elements in their spectra represent a type of planetary system featuring vast rings of rocky planetary remnants that deposit debris into the stellar atmosphere.

“The unexpected realisation that this 1917 plate from our archive contains the earliest recorded evidence of a polluted white dwarf system is just incredible,” said Mulchaey.

Planets themselves have not yet been detected orbiting van Maanen’s star, nor around similar systems, but Farihi is confident it is only a matter of time.

Carnegie has one of the world’s largest collections of astronomical plates with an archive that includes about 250,000 plates from three different observatories.

“We have a ton of history sitting in our basement and who knows what other finds we might unearth in the future?” asked Mulchaey.