Centre Asks States Not to Levy Charges on E-Payments to ULBs

The Centre has asked state governments to ensure that no additional charges are levied on e-payments to urban local bodies and also consider rolling out incentives like cash back on utility bills paid through digital means.

Centre Asks States Not to Levy Charges on E-Payments to ULBs“I request you to motivate all Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in your state to switch over to electronic transactions for their payments as well as receipts,” Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said in letters to state urban development ministers.

He said ULBs can play “very important and motivational role” in the drive towards cashless economy by arranging awareness camps and opening accounts, among other steps.

The Urban Development Minister suggested ULBs to consider launching incentives like giving one per cent cash back on utility bills paid through various e-platforms.
“We must incentivise digital transactions and ensure that no additional fees, charges, etc, are levied for such transactions,” he said.
He said ULBs on one hand can switch over to 100 percent e-payment of all their incomes– like collection of taxes, charges, license fee, lease rent– and can ensure electronic payments for salaries, contractual obligations and other benefits like social security pensions.

Naidu said the Centre has launched a “massive drive” to promote payments through cards and digital means which will help India move towards a “less-cash economy”, which will offer benefits like anywhere-anytime availability of services, real-time update of records and ease and transparency in transactions.

Earlier, the Urban Development Ministry had held a video conference with 4,041 cities and states officials to sensitise and motivate them to switch over to e-payments.

Reliance Jio, Tata Teleservices Oppose Airtel, Vodafone Pleas on TRAI IUC Rules

Reliance Jio and Tata Tele Services Ltd (TTSL) today opposed in the Delhi High Court the pleas filed by telecom firms Bharti Airtel and Vodafone challenging TRAI’s interconnect usage charges regulations fixing termination charges for landline to wireless as zero paise and wireless to wireless at 14 paise per minute.

Reliance Jio, Tata Teleservices Oppose Airtel, Vodafone Pleas on TRAI IUC RulesInterconnection usage charges (IUC) or termination charges are payable by one telco, whose subscriber makes a call, to another whose subscriber receives the call. The charge is payable by the first for using the second’s network.

The counsel appearing for Reliance Jio and TTSL told a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal that they are opposing the petitions filed by Airtel and Vodafone.

To this, the bench said, “We felt that all the service providers are on the same footing.”

However, senior advocate P Chidambaram, who was appearing for one of the petitioners, told the bench that service providers who have less customers are not at “disadvantage” but operators having a large customer base are “suffering” due to the regulation.
He argued that the service providers were incurring loss due to termination charges fixed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regulation.

“I have incurred huge amount in my infrastructure. If somebody is using my infrastructure and earning revenue, they have to share it with me and I should also get some revenue out of it,” he told the bench during the arguments which would continue on January 9.

“Bigger network providers are suffering wider disadvantage,” he said, adding, “Sharing the revenue does not mean that somebody will collect the revenue and will not share it with me. Sharing the revenue can never mean 100 on the one side and zero on the other.”
Chidambaram also questioned the power of TRAI in fixing termination charge as zero.

While the counsel appearing for Reliance Jio said that they are opposing the pleas, TTSL had earlier filed a counter affidavit in the matter saying the regulation under challenge “has already been successfully implemented and is in force since last 16 months i.e. from March 1, 2015”.

Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd had approached the high court in November 2015 after which Airtel had also moved the court seeking quashing of telecom interconnect usage charges regulations issued by TRAI on February 23, 2015.

Airtel has also sought directions to TRAI “to fix termination charges by applying the cost-based and work-done principle on a non-discriminatory basis”.

Vodafone in its plea has claimed that the regulations are illegal, bad in fact and in law, arbitrary and in gross violation of the principles of natural justice, beyond the functions of TRAI.

Vodafone had told the court that the fixation of terms of interconnectivity, which includes the termination charge by TRAI, cannot be zero where costs are incurred by the terminating operator and therefore, the regulations fixing the charge as zero is ultra vires the provisions of the TRAI Act.

Fasetto Link Is a Wireless 2TB SSD That You Can Carry in Your Pocket

This year at CES, a US-based startup called Fasetto is showing off Link – an ultraportable SSD external drive that’s small enough to fit into a jeans pocket. Available in three sizes – 256GB, 512GB, and 2TB – the Link uses Wi-Fi to wirelessly connect with smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other supported gadgets.

Fasetto Link Is a Wireless 2TB SSD That You Can Carry in Your PocketMeasuring 2 inch x 2 inch, the device weighs a little over 100 grams. It is MIL-STD 810G certified for ruggedness and an IP68 certification for water resistance. The Link comes with supporting software that lets you access your files and even seamlessly backs up content from your computing devices. You can even grant permission for guests to view specific content inside the Link.

Using dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, it can connect up to 30 devices at once, and a whopping 15 devices can stream content together. The company’s official website has a video where it is shown that Link can wirelessly back up photos from a DSLR cameras in real time, although the specifics of how that actually works is not explicitly mentioned.

fasetto link full fasetto link
Fasetto Link

The internal battery can supposedly power the device for up to 5 hours of streaming on connected devices. Using a separately sold magnetically attachable external battery, it can go on for up to 8 hours. A USB Type-C port at the back claims quick charging, but is said to juice up the 1300mAh battery inside in 75 minutes (which is not really that fast considering smartphones with far bigger batteries charge in about the same time). Speaking of other accessories, there’s also one that makes the Link connect to 4G networks.

The Link starts at $349 (roughly Rs. 23,700) for the 256GB version, $499 (roughly Rs. 34,000) for the 512GB one, and a pricey $1,149 (roughly Rs. 78,000) for the 2TB version. It’s available for preorder on Fasetto’s website and the shipping date is estimated to be April 2017.

After Mars, ISRO Eyes Venus and Jupiter

After its successful Mars Orbiter Mission (MoM), ISRO is eyeing inter-planetary missions to Jupiter and Venus and is studying their feasibility.

After Mars, ISRO Eyes Venus and Jupiter“We are looking at other planets that we can explore. So, two of them are Jupiter and Venus. The mission analysis is on what type of satellite we are supposed to build and what type of rocket we need.

“Studies are going on and it may take few years from now to have a concrete plan,” M Nageswara Rao, Associate Director, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said at a plenary session on science technology at the Indian Science Congress here.

He added that the chance of launching a satellite to Venus comes once in 19 months, considering the distance and earth’s position.

Venus, second in order from the Sun, is nearly 162 million miles away from Earth while Jupiter, which lies between Mars and Saturn, is nearly 610 million miles away from Earth.

Rao said a follow-up mission for Mars Orbiter Mission (MoM) is also being planned.

“We want to have a follow-up Mars Mission and we want to have a mission to Venus. We want to go close, 70,000 km close (to Mars). Work for Chandrayaan 2 is also on. The project involves having a lander and a rover,” he said.

So for the first time, ISRO can have its lander land on the moon, which will give the space agency minute details of the earth’s natural satellite. Earlier envisaged as a joint collaboration with Russia, ISRO will now go solo on this project.

Chandrayaan 2 is expected to be launched next year.