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Supreme Court orders telcos to clear AGR dues by Mar 17, threatens Contempt

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Supreme Court slammed mobile carriers on Friday for non-payment of billions of dollars in government dues and threatened them with contempt proceedings if they didn’t pay up by March 17.

The court, which had asked companies including Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel to pay Rs. 92,000 crores in overdue levies and interest by January 23, had rejected petitions seeking a review of its order last month.

“This is pure contempt, 100 percent contempt,” judge Arun Mishra told lawyers for the companies and the government on Friday.

The trio of Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, which is backed by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, controls more than 90 percent of India’s mobile market. Airtel and Vodafone have both flagged going concern risks following the order.

The move threatens the survival of Vodafone Idea, a joint venture of Britain’s Vodafone Group and India’s Idea Cellular, as the unit is saddled with about $3.9 billion in overdue payments.

The Supreme Court on Friday said the companies and the federal Department of Telecommunications (DoT) were liable for contempt of court.

“Should we wind up the Supreme Court now? Is there any law left in the country?” Mishra said.

“We will draw up contempt against everyone,” he said.

Vodafone Idea, which owes the government about $4 billion, saw its shares fall as much as 19 percent after Friday’s ruling. The company had lost about 27 percent of its value this year at Thursday’s close after falling 73 percent in 2019.

The broader Indian stock market also reversed early gains to trade lower after the ruling as investors were worried about its strain on already over-exposed banks. The broader NSE Nifty 50 index was down 0.15 percent during mid-day’s trading.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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NASA

NASA eyes new missions for Venus, moons of Jupiter, Neptune

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Washington, Feb 15 (SocialNews.XYZ) NASA is funding studies that aim to understand more about Venus, Jupiter’s moon Io and a unique and highly active icy moon of Neptune, Triton.

These selected studies will develop concept studies for new missions.

Although they are not official missions yet and some ultimately may not be chosen to move forward, the selections focus on compelling targets and science that are not covered by NASA’s active missions or recent selections, the US space agency said on Friday.

“These selected missions have the potential to transform our understanding of some of the solar system’s most active and complex worlds,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

“Exploring any one of these celestial bodies will help unlock the secrets of how it, and others like it, came to be in the cosmos,” Zurbuchen added.

The four investigations were selected as part of NASA’s Discovery Programme that invites scientists and engineers to assemble a team to design exciting planetary science missions that deepen what we know about the solar system and our place in it.

Each of the four nine-month studies will receive $3 million to develop and mature concepts and will conclude with a concept study report, NASA said.

After evaluating the concept studies, NASA will continue development of up to two missions towards flight.

Two of these investigations target Venus.

Source: IANS

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Microsoft

Microsoft Opens Third India Research and Development Centre, in Noida

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Microsoft is expanding its footprint in India with a new engineering hub in the National Capital Region. To further tap engineering talent in India, Microsoft on Monday announced the launch of its third India Development Centre (IDC) in Noida, after Bengaluru and Hyderabad and will build on its commitment to tapping India’s engineering talent to create solutions for global impact.

“We have built a strong engineering presence in India over the past two decades and we are excited to be expanding to Noida. Our deep commitment to the region will help us further Microsoft’s mission to empower every individual and every organisation on the planet to achieve more,” said Kurt DelBene, Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy, Core Services Engineering and Operations, and the Chairman of the IDC Advisory Board.

The center will be home to Microsoft’s engineering teams across various technology groups, including Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Research Group, Cloud & Enterprise Group, and Experience & Devices Group, along with Core Services Engineering and Operations. It will also house Mixer, Microsoft’s live streaming gaming platform team, becoming the first center to host the gaming team outside the company headquarters in Redmond.

Rajiv Kumar, Managing Director, Microsoft India Research & Development Pvt. Ltd., said, “The launch of the new IDC center in NCR is a step towards realizing IDC’s vision to be a world class development center and source of innovation for the next billion users. This creates opportunities for engineers to do meaningful work that will have impact across the world. We are excited to tap into the engineering talent available in this part of the country to create a truly pioneering organization that will build innovative solutions for global impact.”

With this addition, the India Development Centre will have teams across all engineering divisions from Microsoft.

First set up in Hyderabad in 1998, the development centre drives Microsoft’s strategy of globally shared development to build products and services.

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Google

Google Station Free Wi-Fi Service Being Wound Down Globally, Will Be Helmed by Partners Like RailTel

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Google Station is being wound down, globally. To recall, the free Wi-Fi programme was launched in India again in 2015, and has since been expanded to a whole bunch of railway stations and 1000’s of different areas within the nation. It was launched in collaboration with RailTel, and was branded as powered by Google RailWire. Now that it’s winding down, the corporate shall be working with companions corresponding to RailTel to transition current websites – which implies the Wi-Fi service itself is not prone to shutdown.

In a blog post on Monday, Google cited the altering nature of the cellular knowledge panorama as its main cause for winding down its Google Station mission.

“As we glance to the subsequent section of enabling entry, it is clear that since we began 5 years in the past, getting on-line has develop into a lot easier and cheaper. Mobile knowledge plans have develop into extra inexpensive and cellular connectivity is bettering globally. India, particularly now has among the many least expensive cellular knowledge per GB on this planet, with cellular knowledge costs having diminished by 95 % within the final 5 years, as per TRAI in 2019. Today, Indian customers devour near 10GB of information, every month, on common. And much like what the Indian authorities did, a number of governments and native entities have kicked off their very own initiatives to offer simpler, cost-effective entry to the Internet for everybody,” the weblog submit reads.

Google additionally says that aside from the modified context of cellular knowledge, the “challenge of varying technical requirements and infrastructure among our partners across countries has also made it difficult for Station to scale and be sustainable, especially for our partners.” It reveals it’s working with its companions to “transition existing sites so they can remain useful resources for the community.”

As for what’s subsequent on Google’s radar, the corporate mentioned, “And when we evaluate where we can truly make an impact in the future, we see greater need and bigger opportunities in building products and features tailored to work better for the next billion user markets. “

Separately, Google additionally introduced the winding down of Google Station programme in South Africa, which had been launched simply three months in the past in partnership with Think WiFi.

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