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Israeli spacecraft crashes onto moon after technical failures

YEHUD (ISRAEL), April 12: The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet crashed onto the moon on Thursday after a series of technical failures during its final descent, shattering hopes of a historic controlled landing on the lunar surface.

The unmanned robotic lander suffered periodic engine and communications failures during the 21 minutes or so of the landing sequence, the support team said.

Beresheet, whose name is Hebrew for the biblical phrase “In the beginning”, had travelled through space for seven weeks in a series of expanding orbits around Earth before crossing into the moon’s gravity last week.

The final manoeuvre on Wednesday brought it into a tight elliptical orbit around the moon, 15-17 km (9-10.5 miles) from the surface at its closest. From there it was a short, nail-biting and ultimately disappointing conclusion.

So far, only three nations have succeeded in carrying out a “soft” landing on the lunar surface: the United States, the Soviet Union and China.

ISRO launches student-made satellite Kalamsat named after Abdul Kalam

SRIHARIKOTA, Jan 24: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched its 46th flight of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C44) and put into space Microsat-R, an imaging satellite and student-made Kalamsat, a communication satellite named after former President Abdul Kalam, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

The launch took place at 11:37 pm. PSLV is a four-stage launch vehicle with alternating solid and liquid stages.

PSLV-C44 is the first mission of PSLV-DL and is a new variant of PSLV.

In PSLV-C44, the fourth stage (PS4) of the vehicle will be moved to a higher circular orbit so as to establish an orbital platform for carrying out experiments.

Kalamsat, a student payload, will be the first to use PS4 as orbital platform. PSLV-C44 will also carry Microsat-R, an imaging satellite.

Earlier, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said India’s second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, which was scheduled to be launched in late 2018, is now expected to be launched between March 25 and end of April this year.

Vodafone plans $3.5 billion war chest to fight Mukesh Ambani

NEW DELHI, Jan 24: Vodafone Idea Ltd. plans to raise as much as 250 billion rupees ($3.5 billion) via a rights offering to help India’s largest mobile-phone carrier fend off Asia’s richest man, who continues to roil the industry by providing 4G Internet at prices that would drive most carriers bankrupt in other countries.

Vodafone Group Plc will contribute as much as 110 billion rupees, while Aditya Birla Group will pump in as much as 72.5 billion rupees, according to a statement on Wednesday.

The plan underscores how Indian carriers have yet to figure out how to compete against billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., which offers packages with enough data to watch 46 hours of YouTube videos for about $2 a month. Vodafone Idea itself was formed last year after a couple of the industry’s biggest players merged to create an operator big enough to withstand Jio’s low prices.

“We expect the rights issue to get priced at a discount, given hyper competitiveness in the segment,” said Rohan Dhamija, head of South Asia and Middle East at consulting firm Analysys Mason. “Vodafone Idea will use the funds to make network investments in 4G and for warding off competition from Reliance Jio.”

Separately, Vodafone Idea is also planning to sell its 11.5 percent stake in Indus Towers Ltd., a cell-phone tower company it jointly owns with Bharti Infratel Ltd and Aditya Birla Telecom.

Jio stormed into the world’s second-largest phone market in 2016 by offering free wireless services for months. Today, the company has already signed up 280 million subscribers and turned profitable -- even bringing connectivity to remote Indian villages.

BSNL launches Bharat Fiber broadband service, offers data speeds up to 100 Mbps

NEW DELHI, Jan 18: State-run telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on Friday announced the launch of its new Bharat Fiber broadband services in India.

BSNL is offering up to 100Mbps of speed. To get started, you need to pay Rs 500 security deposit (refundable) for the ONT installation. BSNL will charge Rs 50 ONT monthly rental charges per month.

BSNL’s exclusive broadband FTTH plans start at Rs 777 per month. This includes up to 50Mbps of speed till 500GB?and 2Mbps post completion of data quota. For Rs 1,277, users get up to 100Mbps till 750GB, and 2Mbps beyond. The most expensive data plan is priced at Rs 16,999 and features 100Mbps speeds till 3,500GB, and 10Mbps after data quota is exhausted.

BSNL says it will further reduce its broadband data prices after the official launch on Saturday.

“Any DSL Broadband plan (including combo plan) with FMC Rs. 375 and above is applicable on FTTH,” according to the BSNL website.

“Bharat Fiber bookings have already been started on bsnl portal. Our technology is one of the best as digital India is a national mission and we want to put all efforts to make this happen in every home of our country,” said Vivek Banzal, Director CFA, BSNL Board in a release.

“We maintain transparency in our billing systems and share complete details with our customers. We are also issuing regular security and usage advisory to our customers based on usage pattern. Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are key themes we regularly work on and it’s bringing now results to us, he added.

Reliance Jio’s broadband service, GigaFiber, is already being gradually rolled out to select users. Currently, Jio is offering a preview offer under which users can get GigaFiber connection with a security deposit of Rs 4,500 at the time of installation.

Reliance Jio is offering up to 100Mbps speeds for 90 days along with a monthly data quota of 100GB. Jio is also giving away free top-up of up to 40GB to users who have exhausted 100GB data quota.

Foxconn to begin assembling top-end Apple iPhones in India in 2019: Source

NEW DELHI, Dec 27: Apple will begin assembling its top-end iPhones in India through the local unit of Foxconn as early as 2019, the first time the Taiwanese contract manufacturer will have made the product in the country, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Importantly, Foxconn will be assembling the most expensive models, such as devices in the flagship iPhone X family, the source said, potentially taking Apple's business in India to a new level.

The work will take place at Foxconn's plant in Sriperumbudur town in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, this source added.

Foxconn, which already makes phones for Xiaomi Corp, will invest 25 billion Indian rupees ($356 million) to expand the plant, including investment in iPhone production, Tamil Nadu's Industries Minister M C Sampath told Reuters.

The investment may create as many as 25,000 jobs, he added.

The other source declined to be named as this person is not authorized to speak to the media. A third source confirmed Foxconn planned to assemble iPhones in India.

It was first reported on December 24 that the Foxconn plant would begin manufacturing various models of the iPhone. Reuters is first to report the size of the investment and the kind of phones to be assembled.

Apple will be tested as we move into 5G era, tech analyst says Apple will be tested as we move into 5G era, tech analyst says

Until now, Cupertino, California-based Apple has only assembled the lower-cost SE and 6S models in India through Wistron Corp's local unit in the Bengaluru technology hub.

Its sales in India have also been focused on lower-end phones - more than half of its sales volume is driven by models older than the iPhone 8, launched last year, according to technology research firm Counterpoint.

Apple launched the pricey iPhone X last year but has cut production of that phone, according to industry analysts, since it began selling the newer versions, iPhone XS and XR, globally this year.

Still, it could potentially get Foxconn to make the older iPhone X version in India where it sells cheaper models in a bid to get a bigger share of the world's fastest growing major mobile phone market.

Full details of Apple's deal with Foxconn are not yet clear and could change.

It is not known if any of the iPhone assembly is being moved from existing Foxconn factories in China and elsewhere. It is also unclear whether the production will be confined to assembly or include any component production in India.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment for this story.

Foxconn said it does not comment on matters related to current or potential customers, or any of their products. It did not immediately respond to a request seeking confirmation that it was investing $356 million in Tamil Nadu.

Apple shocked investors last month with a lower-than-expected sales forecast for the Christmas quarter that jolted parts suppliers across the world.

Foxconn has previously expressed concern over demand for Apple's flagship devices.

Samsung to make at least 1 million foldable phones: Report

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 11: Samsung Electronics Co. will roll out its foldable phone in the first half of next year and produce at least 1 million of them, Yonhap News reported, citing the company’s smartphone chief DJ Koh.

The Suwon, South Korea-based company gave a glimpse of its foldable-screen phone at a developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday without providing details on its price, name or release date. Koh, president of Samsung’s mobile communication business, told reporters after the event that he would launch the device in the first half “no matter what,” Yonhap reported on Sunday.

A new version of the foldable phone will be unveiled every year like Samsung’s flagship phones, such as the Galaxy S9. The company may raise the production volume of its foldable devices depending on market reception, Koh was quoted as saying. Samsung shipped more than 300 million phones in total last year, according to TrendForce, a market research firm.

The world’s biggest phone maker has set up a team with Google to develop a software interface for the foldable phone since Koh met with Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, two months ago, he was quoted as saying.

Samsung and other smartphone makers are trying to revitalize slowing demand for smartphones as users around the world wait longer to upgrade their devices. Samsung plans to release a cheaper version of its flagship Galaxy S10 next year to appeal to consumers growing more cost-conscious, Bloomberg News reported last month.

5G also provides Samsung with a “big opportunity” next year, Koh said, as the plan to make the fifth-generation mobile networks available has been moved up by nine months, according to Yonhap.



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