In a controversy that doesn't seem to be dying down anytime soon, telecom tribunal TDSAT questioned TRAI whether Reliance Jio informed the sector regulator as well as its own customers of its two free services offers - Happy New Year Offer and Welcome Offer - being "distinct" from each other. TRAI has till February 15 to make its submissions on the matter. Previously, the regulator had said that the two Reliance Jio offers are indeed distinct from each other and the new Happy New Year Offer cannot be considered an extension of the Welcome Offer, and thus the two comply with the regulations on promotional offers.
And now, we move to other major tech news of the day.
1) BSNL landline rentals drop to Rs. 49 a month
To take on Reliance Jio free services, state-run telecom operator BSNL has dropped certain monthly rentals for landlines by half. At Rs. 49, BSNL's Experience LL 49 plan offers unlimited calling on Sunday and every night from 9pm to 7am. However, the Rs. 49 landline rental is applicable only for the first six months, after which the customer will have to pay the standard rental charges depending on their area. This comes soon after BSNL dropped its mobile data rates to Rs. 36 per GB with a special pack.
Meanwhile, the operator has reduced the pulse of BSNL-to-BSNL local landline calls from 3 minutes to 2 minutes, and the charge per MCU (metered call unit) for local calls within the BSNL network has been hiked from Re. 1 to Rs. 1.20. BSNL charges the same rate for calls from BSNL numbers to other networks.
2) Xiaomi's in-house Pinecone processor is now official
Xiaomi has made its rumoured Pinecone processor official with a page on Chinese social media website Weibo. However, the SoC itself remains shrouded in mystery as the company has not given away any details of the chipset, except the name and logo. However, we may not have to wait too long as the rumour mill suggests that the first Xiaomi smartphone with Pinecone processor will be Mi 5c, which is said to be launching soon.
According to tech grapevine, Xiaomi will initially launch two versions of the Pinecone processor - the Pinecone 1 with an octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU, and the Pinecone 2 with four Cortex-A73 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores. There's no clarity on the GPU, but the chip is expected to be made in the cutting edge 10nm process.
3) ASUS ZenFone 3s Max launched at Rs. 14,999
ASUS has launched the ZenFone 3s Max in the country today at a price tag of Rs. 14,999. This phone sports a metal unibody design, a fast fingerprint scanner, and a 5000mAh battery. The smartphone has a 5.2-inch HD screen, 1.5GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6750 chipset, 3GB RAM, 13-megapixel rear camera, and 8-megapixel front camera. Interestingly, it also runs Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. Be sure to check out our first impressions of the device below.
4) Alibaba may offer free Internet in India
Alibaba has reportedly said that it is in talks with telecom players to provide free internet in India. They’re supposedly targeting areas of the country that don’t have good Internet access. But what remains unknown is the monetisation strategy of this service. We all know how Facebook’s Free Basics and previous other efforts had faced severe backlash due to their violation of net neutrality rules, so what approach Alibaba takes remains to be seen.
5) Samsung Galaxy S8 renders report of bezel-less design, dual cameras
Details of the Galaxy S8 have consistently leaked in the past few months, and today we have two new nuggets of information. First is a set of renders that showcase the already seen near-bezel-less design, which results in an incredibly high display-to-body ratio. Then there are rumours that this Samsung phone may also feature dual cameras, if these leaked case photos are to be believed.
But looking at the leaked renders above, it very well could be that the extra space is meant to expose the heart rate sensor and LED flash, that sit next to the single camera sensor.
6) Apple shipped more phones in China than Xiaomi in 2016
This one comes as a surprise - Apple shipped 44.9 million iPhones in China, which is reportedly higher than the 41.5 million units Xiaomi shipped in the same year. If true, it’s astonishing because Xiaomi is known for selling volumes of phones that cost much lesser than Apple iPhones.
In more local news related to the company from Cupertino, Apple is again trying to negotiate the permission to sell refurbished iPhones in India, on the sidelines of preparing to manufacture new ones in the country.
7) Google says there’s need for a simpler way to remain safe online
On Safer Internet Day 2017, a Google executive urged that online safety needs to get simpler, especially for people who’re coming online for the first time. The company has implemented features like ‘Safe Browsing’ to help people identify malicious websites on the Internet.
8) Google may use a partnership to get Play Store into China
After being pulled from the country five years ago, Google’s marketplace for apps, movies, songs, books etc - dubbed Google Play - might be on its way back to China in partnership with NetEase. NetEase is China’s second largest operator of online games and has partnered with western companies before for the same. This partnership is required because of China’s tight control over the Internet available in the country, which is going to be subject to more scrutiny soon.