News and Gossip!

Thursday, July 31, 2003

SMS rates set for hike

KOCHI: Cellular subscribers in love with the Short Messaging Service (SMS) will be in for a rude jolt shortly as major cell operators in the State are readying for a three-fold increase in SMS rates in certain cases.

The move will double the bills of subscribers, considering the popularity of the SMS, while improving the bottomline of cellular majors who in a reversal of the earlier strategy of reducing call and SMS charges have decided to shore up sagging revenues.

SMS rates have gone up in Mumbai with international SMS costing three times the current charges, moving up from Rs 1.50 to Rs 5, according to reports. Charges for SMS sent to circles outside one’s own circle will go up from Rs 1.50 to Rs 2.

While most of the cellular operators have denied knowledge of the impending increase in SMS rates, an Escotel official has confirmed that many partners of the Mobile First alliance, which includes BPL Mobile, RPG Cellular and Spice Telecom, have increased charges in Mumbai last week.

‘‘We are not providing service in Mumbai. But many partners of Mobile First alliance have increased their SMS rates. Our rates as of now remains the same and we have not decided to revise them here,’’ he said.

The others who have revised SMS rates in Mumbai are Bharti’s AirTel and Hutch.

While the new rates have come into effect for pre-paid customers last week in Mumbai, that of post-paid subscribers will be increased from the next billing cycle, reports said.

According to cellular industry insiders, SMS rates will soon be revised in the rest of the country. ‘‘Once it is introduced in the metros, it will only be a matter of time before it is introduced in the rest of the country, including the State,’’ a mobile phone dealer said.

SMS rates which had been slashed in April-May had come down to just Re 1 for post-paid customers and Rs 1.50 for pre-paid subscribers. This had almost tripled SMS usage as instant messaging became a popular way of communication.

‘‘There has been a huge increase in SMS traffic since the rates were slashed and the revised rates would adversely affect usage patterns and revenue,’’ said an industry insider.

Currently, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) charges the least for SMS at 60 paisa. But they are yet to introduce international SMS.

‘‘We are not contemplating any revision. We are also planning to introduce international Short Messaging Service,’’ said a BSNL official.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Indian scientist nominated for Chemistry Nobe

MUMBAI - An Indian scientist, Mrinal Thakur has been nominated for the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of non-conjugated conductive polymers, that is power conducting natural rubber and the fundamental basis of conductive polymers. Two Americans — Alan Heeger and Alan MacDiarmid — and a Japanese, Hideki Shirakawa, won the Chemistry Nobel in 2000 for their discovery that plastics or polymers, known to be good insulators of electric wires, could even conduct electricity under certain conditions. But they thought only `conjugated' polymers could be conductive. Read more >>

New 'Internet' network soon

By Anand Parthasarathy

BANGALORE JULY 5. After Internet what? We may know the answer within a fortnight. The Geneva-based European Particle Research Laboratory — CERN — expects by then to link 10 scientific establishments worldwide in a network of computers that might well be the prototype for the Internet's next `avatar'.

The Guardian reported yesterday that this new network, being called the `Grid', would differ from today's Internet in one important way. It will no longer matter whether your access to the Net is from a `janatha' personal computer or a super computing machine, because at the other end will be found a massive computing power that can be shared by all. The backbone of the `Grid' will be thousands of PCs whose programmes and storage you can tap from your Net access device, no matter how small. At present, the Internet is served by thousands of servers from where you can download the information you want. But what you can do with depends on the power of your own computer. If the CERN experiment succeeds, it may well launch a new Internet era when the "Network is the Computer" — something that Larry Ellison, head of Oracle Corporation has predicted.

Interestingly, the World Wide Web (WWW) — which provides the Internet-based services we use today — was born in 1991 out of a research network created at the CERN. But do not expect to say `goodbye' to today's Internet — yet. The CERN says on its website that it expects 6,000 computers on the `Grid' within a year — and one lakh by 2007. That's when the `Grid' can become a practical alternative to the Internet.

However, the idea of Grid computing is already changing how many institutions are collaborating on massive scientific studies like the Human Genome. On June 26, Japan's NTT Data Corporation said it had linked thousands of computers in a grid and finished a task in 132 days that would have taken a single large computer 611 years. The study used 12,206 computers randomly linked through Internet whose owners permitted the NTT programme to run when they were not using their machines. And on Wednesday last, the Globus Project, a consortium of international scientific institutions announced that it had released the Globus GToolkit 3.0 (GT3) which will enable any one to create commercial grids riding on the Internet backbone.

In December, India launched its own grid computing initiative — `I-Grid' — where 10 super computers, each crunching numbers at 1 tera flop (one trillion, that is 10 raised to the power 12, floating point operations per second) will eventually be networked. The Pune-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) which delivered the first teraflop super computer, Param Padma, earlier this year, will anchor the project.