Users will finally have to pay India’s richest man to use his 4G network

Image: Reliance Jio

Free data and free voice calls can do you wonders. Just ask Reliance Jio. The new telecom operator from Indias largest industrial house has garnered over 100 million subscribers in less than six months since its launch, the countrys richest man said today.

The 4G-only LTE network has been adding more than seven new customers (average) every second to its platform for the last 170 days, RILs Mukesh Ambani said Tuesday, noting that “today is a historic day.”

In comparison, India’s oldest private carrier, Airtel, has 260 million subscribers. Vodafone, which is the second largest carrier, has over 200 million subscribers. Reliance Jio has already surpassed state-run BSNL, which had around 90 million mobile subscribers as of late last year.

Thanks to Reliance Jios free data, Ambani said, India has moved from the 150th country to the number one nation in consumption of data on mobile. Reliance Jio users are consuming over one billion gigabyte of data in a month, Ambani claimed. No technology company, service, or anything has grown at this rate, he said.

But things are about to change. Though voice calls will remain free on Reliance Jio after its “New Year Welcome” offer expires at the end of next month, the free data charm is going away. Starting April 1, all new subscribers and over 100 million existing users will have to pay for the data they are consuming. Reliance isn’t completely doing away with its free offerings, however.

Image: Reliance jio

Ambani said that moving forward, Reliance Jio will not only match the best deal offered by any of the incumbent carriers, but will also offer 20 percent more data for the same price. Additionally, Reliance Jio has announced an annual “Prime” membership for its existing customers and anyone who joins the network before April 1. The membership costs Rs 99 ($1.5) for a year.

Subscribers who enrol themselves into the Prime membership will be able to enjoy the “Reliance Jio New Year Offer” for another 12 months at Rs 303 ($4.5) a month. As part of the New Year Offer, which Reliance Jio announced in December last year, the company offers its subscribers 1GB of data each day, and access to a bouquet of content services (Jio Music, Jio Cinema, Jio Mags, Jio Live TV).

Despite this, however, it could be a hard sell for Reliance Jio to convince its subscribers to stick to its network. According to many analysts we have spoken to over the past few months, Reliance Jio will struggle in retaining its existing customers once it starts charging for data.

“Jio is aware that as soon as the service becomes chargeable and the ‘free’ tag is off, there will be a good churn brining down their revenue potential,” FaisalKawoosa, an analyst at Cyber Media Research told Mashable India, adding that the company had to make a conscious call between “making large fat subscriber base and realising the expected potential of revenues.”

Now with the free lure going away, Kawoosa believes India will see a fair level play field between all the existing telecom players.

This will be the moment of truth for Jio, which has faced quality issues since the beginning with users complaining about not being able to make calls to other networks and falling internet speeds. It remains to be seen how many of Jio’s 100 million existing subscribers continue to use its service once the free period lapses on April 1.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/02/21/reliance-jio-100-million-subscribers/

Verizon is still buying Yahoo but for $350 million less than the original deal

In this Feb. 19, 2015, file photo, Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer delivers the keynote address at the first-ever Yahoo Mobile Developer's Conference, in San Francisco.
Image: AP/Eric Risberg

Verizon is still going to buy Yahoo despite the revelation of massive security breaches within the company.

Yahoo isn’t getting off scot-free. The new deal will be $350 million lighter than the original, according to a press release issued on Tuesday by Yahoo. In other words, Verizon was able to knock off 7 percent from the original deal price.

Investors had clearly been braced for a bigger hit to Yahoo. News that the deal would still go through began to emerge last week, when Bloomberg reported that Verizon had renegotiated $250 million off the deal price.

That sent shares in Yahoo sharply higher.

Image: Google screenshot

Jan Dawson, analyst at Jackdaw Research, noted that the new deal shows that there’s little expectation of the data breaches having much of an impact on the company in the future.

“The $350 million discount is not actually all that significant, which likely reflects the fact that security breaches like this dont end up having all that much long-term impact on customer satisfaction or usage,” he wrote on Tech Narratives.

Verizon agreed to acquire Yahoo’s core business in July 2016 for $4.83 billion, a move that marked the end of Yahoo’s long run as one of the premiere independent internet companies.

“We continue to be very excited to join forces with Verizon and AOL. This transaction will accelerate Yahoo’s operating business especially on mobile, while effectively separating our Asian asset equity stakes,” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said in a press release. “It is an important step to unlock shareholder value for Yahoo, and we can now move forward with confidence and certainty. We have a terrific, loyal, experienced team at Yahoo. I’m incredibly proud of our team’s strong product and financial execution in 2016, setting the stage for a successful integration.”

Not long after, news emerged that Yahoo had been the subject of two separate, massive security breaches that included the theft of account information for 1 billion users.

The revelation led to Verizon openly stating that it was looking into whether the revelation of the breaches which Verizon apparently did not know about at the time of the deal would affect the value of Yahoo.

Dawson added that he remains skeptical that Verizon will have much success in integrating Yahoo alongside its other digital properties (AOL, namely) in an effort to compete for online advertising.

“Ironically, now the big question once again becomes whether Verizon can actually craft something compelling out of these various bits of yesteryears Internet. Verizon is said to beaiming to go head to head with Google and Facebook, which is a real stretch when it comes to well-targeted advertising, and Im still very skeptical that these assets combined can ever be more than a second tier player in the online advertising market,” Dawson wrote.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/02/21/yahoo-verizon-deal-data-breaches-cost-350-million-dollars/

Now you don’t have to find Snapbot to buy Spectacles

Image: snap

Finally, Spectacles are going online. Snap’s video-camera sunglasses can now be purchased on Spectacles.com.

The e-commerce launch comes after 102 days of watching the same website for a countdown clock that revealed secret locations to access the Spectacles. The one semi-permanent location, which opened Nov. 21 in New York City, closed Sunday.

While you can order them online starting Monday, the glasses are only available to ship in the U.S., and each household (a.k.a. address selected for shipping) is limited to six pairs. The glasses still cost $129.99 and will ship in two to four weeks.

People also can shop for extra cases and cables, which were previously only available on Amazon. The move is bound to bring more revenue from and reach to Spectacles just weeks ahead of the company’s initial public offering.

Snapbot, Snap’s interactive vending machines that dispensed the glasses, will continue to drop in secret locations around the U.S. It’s taking a short break, according to a Snap spokesperson.

Snapbot may be taking a break from traveling throughout the U.S., but Snap’s executives aren’t. Cofounders Evan Spiegel, CEO, and Bobby Murphy, CTO, will go to different states for the roadshow of its IPO and visit with investors and analysts.

For Snap, Spectacles have not generated meaningful revenue yet, but the company is touting them as a sign of their creative investments and future potential.

“Our latest effort to reinvent the camera is Spectacles, our sunglasses that make Snaps. Spectacles connect seamlessly with Snapchat and are the best way to make Memories because they capture video from a human perspective,” Snap wrote in an S-1.

The bot has dropped at 45 locations so far. Here’s the full list, compiled with the help of change detection service Visualping:

Snap said the limited rollout was intentional, in part, to “assess product demand,” according to its S-1 filing.

Snapbot has drawn excited people to every stop, selling out in just a few hours. The New York location once drew 18-hour lines. Since December, the store has been mostly empty throughout the day.

Snap made the details behind its launch quite secretive. It’s unclear how many bots there are. According to Visualping, there may be four.

The larger rollout of Spectacles comes with some risks.

“We plan to significantly broaden the distribution of Spectacles, which will increase our costs and overall financial risk,” reads Snap’s S-1 filing.

Still, Snap has not expanded the reach of Spectacles and Snapbot outside the U.S., at least directly. People can, of course, visit or have a friend or a stranger purchase a pair on their behalf.

Snap did not make the reason behind their limit to the U.S. known.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/02/20/snapchat-spectacles-online/

Apple has acquired Israel facial recognition firm RealFace, report claims

RealFace built an app that automatically chooses the best photos of yourself.
Image: Pickeez/YouTube

On the heels of recent rumors that the upcoming iPhone will have a means of biometric authentication (other than fingerprint scanning) comes the news that Apple has acquired RealFace, an Israeli tech firm specializing in facial recognition.

The report comes from Israeli site Calcalist (via MacRumors) which claims Apple bought the Tel Aviv-based company for “several million dollars.”

Some users may know RealFace from its app Pickeez, which automated the process of choosing the best photos from a bunch. At the time of writing, however, the app appears to be defunct, and RealFace’s own website is offline as well.

The acquisition may turn into an app or a feature down the line, but it’s unlikely to be significant for the upcoming iPhone this late in the game.

The iPhone 8 (its rumored name) is likely to be launched in the fall of this year, and reports claim it will have an all-new glassy design and wireless charging, among other features.

Apple has acquired or looked into acquiring a number of photo-related firms in the past; but one acquisition stands out as it’s quite similar to RealFace. In Jan. 2016, Apple acquired Emotient, a startup which had AI-powered facial recognition tech that could read human emotions.

We’ve contacted Apple about the report but have not yet heard from them.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/02/20/apple-acquires-realface-report/

This startup is changing the construction business

Picture, if you will, a house. What comes to mind? Four walls, square windows, a rectangular door? Changes are theres a lot of right angles.

But one look at a home built by LA-based Binishells is all it takes to realize that this construction company is doing things differently and thinking outside the box.

Binishells president and CEO Nicol Bini is continuing the work of his father, who developed the technology for these domed buildings back in the 1960s. Its something Bini refers to as building 2.0 a cleaner, safer, less wasteful and more cost-efficient way of doing construction.
It doesnt hurt that it looks really cool, too.

In the last 150 years, construction has not evolved, says Bini. Most other industries even smaller and certainly less impactful have reinvented themselves in infinite number of ways.

Binishells is part of a community of socially-minded innovators and entrepreneurs who make up the LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and are committed to finding clean tech solutions for California and beyond.

Watch the video above to learn how the technology works and discover why Binishells is determined to revolutionize the construction business.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/02/21/how-one-construction-company-is-thinking-outside-the-box/

Thousands of firms sued for rate arrears – BBC News

Image copyright Getty Images

Thousands of businesses across England and Wales were taken to magistrates courts last year for non-payment of their business rates.

The rates advisory firm CVS asked every local authority how many companies had been issued with a summons for the last financial year.

It found that nearly 200,000 businesses had been summoned to court.

That amounted to one in every eight businesses on average, with an even higher proportion in London.

The research also found that nearly half of firms issued with a summons went on to be referred to bailiffs for enforcement proceedings.

Middlesbrough borough council topped the list of authorities which issued the most summonses, with 25% of its businesses receiving a request to appear before the courts.

It was followed by the London borough of Waltham Forest with 22%.

Dartford borough council, Manchester city council, along with Ealing and Haringey councils in London, sued 21% of the their local businesses for non-payment.

The survey suggests that in London a total of 39,098 businesses were told to appear before the courts for non-payment of rates, a figure which represents 16% of all businesses in the capital.

CVS advises companies on their rent and rate valuations.

Its chief executive, Mark Rigby, said the figures he had collected highlighted how the system was criminalising struggling businesses.

“With budget constraints and deficits, we need to be more creative at the way we look at taxation so I am left in no doubt that business rates need to be looked at more holistically within the overall context of the economy, and other taxes, but not simply as a guaranteed revenue stream,” he said.

Winners and losers

The next business rates revaluation comes into effect in England on 1 April – the first for seven years – along with similar changes in Scotland and Wales.

On average, all areas are seeing their rates fall, except London, where bills will rise an average 11% this year.

The government says that within the overall change, 510,000 ratepayers will see their bills increase, 920,000 will see their bills fall and 420,000 experience no change.

Image copyright PA

Image caption Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, recently called for “fundamental reforms” of the business rates system

Mr Rigby said this meant that in London businesses would end up paying an extra 9.4bn over the next five years.

The government has come under increasing pressure to soften the blow for the businesses which will receive higher bills.

Although more firms will benefit than lose, the changes are causing controversy because some firms will see huge bill increases over the five years in which the increases will be phased in.

Business rates are based on property values which are revalued every five years.

However the government delayed the last revaluation by two years, which means April will see the burden shifting for the first time in seven years, and which has produced some dramatic swings.

This latest research from CVS will add to the pressure for a fundamental rethink of the tax, which campaigners say is outdated for the digital age.

The Freedom of Information (FOI) request was sent by the firm to all the 347 billing authorities in England and Wales.

A total of 280 councils responded, covering 1.6 million properties, or 83% of all those liable for business rates.

A government spokesman said: “The vast majority of businesses pay their bills on time and more than 98% of business rates are collected.”

“It’s only fair on hard-working taxpayers that councils chase up all outstanding debts.”

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39041286

How Uber got the message

(CNN)An innocent mistake. That’s what management of Uber Technologies Inc. reportedly told engineer Susan J. Fowler when she complained in 2015 that her manager was sexually harassing her.

New

When women assume the risk of going public, it can lead to policy changes. Twenty years ago, a group of female brokers and sales assistants in the Garden City, New York, branch of Smith Barney sued that firm in a sexual harassment and gender discrimination case that became known as the “Boom-Boom Room” suit, named for a party room in the branch’s basement. After initially labeling it an “isolated incident” — sound familiar? — Smith Barney faced a cascade of similar harassment allegations from branches all over the United States.
Smith Barney paid $150 million in arbitrations and settlements in that case amid rousing talk of real change for women on Wall Street.
But the policy changes too often lack real staying power. Once the Boom-Boom Room story was no longer making headlines, the old discriminatory policies began to seep back in. By 2005, another lawsuit against Smith Barney was citing discrimination against female brokers. That one settled for $33 million in 2008. And through it all, some harassers held on to their jobs. A male broker who’d attacked a female colleague in Smith Barney’s Walnut Creek, California, office in 1990 was at the firm for another 24 years, according to regulatory records.
At the same time, scholars at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington found that in 2015, women in the securities industry were earning 52 cents for every dollar men made. So much for lasting change, or progress toward equality.

Join us on Twitter and Facebook

Is there any solution given a system that favors the employer and the harasser? Yes — and Fowler is Exhibit A. She said on Twitter Sunday night that her revelations led to such a flood of reactions that it shut down her Twitter and Gmail apps. Many of the supporters who stampeded her accounts with “attagirls” took to social media to say they’d deleted their Uber accounts and suggested others do the same. It took no time for the hashtag #deleteuber — which also swelled in response to Uber’s decision to turn off surge pricing during the Taxi Worker’s alliance participation in an anti-travel ban protest at JFK — to begin trending on Twitter.
In other words, money talks and the Internet helps to amplify its voice. Employers have stripped us of many of our rights. But not even an Ivy League band of big-ticket lawyers can figure out a way to stop us taking our business elsewhere when we’re sickened by a company’s behavior.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/21/opinions/uber-hr-antilla-opinion/index.html

Sutton goalkeeper’s midgame pie sparks gambling probe

(CNN)It started as a hilarious highlight to an otherwise lackluster soccer match: Sutton United’s “roly-poly goalie” Wayne Shaw caught snacking on a pie during the second half of the club’s FA Cup match against Arsenal.

But what began as a lark has ended with gambling investigations and the reported resignation of the much-loved reserve goalkeeper.
You see, Sun Bets — which controversially replaced Sutton’s normal sponsor just for the Arsenal game — had 8/1 odds on Shaw being caught munching on a pie on the sideline.
    The Monday game was billed as the ultimate in David v. Goliath matchups. The Premier League’s fourth-place team, the Arsenal Gunners, were set to travel to Gander Green Lane (capacity roughly 6,000 with a temporary stand to accommodate Arsenal fans) to take on non-league Sutton United, a squad that sits 105 places beneath the Gunners in the standings.
    In the second half of the fixture, after Arsenal striker Theo Walcott put the Gunners up 2-0 and Sutton had exhausted its substitutions, cameras caught Shaw on the sideline unabashedly — enthusiastically even — scarfing down what the commentators said was a pie.
    Perhaps not since the New York Jets’ Mark Sanchez ate that hot dog on the sideline have sports and cuisine collided in such a high-profile way.

    My new favorite non-#Arsenal, non-American player is #SuttonUnited's backup GK Wayne Shaw. He hit the bar during halftime of the #FACup match, then nommed a pie in the 2nd half. Presented in slow-mo to magnify its glory…

    A post shared by Eliott C. McLaughlin (@eliottmc) on

    Shaw would later clarify on Twitter that it was a pasty, not a pie. Meat and potato, to be exact. (A pasty is a baked pastry similar to, and in some cases, indistinguishable from, a pie. It has nothing — repeat, nothing — to do with strip clubs or tassels.)
    Of course, none of this should’ve caught anyone off guard. Shaw had already made a trip to the bar at halftime, where a BBC reporter captured him hanging out with fans.
    It was all fun and games until England’s Football Association and the UK’s Gambling Commission stepped in.
    In a statement sent to CNN, an FA spokesman said, “We are investigating to establish whether there has been any breach of The FA rules relating to betting.”
    The Gambling Commission also launched a probe, its enforcement and intelligence director Richard Watson said in a statement.
    “Integrity in sport is not a joke and we have opened an investigation to establish exactly what happened. As part of that we’ll be looking into any irregularity in the betting market and establishing whether the operator has met its (license) requirement to conduct its business with integrity,” he said.
    The commission added in an email that it had warned bookmakers in June about potential integrity issues involving “novelty markets,” which include off-the-wall bets on things like pie eating.

    Hold on, bets on pie eating???

    Yup, pie eating.
    When the big fellow began chowing down, the betting service had to pay up. To the tune of at least 10,000 (around $12,500), according to a Sun Bets tweet.
    Compounding matters is that Shaw told reporters after the game that he was aware Sun Bets had laid odds on his midgame snack, according to multiple reports.
    “A few of the lads said to me earlier on: ‘What is going on with the 8-1 about eating a pie?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, I’ve eaten nothing all day, so I might give it a go later on,'” he said. “I thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it. All the subs were on and we were 2-0 down.
    “I went and got it at halftime from the kitchen. I had it all prepared and ready to go. It was meat and potato. … It was just a bit of banter for them. It is something to make the occasion as well and you can look back and say it was part of it and we got our ticket money back,” he added.

    Strict rules on gambling

    Wayne

    A 2014 edict forbade footballers from gambling, and the rules state that players cannot instruct someone else to bet on a soccer-related matter or pass on information that could assist someone in betting.
    Asked if he knew anyone who placed a wager, Shaw replied, “I think there were a few people. Obviously, we are not allowed to bet. I think a few of the mates and a few of the fans.”
    On Tuesday morning, it seemed like the hullabaloo would blow over. Tales of Shaw’s joviality spread widely, and the 45-year-old goalkeeper seemed to be enjoying the spotlight during an appearance on “Good Morning Britain.”
    Shaw, who also serves as Sutton”s goalkeeping coach and stadium caretaker, laughed along with the talk show hosts as they showed a picture of him vacuuming Gander Green Lane’s field turf in slippers ahead of the Arsenal match.
    But soon, the bad news arrived, as Sutton manager Paul Doswell told Sky Sports News HQ that he “woke up this morning and a mini-crisis had started.”
    “We realized the implications of what had happened, with regards to the FA and the Gambling Commission, and unfortunately Wayne has resigned from his position on the back of that,” Doswell said.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/21/football/wayne-shaw-eating-pie-fa-cup-arsenal-sutton-gambling/index.html