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News Digest: Docomo,Telecordia, Adlabs, M-Banking, Nilekani, AccessKenya, Sun Direct, Kerala, Bharti, NDS

Rural M-Banking To Be National Priority

Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India, has asked the Department of Telecom to set up a committee to study facets of mobile banking in order to launch services in rural India. Authentication norms, know-your-customer norms and best practices will be part of the study. The financial inclusion project is all set to become a national priority and the pilot project will bring financial services over the mobile medium to select villages by 2012.

Adlabs To Reorganize Big Cinemas Into Geographic Units

Adlabs (soon to be called Reliance MediaWorks) is going to reorganize BIG Cinemas operations into two business strategic units based on geographical division. Tushar Dhingra, COO, BIG Cinemas will focus on the North, East and Central India. Ashish Saksena is joining the company as COO for West and South India. Saksena was previously CEO of PVR pictures. BIG Cinemas has 213 screens across 66 cities, and is targeting 100 more screens by next year, with a presence in 85 cities, and cater to 35 million customers.

Tata Communications Partner With AccessKenya, Expands WAN Service To China

Tata Communications has partnered with the Kenyan ISP to establish a Tier 1 Internet Point-of-Presence that will automatically offer redundancy for Internet traffic going north towards Europe and southwards to South Africa well as to Asia and India over the SEACOM cable system so customer services are not disrupted. It will also offer Kenyan customers higher speeds and a direct link.

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Tata Communications has also extended its Ethernet service portfolio to China, through an alliance with Beijing based company China Enterprise Communications (CEC). The company will provide global point to point, point to multipoint and multipoint Ethernet coverage to China’s largest business centers of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, with the option of either PoP-to-PoP or end-to-end service guarantees.

Our Take: Before cellular operators start profiting from the African market, Tata Communcations seems to have set up base and has partnered with local ISPs to expand its presence. If its sister company Tata Indicom decides to foray into Africa, this could make it easier to launch operations.

Nilekani-DoT Meet On Sep 24 For Unique ID Project

Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, the body set up to create a bank of unique citizen identification numbers for Indians will meet with the Department of Telecom to discuss the role of telecom operators in the project. Telcos can help by sharing their database of mobile subscribers, addresses and identities. (ET)

Related: Indian Government Constitutes Panel For National ID Project

Tata Docomo To Use Telecordia’s Real Time Charging Solution

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Tata Indicom uses Telecordia’s real time charging solution for its nearly 40 million CDMA customers and is nowexpanding that to Tata Docomo’s GSM users. Tata Docomo is the joint venture between Tata Indicom and Japanese telco NTT Docomo. The real time charging solution allows the telco to create and deploy rules for rating, discounting policies and promotions. So that’s how it’s been launching its quirky pricing strategies like the Diet SMS (pay one paisa per character in your SMS) one.

Related: Will Pricing Strategy Help Tata Docomo Succeed?

Vamsi Vanka Is GM Of Acmic Interactive

Online ad firm Acmic Interactive has roped in Vamsi Vanka as General Manager. Vanka was previously the national director at MEC Interaction and prior to that business head at EBS Interactive.  (via E4M)

Sun Direct Customer Base Over 4 Million

DTH provider Sun Direct claims to have  crossed a subscriber base of four million – Tata Sky crossed the milestone in August and Dish TV claims its base is 5.7 million. ( via Indian Television)

Our Take: The DTH wars have begun. Tata Sky and Dish TV were the first DTH providers to start off and the Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun Direct one of the newest.

NDS Partners CAS provider Gujarat Telelink

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CAS (conditional access systems) security company NDS has partnered with Gujarat Telelink Private Ltd, an independent cable operator in Gujarat to deploy interactive TV applications including games, premium content such as international movies, value-added content such as a “songs-on-demand” service and a video on demand service is in the pipeline.

Airtel Increases MTN Merger Offer

Bharti Airtel is believed to have raised the offer for South African telco MTN Group by about 7%, up by $900 million, taking its bid to $14 billion in cash and stock for a 49% stake in MTN. Note that this information is source based, and no official information has been released by the company. [Wall Street Journal]

Kerala Targets 100 percent Internet Connectivity By November

All villages in Kerala will have broadband access by November. This is expected to help the state achieve 100 percent e-literacy under the Akshaya scheme. The state claims that there are at least two Akshaya centres in every panchayat, with at least five computers each. Hope the content is there as well. [Business Standard]

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