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Digest: Phase II Digitisation, RFID Tolls, 24 Hour AIR News, TRAI STB Tariffs & NOFN

Government has approved a project to create a National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) connecting all the 2, 50,000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country through Optical Cable (OFC), according to a Press Information Bureau. A minimum bandwidth of 100 Mbps will be available at each of the gram panchayats. 26 states and union territories have signed the MoU for this project including ndhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Puducherry, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. BBNL will be creating the NOFN in these states.

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An Interoperable Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) technology based Electronic Tolling System has been launched at the Charoti Toll Plaza, Dahanu in Thane District, Maharashtra, reports Press Information Bureau. The Toll Plazas between Mumbai – Vadodara on NH-8 are covered by interoperable RFID tolling system. Tags are available in these toll plazas as well as ICICI bank’s website for purchase. The initial cost of the tag is Rs 150 and the minimum amount to be deposited for a car is Rs 200. These pre-paid tags will be affixed to the upper centre portion of the vehicle wind screen. The toll fee will be deducted from these cards each time they pass a toll plaza with the RFID tag reader. SMS and email alerts will be sent after each transaction. ICICI website and toll kiosks can be used for recharging the tags.

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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a draft tariff orders standardising the minimum tariffs to be charged by DTH and cable operators for set-top boxes from consumers. The standardisation of tariff aims to make it easier for consumers to migrate between service providers that use different technologies with different pricing. The tariffs include a refundable security deposit of Rs 500 and a monthly rent of Rs 47.28 (exclusive of taxes) per equipment in the customer’s premises.  Service providers can charge the customers over and above this minimum tariff. Comments on this draft order are open till April 26, 2013.

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Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is considering the launch of a 24 hour news channel on Air,Information & Broadcasting Secretary, Uday Kumar Varma said in a statement. Doordharshan has also been asked to launch a toll free number to receive consumer feedback on programming.

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Out of 38 cities in Phase II of cable TV digitisation ending March 31, 2013, 15 cities have nearly achieved 100% digitization reports Press Information Bureau. Overall, 85% of these cities have been digitized at the end of Phase II.  The report states that 136 lakh STBs have been installed by the Multi System Operators (MSOs) and Direct to Home (DTH) Operators. The total number of installed Cable TV set-top boxes are 91.5 lakhs and DTH operators have installed 44.5 lakhs set-top boxes. In Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Haryana and Chandigarh, analogue signals have been completely switched off. High courts in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat have also given stay orders to switch off analogue signals till further orders. Previously in February 2013, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting had stated that only 55% of the digitisation was complete in Phase II of digitization.

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