Sunday, 4 March 2012
MTNL struggles in CDMA business
State-run Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Limited (MTNL), struggling to survive in an intense competitive telecom industry, is

charting out the road ahead for its CDMA business. The plan may include closing down its operations in the segment.

The 1986-founded company is in the process of appointing a consultant for formulating the future plan of action for its

CDMA business. A senior MTNL official said the company would decide only after a consultant report on whether it

should go for an upgrade of its CDMA network or must close the segment completely after it shifts users to the GSM

segment. “We will soon appoint a consultant to look into this,” he told Business Standard. It wants to focus only on the

GSM segment.

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The company has already decided not to make any fresh investment in the CDMA segment as there is “no growth”, the

official added. It has about 150,000 users on its CDMA platform: Garuda, in Delhi and Mumbai, where it offers mobile

services. However, MTNL’s CDMA users are not able to avail the roaming facility as it is only a limited mobility service.

“We are not seeing any growth in the segment due to the restrictions in the limited mobility service,” the official said.

“Because of this, we have decided not to make any fresh investment currently.”

The company may also go in for a franchisee arrangement for managing its CDMA business, but a final decision will be

taken only after some time.

After a gap of almost two years, MTNL had got a permanent chairman and managing director, A K Garg, in December last

year. The company has been posting losses since quite some time because of retirement benefits, high wage bill and dipping

revenues because of competition in the telecom industry. It has also asked the department of telecommunications (DoT)

to clear a voluntary retirement scheme which will be offered to 15,000-20,000 employees, a third of its workforce.

Already cleared by the MTNL board, the proposal is awaiting nod from the DoT.

The scheme will require the company to make a one-time payment of Rs 2,000-3,000 crore MTNL has asked the DoT to help it

financially to implement the scheme. MTNL, currently, has an employee base of about 45,000. In 1998-99, the company had an

employee base of 61,967, which came down to 44,910 in 2009-10.

The Centre has taken a keen interest in the functioning of MTNL and other loss making state-run telecom PSU BSNL. In

fact, Communications and IT minister Kapil Sibal says he is confident of turning around both the PSUs. He has directed the

DoT to review the performance of both the firms on a monthly basis

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Wily Martin earns Sprint Cup pole for Phoenix race
AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Mark Martin switched teams in the offseason to join Michael Waltrip Racing, the latest move in his multistop career.

Wherever he has gone, the veteran driver has won, and it doesn't look as if it'll take long to do it again with his new team.

Martin followed up a solid run at the Daytona 500, nabbing his 52nd pole on one of the final qualifying runs Saturday for today's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

"You look at Mark Martin, it doesn't matter whose car he drives, he's good in it," said defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, who will start on the front row next to Martin for today's 312-mile race. "To me, it's cool to see stuff like this where you've got a guy like Mark that has bounced around to different organizations, and he's been fast and won races at everywhere he's been."

Regan Smith appeared to be in line for his first pole, sitting atop the grid with a handful of qualifiers left.

Two of those drivers were Martin and Stewart, who know a little about racing around Phoenix's mile oval -- or anywhere else.

Martin was the first to pass Smith, turning a lap of 26.313 seconds with a top speed of 136.815 mph. Stewart also bettered Smith with the final qualifying run of the day, finishing .13 seconds behind.

Smith watched it unfold quickly, seeing himself go from first to third in a matter of minutes as the TV cameras followed his reaction.

"Yeah, you get nervous," said Smith, who wrecked in both Phoenix races last season. "You want to get it. Poles mean something; they're stats. Nobody is going to remember we qualified third ... but we're happy to be starting up front."

Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will start on the second row with Smith after qualifying fourth. Juan Pablo Montoya qualified fifth, five days after a bizarre crash into a safety truck at the Daytona 500.

Martin has raced for seemingly every team on the circuit while winning 40 races. He spent the past three seasons with Hendrick Motorsports but changed teams in the offseason, joining Michael Waltrip for a partial season.

Martin, who will run 24 of 36 races this season while sharing seat time with Waltrip, struggled in qualifying at the Daytona 500 and started 22nd. He was good once the race started after nearly two days of weather delays, leading two laps before finishing 10th at NASCAR's biggest race.

Martin followed that by grabbing the pole at PIR, where he has won twice -- last in 2009 -- and has 28 top-10 finishes.

Not bad for a grizzled 53-year-old whose first Sprint Cup race was in 1981.

"All of you know that I do work real hard at it, and I know that I have to work harder at it than guys that are 20 years younger than me," Martin said. "I'm willing to do that to be able to compete."

Stewart also made a change in the offseason. He won his third Sprint Cup title in 2011 by edging Carl Edwards in the final race, then fired crew chief Darian Grubb a week later. He later hired Steve Addington from Penske Racing to serve as his crew chief.

Stewart and Addington had a good first run together, qualifying third for the Daytona 500. Once the race started, things didn't go so well; Stewart led two laps early but wasn't a factor, finishing 16th to extend his winless streak at the Daytona 500 to 14 years.

"Daytona is always kind of a different deal, but this is where you first really get to start working on the handling of your car with your crew chief," Stewart said.

After today's race, drivers will head to Las Vegas for the March 11 Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Edwards is the defending champion.

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BlackBerry PlayBook bestseller at major Canadian retailer
RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook is a hot item at a large national Canadian reseller this week.

 Have consumers forsaken the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet? Not at one large Canadian retailer.

In a tweet on Friday, RIM linked to a Future Shop tweet that cited the PlayBook as the bestselling tablet this week. Future Shop is a major Canadian reseller.
Related stories

    * Best Buy: We're sold out of PlayBooks
    * $199 BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is back

That may have something to do with the price, of course. The 16GB PlayBook is selling for $199 in Canada, as it is in the U.S. at retailers like Best Buy.

Like Future Shop, Best Buy is also selling the 32GB model for $249.99 and the 64GB model for $299.99.

The low price isn't a new trend by any means. This has been going on since November, when RIM slashed prices $300 across the board.

And with Apple's new iPad due next week, it could be a matter of more urgency for RIM to get the PlayBook into as many hands as possible.

The PlayBook includes a 7-inch 1024x600 display, Wi-Fi connectivity, 3MP front-facing camera and a 5MP rear camera, a Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 dual-core processor, 1GB of system memory, and--according to Future Shop and Best Buy--is available with PlayBook Operating System 2.0.

Via Electronista

Updated at 11:10 p.m. PST: adds information about PlayBook OS 2.0 availability.
Brooke Crothers

Brooke Crothers writes about small devices and the hardware inside. He has served as editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET.

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MINDBLOWING! iPhone 5 concept design TOTALLY ROCKS
Even as Cupertino-based Apple Inc prepares to unleash the third version of the iPad on March 7 and iPhone 5 sometime later this year, artists, stylists and designers are letting their creative juices flow freely in rendering their own concepts.

We present to you these amazing pictures of the concept iPhone 5 from Italian designer Federico Ciccarese that runs

Federico in an e-mail response to said, "This shape (is) born from inspiration for simple things."

Click here for Rediff RealTime News on iPhone 5

Also Read: PHOTOS: Samsung Beam, Nokia 808, LG Vu and more at MWC

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Image: iPhone 5 concept design by Italian designer Federico Ciccarese

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