Airtel and Jio clash over interconnection usage charges. Both call for tax relief and incentives.Flipkart announces foray into original video content. Total purchases joint control of Adani Gas. IPhone XR commercial production begins in Chennai. Facebook remains positive about Libra’s prospects. What you missed from Google’s annual "Made by Google" event. UK and EU reach a Brexit deal, which has to be approved by both Parliaments. Brexit deal secured, Boris Johnson heads to Parliament to get it approved. China’s GDP growth slows to 26-year low as trade war, inflation and low consumer demand hurt economy. US-China trade deal by mid-November, Trump says.
Moving on to this week's End of Week Wrap-up:
Table of Contents
Divergence: The telecom wars were on full swing at the Indian Mobile Congress. Bharti Airtel pounded on rival Reliance Jio over its recent move to charge INR6 paise/minute for voice calls made by its users to other networks. Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO for India and South Asia for Airtel, said interconnection usage charges (IUC) are not part of tariffs but clearing charges among operators to transmit calls. Financial Express
Jio countered saying that it will compensate users by giving free data of equal value, and called IUC an “outdated” concept.
Airtel also called on tariffs to go up, arguing that they are too low and unsustainable at present.
Convergence: Amidst the disagreements, the two telecom giants did find areas of consensus. Both Airtel and Jio were united in their call for financial relief and reforms for their debt-laden sector through lower taxation, reduced spectrum charges, deferment of universal services obligation fund (USOF) and refund of input tax credit. ET Telecom
Crafted by Flipkart: Walmart-owned ecommerce giant Flipkart has launched ‘Flipkart Video Originals’, marking is foray into original video content.
The move comes two months after it introduced free video streaming service to draw new users from small towns and cities in India.
The creator to join the platform is Academy Award Winner Guneet Monga. Yourstory
Totally Adani’s: French oil and gas giant Total SA has secured joint control of Adani Gas, which is promoted by the Adani Group. Total, which is the world’s second-largest liquefied natural gas company, will purchase 37.4% stake in Adani Gas. The Adani Group will own 37.4% while the remaining 25.2% will be held by public shareholders. This acquisition is the largest foreign direct investment in the country’s city gas distribution sector. Livemint
iPhone, Therefore I Am: Apple has begun commercial production of its iPhone XR – in Chennai. Why is this a big deal? Prior to this, most iPhones were assembled in China. And only older models were manufactured in India. But as the US-China trade war continues, Apple has sought to diversify its manufacturing – which has been overwhelmingly based out of China – to different countries, including India and the US. The Cupertino-based company is also planning to manufacture its new iPhone 11 series in India. Inc42
Exodus: When it was announced, Libra, Facebook’s cryptocurrency project, had 28 corporate backers. Today, that number has fallen to 21 as more and more companies have abandoned the project, which is now clouded by regulatory and political scrutiny. The seven who have jumped shipped include major processing firms like PayPal, Visa and Mastercard.
But Facebook is still optimistic about Libra’s prospects. In an interview with Yahoo Finance, the project’s head David Marcus said it was “absolutely not” in jeopardy and that it was “going to get harder before it gets easier”. He also stood by the company’s goal in building the Libra Association, growing it to have 100 eventual members. Business Insider
Live from New York, It’s Alphabet Night: Google recently held its annual “Made by Google” hardware event in New York City. They announced launch dates for Stadia, Pixel Buds, Pixelbook Go, Nest WiFi, Pixel 4, and more. Here’s a list of all the announcements and their details.
It’s A Deal: A Brexit deal was reached between the UK and the EU. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted about the same, with the latter calling it a “fair and balanced agreement”. BBC
Never Underestimate a British Man’s Optimism: After PM Johnson finalised a deal with the European Union, he faced the daunting task of convincing the UK Parliament to pass the deal. And in case you haven’t been following the titillating drama that is British politics, Westminster is now a stunningly fragmented along countless lines and ever-shifting opinions. When Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May tried to pass her Brexit deal, it was defeated by a crushing 430-202 margin.
But the Prime Minister was confident about his prospects, despite having already faced derision from his coalition partner and the Opposition Labour Party. Guardian
On Saturday, however, Johnson didn't even get a chance to put the deal to a vote as MPs banded together to force the government by law to ask Brussels for an extension into January. Johnson sent the request for the same to the EU (without signing it), but reiterated his commitment to getting Britain out by the end of this month. As for how he will still be able to keep that promise given his lack of support in Parliament is still unclear. The only thing that is people can be sure about right now is that the Brexit affair has gotten even more muddled and directionless than it was before. NYT
Beijing Blues: In the quarter ending in September, China grew by 6%. This represents the weakest growth since the country began reporting quarterly numbers in 1993. The trade war with the US has taken a devastating toll on China’s economy, which is now the world’s second largest. Coupled with rising inflation, weak consumer demand and a dangerous bout of African swine fever that has decimated the country’s pig population, these factors have slowed growth to a 26-year low.
These doleful numbers could spur the Communist Party to cut interest rates and pursue aggressive stimulus to boost the economy. But it will be tricky since the country’s debt is already so sky-high that its credit rating has been slashed. AP
A Thaw?: After the so-called phase one of the deal was announced last week, US President Donald Trump has said that he thinks a comprehensive trade deal will be signed by mid-November, around the time the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings begin in Chile. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will provide his country’s prospective on the progress of the talks on Saturday, according to Beijing’s state media. Reuters
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