Monday, October 22, 2018

Naming of THIRD PH TELCO Set for this Coming NOVEMBER

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While the companies involved tend not to point it out, it is rather plain to see that the telecommunications market in the Philippines is in the midst of a duopoly, where users of phones have choices that really only fall into two camps, that of Globe and that of PLDT/Smart. The government has been hoping to break that tug of war into a more healthy competition by pushing for the entry of a “third telco”, whether local or international. Bids have been taken for this plum position several months back, with some situation updates at least once a month. Now, the waiting is almost over.
CNN Philippines reports that by early November, the government will be ready to declare the official third telephone company of the Philippines to break up the status quo between PLDT and Globe. Acting Cabinet Secretary Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) made the pronouncement this Monday, October 22, on a senate committee hearing with regards to the final choosing of the third telco. “On November 7, we will have a provisional new major player, barring any decision from the court,” Sec. Rio declared.
With the search for the third wheel in the Globe-PLDT contest starting to wind down, complications have begun to pop up which would seemingly delay the decision on what will be Telco 3. In particular, bidder NOW Telecom, apparently upset at not being selected, has taken the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to court, insinuating that the telco search doubled money-making scheme” due to the stringent financial requirements on potential bidding telecom companies. Its filing of a temporary restraining order on the other hand was thrown own by a Manila court. “We are on track in fulfilling President Duterte’s desired timeline,” noted Sec. Rio, “which is to have NMP (new major player) by November this year.”
In the last stretch of the third telco search, eight companies, three of them foreign, gained congressional franchise and put forth P1 million each in bid documents to make their cases for putting up a real fight against the telecom duopoly. The bidders will be analyzed by automated software to check each operator’s reach and speed commitment against PLDT and Globe. Even when selected, the winning third telco can still be replaced by the second-place bidder if it cannot organize its operations effectively. The Congress expects to announce the winning bid this coming November 7.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News

Friday, October 19, 2018

TESLA Starts Offering LOWER-PRICED 260-Mile Battery MODEL 3 at $45,000

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When Elon Musk presented his Tesla Inc.’s latest electric car the Model 3 sedan to the public last year, it came with a promise that it would be the most affordable electrically-powered automobile yet produced, and well within the means of the average buyer. The “base” Model 3, which is the bare-bones no-frills version of the sedan, was said to be priced at only $35,000. That was the deal; but even as more Model 3’s were sold by Tesla into this year, every one of them was of a higher-priced variant with features added, going for as high as $78,000.
Before anyone begins agitating that the cheap Tesla Model 3 is a lie all along however, Elon Musk went on Twitter the afternoon of Thursday, October 18, to show that yes, the sedan can go cheaper. As The Verge has it, this new Model 3 variant is neither the soup-up version that has been sold thus far, nor is it yet the baseline $35,000 that was promised long ago. Rather, it is a middle option, offering an electric battery good for 260 miles of range and with a starting price of $45,000 without added frills.
This mid-level Tesla Model 3 sedan was made by taking a few power cells off the high-end version battery that had a 310-mile range. This reduction in capacity leaves the car with a top speed of 125 miles per hour, needing 5.6 seconds to go from 0 to 60. It also loses the high-end variant’s dual-motor all-wheel drive, sticking to rear-wheel only. Add-on options to the $45,000 package include $5,000 for Tesla’s advance autopilot feature. A Tesla spokesperson said in a statement that the company was able to begin diversifying the Model 3 variants thanks to having managed to achieve a steady manufacturing capacity volume.
“Our new mid-range battery is being introduced this week in the US and Canada to better meet the varying range needs of the many customers eager to own Model 3,” the official Tesla statement went. “And our delivery estimate for customers who have ordered the Standard Battery is 4-6 months.” According to that timeframe, the earliest possible time for Tesla customers to get a $35,000 Model 3 would be around February of 2019. Furthermore, the long-awaited baseline model will not be included in the coverage of the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric car purchases.
Said tax credit will also begin to be gradually phased out by Tesla now that they have passed the 200,000 vehicle milestone in the number of Model 3’s sold in the US. It will thus be steadily reduced to nothing by the end of 2019.
Image courtesy of New Atlas

TYPHOONS in JAPAN Trigger EARLY CHERRY BLOSSOM BLOOMS Across Country

As the year draws to a close, the Pacific finds itself being crossed from east to west by weather disturbances that give rise to typhoons, which then dash themselves into the many eastern coasts of Asia, from the southeast, to Taiwan and China, to Japan. That last country has seen its fair share of storms in the latter part of 2018 as is accustomed to by its residents (“typhoon” after all comes from the Chinese “Tai Fung” and Japanese “Tai Fuu”, “great wind”). But the last two storms to visit Japan have been so strong that they managed to “trick” local nature into “starting early”.
By that is meant that cherry blossom trees in Japan have started to bloom their world-famous “Sakura” flowers, way before spring which comes the following year according to ABS-CBN News. Granted, such phenomenon has been known to occur according to Flower Association of Japan senior official Toru Koyama, but this is the first time that it has happened on a national scale in recent memory. Now, cherry blossoms are coloring their trees a vibrant pink some six months ahead of their appointed time. This is thanks apparently to the typhoons that lashed the vegetation there.
The explanation for this out-of-season bloom is that a Sakura tree would begin develop its buds for next year’s blossoming in the current year’s summer; however hormones released by the tree leaves prevent the buds from growing, with the cold of winter taking over up until the summer thaws. The typhoons that struck Japan recently had stripped many cherry blossom trees of their leaves, cutting down the inhibiting hormone. And when storms brought a blend of warm sunny weather to colder temperatures – similar to spring conditions – the buds were then tricked into going into bloom.
The Flower Association of Japan has estimated that about 350 sightings of out-of-season bloom have been reported to them in the middle of autumn in the country. That figure is remarkably small compared to the rush of so many people in the actual spring bloom period, the centerpiece of the Japanese cultural tradition of “Hanami” or “flower viewing”. As it stands, only sharp observers would have noticed the phenomenon, and it will not last very long either. Still, such aberrations to the regular biological clocks of organisms as a result of extremely strong weather patterns once again brings to mind the growing environmentalist concerns regarding global warming and greenhouse effects.
Image courtesy of Huffington Post