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BSNL engineers Internet revolution in Maoist-affected areas

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New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) Signalling a silent revolution underway in Maoist-affected areas of the country where internet data usage has crossed a record 400 gigabytes per day, state-run BSNL on Sunday said this achievement was a result of the central government’s strategy of setting up a robust mobile communication network in areas affected by the left-wing extremist violence.

According to the telecom operator, the network was set up in a swift period of 18 months along with equipment manufacturer VNL, following a government decision in 2015.

“It is heartening to note that data usage continues to rise every passing day,” a BSNL statement said here.

“Riding high on availability of abundant data, citizens in Naxalite-hit (Maoist) districts across several states are now joining the mainstream with easy access to a host of government and financial services,” it said.

“BSNL was entrusted with the task of implementing this project, which picked, VNL and HFCL to execute the same in a record period of 18 months. The two companies set up over 2,000 solar powered mobile tower sites, which have been successfully working for two years now,” it added.

The company described it as “world’s’largest green mobile network” providing voice and data services to more than 20,000 villages.

“Even tribal areas, which did not have access to even voice connectivity until recently, are now consuming data for banking and other applications,” VNL Chairman Rajiv Mehrotra said in a statement.

There are large swathes of the country under the grip of extremist violence, while a major characteristic of these zones is their poor physical connectivity. States most affected include Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal.

–IANS
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To catch up to WhatsApp, Signal adds custom wallpapers and animated stickers.

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Signal enjoyed an unexpected uptick in users following WhatsApp’s recent privacy blunder. In an effort to capitalize on its rising popularity, Signal has started testing features that make the messaging platform feel a little friendlier.

Earlier this month, Signal announced a handful of new features that would be coming to the platform, including chat wallpapers and animated stickers. As promised, these two features are now available in the beta version of the app, making it feel more like WhatsApp than ever before.

Android Police got its hands on both new features, sharing screenshots of what chat wallpapers look like. You can change your chat wallpaper in Signal by going to Settings > Appearance > Chat wallpaper. You can also change the wallpaper of an individual chat by tapping the person’s name in the top bar and looking for the chat wallpaper option.

There are a total of 21 chat wallpapers to choose from, including 12 solid colors and 9 gradient colors. Android Police said you can also choose a photo from your phone’s camera roll for extra personalization. Before, Signal featured only white and black backgrounds depending on if dark mode was enabled on your device.

Android Police also provides a quick preview of Signal’s new animated stickers—something the platform has dabbled with in the past. There’s a new Day by Day sticker pack that contains 24 animated stickers to help liven up your conversation. The art is by Miguel Angel Camprubí.

Finally, Signal appears to be adding a simple About section for users’ profiles. Users will have the opportunity to choose an emoji and also add a short description of themselves. It’s a simple way to share some of your personality before even having a conversation. Apparently, Signal users can save several blurbs and switch between them on the fly, essentially making them status updates.

If you’re on iOS, Signal said it also plans to add media auto-download settings and full-screen profile photos, the latter of which is already available on Android.

These new additions to Signal appear to be in the beta version of the app for now. Hopefully, testing goes smoothly so they can be added to the stable build. Once that rolls out, we’ll be sure to let you know.

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