Cellular News
Bharti to bag Madhya Pradesh circle licence as it was lone bidder 
The bidding for the fourth cellular licence has received a tremendous response from the cellular companies as seven of them submitted 57 bids for 18 licences. Reliance, Bharti, Hutchison, Batata and Escotel were among the bidders. Bharti is slated to bag Madhya Pradesh circle as it was the only bidder for the licence. Similarly Escotel will bid for Andhra Pradesh. In the low potential areas like Bihar and Orissa, as expected there were no takers. Technical bids will be opened on July 9 and the financial bids on July 11. Reliance submitted 30 bids for 15 circles through its two group companies - Reliance and Reliable.
BPL, Batata merger creates history in Indian corporate world 
In the largest ever merger in the Indian corporate history, BPL Communications has merged with Birla AT&T-Tata (Batata). The combined entity is valued between US $ 2 to 2.2 billion or close to Rs 10,000 crore. Batata will hold 50.7 per cent in the joint venture and BPL consortium the balance 49.3 per cent. BPL group has emerged as the single largest share holder with nearly 25 per cent stake in the new entity. AT&T is second with around 24 per cent, while Tata and Birla group will hold nearly 17 per cent each in the company.BPL's Maharashtra operation is not included in the merger. The mergers announced that they would move to a common brand name and a new corporate identity in a phased manner. The consolidation have pushed Hutchison to number two slot with close to 8 lakh subscribers. The combined entity will provide cellular services in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Race for 4th cellular licences 
There's a tremendous rush to win the fourth cellular licence. With two days still to go, several companies including Reliance, Bharti, Birla AT&T, Escotel, HFCL and BPL have already bought a total of 24 tender documents from DoT to bid for the fourth cellular licence. The bidders, on their part, are acquiring several form to ensure they get into this race at any cost. Bid is to open on June 29. 
MTNL slashes cellular tariff 
MTNL today drastically reduced its tariff for its Dolphin services. Announcing two new tariff plans, MTNL said the new rates will be applicable from Tuesday midnight. Under Plan A users will have to pay Rs 250 as monthly rental down from Rs 400 earlier. The airtime charge is Rs 1.50 per minute for incoming calls and Rs 2 per minute for outgoing calls. Under Plan B, the rental will be Rs 375 per month and the airtime charge will be Rs 1.40 per minute both for incoming and outgoing calls. Dolphin will provide its subscribers free roaming between Delhi and Mumbai with no extra charges. Above all the company will provide free airtime of Rs 500. In effect, the new rental makes it equivalent to the rental for fixed line phones. 
BPL, Batata to mark one of the largest consolidation moves 
BPL and Birla AT&T-Tata Cellular combine is close to finalising a deal that could mark one of the largest consolidation moves in the Indian cellular phone industry. It is said that BPL is in advanced negotiations with Batata. Talks between the two players have been on for quite some time now. Sources added that an announcement on the proposed consolidation could be made soon. BPL chief R. Chandrashekhar said that mergers and acquisitions will help the company in shareholder value and scale up operational size in minimum possible time. 
MTNL to announce cellular tariff cut 
The state-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited is going to announce a new tariff package for its Dolphin mobile service in the next day or two. The company has prepared five to seven tariff packages, but intends to announce them once it puts inplace the requisite infrastructure. This is in the wake of slowing growth rate of cellular subscribers and tariff cuts by competitors in Mumbai and Delhi. MTNL intends to go for massive marketing campaign for Dolphin by August 15 this year. 
Fourth cellular bids 
Reliance, Bharti, MTNL, VSNL, and BPL Communications are among the 24 companies who have evinced interest in becoming the fourth cellular player as the sale of tender document closes on Friday. These companies have to participate in three-stage bidding process for acquiring licences for the fourth cellular slot. 
Roam with Magic 
Bharti Mobile Ltd, the cellular operator in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, has announced its launch of roaming facilities on its pre-paid card Magic. It is for the first time that a cellular service provider is offering roaming facilities on its pre -paid cellular card. This facilities is offered to Magic subscribers without any deposit charges, but with air-time rate of Rs 11.50 per minute both incoming and outgoing.  
Hutchison to pitch Rs 3,500 crore for  fourth cellular licence bids 
Hutchison Telecom, the largest private cellular operator in India is learnt to have lined up close to $700 million to successfully pitch for six of the hottest fourth cellular licences. The six cellular licences that the Hutchison is to gun up are the metro circles of Chennai along with Maharashtra, Punjab, UP (West), Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The deadline for submission of bids is June 29. 
AirTel launches new services 
Delhi based cellular service provider AirTel has introduced two new customer services for its customers - balance on demand and balance on screen - for the pre-paid ready cellular card users. They will now get calls after every call and can also retrive the balance amount easily by dialing *123#. The two features will be at no additional cost to the company. 
Orange puts all fresh investments on hold 
Orange SA has decided to put all fresh investments in India on hold. It will, however, continue to invest in BPL Mobile in Mumbai but has decided not to bid for fourth operator licence. It has also put on hold plans to take equity stakes in BPL's cellular and internet business. Orange has admitted that even though it owns a 26 per cent stake in BPL Mobile, the rights to its Orange brand in Mumbai are exclusively with Hutchison Max, which is BPL Mobile's rival in Mumbai. Orange SA has no immediate plans to launch Orange brand in other parts of the country. 
Bharti buys out BT 
British Telecom and Bharti Group have agreed on terms for sale of British Telcom's stake in Bharti Cellular Ltd. Bharti has brought back the 44 per cent stake British Telecom held in Bharti Cellular Ltd, pursuant to BT's decision to exit all domestic telecom services operations in India.The buy out amount is reported to be around 100 million pounds.  
Spice Cell to upgrade 
Spice Cell will invest an additional Rs 20 crore in the next six months in the Kolkata circle as part of its plan to enhance network capacity and increasing subscriber base to two lakh. 
Bharti may not bid for fourth cell slot 
Bharti group is planning to bid for atleast nine new circles including Mumbai, Maharashtra, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh (West) although it has taken a decision not to go in for "aggressive bidding" in the forthcoming fourth cellular slot. Bharti has already applied for basic services licence in almost same circles, the group chairman Mittal said, adding that both type of services in a circle was a long-term strategy of the company. 
Cellular subscriber base swells by 4.5% in May 
The country's cellular subscriber base jumped 4.5 per cent to touch 38.71 lakh users in May, up from 37.02 lakh users in April, with the Delhi circle alone claiming a base of 5.98 lakh users. According to the figures released by COAI, Delhi maintained its lead over other metros, ending up with 5.98 lakh subscribers followed by Mumbai with 5.63 lakh users in May. AirTel subscriber base numbered 3.45 lakh in May while Essar base rose to 2.43 lakh. In Mumbai circle BPL Mobile and Hutchison Max ended up with 2.79 lakh users and 2.74 lakh users respectively in May. 
HC stays TRAI order on refund by Bharti 
The Delhi High Court today stayed Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) order directing Bharti Cellular to refund the excess of tariff charged from the subscribers on the basis of the new tariff under revenue sharing scheme. The company was directed to deposit Rs 1.16 crore with TDSAT. The TRAI has 'wrongly' calculated the refund amount at Rs. 21.22 crore while as per company's calculation it was only Rs 15.05 crore, Bharti's counsel said. 
No more time for 4th cell licence bids 
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has turned down industry demand to extend the deadline for submitting bids for fourth cellular licences. June 29 is the last date for submitting the bids. Tamil Nadu based Aircel and BPL among other have been demanding  postponement of the bidding process. DoT says that any delay in the bidding process would send wrong signals to the investors. 
Cellular Phone industry adopts Net norms 
The world's leading mobile phone makers and operators announced on Wednesday an industry-wide initiative they hope will bring true Internet functionalitiy to next-generation cellphones and lay the ghost of past failures. The Mobile Services Initiative (M-Services) aims to introduce an open software and hardware standard within mobile internet in a bid to avoid the fiasco which surrounded the first attempt at mobile Internet, WAP. 
Basic and mobile operators chary of CPP 
Calling party pays (CPP) issue have raised concerns for both the cellular and basic telecom operators. In their letters to the telecom regulatory authority of India both the Cellular Operators Association of India and the  Association of Basic Telecom Operators (ABTO) have voiced their concerns in response to the TRAI's consultation process on the introduction of CPP. The CPP regime will ensure that for calls from the fixed telephone lines to the cellular mobile, the 'calling party' will pay the cost. As a result, the cellular subscribers will stand to benefit, as the incoming calls will become free.  
TRAI directs cellular cos to refund excess ISD charges 
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India today directed all the cellular service provider of the country to refund their subscribers excess charges, if any, levied for international calls made on Sunday and national holidays. The regulators direction come in the wake of a complaint received from a cellular subscriber that the service providers were charging tariff at peak rates on international calls (ISD) made on Sundays and other national holidays. The operators are to implement the directive by June 30,2001. 
Siemens sees no improvement in profit margin on mobile phones 
Siemens AG does not expect any improvement in profit margins on mobile handset sales until its business year starting October 31, 2001, the Financial Times Deutschland reported. Siemens predicted in February that its mobile handsets sales growth would outpace that of the overall market, which it predicted to be 25 per cent in 2001. 
Motorola in talks with Hutchison to roll out GPRS services. 
Motorola is in discussion with Reliance, Bharti and Tatas for setting up the infrastructure for their CDMA networks. Motorola's new big-push, GPRS which is set to bring applications into mobile earlier than 3G, is also set for a roll out with BPL planning to launch it in Mumbai in the next two months. Motorola is also in talks with Hutchison for rolling out GPRS services in Mumbai and Delhi. 
Hutchison, Essar to tie-up to bid for fourth cell licences 
India's largest cellular operator Hutchison and the Essar group are forming a new strategic tie-up to bid for the fourth cellular licences. The two are forming a new joint venture comapny in which the Kotak Mahindra group is also learnt to be a minority stake holder. Essar and Kotak Mahindra group will together own the domestic equity portion of 51 per cent while Hutchison will hold the remaining 49 per cent. 
CPP in the interest of public, says COAI 
Cellular Operators Association of India, today said introduction of calling party pays (CPP) regime would be in overall public interest as the total cost of the call would be significantly low as compared to current price. This is in contrast to the views of private basic operators who are against CPP regime. " With the introduction of CPP the Indian Cellular mobile industry will be in line with global practices as over 90 per cent of the world's telecom regime are on CPP", said T V Ramchandran, director general of COAI.  
High Court declines to grant stay on TRAI order 
The Delhi High Court today declined to grant a stay on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) to cellular operators to refund the overcharged tariff to subscribers, but issued notice to the regulator and the Centre on a petition by Bharti Cellular.  
AirTel floats new tariff plan 
AirTel, the cellular service provider in Delhi today announced a new tariff package - Dream Plan - that offer subscribers lower monthly rentals and airtime charges. Under Dream Plan a user will have to pay Rs 295 as monthly rental and airtime charges of Rs 1.15 for both incoming and outgoing calls at a pulse rate of 30 seconds. The company also reduced the onetime security deposit by Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 from the existing Rs 2,000. 
BPL keen on mega cellular entity 
The BPL Group will merge to create the biggest cellular company in the country before end of this year. Among the probable merger partners for BPL's cellular businesses are Bharti and the Birla-AT&T-Tata alliance. The BPL group has, however, made it clear that the company is not exiting the business by selling out but will instead strike a merger with one of the top cellular groups of the country to become a part of a larger company. BPL is the second largest cellular operator in the country with close to 700,000 subscribers. 
New tariff packages from Essar 
In Delhi Hutchison-Essar has introduced three new tariff packages - Talk Easy, Talk 295 and Talk 795 which offers customers airtime rates ranging from Rs 1.98 to Rs 1.48 per minute. In Talk Easy a user will be entitled to a special rate of Rs 1.98 for both incoming and outgoing calls. In Talk 295 plan, the rate will be Rs 1.78 per minute flat on a monthly commitment  value of Rs 295 every month. The Talk 795 plan entails a commitment value of Rs 795 for Rs 1.48 per minute incoming and outbound call rates. All three plans will also charge users a monthly rental of Rs 395. 
Jam in the airwaves 
Leading cellular operators across the country are facing interference in their mobile signals from radio frequencies emanting out of an adjacent frequency band from where MTNL and BSNL are undertaking trials for the CDMA-based wireless-in-local-loop service. Operators which have been badly hit include Orange in Mumbai, Fascel in Gujarat, Tata Cellular in AP and BPL Mobile in Maharashtra. 
Cell Subscriber growth down in April 
The growth in cellular service subscribers has decelerated to 3.5 per cent in April 2001, as against 4.6 per cent posted in the previous month. According to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the total subscriber base in April was 3,702,834 up from 3,577,095 in the previous month. Usage in the four metros has grown by 3.7 per cent, while non metros circles have shown a slightly slower rate of 3.3 per cent. 
Revenue through SMS 
In a bid to popularise the use of Short Messaging Services and thereby increase its revenues, Bharti Mobile which operates the cellular service in APand Karnataka under the brandname Airtel is wooing the musically minded. The company on saturday announced an SMS based quiz for its subscribers in AP. 
Pulse rate increased by Orange and BPL Mobile  
Both Hutchison Max's Orange and BPL Mobile have quitely increased the pulse rate per call to 60 seconds from the current 30 seconds. A 30 second pulse would mean billing of Rs 74.5 paise which was found to be too low led to the increase of the pulse rate besides operators want people to talk more. 
Bharti cuts project cost by Rs 100 cr 
Bharti Mobile Ltd., a 74:26 joint venture between Bharti Televentures and Telia AB of Sweden, has reduced its project size by more than Rs 100 crore to around Rs 1,150 crore. The total project cost to finance the rollout of BML cellular network from startup till March 31,2002 has been originally estimated at Rs 1,266.8 crore.  
Cellular tariff slashed in Mumbai 
The two leading cellular companies of Mumbai - BPL Mobile and Hutchison Max's Orange have decided to effect another major cut in its cellular tariffs from June 1 - a flat Rs 1.49 per minute for both outgoing and incoming calls for those who commit a minimum Rs 295-299 per month of airtime and for those not commiting the call rates would be Rs 1.80 per minute flat. Monthly rentals remains unchanged at Rs. 395. For pre-paid cellular card the tariff is lowered to Rs 2.25 per minute flat from the existing Rs 3. 
Nokia seeks government permission for wholsale marketing venture 
Nokia has approached the government for permission to undertake wholesale marketing of a range of its latest third generation mobile telephones in the country through its existing subsidiary in India.Nokia, which had set up a wholly-owned sibsidiary in 1998, has been doing test marketing for its range of mobile handsets and other accessories in India.  
Escotel-Bharti tussel referred to TRAI 
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has referred the dispute between Escotel and Bharti over providing cellular services in Gurgaon, Haryana to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Both the companies claim Gurgaon in their domain. Bharti was already operating service in Gurgaon when DoT awarded the licence to Escotel to operate services in Haryana. Escotel claims that the DoT has issued a letter to it in February 2000 which resolved all the disputes allowing it to offer services in Gurgaon.  
AirTel introduces SMS chat 
Bharti Cellular has introduced SMS chat facility integrated with WAP or web-based Internet to enable its Airtel users to stay in touch with many people simultaneously over a diverse geographical area. This is claimed to be the first such integrated offering in India 
Bharti first cellular cos to get ISO certification 
Bharti Cellular claims to be the first cellular operator in the world to be ISO 9001:2000 certified. It is also the first telecom company in India to get this certification. This certification comes from British Standards Institute (BSI) company on the parameters of customer satisfaction, management commitment, leadership, human resources and continous improvement.  
Hutchison to offer free voice-mail access in Kolkata 
Hutchison Telecommunications Associate Command will offer its pre-paid subscribers free voice-mail access for the first time in Kolkata. Hutchison will introduce the same value added service to pre-paid customer at its Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat mobile operations shortly.  
TRAI seeks views on CPP regime 
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today sought views from the industry and subscribers on the issue of introduction of calling party pays (CPP) regime for cellular mobile phones.TRAI is preparing a consultation paper on CPP regime. Some of the important policy issues that have been thrown open for public consultation by TRAI include the likely benefits of CPP to various stakeholders, whether should be made optional for both operator and subscriber and whether CPP be made applicable to all calls terminated in the mobile network. 
Bidding for fourth cell licence generate good response 
Reliance, Bharti, BPL, BK Modi group, Escorts and Birla AT&T are among the 10 companies which have purchased 13 application forms from DoT to bid for the fourth cellular licence. The last date for buying application forms is May 31. VSNL and MTNL, two public sector companies under the department of telecommunications have also bought application forms. The guidelines for the fourth cellular licences envisages that the existing licence holders can not bid for those areas where they are already operating services. 
Bidding for fourth cell licence deferred 
Bidding process for the fourth cellular licence has been deferred by three weeks to June 29. The process could be delayed even further because cellphone companies are not very comfortable with just 11 days of time they would have to prepare for bids after getting the draft licence agreement on June 18. According to the new schedule the goverment wants to complete all three stages of financial bids by July 19 and sign licence agreement by August 31. 
Samsung to set up cellular unit in India 
The $ 27 billion Samsung Electronics is planning to set up a manufacturing facility for cellular handsets in India. The company is in the process of accessing the feasibility for a greenfield venture to produce both CDMA and GSM cellular handsets in the country. Currently, MTNL is the only player in India offering CDMA handsets, sourced from Hyundai and Samsung.  
WLL rentals to be in between Rs 450 - 550 
Subscribers of WLL services will have to pay a monthly rental of Rs 450 and Rs 550 per month. This is slightly more than the rentals for cellular subscribers who have to pay Rs 422 per month to the service provider. However the TRAI has fixed an upper ceiling of Rs 1.20 per minute for outgoing call while incoming is free, as against Rs 4.75 per minute ceiling fixed for cellular services. The call charges of WLL services are less than one tenth than that of cellular services. The tariff order will be effective from the date of operation of services. 
Cellular Services account for 45.37% of FDI in telecom 
Foreign Direct Investment in Indian telecom industry touched Rs 4,882.7 crore in the telecom sector from, August 91' to January 2001 where cellular services attracted 45.37 per cent. Out of Rs 4882.7 crore attracted by telecom service sector Rs 2215.4 crore went to the cellular mobile service segment. 
MTNL's roaming facility by May-end 
MTNL, the cellular service provider in Delhi and Mumbai is introducing roaming facility for its cellular brand Dolphin by May-end. MTNL is currently in the process of finalising agreements with various telecom operators to offer roaming facility for Dolphin cellular services. 
Escorts to rope in another partner in Escotel 
Escorts Ltd is planning to rope in a second strategic partner in its cellular phone operations Escotel where it already partners First Pacific Company of Hong Kong in a 51:49 joint venture. The company hopes to leverage its new partner to get into four new category B cellular circles by the end of this year. Escorts plans to transfer its 51 per cent stake in joint venture to a special purpose vehicle and the offload 49 per cent equity in the SPV to the strategic partner and a combination of financial partners based on the outcome of negotiations.Escotel is looking at a minimum of five and a maximum of seven circles by this year end up from three circles it operates in right now.  
COAI wants TRAI to take up WLL issue suo moto 
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has written to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman MS Verma requesting the regulator to exercise its powers under the amended TRAI act and undertake a suo moto review of the limited mobility issue. COAI has also requested the DoT to refer the matter of limited mobility back to the TRAI for a transparent and comprehensive review of the entire matter. 
FSP's rejects GoT-IT's interconnect revenue terms 
The fixed line telecom service providers have rejected the group on telecom and IT's interconnect revenue terms. They have also rejected the government's first come first serve procedures to allocate wireless bandwidth to FSPs offering limited mobility. Association of Basic Telecom Operators wants large chunks of spectrum to be given away free to FSPs without any roll out obligations attached. ABTO says that Got-IT's recommendations would adversely affect the existing as well as the prospective basic service operators. 
Orange ties up for UK mobile market 
Britain's largest cable operator, NTL and France Telecom unit Orange, are set to announce a far reaching alliance in British mobile phone market. The two firms had signed MoU to cooperate on several initiatives. Among the plans would be one to allow Orange to route calls through NTL's extensive cable network at low rates. 
China mobile market to overtake US this year 
China's Ministry of Information Industry said the country's mobile phone subscribers totalled 100.3 million in March, a 100 per cent growth over last year. China is expected to overtake the US as the world's largest mobile phone market this year. 
Hughes Tele.net files petition with TDSAT 
The basic telecom services provider in Maharashtra, Hughes Tele.net today filed a petition with the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). This petition reportedly raises the issue of level playing field for the six existing telecom companies. TDSAT is already hearing a petition filed by COAI opposing the introduction of limited mobility. 
TDSAT hearing 
Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has fixed the next date of hearing for July 17. The petition against limited mobility has been filed by the Cellular operators association of India. 
Bharti Mobile to raise Rs 250 cr debt 
Bharti Mobile, the cellular services provider of the Bharti Group, is set to raise Rs 200-250 crore through an innovatively structured debt instrument - structured partial credit guarantee for local currency bonds - to be launched on May 11. The debt issue comes days after Bharti Enterprises received equity investment of $460 million from various global partners, taking its total FDI to $1.05 billion. 
Cellular Services account for 48.6% of FDI in telecom 
Foreign Direct Investment in Indian telecom industry touched Rs 4,497 crore with cellular mobile services bringing Rs 2,187.1 crore into the sector, thus accounting for 48.6 per cent of actual FDI inflow between August 1991 and November 2000. 
TRAI orders upset cellular operators 
The latest Telecom Regulatory Association of India (TRAI) demand for a Rs 300 pre-paid card with 30 days validity is expected to upset all tariff calculations of cellular operators. In Kolkata, the B K Modi controlled SpiceCell is likely to unveil multiple tariff plans for Spice Cash Card holders. Structurally, the exercise will signal a radical departure in the tariff-making in the pre paid realm. 
Spice defaults payments to its vendors 
The B K Modi group promoted  Spice Communications – the mobile operator in Karnataka and Punjab circles and whose proposal for over Rs 1,000 crore long term funding is still pending with FIs – has defaulted on its payment to its vendors – Siemens and Motorola. The vendors have served the Modi group cellular venture with default and enforcement notice. The payments of about $110 million were payable by March 31,2001.  
Spice Cell in Nepal 
Spice Cell  limited aims  to begin operations in Nepal by September this year as it plans to more than double its subscriber base here to two lakh by this fiscal. The firm hopes to roll out in Nepal and start providing connections in at least one of the six zones for which it had made the bids. 
Nokia leads among Asian WAP handset buyers 
More than one third of the current mobile phone users in Asia who intend to buy an Internet enabled phone said they prefer Nokia to other brands, according to a survey on WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) technology. Nokia Corporation won the hearts of 36 percent of mobile phone users in eight Asian countries in term of purchase intent for brandname WAP phones. Nokia beat second place Motorola. Panasonic and Sony follow the list. 
Prepaid-Card for Rs 300 
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has asked the cellular operators to offer prepaid cards of denominations less than Rs 300 and to carry forward unused amount of all category of cards if the subscription is renewed within a specific period of cards validity. The regulator today issued the guidelines for the cellular pre-paid cards. Cellular operators have criticised TRAI’s  order saying that how can an operator offer pre-paid cards at a fee less than the monthly rental.  
Reliance to make cellular phones 
Reliance is planning to assemble CDMA mobile phones. The cellular phone project is on a large scale with plans to market two million mobile phones per annum. In its initial stages, the cellular phone project may be an assembly operation with the components being imported from China and Korea, according to sources. Reliance Infocom plans to offer cellular phones priced in the Rs 2,500-3,000 range. The cellular phone project is a key part to offer limited mobility throughout the country using CDMA technology. 
Usha group offloads 49% stake in Koshika 
A US-based NRI Chiranjiv Kathuria and his associates have signed a deal to buy 49 per cent stake in Vinay Rai promoted Koshika Telecom for $120 million along with management participation. The deal has come at a crucial time for Koshika, which has licensing dues of about Rs 350 crore against it. The company has licence for running cellular phone services in four circles of Uttar Pradesh (east), Uttar Pradesh (west), Bihar and Orissa. The services are operational only in Uttar Pradesh (east) as the licence for the other circles were cancelled due to non-payment of dues. 
GoT-IT submits report to PM 
The Group of telecom and IT today finally submitted its report to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The 25-page report allows “limited mobility” to basic service providers, ensuring a level playing field between the basic and cellular operators by bringing down the revenue share of basic telecom operators from the proposed 60 per cent to five per cent – the same as cellular operators. The report also restricts the mobility in WiLL services to a radius of 25 kms.  The tariff for WiLL services would continue to be Rs 1.20 for a three minute with free incoming calls. 
Ericsson, Sony in Cellphone Joint Venture 
Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson today entered into a 50-50 joint venture in mobile phones with Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony Corp. This JV throws a lifeline to Ericsson, the world’s third biggest mobile phone supplier, which has been losing money on its handsets since the second quarter of 2000, prompting a series of massive job cuts and industry alliances. 
NTP’99 permits WiLL services by basic operators 
The group on telecom and IT (GoT-IT) is of the view that the existing telecom policy, NTP’99, permits the basic operators to offer WiLL based limited mobile services. GoT-IT has also decided that the tariff for WiLL services will continue to be Rs 1.20 for a three minute outgoing call with free incoming calls. GoT-IT is not in favour of imposing an additional fee on basic telecom operators for providing limited mobility services and no plans are there to increase long distance revenue share of mobile operators 
Flat fee for limited mobility  
In a move to resolve the vexed telecom controversy a fresh compromise formula has been floated allowing basic operators to offer limited mobility provided they pay an additional flat fee for the service. Equally, mobile operators using GSM services would be allwed limited mobility if they desire to use their network to provide basic services. For basic operators using WLL technology, the proposed fee would be different for category A, B and C circles with the highest fee on category A circles.  
Government’s step at reconciliation failed 
With the basic and cellular operators deciding to disagree on the issue of limited mobility, government’s first attempt at reconciliation has failed. While the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is arguing that mobility is exclusively their domain, the Association of Basic Telecom Operators (ABTO) is sticking to its position in favour of limited mobility. Both the associations have not yet reached a consensus. GOI-IT had suggested that the two groups sit together and arrive at an amicable solution. 
Basic and cellular operators to meet tomorrow 
The basic and cellular operators are separately meeting tomorrow to decide their strategy in view of the group on telecom and IT's (GOT-IT) suggesting them to sit and arrive at an agreement. Difference within the association of basic telecom operators (ABTO) on this issue has resulted in a vertical split in the association. The operators have to inform GOT-IT whether they have arrive at an agreement by Monday 3PM. 
DoT proposes same STD revenue sharing as basic service operators 
DoT said that it is willing to grant parity between basic and mobile operators on the retention of revenue share for long distance calls. At present basic operators get to keep 60 per cent of the revenue generated from a long distance call and cellular operator get to keep only 5 per cent. The protest of cellular operators against this inequitable preposition has forced the government to refer the WLL issue back to the GoT-IT. 
Defaulters bid for 4th cell licence 
The standing commitee on information technology has pulled up the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for allowing defaulting companies like Koshika Telecom and JT Mobiles to participate in the bidding for fourth cellular licence. These companies have defaulted in paying  their earlier dues by way of licence fees, have not been disqualified but have been allowed to bid for the fourth cellular licences. 
Sony may team up with Ericsson 
Sony Corp said it may partner with Ericsson to make mobile phones, a move that would give the swedish telecom equipment maker a badly needed partner to revive its loss-making mobile phone division. Under the deal, the companies would spin off and integrate their current mobile phone business. It is undecided if the venture would sell phones under a single brandname. 
Biggest merger in the offing 
Hong-Kong based, Hutchison is believed to be in advanced negotiations with the telecom services company BPL. BPL operates mobile phone services in four circles - Mumbai, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala is learned to have been valued at Rs 4,700 crore. Hutchison could end up paying between Rs. 2,500 crore and Rs. 3,000 crore for a majority stake, depending on the structure of the deal. The deal, if successful would create the largest mobile phone operator in the country with over 1 million users or a 30 per cent share of the total market. 
Airtel,Essar Pact 
AirTel has signed an agreement with Essar for direct network interconnection. This means that when a call is made from the cell to landline the service provider will avoid a charge of Rs. 1.20 per three minutes to MTNL. The proposed tariff plan will be forwarded to TRAI for approval. 
BSNL announces its mobile tariffs 
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has fixed Rs 400 as monthly rental, Rs 3.50 per minute for outgoing peak air-time and Rs 3.00 per minute for non-peak airtime for its nationwide cellular mobile service that will start by the end of this year. These rates will act as the standard tariff package for the circles. The pulse rate will be 30 second, while the registration and activation charges will be Rs 500 each. 
Cellular operator dissatisfied by Paswan's  view on WLL technology 
The cellular operators association of India (COAI) has stated that it is "best positioned" to meet the deaprtment of telecommunications' objective of improved affordability and increased teledensity if cellular operators are given the same cost structure and subsidies as given to Fixed Service Providers (FSPs). The association said Communication Ministers Ram Vilas Paswan's comment that WiLL technology was the latest and cheaper which will help in giving affordable service and increased rural teledensity was misplaced. COAI said the ministers views were either "direct result of being incorrectly briefed by his officers or a lack of understanding of the real issues driving this decision". 
MTNL to expand WLL network 
MTNL plans to provide 300,000 WiLL services in Delhi and Mumbai by the end of the financial year. Recently, the government referred the issue of allowing basic telecom operators to offer WiLL-based limited mobility to the Group on Telecom (GoT) headed by the union finance minister Yashwant Sinha. MTNL is already operating the WiLL service in Delhi. It has total capacity of 10,000 subscribers in the city. In Mumbai too, the telecom company will soon launch the WiLL service. 
ICRA projects five-fold rise in cell users 
The latest ICRA study on the Indian telecommunications Industry has projected a five-fold increase in the number of cellular mobile connections in the country to around 20 million by March 2005 against the estimated 3.6 million subscriptions by the end of March 2001. The study also projects an increased consolidation in the cellular services market as the existing operators, faced with the emergence of BSNL and MTNL as low cost, well funded competitors, strive for efficiency gains through cost and price reductions 
BPL mobile to refund Rs 2.8 cr to subscribers 
BPL Mobile has decided to refund Rs 2.8 crore to its subscribers in Mumbai on the standard tariff plan. The refunds would be implemented from April 20 onwards and would be completed by June 30, a month ahead of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India deadline of July 31. 
'Limited' mobility issue referred to group on telecom(GoT) 
Reliance Telecom, Tatas and HFCL's plan to enter CDMA-based mobile operations have hit the roadblock. Alarmed by the growing political and industry opposition to CDMA-based 'limited' mobility, prime minister A B Vajpayee  has intervened to stall licensing of new fixed service providers (FSPs). The first of these new licences were due for issue tomorrow.The whole issue has now been referred to the group on telecom (GoT) headed by finance minister Yashwant Sinha. These licences would have allowed Fixed line service operators to begin mobile services on better terms than offered to current GSM-based cellular operators. 
New Telecom Policy (NTP) may be modified to make WiLL work 
Union communications minister Ram Vilas Paswan said in Patna today that the government will go ahead with its commitment to provide limited area mobile telephones through Wireless in Local Loop system and if required new telecom policy (NTP) 1999 would be modified for the purpose. 
Paswan blamed C-DoT for delay in BSNL's cellular rollout 
Communications minister Ram Vilas Paswan has squarely blamed the centre for Development Telematics (C-DoT), the supplier of the malfunctioning mobile switching centres (MSCs), for the delay in BSNL's cellular rollout. Mr Paswan have given a two-month deadline to upgrade its line of mobile switching systems which are now undergoing fields in  Patna, Kolkata and Haldia ahead of their full-fledged pilot launch. 
Bharti to enter cellular handset market 
Bharti Teletech is planning to enter the cellular handsets market by the middle of this year by introducing phones under its "Beetel"  brand for which the company has started negotiations for tie-up with a few foreign cell phone manufactures. 
Batata to infuse fresh investments 
The Birla TATA AT&T Ltd, (Batata), is set to infuse a fresh investment of Rs 600 crore during the current fiscal, group CEO Mr Sanjeev Aga said. "One of our priorities is to dig deeper in our existing circles", he said stating the new investments would go towards strenthening the network and product delivery.  
Escotel resructured its financials 
Escotel has refinanced its Rs 525 crore domestic debt and has restructured offshore loans of $75 million in order to reduce interest liability, exchange risk and improve bottom line. According Escotel CEO Mr Manoj Kohli, with the restructuring of offshore debt of $75 million from External Commercial Agencies and commercial lenders, Escotel has got an extension to the moratorium period by two years. Besides, it also provides a ballooning amortisation for the repayment. 
Spice Telecom launches Zing Mail 
Spice Telecom, a cellular service provider in Punjab has launched Zing Mail, which would enable its subscribers to record a message in their own voice and send it to any number of recipient through e-mail. It is claimed to be the first such service being launched by a cellular provider.
Cellular News: Jan. - Mar. 2001
Cellular News: Oct. - Dec. 2000 
Cellular News: Jul. - Sept. 2000 
Cellular News: April - June 2000