Cellular News
Date: 30/6/2004    
Reliance Telecom to expand operations in North-East    
Reliance Telecom Ltd., the cellular service provider in North-East, is planning to expand its service beyond Guwahati and Shillong, the two cities it is currently operating. RTL would use the optical fibre network of Power Grid Corporation, Railway Telecommunication and Oil India for expanding the service. 
  
Date: 26/6/2004    
Hutch buys Aircel Ltd. of Tamil Nadu    
Hutchison Essar has acquired Aircel Ltd.,  the GSM cellular service provider in Tamil Nadu & Chennai circles. The company owned by NRI businessman C. Sivasankaran was sold for an enterprise value of Rs.1630 crore. Mr. Sivasankaran made a cool Rs.1200 crore all for himself while the balance is debt which Hutch will take over.This is the biggest telecom deal in India till date.     

Aircel Ltd. was a cellular service provider in rest of Tamil Nadu. A year ago Sivasankaran acquired Chennai circle of RPG Cellular for around Rs.300 crore from Goenkas' and combined both the entities before selling it to Hutch. The acquisition of Chennai circle added more value.     

The acquisition of 1.1million subscribers of Aircel takes Hutchison's total subscriber base to about 6.7m users. Together with Aircel, Hutch becomes the largest operator in the Chennai circle, with a subscriber base of 5.4 lakh.  
 

Date: 18/6/2004     
Reliance Infocomm is planning to deploy 3G EvDO services     
Reliance Infocomm is planning to deploy CDMA 2000 1X EvDO technology that will enable peak data carriage speed of up to 2.4 megabytes per second. The service would be made available initially to select high end customers in top metros where there is a demand for high data speeds. Both Reliance and Tata's have set up CDMA 2000 1X networks nationwide that currently offer a peak Internet access speed of 144 kbps. EvDO is expected to enable higher end data services where the actual output would be around 2 mbps. In launching 1X EvDO, Reliance will join the select club of operators in Asia-Pacific which have launched 3G CDMA services for their customers. These include KDDI in Japan, SK Telecom in Korea and China Unicom which plans to launch it soon. 
   
 
The applications that get a boost with this high speed technology are location-based services, weather forecasts, video-on-demand, delayed television broadcasts, high-end gaming, push-to-talk etc.The technology will enable operator to offer not only much more capacity and better data speeds to its subscribers, but also high voice clarity, Net connectivity, e-commerce and m-commerce. 
 
Date: 18/6/2004     
Nokia & Hutchison tie-up for network deployment     
Nokia has signed an agreement with Hutchison India to supply Nokia's mobile switching and GSM radio network. Nokia will supply GSM equipment to nine of Hutchison India's 13 circles, making it the largest network vendor for the Indian operator. Nokia will deploy switching equipment and high-capacity GSM radio networks to enhance Hutchison's existing GSM networks in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states and in the city of Chennai. Nokia will also supply GSM radio networks to Hutchison's new circles in West Bengal and western Uttar Pradesh. Switching equipment for West Bengal is also a part of the deal. Nokia will also continue supplying to Hutchison complete GSM network systems in Gujarat, as well as GSM radio networks in Rajasthan, Haryana, and eastern Uttar Pradesh.      
 
Date: 18/6/2004     
Essar group eyes Hutch stake in Distacom     
Essar group is trying to acquire Hong Kong-based Distacom's 20% stake in Hutchison Max Telecom in an all-cash deal. Athough the deal size is not known. Acquisition of Distacom's minority stake in Hutchison Max Telecom (Hutchison's Mumbai cellular operation) will outline Essar's final post-merger holding in the consolidated Hutchison entity in India too. But there is no decision yet on Essar's earlier plans to also buy into Max India group's 10% in Hutchison Max Telecom. With the Hutch-Essar consolidation bid awaiting Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance, there's no information on post-merger holdings.      
 
Date: 18/6/2004     
IDEA extends validity of prepaid card     
IDEA Cellular has announced that its prepaid subscribers can now stay connected for a period of five months by paying Rs. 50 per month. This feature is available with a 1st recharge of Rs.540 or Rs.1080.      
 
Date: 18/6/2004     
Operators to inform pre-paid users about roaming charges     
In a TRAI directive, cellular operators are told to inform their pre-paid subscribers through SMS that they would be charged for roaming. Besides, the customers will be charged for roaming calls and fixed rates like rentals, only after they make or receive calls.The directive follows representations from pre-paid subscribers that they were being charged for automatic roaming even if they did not want to avail of the service.     
 
Date: 16/6/2004     
IDEA Cellular to merge its subsidiaries     
IDEA Cellular to merge its three subsidiaries - BTA Cellcom, Escotel Mobile Communications (EML) and Escorts Telecom (ETL) with itself to create a single, unified corporate entity with a national presence. BTA Cellcom, EML and ETL are 100% subsidiaries of IDEA Cellular. While BTA Cellcom holds the Madhya Pradesh licence (formerly RPG Cellcom), EML and ETL together hold Haryana, Kerala, UP-West, Rajasthan, UP-East and Himachal Pradesh licences. EML and ETL were acquired by IDEA this March in a Rs.1350 crore Escotel buyout. IDEA Cellular directly holds Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi and Gujarat cellular licences.     
Resulting 10-circle national footprint with a common brand would have a multiplier effect on IDEA's enterprise valuation, pre-listing.     
 
Date: 15/6/2004      
Bharti surrenders basic licences      
Bharti has surrendered its basic telecom service license in four circles of Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and has demanded Rs.145 crore refund from DoT following the merger of cellular and basic services under the Unified Access Licence.      
Bharti has unified licence in all the four circles which allows it to offer fixed as well as cellular services.       
 
Date: 14/6/2004       
Hutch plans Rs.1500 crore IPO       
Hutchison Telecom International Limited (HTIL) has sought Indian Government's permission to consolidate lts cellular licences in the country under its Mumbai company Hutchison Max Telecom. This approval is a precursor to the planned Rs.1500 crore IPO on Bombay Stock Exchange @10% equity base. This would be the largest ever telecom IPO in the country. The group companies that would be consolidated are Hutchison Essar (Delhi), Hutchison Telecom East (Kolkata), Fascel (Gujarat), Aircel Digilink India Ltd. (Rajasthan, Haryana, U.P.East) & Hutchison Essar South (Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, W.Bengal, U.P. West, Punjab). HTIL will hold 42% and balance 58% would be split between four Indian entities. HTIL is one of the single largest FDI investors with an estimated net investment of $1.23 billion. The timing of the IPO would be in Dec-Jan 2004-05 period. Before this the parent HTIL is listing itself shortly in HKEx and NYSE.       
 
Date: 12/6/2004       
Singapore Technologies Telemedia & Malaysia Telekom combine may invest $400 mn in IDEA       
Singapore Technologies Telemedia & Malaysia Telekom combine may invest $400 million in India's GSM cellular operator IDEA Cellular. The group had recently reached a preliminary agreement  with US long distance major AT&T to buy its 33% stake in IDEA for $200m. The combine will infuse anywhere between $180-200m for an additional 16% stake as well as for further acquisitions by IDEA. IDEA had firmed up the acquisition of Aircel (Tamil Nadu) which is currently controlled by entrepreneur C. Sivasankaran. The total enterprise value of IDEA Cellular is estimated at Rs.6,525 crore or $1.45bn. The valuation is pegged at 13.3 times the operating profits.        
 
Date: 9/6/2004        
Mobile industry added only 13.9 lakh new subscribers last month       
The GSM operators added 9.8 lakh subscribers, while CDMA operators added 3.1 lakh last month. The market is always slow during these summer months. GSM subscriber base grew to 2.8 crore, while CDMA mobile subscriber base stands at 77.2 lakh. Reliance has a total subscriber base of 76.3 lakh subscribers, with 70.1 lakh digital mobile subscribers. Among GSM operators, Bharti has 73.4 lakh subscribers, followed by Hutch with 55.9 lakh subscribers.  According to industry sources urban markets are saturating fast and operators are not expanding much in remote areas because of very low average revenue per user (ARPU).        
 
Date: 7/6/2004        
Motorola launched quad-band phone in India        
Motorola announced the launch of the first Quad-band phone, V600 in India. The quad-band technology allows seamless roaming facility across 800, 900, 1800 and 1900 GSM bands, making it functional all across the globe. Targeted at international travellers, the Motorola V600 has Personal Information Management (PIM) functionality which keeps the user up-to-date on important meetings and tasks and the ability to syncronise with POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail accounts. V600 also flaunts Bluetooth compatibility, MP3 capability, an integrated camera, video playback, and discreet color notification lights that assign different colors, ringtones to one's preferred contact. Advanced messaging features, downloadable games and applications are other features of this phone which sports a metal exterior with clamshell design. V600 will be priced at Rs.20,495 in India.         
 
Date: 7/6/2004       
Elcoteq to be first MNC to manufacture handsets in India        
2.2 billion Euro Finnish company Elcoteq, Europe's largest electronics manufacturing services company and the world's second largest mobile handset supplier is all set to become the first multinational corporation to put up a plant to manufacture handsets in India.  The company is one of the major suppliers to global giants like Nokia, SonyEricsson, Motorola, Siemens and Philips. It has decided to manufacture mobile handsets and communication network equipment at Bangalore with around 1000 people, when fully operational. Elcoteq will be floating a wholly owned subsidiary to set up the Indian operations and is looking for a head for the Indian set up.         
 
Date: 7/6/2004        
TRAI recommendations on unified licensing in July        
The recommendations of TRAI on unified licensing will be out next month as the regulator is working on the inputs and views provided by the stakeholders. TRAI  has received suggestions on their consultation paper from all quarters and are currently working on it. The regulator had brought out a consultation paper on March 13th to move towards a holistic unified licensing regime in which all the telecom services would be brought under one umbrella. In their representations to the regulator, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has said all telecom services should be covered under unified licence including fixed and wireless broadband.         
 
Date: 7/6/2004        
BSNL, MTNL merger       
The Communications Ministry is considering various ways to merge BSNL and MTNL. One of the proposals is to create a common holding company for both entities. The other is to list BSNL on the stock markets and then merge it with MTNL, which is also a public listed company. MTNL is an operator of telecom services in Delhi and Mumbai, while BSNL operates services in the rest of the country.       
 
Date: 5/6/2004         
Aircel pumps in Rs. 200 cr to hike network capacity       
Aircel, the second largest GSM operator in the Chennai cellular market, is investing Rs.200 crore over the next three months to quadraple its network capacity. In the first phase, scheduled to be completed by June 19, the company plans to double its network capacity to five lakh subscribers, and in the second phase, to be completed by August 15, the capacity will be increased to 10 lakh subscribers. The move is expected to relieve Aircel subscribers in Chennai from most of the connectivity problems they have been facing over the past few months, especially since the company took over RPG Cellular last December. With Aircel installing a new gateway for SMS, subscribers will also find it easy to send and receive SMS. An estimated 10 lakh messages are received and delivered everyday on this network in the city. The company also signed an agreement with ICICI to launch a co-branded credit card for Aircel subscribers in Chennai.        
 
Date: 4/6/2004       
India would leapfrog 3G to enter 4G       
Minister for Communications and IT Dayanidhi Maran's categoric statement that India would leapfrog 3G to enter 4G has been welcomed both by industry and government circles. 3G or third generation technology has itself failed to deliver all that it promised and is being deployed very partially in Japan and some parts of Europe. This, despite the fact that telecos have spent over $100 billion buying licences to run 3G networks. World over 4G is being eyed with scepticism and escapism from the bitter truth of the 3G disappointment.        
4G is expected to allow your mobile device to seamlessly roam over different wireless technologies, automatically using the best connection available for the intended use. In this sense, it is more of a "bridge" technology. It is also the "next generation" because it is intended to provide mobile data at rates of 20 megabits through 100Mbits/sec right up to 1Gbps. Even 3G has managed to reach just 384 Kbps (download) while 2.5G is typically 64 Kbps and has touched 200 Kbps at best. Several cellular companies like Alcatel, Motorola, Nortel and Japan's NTT DoCoMo are working in the 4G arena. Others like Intel, LG Electronics, Hughes Software are also partnering global efforts.        
 
Date: 1/6/2004       
New spectrum policy soon       
TRAI has issued a consultation paper on spectrum, a basic requirement for mobile phones to function. The detailed discussions between TRAI and stakeholders that will follow the release of the paper on Monday are expected to formulate a new comprehensive spectrum policy. If spectrum allocation is insufficient, cellular networks could choke during peak hours. And if priced improperly, network costs can go haywire and consumers may end up paying far more than they should for airtime.        

India has seen massive growth in cellular telephony in the past year or so and the country is adding about 2 million GSM as well as CDMA mobile subscribers a month. Besides, the number of companies providing cellular services has gone up to 5-8 in various telecom circles (3-4 GSM and 2-4 CDMA), from just about three a couple of years ago. These two developments have pushed demand for more spectrum, which is released in different frequency bands - 800 Mhz, 900 Mhz and 1800 MHz. Some countries also use 450 MHz and 1,900 MHz bands.        

Cellular industry has long been seeking higher allocation of spectrum and its release at one go, which it says will help them plan networks more efficiently, keeping costs down. For now, spectrum allocation is tied to the number of subscribers cellular operators have and is released to each one of them in stages.        

In Delhi and Mumbai, Airtel and Hutch with over a million subscribers each have 10 MHz spectrum each allocated to them in 800-900 MHz (which is now exhausted) and 1,800 MHz. In certain parts of the country, even 6.6 MHz is not utilised fully. Since spectrum is a limited resource, government and Trai have said cellular operators should use it judiciously. They have cited examples of phone companies in other nations accommodating more subscribers with a given amount of spectrum.        
 

Date: 31/5/2004       
Sistema & Millicom join race for IDEA stake      
Russian company Sistema and Luxembourg based Millicom are the latest entrants in the race to acquire US long-distance major AT&T's 33% sake in Indian cellular company IDEA Cellular. Newly formed Singapore Technologies Telemedia (STT) and Malaysia Telekom combine is also in the race. Of the two new entrants, Millicom International cellular, a Nasdaq listed company, has operations in 16 emerging markets, including Pakistan. Sistema is one of the owners of Moscow Telecom, a leading Russian telecom company. Other bidders include Bharti Televentures and Maxis, a Malaysian telecom company. The bids were between Rs. 9-13 per share.       
 
Date: 31/5/2004      
BTVL's rating on par with India's sovereign      
Standard & Poor's (S&P) has rated Bharti Tele-ventures equivalent to the sovereign rating assigned to India, the highest that any Indian corporate has been assigned in the foreign currency category. Significantly, Bharti has been planning an international listing for some time and the internal process for the overseas float is believed to be underway. According to Mr. Akhil Gupta, joint managing director, Bharti Tele-ventures (BTVL), this is a vote of confidence on the growth potential of the telecom industry in India and Bharti's ability to exploit this potential and be one of the strongest and leading players in the market.This is the highest rating in foreign currency category and has put Bharti in the league of top Indian companies like Reliance Industries, Indian Oil Corporation and Tata Motors.      
 
Date: 28/5/2004      
Hutch launched 'Microsoft Outlook on Hutch'      
Hutch launched 'Microsoft Outlook on Hutch', a service that allows its subscribers to access their office emails on their mobile phones. Developed jointly by Hutch and Microsoft, the facility enables access to corporate emails using SMS or GPRS services.      
Subscribers can read, download, edit and send Outlook emails with Microsoft Word, Excel or Power Point attachments using their handsets. Subscribers can receive SMS alerts informing them about new email in their corporate mailbox and can read the entire mail on their phones, even when they are roaming. It is targeted at corporate user environment. Although active synchronisation of the office email through mobile is possible only through GPRS handsets like Motorola MPX 200 and I Mate on payment of Rs.499 per month. Subscribers using all other makes of mobile handsets can have the service activated by setting an option on the user's corporate mail server, which allows a copy of office mails to be delivered to the user's mobile for a fee of Rs.49.      
 
Date: 28/5/2004      
MTNL's loyalty scheme      
MTNL launched a loyalty scheme under which its fixed line subscribers who have stayed with the company for over two years will get a Dolphin connection free for a year. The scheme was launched on May 17th, the World Telecom Day. More than 5000 connections were sold on the very first day. The target is to sell 50,000 connections by May 31. MTNL has sold all its pre-paid capacity. It has a spare capacity of 70,000 for its post-paid service -Dolphin. The company is also expanding its GSM network in Delhi and Mumbai to have an additional capacity of around 1.5 lakh lines by July-end. Last year, 90,000 new connections were installed while around 1,50,000 subscribers surrendered their fixed-line connections.       
 
Date: 27/5/2004      
Dayanidhi Maran takes charge      
Minister for Communications and Information technology, 37-year old Dayanidhi Maran took charge on Wednesday armed with a 10-point programme for IT that promises to fill all the gaps that the software export industry is facing. His agenda includes ushering in convergence technologies, broadband connectivity, leap-frogging to 4G mobile wireless (allowing high quality smooth video transmission), a national internet exchange, migration to next generation internet protocol IPV6 by 2006, promotion of digital signatures in the financial sector, and R&D - to make India the outsourcing hub, to boost language computing, as well as to prop up Media Lab Asia programmes.       

Topping his agenda is increasing the PC penetration and bringing "cyber connectivity" to every citizen. This would provide a platform to achieve convergence of information, communication and media technologies as well as citizen-centric government services. At present, PC penetration in India is below 10 for 1,000 people while internet subscription is below the two million mark. Development of a low-cost PC and other communication devices under the Media Lab Asia project is proposed to help increase PC and Net penetration.       
 

Date: 27/5/2004      
Bharti may outsource operation and maintenance of cellular networks to Nokia      
Nokia Networks is likely to bag a large outsourcing contract from Bharti Tele-Ventures for the operations and maintenance of its cellular networks in six circles in the western region. The total size of the deal is said to be around $250m. Earlier Bharti had  outsourced its network development to Ericcson for 13 circles in a $400-m deal.The circles include Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, UP (West), Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Karnataka and Kerala and the three new circles of Rajasthan, UP (East) and Jammu & Kashmir. Nokia is expected to provide a full service portfolio covering all technical operations - planning, building, integrating, operating and optimizing networks and mobile services. Nokia has won contracts from 15 operators globally, in addition to providing full turnkey implementations for a total of 24 operators.      
 
Date: 26/5/2004      
IDEA's top management team revamped      
IDEA revamped its top management team and appointed a new CFO. Earlier CFO Vikram Mehmi took over as CEO of the company.      
Sudhir Mathur, former CFO and president of Ballarpur Industries, has joined Idea as CFO. The new team includes S. Ramaswamy, vice-president - service delivery & quality, Lakshmi Narayana, vice-president - channel management, Gururaj D. Kulkarni, vice-president - business development, D. Sundararajan, head - mergers & acquisitions and Lekha Sishta, head - customer services quality.      
S Ramaswamy was earlier the national head - customer service at DHL worldwide Express. Lakshmi Narayana was vice-president with PepsiCo. Gururaj D. Kulkarni was with Mumbai based Venture Infotech as president & head of merchant services.       
D. Sundararajan was CFO & acting COO of Fascel, Gujarat.       

The company has also restructured some of its existing hierarchy in sales and marketing. All customer-facing departments have been brought under a newly created position of GM (customer services) at each circle. The circle head has been re-designated as VP (customer operations). Lekha Sishta will be based at the corporate office to improve overall customer services.      
 

Date: 30/4/2004      
Reliance Infocomm reports Rs. 390 cr loss         
Reliance Infocomm has reported a loss of about Rs. 390 crore for the year ended March '04. Reliance Industries, which holds 45% in the company, also announced that it will not invest any additional amount in Reliance Info. Infocomm has reported a cash profit in the first year of operations. The revenues of Rs.4,400 crore have been estimated on the basis of ARPU of Rs.523 per subscriber per month on a subscriber base of 7m. However, analysts say the actual revenue figures will vary since Infocomm's subscriber figure was less than 1m at the start of the last fiscal. The subscriber figures picked up only after the Monsoon Hungama and pre-paid service was launched in February. The average minutes of usage (MoU) of a post-paid subscriber is around 342 minutes, while the average revenue per user (ARPU) is about Rs 523. The churn rate for Infocomm is about 2.7% of the subscriber base. Reliance Info plans to increase its installed capacity from the current 7m subscribers to 40m subscribers by the year-end. The network will be rolled out in an additional 3,800 towns as the company plans to have a presence in 5,000 towns by March '05. It is currently present in 1,100 cities and towns across 20 circles.          
 
Date: 27/4/2004         
Hutchison switches to a unified billing system         
Hutchison switched to a unified billing system for all its circles. It has established twin regional billing hubs in Mumbai and Delhi with technology from SchlumbergerSema. With this instead of local circle-wise billing, Hutch postpaid customers across India will now be billed either from Mumbai or Delhi. All Hutchison postpaid users in Mumbai, Gujarat, Kolkata, West Bengal, Chennai, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh will be billed from the company's Mumbai billing hub and postpaid users in its northern circles (Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP-East, UP-West and Rajasthan) will be billed from Delhi. This mechanism is expected to lend more flexibility in unveiling common postpaid price plans nationally and cut annual billing costs by nearly 30%.          
 
Date: 27/4/2004         
Sanjay Behl moves to Nokia from HLL         
Nokia India has made some top level changes. Sanjay Behl has been brought in as the new head-marketing. He fills up the position which fell vacant when Gautam Advani was made the director multi media business earlier this year. Behl directly reports to Sanjeev Sharma, MD of Nokia India. He will be responsible for the sales and marketing along with brand communication for the entire Nokia mobile products.         
 
Date: 24/4/2004         
MTNL to add 8 lakh cell lines         
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) is expanding its cellular mobile network in Delhi and Mumbai. It plans to add an additional capacity of eight lakh lines in the two cities. The company operates GSM services under the brand name Dolphin for post-paid and Trump for pre-paid service. Currently, it has two lakh subscribers in Mumbai and about 1.80 lakh subscribers in Delhi. It has already exhausted all the capacity for prepaid cards. About 30% of the total additional capacity of eight lakh would be available by July end.          
 
Date: 24/4/2004         
Reliance Infocomm bids for Hughes Software stake         
Reliance Infocomm has bid to acquire News Corp's 55% stake in Hughes Software (HSS), a move to have a presence in all segments of the telecom sector. Others bidders are private equity funds, Warburg Pincus, General Atlantic Partners and Singapore based Temasek Holdings in collaboration with an Indian partner.          

Reliance Info is the country's largest wireless operator, selling CDMA technology-based services to more than 6m subscribers. It also offers national long-distance, international long-distance and is rolling out a nationwide broadband service for homes and corporates.         

Hughes Software is one of the largest telecom software companies in India, developing software for mobile phone communications.          
It also provides outsourcing services and billing network management services. Last year, it bought Bangalore-based Tenet Technologies, which provides internet protocol and 3G software services.          
 

Date: 24/4/2004         
Samsung to launch 25 new handset models         
Samsung launched four new mobile handsets including one with in-built camera and integrated flash. The company is planning to launch 25 new cellular handsets in India this year. Samsung has tied up with India's largest cellular operator Airtel for bundling of its two handsets models in all circles. It is also entering into similar tie ups with IDEA for select circles on all models and also a similar arrangement with Hexacomm.The range being introduced is the SGH X600, a bar mobile phone with a rotating camera and integrated flash. This is the only phone with multi-language display and input in Hindi, Tamil and Marathi. Other three mobile phones being introduced include SGH-S500, SGH-X100 and SGH-X430.         
 
Date: 22/4/2004         
Reliance Infocomm offers new price plan         
Reliance Infocomm unveiled a new entry-level price plan for RIM pre-paid subscribers. RIM pre-paid users can now buy a trendy Nokia 2280 data-enabled CDMA handset for Rs.2,999. Earlier, RIM pre-paid users paid Rs 6,500 for the Nokia 2280, which came pre-loaded with 20 recharge coupons of  Rs.324 each. Now, pre-paid users will pay less for the Nokia 2280, but the handset will be pre-loaded with one recharge coupon worth Rs.324. Along with the Nokia 2280 pricing, Reliance also unveiled new price plans on a range of LG handsets for its pre-paid users. Users will pay Rs.3,499 for an LG RD 2030 handset and Rs.4,499 for the high-end LG RD 2130 phone.
 
Date: 21/4/2004         
Sharp rise in cellular subscriber figures in North East         
There has been a 188% rise in the number of cell users in the entire region from 50,000 in February to nearly 1.44 lakh at the end of March, 2004. The statistics have even surprised local telecom circles. Sources said if the current trend continues, or intensifies, over the coming months, cellular connections in the North East can even surpass landline connections two years from now. Incidentally, there are only seven lakh landlines in the region. BSNL is planning a Rs.450 crore expansion for CellOne over the next one year.
 
Date: 16/4/2004         
AirTel launches STD/ISD code search service         
AirTel has announced the launch of an STD/ISD code search service for its customers in Delhi. This service has a repository of more than15000 STD & 250 ISD codes and will be charging Rs.3 per SMS. To avail this service, the customer would have to type          
STD< City Name> or ISD<Country Name> and send SMS to "1111", a pre-designated number and the return SMS will give the STD or ISD codes respectively. Even if the AirTel customer misspells the name of a destination, the system will search the closest destination, on the basis of first three characters of that spelling and will send a message for the same with the nearest matches.
 
Date: 16/4/2004         
Hutch acquired unified licence for WB, Sikkim          
Hutchison Essar announced the acquisition of a unified access licence for West Bengal and Sikkim. The company will invest Rs.120 crore for rolling out its cellular networks in West Bengal and Sikkim. Nokia will be the principal cellular equipment vendor.          
Hutchison Essar (South), a subsidiary of Hutchison Essar, was the investment vehicle for buying the West Bengal/Sikkim telecom service licence. Hutchison Essar has paid Rs.1.5 crore (including a Rs.50-lakh bank guarantee). Hutchison-Essar is targeting an October '04 launch for its cellular services in West Bengal. We plan to offer mobile coverage in 100 towns and key commercial locations in the state in the first year. 
 
Date: 14/4/2004         
Chinese mobile brand Kejian launched in India         
The Chinese mobile brand Kejian has been launched in India. The company plans to spend close to Rs.40-crore in marketing promotions this year to establish the brand's identity. Kejian has tied-up with the newly floated Trust Telecom Technologies (part of Rs.600-crore Rajgarhia Group) for sales, marketing and service of the mobile handsets in India and SAARC region. To start with, the company has launched four GSM models in the price range of Rs.4,905 to Rs.16,650 offering latest features like high resolution colour screens, video cameras and sleek looks. 
 
Date: 7/4/2004         
Over 3.6 crore mobile phone users in India today         
Over 3.6 cr people are using mobile phones in India today. More than 150% growth over last fiscal, being attributed to increased competition and sharp fall in tariffs during the past 12-15 months. Of the total mobile subscriber base, GSM cellular industry - led by Bharti, BSNL, Hutch & IDEA - showed impressive growth of 106%. There were 2.6 cr GSM subscribers at the end of March 2004. CDMA was 71.5 lakh at the end of March, 2004 with Reliance accounting for over 6.4 million subscribers, followed by Tata Teleservices having 6.2 lakh customers. 15 lakh subscribers joined the GSM base last month and over 4 lakh opted for CDMA mobile phones. 
 
Date: 5/4/2004         
Vodafone looking for acquisition in India         
World's largest cellular service provider, £34-billion Vodafone group, with equity interests in 26 countries, is believed to be exploring a big telecom acquisition in India. Vodafone group's Indian-born chief executive Arun Sarin informally met CEOs of some of India's biggest telecom firms at the recent GSM-2004 conference in Cannes. He is understood to have communicated Vodafone's interest to invest in India's GSM market. Indications are Vodafone will keep in abeyance any cellular acquisition decision in India till the government raises the foreign direct investment sectoral cap in telecom services to 74%, which is expected shortly after elections, especially if present government returns to power.
 
Date: 5/4/2004         
AT&T stake in IDEA Cellular up for grabs         
As per industry sources, Singapore Technologies Telemedia (ST Telemedia), Temasek Holdings and a Malaysian telecom company are among the companies who have expressed interest in buying AT&T's 33% stake in IDEA Cellular, India's fourth-largest GSM operator. Deutsche Bank is acting as AT&T's advisor. It is likely to call for initial expressions of interest (EoI) some time in April, the deal is expected to be concluded by the end of May or early June. US-based Cingular recently bought out AT&T Wireless. 
 
Date: 2/4/2004         
TATAs to merge all of  its telecom business in 2 years         
TATAs plan to bring all group telecom companies under one roof in 2 years. In its notice to shareholders, the company has stated that "the proposed financial restructuring is expected to reflect the true shareholder value by appropriately reflecting the future profitability from operations. Further, the right sizing of the balance sheet would result in a more realistic determination of certain key financial ratios such as return on capital employed, return on networth, etc." The move would enable the company's asset base to be comparable with that of the competitors.
 
Date: 2/4/2004         
LG targets 10% of global GSM sales from India         
LG Electronics, the fifth largest mobile handset maker in the world targets 10% share of its global GSM handset sales for India next year.LG entered the Indian GSM phone market last October. According to Chris Ho Yi, vice-president LG global GSM marketing team stated that the India strategy is to tap the market for coloured screen phones and to corner 20% market share. He said that the consumer trends point towards growing demand for small phones with larger screens. LG is also planning to launch products with six Indian languages. 
 
Cellular News: Jan. - Mar. 2004
  Cellular News: Oct. - Dec. 2003         
Cellular News: July - Sept. 2003         
Cellular News: Apr. - June 2003         
Cellular News: Jan. - Mar. 2003
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