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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cellular to merge its subsidiaries
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.
10-circle national footprint with a common brand would have a multiplier
effect on IDEA's enterprise valuation, pre-listing.
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
plans Rs.1500 crore IPO
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
New spectrum policy
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Dayanidhi Maran takes
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.
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.
IDEA's top management
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.
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.
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%.
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
MTNL to add 8 lakh
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.