Cellular News
          
Date: 29/6/2003 
BSNL's "Buy-one-get-one-free" offer 
BSNL announced "Buy-one-get-one-free" offer on its post-paid mobile service CellOne for its subscribers in Andhra Pradesh. The scheme includes a free talk time worth Rs. 200. The service would be available in other circles too in due course of time. BSNL is targeting 5 million subscribers by next year. It is planning to connect 11,000 villages through GSM, WLL or satellite phones by the year end. 
 
Date: 25/6/2003 
ADC, CPP regimes here to stay says TRAI chief 
At TRAI's open house session in the New Delhi, the Chairman Mr. Pradip Baijal made it clear that both Access Deficit Charge (ADC) and Calling Party Pays regimes (CPP) challenged by private telecom operators, would stay. GSM operators opposed ADC and Basic operators opposed CPP. The issue of reviewing IUC was also discussed. The authority would give its final recommendations by the end of July and indications are that the telecom tariffs may come down further. 
 
Date: 25/6/2003 
IDEA Cellular announced new post-paid tariff plans 
To make the post-paid sim cards as attractive as the pre-paid IDEA Cellular has announced a new tariff plan in where monthly rentals have gone down below the Rs. 200 mark for post-paid connections for the first time in India. The new plan BUZZ 169 comes at a rental of just Rs.169 per month and airtime charge at a flat rate of Rs.1.69 per minute.
 
Date: 24/6/2003 
Essar transfers Aircell Digilink licences to Hutch 
Essar owned Aircell Digilink licences of UP-East, Haryana and Rajasthan have been transferred to one of Hutchison Telecom's corporate vehicles through an all stock deal where the Ruias of Essar will receive shares in the merged company according to the equity valuation of Aircell Digilink. Statutory clearances from DoT and FIPB are due shortly. Aircell Digilink has 1.93 lakh subscribers across these three circles.
 
Date: 21/6/2003 
TRAI plans uniform termination fee 
TRAI is considering a uniform termination charge for all telecom service providers whether fixedline, cellular or WLL in its final order on interconnect usage charge (IUC), which will be effective from 1st August. The key issue is assessing the degree of equilibrium in existing traffic patterns of landline, cellular and WLL services before taking a final decision. Under the present IUC norms operators pay different termination charges for calls ending on cellular, WLL and landline networks which has made inter-operator reconciliation of termination charges chaotic. 
 
Date: 15/6/2003 
TRAI may ask Government for unified licence 
TRAI is expected to ask the Government for converting all licences into a unified one to enable any telecom operator in a designated territory to venture into any kind of telecom services. This is supposed  to be due to the mounting pressure of Banks and Financial Institutions for some rescue package to defer the collapse as staggering losses are being suffered by major segments of telecom industry despite tremendous growth in volumes. The proposed policy may offer only two kinds of services, fixed and mobile.
 
Date: 13/6/2003 
Cellular operators to invest Rs. 550 cr in Gujarat 
Cellular operators like Idea Cellular, Hutch, AirTel & BSNL plan to invest around Rs. 550 crore next year in Gujarat operations where the market is expected to grow by  85 -100%. Also expected is that wireless telephony may overtake fixed line telephony at some places in Gujarat in the coming year. Low penetration level also provides immense opportunity for growth. Free incoming calls have inspired people to prefer mobile telephony as long-distance mobile telephony today is cheaper than fixed line. All these factors together motivated the cellular operators to expand their infrastructure facilities and doubling the capacity in the state.
 
Date: 13/6/2003 
GSM Cellular Subscribers base in the country reached 1.41 cr 
Number of GSM Cellular Subscribers in the country reached 1,41,75,910 by May end. 8.4 lakh new subscribers were added last month. BSNL has not been able to sustain its growth rate which declined by 50%. AirTel consolidated its leading position and claimed 25% of the market share.
 
Date: 13/6/2003 
TEC asked to submit a 3G roadmap to DoT 
Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) has been asked to submit a 3G roadmap to DoT after consultations with key ministries like defence and aviation. Key issues involve spectrum availability, freezing specific bands, propose distribution of spectrum and procedure for existing telecom service providers to migrate to the 3G platform. Although the whole exercise is in its infancy and country's 3G market potential needs to be studied before coming out with the licence guidelines. 3G services operate at 1900-2200 MHz. The transition for CDMA-based limited mobility to 3G is expected to be seamless while the GSM to 3G would involve GPRS, Edge and wideband-CDMA (W-CDMA) stages. Globally 3G licences were auctioned in the UK and Germany for $34bn and $45bn respectively. But here in India it is believed that the existing telecom players will get these licences automatically.
 
Date: 11/6/2003 
Airtel offers free talk time each time you recharge 
Pre-paid users of Airtel may get some free talk time each time they recharge their card. This will be part of the company's new customer loyalty programme to be launched across the country for the pre-paid customers called Recharge Reward.
 
Date: 11/6/2003 
Insurance cover for handsets 
BPL Mobile has tied up with Bajaj Allianz General Insurance to provide insurance cover for handsets bundled with health insurance for its Club Mobile members. The scheme has been launched in the Maharashtra circle including Goa and will be extended to the rest of BPL Mobile's circles of Mumbai, Kerala and TN in the next couple of months. 
 
Date: 11/6/2003 
Finance Ministry tells RBI to help BPL Mobile raise funds 
BPMCL a 51:49 joint venture between BPL and AT&T Wireless which operates cellular services in Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Kerala may finally achieve financial closure. The Finance ministry has asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to "make an objective assessment of the BPMCL project appraisal as a test-case and pinpoint any avoidable delays on part of the financial institutions". The ICICI Bank led lenders' consortium that includes IDBI, IDFC and LIC had undertaken the BPMCL project appraisal. The ministry has specifically asked "RBI to advise the government on any avoidable delays by the FIs and how these could be best redressed". In a meeting last week BPL Mobile chairman Rajeev Chandrasekhar is believed to have appealed Finance Minister Mr. Jaswant Singh that inordinate delays by various financial institutions in funding the BPMCL venture had triggered a Rs. 580 crore increase in project cost from Rs. 2,660 crore to Rs. 3,240 crore which is threatening project viability.
 
Date: 11/6/2003 
Nokia may provide CDMA handsets to Reliance Info 
According to industry sources Nokia is in talks with Reliance Info for providung CDMA based handsets. Initially Nokia has offered its 2280 model which was launched by Nokia earlier this year and is an entry-level handset. The other phones in this series include Nokia 2270 and 2285. These phones have black-and-white screens, built-in GPS chips and lets users send data at speeds of up to 2 mbps. The Nokia 2280, using CDMA 2000 1X technology, is priced below $100 internationally. Analysts say this would help Reliance bring down the subsidy for CDMA phones it offers to attract customers in India. The WLL mobile user base has reached 16.71 lakh where Reliance Infocomm has 12.78 lakh subscribers.
 
Date: 10/6/2003 
Arun Shourie advises BSNL, MTNL on equipment procurement 
In a meeting with the equipment suppliers, Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association (TEMA), BSNL and MTNL, Union Communications Minister Arun Shourie asked MTNL and BSNL to make public their requirement of procuring equipment well in advance by at least six months which will enable the equipment suppliers to prepare well for the tenders and would make the  procurement process smooth. He also advised to somplify procedures related to the procurement of equipment to avoid delay in the tenders. Mr Shourie also insisted on the timely delivery of the equipment. 
 
Date: 5/6/2003 
Sivasankaran acquired Vodafone's stake in RPG Cellular 
C Sivasankaran's Mauritius-based IQ Investments has bought Vodafone's 20.76% equity stake in RPG Cellular which is the second largest cellular service provider in Chennai. Vodafone had a 20.76% holding in RPG Cellular through Mauritius-based Airtouch. IQ Investments has acquired a 100% stake in Airtouch. According to industry sources Mr. Sivasankaran is planning to buyout remaining 79.24% equity also although the details of valuation are not known. Aircel Ltd., a Sivasankaran group company is cellular services provider in the Tamil Nadu circle except Chennai. It has a subscriber base of 2,30,563. Acquisition of RPG Cellular  would give Aircel Ltd. a seamless coverage in the state.
 
Date: 3/6/2003 
Bharti plans $185m US listing next fiscal 
Bharti is planning more than $185m listing in the United States during the next financial year. The company has recently touched 1million subscribers mark in Delhi and is aiming for 6 million customers countrywide by March 2004. The company is also looking at acquisitions to expand its network and customer base.
 
Date: 3/6/2003 
Idea Cellular plans Rs.800 cr capital expenditure 
Idea Cellular plans an investment of Rs.800 crore for the financial year 2003-04 across all five circles to increase capacity and improve the quality of service. The company has invested a total of Rs.4,800 crore in various circles so far. Idea Cellular which operates in five circles is India's fourth largest operator with a subscriber base of 12,68,602. Its coverage includes 600 towns and cities in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and has covered over 6,000 km of highway.
 
Date: 2/6/2003 
Logica to supply messaging solution to Spice 
Logica is supplying a complete Intelligent Network Pre-Paid messaging solution to Spice Telecom in Karnataka. The company has supplied messaging systems to 140 mobile operators worldwide which serve over 150 million active subscribers.Logica’s payments portfolio includes its PrePaid System and PrePaid Service Agent (PSA) that offers voice and data rating flexibility and roaming capability enabling a variety of prepaid call packages to be offered to subscribers. The solution includes customer care and recharge management systems ensuring that customer service representatives have up to date information regarding usage, and can effectively deal with subscriber enquiries. 
 
Date: 30/5/2003 
Airtel offers SMS for 60 paise excluding Delhi & Mumbai 
AirTel announced reduced SMS rates to 60 paise per message in all its circles except Delhi and Mumbai for both its post-paid and pre-paid subscribers. To avail these rates a pre-paid subscriber has to pay an additional Rs.25 per month whereas a post-paid subscriber will pay Rs.49 per month for which they get 80 free SMS messages. All messages beyond this will be charged at 60 paise.
 
Date: 30/5/2003 
AirTel offers handset + airtime at Rs.3,315 
Airtel announced an offer where a subscriber can buy a Nokia 3315 handset along with an AirTel connection for just Rs 3,315 whereas the actual cost of the handset is Rs 5,399. The subscriber makes a payment of Rs 5,715 initially which covers the handset cost and the plan enrolment fee of Rs 316 and free talktime/month of Rs 100 for two years. Airtel claims that the effective cost to the customer works out to Rs. 3,315. 
 
Date: 29/5/2003 
MMS between Delhi & Mumbai 
BPL mobile and IDEA Cellular who were the pioneers in launching MMS ( Multimedia Messaging Service ) in their respective networks have tied up to provide an interconnection for MMS thus their subscribers in Delhi and Mumbai will be able to send picture messages to each other. The recipient must have MMS compatible handset otherwise he can receive MMS on their e-mail and an SMS message will be displayed on the mobile.
 
Date: 29/5/2003 
Cell-to-Cell STD at 50p 
AirTel and Hutch have announced cell-to-cell STD calls at 50p per min for the first 100 min. This facility can be availed at Rs.50 monthly charge and is offered on 599 and higher plans.
 
Date: 29/5/2003 
Indians talk the most 
Post-paid subscribers in India are now talking for 650 - 700 min per month on their cellular phones which is the highest in the world. The highest talktime in the world was around 600 - 650 min per month in some developed markets. Both STD and ISD traffic has increased by 25-30% due to the fall in tariffs.
 
Date: 29/5/2003 
Buyers are preferring legal market for mobile handsets 
According to ICA ( Indian Cellular Association ) 45% of cellular subscribers  bought handsets from legal market in 2003 as compared to 25% in 2002. Around 3 - 3.75 lakh mobile phones are sold per month through legal channels. Chandigargh has the maximum no. of mobile buyers prefering legal channel at 75%. In Delhi it is 60%. Around 50% buy through legal markets in West Bengal, TN, AP, UP, Gujarat & Maharashtra. For Kerala & Mumbai this figure is only 10%, the reason is attributed to octroi.
 
Date: 28/5/2003 
'Hutch4help' service in Delhi 
Hutch launched its location based convenience service 'Hutch4help' in Delhi which renders a help at hand for Hutch users anywhere anytime. What one needs to do is just dial 4 followed by the service it requires for example 'police', if you look at the key pad letter 'p' is on key numbered 7, similarly letter 'o' is on key numbered 6 and so on ... this way if one dials 4765423 he will be connected to the nearest police station. In the same way one can dial for nearest hospital, taxi etc.
 
Date: 27/5/2003 
BSNL to pay licence & spectrum fee 
The government will be collecting its full licence and spectrum fee from BSNL. The support for rural telecom will be routed through the USO fund paid for by telecom users. This will put BSNL at par with private cellular operators in the industry although it will hit BSNL's bottomline by Rs.2,500 crore.
 
Date: 26/5/2003 
IDEA Cellular acquires Escotel Mobile 
IDEA Cellular is acquiring 75% stake in Escotel Mobile Communications Ltd. The combined entity will become the third largest cellular operator after AirTel and BSNL. IDEA Cellular has operations in Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, MP, Goa and Andhra Pradesh while Escotel is number one in Haryana, UP(west) and Kerala. Hong Kong based First Pacific which had 49% stake in Escotel had announced its decision to exit India two years ago and has been looking for an exit option since then.
 
Date: 26/5/2003 
Airtel will not use 'Magic' brand anymore 
Under its master brand strategy Bharti will discontinue the usage of its 'Magic' brand name. Its pre-paid cards will also be sold under AirTel brand. The new brand strategy will also realign the associated advertising agencies where Rediff will be handling AirTel brand and Bharti's other infotel brands like TouchTel, IndiaOne and Mantra will be handled by Percept Advertising.
 
Date: 25/5/2003 
Siemens bags order for Escotel's network upgrade 
Siemens has bagged a three year contract worth Euro 30 million for the expansion and upgradation of Escotel's GSM networks in Haryana, UP(West) and Kerala. This will include installation of new Mobile Switching Centres with advance capabilities for increasing coverage and capacity.
 
Date: 25/5/2003 
Hutch launches 'cell broadcast' 
Hutch is the first one to launch 'cell broadcast' in Delhi & Mumbai, the service gives a Hutch user their approximate nearest geographical location on the handset screen which gets automatically updated as one moves across the city. The 'cell info display' facility should be 'on' on your handset, both post-paid & pre-paid users are getting this information.No change of SIM is required.  The service will include more useful information and offers in future. A similar location based service 'Around Me' was launched by AirTel for its Delhi & Mumbai users on 32K SIM cards only which gives information about nearest medicine shop, hotel, ATM etc.
 
Date: 23/5/2003 
Airtel announced global roaming on pre-paid cards 
AirTel has announced the launch of pre-activated international roaming on its 'Magic' pre-paid cards for its all subscribers across the country.The facility which is one way will be available at the cost of Rs.50/min (all inclusive) for incoming voice calls and free incoming SMS while roaming. Users cannot make outgoing calls or send messages. The pulse rate for incoming calls will be 60 secs.
 
Date: 23/5/2003 
IDEA and MTNL reduced cellular tariffs 
MTNL has reduced tariffs including STD rates for its post-paid service 'Dolphin' and pre-paid 'Trump' card subscribers. For postpaid users calls to other mobiles will be Rs.1.60/min, while calls to fixed/WLL phones will be Rs.1.90/min. MTNL's cell-to-cell STD charges have been reduced to Rs.1.90/min while SMS will cost 80 paise. IDEA Cellular also has reduced rates in Delhi where its offer for pre-paid users includes rate of 99 paise for outgoing to fixed/mobile from 9 pm to 9 am. Rs.150 worth talk time is also free on purchase of Rs.299 worth pre-paid card. Pre-paid SMS rate will be 99 paise.
 
Date: 21/5/2003 
Siemens to focus on Indian mobile phone market 
As sales of legally sold handsets is picking up, the German electronic giant Siemens is strengthening its distripution network by signing up with Tech Pacific which has 2000 shops across the country. The models company is offering are A55, SL55, S55, CL50, M55 and SX1 smartphone. The company is targeting 8.5% market share. Siemens also announced the upgrading of its Bangalore based R&D facility which will become company's global development hub for GSM and 3G/UMTS mobile network software.
 
Date: 21/5/2003 
TDSAT defers ruling 
TDSAT has indefinately defered the issuing of its verdict on the controversial government policy allowing the fixed line operators to offer cheaper limited mobility services.
 
Date: 20/5/2003 
Bharti to spend Rs.1200 cr in next 8 months 
Bharti TeleVentures will spend Rs.1200 cr in its mobile business over the next 8 months. It is planning to increase its reach to 300 more towns and add more than 1500 sites. Its target by March 2004 is to cover 1100 towns install 28 MSCs and have more than 5000 radio cell sites. It is also planning to increase its retail outlets to 1,50,000.
 
Date: 20/5/2003 
China accounts for 23% of worldwide handset market 
According to MIC, a Taiwan's research & consulting firm a total of 107 million handsets were sold in China during 2002 which represents 23% of the total handsets sold worldwide during the same period while the figure was only 5 million in India during the same period. Chinese handset manufacturers' contribution was 32.2% of the total shipments in the first quarter of this year while local manufacturers are virtually unknown in India. Chinese manufacturers source knocked-down kits from Korea & Taiwan or redesign full system casings. They pool their resources for brand management and marketing. High distributor and retailer margins are key to their success.
 
Date: 19/5/2003 
Foreign investments in telecom being raised to 74% via FIIs 
The union communications and IT minister Mr. Arun Shourie has proposed to raise foreign investment in telecom sector to 74% from the existing 49% by allowing additional investments to be routed through Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) as they do not seek management control thus would not pose any threat to the security issue. The FIIs are allowed to invest in listed as well as unlisted companies. FII investment in a telecom company would be permitted to an extent where FDI would be capped at 49% and combined FDI and FII can go upto 74%.
 
Date: 17/5/2003 
Airtel offers cheapest cell-to-cell STD 
Airtel has recently introduced a plan AirTel 012 where outgoing local calls to any GSM mobile would cost only Re1/minute. Mobile-to-mobile STD calls would cost Re 1.99/min. The monthly rental is Rs 299. At less than Rs 2, making an STD call is cheaper than using a landline the company says. No entry deposit is required for making mobile-to-mobile STD calls. Bharti offers mobile services in fifteen out of 22 circles in India. Approximately 91% of India's total number of mobile subscribers resided in Bharti's existing and proposed mobile circles. The company's revenue and EBITDA are Rs 3,083 crore and Rs 771 crore, respectively. The company has made a gross investment of over Rs 9,700 crore in building telecom in India.
 
Date: 16/5/2003 
Cellular service providers working on alternative models to boost revenues 
The concept of Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) which has decreased by 30-50% in last one year may get replaced by alternative models being explored by cellular companies. The analysts are discovering that ARPU may not be a realistic indicator of customer viability. They are discussing some new concepts such as  Average Margins Per User (AMPU), and Average Profit Per User (APPU) and Average Margins Per Minute (AMPM) etc. for the evaluation of cost of service and margins. 
 
Date: 16/5/2003 
TRAI plans a major review of telecom tariffs 
TRAI plans a major review of telecom tariffs by recommending distribution of the Access Deficit Charge (ADC) evenly among all operators including cellular and WLL operators. Currently it is shouldered by BSNL and MTNL alone. This way the regulator is trying to reimburse basic service providers for uncovered costs of their operations in unremunerative areas. This will bring down basic service tariffs and the cost of calling a basic phone from other networks. For long distance calls over 500 km between circles, Trai had proposed ADC of Rs 5.10 per minute for fixed-to-fixed calls, Rs 3.60 per minute for calls from WLL to fixed lines and Rs 3.50 per minute for calls from cellular to fixed lines. This move will also encourage basic operators to adopt new cost-efficient technologies which may reduce capital cost by one third. Servicing cost will also come down benefiting operators as well as consumers.
 
Date: 15/5/2003 
New cellular pricing from BSNL 
BSNL announced massive rate cuts on its CellOne mobile services with a local cell-to-cell rate of 40 paise/min and cell-to-fixed/WiLL rate of Rs.1.20 per min. SMS rates are cut to 60 paise per message across all post-paid and pre-paid tariff plans.
 
Date: 15/5/2003 
Bharti to upgrade Airtel coverage in Gujarat 
Bharti plans to upgrade Airtel coverage in Gujarat and make Airtel the biggest cellular network in the state with 550 cell sites.  
The company has targeted three lakh customers by the end of this year. The company will be spending Rs 120 crore in the next two months for network expansion and putting up additional cell sites for better coverage. Bharti is also planning to spend an additional Rs 120 crore across the country to upgrade its IT division, billing mechanism and the call centres. Airtel currently has a subscriber base of 75,000 in Gujarat.
 
Date: 13/5/2003 
Partial rollback by MTNL & BSNL 
MTNL & BSNL has announced a partial rollback of the telecom tariffs that came into effect from May 1st. The fixed-to-mobile call rates have been slashed from Rs.3.60 per min to Re.1.20 per min. Also the number of free calls have been raised from 30 to 50 in urban areas and from 50 to 75 in rural areas. This will have a retrospective effect from May 1st. The operators will lose around Rs.3,470 crore which will push them into loss of Rs. 970 cr instead of a projected profit of Rs.2,500 crore. The decision has been forced by the ruling party in view of the upcoming elections but has come as a big relief for the customers.
 
Date: 13/5/2003 
All India GSM subscriber base reaches 13.33 million 
As on April 30th the all India GSM subscriber base has reached 13.33 million. Bharti is on top with 3.19 million subscribers with BSNL at second position at 2.64 million figures. Next is Hutch at 2.26 million followed by IDEA Cellular at 1.26 million. Four metros together have subscriber base of 45.84 lakh. WiLL technology has also grabbed 2 million subscribers. While mobility is increasing, there is a decline in fixed line subscriptions.
 
Date: 13/5/2003 
Average Revenue Per User falls by 30% 
According some leading cellular operators Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) has declined by  30%. This is being attributed to free incoming calls and lower tariffs. The interconnect usage charges are not enough to compensate. Although analysts say that increasing market and increasing traffic will cover up the deficit.
 
Date: 12/5/2003 
MTNL to go beyond Delhi & Mumbai 
DoT is planning to allow MTNL to expand its operations beyond Delhi & Mumbai. A proposal under considerations envisages the acquisition of smaller private cellular operations and also Maharashtra circle of BSNL. This will remove stagnation in MTNL's growth prospects. MTNL has over Rs.2000 crores in reserves.
 
Date: 11/5/2003 
DoT to allow more than one licence in a cellular circle 
DoT plans to allow a cellular operator to acquire more than one licence in a cellular circle. This will facilitate mergers and acquisitions thus paving the way for consolidation in the cellular industry. The move will help smaller players who will get the exit route and secondly it will benefit telecom investors who would be able to cut their losses and will have more options to redeploy their funds.
 
Date: 11/5/2003 
TRAI to review Interconnect Usage Charges 
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) would review the whole Interconnect Usage Charge system in three to six months. The final consultation paper on IUC would be issued by May15th. During the review period present tariffs will continue. 
 
Date: 10/5/2003 
New tariffs from IDEA Cellular 
IDEA Cellular offers new tariffs which will be same for cell-to-cell, cell-to-landline and cell-to-WiLL calls. The rates will be Rs.1.99/min for post-paid users and Rs.2.49/min for pre-paid users during daytime and less during night. Monthly rental will be Rs.269 and SMS will cost 99 paise in Delhi.
 
Date: 8/5/2003 
Hindujas refuse to sell Fascel stake 
The post merger ownership structure of the 11 circle Hutchison-Essar merged entity is still unclear as Hindujas have not yet offloaded 30% holding in Fascel. This will affect Essar Tele's plan to hold 30% in merged entity. Hutchison Telecom will have 49% stake post merger while Essar Tele, Kotak Mahindra & Hindujas may together hold 51%.
 
Date: 7/5/2003 
BSNL asked to justify WiLL tariffs 
TRAI has asked BSNL to justify its tariffs for WiLL services on cost basis. TRAI has not yet approved the tariff plans proposed by MTNL, Reliance and Tata Tele-services.
 
Date: 6/5/2003 
TRAI may serve do's and don'ts for operators 
TRAI which is loaded with number of tariff plans submitted for its approval by cellular, fixed line and NLD operators has also received notes that highlight inconsistencies between long distance tariffs and IUC regime that started from 1st May. One of the discripency was that tariff for a fixed-to-fixed long distance call in a particular distance slab was lower than the sum of originating, carriage and terminating charges including the access deficit charge, the issue is how to adjust that with offered tariff. Some NLDs have raised the issue that to match long distance tariffs offered they have to offer originating and terminating charges which makes their operations financially unviable. Many more such issues have come forward. The fundamental principal of IUC regime is that all tariff should be non-discriminatory and should protect user interest, network expansion and industry viability. It is believed that TRAI may come out with a list of do's and don'ts for operators regarding tariffs. 
 
Date: 5/5/2003 
IFC to invest in Escorts Telecom Ltd. 
International Finance Corporation (IFC) is acquiring 10-12% equity stake in Escorts Telecom Ltd. which will provide cellular services in newly acquired circles of Rajasthan, U.P.(East) and Himachal Pradesh. IFC plans a total investment of Rs.400 cr in the company where it will take a sizeable debt exposure too.
 
Date: 5/5/2003 
BSNL subscribers to pay Rs.100 more 
BSNL's new tariffs overburden subscribers with just Rs 100 over their current bill if their usage is same. Subscribers whose bills range between 260 to 500 will benefit from the 'economy package'. There is a 'special package' for those who make calls between 1,000 and 2,800 in two months and those who make 2,800 calls and above should choose the 'super package'. The default tariff plan for those who make calls 500 and 1,000 in two months also applies to the subscribers who have not specified a rate package. STD charges within the state and beyond 200 km have been halved to Rs 2.40 per minute. Inter-state STD calls from fixed to mobile telephones (beyond 200 km) are cheaper too. The call rate is down from the earlier Rs 4.80 per minute to Rs 3.60 per minute.
 
Date: 5/5/2003 
TRAI rejects MTNL's WiLL tariff 
TRAI has rejected MTNL's WiLL tariff since it had proposed 12 sec pulse rate saying that it is too short a duration. According to MTNL shorter pulse rates are in favour of subscribers. If the pulse rate is 12 seconds and a consumer makes a 12-second call, he would pay only one-fifth of the charge due for a minute. If, on the other hand, the pulse rate were one minute, he would end up paying the charge for a full minute even for the same 12-second call.
 
Date: 5/5/2003 
Reliance Infocomm sticks to free SMS 
Reliance Infocomm has decided not to pass on inter-connect charges for SMS to its subscribers. The company will keep its promise of 'free SMS' made in its pre-launch campaigns.
 
Date: 5/5/2003 
Reliance Info to rework revenue model 
Reliance Infocomm is likely to link its tariff proposal to a reworked revenue model to convince Trai that its limited mobility tariffs are not predatory. Reliance Infocomm is working hard on this after TRAI threatened to block the company's 40 paise/minute WLL-mobile STD tariff plan. The reworked revenue model will include a substantial termination earnings component in the new interconnect regime.
 
Date: 5/5/2003 
Landline to mobile calls reduced 
12% reduction in calls from landline to mobile was observed in last five days after BSNL introduced the new tariff packages. According to BSNL the new tariff packages which went into effect from May 1, will not decrease local call duration, and incoming calls will continue to be free. But the number of free calls has been reduced.
 
Date: 5/5/2003 
TRAI questioned Reliance 40p/min offer 
TRAI has objected to Reliance's 40p/min tariff for an STD call from its network to any WiLL network for first 400 min usage. It has asked the compny to justify that how these tariffs are IUC compliant abd cost based.
 
Date: 2/5/2003 
Airtel offers free talktime 
Airtel is offering Rs.50 worth free talktime for new Magic(pre-paid) subscribers. 50% customers can also win extra talktime from Rs.25 to Rs.1 Lakh. Everyday a top prize of Rs.1 Lakh worth of talktime will be announced. The total value on offer is Rs.10 crore.
 
Date: 2/5/2003 
Cellular operators told to levy single tariff 
In the new IUC regime, TRAI has asked all cellular operators to fix single tariff rates inclusive of the relevant termination charge that is 'IUC component' for each service plan - Cellular-to-cellular, cellular -to-fixed and cellular-to-WiLL. The customers should not be charged separately for termination.
 
Date: 1/5/2003 
Incoming calls on cellular phones free from today 
Telephone tariffs to change as TRAI's Interconnection Usage Charge (IUC) system gets implemented from today. All incoming calls to a mobile phone will be free. Calls from mobile to fixed line will get cheaper. Fixed-to-cellular STD charges will also be cheaper by 25%. So there will be an overall reduction in cellular bills.Cellular operators to get access charges on fixed and WiLL calls. Calls from fixed to cellular will become six times more expensive than fixed-to-fixed call. Not much change in fixed-to-fixed call charges but WiLL-to-fixed charges will go up. Reliance has already increased WiLL-to-fixed line charge to Re 1 per min from earlier stipulated 40p per min. MTNL & BSNL will be the biggest losers as they will be paying more as access charges to cellular and WiLL operators while they will get less as access charges. The IUC regime treats WiLL-M services as equal to cellular services. 
 
Date: 29/4/2003 
TRAI's Interconnection Usage Charge system from May 1st 
TRAI's Interconnection Usage Charge system to be implemented from May 1st will usher in the calling party pay (CPP) regime. It is expected that both airtime usage and subscriber base will increase. But according to analysts this is not enough to compensate the money companies are losing per subscriber because of reduced rates in last one & half year. The revenue per subscriber has reduced by 50% while the capital expenditure on network and spectrum has increased considerably to cater to the demand. Spectrum costs in India is two times more than in any other part of the world while the tariffs are lowest in the world.
 
Date: 28/4/2003 
Reliance Infocomm's connectivity with BSNL not yet cleared 
Reliance Infocomm's commercial launch of WiLL mobile services in 588 cities scheduled for May1st, may get delayed or it can be only partial launch since points of interconnection ( PoIs) in only 68 cities has been approved by BSNL so far. The Ambanis have sought intervention of Union Communications minister Arun Shourie and TRAI chairman Pradeep Baijal to sort out the matter.
 
Date: 27/4/2003 
GSM Service Providers to pamper heavy users 
Apart from free incoming calls next month onwards, the cellular service providers are also restructuring their tariff packages for heavy users which constitutes about a quarter of their subscriber base. It is expected that lots of free STD calls and SMS messages will be packed in. With the IUC regime in place, cellular usage is expected to go up by 20-50% in next few months. The cellular subscriber base is also expected to go up by 30-40%.
 
Date: 25/4/2003 
Supreme Court stays TDSAT order regarding WiLL files 
Supreme Court has stayed TDSAT order to make WiLL files public saying that the issue required consideration to lay down a law for future cases. Although the tribunal can go ahead with the hearing of petition against WiLL services and can have DoT documents for its own perusal.
 
Date: 24/4/2003 
Delhi operators increased roaming charges 
AirTel, Hutch and IDEA Cellular have all increased their roaming charges to Rs.3 per min within their own networks for both incoming and outgoing calls. This will be in addition to Rs.2.99 per min STD rate. The SMS sending charges will be Rs.2 while roaming throughout the country.
 
Date: 24/4/2003 
Hutch says low tariffs not cost based 
In a written reply to TRAI, Hutchison has admitted that the low airtime tariffs for cell-to-cell STD calls were not cost based. They were forced to match the reduced tariffs offered by competitors.
 
Date: 22/4/2003 
TRAI holds STD, ISD airtime cuts 
TRAI has asked AirTel, Hutch and IDEA Cellular to hold in abeyance the implementation of their recently announced airtime cuts on STD, ISD calls and also justify the cost reduction. These operators have slashed the airtime on mobile-to-mobile STD calls to 50p and waived off additional airtime completely on ISD calls made from the mobile. Although the other component of long distance call charged by these operators is Rs.2.99 per min. which is the rate for long distance carriage. These GSM service providers have slashed the rates to make their services more competitive as BSNL and Reliance are charging no airtime although STD rates per minute in case of BSNL is Rs.4.80 and Rs.0.40 in case of Reliance within its network.
 
Date: 21/4/2003 
Hutch to launch first 'Web-based' tariff calculator 
Hutch is launching the first 'Web-based' tariff calculator for its 600,000 users. The 'My Hutch' service will allow a user to configure a tariff plan of their choice by answering a few questions presented to them on the website related to their usage pattern. The system will automatically work out the best plan.
 
Date: 21/4/2003 
IDEA Cellular acquired 50.3% of Capital's new subscribers 
IDEA Cellular has acquired 50.3% of Delhi's new subscriber base since it started operations in Nov.2002, followed by AirTel 33.4% and Hutch 14.8%. This is the first time that the fourth cellular operator has got such a huge market share. The company attributes the achievement to its latest 3G compatible network, innovative value added services and superior customer care. IDEA Cellular has 33% market share in its other four circles namely Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra excluding Mumbai, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. The company has invested Rs.1,300 cr in building its networks during last three years.
 
Date: 20/4/2003 
Reliance Infocomm to sell through its own retail channel 
Making a fundamental change in strategy, Reliance Infocomm is phasing out its much publicised DAE ( Dhirubhai Ambani Entrepreneurs) scheme and will sell through its own retail channel instead. According to the company the direct marketing model is not working well and is hurting the company's image. On the other hand the company claims its three crore minutes of usage in 8 weeks as the highest in the world telecom history. Reliance Infocomm has launched a scheme where customers will not be tied down for three years and can pay on monthly basis. Also they need not issue post-dated cheques or show any documents like income proof.
 
Date: 19/4/2003 
TRAI and telecom operators agree on intrim solution 
TRAI and telecom service providers agreed on an intrim solution for implementing the interconnect usage charge policy from May 1st. This will drastically increase fixed line phone bills while incoming on cellular phones will be free. The intrim solution accepted by all has given all telecom operators including BSNL time till 31st March next year to install a CDR ( Call Detail Record ) based billing system. The intrim solution allows the reconciliation of data by BSNL on off-line basis. TRAI has asked DoT to issue guidelines that clearly demarcate WiLL and Fixed line calls.
 
 Date: 18/4/2003 
IDEA Cellular reduces STD rates in Delhi 
After Airtel and Hutch, IDEA Cellular  also slashed its rates to 50 p for mobile-to-mobile STD calls and international long distance calls will have no extra expense. The new rates would be applicable from 20th April and both pre-paid and post-paid users will get the benefit.
 
Date: 18/4/2003 
TRAI meeting tomorrow 
TRAI is holding a meeting tomorrow with telecom service providers to sort out the interconnect usage charges issue which will come into effect from 1st May. It will be followed by presentations by telecom operators. Users can expect incoming calls free on mobile but fixed line phones may become more expensive.
 
Date: 18/4/2003 
Hutch top heads reshuffled 
The top management of Hutch's India operations has been reshuffled. The 11 circle Hutch-Essar cellular merger exercise is being accelerated. MD Asim Ghosh will be Hutchison India's executive head, under him will be two CEOs Rajiv Sawhney and Sandeep Das who will be regional cluster heads. Below them will be COOs of different circles. The northern cluster headed by Mr. Sawhney will include Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP-East and Rajasthan while the western cluster ( Mumbai, Gujarat ) and the southern cluster ( Chennai, Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka) will be headed by Mr. Das. Company's Kolkata operations is not a part of any cluster so far whose COO directly reports to Mr. Ghosh.
 
Date: 17/4/2003 
Hutch also dropped airtime charges on STD calls 
Hutch has reduced airtime charges on all STD calls for its subscribers on both post-paid and pre-paid to 50 paise per minute in Delhi. The company has also enabled cell-to-cell STD for all users without paying any security deposit.
 
Date: 17/4/2003 
IDEA Cellular partners pump in Rs.120 cr 
The three equal partners in IDEA Cellular, Aditya Birla Group, Tatas and AT&T have equally infused Rs.120 cr to further recapitalise the venture which takes the equity capital of IDEA Cellular to Rs.2,260 cr.
 
Date: 17/4/2003 
Govt.'s petition in Supreme Court challenging TDSAT 
The centre has filed a petition in Supreme Court challenging the TDSAT order directing DoT to give cellular operators copies of certain sensitive documents related to WiLL issue stating that such disclousure would harm public interest.
 
Date: 16/4/2003 
Airtel slashes STD & ISD rates 
Airtel has reduced airtime charges to 50 paise per minute in case of STD calls and in case of ISD the airtime charges are completely waived off. This means that an STD call between Mumbai - Delhi from one mobile to another will cost Rs.2.99 plus airtime charges of 50 paise per minute. Call from mobile to land-line will cost Rs.4.80(STD charges) plus 50 paise per minute. In case of an ISD call only ISD charges of about Rs.24 per minute for a call to US would be applicable.
 
Date: 14/4/2003 
Cellular subscriber base rose to 1.26 cr 
Cellular subscribers base in India rose to 1.26 cr in March 2003 which is an increase of 7.92% over previous month. 931,000 cellular subscribers were added last month. AirTel which is operating in 15 circles has the largest subscribers base of 30.71 lakh, BSNL is at second position with 22.56 lakh subscribers followed by Hutch, IDEA Cellular and BPL mobile with 21.64, 12.80 and 11.31 lakh cellular subscribers respectively.
 
Date: 14/4/2003 
All telecom operators asked to keep tariffs same across networks 
TRAI has told all telecom operators - cellular, WiLL and fixed line that they can not fix any exclusive set of tariffs for calls within their own networks in each service provider category. Reliance and BSNL's cheap packages for their own subscribers will be hit by this order.
 
Date: 11/4/2003 
Bharti Mobitel merged with Bharti Cellular 
Bharti Mobitel Ltd. the service provider in Kolkata is merged with Bharti Cellular Ltd. which is wholely owned subsidiary of Bharti TeleVentures and holds licences for providing cellular services in Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana, UP(West), Gujarat, Maharashtra, MP,  
Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Bharti has over 2 lakh subscribers in Kolkata.
 
Date: 11/4/2003 
Hutch introduced personal web interface for its subscribers 
Hutch has introduced a personal web interface for its subscribers which allows users to view and analyse their bills, send payment alerts and make group messaging easier and cheaper. The itemised billing that was charged at Rs.49 till now is free on the web.
 
Date: 11/4/2003 
TRAI's action against cellular operators 
TRAI has initiated action against cellular operators for defying its order on selective blocking of calls originating in some basic service operators networks and terminating in their networks. The companies are Bharti Cellular, Bharti Mobile, Bharti Mobinet, Idea Cellular, Fascel, Sterling Cellular, Spice Communications, Hutchison Essar South.
 
Date: 8/4/2003 
TDSAT dismissed government's claim regarding WiLL files 
TDSAT ( Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal ) dismissed government's claim of privilege over internal documents and correspondence between DoT and TRAI which led to the decision to allow fixed-line operators to offer limited mobility services. Now the government can disclose files regarding WiLL policy or appeal against the order in Supreme Court.
 
Date: 8/4/2003 
No more free SMS on BSNL pre-paid card 
The subscribers of BSNL's pre-paid service 'Ex-cel' will now have to pay Re.1 per message. The free talk value given while Sim activation is reduced to Rs.50 from Rs.100. Processing charges are also revised. There is increase in the cost of re-charge coupons and a decrease in talk value.
 
Date: 8/4/2003 
Free incoming calls 
In a meeting called by TRAI in Delhi, COAI said in a statement that all cellular operators have reiterated their ability and willingness to implement the interconnect usage charge regime which mandates free incoming calls on mobile phones from May 1st.
 
Date: 8/4/2003 
Reliance will charge 30p for SMS 
Once billing starts from May 1st, subscribers of Reliance IndiaMobile will have to pay 30p per text message they send to other GSM networks like Airtel, Hutch, Idea etc. since Reliance Infocomm may pass all inter-connect charges levied by other operators to its customers.
 
Date: 2/4/2003 
Hutch introduces Unified Messaging Service 
Hutch introduced UMS ( Unified Messaging Service ) for its Delhi subscribers which enables users to access and manage voice mails, e-mails and fax messages on the move. The users can listen to the e-mail messages using text to speech technology and respond too with a voice message. Starting from April 7th the service will cost Rs.149 per month though it is free till June 30th as an introductory offer. 
 
Date: 2/4/2003 
IDEA Cellular to invest more in Delhi network 
IDEA Cellular will invest Rs.110 crore for adding another switch and increasing cellular sites in its Delhi cellular network during 2003-04.
 
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