Cellular News
 
Date 30/9/2000 
The Goenkas will net, close to Rs 118 crore from the Birla AT&T-Tata (Batata) consortium for the RPG group’s total disinvestments in RPG Cellcom in Madhya Pradesh. The disinvestments proceeds for the Goenka’s is based on a $90-million (Rs 414 crore) net equity valuation of RPG Cellcom - a category B cellular licence. 
 
Date 29/9/2000 
Private sector participation in basic telephony has become a major flop show with all the major players in fray, including Tata Teleservices, Essar Commvision, Reliance Telecom, Bharti Telenet, Hughes Ispat and Shyam Telelink, failing to stick to their targets. Compared to the target of establishing 52 lakh direct exchange lines between 1997 and 2002, only 1.42 lakh lines have materialized so far. 
 
Date 29/9/2000 
The Italian Telecom major, Telecom Italia, which announced yesterday that it would sell its equity stakes in all Bharti group companies, will make a profit of around $60 million in the transaction. This is because it will be paid $121 million by Singapore Telecom for selling its stake in Bharti group companies. Telecom Italia, has equity stakes in Bharti Televentures, Bharti Telenet and Bharti Cellular. 
 
Date 28/9/2000 
Government-owned Gas Authority of India Ltd(GAIL) has taken plunge into the telecom sector by signing memoranda of understanding (MoUs) for leasing bandwidth capacity to Bharti, BPL, Shyam and Escotel. 
 
Date 28/9/2000 
The country’s largest ever public sector company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, will be born on Sunday, October 1. BSNL with an asset base of over Rs 63,000 crore and a workforce of 3.63 lakh is the new, corporatised avtar of the flaccid Department of Telecom Services. 
 
Date 28/9/2000 
Cash-rich Hutchison Telecom communications, owner of the Orange mobile brand, has firmed up plans to pump in close to  
Rs. 150 crore in the Command network, its recent cellular acquisition in Calcutta. The mega investment decision is part of the Hutch strategy to take its city rival, the B.K.Modi group controlled SpiceCell, head on in establishing market leadership.

Date 28/9/2000
 
 
America Online Inc and Japanese cellular phone leader NTT DoCoMo said today that they had signed a deal to jointly develop and market mobile Internet Services, extending their international reach. Under this deal, NTT DoCoMo will take a 42.3 per cent stake in AOL’s Japanese unit, AOL Japan, and invest around $10 million cash. 
 
Date 27/9/2000  
The value of telecom stock may be falling the world over, but DoT has set the value of the soon-to-be corporatised department of telecom services at a whopping Rs. 63, 000 crore, making it one of the highest net worth companies in the country.  
 
Date 27/9/2000  
Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson will start selling Internet–surfing I-mode mobile phones in Japan in November. The new phone would be similar to the existing T28 model, but would have a bigger screen. The launch will be in cooperation with the leading mobile operator NTT DoCoMo, which now has 12 million clients and expect to raise the number to 17 million next year.  
 
Date 27/9/2000  
The world’s three largest mobile phone makers said they would work together to development and promote a common standard for worldwide mobile positioning system. Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia have founded the location interpretability forum (LIF) to achieve the goal of offering location-based services worldwide on wireless networks and terminals.  
 
Date 27/9/2000  
Tea auctions through mobile phones will be soon a reality. Spice Cell has entered an exclusive one-year agreement with Teaauction.com Ltd., wherein, Spice customers in Calcutta will be able to access detailed news on the tea industry on their mobile phones.  
 
Date 26/9/2000   
The government today assured the 4.5 lakh employees of the department of telecom services (DTS) and the department of telecom operations (DTO) that their pension will be guaranteed by the government even after the corporatisation of the departments.  
 
Date 26/9/2000   
America Online plans to announce a broad agreement with NTT DoCoMo to jointly develop and market mobile Internet services in Japan and elsewhere. The deal calls for DoCoMo to take a stake of about 43% in AOL’s Japanese unit, making DoCoMo the units largest shareholder.   
 
Date 26/9/2000   
Another cellular licence goes on the block. This time it’s  RPG Cellular, the cellular services operator for the Chennai circle. And, the bidding is likely to boil down to a contest between three players: Hutchison, BPL group and the Birla AT&T-Tata (Batata) combine. Shareholders RPG group, CellNet and Air Touch Vodafone are together putting up a 49 per cent block of RPG Cellular’s equity for sale to a new partner.    
 
Date 25/9/2000    
Inspired by NTT Docomo of Japan, which added 9 million subscribers in 18 months, Mumbai cellular operator Orange has decided to do a Docomo in India to transform Mumbaites to frequent WAP enabled mobile user with the Internet at his fingertips.    
 
Date 25/9/2000    
BATATA, the merged cellular entity of the Tatas and Birla AT&T, have entered into a memorandum of understanding  (MoU) with the US-based Air Touch Vodafone (ATV) to buy out the later’s 49 per cent stake in Goenka-promoted RPG Cellular operational in Madhya Pradesh. The consideration of the acquisition is estimated at around $53.5 million.    
 
Date 25/9/2000  
Escotel, a leading cellular operator, would soon diversify into Internet services, mobile portals and general packet radio services (GPRS). Kerala Escotel has emerged as a third circle operator in India to cross one-lakh customer mark. Escotel has a coverage of 50 towns in Kerala now, which will increase to 70 in a few months.  
 
Date 24/9/2000    
The ongoing telecom workers’ stir appears to have severely dented India’s image abroad as an emerging Infotech superpower. Or, so claims the domestic IT industry fearing “long-term global repercussions”.     
 
Date 22/9/2000      
In the near future, a telephone user will be able to take his landline phone to the office, the market or to a movie. The DoT today decided to allow basic telecom operators to offer “limited mobility” in the short distance local call area, using wireless-in-local loop (WLL) technology. Call will cost only Rs 1.20 for three minutes. Cellular service providers like Airtel and Essar charge Rs 4 per minute.    
 
Date 22/9/2000     
The telephone services, which were disrupted over two days, has left its impact on the business. The business community is highly disturbed at the prevailing state of affairs. More than 80 per cent failure in Delhi’s telecom sector has affected brokers, mutual funds and corporates who saw business transactions being affected.     
 
Date 22/9/2000     
Long distance telecom services were restored in most part of the country today, following stern warning by the union communications minister to the employees responsible for the disruption of services.     
 
Date 22/9/2000      
Tata Telecommunications is likely to return back after two years. The company had made a net loss of Rs 19.62 crore in 1998-99 and Rs 5.26 crore in 1999-2000. The company is going through a major restructuring process. It plans to hive off its phone division which was a big drag on the company. The division, which had clocked a turnover of Rs 37 crore, would be finally divested.     
 
Date 21/9/2000      
Essar cellphone, Delhi’s leading cellular service provider and Bank of Punjab, leading private bank in India, have announced their alliance to provide mobile banking services to their customers. Bank of Punjab customers can  now check their account information and pay their Essar cellphone bill any time from their Essar Cellphone using SMS(Short Message Services) technology.      
 
Date 21/9/2000      
Ericsson has just launched an entry-point WAP-enabled handset priced below Rs 10,000 along with a MP3 Handsfree also at a the same price. While all mobile handset manufacturers have plans to drop the price-point below the Rs 10,000 barrier, Ericsson is the first to come out.   
 
Date 21/9/2000      
The simmering feud between the Mahanagar Telephone Nagar Limited and Hughes Tele.com is now out in the open. They are not just fighting for market share but also over cables. MTNL has charged its private sector rival with indulging in ‘unethical’ activities and alleged that a contract worker for Hughes Tele.com had been caught red-handed cutting a 200-pair telephone cable of MTNL.      
 
Date 21/9/2000      
Birla AT&T Communications is restructuring its short-term debt. The company has raised Rs 100 crore through a one-year paper with a A1+ rating. The amount, arranged by Deutsche Bank, is a part of the Rs 400 crore of refinancing of high-cost short term debt worth Rs 500 crore, which the company has raised as a bridge fund following the delay in the Rs 850 crore initial public offer of the equity.      
 
Date 20/9/2000       
Dallas-based JP Systems Inc., engaged in the development of wireless enabling technology and services, has announced the takeover of JP Systems (India) ltd (JPSIL). The former already holds 49 per cent equity in the Indian arm. The investment is expected to give major thrust to JPSIL fir its expansion plans to tap the markets of Asia-Pacific, Middle East, New Zealand & Australia for mobile and automation solutions.      
 
Date 20/9/2000       
Almost all cities in the country, more so the metros, became communication islands with long-distance phone links virtually cut off on Tuesday. At the root was the indefinite agitation by telecom officials and engineers. Delhi couldn’t reach out to Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad and many other cities and towns. Within the capital, the problems were compounded by a three-day strike by MTNL staff which began on Monday.       
 
Date 19/9/2000       
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd will shortly apply for a national long distance operating license (NLDO) for Delhi and Bombay, even as it readies a more ambitious plan for operating long distance services on a nationwide basis.        
 
Date 19/9/2000       
Delhiites have been facing a harrowing time at the hands of the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd as telecom links, especially on the trunk routes from Delhi to Calcutta, Bhubaneshwar, Mumbai and Bhopal, have been cut down for more than a week now. As a result thousands of subscribers have been unable to make long distance calls, causing great inconvenience and losses to business and common people alike.        
 
Date 18/9/2000        
Reliance Industries has abandoned plans for floating a new company for its proposed global satphone services project. Instead, the proposed GMPCS (Global Mobile Personal Communication System) project will be implemented under Reliance Infocom, the newly floated company for implementing the group’s IT business.         
 
Date 18/9/2000        
Airtel Mobile phone users were troubled since Thursday night with no phone calls possible between landlines and mobile phones. The problem started on Thursday night with the points of interconnection (PoI) between the MTNL network in Delhi and Airtel failing once again. Industry analysts feel that the repeated incidents underline the urgent need fir Airtel to have adequate backup and alternative systems.         
 
Date 16/9/2000        
The principle shareholder of Command Cellular network, Hutchison, would invest Rs 40 crore to improve efficiency and quality. The investment would ensure that the number of lines in the networks is increased which would ease congestion. Besides, charge for incoming calls had also been kept at a nominal rate of 40 paise to 80 paise per minute.    
 
Date 16/9/2000        
The Bharti Group is in the process of buying out German Telecom major Siemens’ 51 per cent stake in their joint venture, Siemens Telecom Ltd. This follows Siemens’ decision to move out of analogue  telecom devices in the country and focus on GSM technologies the Bharti Group has a 49 per cent stake in the joint venture.         
 
Date 15/9/2000        
Cellular operators have moved closer to their plan to float an alliance company to seek a domestic long-distance licence. At an internal meeting of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) last week, Arthur Andersen has been asked to submit a plan within two weeks, on the modalities of setting up a company   which will have most of the cellular operators of the country as shareholders.        
 
Date 14/9/2000        
The Bharti Group will buy out Siemens AG’s stake in their joint venture, Siemens Telecom Ltd. The new company will be part of Bharti Teletech, the basic phone manufacturing arm of the group. Joint MD of Bharti Enterprises confirmed that he is in talks with Siemens for takeover of the company as Siemens has decided to concentrate on digital telecom products.        
 
Date 14/9/2000        
Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson, the world’s leading mobile phone makers, saw their global market shares dip slightly in the second quarter versus the first quarter, industry research group Dataquest said. Nokia had a market share of 27.5 per cent compared to 27.9 per cent in the first quarter while its nearest rival Motorola saw its position dip to 15.6 per cent from 16 per cent.        
 
Date 12/9/2000        
Telecom equipment company Ericsson and software giant Microsoft Corp said today they had formally launched a mobile e-mail services joint venture, almost a year after announcing the idea. The new unit, called Ericsson Microsoft Mobile Venture AB, will be 70 per cent owned by Ericsson and 30 per cent by Microsoft and have its headquarters in Stockholm.        
 
Date 12/9/2000        
Koshika Telecom, a Group Usha company has paid up Rs. 100 crore to the department of telecom as a part of its licence fee dues of around Rs. 460 crore last week. It has also decided to finance its licence payment fees through debt from banks and financial institutions instead of financing it through sale of stake in the company.        
 
Date 12/9/2000        
Motorola will launch its first Internet GPRS mobile phone in the last quarter of this year, a few months earlier than its main rivals. Nokia said it would have a GPRS phone available by mid-2001 while Ericsson will have it in the first quarter of next year.        
 
Date 12/9/2000        
Spice telecom, the cellular operator for Karnataka, Punjab and Calcutta is negotiating with Indian financial institutions for a Rs. 1125 crore loan. This loan is intended to retire old debt in the form of vendor financing and for expanding its network. Spice plans to invest in building up its network by putting in more fibre optic, introducing services like WAP and eventually GPRS.        
 
Date 11/9/2000        
The Hutchison-Kotak Mahindra and Birla-Tata-AT&T combines have emerged as front runners for taking over the Rais-promoted Koshika Telecom, the cellular licence holder for UP (West & East), Orissa and Bihar. The enterprise value of Koshika Telecom is estimated at $450 million.        
 
Date 9/9/2000        
Silicon Valley-based wireless and mobile computing solutions provider Cellmania is setting up a base in India with an initial investment of $2 million. It plans to make India a hub for its software development activity and service demand for mobile computing solutions in the Asia-Pacific region.        
 
Date 9/9/2000        
The strike by class III and IV employee’s unions of he Department of Telecom (DoT), to stop its conversion into a public limited company, was called off late on Friday night, after hours of negotiations finally produced an agreement. The formal agreement incorporates a guarantee of job-security, pension and prospects after the switch to BSNL, an extension of SC/ST quotas to the new corporation.        
 
Date 8/9/2000        
When cell phone operator AirTel introduces WAP services next month, it would have for its customers a directory of WAP-enabled sites prepared by Cellmania, a US based start-up. Cellmania, which announced the deal and its entry into India on Thursday, was set up last year to provide wireless technology & services & is backed by corporate funding, primarily Motorola, BroadVision and Office Depot & has raised around $18 million.        
 
Date 8/9/2000        
Tata Cellular, the company that pioneered WAP in the country, is busy working out alliances to tap possible transactional revenues from WAP applications on its network. Tata cellular is aggressively pushing its short messaging service which is considered the poorer cousin of WAP.        
 
Date 8/9/2000        
AT&T Wireless may propose a buyout of mobile phone rival Nextel Communications at an AT&T board meeting in a bid to shine new light on one of AT&T’s few bright spots, The Wall Street Journal reported.        
 
Date 8/9/2000        
The Apeejay group’s financial services trading website, stockmarkit.com, announced a strategic tie up with Spice telecom, Calcutta’s leading cellular service provider. The tie-up will ensure all Spice Telecom customers to access financial and stock market news from their WAP enabled mobile handsets.        
 
Date 8/9/2000        
Hutchison Telecom has acquired a 49 per cent stake in Fascel, which operates the Gujarat cellular circle. Hutchison has acquired the stake from Shinawatra (33 per cent) and Bezeq (16 per cent). As per agreement signed in Hong Kong, Shinawatra and Bezeq will each transfer 9.9 per cent and 4.8 per cent to Hutchison in the first phase of a two-leg transaction. The balance will be transferred after December.        
 
Date 8/9/2000        
In a move that promises to set a trend across the new economy, the BPL group has decided to converge the marketing and distribution channels of its cellular and Internet business. As part of a detailed blueprint finalized last week, it’s been decided that the chief executives of BPL Net, BPL Mobile and BPL Cellular, the group’s ISP and cellular businesses, will work in close conjunction to provide customers seamless service.        
 
Date 8/9/2000        
The DoT has recommended a hike in revenue sharing to 20 per cent for cellular licencees in the four metros as against the TRAI’s recommendations of 17 per cent. DoT has lowered the licence fee for A and B category circles to 15 per cent. The recommendation has been approved & will be presented to the Telecom commission when it meets to decide on the final revenue share to be paid by the cellular operators & on the modalities of selection of the fourth cellular operator.        
 
Date 8/9/2000        
Acceleration of reforms in the telecom sector has begun to have a telling impact on the stock markets. Shares of MTNL and VSNL have crashed over 50 per cent in the past six months. Cellular operators like Hutchison Max and BPL mobile have eaten into the market share of MTNL. Shares of large private sector telecom equipment and optical fiber cable producers, who will benefit by reforms, have been going through the roof.         
 
Date 7/9/2000         
Unimobile, the leading provider of global anywhere any devices (AWAD) text messaging announced the launch of Unimobile WAP. Unimobile, enables users of WAP devices to implement two-way global text messaging & information access. WAP users can send and receive text messages to & from mobile users of WAP devices, cell phones, pagers, PalmTM & desktop web browser.         
 
Date 7/9/2000         
A strike by class III & IV employee unions of the Department of Telecom partially affected telephone and other tele-link services across the country. Daylong negotiations, however, resulted in an agreement between the government and one of the three main striking unions.          
 
Date 6/9/2000         
Government has decided to end the state monopoly on international voice telephony from April 1, 2002, two years earlier than schedule. VSNL gets a detailed compensation package, including the right to offer domestic telephony services. VSNL gets a licence for National long distance telephony. While it will pay the Rs 100 crore entry fee, the amount will be reimbursed under another head.         
 
Date 5/9/2000          
The Indian government should choose a standard frequency spectrum for its third generation mobile licence auction, as it will enable the service provider to procure equipments easily, says Mike Butcher, president, international operations, Lucent Technologies. DoT is planning to auction licences for third generation wireless communications.         
 
Date 5/9/2000          
TELECOM services throughout the country may be affected from September 6 for an indefinite period as the three telecom federations representing 3.8 lakh employees of the department of telecom services and department of telecom operations decide to go ahead with their call for an indefinite strike against the corporatisation of the two departments.          
 
Date 5/9/2000          
TATA cellular Ltd, cell phone service provider in Andhra Pradesh would be opening four more ‘Tata Cellular World’ outlets, in association with its local business partners in Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Tata Cellular World offers one-stop shop to existing and potential customers to get access to all the services.          
 
Date 4/9/2000           
The first round in the ongoing legal battle between Bharti group and Bell South has gone in favour of the former with the Delhi High Court barring Bell South from selling its stake to any party. Bharti has accused Bell South of entering into a conspiracy to instigate other share-holders to back out of their contractual commitment because it has received offers of  $145 million from Hutchison and AT&T.           
 
Date 3/9/2000           
WAP phones have gone from media darlings to techno-turkeys in the past few months, as the backlash has set in. the system has now become the butt of jokes, like the suggestion that with both WAP phones and rap music, the c is silent. The hype machine has already moved on to the next generation: GPRS that is just starting to emerge, and the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), for which mobile companies are spending billions on licences.           
 
Date 3/9/2000            
Fearing litigation and damage to India’s image in International markets the Group on Telecommunications – IT convergence has asked the department of telecommunications to consult the law ministry if it is legally feasible to end  VSNL monopoly over international voice services by April, 2002.            
 
Date 2/9/2000            
After announcing its entry into national long distance telephony, VSNL now has plans to enter the area of mobile telephony. VSNL director said “auctioning of 3G licenses in India is likely to take place in the next 8 to 10 months time. VSNL would be bidding this auction”.            
 
Date 2/9/2000            
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today recommended unlimited competition in the basic telecom service and varying tariffs for different categories of circles. It has recommended a higher tariff for the circles with high revenue potential. The revenue fees will be in two parts. A one time entry fees and revenue sharing.            
 
Date 1/9/2000              
India’s cellular phone market grew 23.2 per cent  in the first four months of fiscal 2000-01 to touch 2.33 million subscribers at end-July 2000. Figures released by the Cellular Operators’ Association of India showed the country had 2.33 million mobile phone subscribers at the end of July 2000, up from 1.88 million at the beginning of  April 2000.             
 
Date 1/9/2000            
In yet another major step towards scrapping the government monopoly in the telecom sector, the Union cabinet today approved the corporatisation of the Department of Telecom Services (DTS). The new company, to be formed with effect from October 1, would be named Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. It would have a paid-up capital of Rs. 5000 crore and an authorized share capital of Rs. 10000 crore, while the face value of its shares would be pegged at Rs 10 each.            
 
Date 1/9/2000             
The Mittals of Bharti Telecom have approached Bell South of the US, the equity partner in SkyCell, the cellular operator in Chennai, to acquire the latter’s 24.5 per cent at an estimated value of $27 million. The enterprise value of the circle is estimated at around $115 million.              
 
Date 1/9/2000             
A Norwegnian mobile Internet firm said that some Nokia phones may freeze temporarily if certain text  messages are sent to them. The claim is the latest indication  that mobile phone devices may face some of the same virus threats that have plagued PC’s.             
 
Date 31/8/2000             
The existing stake holders of Spicecell have bought the 49 per cent Telstra holding in the firm for about Rs 200 crore.This payout is based on a $90-100 million ‘net equity value’ of the Modi Telstra operation after deducting the institutional debt component. Spice cell present shareholders are ModiCorp, AIG Asian Infrastructure and Distacom of HongKong .ModiCorp , AIG and Distacom also holds 85% of equity bloc in the groups sister company Spice Comm which runs in Karnataka and Punjab  while remaining 15% is held by Prudential Asia.             
 
Date 31/8/2000            
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India recommended a complete “free for all” in the country’s 21 basic telecom circles. The authority has urged the department of telecommunications (DoT) to frame a laissez-faire regime that shall allow unrestricted entry of private players in 15 vacant circles of  Maharashtra , Andhra Pradesh , Gujarat , Rajasthan , Punjab and Madhya Pradesh which have a licensed private basic operator. DoT is expected to announce the final policy before PM’s visit to US next week.            
 
Date 31/8/2000            
The government had ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the Rs 500 crore mobile phone equipment contract awarded by public sector Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) to the Indian Telephone Industries (ITI)-Lucent Technologies combine. MTNL has awarded the contract for its GSM 900 based cellular service equipment to ITI-Lucent in mid January this year.            
 
Date 30/8/2000             
BPL mobile Communications Ltd has decided to charge a flat subscription for mobile Internet through its newly introduced GPRS (general packet radio service) network. The company is looking at a flat monthly subscription of a few thousand rupees for a period of six months for mobile Internet through GPRS later switching to usage based rental. BPL mobile is the second in Asia and the fifth in the world to commercially launch GPRS.             
 
Date 28/8/2000              
The Department of Telecom Operations ( DTO) will launch its cellular mobile telephone service across the country by March 2001. Most of the Indian cities and towns and considerable stretches of rural india will be covered by the services by March 2002. The Department had authorised C-DOT to implement pilot project in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and West Bengal on turnkey basis which was quite successful.              
 
Date 28/8/2000              
BPL Mobile launches India's first mobile internet using GPRS ( General Packet Radio Service) technology. GPRS technology is also known as GSM-IP ( ie. GSM Internet Protocol ). As in the case of internet, data is exchanged in packets, each with an address, which find their own way to the destination where they are reassembled in a proper sequence.GPRS replicates this packet switching concept in a mobile network environment.               

The current WAP technology has some limitations regarding the speed of the GSM networks in terms of how much information they can deliver and also of screen size and resolution and battery technology. One major limitation of WAP currently is that you have to 'dial up' to get at any information or messages. This can take up to thirty seconds and then any large messages may take some time to download. All the time you are paying for a call. While GPRS facilitates much faster data speeds and an 'always on' mode of operation. The extra speed will also allow for more graphical displays and richer content.               
 

Date 26/8/2000              
The department of telecom (DoT) has finalised an ambitious plan for setting up an all India mobile phone network that aims at becoming the country's largest service provider with estimated 13 lakh subscribers in the first year of operations. Named as "India Mobile Personal Communications Service" (IMPCS) the network will be based on popular GSM technology. As per the project report,  the estimated expenditure will be around Rs. 715 crore for commissioning 12.78 lakh mobile phone lines. DoT believes that the total revenue, with 80% capacity utilisation will be Rs.1,415 crore as per TRAI specified tariffs hence it has projected annual profit of Rs.700 crore from mobile phone operations.               
 
Date 26/8/2000              
The group of ministers (GOM) on the corporatisation of the department of telecom services (DTS) and department of telecom operations (DTO) is actively considering the proposal to invest the revenue sharing part of the license fee back into the telecom sector to meet the universal obligations. Presently the license fee goes to the Consolidated Fund of India.              
 
Date 26/8/2000              
The AirTel subscribers could not get through the numbers they dialed using their cellphones throughout yesterday. They were either getting engaged tone or message describing MTNL network congetion.The problem could only be detected and repaired late in the evening. The breakdown of the AirTel network was due to an underground optical fiber cable in Janakpuri area.               
 
Date 25/8/2000              
Hutchison Telecom acquired 49% stake in Fascel, cellular services provider in Gujrat, for Rs. 515 crore. The enterprise value of the circle is estimated at Rs.1,050 crore. Hutchison bought 33% stake held by Shinawatra of Thailand and 16% held by Bezeg of Israel. Now, the Hinduja's Group holds 40% stake and another 11% is held by Kotak Mahindra. Fascel has over 100,000 subscribers.              
This deal makes Hutchison the largest cellular operator in the country whose 'Orange' brand will be promoted in Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta and now in Gujrat.              
 
Date 25/8/2000              
Spice Telecom, the service provider for Punjab, Karnataka and Calcutta is negotiating with indian financial institutions for a $250 million ( approx. Rs. 1125 crore) loan to clear old debt in the form of vendor financing and to improve & expand its network. Spice Telecom has a subscriber base of around 2.6 lakh collectively in the three circles it is operating in. The company plans to add a main switching centre in Punjab and Karnataka and upgrade the capacity of its switch in Calcutta. The company also plans to strengthen its infrastructure backbone by investing in expansion of its fiber optic network. Spice Telecom is a joint venture between Modicorp (51%) and Hong Kong based Distacom (49%).              
 
Date 20/8/2000              
Hutchison's Orange brand is expected to be launched in Delhi by the end of this year. Hutchison Telecom has set up a coordination committee comprising of Chief Operating Officers of Mumbai and Calcutta circles and CEO of Delhi circle to work out a joint strategy for pushing the Orange brand across the country. The aim is to ensure the best practices adopted at each of the circles can be shared.              
 
Date 15/8/2000              
Hutchison Whampoa, a deep pocketed Hong Kong based conglomerate is on a buying spree as many of the indian cellular licenses are up for sale. First it acquired the Max Group in Mumbai where Hutchison Telecom's 'Orange' brand is being promoted for quite some time now. Few months back Hutchison bought into Sterling Cellular, Essar's Delhi mobile operations.Then it bought out the Jhawars in Calcutta. Recently there was a tussle between Bharti and Hutchison over the Chennai circle.              

Because of this there is a kind of panic among the swadeshi telecom companies as they can't have a chance against the deep pockets of such foreign companies. These companies like BPL and Bharti are urging the government to enforce the 49% limit. the foreign equity cap of 49%  is hindering the indian companies to raise fund for their projects from abroad while foreign operators pick up more than 49% in structured deals.              
 

Date 9/8/2000              
In a major move to boost India's telecom sector, the cabinet allowed that the Indian promoters can restructure the equity holdings of the telecom companies by buying out the stake of its foreign partner or even replace them. This will allow uninterested foreign telecom companies to exit from India in view of changed investment plans as part of new worldwide strategies. However, the changes in equity structure will be subject to approval by DoT. The companies like Bharti, HFCL, Reliance etc. will get benefit.              
 
Date 9/8/2000              
Spice Telecom which is providing cellular phone services in Punjab, Karnataka and now Calcutta will be providing WAP enabled content through the handsets to its subscribers in Calcutta. The WAP based info services will be launched in Punjab by the end of this month to be followed by Karnataka.              
 
Date 8/8/2000              
Bharti has asked Delhi High Court to order Bell South , the American baby bell, to fulfill its contractual obligation to sell its 24.5% equity stake in Skycell ( one of the cellular services provider of Chennai) to the Bharti Group. Kapil Sibal representing Bharti claims that Bell South tried to wriggle out of its contract because it is tempted by other offers.               
 
Date 7/8/2000              
STI ( Singapore Telecom International Private Limited ) a wholly owned subsidiary of US $ 2.86 billion SingTel ( Singapore Telecommunications Limited) has acquired 20% and 15% stakes respectively in Bharti Telecom Limited and Bharti Televentures. According to the agreement STI will infuse $400 million ( Rs. 1800 crore) in the above two  companies of Bharti EnterprisesThe stake is the largest ever taken by any international investor in India's private telecom sector.The companies intend to develop domestic, international long distance, cellular, fixed line and submarine fiber optic cable between Singapore and Chennai.              
 
Date 7/8/2000              
Comptroller and Auditor General is seeking Government's permission to audit the accounts of private telecom operators as these firms have to share the revenue with the government with the change over from license fee to revenue sharing model. The matter is under consideration.              
 
Date 7/8/2000              
Aircel Digilink an Essar Group company which provides cellular phone services in Haryana, Rajasthan and UP East is being revived out of a severe financial crisis to the tune of Rs. 700 crore. There is a plan to bring all the four circles , including Evergrowth ( Punjab), under a common management of Aircel Digilink.The company now plans to invest Rs.500 crore in expanding the network out of which Rs. 150 crore would be in Punjab and Rs. 350 crore in Haryana, Rajasthan and UP east. Another Rs. 200 crore  would be used for strengthening distribution, branding and marketing.              
 
Date 3/8/2000              
1.4 lakh new subscribers joined the mobile phone users segment in June pushing the total number of cellular phone subscribers in India to a figure of 21.8 lakh at the end of June according to COAI.This was the highest ever monthly increase in the industry's history.            
 
Date 3/8/2000              
The Working group on security protocols and standardisation of interfaces for Internet-based securities trading, formed by SEBI ( Securities and Exchange Board of India) has approved securities trading in the country through wireless medium WAP ( Wireless Application Protocol). The final go ahead is likely to be given by 15th August. As of now some service providers in association with some broking houses are already providing services like stock quotes and scrip price alerts on mobile phones in India using SMS ( i.e.. Short Message Service)            
 
Date 2/8/2000              
DoT ( Department of Telecommunications) has banned cellular operators from providing the public telephone facilities from fixed locations through a mobile phone.Although they can provide public mobile phone services in situations of "inherent mobility" like in trains, buses and taxis. Cellular Operators, Tata Cellular, Birla AT&T, Fascel, Koshika Telecom, Escotel etc. who are providing PCO facility in their respective circles are likely to be affected.            
 
Date 28/7/2000              
According to CII-Ascon report which surveyed 118 sectors across 65 industry segments, Software, Cellular services and Housing finance are the highest growth sectors at 50%, 84% and 24% growth rates respectively in first quarter.            
 
Date 28/7/2000              
The RPG group is selling 51% stake in its Madhya Pradesh cellular license. Most probably Birla-AT&T and Tata combine ( Batata) will acquire the stake. The exit from Telecom business is part of RPG's restructuring.The enterprise valuation is pegged at $100 million to %110 million which implies that RPG Group stake will fetch between $51- 56 million. The other potential buyers are BPL, Hutchison and Bharti Telecom. 

Date: 24/7/2000
             
 
The Rais of Delhi plan to sell 49% stake in their cellular company Koshika Telecom to multinational strategic investor. Koshika has license for four circles Uttar Pradesh east, Uttar Pradesh west, Bihar and Orissa.Robo Bank has valued the four circles above               
$800 million.At present only UP east circle is operational as Koshika's license got canceled when it failed to clear license fees dues with the government.            
 
 
 
Cellular News: April - June 2000

 
Back