Cellular News
Morgan Stanley bullish on Indian Telecom sector's growth 
According to the investment banker JM Morgan Stanley the fixed line subscriber base in India is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 17.3% while the cellular subscribers in India will grow at a compounded annual growth rate  
of 73%. Although China's cellular subscribers are expected to grow by 35.6%. It said there are likely to be 17 million cellular phone users in India by 2004. The cumulative capital expenditure of Rs. 27,020 crore is required by 2010 in Indian Telecommunications sector to achieve a fixed line tele-density of 10.3%, wireless penetration of 5.16% and build broadband networks. 
Nokia to provide GSM 1800 & GPRS Network to BATATA in Delhi 
BATATA, Birla AT&T and Tata combine which is going to be the fourth cellular service provider in Delhi has tied up with Nokia to provide the complete infrastructure that includes GSM 1800 and GPRS core network as well as professional services. 
Bharti emerges as the largest cellular operator in the country 
With the signing of licences for 8 new cellular circles, Bharti became the largest cellular operator in the country. It has now licences for operating services in 15 states which stretch continually from south to north. The 8 new circles are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, UP West, Madhya Pradesh and Mumbai.The company paid a licence fee of Rs. 690 cr. for eight licences. The cellular services will be launched in MP by Nov. while the target for other seven circles is by March end. 
Japanese telecom giant NTT may enter Indian market 
NTT Communications Australia managing director Kazuhiro Yamagishi announced the proposed entry of the company into the Indian telecom market. 
Reliance company signed licence for Kolkata 
Reliable Internet Services, a Reliance group company, has signed cellular licence for Kolkata circle which it won in the recent cellular bidding. Reliance is already operating in seven circles : Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam, North East and Himachal Pradesh. 
Hutchison gets licences for 3 new circles 
DoT signed licence agreement with Barakhamba Sales & Services( a Hutchison group company)  for three circles namely Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Chennai. The company will soon start operations in these new circles. 
IT and Communications ministries may merge 
The government is planning to merge Information Technology and Communications ministries into one Ministry of Communication & Information Technology to facilitate operational convergence. The new ministry headed by Promod Mahajan will have Department of Telecom ( DoT), Department of Information Technology ( DIT) and Department of Posts ( DoP) under its control. 
BPL Mobile tied up with Citibank 
BPL Mobile has tied up with Citibank to offer a unique benefit for all Mastercard and Visa credit card holders. This will benefit all Mastercard and Visa credit card holders to subscribe for BPL Mobile's post-paid services  without initial deposit of Rs 1,000. Apart from  the lower entry cost, these subscribers will have the convenience of their monthly cellular phone bills being automatically debited to their credit card accounts. 
DoT asks operators to clear dues 
The Department of Telecommunications has asked all cellular services operators who have won the bidding to clear all dues by september 30th to get new cellular licences. Reliance and Birla AT&T have already cleared their dues. The remaining companies are Escotel, Hutchison and Bharti. 
Bharti Televentures put on hold its proposed IPO 
Bharti Televentures has put on hold its proposed initial public offering (IPO) because of the current market conditions that have developed after September 11 attack in the US. 
Tata Teleservices is planning 3G network 
Tata Teleservices is planning to create 3G ( Third-Generation) network in Andhra Pradesh which will facilitate a range of wireless communication products and services. Present networks allow speeds of up to 13 kilobits per second while  3G networks allow up to 144 Kbps of data speed. This will enhance the usage of Internet through wireless devices. Tata Teleservices is already providing limited mobility option to their subscribers in Hyderabad, Vizag, Vijaywada and Guntur using CDMA technology. The upgrades will be completed by year end at an estimated cost $2 million.  
Reliance Infocom to launch basic & limited mobility services by March 
Reliance Infocom will launch its basic telecom services along with CDMA based limited mobility services by March 2002 in eight cities namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahemdabad, Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad. 
Telecom businesses of the Reliance may split into 'wirless' & 'wireline' 
The Reliance group may split its telecom businesses into two different sub groups, 'wireless' and 'wireline'. It is believed that Reliance Telecom dealing in cellular will be the 'wireless' group while Reliance Infocom and Reliance Communications Pvt. Ltd. will come under 'wireline' group. Another Reliance company under wireline group may address national  long distance service sector. 
Private operators not complying with TRAI directive 
A petition in Delhi High Court alleged that the private telecom operators were not complying with the TRAI directive of charging for ISD calls on concessional rates on Sundays and national holidays. High court asked TRAI ( Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) to present full data about it by 16th October. 
Impact of possible military action against Afganistan on Indian telecom industry 
The US companies like AT&T, Lucent, Hughes, AIG, Motorola, Prudential, Warburg Pincus etc. account for around 50% of the total FDI in Indian telecom sector. They feel that the FDI inflow in the country will be severely affected if there is a prolonged war and disturbance in this region. A prolonged war may also lead to global recession. On the other hand Indian players like Bharti, Shyam telecom etc. have a feeling that the disturbances will at the most have a temporary effect on the investments since there is a real growth in the sector hence it will remain lucrative for the investors. 
More than 2.5 lakh subscribers added in August 
For last three months continuously the cellular industry in India is adding more than 2 lakh subscribers. More then 2.5 lakh people subscribed to cellular services in August. Delhi has the maximum no of mobile phone users followed by Mumbai. While Metros have the biggest market, the states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are catching up fast. 
Bharti to pay Rs. 490 cr. to DoT to finally restore the Punjab cellular licence 
Today the cabinet decided to restore the Punjab cellular licence to Bharti Mobile. Bharti will pay Rs. 490 cr. to DoT to clear the dues of JT Mobile's cellular licence in Punjab which was acquired by it. Bharti will also be issued licences for all 8 cellular, 8 basic and 1 national long distance services for which it has letter of intent. 
Bharti increased its stake in SkyCell 
Bharti Enterprises increased its stake in Chennai based cellular service provider Skycell Communications to a controlling 89.5%. 
It bought the equity of two foreign partners Bell South and Millicom for around Rs. 200 crore. Skycell has a subscriber base of around 100,000 and is valued at $85 million. Bharti will now launch its AirTel brand in Chennai on October 4th. 
"Illegal call bypassing" of fixed line network resulting in huge losses 
BSNL has accused mobile operators of causing huge revenue losses by bypassing their long distance traffic. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has estimated that it is loosing nearly Rs 3,500 crore per annum on account of "illegal bypassing of calls". The cellular mobile service providers have however denied the charge. Basic operators says that instead of using BSNL and their long-distance lines, cellular operators are cornering long-distance traffic by carrying them on their own networks, resulting in huge revenue looses.  
Tata Cellular launches 3rd corridor in Andhra Pradesh 
The 384-kilometer long Krishna Corridor connceting Vijayawada and Tirupati was launched by Tata Cellular on Wednesday. The Krishna corridor will also connect TCL's other two corridors, Costa and Deccan corridors. With the launch of the Krishna corridor, TCL has 1,114 km long corridors in the state with an investment of around Rs 900 crore. The Krishna corridor will have 13 base stations covering 20 towns and a number of rural areas. 
AT&T launches low denomination recharge vouchers of Rs 300 
AT&T has announced 30 per cent drop in air-time rates for its pre paid card and inroduced low denomination recharge voucher of Rs 300. With this reduction customers can get a new AT&T pre paid conncetion instantly for just Rs 395 without any deposits. The company also introduced a low voucher denomination of Rs 300 with validity period of 30 days for the mass segment. 
Motorola acquires Rs 834 cr order from BSNL 
Mobile equipment major, Motorola India has won one of the biggest orders in the Indian mobile market from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited. The order of Rs 834 crore will instal the largest GSM network supporting 14 lakh subscribers across the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Motorola will provide cellular across 280 cities and highways in the four states, as per the contract. It will be providing equipment for the network, including switches, SIM cards and handsets. 
Hutchison, Yahoo agreement 
Yahoo! and Hutchison have announced a tieup that allows Essar mobile phone subscribers to communicate with their friends who are on the Yahoo! Messenger service. This service is available to Essar Delhi's subscribers and subscribers of all Hutchison affiliates in India. 
Cell to cell calls set to be cheaper 
The two private cellular operators in Mumbai, Hutchison and BPL Mobile are looking over the possibility of offering lower tariff on calls made from one mobile to other mobile. This move will enable greater usage of cellular phones and there will be money made from both incoming and outgoing calls, from the cellular operator's point of view. The proposed tariff cut is being seen as yet another move to expand the market. The two operators are also taking up the issue of inter-connectivity with MTNL's Dolphin mobile service. 
Spice Kolkata introduces new tariff plans 
Bharti Mobitel, the company providing cellular services in Kolkata, under the brand Spice, announced three new tariff plans, two of which offered 50 paise for all calls. The 'all rounder plan' will offer to customer an all time low of 50 paise for all calls, 24 hours of the day at a monthly rental of Rs 599. The 'listener plan' would offer incoming rates of 50 paise per call and outgoing rates of Rs 1 per call at a monthly rental of Rs 450, whereas with 'starter plan' customers would pay Rs 1 and Rs 2 for incoming and outgoing respectively at the lowest rental of Rs 299 per month. 
Bharti in $150-m contract 
Bharti Enterprises has announced a $150-million agreement with three global telecom equipment providers - Ericsson, Siemens and Motorola - for supplying infrastructure equipments for the eight cellular circles it has recently acquired. The expansion would be implemented across all of Bharti's regional hub. 
Nokia retains top position 
Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia remains the world's leading brand, with Q2 sales of 31.2 million units and a market share of 34.8%, figures published on Thrusday by the Gartner Group showed. 
Sanjeev Aga to be COAI chairman 
Birla AT&T chairman Sanjeev Aga would take over as new chairman of Cellular Operators Association of India on September 24, while Escotel CEO Manoj Kohli will take over as vice-chairman. Mr Aga would be replacing Mr Vinay Rai. 
Hutchison Essar, StanChart Bank pact 
Cellular operator Hutchison Essar and Standard Chartered Bank on Tuesday announced a tieup for "value added loyality" programme for StanChart and Stanchart Grindlays credit card holder who uses roaming facility of Hutchison cellular network in Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata. 
First Pacific to review strategic alternatives in Escotel Mobile 
First Pacific Co Ltd on Monday said that it is looking for "strategic alternatives" with regards to its investment in Escotel Mobile Communications Limited. First Pacific owns a 49 per cent stake in Escotel while the remaining 51 per cent is held by Escorts Ltd, tractor and auto parts maker. Escotel provides mobile phone services in Kerala, Haryana and UP(West). Escotel has acquired four new cellular licences in the recent bidding. 
Samsung introduces new A200 mobile phone 
Samsung India has launched its new A200 mobile phone in India.This mobile phone is a flip open instrument which comes with two LCD screens. This enables the user to verify the caller ID without opening the filp. The phone weighs only 77gms. The standard battery has a standby time of 90hrs and talktime of 3hrs. The internal LCD screen is 128*64 pixels. The A200 has a data transfer rate of 14.4 Kbps. The phone is available in three colours, Pearl White, Champagne Gold and Silver. 
Now recharge for Rs 300 
The two private cellular operators in Delhi, Hutchison Essar and Bharti Cellular have announced the introduction of the lowest denomination recharge coupon of Rs 300 for their 'Speed' and 'Magic' mobile cash card subscribers. The Rs 300 recharge coupon has a validity of 30 days with 15 days of grace period. 
Orange, BPL waive activation charges 
The two private cellular operators of Mumbai circle, Hutchison and BPL Mobile waived activation charges of Rs 960 per subscribers. State owned MTNL - Mumbai's third cellular operator  - had waived activation charges of Rs 1,000 for about 10 days last month and got 9,000 subscribers. This MTNL offer came to an end on August 4. The offers from BPL Mobile and Hutchison are valid till August 31 this year. 
Government issues LoI to 5 cellular companies 
Today, the departmet of telecommunications (DoT) issued letters of intent (LoI) for fourth celluar licence to Bharti, Reliable Internet, Escorts, Birla AT&T and Barakhamba Sales. All of them have already paid entry fee. Following this the cellular companies would have to submit no dues certificate along with other guarantees and commitment regarding the roll out. The above five companies had emerged as successful in the latest bidding for 17 circles. 
SC stays proceedings on 4th cellular bids 
The Supreme Court today stayed the proceedings on petition filed before the Madras High Court and the Delhi High Court concerning the bidding process for induction of new operators for cellular slot and issued notices to the parties before other high courts. To seek transfer of all cases filed in various courts across the country on the fourth cellular licencing process to the apex court, DoT filed a petition in the Supreme Court. 
DoT plans to invite fresh bids for Bengal, Bihar and Orissa  
In the recent bidding for the fourth cellular licences there were no takers for Bengal, Bihar and Orissa circles. Following this the department of telecommunications (DoT) is planning to invite fresh bids for Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. It may fix a reserve price of Rs 1.1 crore for the bidding of these licences. West Bengal have only one operator while Orissa and Bihar initially had two operators, Reliance and Usha. However, DoT cancelled Usha's licence for the non payment of the licence fee. The DoT may warrant some relaxation to attract private sector participation for cellular services in the above areas. To implement this, DoT may fix the reserve price at lowest level of entry fee that they have received in the first round of current bidding process. 
Bharti set to acquire 100% ownership in Skycell  
Bharti is all set to acquire 100 per cent ownership in Skycell - their Chennai cellular operations by buying out partners in Skycell. Bharti Televentures, the Bharti groups holding company holds 40.5 per cent equity in Skycell. The balance 59.5 per cent equity is collectively held by Bell South, Millicom of Luxembourg and Delhi-based DSS Ltd, who holds 24.5 per cent, 24.5 per cent and 10.5 per cent, respectively. The three partners have in-principle agreed to divest their stakes in Skycell and the legal issues and price negotiations are complete. It is expected that the buyout will benchmarked to the original valuation of Skycell operation, when the Bharti had acquired the 40.5 per cent from Crompton Greaves over a year ago.  
DoT receives Rs 1,306.4 crore from five successful cell bidders  
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) today received the balance 80 per cent of the Rs 1,633.57 crore from the five successful bidders of the fourth cellular licence. The government has already received the initial 20 per cent on August 2. The DoT is likely to issue letters of intent (LoI) to the five companies next week following the receipt of entire bid. Following this the operators would be given 30 days time to fulfill other conditions that have been laid down before them. such as financial bank guarantee and performance bank guarantee. The five successful bidding companies were Bharti Cellular, Escorts Telecommunications, Barakhamba Sales and Services, Birla AT&T and Reliable Internet Services.  
DoT likely to ask Bharti to settle JT Mobile dispute  
The Department of telecommunications is not satisfied with Bharti's proposal to settle Rs 515 crore dues of JT Mobile through cash payment and corporate guarantee. The Telecom Ministry is likely to ask Bharti to settle the dispute before issuing any further licences for basic or cellular circles. Bharti has offered DoT to pay about Rs 74 crore in cash and balance through a bank guarantee towards principal amount of Rs 258 crore. Apparently DoT have rejected the view of accepting corporate guarantee saying how can they accept a corporate guarantee from the same company who owes money to the department.  
MTNL, Escotel agreement  
To provide roaming facilities in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh (West) and Kerala to its cellular subscriber, MTNL has tied up with Escotel, a private cellular service provider. The final agreement is to be signed soon.  
Hutchison to pick up stake in Aircel Digilink  
The Hong-Kong based conglomerate is in the process towards picking up significant stake in cellular operator Aircel Digilink, owned by the Essar group having services in Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh (East). The two sides are in advanced stage of negotiations though they are yet to decide on final price for the stake. Aircel Digilink also claims to have rights to operate in Punjab, but it is in a dispute with DoT. Even though Hutchison is keen only about the Punjab circle but it will also invest money in Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh (East), sources said. Hutchison is keen on this deal is to be able to have all India presence. Aircel Digilink is far behind its counterparts in all the three circles in terms of subscribers.  
India to outpace Japan and China in cellular market growth  
Gartner summit cleared the fact that India is one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets in the world.The cellular market in India will grow at 52.5% CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) during 2001-5. The number of subscribers will grow from 5.8 million today to about 31 million in 2005. India's growth will leave behind both Japan and China, Japan's growth have stabilised and China is expected to grow at 26% CAGR.  
Bharti not interested in WLL, won't go for new fixed licences  
Bharti group is no more interested in the limited mobility or WLL business and ruled out acquiring any additional basic services licences. Bharti group now has the second largest cellular footprints in the world. The group after making some policy moves, has taken the view that it will now be primarily a cellular player with focussed basic licences in three or four circles.  
MTNL hires six advertising agencies for brand promotion  
State-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) is going in for a major brand building exercise for its 'Dolphin' mobile phone service. The company is hiring six advertising agencies and plans to invest Rs 65 crore in advertising. The agencies are Hindustan Thomson Associates, Adfactor, Sistas, Saatchi and Saatchi, Mudra, Pressman and Everest Advertising. MTNL has signed a contract with these advertising agencies last week and the contract will be for a period of 12 months. The company is also planning to launch its pre-paid card later this month.  
Bharti initiates discussion with FIs for Rs 3,000 cr debt  
Bharti group has initiated talks with various financial institutions (FIs) and banks for raising upto Rs 3,000 crore debt to part-fund its expansion plans for cellular, basic and proposed long distance operations.The structure of the loan would be finalised soon.  
Escorts Telecom to give 49% stake to a foreign partner  
Escorts Telecommunications, a 100 per cent Escorts-owned company, is planning to offload up to 49 per cent stake in the company to a foreign strategic partner. The group is also planning to merge Escorts Telecommunications with Escotel, its existing cellular company.The new partner for Escorts Telecommunications is expected to be decided in the next few months. Hong Kong -based First Pacific, which holds a 49 per cent stake in Escotel, is one of the likely contenders for a minority stake in Escorts Telecommunications. The company will have an equity base of Rs 500 crore.  
BPL to expand footprints in South, eyes RPG Cell and Spice  
BPL is expanding its footprints in South by acquiring mergers & acquisitions (M&A) route or a strategic alliance to add two lucrative circles of south, Chennai and Karnataka to its name. Since it is already present in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra and Mumbai, it makes sense to complete the circuit with Chennai and Karnataka circles, told comapny sources. RPG Cellular is a standalone player present only in Chennai. Other players in this circle are Bharti and Hutchison, having a wider network across the country and will be in a position to come up with a more attractive deal for their customers compared to a standalone player and the capex cost per subscriber will also be lower for these bigger companies enabling them to offer cheaper tariffs. These factors may prompt RPG and Spice to go for atleast strategic marketing alliances.  
Bharti offers DoT to pay JT Mobile dues  
Bharti group have offered the government to pay and clear the outstanding dues of Rs 515 crore to take the responsibility of the JT Mobile (JTM) licence for Punjab circle. Bharti has offered a down payment of Rs 258 crore towards the principal amount and cover the balance amount of Rs 257 crore through a 'corporate' guarantee. This is in order to pave the way for allotment of fresh cellular and basic licence.  
BPL group looking at a warehousing or deferred sale for its Maharashtra circle  
BPL group has entered into negotiations with some financial investors for buying into its Maharashtra circle. With Bharti and Hutchison having their hands full - the BPL group is now looking at a warehousing or a deferred sale deal for its Maharashtra circle, where it has to relinquish control folowing its proposed merger with the Batata, which too has Maharashtra circle.  
MTNL added 5,000 subscribers in July  
MTNL's cellular service has added almost 5,000 subscribers in the month of July. Of this, 3,000 subscribers have joined since the activation charge waiver scheme which was launched on July 23. MTNL launced special scheme for Mumbai in which it waived down the activation charges for those signing before August 4, as well as a special corporate scheme for corporates.  
Mauritius company set to acquire equity investments in Bharti Televentures  
Two Mauritius based investment funds - Indian Continent Investments Ltd and Russel AIF India - are set to acquire investments in Bharti Televentures. Sources have said that their combined acquisition will be less than five per cent but the exact percentage of the stake and the financial details of the deals could not be ascertained immedaitely. Besides these two companies, Seejay Group Ltd which is partner of Bharti Group in its overseas telecom service providing operations in Mauritius and Sychelles, is also acquiring equity stake in Bharti Televentures.
Bharti stands winner, acquires 8 new cellular licences  
In the third and final round of bidding, Bharti bagged the Gujarat and Maharashtra circles with bids of Rs 109.01 crore and Rs 189 crore, respectively. Bharti will now be operating in 14 circles. Hutchison won the Karnataka licence for Rs 206.83 crore and Chennai licences for Rs 154.40 crore, taking its total tally to three with Andhra Pradesh it bagged in previous round. Escotel won the licence for Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (East) with bids of Rs 151.75 crore, Rs 32.25 crore and Rs 45.25 crore, respectively. Birla AT&T acquired the lucrative Delhi circle for Rs 170.70 crore. At the end of the auction of the fourth cellular licence, Bharti has bagged eight circle, Escotel four, Hutchison three, Reliance and Birla AT&T one each. DoT got revenue of Rs 1633.97 crore in this fourth cellular licence bids which is below estimates.  
Fourth Cellular Licences (Final round of bidding)
Circle Winner Bid             | Circle Winner Bid
Delhi Birla AT&T 170.7             | Punjab Escotel 151.75
Mumbai Bharti 203.66             | HimachalPradesh Escotel 1.1
Chennai Hutchison 154.0             | Gujarat Bharti 109
Kolkata Reliance 78             | Andhra Pradesh  Hutchison 103
Haryana Bharti 21.5             | Kerala  Bharti 40.5
UP West  Bharti 30.55             | Karnataka  Hutchison 206
UP East  Escotel 45.25             | Maharashtra  Bharti 189
Rajasthan Escotel 32.25             | Tamil Nadu Bharti 79
Madhya Pradesh Bharti 17.45             |     (Bid in Rs crore)
DoT files petition in the Supreme Court on 4th Cell licence  
To seek transfer of all cases filed in various courts across the country on the fourth cellular licencing process to the apex court, DoT on Monday filed a petition in the Supreme Court. The DoT wants to tackle the recent trends of Public interest litigations (PIL) being filed in various High Courts, which have halted the process of finalisation of the fourth cellular slot.   
BPL Mobile launches MOTS Roamfree  
'Mots RoamFree', the inter-operator pre-paid roaming card was launched by BPL Mobile on Wednesday in seven circles, including Mumbai, Goa and Kerala. This facility would initially also be available in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Kolkata, with plans to extend the service soon to other circles.  
Mitsubishi to set up 72 exclusive outlets across the country  
The Japanese telecom giant Mitsubishi, is setting up 72 exclusive retail centres - Trium Avenues - across the country including 20 in the capital to sell its Trium brand of cellphones. Each of these Trium Avenues will further appoint 10 Trium Junctions. In addition, one service centre will be set up in each metro. HAT Trade Ltd, the global distributor for Mitsubishi cellphones will set up the showrooms and will involve an investment of $250,000. The company have decided not to service smuggled handsets purchased from the grey market.  
More FDI inflow in telecom sector  
The future of telecom sector in the country seems to be very bright. According to the DoT figures submitted to PMO recently the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) during Jan-April 2001 amounts to Rs.501.3 crore which is more than the combined inflow during last two years. Domestic investments also remained steady during this period and will shoot up significantly with the issue of fresh licences for basic, cellular operations and entry of companies into national long distance operations. Over the past decade total FDI inflow into Indian telecom sector  has reached Rs. 5,044.3 crore out of which cellular mobile services took the bigger chunk of Rs. 2,215 crore.  
Bharti-SingTel withdrew from bidding for government's stake in VSNL  
Bharti-SingTel withdrew from bidding for government's stake in VSNL. The government had recently started the process of divesting 25% of its 52.97% holding in VSNL to a strategic partner and 1.97% to its employees. In the new scenario where Bharti-SingTel received LoIs for eight basic telecom licences and won six new cellular licences, the company has decided to focus on building cellular and basic networks. It may setup its own infrastructure for international long distance (ILD) services once the sector is opened up for competition from April 1, 2002. It is also learnt that Bharti is presently feeling a cash crunch since it will have to give Rs.335 crore for 8 basic licences. Rs.392 crore for six new cellular licences and more if it manages to acquire other cellular circles.  
Investments to the tune of Rs.3000 crore are required for 8 basic networks and Rs.1500 crore for cellular networks.  
DoT defends its decision of not allowing VSNL to take part in bidding  
In a communication to the PMO, DoT clarified that public sector BSNL which is 100% government owned operates mobile phone services all over the country except for two metros. MTNL in which majority stake is with government runs these services in Delhi and Mumbai. Hence another government owned entity could not be allowed to enter the fray. Even in case of private bidders, the norms do not allow two companies with a single promoter holding more than 10% in both the entities to bid for same circle.In case of VSNL where 25% stake is being offloaded, the government would continue to hold 26% post divestment.  
Public interest litigations  
Public interest litigations filed across the country which blocked the ongoing auctions for fourth cellular licences argue that the DoT's decision of not fixing a 'reserve' price for the bids has led to the under-evaluation of various circles.Bidders are also alleged to have cartelised. The suit asked why one company ( Reliance) could submit two bids and was later allowed to withdraw one without penalties. Petitions also alleged that low quality companies would pick up cheap licences which will hurt consumer.   
Reliance signs 16 basic telecom licences  
After exit from the race for fourth cellular licences Reliance Communications Pvt. Ltd. has signed 16 licences with DoT for basic telecom services across the country. They are for the states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi etc. This clearly shows the company's commitment towards wireline telephony and WLL technology for limited mobility. Reliance paid around Rs. 398 crore in cash as the entry fee to DoT for 16 basic licences and submitted performance and financial bank guarantees worth Rs. 2700 crore.  
DoT could not conduct final round of bidding  
DoT did not conduct the final round of bidding for the fourth cellular licence today following a Chennai High Court order. It has received the bids which are kept in safe custody till Chennai High Court order is vacated. Another litigation was filed at Patna High Court also. Disturbed by the public interest litigation filed across the country the Department of Telecommunications DoT plans to move the Supreme Court. DoT also wants all the cases to be transferred to Delhi. DoT said that these are motivated and proxy litigation that are being funded by parties that do not want competition in their existing areas. This will harm consumer interest.  
Koshika Telecom sells 49% stake for $120m  
Usha group company Koshika Telecom have signed a deal with US based NRI Dr.Chiranjiv Kathuria and his associates to sell 49% stake along with management participation. Koshika had licence for three continuous areas UP, Bihar and Orissa. At present it operates in UP(East) only as its licence for operating in other circles was cancelled by the government due to non payment of licence fee for which it owes Rs.300 crore. The new partners hope to revive the company within the next year or so.  
DoT will go ahead with the bidding scheduled for 19th July  
Department of Telecommunications will go ahead with the third and final round of bidding for fourth cellular licence scheduled for 19th inspite of the interim order by Mumbai High court which restrains the government from taking any final decision on the issue. DoT will also challenge the order. The solicitor general and two senior DoT officials will move the Mumbai High Court for vacation of this order.  The bids will be received on thursday but there is a possibility of some delay in opening.  
Bharti to invest Rs. 50 crore in Kolkata cellular network  
Bharti group would immediately invest Rs. 50 crore in Kolkata cellular network which it recently acquired from Spice for Rs. 425 crore. Money will be invested in expanding the network from current 61 base stations to 101 base stations. Also AirTel and Magic brand names will replace Spice brand name over next two months. Company would also use expertise from its partner Singapore Telecom for improving the connectivity over the under-ground metro rail network in the city.  
Mumbai High court restrains Govt. from taking final decision  
Through an interim order Mumbai High court restrains the government from taking any final decision on fourth cellular licence for which the third and the final round of bidding is scheduled on 19th July. This came in the wake of a writ petition challenging the decision of the government to prevent Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited from bidding for fourth cellular licence. The government had earlier barred VSNL from taking part in the bidding on the grounds that it did not want two government owned companies to be competing against each other in the same circle. The government has been given a week to reply.
Bharti leads the race by winning 5 new circles  
Bharti Enterprises is leading the race for fourth cellular licences by winning 5 new circles in the second round. Bharti won Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, UP(West) and Haryana for a total of Rs. 392.66 crore apart from MP which was already alloted to him in the first round. The other licences alloted today were Andhra Pradesh to Hutchison for Rs. 103.01 crore and Himachal Pradesh to Escotel for Rs. 1.10 crore. Kolkata circle will be bagged by Reliance by default as Bharti the second bidder has already purchased Spice licence in the city. Reliance is out of the race in all the circles. It is said to be more interested in long distance and limited mobility.The third and the final round of bidding will be on 19th July where the tussel will be for 8 circles namely Delhi, Chennai, Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab, Maharashtra, UP(East) and Rajasthan.  
The Fourth Cellular Licence (Second round of bidding)
Mumbai Rs. 203.66 crore
Tamil Nadu Rs. 79.00 crore
Kerala Rs. 40.54 crore
U.P.(West) Rs. 30.55 crore
Haryana Rs. 21.46 crore
MP Rs. 17.45 crore
Andhra Pradesh Rs.103.01 crore
Himachal Pradesh Rs. 1.10 crore
Race in Third round
Rs. crore
Delhi Birla AT&T 170.60
Escotel 104.00
Karnataka Barakhamba 168.00
Birla AT&T 150.40
Punjab Escotel 151.00
Indmobile 115.00
Chennai Barakhamba 126.80
Birla AT&T 117.50
Maharashtra Barakhamba 112.80
Bharti 105.00
Gujarat Bharti 105.00
Escotel 102.56
Kolkata Reliabe 78.00
Bharti 77.85
UP (East) Escotel 45.00
Bharti 30.55
Rajasthan Escotel 32.00
Bharti 18.01
Bharti acquires Spice (Kolkata)  
Bharti Cellular Ltd. acquired Spice Cellular, the cellular service provider in Kolkata, for Rs. 425 crore all cash deal. Modi Corp had 51% in Spice Kolkata shared with AIG Group while Hong Kong based Distacom owned remaining 49%. It is believed that Modi Corp may also exit from its remaining licences in Karnataka and Punjab.  
Bharti may purchase Spice(Kolkata)   
Bharti enterprises is close to take up a controlling stake in Modi's Kolkata cellular venture SpiceCell. Bharti is negotiating a 100 percent all cash buyout of Spice Cell operation.  
AirTel, Essar slash tariff on pre-paid cards   
Bharti Cellular Limited and Hutchison Essar, the private cellular operators in Delhi have lowered the airtime rates on their pre paid cards. The reduced rate for incoming calls is Rs. 1.50 and for outgoing calls is Rs. 2.50 per 30 sec. This is a reduction of 17 per cent on outgoing calls and 25 per cent on incoming calls. The new rates will come into effect on July 13,2001 and will be applicable to both new and existing customers.
Bharti, Hutchison in the lead for 4th Cellular licence   
Bharti and Hutchison have emerged as most aggressive bidders quoting Rs. 722.43 crore for 11 licences and Rs. 473.90 crore for four circles respectively. Interestingly, the Reliance group through Reliable Internet Services has bid very conservatively which is bidding for 15 licences and has quoted a relatively small amount of Rs. 515 crore. Reliance is only aggressive for Delhi circle for which it has quoted Rs. 90 crore. The other bidders are Escotel with Rs 292.10 crore for 8 circles, Batata with Rs. 121.5 crores for 3 licences and Ind Mobile with Rs. 105 crore for Punjab. The licence for MP has been awarded to Bharti  being the sole bidder for Rs.17.45 crore. Similarly Escotel got HP for Rs. 1.1 crore. Under the three step informed bidding process that's being followed, the highest bid in each round becomes the floor rate for bidding to begin in the next round. No company was eliminated in the first round as no circle had more than four bids. All the companies will move to the second round and will have to submit revised bids on July 16th.    
The Fourth Cellular Licence (First round of bidding)
Circles\Bidders Bharti Reliable   
Escotel BPL-Batata Ind Mobile   
(JT Mobile)
Andhra Pradesh   35.00 103.00      
Chennai   25.00 117.50   20.50  
Delhi   90.00   61.00 80.50  
Gujarat 102.56 40.00   51.00    
Haryana 21.45 10.00        
HP       1.10    
Karnataka   35.00 150.40 51.00 20.50  
Kerala 40.53 20.00        
Kolkata 77.85 25.00        
Maharashtra 102.56 50.00 103.00      
Madhya Pradesh 17.45          
Mumbai 203.65 90.00        
Punjab   20.00   71.00   105.00
Rajasthan 17.45 10.00   18.00    
Tamil Nadu 77.85 35.00   21.00    
UP East 30.54 15.00   18.00    
UP West 30.54 15.00        
Total 722.43 515.00 473.90 292.10 121.50 105.00
(figures in Rs. crore)   
Japanese hooked to wireless internet access   
According to a recent study  by MPHPT, 8.16 million people in Japan access the internet exclusively via cellphone, while 15.48 million use both cellphone and PC. Due to the continuous proliferation of mobile phones connected to the web more and more people are using cellular phones to access e-mails and news headlines etc.   
Hutchison Whampao and Motorola agreement    
Hutchison Whampao and Motorola announced an agreement for delivery of third generation wireless devices. As per this agreement both companies will be working together on 3G wireless communications solutions till end of 2003 at least. This has an estimated value of $700 million.    
All six companies qualify for next round of fourth cellular bids    
All six companies bidding for fourth cellular licence have qualified for the next round. DoT is following a multi-stage informed ascending bidding process which eliminates speculative bidding. It opened technical bids today. The financial bids will be opened on June 11. The six companies are Reliable Internet ( Reliance ) bidding for 15 licences, Bharti for 11, Escotel for 8, Hutchison for 4, Batata for 3 and Ind Mobile has submitted one bid.    
Reliance obeys DoT directive    
Reliance Communications has withdrawn its bid for the fourth cellular licences following a directive from DoT which says that two companies which are partly or fully owned by the same producer cannot bid for the fourth cellular licence in the same circle. Now only one Reliance group company called Reliable Internet is in the fray for fourth cell licence. Consequently there will be only 42 bids for 18 circles. The bidders are Bharti, Hutchison, Escotel, Ind Mobile, Reliable Internet and Batata. DoT  is following a multi-staged informed ascending bidding process for licences, eliminating speculative bidding. There will be a pre-qualification round, to verify the bidders meet the eligibility criteria, and three rounds of financial bidding.    
Command Cell making profits after takeover by Hutchison    
Usha Martin Telekom Ltd, one of the cellular service providers for the Kolkata circle claims to  have made profits following a takeover by the Hutchsion group. The company was making losses when Hutchison came in around September but things are now turned around. The company is making month-to-month profits. Hutchison group have rebalanced the tariff. Earlier there was a system where incoming was free and the outgoing was very high. With rebalancing, tariff plans became more popular. The cellular subscribers base is increasing by six to seven per cent a month which has helped company towards profitability. The company is expanding its network of base stations in Kolkata and is looking to increase it from 74 to 100 base stations by September this year.    
BPL to continue focus on mobile phone market    
BPL mobile Ltd. executive  director and CEO F.B. Cordoso said in Thiruvanthpuram that his company will continue to stay focussed on tapping the potential of mobile telephony in India. At the moment they are not looking at foreign markets. He said Kerela showed the largest percentage growth in the cellular market and in certain towns cellulars have exceeded the land connections. Their product miHearmail had a good response in Kerela.BPL Communications Ltd. recently signed an MoU with Birla-Tata-AT&T combine Batata to form the largest cellular joint venture company.    
DoT asks Reliance to withdraw one bid    
Two companies which are partly or fully owned by the same producer cannot bid for the fourth cellular licence in the same circle, said DoT today. In a letter to all seven bidders, DoT has said there should be no common interest of a bidding company or its constituents in any other company which has also bid for the same service area. Reliance Communications and Reliable Internet have bid for the same 15 circles. Reliance Communications is a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), while Reliable Internet has a multiple share holders including Reliance Telecom. DoT has asked bidders to confirm compliance of the conditions by 3pm on Friday.    
Siemens to invest $310 m in Asian mobile market    
Germany's Siemens said on Wednesday, that it will invest $ 310 million in Asia to boost the mobile telephone output and expand research on third generation (3G) mobile telephone technology in the fight for greater market share.    
BSNL to appeal against TRAI orders    
Even as the telecom regulatory authority of India (TRAI) today directed Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to pass on the benefits of reduced long distance charges for 50-200 kilometers to private basic and cellular operators, the Rs 10,000 crore public sector company said that it would contest the order. The regulator has also directed BSNL and sister company Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) to ensure implementation of the order by July 20. The issue relates to a January 26, 2001 announcement by BSNL extending the duration of peak pulse rates for distances between 50 to 200 kms.    
BSNL Cell services    
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) would start mobile telephone services by March next year and provide 6000 connections in the first phase and 10,000 more in the second phase. This was revealed during an informal meeting of the advisory committee of Indore telecom.    
Spice Cell to launch GPRS by next year    
Spice Cell plans to launch a GPRS system in Calcutta by the end of next year that will give its subscribers better, easier and cheaper access to the internet. Spice Cell, a unit of diversified business group ModiCorp, provides cellular services in Calcutta and currently have over 100,000 subscribers. 
Cellular News: Apr. - June 2001
Cellular News: Jan. - Mar. 2001
Cellular News: Oct. - Dec. 2000 
Cellular News: July - Sept. 2000 
Cellular News: April - June 2000