Cellular News
  
Date: 26/9/2002   
BSNL's cellular service launch deferred   
The launch of cellular services by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) earlier scheduled for 2nd October 2002 is postponed till 19th October 2002 as announced by Union communications and IT minister Mr. Pramod Mahajan  
 
Date: 26/9/2002    
Private cellular service providers disconnect BSNL mobile    
All private cellular service providers in the country have decided to bar mobile traffic to / from cell numbers prefixed with new 94 access level alloted exclusively to BSNL as against the existing 98 access level cellular numbering plan. According to COAI such exclusive numbering plan means one operator will enjoy an unfair marketing identity advantage besides an exclusive repository of 100 million numbers. COAI had already apprised DoT and TRAI regarding this issue. As there was no response so all COAI members decided to take above  action.    
 
Date: 26/9/2002    
Nokia launches 3G cellular phone in Helsinki    
Nokia launched its first third generation mobile handset having a large colour screen and built-in camera  which will work on current GSM networks as well. This will primarily enable operators to test their 3G networks fast. The commercial launch of this handset for the consumers will not be before next year as the operators are not yet ready to launch 3G. The 3G networks are being designed for fast and efficient data communications like picture and video messaging along with better quality voice communications.    
 
Date: 24/9/2002     
Alcatel targeting 5% share of Indian handset market     
Alcatel is targeting 5% share of India's fast growing mobile phones market by year-end through low-priced launches and partnering initiatives. It is targeting a 7.5% market share by July 2003. Apart from selling handsets in India, Alcatel also designs telecom software for global and domestic service providers.      
 
Date: 24/9/2002     
Escorts to sell stake in mobile business     
Escorts Ltd. is said to be close to striking a deal with International Finance Corp (IFC) and a foreign firm to sell a minority stake in its cellular business. Escorts offers mobile services through a joint venture firm Escorts Mobile Communications Ltd. in Haryana, western UP and Kerala. Another wholly-owned firm, Escorts Telecom Ltd. has licences to provide cellular services in four other Indian states.      
 
Date: 24/9/2002     
Usha Martin renamed      
Usha Martin Telekom Limited (UMTL), which provides cellular services in Kolkata under the 'Command' brand name, has been renamed as Hutchison Telecom East Limited. The service, however, will continue to be provided under the 'Command' brand.     
 
Date: 24/9/2002     
AirTel, Coke to launch a unique SMS club     
AIRTEL has tied up with Coca-Cola India to launch a unique SMS club called Ubuzz. This is part of the company's strategy to cash in on the popularity of SMS among the youth. The club offers a host of applications such as downloading ring tones, contests, opinion polls and chat. To access Ubuzz, subscribers need to key in 2899 on the mobile phones.      

The company plans to use this platform to run exclusive promotional campaigns and offers. Coca-Cola is promoting this club through its various marketing initiatives. Coke and AirTel plan to sell various products through the dispensing machines.The Ubuzz programme will also offer special value additions in different categories, like films, sports, TV, radio shows and meeting with celebrities.     
 

Date: 20/9/2002     
BPL Mobile switching centre at Madurai     
As part of its capacity expansion programme BPL Mobile installed a second mobile switching centre at Madurai with the capacity to accommodate 50,000 connections at present which could be upgraded to cater up to 3 lakh connections. The calls made by the subscribers in Madurai and Tiruchi region will be routed through the Madurai switching centre, instead of Coimbatore. The MSC has been installed at a cost of Rs. 20 crore.      

The high speed circuit switched data of 14.4 kbps in the mobile switch will enable a faster download. Also the 3G `blue tooth technology' would enable the subscribers to send 2 MB motion pictures through their mobiles. The enhanced full rate switch (EFR) in the MSC will give more clarity of speech.      
 

Date: 19/9/2002     
Hutchison's SMS offer for Champions Trophy     
Hutchison launched a special Champions Trophy SMS service for the entire duration of the 12-nation cricket tournament being played in Sri Lanka. The offer in association with Cox & Kings is available to all Hutchison affiliated brands namely Hutch, Orange, Celforce and Command.      

If one makes SMS request for cricket scores through Hutch Online facility, he will be sent four different questions regarding the match being played that day. Correct replies will be allotted points, which will vary as the match progresses. Besides daily winners, the points will be accumulated to arrive at the winner for the entire tournament who will win a 4-night 5-day holiday package, for two persons to South Africa which include tickets for the 2003 Cricket World Cup final.      
 

Date: 19/9/2002     
BSNL’s cellular services in 60 towns of Tamil Nadu     
BSNL’s cellular services will be available in 60 towns of Tamil Nadu by 2nd October. Initially only pre-paid service will be launched followed by post-paid services. Both pre-paid and post-paid services are already functional in three towns of Coimbatore , Madurai and Tirupur. The tariff of mobile services is expected to come down after BSNL's all-India launch of mobile services in which around 500 towns in the country are likely to be covered.      
 
Date: 18/9/2002       
IDEA Cellular crosses one million subscribers figure      
IDEA Cellular, formerly Birla Tata AT&T crosses one million subscribers figure. Among the non-metro circles it is the first service provider to achieve this figure. According to the company the success is attributed to superior network quality, extensive coverage and good customer service standards.      
 
Date: 18/9/2002      
Exams results on AIRCEL SMS in Tamil Nadu      
Controller of examinations announced in Chennai that the results of the M.A (Tamil, English, History, Population Studies), M.L.I.S, M.M.M, B.L.I.S, PG Diploma in Hospital Management and C.L.I.S courses of the Annamalai University Distance Education Examinations, held in May 2002 will be available on  AIRCEL SMS from September 20.      
 
Date: 17/9/2002      
Competition heating up in Chennai      
RPG Cellular Services, Bharti Mobinet Ltd. and Hutchison Essar South Ltd. are all offering a plethora of schemes for both pre-paid and post-paid segments to retain their existing subscribers and attract new ones. Average tariffs across plans have dropped by 50%.       
 
Date: 13/9/2002       
Largest number of cellular subscribers added in August       
The cellular industry added over 4.8 lakh subscribers last month which is the largest increase in a month. With this total number of cellular subscribers in the country moved up to 8.17 million. The record increase is being attributed to the launch of services by third and fourth operators in different circles all across the country. Delhi has the maximum subscribers at 13.51 lakh followed by Mumbai having 12.77 lakh subscribers.       
 
Date: 13/9/2002       
COAI opposes unlimited competetion       
COAI has opposed union communications minister Pramod Mahajan's view to open up cellular services sector for unlimited competetion, stating that it would lead to violation of NTP'99, TRAI Act and licence obligations. It is said that the policy is abundantly clear on the process and timing of the introduction of additional service providers and their terms & conditions.       
 
Date: 13/9/2002       
Tatas to consolidate telecom business       
Tatas are considering consolidation of their telecom business and will soon decide on which telecom technology or segment to retain and from where to exit. Tatas are in ILD through VSNL which in turn has licence for NLD also. Tata Teleservices Limited and the recently acquired Hughes Telecom are in Basic telecom services. They also have over 16% stake in IDEA Cellular which is GSM based cellular service. Tatas are in internet services through Tata Nova. They also have plans for CDMA and broadband services.        
 
Date: 12/9/2002        
Escotel's cricket service        
Escotel has launched an automatic cricket alert service for the ICC cricket tournament to be held in Sri Lanka from September 12.         
The service will provide regular updates on all the match proceedings on one time registration for the service. This will not require the customer to send an SMS each time to get the score. To register the customer has to type 'yes' on his mobile and send it to 333.         
 
Date: 11/9/2002        
COAI approaches Mahajan        
In a letter to Union communication and IT minister Pramod Mahajan, the director general of COAI, T. V. Ramachandran, has appealed collectively on behalf of private cellular service providers to ensure level playing field amongst the private and the public sector operators. The government has been asked to ensure that public sector operators do not indulge in "predatory" pricing on the strength of their customer base and cash flows. The letter emphasised that the private sector was fully prepared to compete with the public sector provided they were offered equitable terms. Earlier, COAI had written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) describing BSNL's offer of alternate tariff package for its wireless in local loop (WLL) based limited mobile services as 'predatory'.         
 
Date: 9/9/2002        
Speech-activated service launched by Airtel        
Airtel launched speech-activated access to a host of information that allows subscribers to access information by dialling a number and then speaking the keyword like 'cricket', 'news' etc. The speech recognition service is said to have high consumer acceptance world over.        
 
Date: 6/9/2002         
NK Singh committee recommends raising FDI limit from 49% to 74%         
The NK Singh committee has recommended raising the FDI limit from 49% to 74% in cellular and basic telephony services. Untill now the foreign companies have been holding their equity in a multi layered structure to keep them within the 49% limit. The move will create interest among new investors as they can have management control now. On the issue of security the reports said that this can be checked by strengthening security clearance procedures.The N K Singh committee proposal is likely to be accepted by the Government as both Commerce and Communication ministry are in favour of it.          

Date: 6/9/2002
         
 
TRAI will not regulate Cellular tariffs         
TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) will no more regulate cellular tariffs. According to Telecommunication Tariff (23rd Amendment) Order 2002, TRAI has stated that in the current market scenario, the a stage has reached where market forces can effectively regulate cellular tariff and the regulator has to step aside except for a broad supervision in the interest of the consumer.         

TRAI has asked cellular operators to report any change in tariffs 10 days in advance and said every service provider has to specify a reference tariff package including monthly rental and airtime. TRAI also declared that the service providers who are also offering any other service such as Basic, National Long Distance (NLD), International Long Distance (ILD) in the same service area in which they provide Cellular services will have to notify all their tariffs and changes for approval five working days prior to implementation.          

A Reference Tariff Package (RTF) will be in place by October 1, 2002 and is expected to be simpler for subscribers to draw comparisons among tariff packages offered by competitors.          

In addition, the authority will continue to monitor the tariffs both with respect to predatory tariffs as well as unduly high tariffs because operators with dominant market presence and operations in more than one service sector will always have the capacity to do so. If the authority considers that there is a need to specify a standard tariff package for all service areas or in specific service areas, it will do so. In addition to monitoring of the tariffs, the authority will review its present policy after six months.          

In future, the RTF shall always be available to the customer together with any other tariff offers. The service provider shall give wide publicity to its RTF, the regulator said.         
 

Date: 4/9/2002          
Airtel books 1 lakh cellular subscribers in Mumbai          
Airtel booked a record 1 lakh cellular subscribers in Mumbai in just 40 days. The achievement is being attributed to attractive promotional offers by Airtel. According to the company 2/3rd subscribers are of pre-paid cards while 1/3rd are post paid sim users.          
The total subscriber base in Mumbai is now over 12 lakh.          

Date: 4/9/2002
         
 
COAI moves TRAI against BSNL          
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) approached Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) against Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.'s (BSNL) WiLL (Wireless in Local Loop) tariff plan of Rs.200 monthly rental and Rs.1.20 for three minute call which is below cost tariff and an instance of predatory pricing. According to COAI this is anti-competitive and would have an adverse impact           
on revenues of the industry which is already running far below cost and the losses have increased by Rs.800 crore in 2001-02.           
 
Date: 3/9/2002           
IDEA to invest Rs.120 crore in Gujarat           
IDEA Cellular crossed two lakh subscriber mark in Gujarat. It plans to invest Rs.120 crore before March end in this circle. Idea is introducing the latest BSCS billing system. It plans to open 40 customer care centres called "Idea `n' U " across the state.  All these centres will be interconnected and also be connected with Idea's Gandhinagar office through a large area network. Idea is also planning to add 90 more cell sites in Gujarat to cover most of the highways spread across the state.Idea has the largest highway coverage of about 1550 kilometres.          
 
Date: 2/9/2002           
BSNL to launch cellular services by the name ‘CellOne’           
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) will launch its cellular services throughout the country by 2nd October under the brand name “CellOne”. It’s pre-paid card will be called “ex-cel”. The services will be available in 350 cities including all state capitals initially. 830 more cities will be linked by December this year. BSNL’s internet telephony to be called “WebFone” is also launched today.           
 
Date: 2/9/2002           
Tata Teleservices Ltd’s September launch delayed           
Tata Teleservices Ltd’s plan to launch basic telecom services with WiLL simultaneously in Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is likely to be delayed by two months since it is yet to be allotted frequency spectrum for Delhi and Gujarat.           
 
Date: 1/9/2002           
DoT to reduce licence fee for basic and cellular service providers           
Communications minister Pramod Mahajan told that DoT will seek Finance Ministry on reducing licence fee for telecom operators. The prices of cellular and basic services in India are among the lowest in the world while cost of operation is among the highest. This is because of the high licence fee and taxes. Currently the telecom operators have to share 8 – 12 % of their annual revenue with the government and another 5% as universal service obligation charges. 

Date: 27/8/2002
          
 
Bharti crosses two million subscriber mark           
Bharti became the first cellular service provider to cross two million subscriber mark which accounts for 25% market share. This achievement is the result of the launch of its cellular services in 8 new circles. AirTel has 7.5 lakh subscribers in Delhi which is the highest in a single circle of operation.           
 
Date: 26/8/2002            
Bharti cuts roaming in AP            
Bharti Mobile Ltd. slashed its Roaming as well as SMS charges on roaming by 50% from Rs. 3 per min to Rs. 1.49 per minute in Andhra Pradesh.            
 
Date: 24/8/2002            
Hutchison VP joining Reliance Infocomm            
Mr. Manoj Pant, VP corporate affairs and quality, Hutchison Max Telecom is joining Reliance Infocomm as president application services and quality. He is being replaced by Mr. Amitabh Mukhopadhyay, VP network operations in Gujarat.            
 
Date: 21/8/2002            
Motorola launched three new handsets            
Motorola, world’s second largest cellular phone handsets manufacturer unveiled the company’s new marketing initiative ‘MotoRising’ along with the launch of three new handsets in Indian market. The three mobile phone models are V70, V60 and T191 priced at             
Rs. 25,995, Rs. 19,995 and Rs. 6,495 respectively.             
 
Date: 21/8/2002            
TRAI survey on Quality Of Service ( QOS)            
According to a TRAI survey on Quality Of Service ( QOS) the best five performers are IDEA in Madhya Pradesh ( formerly RPG) , RPG in Chennai, Airtel in Karnataka, Orange in Mumbai and BPL in Tamil Nadu. The survey bench marks were fault incidence and repair, network performance, billing complaints and customer perception regarding services. In the basic services segment  BSNL and MTNL were adjudged the best performers.

Date: 21/8/2002
           
 
India ninth fastest growing spender on telecom            
According to global technology report ‘Digital Planet 2002’ , India is ninth fastest growing spender on telecom in the world. India’s telecom spending increased by about $480 million in 2001. Telecom spending includes companies’ expenditure on telecom equipment, software & infrastructure and also what customers pay for telecom services.

Date: 19/8/2002
           
 
Copper requirement dropped by 40% due to WiLL            
BSNL which is the biggest buyer of copper is preferring limited mobility (WiLL) over landline thus the requirement of copper reduced by 40% compared to last year according to the copper manufacturing companies. 

Date: 18/8/2002
           
 
Service Tax relief to cellular service providers            
According to a government directive revenue department will not impose service tax on three categories of connectivity facilities provided to cellular service providers by BSNL. These are port charges, infrastructure charges and rentals for junction links. 

Date: 14/8/2002
           
 
Hotels affected due to lowering of cellular tariffs            
The price war among the cellular service providers resulted in considerable reduction in mobile tariffs. Due to this most travelers  now use their mobiles instead of hotel phones leading to a decline of more than 50% in telecom revenues of the hotel companies. 

Date: 10/8/2002
           
 
351,040 new subscribers added in July             
4.8% growth in July from the previous month as Indian cellular industry added 351,040 new subscribers. India is expected to be one of the world's fastest growing markets this decade. The industry expects to have 12 million users by the end of this year and 50 million by 2006, making India one of the top five markets globally. The growth this month is attributed to the entry of fourth cellular operators in many circles which triggered a price war and a slew of incentives offered by the companies to grab customers.              
 
Date: 10/8/2002            
BPL mobile to invest on GPRS and Intelligent Network            
BPL mobile will be investmenting Rs 350 crore in this financial year to expand its GPRS (General Packet Radio Switching) facility and IN(Intelligent Network) platform in all of its five circles Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Pondicherry and Goa. Network in Mumbai is already GPRS-enabled. The work towards setting up the requisite infrastructure in these circles has already started.              
 
Date: 9/8/2002            
Internet friendly mobile phones with cameras for US market             
According to industry analysts cellular phones with cameras and color screens will be the star attractions in the holiday shopping season in the U.S. this year. All major mobile service providers in the US are ready to offer a range of new services over higher-speed voice and data networks. The second half of 2002 promises a boom for Internet-friendly mobile devices.              
 
Date: 8/8/2002            
Escotel frees mobile to mobile incoming            
ESCOTEL has announced that all its post-paid and pre-paid customers in Kerala can now enjoy free mobile-to-mobile incoming calls. Escotel customers can now receive calls from over 75 lakh mobile users all over India absolutely free. All mobile-to-mobile outgoing calls on the Escotel network in the State would be charged as per the outgoing airtime rate of the tariff plan. This has come as a special offer by the company in Onam season.              
 
Date: 6/8/2002            
Bharti launches cellular services in Gujarat             
Bharti Enterprises has launched its Airtel mobile services in Gujarat offering world-class network on 1,800 mhz, 30-second pulse rate and a slew of benefits for cellular users in Gujarat subscribing Airtel services. Airtel has also introduced no-roaming charges on Airtel networks across the country for its subscribers. Airtel is pitched against brands like Celforce, and IDEA in the state.              
 
Date: 6/8/2002            
Mobile-to-mobile incoming calls will be free soon             
Mobile-to-mobile incoming calls across networks will be free soon. The users will have to pay only a nominal monthly charge for the facility say Rs.100. Cellular industry officials have already notified their plan to the TRAI(Telecom Regulatory Authority of India). Till now only AirTel and Hutch had announced free incoming calls but quite soon other operators will follow suit. The additional cost to be added to rentals will be "only a partial recovery" by mobile operators to pay call-terminating charges. The revenue-share formula among operators will cover WLL(Wireless in Local Loop) services also.              
 
Date: 6/8/2002            
Motorola deployed GSM network for Bharti             
Motorola deployed the GSM (Global System for Mobile communication ) network for Bharti Cellular in Mumbai, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Based on the Motorola Horizon Series, the company completed the network deployment in seven months, said a Motorola release.              
 
Date: 3/8/2002            
Bharti's answer to Hutchison            
Within hours of Command's announcement of free incoming calls on its post-paid cards in Kolkata from all six Hutchison networks, Bharti Mobitel also freed incoming mobile call charges on both its post-paid and pre-paid (Magic) cards from all 16 Airtel networks.             
 
Date: 2/8/2002            
Sony Ericsson reaches out to consumers in US            
Sony Ericsson has hired 120 actors and actresses across U.S.A. to play tourists and ask passers-by to take their pictures using the company's new T68i cell phone and an add-on digital camera. The company is running the campaign in 7 US cities as part of reaching out and touching consumer advertising.

Date: 2/8/2002
           
 
Hutchison offers free incoming calls in Delhi and Kolkata too            
Hutchison has announced free incoming cellular calls to Delhi & to Kolkata from all Hutchison networks for its post-paid customers. It has also slashed Voice and SMS roaming tariff by 50%. Delhi & Kolkata Hutchison customers can now roam in Hutchison India networks for Rs.1.46 per minute and SMS roaming charges will be Rs.1.49 per SMS. Hutchison India networks are Orange in Mumbai, Command in Kolkata, Celforce in Gujarat and Hutch in Delhi, Chennai, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. 

Date: 2/8/2002
           
 
"Friendly Networks" to counter Airtel            
While launching its services in Mumbai a week ago, Airtel offered a unique feature of no roaming charges on calls placed through its AirTel mobile network anywhere in the country. To counter this six operators have come together to form "Friendly Networks" which will offer cheapest roaming tariffs in the country at Rs.1.49 per minute for voice calls and 1.49 per SMS.Till now the TRAI dictated charges were Rs.3 per minute for all roaming calls and Rs.3 per roaming SMS.The friendly networks are Hutchison, BPL mobile, IDEA Cellular, Oasis, RPG and Spice.            

Both Mumbai operators BPL and Orange also announced incoming calls free for Mumbai subscribers from their respective networks across the country.            
 

Date: 2/8/2002            
Microsoft and AT&T formed a partnership            
World's largest software maker Microsoft and US No. 3 mobile phone company AT&T Wireless formed a partnership to provide data services through wireless devices to corporations.            
 
Date: 2/8/2002            
Tariffs driven by market compulsions            
Responding to TRAI's consultation paper which pointed out that accumulated losses of the cellular industry have mounted by Rs.800 crore in last financial year, COAI has informed TRAI that existing tariffs of cellular services are below the cost of services and are driven by market compulsions. 

Date: 2/8/2002
           
 
IDEA Cellular's new idea in Andhra            
IDEA Cellular announced a new incentive to its customers in Andhra Pradesh. For the next two weeks any cell-to-cell incoming call would be free from any cell phone in the country. According to a company release all IDEA subscribers in the State would be well connected and also save costs on incoming calls, while benefiting by experiencing one of the widest cellular networks and over 1,500 km of corridor connectivity            
 
Date: 1/8/2002            
IDEA and BPL's mega merger Off            
India's largest corporate merger between BPL Communications and Birla-Tata-AT&T (BTAL now IDEA Cellular) to create $2.1 billion mobile phone giant is finally called off. The process was started last year by signing a 12 month long MoU which expired on 27th June 2002. Investment banking and Industry sources have confirmed that the merger was off. The two companies are now working separately for growth and acquisitions. IDEA is interested in acquiring Spice and RPG. BPL won't sell Maharashtra circle now. Although it is believed that chances of merger renegotiations are still alive.

Date: 1/8/2002
           
 
Fascel offers free calls in Gujarat            
A Hutch company Fascel, the cellular service provider in Gujarat, introduced two new tariff plans, Talk 2195 and Talk 1245. Talk 2195 allows users unlimited incoming as well as outgoing calls at zero airtime rate for a monthly commitment of Rs 2,195 while  users availing Talk 1245 can get free incoming calls, for a monthly commitment of Rs 1,245, outgoing calls will cost only Rs 1.10 per minute. Talk 1245 also allows free outgoing calls to two most frequently called numbers within Fascel network.

Date: 1/8/2002
           
 
Bharti's revenue doubles to Rs.539 crore            
Bharti TeleVentues registered a 143% rise in its net loss at Rs.67.62 crore for the quarter ended June 2002 inspite of near doubling   its revenue by 95% to Rs.539 crore and operating profit by 101% to Rs. 138 crore. Net loses have increased due to depreciation and amortisation in the company which is involved in new projects that require significant investments. The company has completed the launch of its cellular services in almost all the circles it had licences. It is providing fixed line services in 5 circles, NLD services, ILD services, broadband, Internet and VSAT services. 

Date: 1/8/2002
           
 
Idea Cellular to invest an additional Rs 300 crore            
Idea Cellular will invest an additional Rs 300 crore in Delhi circle by March 2003 taking overall investments to Rs 800 crore.            
This includes Rs.171 crore spent for licence fee. The additional investment would be made in steps for adding capacity.            
With the government allocating the wireless frequency to IDEA Cellular , the company is planning to launch its cellular service in Delhi by late August or early September. 

Date: 1/8/2002
           
 
Cellular operators' complaint against BSNL in Andhra            
Cellular operators in Andhra Pradesh, Airtel and Idea Cellular have complained to TRAI that BSNL is violating the terms & conditions of limited mobility WILL licence by offering mobility beyond limits of short distance calling area SDCA. COAI has taken up the issue both to DoT and TRAI. 

Date: 1/8/2002
           
 
BSNL's mobile service in Punjab            
BSNL is expected to launch its mobile services in Punjab this month. It will be providing 1,10,000 connections in 51 towns and cities of Punjab in the first phase. The facility is already available at Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr.

Date: 1/8/2002
           
 
Hutch introduced 'Free Speech'            
Hutch introduced a new scheme in Delhi called 'Free Speech' where pre-paid card users will receive free airtime worth Rs.419 at the time of activation. 

Date 31/7/2002
 
 
HDFC Bank launched mobile banking in Andhra Pradesh  
HDFC Bank has launched mobile banking facility in Andhra Pradesh in alliance with Hutchison the fourth cellular operator in the circle. The bank offers this services to its customers in over 70 cities across the country. Mobile banking is available through SMS where  customer sends request through an SMS message and get the response within seconds. The services being offered are balance enquiry, last three transactions, cheque book request, cheque status enquiry, stop payment of cheque, statement request, change operative account request, bill payments, payment of cell phone bills, fixed deposit enquiry and help. 
 
Date 29/7/2002   
Hutch offers two new plans for Delhi   
Aimed at heavy cellular phone users in the capital which is the biggest cellular phone market in India, Hutchison Essar announced two new tariff plans similar to the ones recently launched in Mumbai. First plan Talk Max, offers free incoming and outgoing calls for a monthly fee of Rs.2,195. Second plan, Talk Big offers incoming calls free and outgoing rate of Re. 0.50 for a 30 second on a monthly fee of Rs.1,795. The plans will be available in the next two to three weeks.   
 
Date 29/7/2002   
BPL Mobile to expand coverage in Kerala   
BPL mobile has drawn up plans to put up 40 more cell sites across the state in six months with an investment of Rs 40 crore. It will enable the company to cover National Highway No.47 and 17 and also the entire coastal region for the benefit of the fishing community.     
 
Date 26/7/2002   
BPL mobile and Hutch unveiled new tariff plans in Mumbai   
Following Airtel's launch in the city, competitors BPL mobile and Orange cut their rates too. The BPL post-paid subscribers can now choose a 60 second pulse at a rate of Rs 1.49 per minute, for up to 250 minutes or he can choose a 30 second pulse at Rs 0.90 per pulse. However, for its pre-paid customers, BPL has only one tariff plan which will include a 30 second pulse rate at Rs 0.90 per pulse. BPL's revised tariff plans also include free airtime for new subscribers on three outgoing numbers - one local, one national and one international number. Existing subscribers will have to pay Rs 75 for the first two numbers, for every additional number the subscriber will have to pay Rs 75 per month.    

Orange has cut tariff by 20 per cent for its post-paid subscribers with no monthly commitment, a choice of 30 and 60 second pulse rates, and free usage on pre designated local, STD and ISD numbers. In one of its three monthly plans, Orange fixed the slabs at Rs 1.80 per minute for those opting for the 30 second pulse, while fixing at Rs 1.49 per minute for those opting for the 60 second pulse. Also, the rate of pulse for both pulse duration schemes will drop down on higher usage.    
 

Date 25/7/2002   
AirTel launched the largest regional roaming network in Asia   
AirTel launched the largest regional roaming network in Asia for pre-paid customers. More than 500,000 subscribers will have access to seamless roaming facility in the five southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, covering 535,791 sq kms, using the company’s 'magic' pre-paid cards. All the incoming and outgoing calls will be charged at Rs 3 per minute and the same charge applies to short messaging service.   
 
Date 24/7/2002    
AirTel services launched in Mumbai    
Bharti Cellular Limited, a subsidiary of Bharti Tele-Ventures which is India's leading telecom conglomerate launched its AirTel brand  in Mumbai. AirTel's cellular network will be operating on 1800 Mhz with over 300 cell sites. The unique features offered by AirTel are no roaming charges on calls placed through its AirTel mobile network anywhere in the country, and a 30 second billing rate, free incoming calls between AirTel to AirTel consumers and free airtime for one international, national and local number, without any monthly charges.     

It has launched three tariff plans for Mumbai market. First being AirTel-Dream where the airtime rate keeps reducing with increasing usage, the customer pays as low as 50 paise for airtime of 750 minutes with no commitment value. For the high ended users, the plan is AirTel-Delight  where customers can get all incoming calls free for a flat monthly charge of Rs.1500 where outgoing calls cost 50 paise a minute and AirTel-Paradise plan offers customers flat monthly charge of Rs.1900 where one can talk as much as they want with free airtime on both incoming and outgoing calls.    

All post-paid subscribers in Mumbai will get 32K SIM card having larger memory that allows storage of 250 telephone numbers in the phone book and 30 message in the inbox. It also offers a menu driven browser that lets customers use SMS-based applications without the need to remember complicated keywords.    

In its introductory offer, the company is offering free talk time worth Rs 50 upon activation with the further promise of returning the activation fees after 6 months. Another special introductory offer is free SMS and Voice Mail for 3 months.   
 

Date 22/7/2002   
Bharti's operations in Maharashtra   
Bharti Tele Ventures’ wholly owned subsidiary Bharti Cellular which is holding fourth cellular license for providing cellular phone services in the state of Maharashtra would be formally launching its operations on 22 July 2002.    
 
Date 20/7/2002   
Airtel reduces airtime rates in Chennai   
Bharti Mobinet Ltd has reduced the airtime charges for AirTel customers in Chennai. The revised airtime charges would be Rs 2.49 per 60 seconds for outgoing calls which is 38% less from the earlier charges. Effective from July 17th the revision will be applicable to all existing customers in Smart life and Value life plans. Customers on other plans who wish to get the advantage of these rates can opt to migrate to these plans.    
 
Date 19/7/2002   
IDEA to launch its services in Delhi by late August   
With the government allocating the long awaited wireless frequency to Idea cellular (formerly Birla-Tata-AT&T), the company is planning to launch its cellular service in Delhi by late August or early September, after testing and optimisation.    
 
Date 17/7/2002     
IDEA raising Rs.1000 crore in debt     
IDEA Cellular ( formerly Birla Tata AT&T ) is raising close to Rs.1000 crore to expand its operations. The company is a cellular service provider in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and is soon launching its services in Delhi as fourth cellular operator. It is raising an eight year facility of $120 million in overseas markets through Citibank. IDEA's present equity base stands at Rs.2000 crore and its debt:equity ratio is at 1:1.     
 
Date 16/7/2002     
Escotel repaid debt     
Escotel repaid the first instalment of Rs.16 crore for both its offshore and onshore long term facilities. It plans to wipe out the complete debt by 2006.     
 
Date 14/7/2002     
Cellular subscribers expected to grow 80% by March 2003     
According to an ICRA report on telecom industry cellular subscribers are expected to grow by 80% to touch 1.15 crore by March 2003. This means mobile phones would account for 20.5% of total telephone connections in India. Still the cellular density will remain low at 1.1% as compared to fixed teledensityof 4.3%. Cellular growth is attributed to increased competetion, declining prices, increased pre-paid penetration. 

Date 10/7/2002
     
 
India's cellular base increased by 3.5 lakh in June       
The indian cellular industry which is among the world's fastest growing mobile markets added 349,082 new customers in June reversing a two month slide, mainly on account of a fall in call charges. The market was depressed for last two months because of the new rules imposed by the government requiring prepaid card users to provide proof of identity and all cellphone owners to file tax returns. India's cellular user base stood at 7.34 million connections at the end of June 2002.     
 
Date 7/7/2002        
Gartner estimates 46% growth in cellular subscribers by 2006        
India's cellular phone industry is considered as one of the world's fastest growing markets. It has drawn massive investment from private equity players and global telecom giants facing saturation in most western markets. There are around 6.9 million subscribers in India compared to 150 million users in China. Gartner estimates the Indian cellphone market to expand at a compounded annual growth rate of 46% percent over the next five years till 2006.      
 
Date 6/7/2002        
Mobile users in Banglore talk less Delhi talks more        
An IDC survey reveals that the average duration of a call made per day in the five metros is around two minutes. Mobile users in Bangalore talk the least with just one minute per call whereas Delhi mobile users talk the most with maximum touching 2.4 minutes.The average number of calls by users whose monthly bills exceed Rs.1,000 is 13, while those below make just half the number of calls. The users spending more also send more SMS messages than those who spend less. Almost 80 per cent of mobile users in Chennai resort to SMS on their handsets, while it is only 60% in Mumbai. The number of messages sent out daily is the highest in Bangalore but lowest in Chennai averaging 1.6 messages per person despite a larger number of SMS users. SMS usage is more by women than their male counterparts, the average being around 4.2 per day. In mobile telephony the average incidence of making a call is four times higher than the silent messages like SMS. The findings are the result of a study in June on a random basis of users in varying age groups across the five metros - Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.         
 
Date 6/7/2002      
TRAI order may impact cellphone market in cities      
According to telecom analysts the recent TRAI order of lowering WLL monthly rental may impact the cellphone market in cities since effectively for the end user WLL is identical to a cellular service. The only difference is that the signal range is restricted and that too by government decree and not by the technology itself to a 25 km radius which by and large covers a whole city. But there is no roaming with WLL thus GSM might remain the preferred choice in small towns and cities where businessmen often travel widely around the region, so the restricted range of WLL becomes a problem. Also most cell operators charge a flat rate for all calls made within a circle which is a huge service area. WLL subscribers would need to pay much higher national long-distance rates to make calls beyond 25 kilometres.In recent months the fastest rates of subscriber growth have occurred outside the big cities.      
 
Date 5/7/2002        
BPL Mobile to offer roamfree        
BPL mobile will soon be introducing roamfree local dialling (RLD) for roaming subscribers logging into any of its network in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. This new facility will reduce the incoming call rate by 60 per cent for local and international in-roamers. The caller can activate the RLD facility by dialling prefix “#” and the destination code (country or city code) and number. If the in-roamer is not in BPL Mobile network, the caller will get a message that reads, “The number you are trying to reach is not roaming in BPL Mobile Mumbai. Please dial the number without #”. Furthermore, the caller need not have STD/ ISD active for all RLD calls which is not the case for all conventional calls without “#”, wherein the caller need to have STD/ ISD active. With the RLD facility, the subscriber can save up to 60 per cent on the incoming call rates for local and international in-roamers. The savings is as a result of the call being routed directly through the in-roamer's number via the RLD node in Mumbai and vice-versa. Earlier, the in-roamer receiving incoming calls is charged the STD / ISD roaming leg based on his home network. This leads to the incoming call being as costly as Rs. 12.60 for national roamers and about Rs. 60 for international roamers for each minute.         
 
Date 5/7/2002        
AirTel starts operations in Kerala         
AirTel enters Kerala as fourth cellular operator. It has erected a world-class high quality network in over 80 towns in Kerala on day one.Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group Managing Director of Bharti Enterprises, said during the launch on Thursday, "This is one of the fastest roll-outs in the history of telecom in India. Our customers across the length and breadth of the country may speak in different languages, but are joined together by one brand - AirTel''.  With the launch, subscribers in Kerala would be able to use extensive roaming facility spanning 16 States.The Kerala operation has a project cost of Rs 200 crore.Bharti's new switching centre in Kerala has a current capacity to handle one lakh customers and is highly scalable. AirTel will also bring to its customers in Kerala 34 exclusive one-stop mobile shops where they can avail of all services including purchase of mobile phones, getting new connections, subscribe to value-added services and payment of bills.         
 
Date 5/7/2002       
COAI disappointed at TRAI's orders       
COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) is disappointed at the revision in monthly rentals for WLL (Wireless in local loop) limited mobility services announced by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India). It stated that by abstaining from prescribing either a ceiling or a floor in the monthly rental, consumer interest has been sidelined, as there is no protection to the consumer from an upward revision in tariffs at any time. The regulator should minimally lock in the new tariff for the entire tenure of the WLL licence, it has said. "Further there is an apprehension among the industry that the WLL operators, who would be offering a competitive mobile service under the more advantageous terms and conditions of the fixed service licence as against GSM operators who paid hefty sums for licences, may indulge in predatory pricing and anti-competitive practices. This would prove seriously detrimental to the competitive landscape and adversely impact the growth of the sector,''.       
 
Date 4/7/2002        
AirTel cuts mobile tariffs in Delhi by 15% to 30%         
AirTel has introduced three new tariff plans for subscribers in Delhi that could result in lowering of  costs by 15% to 30%. All existing plans will be abolished from July 13. The first plan is aimed at those who receive more calls. For a monthly rental of Rs 495, incoming calls are billed at one rupee a minute and outgoing at Rs 2.50. Plan two has a rental of Rs 245 a month. Both incoming and outgoing calls will cost Rs 2.40 a minute. This plan also provides calls at 50 paise a minute at nights and on Sundays. The third plan has a rental of Rs 295 with both incoming and outgoing at about Rs 2 a minute. The plan also provides for discounts of between 10-30% to high users.         
 
Date 4/7/2002        
TRAI slashed WLL monthly rentals        
TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has slashed the monthly rentals for WLL(Wireless in Local Loop) to Rs 200. The rentals will be effective from Thursday, July 4th. The monthly rental is specified as part of the standard tariff package, which is mandatory. Also the service provider will be able to offer alternative tariff packages.TRAI stipulated that if the handset is provided by the service provider, then the payment for that handset can be taken either as a refundable deposit with a ceiling of Rs 6,000 or as an additional monthly rental ceiling amount of Rs 50. The decision is in line with the demands of the basic operators who had claimed that the high rentals were taking limited mobility beyond the reach of the common man.        

Last year TRAI had specified a floor of Rs 450 and a ceiling of Rs 550 per month as rentals for limited mobility. This was opposed by the department of communications, the standing committee on information technology and telecommunications and various consumers groups. Explaining the rationale behind departing from its earlier decision, TRAI said " last year the thrust was to encourage efficiency and growth of the service while not giving the incumbent opportunity to use its market dominance while in the current scenario, wherein the cost estimates of the emerging competitors are already below those of the dominant incumbent, the latter's ability to put competitors at any serious disadvantage seems to have been fairly restrained. The authority has considered not to prescribe any floor and allow competitors to work effectively," Trai said, adding that it would monitor the situation against predatory pricing.      

Companies to gain from this order are BSNL, MTNL, Reliance, Tata Teleservices, Shyam Telecom and Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd.        
 

Date 3/7/2002        
BPL offers M-com application        
BPL Mobile and Citibank have joined hands to launch a M-com application for electronic recharge for BPL Mobile's MOTS (pre-paid) cards. This will enable MOTS subscribers to instantly recharge their pre-paid cards through Citibank credit cards. The facility will be commercially launched on July 7th. According to Mr. Deepak Varma, president and COO, BPL Mobile, Mumbai, the company expects that 5% of Mots subscribers will use this services in the first quarter of its launch.         
 
Date 3/7/2002         
Bharti launched cellular services in Tamil Nadu         
Bharti launched its ‘Airtel’ service in Tamil Nadu today  with a switch capacity of one lakh customers. Airtel would start operations in more than 55 towns and cities in the state, including Coimbatore and Tirupur in the first phase.         
 
Date 2/7/2002          
Bharti mobile service in TN and Kerala this week          
Bharti Tele-Ventures will launch its cellular operations in Tamil Nadu and Kerala on July 3rd  and July 4th respectively. These services will be offered by Bharti's fully owned subsidiary, Bharti Cellular Ltd, which has telecom licences for these states. Bharti will launch eight more GSM mobile networks by July 15.        
 
Date 2/7/2002          
Samsung  may double 2002 handset investment          
South Korea's Samsung Electronics said it may double spending on mobile phone production this year to boost output, defying worries about market saturation and consumer reluctance to upgrade handsets. The world's third-largest handset maker raised its 2002 mobile phone sales and market share forecasts last month and analysts said it should meet its targets with slick marketing, quick customer response and sexy colour screens.           
 
 
Cellular News: Apr. - Jun. 2002 
Cellular News: Jan. - Mar. 2002
Cellular News: Oct. - Dec. 2001 
Cellular News: July - Sept. 2001 
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
 
Back