Cellular News
Date: 31/12/2003
Cellular service providers optimistic about 2004
Cellular service providers like Airtel, Hutch and IDEA are quite optimistic about 2004 and are formulating new schemes and plans for the coming year. IDEA Cellular Ltd. is planning a public offering to capitalise on the stock market. It has over 2 million users. Hutch is also planning a local listing next year and has around 4 million cellular subscribers. The company is planning to add 170 cell sites and improve the speed of its data services in Mumbai. Hutch would invest $55 million in 2004 in order to increase its capacity in Delhi and NCR. The Reliance group aims at increasing its market share three times by making the services cheaper further. Reliance has invested around $2.85 billion in a 85,000 km fibre-optic network all across the country and offers services in 700 towns and cities. 
 
Date: 29/12/2003
Airtel & Hutch match roaming rates
After Reliance dropped national roaming rates to Rs.1.99 per minute for outgoing calls last week, Hutch followed a day later. Now  Airtel has also announced dropping roaming rates to Rs.1.99 per minute for an outgoing call for its post-paid subscribers. The difference is that Hutch will charge Rs.25/month as roaming rental plus Rs.3/day during roaming calls while Airtel would not charge any monthly rental but levy Rs. 5/day for roaming, subject to a maximum of Rs.25. Although these rates might get revised once TRAI introduces the new Access Deficit Charges (ADC).
 
Date: 27/12/2003
Telecom companies to safeguard national security first
Telecom companies seeking a hike in their foreign investment limit to 74% will be asked by the government to make specific amendments in their Articles of Associations for addressing the national security concerns. A mandatory clause would be introduced to ensure that the management control remains with the Indian promoter. The amended Articles of Association will also include provisions that allow the Indian promoter to nominate majority of the board members. It may also empower an Indian promoter with 26% direct holding to appoint CEO. Also foreign shareholders will need to collectively hold at least 75% stake to attempt any further amendments in future.
 
Date: 27/12/2003
Bharti share price touched an all-time high
Bharti share price touched an all-time high at Rs.112.40 on December 26th on BSE. Eight years old Bharti Televentures has also made it to the top 10 companies on BSE in terms of market capitalisation of Rs.19,701.29 crore. The ESOPs made 160 of its employees, millionaires.
 
Date: 27/12/2003
AirTel to buy BPL mobile's Mumbai circle
According to industry sources Bharti Enterprises is close to buy BPL mobile's Mumbai circle for Rs.443 crore. The sources claim that part of the earnest money has already changed hands. The deal will be completed and announced only when the Cabinet decision allowing intra-circle acquisitions will be formally notified which has to resolve the spectrum issue first. Bharti has recently entered into an agreement to buy 27.5% stake in Hexacom, Rajasthan also. 
 
Date: 24/12/2003
Government pays cellular companies to withdraw suit
Communications Minister Arun Shourie announced that the government would reduce its revenue share by 2% across all categories for operators whether cellular, basic or unified. This would cost the government Rs. 885 crore annually. Cellular operators, however, will get an additional 2% cut in revenue share in view of the heavy licence fee paid by them and to offset the revenue loss arising over competition from WLL rivals. The GSM operators have in return decided to withdraw cases against the government in the Supreme Court. Shourie also said the government would soon increase the foreign investment ceiling in the telecom sector to 74%. 
 
Date: 24/12/2003
Alcatel to manufacture GSM handsets in India
Alcatel would be the first multinational to manufacture handsets in India. The company has decided to manufacture GSM handsets in India for which the market size is estimated to be Rs.6,000 crore per annum. Alcatel has shifted its headquarters for the Indian subcontinent from Paris to Delhi. Mr. Ravi Sharma will be MD and VP for Indian subcontinent. Alcatel is negotiating with Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) for manufacturing various handsets models in India. Alcatel will be transferring its technology to ITI. It was also first multinational to transfer switching technology when it trusted ITI some twenty years ago and around 50% of BSNL's fixed-line network is based on Alcatel technology. Alcatel is the fifth-largest GSM handset manufacturer in the world. It manufactures between 12 million and 15 million handsets every year. On the infrastructure side, Alcatel is the largest telecom manufacturer in the world, with a turnover of more than E16 billion.
 
Date: 24/12/2003
MTNL offers free incoming while roaming
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited announced free incoming calls for its Dolphin cellular subscribers while roaming all over India.Outgoing calls are charged as per the home network charges of the visited locations and no extra roaming charges. MTNL Dolphin is having a free all-India roaming with BSNL including the remotest places and all national highways.
 
Date: 24/12/2003
10 digit numbers recommended for WiLL subscribers
TRAI has recommended to DoT that the numbering scheme for fully mobile services provided by Basic operators, now unified telecom access licence holders, should be at the same level (level 9) as that of the cellular subscribers ie. a ten digit number, beginning with 9. Till now limited mobile services were part of basic telecom services and subscribers of these services provided by Reliance Infocomm, Tata, MTNL, HFCL, Shyam and BSNL had eight digit numbers, while cellular services subscribers had ten digit numbers beginning with '9'. The regulator has also recommended that the numbering scheme for limited mobility services, if some still remain in this category, should be such that they can be easily distinguished from fixed or full mobile services by customers. It should not be difficult to differentiate between CDMA-based mobile services and fixedline services for the purpose of interconnection and carriage charges also.
 
Date: 20/12/2003
RPG Cellular exits
RPG is divesting its 79.24% stake in RPG Cellular to C.Sivasankaran's Sterling group for Rs.209 crore in an all-cash deal. RPG Cellular operates mobile services in Chennai while Aircel Ltd. provides services in Tamil Nadu. The Sterling group had acquired Vodafone's 20.76% stake in RPG Cellular for $7m in June this year. The acquisition is based on Rs.390 crore enterprise valuation of RPG Cellular which implies $412 a subscriber. The buyout of RPG Cellular will make Aircel the leading mobile services provider in the Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Under the deal, all RPG Cellular assets, customers and employees will be transferred to the Sterling group.
 
Date: 19/12/2003
Gartner has predicted 96% growth in cellular connections by next year end
Gartner has predicted 96% growth in cellular connections by next year end. Number of cellular connections may touch 56m. Cellular penetration is still very low in India at 2.7%. It is expected to reach 10% by 2008. Nokia is the largest handset vendor in India with a market share of 32.6%, followed by Samsung with 29.6% and LG 22.8% market share (GSM plus CDMA). In GSM segment alone, Nokia commands 57-60% market share while Samsung has 17%, Motorola 5.5%, Panasonic 3.8%, Sony Ericsson 2.6% and Siemens 1.4% market share. The total number of handsets sold in third quarter this year is 5.8m. 
 
Date: 19/12/2003
Reliance slashed roaming tariffs
Reliance Infocomm introduced nationwide roaming at local call rates which are 70% lower than GSM roaming charges. It will charge Rs.1.99 a minute for both incoming and outgoing roaming calls in Rs.149/249 plans. Those who pay 40 paise for local calls for the first 400 minutes, will pay same while roaming. GSM subscribers pay Rs.3.45 per minute plus the STD charge, ranging from Rs.5.45 to Rs.7.45, although intra-regional roaming does not attract the roaming charge (Rs. 3.45). The charges would be applicable for calls to and from all service providers - GSM, CDMA and landlines.
 
Date: 18/12/2003
Delhi is cellular capital of the country too
Delhi's two mobile operators crossed subscriber base of 1m. Airtel has 1.3m cellular subscribers and Hutch has just crossed 1m subscribers in Delhi. Delhi was also the first state where cellphones outnumbered landlines and has the highest subscriber base at 2.81m subscribers, followed by Mumbai with 2.37m subscribers. Hutch now plans to invest Rs.250 crore in Delhi next year to increase cell sites from 600 to 800, triple SMS handling capacity with the installation of new SMSC and enhance network capacity from 38,000 to 50,000 Erlang. Nationwide,  the total subscriber base of GSM services reached 20.7m while CDMA has reached 7.56m according to statistics released by COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) and ABTO(Association of Basic Telecom Operators).
 
Date: 6/12/2003
Cellphones in shortage worldwide for Christmas demands
Christmas sales are expected to be record high this year as the global economy recovers and a variety of low-priced handsets are being offered by the companies. According to industry sources the handset companies will not be able to meet the demand in most regions of the world as they are short of components. The demand is already more than the supplies in emerging markets like Russia and India as well as in saturated markets of US, Europe and Japan where consumers are exchanging old models for feature rich new ones with color displays, cameras etc. 
 
Date: 5/12/2003
IDEA Cellular to go for public offering
IDEA Cellular, joint venture between TATAs, AV Birla Group and AT&T has decided to go for a public offering in the next quarter. The company has appointed DSP Merrill Lynch and J.M. Morgan Stanley to manage the issue through a book-building process. 
According to industry sources, the issue size will be above Rs.1,000 crore. After the company's successful completion of its Rs.5,000 crore financial closure, the process has started for the next round of equity as well as debt financing for additional expansion of IDEA Cellular Ltd. 
 
Date: 4/12/2003
BPL buys out AT&T's 49% stake in JV
BPL Mobile has bought AT&T's 49% stake in BPL Cellular. There is no official confirmation on the value of the deal. Estimates vary from Rs.24 cr. to Rs.200 cr. The company's total debt is around Rs.1200-1600 cr. which is to be taken into account for its valuation. BPL Communications holds  51% stake in BPL Cellular while AT&T held the rest. BPL Mobile group has 60.35% equity in BPL Communications. Other investors in BCL are AIG Asia Infrastructure Fund which holds close to 17.5%, Telecom Venture group (TVG) which holds about 7.5%, and CDC which holds about 7.5%. BPL Cellular operates cellular services in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala whereas the operator in Mumbai is BPL Mobile. BPL Communications holds 74% in BPL Mobile, while France Telecom holds 26%. 
 
Date: 3/12/2003
Cheaper flip-phones from BenQ and DBTEL
Taiwan's $3.4 billion BenQ, world's sixth largest mobile phone manufacturer and Chinese DBTEL brings cheaper flip-phones in Indian market. This segment of foldable handsets constitutes 20% of the market and is dominated by the number two mobile handset company in India, Samsung. BenQ has introduced two new flip-phone models S630i and S620i which are supposed to be unbreakable and rugged. BenQ entered Indian market two months back and is targetting 4% market share in first year of operations.
 
Date: 3/12/2003
TCIL commissioning telecom projects in 20 countries
Telecom Consultants India Limited (TCIL) is commissioning telecom projects in 20 countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Ethiopia,  Botswana, several countries in Africa and the Gulf region. It has recently installed mobile telephony projects in Bhutan and Nepal based on GSM technology. TCIL would also provide maintenance support for the project. In Nepal, TCIL is also a GSM mobile service provider along with MTNL and BSNL.The company expects a turnover of more than Rs.800 crore during the current financial year.
 
Date: 3/12/2003
TRAI report on the performance of telecom industry
According to TRAI's report on the performance of the telecom industry, (Indian Telecom Services - Performance Indicators July-Sept '03,),  MOU (minutes of usage) in the pre-paid segment has grown by 22%, which is more than the post-paid cellular services (15%). on all-India basis increasing the the pre-paid ARPU (average revenue per user) by 8% during the July-September '03 quarter while the ARPU for post-paid has not changed. The growth in the cellular service market continues to be driven by the pre-paid subscriber base, which was 80% of total cellular subscribers at the end of September '03. The effective cost of a local call per minute in cellular service as per the minimum tariff plan available during July-September '03 was only 77 paise as compared to Rs 1.12 during the previous quarter.

The basic service sector has shown 6.7% growth in subscriber base. Total number of PCOs in the country has gone up to 16,55,980 as on September 30, '03. The contribution of BSNL is 80%, that of MTNL is 13% and other private operators is 7%. The report states that 85% of the villages have a VPT(village public telephones). There exists a total of 5,16,887 VPTs in India
 

Date: 3/12/2003
Will IDEA buy Escotel ?
Tata group plans to launch full-mobility services in UP-west, Haryana and Kerala through Tata Teleservices. This may affect IDEA Cellular's plans to acquire Escotel which operates cellular services in the same circles, since Tatas are on boards of both IDEA Cellular and Tata Teleservices. Instead, IDEA Cellular may now shell out  Rs.204 crore to DoT for a new Mumbai licence under the unified regime. Also some analysts believe that buying an existing three-circle operation like Escotel that is generating EBIDTA makes more sense than investing afresh in new unified licences in the same circles, since the premium 900 MHz radio spectrum will not be available in these circles. Although any decision on the Escotel deal can be taken only after assessing the impact of unified licensing on Escotel's enterprise valuation which will get diluted in unified regime. Pre-unification, Escotel's enterprise valuation was pegged at Rs.1,200 crore. With its accumulated debt at around Rs.800 crore, Escotel's net equity valuation drops to Rs.400 crore.
 
Date: 2/12/2003
Bharti may acquire Escotel and Spice
Escotel and Spice are two GSM operators whose promoters want to exit telecom business. Escotel operates in UP(West), Haryana and Kerala and has more than seven lakh subscribers. Spice is providing services in Karnataka and Punjab and has around eight lakh subscribers. Escotel is currently negotiating with IDEA Cellular without much progress. The exclusivity of its MoU with IDEA will expire on December 15th. Nandas hold 51% in Escotel and First Pacific is the other major stake holder. In Spice, B.K. Modi is the main Indian investor with 22% stake while other major stake holders are Asian Infrastructure Fund, DARP and Distacom.

Bharti presently operates in 15 circles and has letters of intent (LoI) for unified licences in five more circles. The company is considering acquisitions in various circles. Previously acquisition of an operator by another operator providing services in the same circle was not permitted. Recently, the Cabinet approved intra-circle mergers. However TRAI has not yet issued clear guidelines on the modalities of these mergers specially the issue of spectrum. 
 

Date: 2/12/2003
Pre-paid card for Rs. 99
BPL Mobile lowered the entry barrier to Rs.99 for a SIM card across all its circles. The company intends to expand the mobile base by making it more affordable for a new section of people. BPL has completed its network upgradation and has invested Rs. 200 crore in the Mumbai network. It has put up 140 new switches in the city which takes the total to 500 BTS in Mumbai. It has also invested in the IN platform/switches that are used for pre-paid services. The upgraded network can now accommodate a million subscribers. BPL has set an ambitious target of 1m subscribers for Mumbai by March 2004. The company is working on a common tariff across all its circles. It currently operates in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. 
 
Date: 1/12/2003
Handsets may become cheaper
TRAI has suggested reduction in the basic customs duty (BCD) on mobile handsets from 10% to 5% and a withdrawal of the 4% special additional duty (SAD). The regulator has sent its recommendation to DoT which, in turn, has been forwarded to the Finance Ministry. Currently, the effective duty on mobile handsets is 14.4% (10% BCD plus 4% SAD). A duty cut would help improve teledensity and reduce grey market. The recommendation to abolish SAD was also made by the Kelkar Committee on indirect taxes. 
 
Date: 30/11/2003
Legal hurdle in TATA's bid to consolidate group holdings in Idea Cellular
TATA's bid to consolidate group holdings in Idea Cellular under Tata Televentures Holdings (TTVHL) has a legal hurdle. TTVHL is the telecom investment holding company of the Tata group. Tata's bid to buy out AIG's 1.8% stake in Idea Cellular by invoking Section 395 of the Indian Companies Act, 1956 and route it within TTVHL has failed. Since AIG (Mauritius) feels Section 395 is not applicable here, and has challenged the Tata buyout demand in the Delhi High Court.The acquisition of AIG's 1.8 % stake will increase the Tata stake in Idea Cellular to 33.33 %, which is the agreed ownership threshold among the three equal shareholders - the Tatas, the AV Birla group and AT&T Wireless. This acquisition is said to expedite the consolidation of all telecom-related Tata group holdings within TTVHL and influence possible ownership re-alignments in Idea Cellular.
 
Date: 28/11/2003
TRAI considering new numbering system for telephones
TRAI is considering a change in the numbering system for telephones in view of the unified licence regime. The regulator will soon come out with a resolution on the issue.
 
Date: 27/11/2003
Samsung targeting top position in cell phones
Samsung is targeting top position in cell phones in India under the unified license regime as it is catering to both GSM and CDMA categories in the country for quite sometime now. The company entered India three years back and feels that the market has tremendous growth potential as both technologies are set for expansion. Samsung is planning to launch 10-11 new models over the next 12 months.
 
Date: 25/11/2003
Airtel adds around 10,000 subscribers everyday
Airtel is adding around 10,000 subscribers everyday for 100 days now. It has become the first GSM operator to cross the 5m subscriber mark. AirTel has a market share of more than 25%. The company currently operates its mobile services in 15 circles, out of which it is in leadership position in 6 circles, Delhi, Punjab, Karnataka, Chennai, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. It is also awaiting new licences for six more areas - Rajasthan, UP (East), West Bengal, Andaman Nicobar, Orissa, Bihar and J&K. The company plans to invest up to Rs.700 crore for setting up network and infrastructure in six new circles and expects to launch services within six months of getting the licence.
 
Date: 25/11/2003
Telephone numbering may change post unification
Telephone numbering system in the country may undergo a major change after unified licensing along with the interconnection usage charge (IUC) regime. Till now WLL services using CDMA technology were part of basic services. They were awarded eight digit numbers and did not form part of the "9" series that was reserved for mobile services with an exception that "95" series was reserved for making calls to neighbouring SDCAs, such as from Delhi to Gurgaon. Similarly, the IUC regime for basic telecom services allowed them to interconnect at the short distance charging area (SDCA) level, while GSM-based mobile service providers were allowed to interconnect only at long distance charging area (LDCA). Each LDCA comprises several SDCAs. Under the new unified telecom access regime, it is not clear whether interconnection would be at LDCA level or SDCA level. Under the existing numbering scheme, it becomes difficult for DoT to differentiate mobile calls from fixed calls for the purpose of calculating access deficit charge (ADC). Also the unified access operators need not have accounting separation for different services. Payment of any ADC to such operators could be misused by these operators to cross subsidise the mobile services. The regulator will have to change the interconnection regime completely. 
 
Date: 25/11/2003
Reliance pays Rs.79.8 cr for West Bengal
Reliance Infocomm has paid Rs.79.8 crore to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for migrating to a unified access licence in West Bengal circle that includes Kolkata.All SDCAs in West Bengal, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, UP-East and Bihar will be upgraded to full-mobility capability from 24th midnight. In all Reliance Infocomm paid DoT Rs.1,542 crore migration fee (including Rs. 526 crore penalty) to earn full-mobility rights across its 17-circle footprint.
 
Date: 25/11/2003
LoIs issued for new licences by DoT
Under the Unified access regime, DoT issued LoIs (Letters of Intent) to Bharti Group and Tatas for all the circle they applied for but held back decision on West Bengal circle. Bharti bagged the LoI for five circles of Rajasthan, Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh (East) and Jammu & Kashmir marking the company's presence virtually throughout India except North-Eastern region. Tatas have been issued LoI for seven circles of Kolkata, Rajasthan, Bihar, Orissa, UP (East), Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. 
 
Date: 24/11/2003
Aircel takes over RPG Cellular
Leading GSM cellular operator in the Tamil Nadu, Aircel Ltd. which is part of C. Sivasankaran’s Sterling group is all set to take over RPG Cellular, second largest operator in the Chennai circle. The Sterling group is likely to pay Rs.209 crore for the 67% stake held by RPG Enteprises in RPG Cellular. Cellphone UK, AIG and IFC Washington are the other stakeholders in RPG Cellular. Mr.  Sivasankaran had picked up Vodafone UK’s 20.76% stake in RPG Cellular for an estimated $7m in June this year. Aircel is the leading cellular operator in the Tamil Nadu circle with a subscriber base of almost 3.6 lakh while RPG Cellular is the second largest cellular operator in the Chennai circle with a subscriber base of a little over 2 lakh. 
 
Date: 22/11/2003
Alcatel to tranfer technology to ITI
French mobile equipment manufacturer, Alcatel may enter into a transfer of technology (TOT) with state-owned telecom equipment maker, ITI for the manufacture of its entire range of mobile handsets in India over the next six months. Alcatel and ITI already have a TOT agreement for the manufacturing of soft switches in India. Alcatel is said to be looking at selling around 15 to 20 million handsets per year in the Indian market. 
 
Date: 22/11/2003
GSM handsets to be manufactured in India
Several manufacturers like Nokia, Siemens, Ericsson, LG are considering the option of GSM handsets manufacturing in India which will reduce the handset cost considerably. The reason behind this interest is one, the significant growth of the market and secondly the duty on components has been completely removed.

According to TEMA ( Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association) the current telecom equipment market size is Rs.15,000 crore in sales which is targeted to grow to Rs.50,000 crore in the next two years. There are over 120 companies under TEMA including global names such as ITI, Siemens, HFCL, and United Telecom. Many telecom equipment makers in the country are running at barely 30% to 35% production capacity. TEMA suggests that adding GSM handset manufacturing will help increase utilisation. 

Currently locally made products are used in about 90% of state-run BSNL and MTNL's networks, but only a small portion of private players use this equipment. Several companies including LG and Kyocera make CDMA handsets in the country for  BSNL, MTNL and Tatas. Others such as ARM, HFCL, United Telecom, and Accel Telecom are all involved in the manufacturing of CDMA handsets in India.

According to TEMA most of the firms here were not performing well due to under utilisation of their manufacturing capacity and the fact that there are no vendor financing schemes available here.
 

Date: 21/11/2003
TRAI and telecom operators discuss IUC
TRAI held a review meeting with all telecom players to ensure timely implementation of its revised interconnection usage charge (IUC) regime, scheduled to come into effect from December 1. The meeting was attended by BSNL, MTNL, Reliance, Bharti, Tatas, BPL, Data Access, VSNL and Shyam telecom.
 
Date: 21/11/2003
DoT may auction fresh allocation of spectrum 
DoT has ruled out the tendering route for issuing new licences under the unified access regime. But fresh allocation of radio spectrum may be auctioned by the government. Tatas and Bharti have already applied for full-mobility licences under the unified access regime and more players are likely to follow. Tatas have applied with DoT for 7 new licences - UP (East), West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Orissa and Himachal Pradesh while Bharti wants six new licences of Rajasthan, J&K, UP-East, West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to start its services. 
 
Date: 21/11/2003
LG targets a turnover of Rs.600 crore in mobile division
LG Electronics, fifth largest cellphone manufacturer in the world, is targeting a turnover of Rs.600 crore from its mobile division in its first year of operations. On the official opening of mobile division, the company launched two GSM handsets for Indian market - G5300 for Rs.13,290 and G7030 for Rs.18,990. LG plans to import handsets from Korea and has set target to sell 5 lakh units in its first year of operations. The consumer durables major will be using the direct dealer channel cutting across different layers like national and regional distributors with plans to appoint 2000 dealers within the first quarter of 2004.
 
Date: 20/11/2003
Reliance's full-mobility barred in West Bengal by DoT
DoT has barred Reliance Infocomm from offering full-mobility and roaming services to its subscribers in West Bengal including  Kolkata since the company has paid  Rs.79 crore less towards migration to unified licence. Reliance Infocomm has paid Rs.1,542 crore instead of the Rs.1,622 crore it was asked to pay DoT for migrating its 17 circles under unified access licence. The company paid Rs.79 crore less as an equivalent sum its subsidiary, Reliable Internet, had paid DoT for a fourth cellular licence in Kolkata. Reliance Infocomm has asked DoT to adjust this fourth cellular licence payout from its current migration dues as a cellular licencee, Reliable Internet isn’t required to pay any additional entry fee to migrate to a unified access licence. 
 
Date: 20/11/2003
BSNL to discard restructuring plan
BSNL is likely to discard its restructuring plan, based on a management consultant’s proposal, to split the organisation into three separate units according to the types of services offered. According to the BSNL proposal, the company would have been split into three separate strategic business units — long-distance, basic services and value-added services. However, under the proposed new unified telecom licence regime, all the services can be operated under one licence. The government has already merged basic and cellular services under one licence — unified access licence. DoT has amended the new telecom policy 1999, to include unified telecom licence and unified telecom access licence. TRAI is currently working out modalities and scope of the unified telecom licence which will include all the telecom services — long-distance, basic and cellular services, under its ambit. 
 
Date: 19/11/2003
Price wars start under unified regime
Under the unified licence which has ended the discrimination among GSM and CDMA operators on technological grounds, IDEA Cellular is the first company to announce cuts and restructuring of its tariff in Gujarat. It has announced tariff plans in both prepaid and post-paid segments which are user-oriented and more cost-effective. The company has announced an entry fee of as low as Rs.99 in the pre-paid segment and outgoing calls at a rate of Rs.1.49 per minute. Although the schemes announced by Idea are more economical than that of Reliance, it has to compete with the scheme of Tata Teleservices. Though the rental or the minimum expenses on a Tata connection is Rs.295 with outgoings at 70 paisa (to GSM and WiLL) and 80 paisa (to PSTN), its biggest advantage is its pulse rate which is 15 seconds where the cost of a call can be as low as even 20 paisa depending on its duration. The industry over the next few months is likely to see more competition especially with the roaming and the messaging service no longer remaining a privilege of the GSM service providers. 
 
Date: 19/11/2003
Worldwide mobile phone shipments grew by 21.2%
By IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone quarterly review report,  worldwide mobile phone shipments grew by 21.2% over last year. This has been attributed to the strong demand from first-time buyers in emerging markets like China, India, and Central Europe and replacement buyers in mature markets like Europe and North America. According to the report,  replacement sales in mature markets have been sparked by camera phones and color screens. 
 
Date: 18/11/2003
Supreme Court refuses stay on unified licence
Supreme Court posted the interim application of the COAI for final hearing in the first week of December but refused to order status quo on service-specific licensing regime as sought by the firms. Cellular firms had sought a direction to the government for maintaining status quo regarding the number and type of cellular mobile licences issued separately or along with any other type of licence. 
 
Date: 17/11/2003
Cellular operators seek stay on unified licence
Cellular operators may approach TDSAT to seek stay on the unified access licence regime. The government has amended NTP 99 to include two new licences — unified access service licence and unified telecom licence. The cellular operators say the government could not issue the unified access licences as the Supreme Court has not yet given its verdict on the legality of wireless in local loop (WLL) services. A section of cellular operators was against going to the TDSAT as they were of the view that unified access licence was not a telecom issue instead It was a legal issue in which the government has amended the existing policy even as the operators are in the Supreme Court. 
 
Date: 16/11/2003
Full roaming for Reliance's Delhi & Mumbai subscribers
Reliance Infocomm has started offering seamless roaming to its Delhi and Mumbai subscribers from 15th night. Reliance IndiaMobile subscribers in the remaining circles will be provided with full mobility progressively over the next 72 hours. This follows the company getting unified services licence which allows it to offer seamless roaming services. 
 
Date: 15/11/2003
Government has allowed full mobility to WiLL service providers
Government has allowed basic service providers to convert their WiLL services into fully mobile services by amending their existing licences to a single unified licence. The companies to gain are Reliance Infocomm, Tatas teleservices, Shyam Telecom and HFCL. All these players will now be governed by the final guidelines of unified licence regime. This is announced after these companies paid up the desired additional licence fee to migrate to the unified access licence regime. 

With this millions of limited mobility subscribers will now be able to use their cellphones outside their registered area. For example, Delhi subscribers of Reliance will be able to use their limited mobility phones in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Noida without attracting STD rates. Their calls will not drop when they cross Delhi border and they will not need to register in the visiting area to get a new number and re-activate their phones. WiLL subscribers will also get roaming service, if they so desire, on the same number, without the hassle of re-registering in the visiting area like other GSM cellular subscribers.
 

Date: 14/11/2003
Shyam Telelink pays Rs.2.96 cr to migrate to the unified licence regime
Shyam Telelink, a basic telecom service provider in Rajasthan, paid an additional licence fee of Rs.2.96 crore to migrate to the unified access licence regime. Shyam Telelink has more than 1.2 lakh subscribers of WLL-M services. Now, it would offer them full mobile services. The company is already operating cellular mobile services in the state. It is the largest cellular operator in Rajasthan with close to two lakh subscribers.
 
Date: 14/11/2003
Cellular service providers to focus on data applications and value-added services
As Reliance Infocomm and Tata Teleservices become full-fledged mobile operators, roaming will no longer be the main differentiator. The service providers are focusing  on data applications and value-added services. GSM cellular operators like Bharti and Hutchison are enhancing their video, data and other GPRS (Global Packet Radio service) services. Bharti is believed to have already started trials on 'Edge' to improve its data services and launch new multimedia services. Voice contributes about 90-95% of mobile business today but data is expected to take up one fourth of it in the next 2-3 years. The margins are also estimated to be higher in data-based applications. 
 
Date: 14/11/2003
Reliance plans 2,000 retail outlets by next year
Reliance Infocomm plans 2,000 WebWorld retail outlets all across the country by next year. Currently it has 225 such outlets. Running on franchise model, Reliance WebWorlds are a countrywide network of retail outlets offering a host of communication and information services. These stores will also double up as direct sales point and customer interaction point for all Reliance Infocomm’s products and services. 
 
Date: 13/11/2003
HFCL applies for unified telecom licence 
Basic telecom operator in Punjab, HFCL has also applied for unified telecom licence. It is not required to pay an additional licence fee as it has already paid a licence fee that is more than the fee paid by the fourth cellular operator. 
 
Date: 13/11/2003
TRAI report in 6 months
TRAI will submit its recommendations to the government on unification of long-distance, internet and other services within the next six months. TRAI would be issuing a consultation paper on the subject during this week. The proposed licence would include all the services that are not covered by the current 'Unified Licence' which seeks to unify only the access (basic and cellular) services. The final unified licence would not have any geographic limitations. 
 
Date: 13/11/2003
Govt issued guidelines for unified licence
The government has issued guidelines for unified licence regime where telecom operators need not hold separate licences for providing cellular and basic services. According to the guidelines, operators migrating to the new regime will now be able to provide both cellular and basic services in specified areas using a technology of their choice. The guidelines also state that the operators giving facilities that allow limited mobility subscribers to roam outside the circle where he is registered, will have to pay a penalty. 
While cellular operators will be free to start basic service in their area of operation, fixed-line service providers will have to pay a fees to migrate to the new regime that will allow them to offer the cellular or limited mobility services.
 
Date: 12/11/2003
Touchtel expanding in  TN and Karnataka
Touchtel, the private fixed line service provider from Bharti Televentures, is expanding its land line base in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka circles. The company hopes to take the customer base to 2.5 lakh by March 2004. In Karnataka circle, the company has a base of 70,000 customers, which is expected to touch one lakh by March. Besides PCOs, the company has identified thrust segments like SMEs, commercial establishments and residential lines for expanding the market. Driving the new additions are the upcoming IT hubs like Siruseri software park and Mahindra Industrial Park. 
 
Date: 11/11/2003
SC refuses stay on WLL 
Supreme Court refused to immediately stay TDSAT order that allowed WLL services to basic telecom operators in the country.
However, the court issued a notice to the Centre on a petition by the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) challenging the TDSAT order on the ground that it infringed the National Telecom Policy-99 and their service agreement. There has been intense controversy over WLL services and over the government's decision to allow basic operators to offer limited mobility for WLL services. On August 8, by a majority verdict TDSAT allowed WLL services for basic operators. However, a minority judgment by TDSAT chairman and former Supreme Court judge D P Wadhwa termed WLL services as illegal. The petitioner said Wadhwa's judgment should be upheld as it was the correct interpretation of the NTP-99. 
 
Date: 11/11/2003
Hutch & Citadel to introduce fleet management solutions
Hutchison Essar and Citadel Health, an associate company of the Apollo Hospitals group jointly launched a mobile fleet management solution for logistics companies, hospitals and FMCG companies. The services based on global positioning system (GPS) and GSM as a backbone, have been implemented for the Apollo Hospitals to track in real time its ambulances and guide them through traffic. Hutch is talking to the police department, courier services and FMCG companies to offer the solution. 

The software for the product has been developed by Citadel Health which is involved in the design, development and implementation of information systems for the healthcare industry including pharmacies and insurance companies and their third party associates. V-Track, the product developed by Citadel, integrates advanced vehicle tracking systems with high precision maps of various cities in India. It is an interactive tool used for navigation and routing on road maps. 

Hutch also announced the launch of its new location-based service BuddyService which enables subscribers to know if their friends are in the vicinity. The company is targeting the service at SMEs with large sales force, parents of school-going children and the youth. 
 

Date: 10/11/2003
Cellular industry revenue up by 14% in Q2
Total revenues of the cellular industry increased by 14% during the second quarter of the current fiscal to Rs.1,956 crore compared to Rs.1,706 crore for the first quarter. Although the national average revenues per user (ARPU) for the industry fell around 2.8% to Rs 509 from Rs.521.6 in the previous month due to competition. Hutch (Mumbai) is on number one position when it came to circle-wise ARPUs with Rs.768 followed by Aircel (Tamil Nadu - Rs.637) and Reliance (West Bengal-Rs.625). Hutch has also reported the highest ARPUs in all the seven circles where it operates including the new south circles where it was the fourth operator. In terms of total revenues for Q2, Bharti leads with a total revenue of Rs.604.54 crore followed by Hutch (7 circles) with a revenue of Rs. 541.33 crore. Idea Cellular's total quarterly revenues stood at Rs.240.52 crore and BPL Cellular stood at Rs.176.57 crore. 
 
Date: 7/11/2003
Tata Teleservices applies for 7 circles under unified licensing
Tata Teleservices applied for seven new licences under the unified licensing regime for West Bengal (including Kolkota), UP (East), MP, Rajasthan, Bihar, Orissa and Himachal Pradesh. It has also asked DoT for LoIs for Haryana, Kerala, Punjab and UP (West) licences that it had applied for in September. Tata Tele already operates in six circles. This move will make it one of the biggest private sector telecom player in the country at par with Reliance Infocomm which operates in 17 circles next in size only to the public sector BSNL.

TRAI has indicated that the fees for new licences under the unified regime would be benchmarked to the fourth cellular operator licences. Tata Tele has also shown its willingness to pay the Rs.545 crore as determined by TRAI in its recommendations for migrating its current basic licences to unified licences.
 

Date: 6/11/2003
Reliance Infocomm's focus on data services
Reliance Infocomm is adding many rich and customised multimedia services to its applications suite. With a subscriber base of 5 million, Reliance has already stacked up around 85 data application offerings on the R-World platform. The objective is to facilitate all its Java-enabled handsets for delivering rich multimedia services to leverage its network and MMS capabilities. Every Reliance Infocomm handset comes with the pre-configured R-World button and the subscriber can avail these services free of cost. These services would be paid post March 31, 2004. R-world offers a wide range of applications including the hour to hour news updates, high quality video streaming, downloadable multilingual ring tones, seasonal updates including the festival specials. They are designed for better productivity, convenience and infotainment. 
 
Date: 5/11/2003
KPMG to find buyer for RPG cellular
The RPG group is exploring options for selling out its cellphone operations in Chennai. The task has been given to KPMG. RPG Cellular is number two in Chennai market and has 1.93 lakh subscribers. Airtel has over 2.54 lakh and BSNL around  1.09 lakh in this circle. Both AirTel and BSNL also provide mobile phone services in the Tamil Nadu circle which places these operators in a better position than RPG Cellular.
 
Date: 5/11/2003
Usha Shriram Electronics to manufacture cellular phones
Usha Shriram Electronics entered the domestic cellphone market via customised import rout and launched a series of GSM cellphones. The company is now looking for a foreign collaborator for setting up a joint venture in India to manufacture cellular phones.
 
Date: 4/11/2003
Spice Telecom to sell Karnataka operations 
Spice Telecom is looking to sell its Karnataka operations and consolidate its position in Punjab. Spice Punjab has a subscriber base of around 5.35 lakh while in Karnataka it is close to 2.18 lakh. The company plans to invest Rs.100 crore in Spice Telecom in Punjab over the next one year. Spice Telecom has already invested close to Rs.1,000 crore in Punjab while it has invested close to Rs.850 crore in Karnataka.
 
Date: 2/11/2003
COAI will not move court
GSM cellular service proviers expressed no intention to go to the court over the issue of Unified licence said COAI. Although some operators felt that the legality of the government decision is in question since the matter is pending before the courts. The Cabinet also allowed intra-circle mergers of telecom operators but with a condition that number of service providers will not fall below three in any circle and that rural telephony obligations will get transferred to the new owner. There are no rural obligations under unified licensing, should basic licensees migrate to the new regime. However, the entire spectrum would not be passed on to the merged entity. The new entity would get spectrum only as per its requirement.
 
Date: 1/11/2003
Cabinet approved unified licence
Union Cabinet approved the proposal to introduce Unified licence regime in telecom sector  which allows WiLL (Wireless in Local Loop) operators to offer fully mobile services. The companies having Unified licence will now be able to offer both mobile and fixed-line services. Issuing of the unified licence will start within a fortnight but it will take six months for WiLL operators to provide full mobility. The biggest beneficiaries of this decision are Reliance Infocomm and TATA Teleservices. But since Reliance has violated the conditions of its limited mobility licence, it will have to pay Rs.1,581 crore as penalty. The cabinet has also allowed Mergers/Acquisitions within the telecom circles. This will implicate consolidation in the industry and fewer players who can deal in volumes and have more spare money will survive. The decision has also been taken for the release of additional spectrum after TRAI frames the requisite policy. The future is expected to be of more efficient networks and the subscriber base is expected to grow to 100 million by the year 2005.
 
Date: 31/10/2003
GoM agrees to unified telecom licence 
Group of ministers (GoM) on telecom accepted all the recommendations of telecom regulator TRAI on unified licensing.
The new licensing scheme would allow telecom companies to offer cellular, WLL-M and landline services on single authorisation. Eventually other services like STD, ISD and Internet would also be allowed to a telecom company ending service specific licensing. The GoM decision will be sent to the cabinet tomorrow declared communications minister Arun Shourie after the GoM meeting. Reliance will have to pay about Rs.1,600 crore as entry fee. 
 
Date: 30/10/2003
Future phones will tune to both GSM & CDMA
According to Mr. Arun Netravali, president (emeritus) Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, in coming future cellular users need not to worry about the compatibility of their handsets with CDMA or GSM technology. Presently, a CDMA (code division multiple access) handset for example cannot be used in a GSM (global system for mobile communication) network and vice-versa. GSM and CDMA systems are competing with each other for dominating the cellular world. In near future the phones will be able to identify the technology standard being used in a specific network and tune itself to receive the signals. Mr. Netravali has more than 70 patents in the areas of computer networks to his credit. Current worldwide GSM users are 870 million as compared to CDMA's 164 million. The advantage of GSM technology is its large global foot print.
 
Date: 29/10/2003
IDEA Cellular and TATA Teleservices merger likely
If the government unifies cellular and WLL licences as per the TRAI recommendation, TATAs are likely to take the migration opportunity and go in for TATA Teleservices and IDEA Cellular merger.TATAs are to start the merger negotiations at the board level with their IDEA partners, AT&T Wireless and Aditya Birla Group. According to sources Tata Teleservices is open to pay out the proposed Rs.545 cr migration fee to earn full mobility rights, but then it would come in direct competetion with IDEA. IDEA runs cellular services in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi, while TATA Teleservices is the basic services player in the same circles. IDEA Cellular can acquire basic licences at no extra cost since the mobile licence is already a unified licence.  TATAs are likely to face stiff resistance from AT&T Wireless in attempting this merger since its holding in IDEA Cellular will get diluted.
 
Date: 29/10/2003
More than 1.5 million Diwali greeting SMS in 15 hours
More than 1.5 million Diwali greeting SMS were sent in around 15 hours on the Diwali day in nothern India. BSNL reported around 10 lakh SMS through their servers in Chandigarh, Essar and Reliance claimed around 2.5 lakh messages each. 
 
Date: 29/10/2003
Airtel re-structuring in Karnataka & AP
Airtel is re-structuring its operations in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh by breaking down the area  into several operational hubs to bring about a more customer focused approach into its operations. Andhra Pradesh has been broken down into four operational hubs namely Hyderabad city, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Warangal and Karnataka into three, Bangalore city, Hubli and Mangalore. Each hub is headed by a separate business head.
 
Date: 29/10/2003
Cellular operators move SC against TDSAT order
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against a TDSAT judgement of August permitting basic telecom operators to offer limited mobility services using wireless in local loop (WLL). COAI has sought to implement the minority judgement which declared the service illegal and said the government's decision to permit WLL-M was motivated by extraneous considerations to confer undue benefits on fixed operators. Acording to COAI , till date, no authority has shown any inclination to limit the service within the SDCA as mandated by the TDSAT.
 
Date: 28/10/2003
Either get unified licence or stay 'limited' 
Basic service providers have been offered the option of either moving towards a unified licensing regime after paying the penalty for offering service close to cellular services under basic licence or to restrict themselves to limited mobility services. Although TRAI has recommended that the move will be voluntary. The WLL players who do not wish to migrate to the full mobility regime would only be required to pay the fee for WLL with mobility strictly within SDCA as recommended by TDSAT. Basic service providers like Reliance Infocomm and Tata Telecom are clearly keen on moving towards the unified licensing regime, though moving towards this will involve paying the additional entry fee levied on them. As calculated by TRAI, Reliance will have to pay Rs.1,581 cr,  Tata will have to pay Rs.545 cr, Bharti Rs.487 cr and Shyam Telecom Rs. 3 cr for the migration to become a unified licensed operator.
 
Date: 28/10/2003
NOKIA to launch new handsets 
NOKIA to launch six new mobile handsets in next two months along with new pricing for some of the older phones. A new brand promotion strategy and expansion plans for the Nokia stores and service centres are also in place. Industry estimates attribute 60% share of India’s legal handsets market to Nokia. The Finnish company feels it is time to re-establish Nokia brand in India. The company will be doubling its dealer outlets and service centres over next six months.
 
Date: 28/10/2003
Global MMS market expected to grow to $80 billion by 2008
According to industry estimates global MMS market is expected to grow to around $80 billion by 2008. Indian operators are expecting MMS to contribute as much as 20% to 30% of their revenues in around three to four years time. MMS allows mobile phone users to incorporate sound, images, and other rich content, into their messages. With MMS, it is not only possible to send your multimedia messages from one phone to another, but also from phone to email, and vice versa.
 
Date: 27/10/2003
Cellphones out-number landline phones
If you want to reach a place, call landline number but if you want to reach a person call on his/her mobile.  This implies that a house will have one landline phone but may be 2-4 mobile phones. Hence mobile phones will out-number landline phones. This has already started happening in India. Chandigarh was the first city where the cellphone user population outnumbered landline users followed by Delhi and the next city to join the list is Bangalore within three months. Statistics show that the number of cell phone users in Bangalore is around 9.9 lakh including both GSM and CDMA, while landline users are 10.25 lakh, Touchtel and Tata Indicom included. The landline additions in Bangalore are around 5000 - 6000 a month while that of cellphone are 20,000 - 24,000.
 
Date: 27/10/2003
Cellular licence is a unified licence says TRAI
According to TRAI existing cellular licence already is a unified licence and cellular operators will not need to pay any additional entry fee for migrating to the newly proposed unified licence. The group of ministers (GoM) on telecom has agreed in principle on a new unified licensing regime although the shape of the new system is still not clear. The regulator has recommended that basic telecom operators should pay the difference between the licence fees paid by them and by the fourth cellular licensees in a circle to acquire unified licences. However, cellular operators would not be required to pay any extra entry fee because they have already been permitted to offer fixed services by using GSM technology. 

Cellular service providers were also given a number of concessions in 1999, when they migrated to the new telecom policy NTP99 and in 2000 when basic operators were allowed to provide limited mobile services. They were also permitted to provide mobile PCOs. Therefore, the cellular licences are close to basic telecom licences. Although the existing cellular licences do not permit operators to use wireline for last mile access, but none of the largest basic service licensees, Reliance and Tata (except in Andhra Pradesh) use wireline for providing last mile access, preferring to use wireless technologies for the purpose. Bharti Televentures is the only private basic telecom operator that is using only wirelines for last mile access. 
 

Date: 23/10/2003
Tariff cuts on Diwali
Most of the telecom companies are cutting tariffs for Diwali festival. Telecom traffic is usually three times higher during Diwali. With cheaper call rates, the traffic is expected to jump six times this year. BSNL, Touchtel, Airtel,  Hutch, Tata Teleservices,BPL Mobile, Reliance are all offering special packages for Diwali. BSNL has slashed international long distance (ISD) tariffs by 70% for the period between October 21 midnight and November 21. With this, a BSNL call to the UK would cost Rs.7.20 per minute, while calls to US, Canada and Europe would cost Rs. 9.60 per minute as against the regular tariff of Rs.24 per minute. Airtel is offering a rate of Rs.9.99 per minute to any country across the world for three days. Reliance is offering prizes worth Rs.10 crore through bumper draws.
 
Date: 21/10/2003
Samsung launched new handset
Samsung launched slimmest colour screen GSM mobile phone C100 targetted at the fashion conscious age group of 20-35 years,  priced at Rs.9,999. According to Samsung, C100 is the world’s slimmest colour screen mobile phone with a design philosophy inspired by Zen Minimalis. It is packed with features like 65,000 colours LCD screen, 40-chord polyphonic ring tones, dual band and GPRS and it weighs just 76 grams in two-tone silver metallic finish.
 
Date: 20/10/2003
Reliance acquired Flag
Reliance acquired undersea cable bandwidth provider Flag which makes Reliance an extremely low-cost international long distance (ILD) operator. It purchased for $207 million assets that had cost Flag $1.2 billion, and avoided an implementation time of two-three years needed to lay a fresh network of similar nature. 

Flag Telecom has one of the largest under sea cable networks in the world. Its Europe-Asia leg has 28,000 km of optical fibre submarine cable stretching from Japan to the UK with landing sites in 13 countries. Its Europe-US leg provides fully protected link between London, Paris and New York. Flag North Asia loop provides intra-regional, city-to-city connectivity between Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo and Taipei. Reliance would get all this for just $207 million. With this Reliance would be in a position to offer ISD services at very low prices. It can even offer calls to the USA, Europe and UK at Rs. 5 - 7 per minute.
 

Date: 17/10/2003
LG launches GSM mobile phones
Rs.4,500 crore LG Electronics India has entered the highly competetive GSM market with two handsets imported from Korea and priced at Rs.13,490 and Rs.18,990. The company plans to introduce 12 more models of GSM mobiles by the end of 2004. LG sees the GSM mobile as a very lucrative and fast growing market with subscriber base expected to touch 48 million by the end of 2005. 

LG will be spending close to Rs.3 crore in next 75 days for advertising and has earmarked an advertising budget of Rs.19 crores for 2004 when it will launch 12 new GSM models. The two new handsets are G 5300 and G 7030 that come with host of features like LMS (SMS with 3200 characters), MMS, GPRS, etc. LG Electronics will be using the direct dealer channel for distribution. Initially with 500 dealers, the network will increase to 2000 dealers by 2004. It will also be setting 250 service centers across India. It aims to sell 4 lakh handsets during next year and LG will be present in every price point in this market.
 
Date: 17/10/2003
IDEA Cellular to buy Escotel
IDEA cellular is all set to buy Escotel Mobile operation in a cash-cum-stock deal. Escorts holds 51% in Escotel Mobile while the balance 49% is held by First Pacific of Hong Kong. While the AT&T Wireless and the Aditya Birla group control close to 67% in IDEA, Tatas with an effective holding of 31.5% will be the main force behind the upcoming Escotel Mobile deal. AIG (Mauritius) holds a tiny 1.8% in IDEA. Escotel runs cellular services in UP(West), Kerala and Haryana. According to the owners Nandas the enterprise valuation of Escotel is Rs.1,200 crore. 
 
Date: 17/10/2003
Airtel to invest Rs.200 cr in Haryana, Punjab & Himachal
Airtel announced its plans to invest an additional Rs.200 crore in the remaining part of 2003-04 in its Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh circles. Airtel has so far invested Rs.1,000 crore in the three northern circles. This will enhance Airtel's network coverage  to 90 more towns and 800 villages, taking the total coverage to 369 towns and 3,300 villages in the region.  Airtel has over 7.50 lakh customers in the region.
 
Date: 17/10/2003
Reliance Infocomm to make profit in the very first year
Reliance Infocomm is likely to make profit in the very first year of its operations as disclosed by Reliance Industries managing director Anil Ambani. The planned capital expenditure on the Reliance Infocomm project is Rs.18,000 crore. The company has spent Rs 9,600 crore till September. The company plans to launch a pre-paid product shortly. Reliance Infocomm has a subscriber base of 4.9m. The company plans to expand its coverage to 683 cities from the current 480. 
 
Date: 17/10/2003
BSNL launches cheap mobile for students 
BSNL has launched 'Student Power Scheme', a special offer for the student community of Karnataka. With a low rental of Rs.99 a month, SMS charge of 60 paise per message and cheapest pulse rate of 15 seconds, the scheme can be availed of by students from eighth standard onwards. There is no security deposit if STD facility is not required.
 
Date: 15/10/2003
Titan to service Nokia mobile phones
Titan has signed an MoU with the largest cellular phone manufacturer Nokia to service mobile phones at its customer service centres. Titan is restructuring its operations by classifying its business into three categories namely License and Accessories, Customer Service and Precision Engineering. The company expects to leverage its network of 600 plus customer service centres to service other products similar to watches. 
 
Date: 13/10/2003
Bharti's stock jumped
Bharti Televentures touched an intraday high of Rs.81.05 on hopes that the government move to ban WLL service providers from offering roaming services will help cellular companys boost subscription growth. The stock was trading with at Rs.78.45 with over 6.85 lakh shares traded on the BSE so far. 
 
Date: 13/10/2003
Govt to enforce TDSAT ruling on WLL
After a meeting of the group of ministers (GoM) on telecom, Union Communications Minister Arun Shourie reiterated that mobile services based on wireless in local loop would be restricted within the short distance charging area (SDCA), as ruled by TDSAT. TDSAT has said that there should be an additional fee for WLL services. GoM would await TRAI’s recommendations before taking a final view on the proposed unification of basic and cellular licences.
 
Date: 11/10/2003
MTNL mobile even more affordable
MTNL is extending its entry level pre-paid pricing to its post-paid segment. The state-owned telecom company has launched a new aggressive plan to popularise its post-paid service which has excess capacity, even as it has run out of capacity for its pre-paid service, Trump. At present, MTNL has about 53,000 Dolphin subscribers and 1,13,000 Trump subscribers. On one of the basic entry level plans of Trump, Rs.300 card subscribers get Rs.240 worth of talktime at a rate of Rs 2.10/minute for calls to cellular phones. 
 
Date: 9/10/2003
STD, ISD rates on cells, fixed lines may go up
Tariffs for STD and ISD calls for subscribers of cellular and private basic telecom operators are set to increase as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided to impose an access deficit charge (ADC) on these service providers. The ADC would be Rs.1.20 per minute for inter-circle STD calls beyond 500 km and Rs.2 per minute for incoming ISD calls. This means all cellular and private basic operators will have to pay these charges to state-owned operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) even if they do not use its network. 
 
Date: 2/10/2003
Arun Jaitley to help DoT
Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is engaging Union law minister Arun Jaitley to solve the limited mobility problem after the TDSAT majority judgement. DoT will seek Mr. Jaitley's legal opinion before responding to the TDSAT directive on restricting WLL services by basic service operators to the SDCA (Short Distance Charging Area). Mr. Jaitley is a core member of the apex Group of Ministers (GoM) looking into the telecom regulatory issue.
 
Date: 2/10/2003
180% growth in Cellular services sector
According to CII-Ascon Services sector survey, Cellular services sector showed 180% growth in the first half of this fiscal year. The other services sectors on high growth path are housing finance - 35%, project consultancy - 43% and software exports - 40%. The triple digit growth in the cellular services sector is likely to be maintained in the next few months too.
 
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