Posts filed under ‘India’
State-owned Indian telco Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has announced a deal with French-US hardware vendor Alcatel-Lucent that will see that latter provide its mobile next generation (NGN) solution. The deployment is a part of a multi-year agreement under which Alcatel-Lucent is providing an end-to-end GSM/EDGE solution to MTNL. Alcatel claims that its NGN product, which is based on a secure, distributed architecture, will allow MTNL to optimize and simplify its mobile network, flexibly address traffic growth, reduce operation costs and simplify network maintenance.
As part of the announcement MTNL announced that its 3G network had been launched in Mumbai, and said it was ready to offer service to both residential and enterprise customers. MTNL was the first operator to launch commercial 3G services in India in February 2009; the telco offers the service under the ‘Jadoo’ brand and it was initially available only in central areas of Delhi.
Indian cellco Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL) has announced that it has inked a seven-year deal with China’s ZTE for the provision of network equipment and infrastructure. Under the agreement ZTE will provide wireless and core network equipment for SSTL as the cellco looks to complete its pan-India rollout by 3Q 2010. Additionally, the two companies will ‘explore other collaborative possibilities going forward’. No financial details of the deal have been disclosed. SSTL has launched commercial CDMA-based services in the Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Kerala circles.
Vodafone Essar, the UK-based group’s Indian subsidiary, is in the process of a raising a INR100 billion (USD2 billion) bridge loan to finance its participation in India’s forthcoming 3G spectrum auctions. According to banking sources, Vodafone has appointed SBI Capital Markets to arrange the loan from a range of banks. “Canara Bank has approved INR7.5 billion for Vodafone, and the rest of the money will come from other banks,” a source said. An unnamed Vodafone source added that the financing would also be used for network expansion. However, Vodafone Essar declined to offcially comment on the story.
According to the report, there is still no official date for the start of India’s long-awaited 3G auctions, which are now thought unlikely to happen prior to India’s general elections, which need to take place before May. A Mumbai-based telecom analyst added that Vodafone would have little trouble raising the INR100 billion, suggesting that the operator should be able to secure an interest rate of around 8.5 percent. India is a key market for Vodafone, accounting for around 65 percent of the 9.7 million net new customers it added in its most recent.
Following a string of recent GSM-based service launch announcements, Indian mobile operator Reliance Communications (RCOM) has said it has now completed its nationwide GSM footprint, the Business Standard reports. As RCOM announced its most recently launched GSM infrastructure, adding coverage of more than 50 towns and 5,000 villages in the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) circle, RCOM President SP Shukla, said, ‘The launch of Reliance Mobile’s GSM services in J&K marks the completion of the company’s nationwide footprint, which already covers over one billion Indians in other states of the country.’ January 2009 saw the cellco announce GSM launches in Mumbai, Rajasthan and Punjab, while earlier this month Delhi was added to the list of regions in which RCOM offered its GSM-based services.
In another blow to the much-delayed 3G auction process in India, the Economic Times is reporting that the Indian army is now claiming that it cannot release spectrum needed for commercial 3G services in a phased manner as had previously been agreed. The armed forces are in possession of spectrum which is expected to be vacated and then reallocated to successful 3G licencees. However, the defence forces now say that they will only release the frequencies after Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) completes the rollout of all three alternative networks for them. BSNL is due to complete new infrastructure for the Army, Air Force and Navy in 2011. The original agreement between the communications and defence ministries called for a phased vacation of the spectrum by the armed forces; with BSNL expecting to complete the Air Force Network (AFNET) by June this year the communications ministry called for the Air Force spectrum to be vacated by that date. It is understood that a group of ministers (GoM) will now consider the fate of the spectrum, ruling on whether the original phased release will be enforced. Additionally, the GoM will examine the case for funding the INR146 billion (USD3.02 billion) alternative networks, with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) expected to clear the project’s funding only after it is endorsed by the ministers.
Despite ongoing delays in the auction process for 3G spectrum in India, Mahanagar Nigam Telecom Ltd (MTNL) looks set to become the first operator to launch UMTS services commercially, the Economic Times reports. The state-owned telco has announced that it will launch its next generation services, offered under the Jadoo brand, on 5 February in central Delhi, including the Connaught Place, India Gate, Pragati Madan, Delhi Gate and Minto Road areas. US-based Motorola has been contracted to roll out the new core network. The launch comes after MTNL was allocated 3G spectrum at the end of 2008, giving it a head start over other operators, which are still waiting for the government to finalise 3G policy. Fellow state-run operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd is the only other company that has been given frequencies for 3G services, and is expected to launch commercially in the near future.