Limited mobility hearing leads to publication of subscriber data

9 Apr 2003

In the latest development in India’s Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) investigation into the legality of controversial limited mobility services, the Association of Basic Operators (ABTO), an organisation designed to safeguard the interests of domestic fixed line telcos, has filed an affidavit containing normally unavailable subscriber and investment figures. The document states that Reliance Infocomm, which is usually reluctant to reveal details of its fixed line customer base, has more than 860,000 subscribers to its CDMA-based wireless in the local loop (WiLL) service; ABTO claims to have obtained the figures from its member companies. In addition, Reliance is said to have invested a total of INR73.89 billion by the end of last year in the rollout of its nationwide fixed line and limited mobility network. ABTO’s figures state that basic service companies such Tata Teleservices, Shyam Telelink, HFCL Infotel and Reliance had together invested INR149.6 billion at the same date and as of February/March this year boasted a combined subscriber base of 1.68 million, just 356,197 of whom use traditional fixed line services. The TDSAT hearing is a last-ditch attempt on the part of India’s mobile operators to alter current guidelines regarding limited mobility services. Operators are allowed to provide CDMA-based WiLL on the strength of their fixed line licences, angering cellular operators that have spent huge sums on mobile licences and network rollout.

Elsewhere in India, the Tata Group has announced that it has begun the process of integrating its telecoms subsidiaries under a single brand name – Tata Indicom. The first stage in the process saw part state-owned VSNL, Tata Teleservices, Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) – formerly Hughes – and Tata Internet Services form a specialised sales and market team, the Telecom Enterprise Business Unit (TEBU). The four units will deliver end-to-end voice and data solutions to key corporate clients via TEBU under the Tata Indicom brand.