Virgin Mobile and Spice Group are the only two companies to have bid for franchise deals to offer 3G services offered by state-owned Indian operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), the Hindu Business Line reports. Kuldip Singh, MTNL’s technical director, said that his company expects to finalise the selection of the winning bidder within a month. Virgin Mobile already has franchise agreements in place in India with Tata Teleservices, allowing it to provide GSM-based services, after inking a deal with the latter in February 2009. Spice Group meanwhile, having divested its mobile services business to Idea Cellular, still has business interests in the telecom, mobile software and retail industries. The successful bidder will be able to offer MTNL’s 3G services on a revenue-sharing basis, and the move to pull in a sales partner by the cellco is understood to have been prompted after muted initial uptake of the service; at the end of June 2009 MTNL has signed up only around 800 3G subscribers.