Telenor unlikely to initially apply for pan-India 3G licence

22 Sep 2009

Norwegian telecoms group Telenor has announced that it will not bid for a pan-India 3G licence on behalf of subsidiary Unitech Wireless, the Economic Times reports. It is understood that Telenor will instead focus on the rollout of Unitech’s 2G services across all 22 circles in the country, and will only apply for 3G concessions in those circles where it feels the market potential for mobile broadband services is high. Hilde Tonne, executive vice-president of Telenor, said of the plans: ‘Telenor will not bid for a pan-India 3G licence. We will instead focus on our 2G rollout and establish our spectrum portfolio in a key market like India. Our immediate objective is to target an 8% market share by 2018 in India.’

In a separate story via the same news source, Telenor has also confirmed that it has reached an agreement with its partner in Unitech Wireless, the Delhi-based Unitech Group, on a brand name for the yet-to-launch cellco. The companies have, however, declined to unveil the name, with Jon Fredrik Baksaas, Telenor CEO and president, noting: ‘The shareholders of Unitech Wireless have just taken a decision on the brand name but I am not at liberty to reveal it just yet. We will announce it closer to the launch date which will be in Q4 2009. A variety of local names have been used in other Asian markets but I cannot confirm whether we will follow the same strategy in India. Our objective is to launch a mobile service in India that is distinctive, both in terms of service quality and the level of innovation.’

Unitech Wireless last month revealed it had signed a loan agreement with the State Bank of India (SBI) for INR50 billion (USD1.04 billion) in order to help finance its rollout. To speed up the launch process Unitech Wireless has decided to outsource infrastructure and back-end services to partner organisations with established practices, and has inked deals with companies including Quippo Telecom infrastructure, Alcatel-Lucent, Huwaei, Ericsson and Telcordia. Telenor is also awaiting a decision from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on whether it will be allowed to increase its stake in the joint venture to 74%; it currently holds 49%.

India, Telenor Group, Telenor India