Uninor, the joint venture telecom company between Unitech and theTelenor Group of Norway, on Thursday launched its mobile services and announced call rates as low as 29 paise for local and 49 paise for STD calls, a move that could further intensify the mobile tariff war. The launch happened simultaneously in seven telecom circles — Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh East, Uttar Pradesh West and Bihar (including Jharkhand).
“In terms of GSM footprint in a single day, this is the largest greenfield launch operation in telecom history. With launch in seven circles and roaming agreements in place for the rest, we have started our service in India as a pan-Indian national operator,” said Telenor Group CEO and President Jon Fredrik Baksaas. Uninor will launch its operations in Orissa this month and add five more circles early next year.
Uninor introduced two price plans for its subscribers — ‘talkmore@29p’ base plan and ‘callmore@29p’ subscription plan. The base plan offers customers local calls at 29 paise a minute and STD calls at 49 paise a minute, with a call set up fee of 39 paise, while the subscription plan offers local calls at 29 paise a minute and STD calls at 49 paise a minute, with a daily rental of Rs.2. Interestingly, Uninor has no plans to offer the per-second tariff option. “If you make more than four calls a day, you will get the best value on Uninor. For a large number of users, current prices, including per-second pricing, are in reality much more expensive than they appear. We have created plans that bring supreme value to customers based on our research on specific usage patterns,” said Unitech Wireless Managing Director Stein-Erik Vellan, Managing Director. Uninor is the brand name of Unitech Wireless.
Mr. Vellan said Uninor would be retailed at over 2.1-lakh points of sale through close to 1000 exclusive distributors in the seven circles. “We are eyeing a market share of eight per cent in terms of subscribers by 2018. We are targeting break-even at the earnings before interest and depreciation level in three years and expect to achieve operating cash-flow break-even in the next five years,” he added.
Mr. Vellan said they were mainly targeting the mid and high income subscribers. “Initially our average revenue per user (ARPU) will be little below the current industry figure, but will soon catch up on the industry level,” he added. Asked about their plans for the forthcoming 3G spectrum auction, he said they were still discussing it, but Uninor would not bid for all-India 3G spectrum licence.
S. Varadharajan reports from Chennai:
Launching the GSM services in Chennai, Stefan Kercza, Hub Head, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, said the hub had established 45,000 points of sale and 164 distributors have signed already. It would have 56 franchise outlets and five company-owned outlets, he said.
With the largest distribution network, the connection would be available to customers right next door, he said.