India's Videocon Plans Mobile Launch
The company received licenses covering all 23 of India's telecom circles, or service areas, through its Datacom Solutions subsidiary. (See Indian Gov't Grants Mobile Licenses and A Guide to India's Telecom Operators.)
The Department of Telecom began doling out spectrum in available regions to carriers last month, and, so far, Datacom has received spectrum in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Orissa, and today, Andhra Pradesh. (See India Begins Allocating GSM Spectrum .)
Venugopal N. Dhoot, chairman of Videocon Industries, told local media this week the new operator plans to begin offering services in the Chennai circle, which now comes under the Tamil Nadu license. He has an ambitious target of reaching 50 million subscribers over the first five years.
India had close to 270 million wireless subscribers at the end of April, and the government expects operators to reach 500 million customers by 2010.
Indian carriers are promoting shared network infrastructure to help them expand their mobile network coverage and boost revenues from leasing out tenancy on their mobile towers. Renting out infrastructure from other operators will allow Datacom to roll out its network faster than if it was building it from scratch, and to rack up subscribers more quickly. (See Indian Operators in Sharing Mood.)
Videocon has been approached by several overseas firms looking for a partnership or acquisition in India to get a piece of the action, and Dhoot said the company has appointed Morgan Stanley as an advisor on possible deals.
Among the carriers that have been linked to talks with the company are AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Qatar Telecom QSC (Qtel) , Bahrain Telecommunications Co. (Batelco) , Zain Group , and Etisalat , which is actively pursuing a large Indian investment. (See Etisalat Eyes India's Spice.)
Videocon Industries, which makes consumer durables ranging from TVs to refrigerators to washing machines, intends to complement its mobile services by selling handsets. It's planning to manufacture its own branded phones at a new facility capable of producing 10 million of them per year, and Dhoot has made no secret of his eagerness to acquire Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s newly separated mobile devices business. (See Moto Device Biz Buyer?)
— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading