Mobile services

India's Uninor Adopts Telenor Branding

Uninor, the Indian arm of Norway's Telenor, has adopted the brand name of its parent company and revealed plans to spend around INR1 billion ($15.1 million) over the next two to three months on promotional activities around the rebranding.

The operator has, however, decided not change its strategy of focusing on low-cost voice and data services. Nor will it alter its logo.

The branding change had been expected ever since Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) increased its stake in the business to 100% late last year, following legislative moves allowing foreign entities to own Indian businesses outright. Earlier this month, Telenor changed the official name of the Indian company from Telewings Communications Services to Telenor (India) Communications.

Although it will continue to focus on lower-cost segments of the market, Telenor has recently been in talks with rival Videocon Telecommunications Ltd. about a possible merger. Like most of the smaller telcos, Telenor is finding itself under pressure to provide 3G and 4G services to remain relevant in the Indian market. (See Uninor Must Adapt to Survive and Going Gets Tough for India's Smaller Telcos.)

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With 47.5 million subscribers, Telenor currently operates networks in the circles of UP (West), UP (East), Bihar (including Jharkhand), Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat and aims to launch a network in Assam in early 2016. A merger would clearly allow the operator to boost its subscriber base -- something it would find difficult to do organically in its existing footprint. Media reports suggest Telenor is also exploring the option of spectrum-sharing and trading to increase its footprint in the country.

Besides rebranding and starting discussions with Videocon, Telenor has also begun to reimburse customers for dropped calls. With a dropped call ratio of 12%, quality of service is a huge issue in India, and Telenor obviously hopes to attract customers from rivals yet to offer their customers such a generous deal.

— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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