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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Aircel plans 3G roll out before World Cup

Aircel will become the fourth private sector telecom company to launch 3G services with a roll out across 13 circles 
before February 19. “We will be launching our 3G services commercially for our subscribers before the cricket World Cup that begins February 19,” said Aircel’s chief operating officer, Gurdeep Singh.

Singh said it would be a phased launch across 13 circles where it has 3G spectrum and all circles will be covered by the time the World Cup gets underway. However, he refused to identify the circle from which the services will be launched.

Singh said it would be a phased launch across 13 circles where it has 3G spectrum and all circles will be covered by the time the World Cup gets underway. However, he refused to identify the circle from which the services will be launched.

The prices for its 3G services will be competitive, Singh added. Aircel won 3G spectrum for 13 circles in the auctions conducted last year. It paid Rs 6,499.46 crore with the maximum amount going for Karnataka circle where it forked out Rs 1,579.91 crore. The country is divided into 22 circles and no operator won a pan-India licence for 3G services. “The roaming agreements with other telecom companies are still being worked out and they would take some time, possibly after the World Cup,” he said.

Aircel also won bids for broadband wireless access (BWA) for eight circles, paying Rs 3,438.01 crore. “The BWA roll out will happen towards the latter half of the year and we will take a call on whether to opt for LTE or WiMAX technology towards end of March,” Singh said.

Aircel will be the second private sector telecom company after Bharti Airtel to launch 3G services this year. Last year, Tata Teleservices (TTSL) and Reliance Communications (RCom) had launched their 3G services at similar tariffs. TTSL that launched its 3G services in November last year, set the ball rolling with tariffs that work out to less than a paisa per second.

Its tariffs start from Rs 350 for pre-paid offering of 500 minutes talk time and 150 MB of 3G data while for post-paid subscribers, tariffs start from Rs 500 for offering 750 minutes of talk time and 250 MB of 3G data. Its stand-alone data packs start from a minimum of Rs 90 for pre-paid offering of 100 MB of 3G data and Rs 200 for post-paid offering of 200 MB of 3G data.

Rcom that launched its 3G services last December, offers its prepaid customers packages between Rs 299 and Rs 699, with a talk time of 300 and 600 minutes and data of 200MB and 500MB respectively. For post paid subscribers, the company offers three plans – Rs 199 for 300 minutes of talk time with 50MB data, Rs 499 for 1,000 minutes of talk time with 100 MB of data and Rs 2,499 for 6,000 minutes of talk time and 5 GB data. Tariff at the highest end works out to 42 paisa per minute.

Airtel’s tariff structure offers time-based plans for light users of data, with usage and billing by the hour while for heavy users the company offers flexi-shield plans where usage and billing will be capped.

Accordingly, light usage subscribers can choose from packs of value Rs 10, Rs 45 and Rs 60 packs, medium users can pick a 30-day pack of either Rs 200, Rs 450 or Rs 750, while heavy users get 1.25 GB free by paying Rs 650 and in case data usage exceeds the limit, they would be charged 10 paisa per MB.source

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