Uninor, the joint venture between real estate firm Unitech Ltd and Norwegian telecom company Telenor ASA, has opted for a perminute billing plan for its launch, rather than the per-second plan some other operators have started offering in recent months.
“We will have two price plans, both with local calls at 29 paise per minute and STD calls at 49 paise per minute,” Stein-Erik Vellan, managing director, Unitech Wireless Ltd, said at the launch of Uninor’s services in seven operating areas on Thursday.
Uninor’s operating areas, or circles, include Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh (east and west) and Bihar (including Jharkhand). The firm has spectrum in 21 of the 22 circles it is licensed to operate in and expects to launch services in all these by the end of this financial year, Vellan said.
Reaching out: Unitech Wireless MD Stein-Erik Vellan (right). Pankej Kumar/Mint
Uninor is entering the market at a time when a no-holds-barred tariff war is on among India’s telecom firms, after Tata Teleservices Ltd, the country’s sixth largest operator, launched a per-second billing system in June.
Soon, other operators, including market leader, Bharti Airtel Ltd, and the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), announced per-second billing plans.
Uninor is the 12th operator to enter the Indian market, the second largest and fastest growing telecom market in the world with at least 480 million wireless subscribers. The market is growing rapidly this year, adding an average 14 million new users every month.
Uninor is likely to be followed by United Arab Emirate’s Pvt. Ltd, the Videocon group-promoted Datacom, and Bahrain’s Batelco co-owned STel, as existing firms scramble to sign up users by drastically dropping call charges.
In November, Telenor’s CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas said the firm would price its call charges in India competitively but would not be the most aggressive. The company is aiming for an 8% share within five years.
Uninor also launched its brand positioning with the tag line “Ab mera number hai”, or “My time is now”. “We will not be using any brand ambassadors,” Vellan said.
The firm has in place more that 210,000 retail points and expects to raise this to 300,000 by the end of the week, he added.
Last October, Telenor bought a 60% (later raised to 67%) stake in Unitech Wireless Ltd, a new telecom firm floated by Unitech Ltd.