Shyam Sistema CDMA services in Chennai, Kerala this month

By Pupul Dutta, IANS,

New Delhi : Shyam Sistema Teleservices (SSTS), the joint venture between telecom equipment manufacturer and service provider Shyam Group and Russian telecom major Sistema SSA, will launch CDMA mobile services in two telecom circles, the Chennai-Tamil Nadu circle and Kerala, by this month-end, industry sources said.

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The company will launch the service in Chennai-Tamil Nadu circle March 26, and most likely by March 30 in Kerala, the sources said.

Also, Shyam Sistema’s CDMA services brand in Rajasthan, “Rainbow”, will be changed to “MTS” (Mobile Telesystems), a subsidiary of the Russian partner.

The joint venture will also roll out services in West Bengal and NorthEast circles in the next two months.

Shyam Sistema had acquired licences and spectrum to provide CDMA mobile services in 22 circles in the country last year.

Company president and chief executive Vsevolod Rozanov declined to comment on the developments.

“You will get to know about any developments by this month-end,” Rozanov told IANS.

The company had earlier said that it planned to invest $5 billion (around Rs.250 billion or Rs.25,000 crore) in India.

According to reports, the Russian government is in advanced talks with Shyam Sistema to pick up a 20 percent stake in the company for Rs.34.32 billion.

Sistema holds majority stake of 73.71 percent in the joint venture, while 2.5 percent is held by the public and the remaining by Shyam Group.

The development is another instance of the international investor community continuing to bet on the Indian market.

Last year, the Norway-based Telenor, the world’s seventh largest telecom operator, bought new-generation telecom company Unitech Wireless for $1.29 billion to acquire a 60 percent stake.

However, in recent developments, Telenor said it will acquire 67.25 percent stake in Unitech Wireless, up from the previously stated 60 percent, for Rs.61.2 billion.

“While Telenor’s initial investment under the agreement will continue to be the previously agreed Rs.61.2 billion ($1.2 billion), it has been agreed that Telenor, after this investment, would be holding 67.25 percent in Unitech Wireless,” Unitech said in a recent regulatory filing.

“Upon completion of the first phase of the investment, Telenor’s ownership percentage will be 33.5 percent,” the statement added.

Another major foreign inflow was announced when Japanese telecom giant NTT DoCoMo picked up a 26 percent stake in Tata Teleservices for $2.7 billion.

Similarly, another start-up, Swan Telecom, sold a 45-percent stake to the United Arab Emirate’s Etisalat for $900 million, taking the company’s book value to $2 billion.

Till date, neither Swan nor Unitech has a single subscriber.