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|January 2, 1998||
Usha Martin Telekom mulls expansionUsha Martin Telekom Limited, a joint venture of Usha Martin Group and Telekom Malaysia to provide cellular telephone services within 2,200 square kilometres of Calcutta, is looking for opportunities to expand operations within the country and outside.
With cellular telephone services in the country maturing and consumers becoming more discernible, the telecom sector, according to Lalit Chainwala, executive director of Usha Martin Telekom, is bound to undergo a lot of restructuring in the next few years. Only the most efficient operators in terms of quality services at competitive rates will survive.
There are certain areas such as West Bengal (other than Calcutta) and the Northeast for which DoT has so far received bids from one operator only.
Bids would be invited for a second operator; but Usha Martin Telekom is yet to decide whether it will bid as a second operator. The company might not like to compete with those who are already partners.
It might be noted that Reliance Telecom, which is participating with Usha Martin Telekom in providing value-added 'Global Connect' services, both at the national and international levels, has bid for the West Bengal region.
As for opportunity abroad, Chainwala thinks that vast markets in Africa and the CIS countries remain largely untapped. U-Best, the computer software division of the Usha Martin Group, has started exporting software to some of the CIS countries.
He said Usha Martin Telekom would soon add to its list of value-added services by offering what would be called 'call priority'. The service, to be available at a price, only to consumers opting for it, would help subscribers to access any number within the network area even if there is congestion in the route.
The company has proposed to achieve better reach and penetration and higher visibility by setting up more 'teleshops'. The number of 'teleshops' would be raised to 17 from the present 12 by March. In next the few months, the company proposes to spend about Rs 250 million to increase the switching capacity from the present 45,000 to 75,000 with the help of Siemens and radio capacity from the present 114 cells to 165 cells with assistance from Motorola.
With 27,000 subscribers, Usha Martin Telekom accounts for 53 per cent of the market. For the past few months, the company has been adding new subscribers at the rate of 2,000 per month.
- Compiled from the Indian media
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