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|December 23, 1997||
Iridium reveals India planIridium, the Motorola-backed Global Mobile Personal Communications System, plans to operate in India through cellular operators on a non-exclusive basis.
The cellular operators will, therefore, be service providers for Iridium India Telecom Limited.
The cellular operator will be the single point of interface for both customer care and billing, Jaydev H Raja, managing director, IITL has said.
The company expects to kick off operations on September 23, 1998, when the services are expected to start globally.
India will be one of the few worldwide sites where operational trials will begin early next year.
The company has obtained an 'in principle' clearance for using frequency in the 'L' band from the Wireless Planning Commission, pending issue of license. A license can be applied for as soon as a GMPCS policy is in place.
Right now, the policy is pending cabinet clearance.
The Iridium service will operate in the 1616.5-1626.5 MHz band. It has, however, entered into an agreement with Globalstar, another prospective GMPCS service provider, not to use frequencies below 1618.5, which are required for the Globalstar system.
Once fully operational, Iridium will require an 8.5 MHz band. But it has decided to initially ask for a 5.15 MHz band. According to Raja, they have already had meetings with the defence ministry.
Raja said that the band required by Iridium is currently not being utilised by any of the security agencies. Raja also said that Iridium has already obtained frequency clearances in countries such as the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK.
Raja declined to comment on tariffs, saying that it is likely to be finalised only two months prior to the launch date.
He also said that tariff structures are likely to vary across countries where Iridium would operate, given the varying costs of interconnect charges and national extension.
In India, Iridium will operate at three levels. It already has an agreement with the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited for maintenance of gateways and manpower. IITL will carry out marketing operations. And cellular operators will be the customer-end interface.
IITL, which is promoted by a bunch of financial institutions including ICICI and IDBI, has already invested $70 million for Iridium LLC, an US-based company promoted by Motorola and Associates to set up the Iridium system.
Besides, another Rs 1.5 billion have been brought in by the shareholders of IITL as debt to finance the gateway located near Pune. According to Raja, IITL has sufficient funds until the operational stage of the system.
- Compiled from the Indian media
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