As Uninor passes through a transition from voice-to-data model, the company is upgrading its network to the next level, finding it difficult...
As Uninor passes through a transition from voice-to-data model, the company is upgrading its network to the next level, finding it difficult to continue in India without 3G or 4G services. Uninor, with 24% subscribers using 2G data and a large number of youth using its network, faces a big challenge in revamping its network and bringing it on a par with other telcos. Tanveer Mohammad, chief operating officer (COO), Telewings Communications Services, told Sanjay Singh the company plans to upgrade and modernise entire network and make it ready to evolve into any kind of network — 3G and 4G. He also spoke on the biggest ever deal with Huawei worth Rs 1,200 crore and how it would rejuvenate its operations and help face competition. Excerpts:
What are your investments and development plans for infrastructure growth you need to remain competitive in India?
At present, we are passing through a transition from voice-to-data model. There are certain parts, where we need to figure out where we can create better infrastructure for ensuring data growth in a big way. We have partnered with Huawei to complete the network upgrade, which we expect by 2016 end. Meanwhile, we would figure out the requirement wherever the network is ready for the next level and offer those services.
So you plan to start 3G or 4G soon in the near future?
We are getting ready for newer technology. We will move on to the next level as and when we have the spectrum available. Mobile subscribers, especially the younger lot in India, want to do more through their mobile handsets. Tomorrow, the benchmark for basic services offered by telecom operators will more than what it is today. May be today we are relevant, but whether we would be relevant tomorrow, is what we have to ensure. That is why we are going through a network upgrade so that we can put in any kind of network required as per the changing times.
Does it mean that you will have a network that will support 4G operations?
We are building up a new network. Our network will have all kind of telecom services available in the country. The 4G will also be coming. The upgraded network will make it easy for us to switch over to any level (3G or 4G). All the base stations and switching centres will be completety overhauled with latest build in technology and architecture. We also plan to upgrade the network system which we use from other sources. This will help us provide a better network in future as we require it.
Will you take part in the next round of spectrum auction?
In India, spectrum is scarce and expensive. We look forward for more clarity on the spectrum sharing so that we can have more spectrum available to offer better services. We will focus on areas where we have our operations. As an when the opportunity comes, we will take a call on expansion.
Telenor had reportedly been in talks with TTSL and Videocon Telecom for acquisition. By when can we expect a formal outcome of these talks ?
The process for such things take time. We are exploring available opportunities.
Do you plan to offer post-paid services?
Our focus continues to be on pre-paid only. We have no plans as of now for post-paid services.
Your ARPU (average revenue per user) in the April-June quarter was down 12% y-o-y?
It is an industry challenge now. There has to be a sustainable ARPU to make the operations also sustainable. We are following this very closely.