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Uninor mobile services will kick off in India from Thursday. Uninor is the brand name for the Unitech-Telenor JV which will roll out mobile services in various telecom circles in India. This makes Uninor the latest mobile operator to make its debut in the highly-competitive mobile services market in India. There are already 12 mobile operators in India, including two government-owned companies.

Uninor plans to kick off its India operations with 200 exclusive stores and over 300,000 retail partnerships.

Uninor hopes to gain a market share of 8% nationwide after its launch. In the first five years, the company is expecting losses of Rs 15,500 crore. Telenor, the Norwegian telecom company had bought a 67% stake in India’s Unitech Wireless, forming a joint venture. Telenor, which will roll out India operations under name Uninor, expects the Indian mobile market to double in three to four years. Telenor already has operations in Pakistan and Thailand in Asia.

Last month, Telenor announced a reduction in the capital expenditure for Uninor India, a cut of Rs 3,500 crore. Telenor is expecting to gain 35% of its revenues from Asia in five years, which includes Uninor in India.

At the time of the Uninor capex cut, Telenor had said: “The targeted rollout combined with better terms from equipment vendors will reduce the capex requirements. Accumulated capex first 5 years to be reduced by around Rs 30-35 billion. The earlier communicated peak funding of Rs 15,500 crore is now expected to be somewhat lower.”

Uninor mobile services and coverage will be available in “a majority” of the 22 telecom circles in India, the company said. It is not clear which circles will have the Uninor services first. It is expected that Uninor mobile coverage will be first rolled out in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar & Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Orissa, Tamil Nadu & Chennai, Uttar Pradesh East and Uttar Pradesh West. Uninor may extend coverage to more cities later, including metros like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.

Uninor has put up some of the tariffs and charges for its prepaid and postpaid mobile services on its India website.

Uninor will be a GSM operator in India. The other leading GSM telecom operators in India include Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Communications, Tata DoCoMo, Loop Mobile and Aircel. The limitations of spectrum mean that Uninor will not be able to roll out high-speed internet data services like Tata Indicom Photon, Reliance Netconnect Broadband + and MTS MBlaze. In India, the GPRS network for Uninor will be rolled out by Nokia Siemens Networks. Nokia Siemens Networks will roll out and maintain the network for Uninor in India.

Stein Erik Vellan, Managing Director,Unitech Wireless had said at the Nokia Siemens-Unitech announcement: “We are creating a new global telecom model. We call it the Telco of the Next Decade that leverages existing competencies in the market to drive cost and time efficiencies, superior quality and flexibility that future proofs our operations in a rapidly changing competitive environment. Our partnership with Nokia Siemens Networks will help us pursue our unique model in these six circles as well.” Uninor has licence to launch its mobile and data services in all 22 telecom circles in India. The company has also received mobile spectrum for 21 circles, excluding Delhi.

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