Key milestones in India’s telecom industry in 2008 (To go with Yearender 14)

December 27th, 2008 - 1:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Following are key milestones and timeline of developments in India’s telecom sector in 2008, when the country’s network emerged as the second largest in the world after China’s, displacing that of the US:Jan 1: Telecom watchdog issues status paper to ensure Internet service providers adhere to minimum prescribed speeds for broadband connectivity

Jan 3: Delhi High Court issues notice to the government, regulator, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices on a petition challenging allocation of radio spectrum

Jan 9: Vodafone moves the Bombay High Court challenging an income-tax notice slapping a $1.7-billion capital gains tax on the acquisition of stake in Hutch-Essar

Jan 10: The communications ministry decides to allot scarce spectrum to all existing mobile phone service providers, irrespective of the technology they use

Jan 31: India’s Internet connectivity is disrupted as two undersea cables in the Mediterranean are damaged

Feb 15: Spice Corp unveils a no-frills mobile phone that will retail at about Rs.800 ($20) from early April

Feb 21: Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications announces acquisition of Uganda’s telecom service firm Anupam Global Soft and commits $500 million investment

Feb 22: Telecom watchdog says Indian operators added 8.74 million new phone subscribers to the network in January

Feb 28: The Department of Telecommunications issues licences to 22 more operators

March 2: Virgin Mobile, part of Britain’s communications group Virgin Media, launches youth-oriented mobile services in India through Tata Teleservices

March 17: Watchdog announces stricter measures to rap telecom operators who fail to rein in unsolicited telemarketing calls

March 20: Reliance Communications teams up with Taiwan-based handset manufacturer High Tech Computer to tap the market for high-end CDMA mobile phones in India

March 25: The Supreme Court asks the government to amend its law in eight weeks to provide for imposing stiff penalties on service providers and telemarketers for making unsolicited calls

March 27: Regulator says it will remove a levy imposed on service providers to fund rural connectivity

April 1: The government unveils new guidelines for sharing of infrastructure, such as transmission systems and cables, by telecom operators in a bid to lower operational costs and help consumers

April 10: Indian telecom officials and the makers of BlackBerry, the Canada-based Research in Motion, meet to discuss security concerns raised over the services provided by the company

April 11: India adds 7.6 million new mobile phone users under the GSM technology in March, surpassing the US as the second largest wireless market, according to the Cellular Operators Association of India

April 16: The home ministry asks telecom operators not to offer certain types of BlackBerry services until a proper monitoring system is put in place to address security concerns

April 22: New government guidelines say mergers and acquisitions among telecom operators will not be allowed if the number of service providers falls below four after any such move

May 9: Bharti Airtel and 15 other leaders in the global telecom industry sign a deal to build the first direct, high-bandwidth optical-fibre undersea cable system from Britain to India

May 13: The Delhi High Court says it is shocked to hear that even the telecom regulator does not have the powers to regulate direct marketing agents and others in curbing unsolicited calls

May 14: Bharti enters final rounds of consolidation talks with South Africa’s largest telecom operator MTN in a deal estimated to be worth nearly $45 billion

May 24: Bharti-MTN call off consolidation talks

May 26: Reliance Communications says it is entering exclusive negotiations with MTN to discuss potential combination of their businesses

May 27: Arun Sarin stuns the world of business by announcing he is stepping down as chief executive of Vodafone after leading the world’s largest mobile phone company to record profits during his five years at the helm

June 18: State-run Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd received much-awaited licence for international long distance telephony, raising hopes for further cut in tariffs

June 25: India’s fifth largest cellular operator Idea Cellular says it is buying 40.8 percent stake in Spice Communications

July 2: Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura says Blackberry mobile services do not pose a threat to national security, indicating a government go-ahead for its operations in the country

July 18: The globally-watched consolidation talks between Reliance Communications, India’s second largest private telecom company, and South Africa’s MTN called off

Aug 1: Communications Minister A. Raja announces the much-awaited guidelines for the auction of radio spectrum, or airwaves, to launch third-generation mobile phone services in the country

Aug 7: The government approves release of airwaves to two state-run companies, MTNL and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, for the launch of third generation mobile services in the country

Aug 8: Mobile telephony has grown rapidly in India, especially during the last three years, with India becoming the second-largest wireless market in the world after China and ahead of the US, says a World Bank study

Aug 18: Regulator permits Internet service providers to offer products that allow calls from computers to fixed line as well as mobile phones

Aug 22: Apple iPhone 3G (third generation) launched across India by telecom majors Bharti and Vodafone

Aug 25: Out of 594,000 villages in India, 550,000 now have telephone connections whether through satellite technology or conventional lines, while 30,500 villages even have broadband cover, says the government

Sep 1: The International Chamber of Commerce, the global arbitration tribunal, asks Tata Communications to pay a Reliance Communications $19 million plus interest from May 2006 as damages over a cable dispute

Sep 8: The Indian government kick-starts process to e-auction radio frequencies to telecommunications operators who want to offer third-generation mobile phone services

Sep 23: The UAE’s Etisalat says it has bought 45-percent stake in Swan Telecom for a cash consideration of $900 million

Oct 29: Norwegian telecom giant Telenor picks up controlling 60-percent stake in Unitech Wireless, the telecom arm of real estate major Unitech, for $1.2 billion

Nov 6: Taking the stake sale by Swan Telecom and Unitech as case points, the Communist Party of India-Marxist alleges major scandal in the latest round of radio frequency allocation to mobile telecom operators but the government denies the allegation

Nov 11: The Telecom Commission recommends a licence fee of three percent of average gross revenue on those mobile operators who will offer stand-alone third generation mobile services

Nov 12: Japan’s leading mobile telecom operator NTT DoCoMo says it will pick up 26-percent stake in Tata Teleservices for $2.7 billion

Nov 25: Communications Minister A. Raja says mergers and acquisitions among new telecom operators will be allowed only if they have completed three years of operations after being issued licences

Nov 26: The allocation of radio frequencies to telecom operators comes under judicial scrutiny again with the Delhi High Court seeking a response from the government on a petition that said the scarce resource should have been auctioned

Nov 28: Telecom watchdog says the government ignored its suggestion that the second-generation radio waves be auctioned, which would have generated higher revenue

Dec 5: Vodafone says it would challenge in the Supreme Court the government’s decision to impose capital gains tax of $1.7 billion on it following its acquisition of majority stake in Hutchison Essar

Dec 11: Communications Minister A. Raja says the government was looking into the security concerns surrounding BlackBerry phones and would soon come up with some solution after objections that e-mails on the service cannot be intercepted by security agencies

Dec 11: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launches third generation mobile phone services of the state-run MTNL under the brand name “Jaadu” or magic.

Dec 23: The Telecom Commission says successful bidders for spectrum allocation for third generation telecom services will also be eligible to get frequencies for second generation services, as and when any space becomes available

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