In an interview with IANS, Dmitry Shukov, president and CEO of MTS India, the brand under which Sistema operates, outlined the company's plans and said: "When we receive the third carrier frequency, which we acquired at an auction in March 2013, and which we have been waiting six months for, we will be launching the network in a new configuration.
"This will be the most competitive proposal on the Indian market in terms of speed,
stability and price."
Sistema provides mobile services based on CDMA technology, which is not the dominant standard in India. Shukhov, who took charge of MTS India operations earlier this year, spoke about the upgraded version the company plans to unveil.
"EV-DO Rev Phase II is a modernisation of our CDMA standard. This represents high-speed and stability and there will be no connectivity issues. The cover is better and the costs are lower.
"If the advantages of the CDMA standard are compared from the point of view of introducing the EV-DO Rev Phase II, the new generation technology platform, it becomes highly competitive," he said.
SSTL in March had won three blocks of 1.25 Mhz each in eight telecom circles -- Delhi, Kolkata, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh (West) and West Bengal -- for Rs.3,639 crore. It already has operations in the Rajasthan circle.
Sistema's licences had been revoked by India's Supreme Court in the wake of the 2G scam.
"The conflict over the withdrawal of SSTL's licence is over. We took a deliberate decision and we are staying in the Indian market, where we have made total investments of USD 3.6 billion. We really want to work in the Indian market," Shukhov emphasized.
He said the over a year-long period of uncertainty after the licence was revoked had forced the company to shift the time-scale for reaching the break-even point to the end of next year.
"The company has come through this year and is on course to reach operational break-even by Q4 2014," Shukov said.
"We have decided that our company will expand chiefly in providing data transfer services," he added.
On the government's decision to permit 100 percent FDI in telecom, the SSTL president said there was still much to do to attract investors, mainly in regulating the mergers and acquisitions (M and A) process.
"If you acquire a company in India with a frequency resource the telecommunications industry regulator forces you to purchase frequencies separately.
"Companies have an abundance of frequencies, and in India using these on the basis of an agreement with another company is forbidden. Companies often therefore have a surplus of frequencies. These issues need to be regulated here and implemented in accordance with best practice around the world," Shukov said.
For the upcoming festival season in India, Shukov promised five or six handset models across the price range.
"These will be the most popular examples from the consumer's point of view. For example, mobiles with a 5.5-inch screen are very popular at present. They will be the same type of phone but with affordable tariffs, particularly in relation to data transfer," Shukov signed off.
--IANS (Posted on 22-09-2013)