Virgin Mobile plans entry to India

16 Jan 2007

(The Times of India via NewsEdge) Ratan Tata of the Tata Group and Richard Branson of the Virgin empire are planning to form an alliance to introduce the Virgin Mobile brand in India, a source familiar with the matter said.

The source said the Virgin Group is in talks with Tata Teleservices for the possibility of Virgin Mobile acting as a MVNO which will buy bulk space from an existing wireless company and resell it under the Virgin brand.
However, this model is not yet allowed in India.

Instead, Virgin is planning to become an exclusive franchisee of Tata Teleservices which is permitted in India.

For this, a new entity largely owned by Tata Teleservices will be formed, the source said. The products and services will be bundled under the Virgin name, supported by the services provided by Tata Teleservices.

The source added that discussions so far has been good and if all goes well with the regulatory approvals in place, Virgin Mobile would be launched in April this year. When contacted, a Tata group spokesperson declined to comment.

This comes at a crucial time when Dayanidhi Maran, Union minister of communications and IT, is pushing to promote passive and active infrastructure sharing, which would help companies to reduce its cost of rolling out services.

Wireless subscribers in India have already crossed the 100-million mark making India one of the top five markets in the world. However, more than 50% of the population still has no access to mobile services.

© 2007 The Times of India

© 2007 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved

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