According to India’s Business Standard, state-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) expects to sign up 300,000 3G subscribers within its first year of offering the service. The announcement came at the launch of pre-paid 3G services, something which the operator expects to increase the rate of take-up. In just under six months of offering the service MTNL has only signed up approximately 400 customers, a low number it attributes to the lack of a pre-paid option. The new pre-paid tariff, ‘Jeevan Sathi’ will cost INR300 (USD6.38) for a card with INR15 worth of standard voice calls, while 3G calls will be charged at INR1.8 per minute to other MTNL 3G users; the card has a lifetime validity. Data downloads cost INR3 per MB, and the operator has also introduced coupons for data usage ranging in value from INR99 to INR2,500.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, MTNL was the first Indian operator to launch commercial 3G services, on 5 February 2009. The service, offered under the ‘Jadoo’ banner, initially has coverage of central Delhi, including the Connaught Place, India Gate, Pragati Madan, Delhi Gate and Minto Road areas. MTNL has set aside INR5 billion for the rollout of its UMTS network.