Norwegian telecom group Telenor is preparing to launch commercial operations at its new Indian wireless subsidiary today, according to Reuters. Unitech Wireless will be the twelfth mobile network operator in India and will offer services under the Uninor banner. At launch it is expected that services will be available in seven circles – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, Karnataka, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh East and Uttar Pradesh West – with the operator hoping to expand the number of regions where it has a presence to eight by the end of the year. In order to speed up its rollout, Uninor has inked tower sharing deals with Wireless-TT Info Service and Quippo Telecom Infrastructure which cover approximately 22,000 existing towers. The deal also includes access to towers built by the infrastructure owners in the future, and is expected to give Uninor 55%-60% population coverage by mid-2010. Uninor has also inked GSM rollout deals with Chinese vendor ZTE and Finland’s Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN).
Telenor initially acquired a stake in the operator last year, and in October 2009 was granted regulatory approval to up its stake in the joint venture to 74% from the 49% it had at the time. The cellco hopes to claim an 8% market share within five years of launching services.