One of India’s newest mobile network operators, Unitech Wireless, which offers services under the Uninor banner, has announced that it has launched commercially in five further circles: West Bengal, Calcutta, Maharashtra (including Goa), Mumbai and Gujarat, the Economic Times reports. The simultaneous launches bring the cellco’s commercial presence to a total of 13 circles nationwide, and up its network footprint to around 900 million people. Commenting on the development, Stein Erik Vellan, Uninor’s managing director, noted: ‘This is a big day for Uninor as we enter some of the most promising and competitive markets of India,’ with Sigve Brekke, executive vice president of the cellco’s parent company, Norwegian group Telenor adding: ‘I am satisfied that Uninor continues its rollout across India, managing to keep the momentum from the initial launch in December last year. Covering 13 telecom circles Uninor is about to establish itself as a real pan-Indian mobile operator.’
While the operator has arguably expanded rapidly, it has criticised Indian equipment procurement norms, and claimed that delays have hampered its expansion plans. ‘We are already running behind schedule with our pan-India rollout since security clearance of telecom equipment is taking much longer than the usual 30 working days,’ Uninor corporate affairs executive vice-president Rajiv Bawa said of the matter. In addition the new player has still to receive 2G spectrum in circles including Delhi, whilst it also awaiting additional frequencies in other regions such as Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Assam and the North East; Uninor has only been allocated 4.4MHz of spectrum in some circles, even though it was promised spectrum up to 6.2MHz as part of its licence.