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Roundup: Batelco & S-Tel, Ericsson, Loop, IGNOU, RCOM, BRAI, Nautanki, DoT, Bharti Hexacom, Ybrant, Radio

S-Tel To Launch In Q4: Batelco

Batelco, the Bahrain based operator which agreed to pay $225 million for 49% stake in S-Tel, a young telco headquartered in Chennai, announced that S-Tel will finally get up on its feet and start rolling out in the fourth quarter of this fiscal.  Batelco currently has 42.7% stake in S-Tel and is increasing it in phases. (Reuters)

Ericsson India Revenues At Rs. 87.5 Billion: ICRA

Ericsson India has reported operating income of Rs. 87.5 billion (approximately $1.8 billion), and a profit after tax of Rs. 3.8 billion (approximately $78 million), according to credit rating agency ICRA. ICRA expects Ericsson India’s growth to continue. (Cellular News)

Loop Dials Karnataka, Kerala

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Loop Telecom has expanded operations to Karnataka and Kerala, after launching operations in Tamil Nadu and Orissa last month. The services have been launched under the brand Loop Mobile. These appear to be soft launches, and Sanjeev Chachondia, CEO of Loop Telecom has said that the company has plans for a commercial launch shortly.”  Loop Telecom has entered into roaming arrangements with other telecom operators.

IGNOU Inks MoU With IBM For Open Source Software Courses

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and IBM India will offer students three courses: A certificate in Open Source Software, Diploma in Open Source Software and Industry Vertical Domain Open Standards, and an Advanced Diploma in Industry Vertical Domain Open Standards (Healthcare/ Retail/ Insurance). (IT News Online)

RCOM Will Deliver Deaf Heaven By Pink Virani By SMS

Reliance Communications will offer consumers a mobile phone based novel – Deaf Heaven by Pinki Virani via SMS. The book will be packed in a set of 90 SMS messages priced at Rs 30 and made available through an specially-created SMS subscription pack. Users will get 3 SMS’ every day. Plans are underway for an audio version, at Rs. 30 for subscription, and Re. 1 per minute for listening. The usual. (Business Standard)

Our take: The SMS book is a strange concept. Who remembers how the story paused the day before? It’s an interesting experiment, but we dont think it will succeed.

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BRAI Still Under Consideration

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is still examining the draft of the proposed Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill in consultation with various stakeholders. The draft Bill proposes to set up an independent Broadcasting Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) for broadcasting services, and the proposed regulator will be empowered to issue regulations regarding the places, types and quantity of equipment to be provided by the service providers free of cost, for monitoring of content and the manner in which such monitoring may be carried out by the licensing authorities or authorized officers under the Bill. (PIB)

Our take: What happens when content becomes interactive? Will a voice portal come under the BRAI or the TRAI? We think there should be one regulator for content and carriage.

Nautanki.tv To Add Regional Content, Go Mobile

Nautanki.tv, an online video content service in which Hungama has a stake, plans to expand to Malayalam, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Gujarati languages, by the end of this year. CEO Sunil Nair expects the Internet demographics to change drastically in the next 18 months. Nautanki.tv is planning to go mobile as well. (exchange4media)

Our Take: We hope the Internet demographics change, but dont see anything significant changing over the next 18 months. Unless of course, the access is mobile.

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DoT To Divest Stake In Bharti Hexacom In 6 Months

The department of telecom has been given approval by the Cabinet to sell its 30% holding in Bharti Hexacom, a subsidiary of Bharti Airtelthat operates the network in six states and has some 9 million subscribers. Bharti owns 70% of Hexacom while the 30% is owned by the state-owned Telecom Consultants of India (TCIL). The sale, through a two stage process, will be completed in six months. (ET, ET)

Ybrant Eyeing An IPO

Digital marketing firm Ybrant is mulling an IPO to fund its acquisition spree. The company will be making another one, in the mobile marketing space, this quarter. It plans to expand its mobile offerings in India and China to tap the growing subscriber base. It planned to go public in February 2008, but the economic meltdown changed things and this year, the firm is planning to try again. The amount expected to be raised last year was Rs. 120 crore. (Financial Chronicle)

More on Ybrant here.

Policy Changes To FDI For Radio Only After Phase III

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Concessions on allowing news to be broadcast by private FM radio operators, and changes to the foriegn direct investment slab will have to wait until the telecom regulatory body TRAI finalises on the expansion plans under Phase III of private FM radio broadcasting. Phase III will bring radio stations to more cities, just as how 337 new channels were put up for bidding in Phase II in 2005. (IndianTelevision)

Our Take: First it was the elections, now it is this – the postponement could be difficult on private FM broadcasters. If there is a demand for more FM channels, what’s holding the government back?

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