Etisalat DB, will be launching GSM services soon in India under the brand Cheers Mobile Service. The website for Cheers is already live with information on various tariff and customer care numbers. At the time of filing this report, we haven’t yet received a response from Etisalat DB’s corporate communications team.

According to Telecom Talk, its GSM Mobile Network is live in TamilNadu and Kerala. We checked and it isn’t live in Delhi yet. The launch of their commercial services is expected soon in Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh and other circles soon. If the company does start operations in April, it will be the fourth telco to launch GSM services in the last 5 months and second this year, and the 15th telecom operator in India, in all. S Tel and Uninor had launched in December last year and Videocon started operations in Coimbatore early this month. Etisalat DB is one of the pre-qualified bidders for 3G spectrum in India; the auction is expected to begin on April 9th 2010.

The company is a joint venture between Etisalat and Dynamix Balwas Group: Etisalat had bought 45 percent share for $900 million in Swan Telecom and subsequently the joint venture was renamed Etisalat DB. The UAE based telco was further looking at raising it stake by 5.27 percent. Etisalat DB has UASL license to operate 2G services in 15 circles including Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Uttar Pradesh (East), Uttar Pradesh (West), Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

Tariff Plans

According to the website the operator will looks to be starting out with just prepaid services and the SIM pack will cost Rs 49 which will have validity for a year. The company has decided low call rates without any special tariff vouchers or a per second plan. Local calls within the network and outside own network will cost 10 paisa and 30 paisa per minute respectively. All STD calls will be charged 60 paisa per minute.

SMS rates are similar to the call rates . Local and national SMS within own network will cost 10 paisa and local and national SMS to other network will cost 30 paisa and 50 paisa respectively. International SMS will cost the standard Rs 5. ISD calls have been priced according to 7 zones, call rates ranging from Rs 6.4 to Rs 550. Incase if you are wondering, Rs 550 is for Iridium calls, i.e. satellite phones.

Talktime recharge vouchers are available from Rs 10 to Rs 100, though there is no mention of recharge voucher for validity.

Acquiring subscribers might not be a problem as Uninor has shown but the trick would be retaining that base. If Etisalat does manage to get 3G license in the circles it has applied for that will definitely boost the telcos chances, but the telco will need to survive the competition  from the 14 others. So best of luck and ‘Cheers’.

Tower Sharing & Other Agreements

In July last year Etisalat DB signed a passive tower sharing deal with Reliance Communication’s tower business Reliance Infratel. Its other deals to the run up of starting services in India include:

— Roaming agreement with BSNL which was under the CBI’s scanner
— $150 million, 5 year agreement with BPO service providers Tech Mahindra, Aegis and Conflux for billing, collections, customer service, retention and also be responsible for the complete management of back office processes. A letter of intent was also signed with Tech Mahindra to manage the telco’s IT applications and infrastructure requirements for rollouts in all 15 circles for 10 years for $ 400 million.
— Mc Cann Worldgroup’s MRM Worldwide and Karishma Initiative(Lintas Group) were appointed advertising & communications partners and media planning & buying agency respectively in October last year.
— Bharti Group mobile VAS company Comviva recently announced that it had inked a global mobile VAS deal with Etisalat.

Related:

Videocon Launches GSM Service In Coimbatore, Finally!
Etisalat-Alliance Infratech Can’t Merge Says DoT: Report
Cellebrum CMO Pankaj Sharma Moves To Etisalat DB India
Etisalat Looks To Increase Stake In Indian JV
Etisalat Gets 45% In Swan Tele For $900 Million
Live: Uninor Launches In 7 Circles; Price War @Rs. 0.29
Batelco Funded S Tel Lauches GSM Operations; Indiatimes; Per Second Billing