S Tel set to invest Rs. 700 cr in 3G services

S Tel, the youngest telecom operator to have bagged 3G licenses in the recent spectrum auctions in India, today announced its plans to invest Rs. 700 crores for acquisition of 3G spectrum and roll out of services. The company plans to raise Rs. 338 crores through a 1:1 debt to equity ratio towards license fee payment for the three circles of Bihar & Jharkhand, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh. The debt is already tied up with Indian nationalized banks via a bridge loan and the company is set to meet the timelines stipulated by DOT. S Tel is the only new operator to have bid consistently and won 3G spectrum at a high success rate, leading to acquisition of licenses in all three circles of its current operations.

Commenting on the acquisition of the licenses, Mr. Shamik Das, Chief Executive Officer, S Telsaid“Our business strategy is aimed at making benefits of mobility accessible to a large section of society in the six growth circles. Our commitment to consumers is entrenched in our company vision. Despite being a new operator which has launched services in India in the last six months, we had aggressively bid for 3G spectrum and won licenses in three circles. We view 3G technologies as important elements for advancing socio-economic development, bridging the digital divide that exists in certain regions especially where tele density and Internet penetration are low. Strategically, our investment in 3G spectrum is targeted at being ready for all future services. Our network is compliant with third generation standards and we are well geared to keep pace with the adoption of this technology.”

Commenting on what 3G will mean for its customers in times to come, he added, “3G mobile connectivity has the potential to deliver essential and richer communication services (i.e. financial, healthcare, education, etc.) that benefit people at every tier of society. This technology will enable high-speed data transfer and enhance the user experience with bandwidth heavy services such as live video streaming and many other graphic formats.”

Talking about the company’s future investment plans, Mr. Shamik Das, Chief Executive Officer said, “S Tel will invest approx Rs. 360 crores in capital expenditure over the next five years to roll out 3G services in Bihar & Jharkhand, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh. We are presently working out details for raising this sum and are in talks with potential lenders.”

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. P. Swaminathan, Director, S Tel and President, Siva Group, said, “Securing 3G licenses in the three principal circles of Bihar, Orissa and HP in which S Tel’s 2G services have been launched 5 months ago, highlights the long term strategic commitment of S Tel and the keenness of the partners, Siva Group and Batelco Group, to offer the best of services to their customers.”

Batelco Group, Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Peter Kaliaropoulos stated, “After having launched its operations in record time, S Tel has achieved a new milestone by being part of the inaugural group of operators to have won 3G spectrum in IndiaTogether with our partner in India, Siva Group, we aspire to make S Tel a significant and formidable operator in the country, the third largest and fastest growing mobile market in the world,” he added.

In November 2009, S Tel achieved financial closure for its Rs. 2000 crore telecom project and was the first amongst the new operators to do so. Last month, the company became the fastest mobile operator in India to clock the 1 million mark in ‘C’ circles, having achieved the milestone in just 90 days of operations.

S Tel’s entry into the Indian telecom market was marked by its pioneering ‘Bulk Minutes’ concept wherein the operator offered first of its kind daily, monthly and yearly bulk minutes plans for low, mid and high user segments. The company ventured into the Indian market allowing the user the flexibility to chose the base plan of 1 p/sec or 50 p/ min for all Local and STD calls. Presently, S Tel also offers path breaking tariffs of Local calls @ 25p/min, STD @ 40p/min across India and ISD @ 5p/sec to top International destinations.

S Tel offers a bouquet of competitively priced VAS services on both, SMS and voice platform. Its premium SMS alerts come at just Re. 1 / SMS. Consumers can also access voice portal services focused on mobile education, exam results, government jobs, etc at this same price point. In addition, against the industry norm of offering flat monthly subscription plans for caller tunes (which constitute 35% of VAS usage by customers), the company provides flexible i.e. monthly, weekly and daily plans. To continue with its focus on core regional offerings, S Tel will launch regional voice portal in June 2010. S Tel will extend mobile commerce solutions such as railway & air ticketing, mobile wallet as well as innovative regional social networking platforms to its audience in C circles in second quarter of this financial year.

S Tel’s customer care strategy based on the 3S pillars of Simple, Sensitive and Swift, is focused on providing superior customer & retailer service. The company maintains that almost 95% of customer queries are attended within 10 seconds of the caller opting to speak with the customer care representative. I-Care program, a unique initiative by S Tel, is aimed at removing the pain points of the retailer. Retailers can talk directly to the customer care agent without having to go through the IVR and can also expect their concerns to be resolved within 30 minutes of initiation of the call. S Tel’s world class call centre at Kolkata is managed by Tech Mahindra and addresses queries across all the three circles in English, Hindi and Oriya language.

To continue providing the best network in its towns of operation, by end of 2010, S Tel will deploy another 2000 sites across Bihar, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh. The company plans to launch its operations in Assam and North East shortly.

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