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MTS to launch high-speed internet services soon
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New telecom licencee MTS, in which Sistema of Russia holds a majority stake, is preparing to launch high-speed wireless internet services that offer speeds of up to 3.1 mbps.

GSM operators have termed the services “legally untenable”, something MTS contests. The move will enable MTS (a brand owned by Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd) to join the league of major CDMA operators.

On a comparative basis, the services are 20 times faster than other wireless broadband connections and 10 times faster than average fixed line broadband connections in the country. When asked, Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd (SSTL) President and Chief Executive Officer Vsevolod Rozanov confirmed the development and said: “Yes, we are considering it.”

“Other CDMA operators have already launched the services and we don’t see why there should be an issue. Clearly, the data market is picking up. Though, a company cannot focus on data only, there needs to a sustainable business balancing both data and voice,” he added.

SSTL is a joint venture between Sistema of Russia (73.71 per cent) and the Shyam Group of India (23.79 per cent), with the remaining 2.5 per cent being publicly held.

The Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) had earlier sought the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT’s) intervention to stop these high-speed wireless internet services. COAI claimed these were 3G Evolution Value Data Optimised (EVDO) services. In its letter, COAI complained it was ‘legally untenable’ to permit select players to get a preferential headstart to offer 3G services.

MTS, which has operations across six circles, will complete a pan-India rollout by the end of next year. The company will roll out services in Delhi and the National Capital Region by Diwali (October), Karnataka in a month’s time and Mumbai, Maharashtra and Haryana by the end of this year.

The three major CDMA operators - Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (3G EVDO card), Reliance Communications (Reliance Netconnect) and Tata Teleservices Ltd (Photon+) had earlier rolled out their services.

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