Loop Mobile

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Loop Mobile
Former type Private
Industry Telecommunication
Fate Acquired by Bharti Airtel
Founded Mumbai, Maharashtra, India (1994 (1994))
Defunct 2014 (2014)
Headquarters Mahim, Mumbai, India
Area served Mumbai
Key people Sandip Basu (MD and CEO)[1]
Services Mobile network operator
Owner(s) Khaitan Group (99%)[2][3]
Employees 550 (December 2013)[4]
Website www.loopmobile.in

Loop Mobile, usually referred to as LOOP and formerly known as BPL Mobile, was an Indian mobile network operator. On 18 February 2014, Bharti Airtel announced that it had agreed to acquire Loop Mobile for INR700 crore (US$120 million).

At its peak, Loop offered both prepaid and postpaid GSM cellular phone coverage in Assam, Kolkata, North East, Mumbai, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan after receiving a license to operate across 21 telecom circles from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).[5][6]

History[edit]

BPL Mobile Communications, established in 1994, was India's first mobile network operator.[7] It began commercial operations in 1995.[8] The Khaitan Holdings Group took ownership control in 2005,[9] purchasing a 99% stake in the company at a cost of INR700 crore (equivalent to INR13 billion or US$210 million in 2014).[10] BPL Mobile was renamed to Loop Mobile in March 2009, following the expiry of its brand-use agreement with the TPG Nambiar owned BPL Group.[8] Having consistently met and exceeded TRAI benchmarks, Loop Mobile was ISO 9001:2008 certified in 2009, in accordance with the TUV NORD CERT auditing and certification procedures.[11]

During the year 2010, Loop Mobile had invested about INR200 crore (equivalent to INR270 crore or US$45 million in 2014) as a part of its Phase I capex plan for a major network upgrade.[12] As a part of the expansion, 1,200 new cell sites were added in Mumbai, making its network one of the strongest in the city. The next generation Software-defined radio (SDR), were installed for the first-of-its-kind GSM deployment across any metro in India. The SDR-based next-generation IP (NGIP) network upgrade is environment-friendly which will considerably reduce carbon foothold. This up-gradation instantly added network quality, crystal clear voice clarity and high-speed data.[13]

On 18 February 2014, Bharti Airtel announced that it had agreed to acquire Loop Mobile for INR700 crore (US$120 million), subject to regulatory and statutory approvals. This was the first merger in the Indian telecoms market in nearly six years.[14] This was also the first deal to be recorded since the government had finalised a new mergers and acquisitions (M&A) policy earlier that year, although the policy had not been notified formally.[2] The two companies had been in talks since mid-2013.[15] Loop Mobile's 20 year licence in the 900 MHz band was due to expire in the last quarter of 2014, and the company did not participate in the 2014 spectrum auction,[16] making it impossible for the company to continue operations.[17]

Loop Mobile's 3 million subscribers were added to Airtel's 4 million subscribers in Mumbai under the agreement, taking Airtel's total customer base in Mumbai to more than 7 million, helping it surpass Vodafone as the largest operator by subscriber base in the circle, though its market share by revenue for Mumbai still lagged Vodafone.[14] The deal also added Loop Mobile's EDGE enabled network supported by more than 2,500 cell sites (400 owned by Loop Mobile),[10] to Airtel's existing 2G and 3G network supported by over 4,000 cell sites across Mumbai, and offered subscribers the widest exclusive retail reach with 220 outlets across the city.[18] Airtel also acquired electronic equipment, optic fibre and the 8 megahertz of spectrum in the 900 MHz band held by Loop in Mumbai.[19] However, Airtel did not acquire Loop Mobile's 550 employees.[4] The status of Loop's employees could not be immediately ascertained.[20]

Technology[edit]

Being the country's oldest telecom service provider, Loop Mobile is the first operator in the country to offer services like MMS, GPRS and Caller Ring Tunes.[21] Other VAS include Reply-All, Roaming on Prepaid, Intelligent network, General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Multimedia Messaging Service(MMS), Missed Call Alert, Caller Ring Tune, Mobile Tracker, Doctor-on-Call, "1 paise per sec" prepaid plan, Karaoke Messaging among others.[22] Apart from Mumbai, it is amongst the new mobile services companies to be awarded licences to operate across 21 circles by DoT.[5] Loop Mobile uses the latest NGIP (Next Generation Internet Protocol) and EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) technology.[23]

Subscriber base[edit]

Loop Mobile's subscriber base as at the end of July 2011 is as follows (as of 15 May 2012 only Mumbai remains):-

Totalling to 3,260,000 (Approx.) or 0.50% (Approx.) of the total [24] mobile connections in India.

Controversy[edit]

Main article: 2G spectrum scam

Loop Telecom was probed by CBI for being a beneficiary of the 2G scam allegedly perpetrated by former telecommunications minister A. Raja. The Enforcement Directorate fined a sum of INR384 crore (US$65 million) on Loop Mobile and Loop Telecom for alleged foreign exchange violations. Loop Telecom is a subsidiary of Loop Mobile, owned by the Santa Group of Khaitans, having family ties with the Ruias of Essar Group.[25] Firm for alleged violation of foreign exchange laws to the tune of about INR384 crores in connexion with the 2G scam. Loop was issued notices for not intimating the RBI after receiving the money through FDI entities. The second violation committed by them was regarding not issuing shares within specified time period.[26][27]

On 18 August 2011, Loop mobile along with Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications and Vodafone was issued notices by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) for violation of Mobile number portability(MNP) Regulations. According to TRAI, they had received complains from customers regarding wrong rejection of porting requests by telecom operators and also INR10 been charged for a message for requesting porting code through number 1900.[28] In April 2012 Loop Mobile announced its intention to shut down operations across India except Mumbai with effect from 15 May 2012.[29] The move is expected to impact 6,100 customers, however, the figure is much less than 0.01% of the number of mobile phone users in India.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ SANDIP BASU JOINS LOOP TELECOM AS CEO, telecomtalk.info, 17 August 2009, retrieved 8 August 2011 
  2. ^ a b Sounak Mitra (19 February 2014). "Bharti Airtel buys Loop assets for Rs 700 cr". Business Standard. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "With Loop Mobile deal, Bharti Airtel dethrones Vodafone from No.1". DNA. 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  4. ^ a b Rajesh Kurup (18 February 2014). "Uncertainty looms over Loop Mobile employees". Business Line. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b BPL Mobile Renamed Loop Mobile:Loop Telecom and the need for a unified brand, medianama.com, 18 March 2009, retrieved 8 August 2011 
  6. ^ LOOP TELECOM, loopmobile.inaccessdate=8 August 2011 
  7. ^ LOOP TELECOM LAUNCHES GSM SERVICE IN TAMILNADU AND ORISSA, telecomtalk.info, 11 May 2009, retrieved 8 August 2011 
  8. ^ a b BPL Mobile was renamed to Loop Mobile, business-standard.com, 18 March 2009, retrieved 8 August 2011 
  9. ^ "About Us". Loop Moble. Retrieved 19 February 2014. "The company started its operations in 1995 as BPL Mobile. Subsequent to the change of shareholding in 2005, the Khaitan Holdings Group took ownership control. In 2009, the brand name changed from BPL Mobile to Loop Mobile." 
  10. ^ a b Shishir Asthana (18 February 2014). "Loop acquisition is a win-win deal for Airtel". Business Standard. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  11. ^ LOOP TELECOM is now ISO certified, telecomtalk.info, 18 August 2009, retrieved 8 August 2011 
  12. ^ Loop Mobile upgradation, thehindubusinessline.in, retrieved 9 August 2011 
  13. ^ Loop Mobile invests Rs200 crores for network upgrade in Mumbai, Daily News and Analysis, 28 April 2010, retrieved 9 August 2011 
  14. ^ a b "India's Bharti agrees to buy smaller telecoms carrier Loop's operations". Reuters. 2014-01-10. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  15. ^ "Bharti Airtel emerges as frontrunner to acquire Loop Mobile". The Times of India. 2013-09-02. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  16. ^ "Bharti set to take over Loop in Rs 700-crore deal". Timesofindia. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  17. ^ http://www.livemint.com/Companies/dNSno0XeArrtLZ52E8pD6N/Bharti-Airtel-confirms-purchase-of-Loop-Mobile.html
  18. ^ Rajesh Kurup (18 February 2014). "Bharti Airtel acquires Loop Mobile". Business Line. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  19. ^ "Bharti To Buy Loop Mobile In Rs 700-cr Deal: Reports". Businessworld.in. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  20. ^ "Bharti Airtel to buy Loop Mobile business for Rs 700 cr". Economic Times. The Times of India Group. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  21. ^ LOOP MOBILE THROW OUT NETWORK CAMPAIGN, telecomtalk.info, 28 May 2009, retrieved 8 August 2011 
  22. ^ About Loop Mobile, loopmobile.in, November 2010, retrieved 8 August 2011 
  23. ^ Loop Mobile, darkwap.mobi, retrieved 8 August 2011 
  24. ^ Cellular Subscriber Statistics for July 2011
  25. ^ "ED issues notice to two Loop telecom firms". Hindustan Times. 18 August 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  26. ^ "Loop fined Rs 384 crore". Indian Express. 18 August 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  27. ^ "Loop Telecom, Loop Mobile on ED radar in 2G scam". Business Today. 18 August 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  28. ^ "TRAI issues notices to operators for violating norms". NDTV. 18 August 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  29. ^ "India's Loop Telecom latest casualty of 2G scam". Reuters. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  30. ^ ET Bureau (10 April 2012). "Loop telecom to shut operations outside Mumbai". The Economic Times (Mumbai). Retrieved 10 April 2012. 

External links[edit]