Only two companies bid to run MTNL's 3G ops

New Delhi: UK-based Richard Branson's Virgin Group and BK-Modi run Spice Group are the only bidders in the fray to run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam's (MTNL) 3G services in the country according to top company officials.

MTNL, the biggest fixed line operator in New Delhi and Mumbai, had invited bids in July this year for a franchise deal to sell its 3G mobile services on a revenue-sharing basis for 10 years.

The state run company is seeking a partner having technical expertise to help it kick start its 3G services before private sector competitors like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar, enter the fray.

In the first six months of this year MTNL received a meagre 1,000 subscribers for the service in New Delhi mainly because it is perceived to be lacking the financial muscle and marketing strength of private sector rivals.

Third generation spectrum, or 3G, refers to high-speed wireless services which facilitate video calling and internet on mobile phones.

Telecom experts opine that Richard Branson's Virgin may be selected as it has experience in running 3G services in European countries. MTNL has specified that to qualify as a partner, a company should have prior experience in offering 3G services and should also have a minimum of 1 million customers on this platform in at least two countries.