Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Dec 28, 2002
PM launches Reliance's WLL services `virtually'
MUMBAI, Dec. 27
RELIANCE Infocomm's formal entry into the market was today inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at a function here which seemed like high profile glitzy corporate show as well as highly sentimental family event.
The Prime Minister inaugurated the service "virtually'', sitting in the conference room of his Race Course road residence in New Delhi while the live function happened at a business-celebrity studded National Network Operations Centre of Reliance Infocomm in Navi Mumbai.
This is the enclosure, which is the backbone of Reliance Infocomm operations - an enclosure which, with its six-screen projection capability, looked like the innards of a spaceship monitoring centre.
The Prime Minister also spoke into the Reliance limited mobility CDMA phone.
The Minister for IT and Telecommunications, Mr Pramod Mahajan, later launched the network and services, including national long distance and international long distance services.
There were naturally frequent references of high praise and remembrance to the departed founder of Reliance, Dhirubhai Ambani; in fact the first of Reliance's CDMA handsets was presented at the function to his wife, Ms Kokila Ambani, and then later to the Ambanis' guru. The third handset was presented to Mr Pramod Mahajan.
The tone set by both the compere of the function as well as Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, Mr Mukesh Ambani, (who likened the Reliance Infocomm project to a national endeavour such as building the railways network), seemed to infect the Minister as well.
Mr Mahajan appeared to launch the services with the enthusiasm that he might have shown for his own state-owned BSNL. Talking to the Prime Minister at the function over video conference he referred to the Reliance venture as "the start of a telephonic revolution.''
He said he had launched telecom services for five different corporates, "but never before seen one on such a grand scale.'' He called the Network centre "nothing less than a miracle'', likening it to NASA centre, and urged the Prime Minister to visit it. The Prime Minister too expressed his readiness to see it and wished Reliance success.
Mr Mahajan pressed one "button'' after the other, launching the network in one State after another till the first lot of 673 cities was complete. He then launched the NLD service (19 cities) and ILD services to New York and Los Angeles.
Two programmes, one entrepreneurship programme which will help Reliance find and train 2 lakh distributors/franchisees as well as a developer programme (to help Reliance develop applications for its service on open source code) were also launched.
Anil absent for mega show
THE mega-Reliance show, marking the launch of the group's telecommunication services was marked by the conspicuous absence of the high-profile Mr Anil Ambani, younger brother of Mr Mukesh Ambani.
Mr Mukesh Ambani is Chairman and Managing Director of the group while Mr Anil Ambani is Vice-Chairman and Managing Director. At the function Mr Mukesh Ambani was described as the "chief architect of Reliance Infocomm.''
Several other big names from the world of business were present. Mr Deepak Parekh, Mr Anand Mahindra, Mr Nimesh Kampani, Mr Suresh Kotak as well as celebrities such as actor-turned politician Mr Vinod Khanna were present.
In fact some of them spent precious corporate time waiting as much as an hour for the function to start.
Reliance officials said this was on account of having to adjust the programme to the Prime Minister's schedule and convenience.
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