Bharti Cellular to expand operations in north India

MUMBAI: Bharti Cellular Limited, India?s leading cellular service provider, today announced major expansion plans for AirTel in Uttar Pradesh (west) and Uttaranchal with a planned additional investment of Rs 800 million in the financial year 2003. This will take the total investment made by AirTel, to Rs 2.3 billion within 22 months of operation in the region.

In a press release, AirTel also announced its plans to roll out services in 25 new towns of UP (west) and Uttaranchal in Firozabad, Hathrus, Gajraula, Philkua and Mawana by the end of November. AirTel also announced its plans of installing 104 new base stations thereby taking the total number of base stations in the region to 340.

The release claims that this will be the highest number of base stations by any service provider and reflects AirTel?s commitment of providing an unmatched mobile service experience on a congestion free network. AirTel also announced a slew of initiatives customised to the needs of its customers in UP (west) an Uttaranchal.

Announcing this, Bharti Cellular north central region CEO Sanjay Nandrajog says: ?AirTel is a promise of the best network, customised service and a complete mobile service experience. Having firmly established our leadership position in Delhi and most of the other markets in the country, we are all set to replicate the experience in UP (west) and Uttaranchal. With a planned roll out of our services in 25 new towns and with significant investments on infrastructure, we are also well on course to ensure that the AirTel mobile service experience is available to a larger base of customers within a very short time.?

In phase II, services will be rolled out in Sambhal, Pilibhit, Badaun, Shamli, Deoband, Haldwani, Radrapur, Kathgodam, Kashipur, Bajpur, Kicha, Chandausi, Bilaspur, Kaladhunghi, Ramnagar and Fatehpur Sikri.

AirTel has also launched the North India Roaming Facility. The service comprises of the following features:

* North India Roaming service will be available to customers without any additional security deposit.

* The service will be available at a monthly rental of only Rs 30. However, the service will be free of rental till 30 October 2003.

* The mobile circles of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan form a part of the North India roaming service.

* A customer while roaming in these circles will be able to make outgoing calls to all the five circles of North Roaming and his home circle. They can however, receive calls from anywhere in the world

AirTel has also announced special ISD rates to the Middle East till the end of the month for both postpaid as well as prepaid customers.

* ISD Calls to Middle East in September can be made at Rs 11.99 per minute instead of the usual rate of Rs 15.99 per minute for post-paid and Rs 16.99 per minute for pre-paid customers.

* These rates are 50 per cent cheaper than landline rates for ISD calls.

AirTel customers will now be able to make STD calls to Delhi at Re 1.00 per minute on a post-paid connection and Rs 1.99 per minute on pre-paid connection during weekends.

Bharti Tele-Ventures (BTVL) claims to have an aggregate of 4.9 million customers as of 31 August 2003, consisting of approximately 4.4 million mobile and 469,000 fixed line customers. We are the largest mobile service provider in the country. The all-India market share as on 31 August 2003 was 25.2 per cent.

For the quarter ended 30 June 2003, revenues and EBITDA as per un-audited IAS accounts were Rs 10.36 billion and Rs 2.89 billion respectively. As on 30 June 2003, the company has made a gross investment of over Rs106.50 billion (US$ 2.3 billion) in building telecom in India.

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