Bharti Airtel crosses 200 million subscribers Worldwide, plans to roll out 3G in India by end 2010

India’s largest telecom company, Bharti Airtel,which operates in 19 countries across Asia and Africa after its $9 billion African telecoms acquisition this year, has crossed the the 200 million or 20 crores subscribers on its network world-wide (Told to Reuters).

The company is on track for a 3G wireless services roll out in India by the end of this year, says Bharti chairman.

The third-generation (3G) services, by far rolled out by only one private player, Tata DoCoMo, would facilitate faster Internet on mobile phones and help operators grow their data revenue in a market where voice calls account for close to 90 percent of companies' revenue.

The level of hope among operators with the 3G can be ascertained from the fact that, in an auction for 3G Spectrum allotment to businesses, players bid at much higher levels than expected; with Bharti and its peers spending a total of more than $23 billion in acquiring the licenses.

The hopes with 3G are not very misplaced. India currently has 15 players in its telecom market. A congested situation for operators, which has given rise to a tough call price war since last year, sending the call prices down to .4 cents or 2 paisa per minute. A scenario which is hitting telecom firms' financials. And unless consolidation takes place, with not more than 4 players left; operators have to look for avenues where subscribers can be charged more or made to spend more. 3G is one such area.

Bharti has licenses to provide 3G in 13 of India's 22 telecoms zones. Bharti has named Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei Technologies as its network equipment partners for 3G and has said it is in talks with other operators for alliances to provide 3G services beyond the 13 zones for which it has licenses (This alliance thing, should be looked from the perspective that, at the time of bidding not all players who got the spectrum, bought it to enter into Indian telecom sector directly; mostly small entities, they got into 3G spectrum to either sell their buy at a profit to some other player or become a part of some alliance ). --------

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