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Now Airtel eyes rural India for next round of growth

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | October 03, 2007
Bharti Airtel, which started telecom operations in 1995 as one of the pioneers of the mobile market in India, has crossed the 50 million customer base mark

Bharti & #BANNER1 & # Airtel, which started telecom operations in 1995 as one of the pioneers of the mobile market in India, has crossed the 50 million customer base mark (including mobile, broadband and fixed line customers).

Airtel, which adds two million subscribers per month, is now targeting to cross the 100-million customer base before 2010. Speaking at a press conference, Akhil Gupta, joint managing director, Bharti Airtel, points out that Airtel is gearing up to empower rural citizens with its telecom services. Gupta says, "Our first round of growth was fuelled by urban India and the next round of growth will come from rural India."

With a 20 per cent rural customer base as of now, Airtel has plans to expand its network to more than five lakh villages in India in the coming years. Manoj Kohli, president and CEO, Bharti Airtel, says, "Even if the villages do not have roads or air link, Airtel will empower villagers with its telecom services."

It is obvious that consumers in rural India will have a different set of needs and understanding with regard to telecom services. That's why, initially, Airtel will offer basic services with more simplified tariff plans. Says Sanjay Kapoor, president, mobile services, Bharti Airtel: "For rural India, Airtel will focus on simplification of access and localisation of content as well as services."

On localisation, Kapoor adds that voice SMS will be more popular as it is easier to access than text-based SMS. Airtel is also testing WiMax-based services across various cities in India and this will definitely help it in integrating its services with rural India.