Airtel 3G launch in India by end of 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010, 13:37 by Tech Correspondent

Bharti Airtel, the largest telecoms company in India, has announced that it will start offering 3G services before the end of this year.

Bharti Airtel has 3G spectrum licenses for 13 of the 22 telecoms circles in India. The company will deploy high speed HSPA 3G networks from Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei.

Airtel will probably share 3G spectrum in the territories where it does not have a license, and vice versa. This will enable the company to offer countrywide 3G roaming services to users. Related: 3G service providers in India

To launch 3G in India, Bharti Airtel will partner with Singtel which operates some of the world’s most advanced 3G networks in Singapore, Australia, Philippines and Indonesia.

Airtel first launched its 3G services in Seychelles, followed by Sri Lanka, Jersey and Guernsey.

3G airwave licenses were auctioned earlier this year by the government, which earned $15 billion from the process. Airtel, meanwhile, paid $ 2.77 billion (Rs. 122.95 billion) for its 3G licenses in areas that together contribute 68 per cent of its revenue, according to the company. These regions include Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad – which, the carrier says, together account for more than 20 per cent of all data traffic in India.

This announcement from Airtel comes days after Tata Docomo outlined plans to launch its 3G services on November 5, and Vodafone said it intends to roll out its 3G offerings by the end of March next year.

Reliance Communications, too, will begin offering 3G soon – though no official information is available on the exact time table. There is also no news on when Idea Cellular, Aircel and STel, the other three companies of the total six carriers that won 3G spectrum licenses, plan to offer 3G services in India.

State run telecoms companies MTNL and BSNL, on the other hand, have been offering 3G for over a year now.

Airtel is present in 19 countries across Asia and Africa and controls about 70 per cent of the Indian telecoms market in terms of revenue. The company had more than 141 million subscribers at the end of August this year, as per figures from the Indian telecoms regulator.

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