AirTel To Ring In TN, Kerala By June End

Chennai: | Updated: May 30 2002, 05:30am hrs
Bharti Cellular Ltd is planning to launch its cellular services under the brandname AirTel in the Tamil Nadu (TN) and Kerala circles by the end of June. The company is shelling out a whopping Rs 300 crore to set up the necessary facilities. The entire investment is funded by parent company Bharti Televentures Ltd.

Though the cellular telecom company is the fourth operator in both these circles, it is expected to start operations ahead of the official third operator BSNL.

The two players now operating in Tamil Nadu are Aircel and BPL and Escotel and BPL are the two players in Kerala.

Talking to eFE, Mr PH Rao, CEO of the Southern Hub of Bharti Cellular Ltd, said the company would be launching its cellular services in TN and Kerala within four to five weeks. While it will be present in 102 locations in Kerala, in Tamil Nadu its services would be available inover 50 towns and cities - all from day one, he said.

The company is also planning to put-up 400-plus base stations (over 200 each) in the two states, for which it awaiting the SACFA approval. The number of base stations to be set up by Bharti in these two states will be much higher than all the existing operators there except Aircel, which has over 300 base stations. In addition to this, the company will put up a main switch each in both the states and five smaller switches in Tamil Nadu and three in Kerala. The entire network equipment for the two states is being purchased from Ericsson.

The investment will also cater to systems for various services like voicemail, SMS, billing, call centre for customer care, etc., besides offices in Coimbatore and Kochi, the hubs and initial recruitment. The company plans to start with 100 employees in each state and progressively increase its staff strength based on its growth, according to Mr Rao.

The company is looking at expanding the market in both the states. While Kerala has around 3.6 lakh subscribers, TN has under 3 lakh.