Escotel set to invest Rs 1,100 crore for new cellular circles

New Delhi, January 20: | Updated: Jan 21 2002, 05:30am hrs
Cellular operator Escotel is planning to invest Rs 1100 crore for starting operations in four new circles of Punjab, UP (East), Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. "Escotel will be investing close to Rs 1100 crore in the four new circles. The four new circles being a greenfeild operation for Escotel, will initially be funded primarily by shareholders funds and debt," Mr Manoj Kohli, CEO of Escotel told PTI. The company is looking at a 1:1 debt-equity structure for these new circles, he added.

Escotel was amongst five successful bidders in the latest round of cellular bidding, where government received over Rs 1,633 crore by issuing licences for the new cellular slots.

The company landed up with circles of Punjab, Rajasthan and UP (East) for Rs 151.75 crore, Rs 32.25 crore and 45.25 crore respectively, while also bagging Himachal Pradesh circle for Rs 1.10 crore.

Mr Kohli said that Escotel expects to launch services in all the new circles by mid-2002 and added, "We will provide wide coverage and world class services."

Asked about the investment plans for upgrading infrastructure in the existing circles, he said, "We are in the process of finalising our investment plans in the next year. However, in my estimate we should be investing more than Rs 50 crore in existing circles in 2002-03 from the internal accruals of the company."

Mr Kohli said that the company would primarily invest in further strengthening its coverage and in new technology to bring innovative new products and better services to customers. Escotel is currently operational in UP (West), Haryana and Kerala. The company this month, announced a strategic tie-up with AirTel for sharing cellular infrastructure in their common circles, with the move aimed at saving capital and operational expenses and time to launch for both the operators in the common

circles. — PTI