Bharti Plans Pan-India 3G Launch This Year

Following hard on the heels of Vodafone India and Tata Teleservices Ltd. , India's mobile market leader Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) says it will launch its 3G services across the country by the end of this calendar year. (See Vodafone Unveils India 3G Timeline and Tata Eyes India's 3G Gold Medal .)

The operator, which has activated more than 140 million mobile connections, was awarded 3G licenses in 13 of India's 22 circles (service areas) following the spectrum auction earlier this year, and is currently in "advanced discussions" regarding reciprocal roaming agreements with other 3G license holders that will give it national 3G coverage. (See India's 3G Auction Ends, Raises $14.6B and 3G to Drive Roaming Deals in India.)

Bharti is in the final stages of rolling out its 3G network, for which it is using technology from Nokia Networks , Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (See More 3G Action in India.)

The operator stated in a press release that it is planning to offer mobile commerce and mobile health services as well as "meeting the growing demand" for "high-speed surfing and wireless entertainment."

The carrier has some 3G experience, having already launched WCDMA-based services in Sri Lanka, the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, and the Seychelles.

Bharti also hopes to benefit from the experience of partner and shareholder Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) (OTC: SGTJY), which offers 3G services in Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. SingTel holds a 32 percent stake in the Indian operator.

India's privately owned operators are in a race to be the first to launch 3G services in competition with state-owned carriers Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) , which were handed their licenses early and launched their 3G services nearly two years ago. Tata Teleservices looks set to win the race, as it plans to launch its services during the first week of November.

Not all of India's 3G license holders are in such a rush, though. (See India's S Tel Eases Toward 3G Launch.)

— Gagandeep Kaur, India Editor, Light Reading

Sunderjeet 12/5/2012 | 4:20:24 PM
re: Bharti Plans Pan-India 3G Launch This Year

I wonder what kind of m-commerce & health services would specifically need a 3G connection. As on data, Bharti would surely need to increase smartphone penetration. Are we seeing a case for subsidized phones here ? Well ... May be !!

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