Business Standard: December, 2013
New Delhi: After signing an agreement with the Punjab government of Monday, Bharti Airtel, country’s largest telecom operator in terms of subscriber base on Monday said it would invest more than Rs 4,000 crore in Punjab over the the period of five years.
The money would be invested to expand services and to contribute to the digital inclusion agenda of the state government, Bharti Airtel said in a statement. The company aims to take its fourth generation long-term evolution (4G LTE) services to all towns and villages across Punjab.
Bharti Airtel, which launched its mobile services in Punjab in 2002, currently has more than 7.2 million customers in the state. It has so far invested more than Rs 4,800 crore across 162 towns and 12,700 villages, covering about 94 per cent of the population in Punjab. It launched LTE services in Chandigarh in March 2013.
“Airtel has been at the forefront of Punjab’s telecom growth story and we are delighted to be a partner in the government of Punjab’s vision to build a digitally inclusive state. Just like the mobile phone connected millions across Punjab, this high speed data connectivity initiative will further empower people with information and services available at the touch of a screen,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and group chief executive officer, Bharti Enterprises.
As part of the agreement, Bharti Airtel will lay an additional 10,000 km of optic fibre across Punjab and expand its 4G footprint to cover most of the state’s population over the next few years. This will also boost broadband services in rural areas and enable the delivery of services such as e-governance, e-education, e-health and much more.
Bharti Airtel will also invest in its existing 2G mobile operations, Wire-line & DSL Broadband, DTH services, M-Commerce Services in Punjab, it said in a statement. At present, the company’s distribution network is spread among 50,000 retailers in Punjab.
Besides telecom, Bharti Group’s retail venture Bharti Retail’s 70 easyday stores of the total 212 outlets nationally are located in Punjab.