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Bharti's submarine cable project by March

Our Bureau

The $ 650-million project, being undertaken by SingTel and Bharti, will facilitate various data-centric applications for the growing telecom sector in India.

HYDERABAD, Jan. 24

BHARTI Televentures Ltd, the holding company of Bharti group of companies, is on course to operationalise its cellular services in nine more telecom circles by the middle of this year and complete the mega submarine cable project between Singapore and Chennai by March this year.

The Joint Managing Director of Bharti Enterprises, Mr Rajan Bharti Mittal, told presspersons here on Thursday that the submarine cable project which is being deployed between Singapore and India, with a landing facility at Chennai, will be ready by March this year.

Ms Tina Uneken, Senior Director, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, said the $ 650-million project, being undertaken by SingTel and Bharti will facilitate various data-centric applications for the growing telecom sector in India.

Ms Uneken said, "India is a crucial market. SingTel has expanded quite dramatically recently in a number of countries and investments in India are top on the agenda. A number of factors are in favour of our business strategy. We are not a financial investor, but a strategic partner.''

During the course of his presentation for the forthcoming IPO, Mr Mittal said the company would be in a position to extend its mobile telephony services to nine more circles by quarter one in some circles and quarter two end of calendar year in some others. With this, the company expects to extend coverage to about 600 million population which works out to about 58 per cent across the country.

Mr Mittal said, "We believe that Bharti is uniquely positioned to leverage the true market potential of the telecom sector. The mobile services footprint is set to be expanded to nine more circles Punjab, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh (West), Haryana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Bharti is currently operating out of seven circles.''

The group, which has about 20 per cent of the country's mobile subscribers enlisted on its rolls, is eyeing 30 per cent market share. With regard to the rural telephony obligation, Mr Mittal said the industry was in favour of a universal service fund to address this.

While welcoming the competitive pricing strategy in the national long distance (NLD), Mr Mittal said regulatory challenges as envisaged under the National Telecom Policy 1999 were being met. The latent untapped mobile market provides a huge business opportunity, he added.

The telecom sector is set to take off, with ten years of reforms being transformed into reality. Studies indicate that there is a direct co-relation between vehicle purchase and cellular industry growth, he added.

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