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Deep cash lines laid for Bharti basic ventures

New Delhi, Nov. 24: Bharti Tele-Ventures plans to invest Rs 650 crore over the next five months in six telecom circles for which it holds basic service licences.

To fuel its ambitious growth plans, the company has already spent Rs 850 crore in April-October, taking the total investment to Rs 1500 crore in the current financial year.

The company provides basic telephony services in Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Bharti group chairman and managing director Sunil Bharti Mittal said an additional investment would be made to further expand its all-India footprint by applying for six new licences to provide telecom services in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (East), Bengal, Andaman Nicobar, Orissa, Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir.

“Resources will not be a problem even if there is a delay in raising the foreign direct investment limit. We can always generate resources through other alternatives available with us,” said Mittal.

Once the company gets the green signal from the department of telecommunications, AirTel — Bharti's cellular service brand — will become a telecom behemoth with its footprint spanning 21 circles.

Currently, India's largest GSM operator adds almost 10,000 customers a day. Going by current estimates, the company is set to add its next 1 million customers in three to four months.

Meanwhile, AirTel today became the first Indian GSM operator to cross the 5 million-customer mark.

To celebrate the occasion, AirTel will be offering a 50 per cent discount on SMS to all its 5 million customers for two days — November 26 and 27.

AirTel has a pan-India market share of more than 25.1 per cent (as on October 31, 2003). It currently operates mobile services in 15 circles and leads in six: Delhi, Punjab, Karnataka, Chennai, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

Bharti today received a letter of intent to offer telecom services under the new access licence from the department of telecommunications. It will haveto pay Rs 91 crore as entry fee to offer telecom services.The company will have to pay Rs 2 crore each as entry fee for Jammu andKashmir and Orissa. It will have to pay Rs 10 crore for Bihar and Rs 45crore for Uttar Pradesh (East). Bharti will have to pay Rs 32 crore forthe Rajasthan circle.

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