| All clear
Calcutta, Dec. 26: Bharti Tele-Ventures has received a letter of intent (LoI) for the Bengal telecom circle today, thus paving its way for acquiring licences to operate in all circles in the eastern region.
The company is gearing up to commence operations in Bengal, the licence for which has been acquired for Rs 1 crore, in the first quarter of the next fiscal. The roll-out in Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand will follow in the next three to six months. Sikkim comes under the Bengal telecom circle. No other private GSM operator has applied for a licence in these states.
The company has already received the letters of intent for Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh (east) and Rajasthan.
Company officials said an investment of up to Rs 100 crore would be required to commence operations in each circle.
The launch of the AirTel brand in the east will come as a relief for customers who lose the network link when they move out of Calcutta due to poor existing roaming services.
“AirTel will be the only private GSM operator to have a footprint across the eastern region,” said an official in Calcutta.
“The brand will bring a synergy to the services and corporates and small and medium enterprises will benefit immensely from Airtel’s presence across the region. Calcutta will also become the central hub for AirTel in the east.”
It is expected that Airtel will introduce packages and benefits, especially for roaming, in the region on the lines of those availed by subscribers in the west.
Bharti also plans to expand its footprint through the acquisition route in its existing circles. Small regional players are expected to sell off their stakes in the current fiscal, which is expected to bring about consolidation in the industry.