Chennai, Nov 21: Telecom major Airtel today announced major expansion plans in rural areas in Tamil Nadu to make "every village an Airtel village".
Addressing a press conference here, Bharti Airtel Limited Mobile Services South Hub Director Deepak Mehrotra said with the urban market almost completely covered, the next big thrust would be in the rural space.
''With the objective of providing rural customers best coverage, Airtel is aggressively expanding to make every village an Airtel village. The rural network, currently at 10,000 villages, would go upto 17,000 villages by March 2008. At present, we cover 45 per cent of rural population, which would go upto 65 per cent by March 2008,'' he said.
To ensure seamless connectivity in the state, special attention was being given to highways and rail routes, he said adding that by March 2008, 100 per cent of national highways would be covered and by the end of next year, 80 per cent of state highways and railway routes would also be covered.
The number of towers would go up from 4,000 to more than 6,700 by March next. In terms of towns, the entire urban centres of the state would be covered, he added.
To enable customers to send SMS any time of the day and without any issues during festival occasions, Airtel would increase its SMS capacity by over three times, from 1,850 messages per second to 5,850 messages, Mr Mehrotra said.
He said various surveys had revealed that the strength of the network was the main reason for the customers to opt for Airtel.
In the last few months, Airtel added about 2.5 lakh customers in Tamil Nadu every month and its customer base was nearing five million mark.
Even at the national level, in the last few months, Airtel was the preferred brand with two million additions every month. The overall customer base had crossed 50 million, Mr Mehrotra added.