Srinagar, Dec 9: Airtel, the country's largest private cellular operator, has established more than 1000 cell sites since it started services in Jammu and Kashmir in 2004, while another 200 towers were in pipeline during the current fiscal, a company spokesman said.
This was in comparison to 400 cell sites set up by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the state-run telecom service provider, and about 260 by Aircel in the state so far.
The Airtel spokesman said out of the 22 district headquarters in the state, 20 have been brought under network coverage so far.
Similarly, 66 out of 75 towns and as many as 3500 villages in Jammu and Kashmir have been covered since 2004 when Airtel launched its operations in the state, he added.
While 1000 cell sites have been set up in Jammu and Kashmir so far, the spokesman said another 200 towers were in pipeline during the current financial year.
''Airtel has come a long way in Jammu and Kashmir. From just 90 cell sites in 2004 to more than 1000 at present, the network is growing stronger year on year. We are committed to providing world-class network to our customers in the region,'' he added.
The spokesman said Airtel has also managed to connect some of the far-flung areas such as Lolab in the border district of Kupwara, thus fulfilling the communication needs of the rural populace.
He claimed that it was the indomitable spirit of Airtel that led it to launch services at Ladakh, one of the toughest terrain in the world. Airtel has achieved the distinction of installing the highest GSM site in the country at Leh at a height of 11,645 ft above the sea level, the spokesman added.
''On the mobile side, we plan to add about 30,000-cell sites pan India this year and penetrate aggressively into rural markets besides strengthening our network in existing locations.
''We see a lot of pent-up demand in rural markets and given the availability of cheap handsets and affordable tariffs, mobile services will drive telecom penetration in rural areas. As a market leader, we want to lead this next wave to growth in the Indian telecom sector,'' the spokesman said.
BSNL General Manager (Mobiles) T R Wadhwa said his company has so far set up about 400 cell sites in the state while another 400 towers were in pipeline.
He said the BSNL planned to connect the uncovered areas in the state in the coming few months.
As far as Aircel was concerned, it has established about 260-270 cell sites in Jammu and Kashmir since its launch some few years ago.
Sources in Aircel said the company has just 70 towers in the pipeline for the current financial year.