Bharati Airtel to focus on rural areas

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Kochi, May 21 (UNI) With the aim to increase its coverage by about 10 to 12 per cent this year, Bharati Airtel Ltd will focus on greater presence in rural India, company's Director (South) Deepak Mehrotra said today.

Addressing a press conference here, to announce the launch of the Airtel service in Lakshadweep, Mr Mehrotra said a sizeable share of its planned investments for this year would go to boost infrastructure in the rural areas.

Among other measures, the company had tied up with Nokia for easy availability of handsets at the local level and with IFFKO to provide content relevant to rural areas, he added.

''We are planning to take our population coverage to almost 90 per cent and for this it is important for us to foray into the rural areas, which are in need of telecom connectivity,'' he added.

Regarding Lakshadweep, Mr Mehrotra said Airtel was the first private company to launch its service in the islands. Three of the six most populated islands -- Kavaratti, Agatti and Bangaram -- had been covered and plans were afoot to cover the other islands also.

Stating that Bharati had been working on the Lakshadweep project for the past almost one-and-a-half years, Mr Mehrotra said special clearances had to be obtained from the security, intelligence and defence authorities, given the strategic location of the islands.

With the launch of its service in Lakshadweep, Airtel was now available in all States and Union Territories, he added.

Mr Vikas Singh, Chief Operating Officer, Kerala Circle (Mobile Services), said the company was working with the Malayalam film and television industry for content creation including music downloads.

UNI ARC SJ 1543

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