Airtel launches 3G in India, to cover 1500 cities by Mar 2012

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Bangalore,Jan 24 (PTI) Bharti Airtel today launched its3G service in India bringing mobile internet experience to itscustomers, with rollout plans to cover 1500-plus citiesacross the country by March next year.

By March this year, the telecom operator said it wouldlaunch 3G service in 40-plus cities in 13 telecom circles,where it had won spectrum (radio waves) for 3G services in theauction held by the Government last year.

In the remaining circles where it has no 3G licence,Airtel is currently in discussions with other operators tostart service and it''s in "active closure stage".

"Airtel 3G footprint will be available across the country(by March 2012)", Airtel''s President, Mobile Services, AtulBindal told reporters here.

Excluding the licence fee and service infrastructure,information technology backbone and go-to-market, amongothers, the company''s investment in the 3G roll-out initiativeis in the region Rs 12,000 crore to Rs 13,000 crore, officialssaid.

Following the 3G service launch, Bindal said Airtel''sARPU (average revenue per user) would improve and outlook onthis front is "positive" but declined to talk about specificnumbers.

Sounding upbeat on 3G initiative, he said: "There is noreason why mobile internet revolution will not take off andexplode exactly the same manner (like the mobile voice)".

On pricing, Airtel said there would be tariff plans forlight users of data, where usage and billing would be by hour;flexi-shield plans for heavy users of data, where usage andbilling would be capped.

There would be sachet packs of Rs ten, Rs 60, Rs 200, Rs450 and Rs 750, and for heavy-users, the entry-level price isRs 650 (up to 1.25 GB) going up to Rs 2,000 (up to 14 GB),officials said.

Airtel said: "The airtel internet on 3G gives customersthe power of higher speeds to enjoy multimedia services, highspeed mobile broadband and internet access with the ability toview videos on your mobile phone, make video calls, watch liveTV, access high speed internet and enjoy live streaming...".

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