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Airtel unveils FWP services; to cover 4,000 cities by Mar '07

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, July 6 (UNI) Bharti Airtel Ltd (BAL) today launched its GSM 'Airtel Mega' Fixed Wireless Phone (FWP) services in the country, under which calls to all local and intra-circle mobiles will be charged at 40 paise per minute (Rs 1.20 for 3 minutes).

Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) calls from Airtel's FWP will be charged at Rs 2.40 per minute, while local calls to a landline would be 20 paise per minute.

With the launch of this FWP service, Airtel completes its total telecom services portfolio for all segments.

''Available in both postpaid and prepaid tariff plans, Airtel Mega, concurrently availabe across 90 cities and towns, will be rolled out to 4,000 cities by the end of this fiscal. This offer is clearly data based and gives real value proposition of cheaper calls to landlines,'' BAL Marketing and Communications Director Hemant Sachdev told reporters here.

At present Tata Teleservices and Reliance Infocomm are the major players in the fixed wireless segment.

Speaking about the existing competition from these players, Mr Sachdev said, ''The fixed wireless industry entails a mass market approach and is under penetrated. Reliance and Tatas have a presence in around 500-600 towns. We will roll out these services to the entire network across the country.'' The company is anticipating around 1 million fixed wireless subscribers in the next 12 months.

On why Airtel was tapping the wireless market now, when mobile sales were booming, BAL Joint President (Mobility) Sanjay Kapoor said that if mobile telephony is going to bridge the divide between the urban and rural areas, ''it makes more sense to make wireless calls cheaper.'' Mr Kapoor added that Airtel's fixed line and broadband service which reaches a very small track in India, is mostly targeted at corporates and offers customised setting, while the FWP is targeted at home and residential customers, who want the convenience of a mobile phone on a landline.

Airtel will make available the service through retail outlets, as well through end-to-end service delivery -- from booking to installation to after-sales -- at the customer's doorstep, another first from the company.

Among the features the Airtel Mega offers are free 150 minute (50 pulses) calls every month to one Airtel mobile/landline, valid for 1 year from date of installation and free 50 local and national SMS and free Hello Tunes in the first month of subscription.

The entry level price of the phones are Rs 1,500 for the Voice SMS cordless and Rs 1,800 for the Voice data model.

BAL has over 23,29 million customers as on May,2006, out of which 21.86 million are mobile customers.

UNI RA CS KN1548

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