Airtel will keep 3G services affordable. The operator is scheduled to roll out 3G services in the 13 circles where it has won spectrum, before the year end.
Speaking at a press conference here, Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director of Bharti Airtel, said, "We will price our 3G services in a way so as to balance it to the investments that we have made in acquiring the spectrum and building infrastructure. Tariffs will be affordable."
He added, "The price of the auctions was high. But India is a massification story and we will be able to offer competitive tariffs. Our packaging will be more innovative."
Earlier in August though, Sanjay Kapoor, who is chief executive officer for India and South Asia regions at Bharti Airtel, had said that he expects 3G services to be priced higher because of expensive bids. "The bid prices have taken away the possibility of providing these services at cheap prices. Data services on 3G will also not come at throwaway prices," he had said.
In fact, established operators were counting on making some money from 3G services at a time when the entry of new service providers resulted in fierce tariff wars which ate into operators' profitability.
3G roll out by private operators has begun in India with Tata DoCoMo taking the lead. Tata DoCoMo's tariff of 0.66 paise per second has been labeled affordable, and hence other operators might be forced to look at launching similarly priced plans.
Airtel, which operates in 19 countries, already offers 3G services in eight countries of Africa. Mittal said, "Spectrum charges are much higher in Africa. We are already offering 3G in eight countries of Africa out of 16, and the other eight will also have Airtel 3G soon."
He further added that the company wants to tap the African 3G market with a special focus on video services, as it sees a huge demand for video based services there.
In India, Airtel had bagged airwaves to offer 3G services in 13 of 22 telecom circles. It had paid about Rs 12,300 crore for securing spectrum in these circles.
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