India’s Airtel launches operations in Sri LankaJanuary 12th, 2009 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS
Colombo, Jan 12 (IANS) India’s leading mobile telephone service provider Bharti Airtel Monday launched its operations in Sri Lanka, posing a major competition to the four established players here as it vowed to become a market leader soon.Bharti Airtel, rated one of the best performing companies in the world, has invested $200 million in setting up and expanding its operation in Sri Lanka.
Launching the long-awaited cellular service, Bharti Airtel chairman and managing director Sunil Bharti Mittal said he was pleased with the “overwhelming response in Sri Lanka in terms of pre-launch registrations” for the maiden 3.5 G mobile networking in the country.
“The response here is simply mind-boggling. Airtel will provide high-speed data transferring, video conferencing, and internet facilities. Our customers in Sri Lanka will get significantly improved tariff and services, which will include money transferring, mobile banking and mobile commerce facilities,” Mittal told reporters here.
Bharti Airtel will compete here with Telekom Malaysia’s Dialog Telekom, Millicom International Cellular’s Tigo, Hutchison Telecom’s Hutch, and Sri Lanka Telecom’s Mobitel.
Mittal expressed confidence that Bharti Airtel would create a lot of momentum “to face the market, grow and to become a market leader in Sri Lanka”.
“Bharti is a company that is used to competitions and we will become the market leader sooner than expected. The $200 million investment will showcase pride for all in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Although the Sri Lankan market is small, it is crowded and according to latest statistics, six million people in the total population of 20 million have mobile phones.
The fixed line and mobile phone penetration in Sri Lanka is relatively high and at least 40 percent of the households outside the war-ravaged north and east have access to a phone.
Bharti Airtel Lanka CEO Amali Nanayakkara said the company has established 12,000 outlets in five of the nine provinces in the country and it was already working on expanding the services to remaining provinces - Uva, North-Central, Northern and Eastern provinces - at the earliest.
“In addition to providing telecommunication services, Airtel has already provided direct and indirect employment to over 2,000 Sri Lankans with its launch in the highly concentrated market. It is a beginning of a new era in mobile marketing here,” Nanayakkara said.
“The mobile tariff in Sri Lanka today is very confusing, which prevents the customers from speaking freely. Quality, congestions and call drops are the other problems. But Airtel will be a unique business model that will provide quality network coverage and customer care services in all areas,” she said.
Airtel country manager K. Srinivasan said the company would focus on “affordability, availability and being simple for customers”.
The company currently offer all incoming calls free and all outgoing calls at two rupees per minutes.
It has outsourced IT operations to IBM, while Huawei will roll out the networks. Bharti Telesoft, a part of the Bharti group, will offer value-added services.
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