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Airtel Launches 3G In Delhi-NCR; 40 Cities By March End; 1TB Data On Day 7

“If you take Bangalore and Chennai, in the first 10 days, we had over 1.5 lakh customers. The daily consumption of data on day seven crossed 1 terabyte per day,” Atul Bindal, President- Mobile Services for Bharti Airtel, told MediaNama. “To put things into perspective, that is an extremely high percentage of the total 2G data consumption, that we had not just in those two cities, but across the country. It’s almost as if the pipelines were clogged, and as the diameter of the pipe goes up, the flow increased. And this was happening when we hadn’t really launched our dongles. Today, as we speak, we have well over 500,000 customers, and data consumption coming in at a very brisk pace.”

Bharti Airtel today launched 3G Mobile services in the National Capital Region, across Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida, targeting over 1800 3G cell sites for its 76 lakh customers in the region. The company has so far Airtel has launched 3G services in Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Mysore, Manipal, Udipi and Jaipur, with half a million customers on 3G with 4500 cell sites. Airtel is targeting 40 cities by the end of this month, and 1000 cities by the same time next year.

Bindal told MediaNama that the company could have announced a 20 city launch in October 2010, because the equipment was in place, but chose to take its time, to ensure density of deployment. “I know there are operators launching 500-600 cell sites or even lesser than that, and declaring cities open. That’s not the right way. If I were to sum it up in just three words, it is deeper rather than wider. Get a city right, then move to the next, and so on. We do want to be across the length and breadth of the country.”

Bindal feels that the company will have to keep dealing with surges and add capacity. They’ve paid specific attention to Delhi, where there are almost two airtel connections in every home according to Bindal, and installed over 1800 cell sites, targeting 2000 by next week. In Bangalore, the company plotted the density of GPRS and Edge consumption, the commercial business districts, the handset distribution, and accordingly, provisioned capacity. We’ll have more from the interview with Bindal tomorrow.

Tariff Plans for Delhi-NCR:

Pay As You Go – Default plan – 30p/20Kb
Value Plans: Allow a 50% discount over the default pay as you go plan
– Prepaid Value Plan – Rs 21 – 15p/20Kb browsing charges
– Postpaid Value Plan – Rs 20 – 15p/20Kb browsing charges

Sachet Plans: To promote mass trial and adoption of 3G, Airtel has reduced the entry price barrier and introduced daily and 3 day plans, in addition to a minutes plan(we don’t see any logic for this one). Only for Prepaid users.

– Rs 49 – 30 minutes use, 1 day validity
– Rs 11 – 10 MB free data, 1 day validity
– Rs 65 – 65 MB free, 3 days validity

Standard Plans: For mid to high end users. All plans have a 30 day validity period.
– Rs 100 – 100 MB
– Rs 200 – 250 MB
– Rs 450 – 600 MB
– Rs 750 – 2 GB

Flexishield Plan: Rs 675 – 1.25 GB free usage – 1p/100Kb after free usage till Data bill reaches Rs 2000. After that no charges on data access but speed reduces to 20kbps.

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