Bharti Airtel, India’s largest wireless network operator by subscribers, has posted a better-than-expected 42% increase in quarterly net profit on the back of strong subscriber growth. Chairman Sunil Mittal said the growth momentum would continue and Bharti would maintain its lead in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive. ‘With aggressive expansion plans particularly in rural India, we are in a strong position,’ he said in a statement. Bharti, which is spending up to USD3.5 billion in the year to 31 March 2008, would expand its reach to 5,100 new towns and aims to cover at least 70% of India’s population. Bharti, which is 30.8% owned by SingTel said its net profit in the three months to 31 December 2007 rose to INR17.22 billion (USD437 million), from INR12.15 billion a year earlier. Revenue rose 42% to INR69.64 billion over the same period.The company added 6.3 million mobile users in the quarter to raise its total to 55.2 million. Average revenue per user (ARPU) fell 16% to INR358, though this was partially offset by a slightly higher minutes of use figure.