With the delays in licensing cellcos to offer third-generation services now a distant memory, India’s mobile network operators continue to expand their respective 3G footprints. The wireless market’s leading operator in terms of subscribers, Bharti Airtel, has inaugurated commercial 3G services in the Uttar Pradesh (West) circle, the Business Standard reports, with coverage initially of the towns of Dehra Dun, Agra and Meerut. The cellco has said that it expects to expand its footprint swiftly, with it revealing that it aims to cover 30 towns across the circle within the next six months. Commenting on the development, Bharti Airtel’s Operations Director (North and West) of Mobile Services, Deepak Mehrotra, said: ‘We expect a strong uptake and high demand for 3G services. Besides, we are confident this launch will add impetus to the expansion of data services in India.’ So far Bharti has rolled out its 3G offerings in 31 cities across India, including Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi and Hyderabad, having paid INR122.95 billion (USD2.66 billion) for the right to offer such services in 13 of the country’s telecoms circles in May 2010.
Aircel meanwhile has launched 3G services in Punjab, revealing that having spent around INR8 billion on rolling out 2G and 3G services in the state to date, it expects to invest a further INR2 billion in the region next year to strengthen its GSM network. At launch the cellco’s 3G services have been made available in 31 cities, and it is the fourth operator to launch W-CDMA services in the circle so far, following in the footsteps of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), Reliance Communications (RCOM) and Tata Teleservices (TTSL). Gurdeep Singh, Aircel CEO, said of the launch: ‘We are excited about 3G, as we see it as something that will begin to transform our lives in many ways … The launch of 3G services on Aircel will address the high speed digital needs of the consumers. In Punjab we expect that 10-15% of our total subscribers will shift to [the] 3G platform. Across India, we are expecting that 30% of our subscribers will shift on [to the] 3G platform in the next three to four years.’