Airtel, BSNL to ink 2G roaming pact

23 Feb 2015

Indian cellcos Bharti Airtel and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) are expected to sign a pan-India roaming agreement, strengthening their respective 2G networks by providing access to their infrastructure in areas where the other has a weak or limited presence. The Economic Times quotes BSNL Chairman Anupam Shrivastava as saying: ‘We are soon going to sign a pan-India intra-circle roaming agreement with Airtel with a focus to strengthen coverage in rural areas… This is most likely to be signed within a month.’ The senior official went on ‘We have made ‘co-opetition’ (cooperative competition) as one of [our] key strategies. Under this [approach] we are looking at opportunities where we can cooperate with other players to expand our business.’ Ailing state-owned telco BSNL has invested around INR40 billion (USD643 million) in its most recent expansion programme, due to be completed in June 2015 and after which it operate a total of 110,000 base stations, with coverage of more than 72% of the population. For its part, market leader Airtel serves 87% of India’s population with a network consisting of 142,898 base stations.