India’s largest cellco Bharti Airtel has announced that its subscriber base has crossed the 50 million mark, a figure it aims to double by 2010. Of the total, some 48 million were wireless customers, with the remainder using fixed line and broadband services. ‘This puts Bharti Airtel among the top telecoms companies in the world. Our next target is to reach 100 million by 2010,’ president Manoj Kohli told reporters in New Delhi. To help it achieve its goal, Bharti called on the government to set aside more wireless spectrum space. ‘We have no objection to new entrants. We have already invested in licence fees and networks, but we need and deserve more spectrum,’ Bharti Airtel’s joint managing director Akhil Gupta said.
India’s wireless market is the world’s fastest growing, expanding by around eight million customers a month; at the end of August the total stood at 201.29 million. ‘Most of the next 50 million subscribers will come from rural areas,’ said Gupta. ‘ARPUs may fall, but the usage and revenues will increase, so it is not a cause of concern,’ he added.