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Bharti Airtel Looks To Data, Value Added Services For Future Growth In India

Bharti Airtel sees data and related value-added services as the biggest opportunities in its home market of India, according to the group’s CEO for India and South Asia, Sanjay Kapoor. Speaking  on the occasion of Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai, China, Kapoor said that the best way to combat the challenges presented by declining tariffs, growing network operating expenses and high regulatory costs is to look to these areas for future growth.

Providing affordable Internet access to existing urban customers through broadband wireless will be critical but rural areas could be even more important, according to Kapoor.While there is untapped potential in India’s expansive rural markets in the voice segment, the next big thing after the success of the voice story in India could be data,” he said.

Rural mobile penetration currently stands at just under 40 percent, leaving significant room for network expansion. “The ability to make large investments in the network is required particularly in India to take broadband to the masses,” Kapoor said. With the high costs of building this infrastructure in rural areas, the inclusion of data-enabled services would be a good use of resources according to Kapoor.

“Considering the high cost of operation and infrastructure required for rural expansion, the mobile platform is the most efficient and effective way to offer various services like financial inclusion, health and education in rural India,” he said.

Kapoor feels India is “at the cusp of a data revolution” with the demand for data products and services increasing with feature phone and smartphone penetration. Driven by India’s young population, this data revolution has “the capability of bridging the digital divide between the developed world and the developing world when it comes to data consumption,” he added.


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