Bharti Airtel will soon launch an international fibre-optic cable link to boost internet speeds in Bangladesh even as it readies to pitch for 3G airwaves that will be auctioned by the neighbouring country in early-September, a top executive with direct knowledge told ET.
The Sunil Mittal-founded telco has invested an undisclosed sum in a terrestrial fibre-optic cable link between India and Bangladesh to have the bandwidth in place to handle the expected surge in data traffic in the neighbouring country, post-rollout of 3G services.
Its wholly-owned Bangladesh arm, Airtel Bangladesh (formerly Warid Telecom), is, in fact, likely to take the 3G route to boost the company’s under 8% market penetration in a country that is home to some 103 million mobile customers.
Airtel is the fourth-largest mobile carrier in Bangladesh behind market leader, Telenor-controlled Grameenphone, Egypt’s Orascom and Malaysia’s Axiata. Bharti Airtel executives declined to reveal the company’s 3G gameplan in Bangladesh but said “the new fibre-optic cable link would support the anticipated data thrust in the neighbouring country once third-generation mobile broadband services get rolled out”.
Two GSM operators Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have launched free roaming packs in the country. Bharti Airtel announced free incoming calls on roaming at a charge of Rs 5 per day. The New Delhi-based company’s pre-paid users can also opt for the one-time pack of Rs 79, which provides free incoming calls on roaming for 30 days.