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|March 10, 1999||
Bharti Enterprises said today that its Airtel cellular service has grabbed 60 per cent market share in Seychelles, overtaking the well-entrenched monopoly of Cable and Wireless, the British operator that has been doing business in the region for over 100 years.
''Having achieved market leadership in Seychelles, we are now keen to explore opportunities in other emerging markets,'' said Sunit Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director of Bharti Enterprises.
Mittal said the key to Airtel's success is its focus on the total demand for telecom services irrespective of cellular or fixed lines.
''We identified a huge opportunity for international calls from resident business users and over two lakh (200,000) international tourists that visit Seychelles every year. The demand was largely met by fixed line service.''
Mittal said Airtel has positioned itself as a value-added alternative to fixed line services, offering competitive rates for international calls, lower even than the international rate offered by Cable and Wireless for their fixed line service. In the process, Airtel has drawn fixed line users to cellular telephony.
''Seychelles, being a popular tourist destination, offers us the chance to demonstrate India's world-class expertise to visitors from across the globe,'' he claimed.
Airtel Seychelles CEO Neeran Chibber said it is the first time that the island nation has ever witnessed competitive activity of this nature.
Seychelles now has over 5,000 cellular subscribers.
''The mobile phone's affordability has opened up the possibility to people from all walks of life,'' he said.
Airtel Telecom services in Seychelles are being provided by Telecom Seychelles, a company promoted by Bharti Global, a subsidiary of Bharti Enterprises.
The Seychelles project involves investment of $25 million (about Rs 1.075 billion) of which $15 million (about Rs 645 million) will be invested in the first phase.
Telecom Seychelles has a 15-year licence to operate comprehensive services covering cellular, fixed line, paging and international telecom services for a fee of 5 per cent of revenue or Seychelles rupees 2 million, whichever is higher. This is payable per year.
Bharti's partners in the project are the Currimjee Jeewanjee Company Limited of Mauritius that operates the dominant cellular service in Mauritius, Raza Bilgrami, a non-resident Indian, and the Seychelles government.
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