Bharti Airtel Ltd is one of the world's leading providers of telecommunication services with presence in 19 countries including India & South Asia and Africa. The company is the largest wireless service provider in India, based on the number of customers. The company offers an integrated suite of telecom solutions to its enterprise customers, in addition to providing long distance connectivity both nationally and internationally. The Company also offers Digital TV and IPTV Services. All these services are rendered under a unifi ed brand 'airtel' either directly or through subsidiary companies.
The company operates in four strategic business units, namely Mobile, Telemedia, Enterprise and Digital TV. The mobile business offers services in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The Telemedia business provides broadband, IPTV and telephone services in 95 Indian cities. The Digital TV business provides Direct-to-Home TV services across India. The Enterprise business provides end-to-end telecom solutions to corporate customers and national and international long distance services to telcos.
The company also deploys, owns and manages passive infrastructure pertaining to telecom operations under their subsidiary Bharti Infratel Ltd. Bharti Infratel Ltd own 42% of Indus Towers Ltd. Bharti Infratel Ltd and Indus Towers Ltd are the largest passive infrastructure service providers for telecom services in India.
Bharti Airtel Ltd was incorporated in the year 1995 with the name Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd. The company was promoted by Bharti Telecom Ltd, a company incorporated under the laws of India. The name of the company was changed from Bharti Tele-Ventures to Bharti Airtel Ltd with effect from April 24, 2006 in order to reflect their brand essence, objective and the nature of their business activities.
During the year 1995-96, the company launched mobile services under the brand name 'Airtel' for the first time in Delhi and Himachal Pradesh. During the year 1997-98, the company became the first private telecom operator to obtain a license to provide basic telephone services in the state of Madhya Pradesh. They incorporated Bharti BT VSAT Ltd and Bharti BT Internet Ltd during the year.
During the year 1999-2000, the company acquired JT Mobiles for providing cellular services operator in Punjab, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Also, they acquired Skycell, Chennai and thus, they expanded their South Indian footprint. During the year 2001-02, they launched IndiaOne, India's first private sector national and international long distance service. They acquired licenses for eight new circles across India. In July 2001, the company acquired 100% equity interest in Bharti Mobitel Ltd (erstwhile Spice Cell Ltd), which provided mobile services in the Kolkata circle.
During the year 2002-03, the company launched cellular mobile services in the circle of Mumbai, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh (West), Haryana and Gujarat, fixed line services in the circles of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and International Long Distance Services. They also commenced commercial operations for their submarine cable landing station.
During the year 2003-04, the company obtained the new licenses for providing the Unified Access Services, which include telecom circles of West Bengal (including Andaman & Nicobar and Sikkim), Bihar (including Jharkhand), Orissa, Jammu & Kashmir and UP (East). They also acquired interest in the telecom circles of Rajasthan and North Eastern States, through the acquisition of 67.5% equity stake in Bharti Hexacom Ltd.
During the year 2004-05, Bharti Cellular Ltd and Bharti Infotel Ltd, subsidiaries of the company, merged with the company with effect from April 1, 2004. Prior to merger of Bharti Cellular Ltd with the company, Bharti Mobile Ltd operated in circles of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab merged with Bharti Cellular Ltd. The company acquired an additional stake of 1% from Fouad M T Al Ghanim Trading & Cont Co Kuwait one of the shareholder of Bharti Hexacom Ltd.
During the year, the company and Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd entered into an agreement to share the company's national long distance network for a period of 15 years for a consideration of Rs 5,000 million. They entered into a regional mobile services agreement with six other leading mobile operators, namely Globe Telecom, Philippines; Maxis, Malaysia; Optus, Australia; SingTel, Singapore; Taiwan Cellular Corporations, Taiwan and Talkomsel, Indonesia and formed a regional alliance, namely Bridge Alliance.
In April 2005, the company through their erstwhile 100% subsidiary Bharti Infotel Ltd, which was merged with the company acquired 100% equity stake in Bharti Broadband Ltd (formerly known as Comsat Max Ltd) by acquiring their holding company Satcom Broadband Equipment Ltd (formerly known as CMax Infocom Ltd). Also, Satcom Broadband Equipment Ltd and Bharti Broadband Ltd were amalgamated with the company with effect from October 1, 2005.
During the year 2005-06, the company signed a managed capacity expansion contract with Ericsson for providing managed services and expands their GSM /GPRS network into rural India in 15 circles. Also, they entered into an agreement with Nokia to expand their managed GSM/ GPRS/ EDGE networks in eight circles. The company and IBM launched Managed Services under their joint go-to-market program.
During the year, Vodafone acquired 10% economic interest in the company by way of subscription of convertible debentures in Bharti Enterprises Ltd. Also, the company entered into strategic partnership outsourcing agreements for their customer care call center operations with four international BPOs - Hinduja TMT (HTMT), IBM Daksh, Mphasis and TeleTech Services.
During the year 2006-07, the company incorporated seven wholly owned subsidiaries namely Bharti Airtel (USA) Ltd, Bharti Airtel (UK) Ltd, Bharti Airtel (Hong Kong) Ltd and Bharti Airtel (Canada) Ltd, Bharti Infratel Ltd, Bharti Telemedia Ltd and Bharti Airtel Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. They received letter of offer from Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka for providing 2G and 3G mobile services in Sri Lanka.
During the year, the company entered into agreement with Microsoft to offer software and services for the Small and Medium Business (SMB) market in India and to offer Microsoft's latest Windows Mobile 5.0 technology to its customer. They entered into agreement with Google to offer search services on Airtel Mobile. Also, they entered agreement with Adani Group to connect Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone and with IBM to deliver India's first 'Service Delivery Platform'.
In July 2006, the company launched 'Airtel Mega' Fixed Wireless Phone (FWP) services. In September 14, 2006, they acquired 43,750 thousand shares of Bharti Hexacom Ltd for an aggregate consideration of Rs 875,000 thousand thereby increasing their stake from 68.5% to 68.89%.
In December 2006 the company announced their foray into USA with the launch of Airtel CallHome service for Non-Resident Indians. In March 2007, they introduced BlackBerry 8800TM business phone. In April 3, 2007, Bharti Airtel (Singapore) Pvt Ltd, Singapore, was incorporated for providing Voice Interconnection, Prepaid International Calling Services, International Private Leased Circuits and VSAT Trading.
During the year 2007-08, Bharti Airtel Services Ltd (erstwhile Bharti Comtel Ltd), the wholly owned subsidiary of the company, sold their entire shareholding in Bharti Telemedia Ltd to the company and Bharti Enterprise Ltd in the ratio of 40% and 60%, respectively. The company acquired 2% stake in a subsidiary of IFFCO Ltd called IFFCO Kissan Sanchar Ltd at a consideration of Rs 50,125 thousand. Also, they invested USD 1,200 thousand towards 1,200 thousand shares, of Bridge Mobile Pte Ltd, Singapore (Bridge Mobile).
During the year, the company entered into a joint venture agreement with Vodafone Essar Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd and formed an independent tower company namely, Indus Towers Ltd for providing passive infrastructure services in 16 circles of India.
In September 7, 2007, the company acquired 49% of the equity in Bharti Aquanet Ltd, India, at a consideration of Rs 159,549 thousand making Bharti Aquanet Ltd a 100% subsidiary of the company. In September 28, 2007, they acquired 100% of the equity in Network i2i Ltd, Mauritius, at a consideration of USD 133,400 thousand.
In October 1, 2007, the company incorporated a new company namely, Bharti Airtel Holding (Singapore) Pte Ltd in Singapore as an investment holding company of the company. In January 2008, the company transferred the passive telecom infrastructure business of the company to Bharti Infratel Ltd.
During the year 2008-09, the company made their foray into media and television by redefining home entertainment with Airtel digital TV. They launched their virtual calling card service 'Airtel CallHome' in UK, Singapore and Canada. The service is targeted at the huge Indian Diaspora, Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Indian students in these markets.
The company launched their mobile services in Sri Lanka under the Airtel brand. They expanded their footprint by launching their Mobile Services in Lakshadweep. They also launched VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) Services for their enterprise customers in India in partnership with VeriSign.
In February 19, 2009, the company increased their stake in Bharti Hexacom Ltd by 1.11% through acquisition of 2,780,306 equity shares for an aggregate consideration of Rs 166,818 thousand. In March 4, 2009, the company subscribed 1,470,000 equity shares (49% stake) in Bharti Teleports Ltd for an aggregate consideration of Rs. 14,700 thousand.
In October 2009, the company launched live mobile comic service on their mobile entertainment portal, Airtel Live. In October 23, 2009, they acquired an additional 55% equity stake in their subsidiary, Bharti Telemedia Ltd for a consideration of Rs 7.38 crore. Consequently, the total equity interest of the company in Bharti TelemediaLtd increased to 95%.
In January 12, 2010, the company agreed to acquire 70% stake in Warid Telecom, Bangladesh, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dhabi Group. Warid Telecom is offering mobile services across all the 64 districts of Bangladesh. As of January 2010, the company had an aggregate of over 131 million customers in South Asia, including 121.7 million mobile customers in India.
In March 11, 2010, the company made their debut into Media & Entertainment with the launch of the Airtel Digital Media Business. With this, the company is able to offer Content Delivery Solutions for media and entertainment sector.
In June 2010, the company acquired Zain Group's mobile operations in 15 countries across Africa for an enterprise valuation of USD 10.7 billion. With this, the company has become the first Indian brand to go truly global with a footprint that covers over 1.8 billion people. Also, the company has become a major Indian MNC with operations in 18 countries across Asia and Africa with a customer base of over 180 million.
During the year 2010-11, the company introduced a completely new, fresh and vibrant brand logo and identity.Apart from India and Sri Lanka, the brand also started to offer its services to consumers in Bangladesh making the Company a powerhouse across South Asia. Across the seas, the Company established a strong presence in the 16 countries across the African continent.
During the year, Airtel won the 'Most Preferred Cellular Service Provider Brand' award in the CNBC Awaaz Consumer Awards 2010 for the 6th year in a row. The CNBC Awaaz Consumer Awards were based on an extensive consumer survey done by Nielsen, wherein the customers rated brands across different categories which delivered true value for money.
During the year, the company launched 3G Services in 9 of 13 circles with 3G spectrum, empowering all 3G customers to manage their data usage and avoid 'bill shock' with proactive, personalised and timely data usage alerts coupled with introduction of easy-to-understand intuitive tariffs with personalised data usage limits.
They launched various new and innovative products and services, such as airtel money, airtel call manager, airtel voice blog, airtel world SIM, Live Aarti, LearnNext, IPTV, airtel broadband TV, Unified Service Management Centre (uSMC), Global Data Services, airtel digital TV recorder, MAMO (My Airtel My Offer) and i-Care directly and through its subsidiaries, which enabled it to strengthen their leadership in an intensely competitive market.
During the year, the company launched their New Vision for India and South Asia 'By 2015, airtel will be the most loved brand, enriching the lives of millions' inspiring and directing all stakeholders for the next stage of growth. Also, they launched their vision for Africa 'By 2015 airtel will be the most loved brand in the daily lives of African people'.
In August 27, 2010, the ccquired the 100% interest in Telecom Seychelles Ltd, a telecom operator of Seychelles, for an enterprise value of USD62 million. In September 2011, the company choose Ericsson India, Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei Technologies as network partners to launch 3G Services in India. These partners will plan, design, deploy and maintain a 3G HSPA Network in Bharti Airtel 3G license circles.
In January 2011, the company and State Bank of India (SBI) entered into a Joint Venture (JV) agreement to make available banking services to India's unbanked millions. The newly formed entity, will harness the power of State Bank's strengths and airtel's mobile telephony to add value to the banking and financial services sector and empower millions of financially excluded in the country to enhance their livelihood and quality of life. The Joint Venture will become the Business Correspondent of SBI and offer banking products and services at affordable cost to the citizens in unbanked and other areas.